emancipatory educational experiences in scotland

posted November 4, 2017

Drumduan school, in the Scottish highlands, offers it’s students a unique and emancipatory education experience free of any form from exams or standardised testing. It’s educational focus is on participatory and practical education. Academic study is enhanced and balanced with movement, music and artistic work, with crafts, foraging  and outdoor activities. Students learn through experience,  they learn their science by building a Canadian canoe, or making a knife, or caramelising onions. What’s more, the teenagers who attend the school are happy and inspired and have the opportunity to discover who they are and what they want to achieve from life. Aspects that are all too frequently missing from the tradition educational experience.  (more…)



the honey locust contest revisited

posted November 2, 2017

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In 1926 J Russell Smith launched a contest to gather honey locust pods from across the country, the Savanna Institute are continuing what he started. 

Contest Details & Instructions

Step 1: Photograph the tree

Photograph the tree before the pods have fallen from the tree, although preferably after leaves have dropped. Include the entire tree within the photo. Prior to taking the photo, tack a standard 8.5×11″ piece of white paper to the tree trunk (scale reference). Include the ground. Use the highest resolution camera that you have access to.

Step 2: Collect 25 pods

Once the pods have fallen from the tree, collect 25 representative, dried (brown), whole pods off the ground and put them into one or more plastic grocery bags. The pods should be collected as soon as possible after they fall to the ground to prevent damage from animals. Be sure to choose a representative sample of pods – not the 25 largest! If possible, although not required, please also count the total number of pods that fell from the tree, as this will help calibrate their yield models.

Step 3: Fill out & print the entry form

Fill out the official contest entry form HERE, which includes basic information about you and the tree. You will be able to upload the tree photo here as well. This form will be submitted to the institute digitally, and you will receive a copy via email. Print a paper copy of your emailed entry to include with your pods.

Step 4: Ship your pods & entry form to the Savanna Institute 

Place your bag(s) of pods and entry form into a sturdy cardboard box. Ship your entry to:

Savanna Institute

Attn: Honey Locust Contest

1360 Regent St. #124

Madison, WI 53715

IMPORTANT: If submitting multiple trees/entries, ship each entry separately, using a different box for each. This will ensure that pods from different trees do not mix in transit.

Click HERE for the contest website where there are more details about the contest.


citizen science vs. dicamba

posted October 29, 2017

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credit: 지우 황/flickr 
This citizen science group at PublicLab is starting to corral expertise, team-craft and discover potential scientific inquiry methodologies to look at this terrifying trend of toxic and ever more toxic agrichemicals. Conventional farmers, as well as organic farmers, are profoundly concerned by this militarization of agronomy, it becoming a situation of “Spray or be Sprayed”. How tragic for rural communities that those who spray are likely to be those who also take over the operations of those drifted upon. Low commodities prices, high input costs, and precarious farm viability means that consolidation is only one bad year away—equipment for auction, land for sale, its the brutal contraction and internal colonization of rural America.
 Meanwhile there is no regulatory protection offered as the EPA has approved the new “less volatile” Monsanto-formulated Dicamba. The mass-spraying of these chemicals, particularly now that EU has opted to phase out Roundup, seems like a powerful leverage point to mobilize citizens, and citizen scientists working on behalf of the public good, the public trust, the public body which is our watershed, our watercycle, our drinking water and our farmlands.
If you know people near soybeans who can test, if you know toxicologists or environmental scientists who might be interested to coordinate DIY testing kits, or others whose teamwork could form part of a solidarity action, please send them along to this Public Lab page – it’s a group that helps pull together the teams needed to take on large scale data collection projects.  If enough people are willing to show up, we may have the chance to demonstrate our solidarity with coming generations, and engage in a meaningful resistance!
Spread the word to scientists you know, and ask for insights from farmers you know, the future is in OUR hands.

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.


screening of ‘the native and the refugee’ in new lebanon ny tomorrow

posted October 23, 2017

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Abode Farm are holding a screening of Native and the Refugee, a film directed and produced by friends of the farm, tomorrow, October 24th. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny and will take place in the Family Room in Fatah Hall at the Abode of the Message. Fatah is accessible from the central courtyard of the Abode.

Since 2014, Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny have collaborated on The Native and the Refugee, a multi-media documentary project profiling the spaces of the Indian reservation in the United States and Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East. They will give a presentation on their project with an overview of the resonances between American Indian and Palestinian experience, and will then screen a selection of their short films, followed by an open discussion.

Matt Peterson’s writings have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Evergreen Review, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, The L, The New Inquiry, and New York Press. In 2014 he completed feature film on the Tunisian insurrection, Scenes from a Revolt Sustained, with a production grant from the Doha Film Institute. He co-edited, with Barney Rosset & Ed Halter, From the Third Eye: The Evergreen Review Film Reader (Seven Stories Press, 2017). He is currently a member of Woodbine in Ridgewood, New York City.

Malek Rasamny is a researcher and filmmaker based in both New York and Beirut whose writings have been published in The Daily Star and Fuse. He’s worked at the Maysles Documentary Center, and was a founding member of the LERFE space in Harlem, the Ground Floor Collective, and Red Channels. He is a regular speaker at the Afikra international monthly series on Arab history and culture, and is currently working on a research project surrounding Druze sovereignty in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.

 

Details:

Tuesday Oct 24 @ 7PM
Abode of the Message, FATAH Family Room
New Lebanon, NY

Location: Abode of the Message, 5 Abode Road in New Lebanon, NY. Follow signs for visitor parking and enter the Fatah building via the central courtyard.

Overnight Lodging:
The Abode has room to host those traveling from out of town for this event. Lodging will be provided in exchange for volunteer work the next morning. Please let them know if you will be needing accommodations!


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


maine harvest credit project

posted October 18, 2017

Hey young farmers!

There is a  new Credit Union for farmers in Maine! It was founded in recognition that access to credit is one of the most difficult hurdles for young and new farmers to overcome. The Maine Harvest Credit Project is working to create a specialised credit union that is focused on providing credit to small farms and relocalizing the food economy in Maine. Their aim is to fill crucial financing gaps in the traditional credit system such as land acquisition, specialized food processing and farm equipment.

They believe that the creation of Maine Harvest will have an  impact well beyond Maine’s borders.  As the first deposit-taking institution in the USA focused on food system re-localization they will be a model for other states and regions looking to scale up the financing options for small scale, sustainably produced food and agricultural products. This is the start of something very important!

The project still needs a million dollars in order to get its accreditation, we think that this is the perfect opportunity for a tech investment (if you farm for a tech person, please pass this on for them to look at!)

To read more about the Maine Harvest Credit Union click HERE

If you or somebody you know is interested in becoming a donor, please contact Sam or Scott directly.

Sam May: sam@ddragonllc.com / 207.653.2260

Scott Budde: scott.j.budde@gmail.com / 207.653.5527


book: land justice: re-imagining land, food, and the commons

posted October 17, 2017

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credit: Friedrich-Karl Mohr

“Hunger and poverty are perpetuated by undemocratic systems of power. Now, this great new resource lifts the veil hiding the history of dispossession and unequal land access in the US.” – Frances Moore Lappé

Land access is the primary barrier for young farmers today. Ensuring access for young farmers who are passionate about the production of healthy food that helps rather than harms the planet is critical in order to address and resolve the injustices in the food system that are at the root of so many of the problems in society.

The authors of this new book Justine M. Williams and Eric Holt-Giménez begins with the history of colonialism in the southwestern US. It includes information from the important leaders within the food system With prefaces from leaders in the food justice and family farming movements, the book opens with a look at the legacies of white-settler colonialism in the southwestern United State which can be largely characterised by widespread enclosure  – and often subsequent depletion – of the rural commons through a process of privatization, that has endured until today. The history of this agricultural system is marred by racism, industrialization and destruction of ecosystems, and has concentrated much of the prosperity to be found in the food system in the hands of the few and powerful.

This book recognises what we have known for a long time: In order to move forward and achieve an equitable, sovereign and sustainable agricultural system for all, all of the players in the food movement must come together to demand land justice.

You can buy the book HERE.