Haiku Aina Permaculture Initiative

posted November 17, 2016

Respected Internet explorers and seekers of Harmony with Nature; welcome to this entry portal, introducing you to our work at the Ha’iku Aina Permaculture Initiative (also known as HAPI).

The project, as we see it, is a way of applying principles of agroforestry and permaculture in an area of rainforest on this beautiful island in the South Pacific Ocean.

Integrating principles and wisdom of native Hawaiian spiritual culture, we are aspiring to create a model of soil renewal, reforestation, and human interaction with nature in a paradigm of respect, harmony, and adherence to the natural law.
Welcome to our vision and our world. We hope you will find something here that can serve and inspire you as well.

(In the Hawaiian Language, which is filled with mysteries and hidden meanings, “HA” represents the Breath of Life – The Spirit, “I” represents The Self, and “KU” means “rising upright” it is the name also given to the Rising Sun. So Hai’ku, the name of the place where our project is located can be said to represent The True Self Standing Upright in Spirit).


New financing for small farmers:

posted October 19, 2016

Kiva and Greenhorns working together to help small farmers grow their businesses

tinyfield-farm-bk-ghKatrina and Keely, Founders of Tinyfield Farm in Brooklyn, NY

The Greenhorns and Kiva are working together to help farmers access the capital and customers they need to successfully grow their businesses. Over the next few months, The Greenhorns will host a series of articles and podcasts about how farmers can benefit from a 0% interest, crowdfunded loan from Kiva at various stages in their business’ lifecycle.


Imagine the perfect growing season for your farm. It’s probably a warm, sunny one and the frost stayed away long enough for you to complete your harvest. You’re popular at your farmers markets, always selling out, and your delivery van didn’t break down once! People are raving about your produce: they’re writing great reviews and are signing up for your CSA.

It’s the type of season that fills you with pride.

Now imagine a season where things start to go wrong. The weather takes a turn for the worse and a field gets flooded, your delivery van breaks down on the way to market, the birds are more numerous than usual and are destroying your food…The list goes on and on.

Running a farm can be a stressful affair, especially when it comes to dealing with uncertainty.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Hundreds of farmers have found peace-of-mind by raising 0% interest capital for their businesses from Kiva, a nonprofit that supports U.S. entrepreneurs.

Since 2012, Kiva has helped hundreds of farmers raise over $2 million in funding – all without charging a single cent of interest or fees.

As a nonprofit, Kiva is dedicated to increasing access to capital for business owners who need it the most: people who are unable to raise money for their business from traditional sources, like banks.

With 8,000 small business loan applications rejected in the U.S. every day, more and more entrepreneurs are turning to alternative sources of financing, and Kiva is here to help.

Kiva is a crowdfunding platform like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, except instead of donations or purchases, the “crowd” makes 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs fundraising on the platform.

Kiva’s “crowd” is made up of 1.5 million supportive lenders around the world, many of whom lend locally and become business’ new customers, brand ambassadors and fans.

Like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, entrepreneurs create a campaign where they tell their story and why they’re raising money. Unlike Indiegogo and Kickstarter, entrepreneurs on Kiva have a 90% public funding success rate.

Even better, farmers have a 98% funding success rate on Kiva!

Over the next few months, The Greenhorns will post a series of articles and podcasts about how a Kiva loan can support at different stages in a farm’s lifecycle. These posts will be anchored in stories of real entrepreneurs, who have grown their business through Kiva.


theo                  liz

Theo, Co-Owner of Helios Farms                        Liz, Co-Owner of Happy Hollow Farm

These entrepreneurs are people like Liz, co-owner of Happy Hollow Farm, who borrowed $10,000 to build three high tunnels that extended her growing season; and Theo, co-owner of Helios Farms, who borrowed $5,000 to help purchase a refrigerated trailer to serve as a butcher shop and walk-in cooler.

More than just capital, Liz and Theo had 337 people from Kiva’s community lend to them! These entrepreneurs now have larger networks of people who believe in them and their businesses.

This is the power of Kiva. Kiva’s community of lenders truly believes in supporting small business owners and shows so by expecting only the money they lent in return for their investment.

Every farmer has their off-days, and Kiva is here to help them realize more perfect ones.

Check in again next week for a new story, and to learn more about Kiva, visit us.kiva.org/greenhorns or email questions to borrowers@kiva.org.

yikes!!!!! the future of agriculture or science fiction?

posted June 16, 2016

In a recent ECONOMIST article, the future of agriculture is controlled by computers, genetic manipulation, big data, and the assumption that we humans know what is going on with soil-plant relationships (*sarcasm*). This article reads scarily of science fiction.


“Farms, then, are becoming more like factories: tightly controlled operations for turning out reliable products, immune as far as possible from the vagaries of nature. Thanks to better understanding of DNA, the plants and animals raised on a farm are also tightly controlled. Precise genetic manipulation, known as “genome editing”, makes it possible to change a crop or stock animal’s genome down to the level of a single genetic “letter”. This technology, it is hoped, will be more acceptable to consumers than the shifting of whole genes between species that underpinned early genetic engineering, because it simply imitates the process of mutation on which crop breeding has always depended, but in a far more controllable way.”

monarch habitat eqip deadline friday!

posted May 19, 2016

There is a deadline this Friday for getting signed up for a special Monarch Habitat EQIP contract that’s very different from the normal.  You don’t have to be a producer, it’s not a rental payment but an incentive for seeding so it’s a one-time payment.  So, anyone with an odd half acre minimum (like where farmstead building have come down but it’s not in row crop) can qualify for this assistance on paying for seed.  The land doesn’t have to have a cropping history.  You just have to get signed up by Friday to get into the pool.
    There is especially interest in signing up areas along the band of counties, two on either side of I-35 through MN, IA, MO, that is dubbed the “I-35 corridor” (which doesn’t mean attracting butterflies to get smashed on the window, it’s just a landmark) where they’re trying to boost the amount of food plants for larvae to assist the monarch migration north to Canada and the generations back south to Mexico.
    Get to your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) office to find out more details.

prairie roots

posted May 9, 2016

White-knuckling a fiddlehead in the yard on a summer afternoon my neck and nose burning I remember that vague hot musk smell of it and the roots cemented into miles of cracked clay, the nerve

One time I was scaling a rock wall and lost my balance My hand grasped a clump of bunch grass and it held I thought I was dreaming

There are vertigo moments in the expansive West I imagine slipping off the flat of the horizon body slick along the prairie grass, If only my toes were roots I could grow down to the water wave golden here with them meanwhile holding the whole Earth together


-Shannon Pepper, your Sunday Greenhorns blogger


Diagram-artwork by Heidi Natura of the Conservation Research Institute.  “The Fundamental basis for encouraging use of native plant species for improved soil erosion control in streams and stormwater facilities lies in the fact that native plants have extensive root systems which improve the ability of the soil to infiltrate water and withstand wet or erosive conditions. Native plant species, like those listed in this Guide, often have greater biomass under the surface. In this illustration, note the Kentucky bluegrass shown on the far left, which, when compared to native grass and forb species, exhibit a shallow root system.”


ugly fruit is especially nutritious

posted April 28, 2016

Eat Ugly Apples Picture
Source: Eliza Greenman (elizapples.com)

Greenhorns blogger Eliza Greenman is featured on NPR, the Weather Channel and Food&Wine this week in regards to her work on #eatuglyapples!

Food&Wine: Bruised and scabbed apples have more antioxidants and sugars because they’ve fought off natural stressors.

Grocery shoppers don’t generally make a beeline to the scabbed and blemished apples. But maybe they should. New research shows that trauma to the fruit—stresses from fighting heat, bugs, and fungus—forces apples to produce antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, anthocyanins and carotenoids. And these compounds have all kinds of nutritional value.

to read more, click HERE!


we have some qualms about partnership with large seed companies

posted April 20, 2016

Nestled in the Norwegian Arctic, secure in an underground vault, rests one resource mankind cannot live without: seeds. The vault is a piece of a larger project of agricultural pioneer Cary Fowler in a passionate race against time to protect the future of our food supply, as captured in a documentary film Seeds of Time.

We sat down with Fowler in advance of our Earth Day screening of Seeds of Time to learn more about preserving biodiversity in agricultural crops and what filmgoers can do to help.

NYBG: How and when did you get the idea for a global seed bank?

Fowler: It was about 2003, and I was doing some work with a group of international agricultural research centers around the world. I took the idea to them, and with their blessings, drafted a letter to the Norwegian government asking whether they might consider doing something like this. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called me and appointed me to head the committee of the feasibility study.

NYBG: Why did you pick Norway?

Fowler: The main reasons were twofold. First, that the Svalbard archipelago was sort-of the perfect location. It was cold, and we wanted the natural freezing environment. It was remote, which meant it was safe, but it also was accessible. Second, the Norwegian government was trusted. No other location could match that.

NYBG: Who decides what seeds are stored in the vault?

Fowler: Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s mission is to conserve seeds related to food and agriculture. Within that group of plants, we don’t make any value judgment. We don’t know what is going to be useful for agriculture 500 years from now. We simply say to other depositing institutions, if you have made a commitment to long-term conservation, send us whatever you have that we don’t already have. We’re a back-up, an insurance policy for other seed banks. You could flip that coin and say they’re also an insurance policy for us. We want a unique sample in at least two places.

purple straw wheat- an heirloom wheat for whiskey, cake and biscuits

posted March 24, 2016

In their ongoing quest to revive and preserve ancestral grains, a Clemson University scientist and his collaborators have begun the process of restoring a nearly extinct variety of wheat that traces its American roots to the 1700s.

Purple Straw is the only heirloom wheat to have been cultivated continually in the South from the Colonial Period into the last quarter of the 20th century. While most other ancestral varieties of wheat were annihilated in the 19th century by a multipronged assault of pestilence and pathogens, Purple Straw continued to thrive. Perhaps, this was due to it being a short-growing winter wheat that matured before it could be seriously threatened.

Ironically, Purple Straw’s fall into disfavor came not from disease or infestation but rather from the rise of modern hybrid wheats and foreign introductions that were genetically designed for disease resistance, grain size and massive production using petroleum-based fertilizers. Even if fully restored, Purple Straw will not be able to compete with these hybrids when it comes to quantity, but it will stand out admirably in terms of flavor and nutrition.

“Purple Straw had certain culinary qualities that impressed people from the first,” said South Carolina food historian David Shields, who is the author of “Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine.” “It has a purplish stem and husk – hence its name. But it’s a high-protein, low-gluten wheat that mills white and is soft and easily handled, making it great for whiskey, cake flour and biscuits. And of course, what’s more Southern than whiskey, cake and biscuits?”

$200 cash prize for the largest chestnut tree in new york

posted January 31, 2016


The New York Chapter of the American Chestnut Federation (ACF) is offering a $200 reward for the discovery of the largest living Chestnut tree in New York. And $50 for any trees that are over 14″ DBH!

As Jerry Henkin, librarian for the Northern Nut Grower’s Association (NNGA) writes, “There is a tradition for this type of contest.  In the early years of the NNGA Willard Bixby, a nut tree nurseryman from Baldwin, NY (on Long Island) and President of the NNGA, offered a cash prize for the beech tree that produced the largest nuts.  As a result, the Jenner beech, and other cultivars were selected and propagated.”

Contests like this were popular during the Great Depression, and many of the marketable pecans and walnuts grown today are progeny from breeding efforts from these finds. More initiates of this kind could increase genetic diversity in our orchards and be used to make more cultivars available– and likely ones that are more pest and disease-resistant.

This all being said, we’re posting this contest with one rather large caveat: the NY ACF intends to use the nuts and pollen from the trees to cross-breed with its genetically-engineered blight-resistant American Chestnut, posing a small ethical conundrum for those of us who support the proliferation of more native species but generally oppose all GMO projects. Proceed with your own disgression. (We’d really like to hear your thoughts on this one. If you have any, please leave a comment!)