oh boy! check out this treasure trove of apiary wisdom.

posted December 13, 2017

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Once upon a time in a land… not so far from Seattle… lived a man, his wife and their two beautiful young daughters.

One day the man came to his wife and proclaimed that he wanted to be a beekeeper. The wife, completely bewildered by his announcement, looked at her husband and demanded:
“WHY on Earth, would you want to do that?”
After many months of attempting to convince his wife that beekeeping would be fun, educational and beneficial to their family, she finally gave in.

As the winter passed the man and his two daughters’ researched the art of keeping bees, built beehives and prepared to become “backyard beekeepers” in the coming spring.  The two young daughters took a genuine interest in the newfound hobby. Everyday their knowledge and enthusiasm for beekeeping grew until finally one day they made a proclamation of their own:
“Daddy,” the five year old said to the man, “I think sissy and I should be the beekeepers, and you can just kinda stand by and supervise.”

It was that day, which Two Little Ladies Apiary was born.

Check out their site HERE, they have a ton of amazing resources and links for new and old beekeepers alike that range from DIY tips to links to the required legal information for beekeepers and everything in between.

 

 


arizona science institute launches first ever glyphosate testing biobank

posted November 8, 2017

The Detox Project reported on Tuesday that they along with MetricBio have launched the first ever Glyphosate Biobank. which is being funded by the public. The aim of the Biobank is to help shed further light on the levels of glyphosate in the U.S population in addition to helping researchers investigate human health issues that could be linked to Glyphosate. The test is non-invasive and carried out on urine samples.  (more…)


new resource: national sustainable agriculture oral history archive

posted October 12, 2017

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credit: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders

The National Sustainable Agriculture Oral History Archive is a collection of interviews with people who have been instrumental in the development and implementation of public policies to advance sustainable agriculture in the United States. It was started in 2015 and has been growing ever since. Several of the interviews are with key members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and their interviews document the process of formation and evolution that has led to the NSAC that we know today. They also discuss the federal policy reforms NSAC, its allies, and predecessor coalitions have achieved over the past four decades.

To date there are 31 interviews available in the archive, most in a video format with accompanying written transcription. The plan for the next year involves conducting 8-10 more interviews featuring  several farmer/civil rights activists in the South among others.

Among the main topics covered in the interviews are:

  • The political and social context surrounding the initial federal policy efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to advance organic and sustainable agriculture;
  • The evolution of what became the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, from its early days as an informal network of grassroots organizations, to the more formal structure of regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) in the 1990s, to the NSAC of today with its 120 organizations from around the country;
  • A review of the policy gains that support organic and sustainable agriculture achieved through federal Farm Bills from 1985 through 2014, including a discussion of where policy proposals fell short, despite the efforts of sustainable agriculture advocates;
  • What now? Exploration of priorities going forward that are needed to strengthen organic and sustainable farming and build a healthy food system.

Check out the archive HERE

The archive is housed at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. The interviews were conducted by Ron Kroese (rkroese@visi.com), a senior fellow with the University’s Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems. 


sowing the seeds of food sovereignty.

posted June 28, 2017

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The mission of A Growing Culture is “supporting farmers to reshape the food system” to ensure that the future of agriculture is just, sustainable  and supportive of farmers. We are very excited about the wide range of resources they have to support farmers, not least their much anticipated Library for Food Sovereignty. The library, due for release in the late summer or early autumn of 2017, will include stories of farmer led innovations from around the world, local knowledge, grassroots farming movements and technical and environmental resources.

(more…)


the farmers aren’t alright

posted March 7, 2017

Rural View - Anton Novoselov
Rural View – Anton Novoselov

We recently ran a piece from VPR on farmers and the difficulties of accessing affordable health insurance – this is surely a topic that requires some serious thought and discussion in the years to come.

Wrapped up in our general well being is the taboo topic of mental health and as we invest our bodies, savings, and futures into the land, it can be a serious challenge to keep the spirit and mind at peace. Whether you are starting or running a business, changing fields, underpaid, or just exhausted, farming can be incredibly stressful work. So following on this theme we’d like to recommend the Ruminant’s recent episode on farmers and mental health.

The Ruminant is wonderful podcast and blog that discusses ideas, issues, and inspiration for today’s agrarians.

So give yourself and hour, pour glass of wine or warm a cup of milk. curl up and listen in on what is an important conversation for all of us to be having.

You can hear the episode here

 


full scholarships for mediation training in the nys agricultural mediation program

posted February 8, 2017

 

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop discussion at the NOFA MA conference within which arose the idea that our farms can become centers and examples of social justice and fairness. (Heck yes!) In line with this idea, the New York State Agricultural Mediation Program is currently offering scholarships for mediation training, specifically to people with roots in the agrarian community. The scholarships are provided by the NYS Agricultural Mediation Program (NYSAMP) in order to train mediators who can help out in underserved, less-populated rural areas– and in particular, they need mediators who can serve Columbia, Greene, Ulster, and Sullivan counties.

The NYS Agricultural Mediation Program offers free statewide mediation services to farmers to resolve conflicts including neighbor complains, loans or debts, landlord disputes, and family succession.

These new scholarships are available for a four-day Basic Mediation Training (valued at $1250) and are for applicants who “are curious by nature, and empathic, able to see the good in people, even when people may be in the depths of a highly stressful conflict. Applicants need to be able to see several discrete perspectives or differences of opinions at a time and hold them without judgement.”

Applicants will be interviewed for scholarships. And, if chosen for the program, will be expected to attend the training in March at Common Ground and Dispute Resolution Services. Afterwards they will join an apprenticeship program where they will put their skills into practice and receive coaching.  Applicants must be committed to “giving their time and talents” back to the community and be available to serve as a volunteer mediator in Columbia, Greene, Ulster or Sullivan counties. Applicants need to commit to serving as a volunteer mediator for at least 6 mediations per year for two years. 

The scholarships are provided by the NYS Agricultural Mediation Program (NYSAMP) in order to train mediators who can help out in underserved, less-populated rural areas.

If you are ready to serve or if you know of someone, who you think would make a

great volunteer mediator to “nominate” please contact:

Common Ground for Columbia or Greene County
(518) 943 0523; or email us at info@commongroundinc.org

Dispute Resolution Services for Sullivan and Ulster Counties
Jolynn Dunn  845-551-2668

Applications are due by February 10th.


another model for financing farm starts

posted January 9, 2017

Kristopher Flack from 2015 New Farmers Almanac
Kristopher Flack from 2015 New Farmers Almanac

Let’s talk about money folks.

How do we go about starting farms? Some of the main barriers new farmers face are access to training, access to land, access to funding. We’ve definitely noticed that in the last 10 years there has certainly been an increase in training opportunities, from more farms offering better employment, institutions offering curriculum around sustainable ag, and organizations, with as similar mandate to ours, helping connect budding agrarians.

But land access and funding remain serious challenges. While farmers continue to create novel approaches to financing their operations (CSA’s, community borrowing) we clearly need more recognition and support from the financial industry to help get new farms off the ground. (more…)


community economies

posted March 31, 2016

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The Community Economies Collective (CEC) and the Community Economies Research Network (CERN) are international collaborative networks of researchers who share an interest in theorizing, discussing, representing and ultimately enacting new visions of economy. By making multiple forms of economic life viable options for action, these diverse, engaged scholarly and activist efforts aim to open the economy to ethical debate and provide a space within which to explore different economic practices and pathways.

These projects grew out of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s feminist critique of political economy that focused upon the limiting effects of representing economies as dominantly capitalist. Central to the project is the idea that economies are always diverse and always in the process of becoming. CERN and CEC developed as ways of connecting and coordinating the work of researchers and activists who document and theorize the multiple ways in which people are making economies of difference and in the process realizing their interdependence with others.

Our work aims to

  • produce a more inclusive understanding of economy
  • highlight the extent and contribution of hidden and alternative economies
  • theorize economy and community as sites of becoming
  • build sustainable non-capitalist economic alternatives
  • foster ethical economic experimentation
  • engender collaborations between activists, academics and communities

To check out their awesome collection of publications (or their website) click HERE!


virginia farmers share their stories

posted February 22, 2016


Earlier this year, The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition sat down with the owners of five farms across Virginia to talk with them about their enterprises. They asked them how they got started in farming, where they sell their products, how they handle their labor, and so much more! These conversations were recorded for the purpose of creating videos that will help you learn more about your fellow Virginia farmers while learning valuable information that may help you in your own enterprise. The five farms that will be featured in these videos include:

  • Bellair Farm (Charlottesville)
  • Porcello Farm (Charlottesville)
  • Agriberry Farm (Hanover)
  • Amy’s Garden (Charles City)
  • Browntown Farms (Warfield)

Over the next few months, The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition will be releasing a new video to our YouTube channel every week to share their stories with you.


photosynq: open source platform for collaborative problem solving

posted February 21, 2016

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“PhotosynQ is an open source software and sensor platform where communities can identify, research, and implement new methods to solve their local problems. Our initial focus is on agriculture, where we’re bringing together researchers, extension, crop consultants, and farmers to develop precision ag solutions in markets largely ignored by ‘big ag’ (small farms, niche crops, developing world markets, etc.). Examples include sensor-based methods for early identification of disease, mid-season prediction of yield, evaluating soil quality, and many others.

Our perspective is that sharing data simply isn’t enough – data quality is paramount to produce results that actually matter. Data must be collected using consistent methods, comparable devices, with strategies to identify outliers. Even with all that in place, the community has to have the skills to collect, analyze, and interpret the data correctly with minimal mistakes. At the same time, every project’s data needs are different – different methods, devices, methods of analysis, etc. While consistency and flexibility seem at odds, we’ve worked hard to make a platform in which they both exist, and scaling from new user to a developer is relatively easy. Unlike Xively or other streaming IoT data sites, we’re not trying to be the solution to every IoT problem. If you’re trying to track the temperature in your garage, we’re probably not what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to collaborate across a community, solve a complex problem, and develop a sensor-enabled solution… we’re worth checking out.

Go to www.photosynq.org for more. Hope to see you there!”