In the southwest German city of Freiburg, there is a successful co-op of some 260 people who are participating in successful organic vegetable gardening and sharing the costs and risks. Whatever the harvest, good or poor, it’s distributed to all members. Cucumbers are allowed to be bent, carrots entwined, the occasional lettuce smaller than average. Seasonal, totally organic growing, 100% original seed, local food production, solidarity economics, collective property and education are some of the many hallmarks of the work that they are doing. (more…)
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!
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…)
Growing Magazine recently published a good examination of community finance, community resilience and community agriculture – the CSA model. They profile 3 different farms: Brookford Farm in NH, Norwich Meadows Farm NY, and Prairierth Farm IL, all of whom are practicing a modified, diversified form of CSA and are thriving! (more…)
The Common Friarsare men and women, married and single, lay and ordained, of an emerging monastic order in the Episcopal Church, seeking to understand and live out what it means to be a Christian disciple today. They do this by placing the utmost importance on being connected to the land, to each other, and to those on the margins of society. Their land that they steward and are connected to is the Good Earth Farmlocated in Athens. Ohio. They live and work together here and and contribute their individual talents and gifts to one another and to the broader community. Their actions are guided by the “Rule of Life” which is defined by poverty, joy and hospitality, prayer, work, the eucharist and meals and you can visit them in Ohio if you’re in the area!
The NY Times published an interesting article recently about Kimbal Musk’s (brother of Elon) foray into farming.
Mr. Musk is promoting a philosophy he calls “real food,” which nourishes the body, the farmer and the planet. It doesn’t sound much different than what writers like Michael Pollan and everyone who has ever helped start a farmers’ market or community garden have preached for years.
Musk having spent years working in the tech industry has set his sights on ‘innovating’ the food world motivated by his passion for healthy food and what he sees as the ceremony of food. He has effectively dedicated himself to changing the way Americans eat. He is keen to promote soilless farming a controversial, disruptive opinion within the organic farming world.
For all his business and tech acumen, Mr. Musk can sometimes seem tone-deaf. At a conference on food waste in New York last month, he declared from the stage that “food is one of the final frontiers that technology hasn’t tackled yet. If we do it well, it will mean good food for all.”
When the comment was posted on Twitter, Lawrence McLachlan, a farmer in Ontario, Canada, shot back: “You might want to visit a Farm Progress show. Or even a farm. I think you might have missed 70 years of Ag history. It’s Hi-Tech stuff bud.”
Forest fires have become an increasingly significant issue in the last decade and it seems as though nowhere is safe from the death and destruction that they bring. Few places have to contend with fires on a large a scale as Portugal. The fires this year killed 64 people and destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of forest and farmland.
In addition to climate change, one of the major issues in Portugal is urbanisation. In recent decades populations who once inhabited the land have been moving to urban areas in search of work, abandoning their land. This has lead to a lack of maintenance and an abundance of undergrowth which is in turn more vulnerable to these all consuming fires.
“This was an area where families had their small properties and they lived off the land. That ended in the 1970s, they left, and the owners of the land now live in the cities…The landscape we now have is the result of abandonment.”
– Antonio Louro, deputy mayor of Macao
Forest fires in Portugal account for a disproportionate amount of the total number in Europe. Despite accounting for less than 3% of the EU population, this year Portugal had to contend with 40% of the forest fires. Louro, the architect of land reforms in the area has proposed a novel solution to the problems in the region – namely ‘village companies’ that practice shared land management of abandoned land. This would see the reintroduction of native crops such as citrus trees and olives and the profits generated would be shared among the community.
It is so wonderful and inspiring to see innovative solutions take hold and gain traction in the face of environmental and social catastrophes. To read the full article, click HERE.
Solar cookers could not be more simple in many ways, their basic means of operation catches the suns rays and uses this heat to cook food. Some use aluminium coated plastic to do this while others other means to achieve the same effect. Either way, the opportunities afforded by solar cookers go far beyond household cooking, particularly in parts of the world experiencing a multitude of complex social, economic and environmental issues. (more…)
As part of their True Blue project, Fibershed, have recently released a report on the processes and practices involved in the making of blue indigo dye. They explain the idea of a closed-loop ideal indigo dye production system which “moves from soil to dye to textiles and back to soil.” The basis for the report is multifaceted, including academic literature reviews, books on natural dyeing and personal interviews with skilled artisan dyers including Rowland Ricketts, Jane Palmer, and Kori Hargreaves.
Haven’t we been hearing or a long time that that human innovation and technology will be the thing that gets us through the projected crisis’ ahead, from the environmental, to the social and political. Yet even as we are seeing an unprecedented increase in affordable technologies, these solutions still tend to consolidate power in the hands of a few as most are proprietary by design.
Wasn’t it Wendell Berry that said a solution is not a solution if it is not available to all? It’s a rational that resonates with a lot of the opensource and farmhack ethos of simple, user designed, accessible technologies and practices. Because beyond just being accessible, open source innovations respond to the needs of a community rather than being prescriptive solutions coming from outside.
We’re excited about this little project by some folks from France called The Gold of Bengal. The group has been sailing a boat made of recycled material, navigating the the world in search of different interesting initiatives. Their current voyage began in 2015 and for the next 3 years they are documenting low-technology innovations that they encounter along the way.
Three cheers for community led, decentralized, open innovation!