intergenerational succession?

posted December 20, 2017

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‘If there’s no water, what’s the point?’ Female farmers in Arizona – a photo essay

Debbie Weingarten and Audra Mulkern, December 19th 2017, The Guardian 

Despite the fact that women have always farmed, they have been left out of our agricultural narrative. An incomplete story has real consequences: women have been left off land titles and bank documents; they have been denied federal loans and training opportunities; and until the 1982 census of agriculture, female farmers were not counted at all.

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kiss the ground: book and documentary about the hidden power of soil.

posted November 21, 2017

Discover the hidden power soil has to reverse climate change, and how a regenerative farming diet not only delivers us better health and wellness, but also rebuilds our most precious resource—the very ground that feeds us.

Josh Tickell, one of America’s most celebrated documentary filmmakers and director of Fuel, has dedicated most of his life to saving the environment. Now, in Kiss the Ground, he explains an incredible truth: by changing our diets to a soil-nourishing, regenerative agriculture diet, we can reverse global warming, harvest healthy, abundant food, and eliminate the poisonous substances that are harming our children, pets, bodies, and ultimately our planet.

Through fascinating and accessible interviews with celebrity chefs, ranchers, farmers, and top scientists, this remarkable book, soon to be a full-length documentary film narrated by Woody Harrelson, will teach you how to become an agent in humanity’s single most important and time sensitive mission. Reverse climate change and effectively save the world—all through the choices you make in how and what to eat.

Click HERE to buy the book, it’s currently the #1 bestseller on Amazon! Once you have bought and read the book consider joining the Kiss the Ground Bookclub!


why rural farming matters to the city

posted November 21, 2017

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 credit: Artist Diane Brawarsky and A Growing Culture. 

The following article was submitted to the Greenhorns by Freya Yost. Freya is Director of Operations at Cloudburst Foundation, an Italian-based non-profit working closely with the Commonwealth to address climate change and meet the UN SDGs. Her background is in information science, specializing in areas of government information and policy, open source technologies, and digital rights tensions. After receiving an M.S. in Information Science from Pratt Institute, she started facilitating knowledge exchange between indigenous farmers in East Africa as Vice President of the organization A Growing Culture. 

She is a contributing writer at Global Voices, and has published with outlets including the Association for Progressive Communications, Peer-to-Peer Foundation, Truth-Out, and Shareable. She has articles in several peer-review journals including the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Journal and Indigenous Knowledge: Other Ways of Knowing.


 

Cities currently hold more than half of the world’s population, and that number is increasing with rural to urban migrations. Decline of subsistence agriculture, a changing climate, and lack of opportunity are some of the main reasons for migration—all consequences relating to industrial agriculture, the predominant agricultural model in the world.

We know how devastating the industrial model of agriculture is to the planet (draining natural resources and contributing of greenhouse gas emissions) and to rural farming communities (destroying livelihoods and dominating markets with cash crops to be sent away to other countries) but we haven’t heard enough about how “big ag” erodes the resilience of cities. Rural areas are still the main producers of food and smallholder farmers account for 94% of the farms worldwide: there is more space to grow, raise livestock, process food, ecosystem diversity, and richer soils. In fact, the wellbeing of rural farming communities has incredible influence on the food security of urban populations—making the rural-urban relationship inextricably linked. If we allow industrial agriculture to continue to devastate rural farming communities it will only perpetuate hunger in cities. Rooftop gardens and urban agriculture are helping some inner-city communities get access to fresh food, but they are not feeding the world and certainly not the 8 million residents of New York City. When we evaluate alternative models to sustain growing cities we must support the potentially symbiotic relationship between urban and rural. This means that rural issues are urban issues, and vice versa.

Family farmers already produce enough food to feed 10 billion people yet over 1.2 million New York City residents are food insecure and hunger is a grave, global reality. In this context our fixation with increasing crop yields seems rudimentary. The true challenge lies in improving access to food, social and economic disparity, excessive waste, and a centralized food-production system that prioritizes profit above the health and wellbeing of people. As an industrialised, wealthy and leading food producing nation, the US continues to have both hunger and health problems in all 50 states. In New York City alone, the income gap between rich and poor is the greatest in the country. New York City’s food insecurity rate is 11% higher than the national rate. These facts alone tell us how central inequality is to the food system and how, despite growing city populations, we need to continue to invest in rural, peri-urban environments around cities that can ultimately feed urban communities. Well functioning peri-urban areas act as a buffer that benefit both rural and urban areas, disrupting concentrated centers of inequality, and providing opportunities for communities.

There are some powerful examples of cities that prioritized rural-urban food dynamics and established greatly-improved food security. Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state and Brazil’s sixth largest city, implemented a comprehensive set of programs aimed at providing access to food and support to small-scale family farming in surrounding rural areas. The Bolsa Família, a Brazilian national initiative based on the same objectives, reduced the number of food insecure people from 50 to 30 million. These initiatives adopted a policy based on the inalienable right of all citizens to sufficient, good quality food, not unsimilar to the values proposed by the food sovereignty movement.

Food sovereignty, that declares the rights of all people to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food and to control the mechanisms that govern the food system, is a movement pioneered by peasant groups like La Via Campesina—and its relevance is as urban as it is rural. It grew in part out of a fundamental flaw with the food-security approach; that is, that food security falls short of addressing the complexities of the entire system and all the socio-economic and cultural dimensions of the current food-production model. Food sovereignty is far reaching: from the family farmer to the World Bank, the inequalities of power that accompany gender, race, and social class, and violence against women.

The values of food sovereignty have a lot to teach us. The movement moves beyond the overly emphasized “yield problem” to an array of deep-rooted, systemic issues—importantly inequality—that play an integral part of the food system. As we work to improve urban food systems we need to include rural, family farmers in the discussions and strategies. This is how we replace an unjust food system with a democratic one.

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have you heard about regroup farm?

posted November 11, 2017

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credit: ReGroup.Farm

ReGroup.Farm is the tale and reality of a group of Boomers, Gen X-er’s and Millennials found themselves on a farm in the Midwest. They recognized that something very interesting was happening in society at large, that in spite of all the division and decay of rural towns, that these phenomena can be reversed. In fact this process has already begun via the “food movement”.

There is a recognition that people come together over food. Whether it’s family, friends or community, food tends to bring us together for a pretty good time. Exploring this movement, asking questions and improving the food system is the core of ReGroup.Farm.

Click HERE to read more about ReGroup Farm and their mission for the future!



check out this wonderful new podcast series

posted October 30, 2017

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Down to Earth is a podcast about hope. As climate change collides with our industrial food system, we focus not on doom but instead on people who are developing practical, innovative solutions. We invite you to meet farmers, ranchers, scientists, land managers, writers, and many others on a mission to create a world in which the food we eat is healthy—for us, for the land and water from which it springs, for the lives and livelihoods of the producers, and for the planet. This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Quivira Coalition.

Click HERE to listen.

 


watch: keep the soil in organic

posted October 28, 2017

Since last July there have been 15 Rallies to Protect Organic. Some of these Rallies were big, and some were small. They happened from California to Maine. The central theme of the Rallies has been to honor healthy soil as the essential foundation of organic farming.

There is one more Rally still to come; the final Rally at the Jacksonville Florida NOSB meeting on October 31. Please join us at the Jacksonville Rally.

Over 54 people have gotten up and spoken at these Rallies. These people represent a broad coalition of organic advocates, from eaters to policy advocates to farmers. These Rallies demonstrate the growing and widespread discontent with the failures of the National Organic Program.

It is becoming clear that the organic movement will not just silently march along wherever the NOP leads. The NOP was created to serve, not to reinvent.  But the NOP mission seems to be changing from serving the organic community to serving corporate agriculture. The organic movement is based on developing a saner agriculture than radical capitalism will lead us to. The NOP has lost track of this fact. They have lost sight of organic farming.

This November the NOSB will vote on the most important recommendation in organic standards in the last twenty years. The recommendation addresses the basic question of what the National Organic Program stands for. Will they continue to permit hydroponic to be certified organic? Or will they insist that organic farming is based on healthy soil?

Why is soil important to all of us? As global citizens, this is a very important question. This film was made to reach out and inform the NOSB. Please check it out. In this time of social media, anything over 3 minutes long seems daunting, so just watch the first 3 minutes! If you are still interested, watch the next 3 minutes, and so on.


read: with only 60 years of harvests left, how do we transform our food systems?

posted October 24, 2017

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credit: Indie Farmer 
Elise Wach from the Indie Farmer wrote an article published last week that explores the necessary trajectory of the future of farming. At a time when industrial agricultural systems are depleting our soil and placing quantity of produce and profit before quality and ecological health, this discussion is crucial. She also addresses the myths and misunderstandings attached to the local and organic food and farming movement.
 “Ecological and local food movements – and the farmers supporting them – are not trying to be elitist. They are trying to survive. In our current socioeconomic system, which ‘externalises’ the social and ecological costs of production, farmers tend to have two main choices – quality or quantity. They either produce for luxury niche markets (e.g. organic salad leaves, fancy preserves and veg boxes) or produce as much as possible through increasing their farm size (a strategy largely influenced by land area-based subsidies) and using industrial practices that destroy the soil, wildlife and water.”
 It’s a fantastic article that gets to the core of the problems in the current global food system, saying:
“It is clear that the existing food and farming system is not serving the public interest. It is also clear that efforts to change our food system through existing socioeconomic models have not worked. The problem isn’t organic. It’s capitalism.”
To read the full article by Indie Farmer, click HERE

join the climate justice movement.

posted October 20, 2017

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credit: Fibonacci Blue

As part of Food Week of Action, the Presbyterian mission, sponsors of the week, bring us a message of climate justice today.

God created the earth, and it is sacred. As Psalm 24:1 proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.” Therefore we are called to stewardship of the earth. When we work to protect creation, we are answering God’s call to till and keep the garden (Genesis 2:15). In the face of deepening ecological crises caused by the earth’s warming, our call to act as earth’s caretakers takes on more meaning. Our efforts will curtail the shrinking of sacred waters, the endangerment of living creatures of every kind, and the vulnerability of our brothers and sisters in developing countries.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has identified food, transportation, and energy as the three key personal areas that need action to help stem climate change. The Presbyterian mission have created a resource to educate the public about the actions that they can take personally to protect against the worst effects of climate change.

The advice given is simple and has an aspect of theological reflection, and if undertaken on a large scale has the potential to affect great change. They include measures such as eating local food, organic or sustainable food, eating less meat, and a reduction in personal consumption. If  you want to get more involved in the climate justice movement and take part in the creation of resilient communities that support people and the environment check out Our Power campaign to see what is happening in your area and how you can get involved.


insect numbers fall by 76% in 27 years signaling an impending ‘ecological armageddon’

posted October 19, 2017

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The Guardian are warning of an ecological armageddon due to the data published in a study released yesterday which shows that insect populations have declined by over 75% in the last quarter century.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

Insects are one of the most crucial elements in the global ecosystem as vital pollinators and as a food source for animals further up the food chain such as bats, birds and amphibians. The research was carried out in Germany which has been a popular location for recent studies on entomology with specific focus on the decline of pollinators. We have written before about the role of widespread pesticide use in the decline of insect population. Although researchers in this most recent study were unable to confirm the exact impact of pesticide use on the mass extinction of insects, other similar and more specific field studies have confirmed that there is a causal link between the two.

It is becoming more and more clear with every passing day that our current agricultural practices that require enormous chemical inputs and the clearing of natural wildlife refuges cannot be continued. Large scale industrial agriculture, rather than feeding the world is killing it. Once we exceed the ecological tipping point of an ecosystem, irreversible collapse is imminent.

You can read the full study on which the Guardian article was based article HERE