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

the peasantry fight for control

posted October 23, 2017

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Street demonstration in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after Provisional Government troops open fire, July 4, 1917. Viktor Bulla / Wikimedia

In a recent article about the 1917 February and subsequent October Revolutions, Jacobin magazine discuss how, as in so many other revolutions, boiling point was reached in the fields and among the peasant class. The peasants were discounted by many at the time, on the right and left alike as ignorant and unimportant, or in the word of Marx as “the class that represents barbarism within civilization.”

Throughout 1917, however, these supposedly backward people surprised their supporters in the intelligentsia with their clever revolutionary activity. While each region and village had its own nuances, the main structures of this largely self-generated politics shared many characteristics.

First, the peasants banded together to form village committees. They also called these organizations peasant committees, although trusted non-peasants were sometimes allowed to take part: teachers, priests, and even landowners found themselves participating in committee activities. The rural workers quickly excluded anyone from those groups who tried to dominate the organization.

Click HERE to read the full article.


the year that ended dangerously: the ETC’s ireverant, snarky, and spot-on end of year review

posted January 31, 2016

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The ETC’s Report also contains this fabulous comic.

Every year, our friends at the ETC (stands for Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration) puts out an, as they say, “irreverent,” year-end recap– and this year’s is out now! We’ve compiled a brief list of the highlights from the 2015 edition of the ETC’s yearly End of Year Review:

  • Comparing itself to the Grinch that Stole Christmas when complaining about the Paris attacks, the ETC explains how in the proceedings the Climate Activists “lost time and ground that we can’t recover.”
  • Turns out phytoplankton are carbon sequesters.
  • The Good and the Bad news coming out of the tech sphere (gene drives, AI, Ben and Jerry’s, Technology Bank…)
  • Whimsical historical anecdotes from the year (good moral boosters)
  • And this favorite quote: ““Let’s be clear about this, our company was dishonest. And in my German words, we have totally screwed up.”
  • A not-to-be-missed reading list!
  • Clairvoyant prophecies regarding 2016.

Read it here!


we are all flint

posted January 31, 2016

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The same forces that have made the Flint disaster possible are the same ones
that are bent on privatizing public water supplies and preventing a just
resolution to the growing world climate disaster.

The following is an excerpt from a Statement from SxSW Experiment about the water crisis in Flint, MI. The experiment is a powerful grassroots coalition of Latino, African American, and low income communities hailing from the American South and Southwest and working to incur racial and socio-economic justice in their regions and across the country. (Sidenote: Their website contains a wealth of amazing resources and information for social justice activism.)

Read the entirety of “We are All Flint” here.

There is another critical question: How do we address the infrastructure
crisis throughout the United States? As in Flint, this issue
disproportionately burdens communities of people of color and of
low-wealth. This is not simply a question of failure of public
investment. It reflects a deep structural problem that threatens to
create future public health disasters.

The deeper message of Flint goes beyond the dangers of human error or
even negligence, and beyond the actions of state governments that would
facilitate the impoverishment of our people. It is about a crisis in the
U.S. that threatens the lives and well-being of a growing majority of
the population.

The neoliberal model of development that underlies the strategic
political policies in Michigan that led to this crisis has as its
cornerstone the privatization of public resources and public services.
This model is supported by both major political parties and bankrolled
by those who have accumulated tremendous wealth at the direct expense of
people of color and of low-wealth.

It is a mode of development that is rooted in the systematic undermining
of the right to democratic participation by limiting the capacity of
local people to impact the formation and implementation of public policy
… whether in Flint, across the US, or in other parts of the world. The
same forces that have made the Flint disaster possible are the same ones
that are bent on privatizing public water supplies and preventing a just
resolution to the growing world climate disaster.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Flint, who are on the
frontlines of the struggle for democracy. We share their struggle for
democracy and for a transition to a just society that more fully values
human life and development.


call for submissions for the new farmers almanac

posted December 15, 2015

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Time to submit to the NEW FARMER’S ALMANAC vol. III

Agrarians and stewards of all types, young and old, seasoned and greenhorn, we want to hear from you! We’ve begun the process of compiling submissions to the New Farmer’s Almanac: vol III. Awash in fascinating content, we want more!

The upcoming Almanac will explore the theme of The Commons, drawing from folklore, mathematical projections, empirical, emotional and geographical observations of theory and praxis. As farmers we hold space in many interwoven commons—the carbon sequestered in the soil, the water cycling through our landscapes, the biodiversity of the insect resources living among our operations, and all the other natural and human-crafted systems in which we function.

Possibilities for our shared future would seem to rest on how these intersecting commons are governed, particularly at the juncture of humanity and ecology where we make our workplace. In re-visiting the Almanac format we assert our version of Americana—one which might better lay the cultural groundwork to serve the information needs of today’s young farmers, field hands, and land workers of all kinds—and equip ourselves for the challenges of rebuilding the food system and restoring a more democratic, more diverse, and more resilient foundation for society.

We face a dystopian future, with guaranteed-unpredictable weather, the impending collapse of the fossil fuel economy, endlessly consolidating monopolies, and a country that is, for the first time in our history, majority urban. That’s why the Almanac is a utopian publication, one that reminds today’s farmers about the foundational concepts of an agrarian democracy—themselves utopian.

But we also reject the self-propelling logic of techno-utopia—dependent upon extraction economies which, through enclosure of common resources, bleed out our land, resources, and people. We orient ourselves instead toward the words of Ursula Le Guin, who reminds us that our intent in utopian thinking should not be “reactionary, nor even conservative, but simply subversive. It seems that the utopian imagination is trapped, like capitalism and industrialism and the human population, in a one-way future consisting only of growth.”

We want to hear from you on your engagements with the Commons and all its intricacies—marine and terrestrial, tragic and elemental, constantly under assault and yet inexorable in the persistence of its promise. Send us astronomical data, exercises in cooperation, reading lists, games, poems, rants, historical accounts, animal handling instructions, illustrations, guides to any and all aspects of farming and stewardship, recipes, health suggestions, thoughts, dreams, plans, schematics, even computer code if you’ve got some that’s applicable. We’re open to everything!

Text submissions should be around 700 words. Visual materials should be submitted as 600 dpi grayscale images, formatted as .tiff, .psd, or .jpg files.

If you’ve got ideas and want to run them by us beforehand, please do so by Jan. 10, 2016. Submissions are due by Feb. 1, 2016!

Send submissions to almanac@thegreenhorns.net

Questions or further information needs? Email us at the above address.

Onward!

Information about the 2015 New Farmer’s Almanac here, for sale here.  More on our 2013 New Farmer’s Almanac (on sale for $20) here. Questions about the 2015 Almanac? Send us an email


REQUIRE READING: the TTP, local farming, and what you need to know

posted July 11, 2015

photo by Global Justic Now https://www.flickr.com/photos/wdm/14658220674/in/photostream/
photo by Global Justic Now https://www.flickr.com/photos/wdm/14658220674/in/photostream/

On July 20th, as part of Maine Sail Freight events, the Greenhorns are hosting a training on the secret trade deal TTP and TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) at a public waterfront park in Portsmouth’s Strawberry Banke.

If you can’t make it, this is your required reading: Maine Agriculture and Food Systems in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Why? Sometimes, it’s hard to even imagine that something as abstract-sounding as the Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could affect small-scale agriculture in the United States. The reality, however, is that the proposed free trade agreement could have devastating repercussions throughout the entire United States food system. International trade agreements are, for better or worse, already intricately woven into our national food policy, federal food prices, and governmental regulations– and the TTP has the potential to further limit state and local sovereignty over markets.

The issue is complicated, and TTP talks have had limited transparency, but it is essential that farmers and food activists in the US understand what is at stake. Which is why we cannot more highly recommend this investigation on how the TTP would affect Maine Agriculture and Food Systems, co-authored by the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy and the Maine Farmland Trust as part of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission and Maine Fair Trade Campaign.

Ultimately the paper’s authors conclude that,

“It is impossible to accurately predict the real impacts of these changes in tariff and non-tariff barriers on specific sectors of agricultural production in Maine. The bigger question is how the changes that could result from TTIP would affect the state’s food sovereignty, i.e., farmers’ efforts to produce sustainable crops at fair prices, consumers’ demands for healthy and affordable foods, and their joint efforts to support local economies.”

The document is relatively short (given the complicated nature of the topic), easy to understand, and well-worth a committed read. The paper suggests that the trade agreement may have far-reaching and potentially catastrophic effects on many aspects of Maine’s agricultural sector including farm-to-school programs, attempts to support and promote local food systems, Maine dairy farmers and cheese producers, and GMO labelling initiatives. Though the assessment is geared specifically towards Maine, the issues it discusses are not unique to Maine alone, and it is useful for anyone looking to understand how international policy might affect domestic and local affairs.

Read it here!

The Maine Fair Trade Campaign’s next meeting is  Wed. July 15, 2015
Place: Viles Arboretum, 153 Hospital St, Augusta ME.


gone feral

posted April 27, 2014

Novella Carpenter’s latest book!index
Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild
Gone Feral is Novella Carpenter’s search for her father. Back-to-the-land homesteader, gifted classical guitarist, Korean War vet, hermit, curmudgeon, George Carpenter has been absent for most of his daughter’s life. But when he officially goes missing— only to be found in a fleabag Arizona motel, escaping the brutal Idaho winter—his daughter is forced to confront the truth: Her time with her dad, now seventy-three years old, is limited, and the moment to restore their relationship is now. Thus begins a journey of discovery that carries Carpenter from her Oakland urban farm to her father’s ramshackle cabin on a quest for connection that reveals who she is and where she came from.


agrarian reading list

posted April 22, 2014

HERE.

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Reading materials on topics of agrarian interest, including the following:

  • agricultural history, rural social movements
  • land tenure across history and cultures
  • rise of capitalism, colonialism, and international markets
  • agricultural policy
  • labor and solidarity economics
  • social justice and movements for change
  • subsistence and peasant studies

another place for wonderful winter reading

posted January 6, 2014

which is also keyword searchable.  The MANAS Journal

Each eight-page weekly issue of the MANAS Journal contained several short essays, crafted from a wide variety of sources, that reflected on the human condition. Written, edited, and published for 41 years by Henry Geiger, the MANAS Journal was the work of a lifetime that continues to grow in importance, credibility, and influence.

MANAS is a journal of independent inquiry, concerned with the study of the principles which move world society on its present course, and with searching for contrasting principles- that may be capable of supporting intelligent idealism under the conditions of the twentieth century. MANAS is concerned, therefore, with philosophy and with practical psychology, in as direct and simple a manner as the editors and contributors can write. The word “manas” comes from a common root suggesting “man” or “the thinker.” Editorial articles are unsigned, since MANAS wishes to present ideas and viewpoints, not personalities.