California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) is hiring a Policy Director to aid in advancing organic agriculture for a healthy world through policy, advocacy, outreach, and strategic communications. The Director will be a highly collaborative leader who is committed to working with internal and external stakeholders to address local, state, and national policy and regulatory issues impacting CCOF members. For more information, please visit https://www.ccof.org/ccof/work-ccof
Founded in 2013, Unadilla Community Farm is an off-grid solar-powered organic fruit and vegetable farm and permaculture education center. Our mission is to provide a space for the teaching and practice of sustainable skills. Currently, we have 4 farm members (2 of whom live on-site year-round) and a crew of seasonal interns. We’re seeking additional members who want to live and work with us cooperatively.
We grow a diversity of cold-hardy organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms, following the principles of agroforestry, organic agriculture and permaculture. We are establishing a regenerative food forest with over 50+ varieties of fruit and nut trees and berries. We’re also currently building our infrastructure from the ground up, using natural building methods and local + salvaged materials. We have completed a self-sufficient tiny home, and are in the process of building a barn and converting a school bus into another tiny home.
Potential members are invited to live and work with us for a trial period of at least 3 months during the growing season, with the opportunity to move in full-time if it seems like a good fit. There are several pathways to communal landownership that we can pursue, depending on the interests of new members. Our project is run cooperatively, so new members are invited to share their unique skills and ideas for communally driving the project forward as we expand and diversify. Visit our website for more details about our work – and please email us at email@example.com to get in touch! And please share this with your networks. https://unadillacommunityfarm.blogspot.com/
The School of Adaptive Agriculture Practicum Program is for adults who have decided to enter the sustainable food system. You may not yet know what your role will be. But you want to be among the million new farmers, ranchers, and leaders this country needs in order to transform agriculture through creative, sustainable and profitable enterprises. Join us for a three month intensive residential training program on a 5,000 acre working ranch in Mendocino County, California. Our 2019 Practicum Programs start in April and July. Visit our website for more information.
The School of Adaptive Agriculture Practicum Program is for adults who have decided to enter the sustainable food system. You may not yet know what your role will be. But you want to be among the million new farmers, ranchers, and leaders this country needs in order to transform agriculture through creative, sustainable and profitable enterprises. Join us for a three month intensive residential training program on a 5,000 acre working ranch in Mendocino County, California. Our program combines experiential learning with living and working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers. Classroom based learning is designed to send students off with a comprehensive vocabulary, skill set, and understanding of the foundations of small scale agriculture. Weekly field trips contribute to a unique learning experience, giving students a well-rounded education that helps launch them into your career in the food system. Programs start in April and July. Visit our website for more information.
To learn more about our program please visit our website: www.adaptiveagriculture.org. Please note that applications for our 2019 Spring term are due Thursday, February 14th.
Human progression has forever been linked to our ability to find ways to more efficiently feed ourselves. From hunter gatherer to agrarian to industrial and networked, each advancement in civilization has been led by technological advancements in agriculture.
For a historical perspective, in the United States in 1870, nearly 50% of the population was employed in agriculture. Today that number is under 2%. During the middle of the industrial revolution, there was still one worker in agriculture for every other employee in the work force. A series of global famines lead to immense focus on agricultural efficiency and application of technology in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Currently, roughly 1 employee in agriculture can feed 50 people.
However, the need for farmers can never completely disappear. As the world population increases and global food demand skyrockets, the need for higher and better food production is increasing while the margin for error is decreasing with limited arable land. Our food producers have always been at the mercy of nature. Drought, flood, heat, cold, pests, and disease are only a few of the natural phenomenon farmers have had to contend with for millennia. In addition, farmers today are facing challenges that no other generation of farmers have had to face.
Tackling modern day challenges is where the farmer is less equipped or in some cases, not at all. The world is seeing an overall urban migration at a rate never seen before. The labor force which farmers have relied upon lately is slowly aging and disappearing as rural communities “advance” through their agrarian phase. Urban service economies are creating high paying, high-tech jobs, leaving employment in the agricultural industry looking unexciting and unprofitable. Non-GMO and organic movements are stripping farmers of their historical weapons against nature. A focus on urban economies and urban service industries has led to government policies artificially driving up labor wages without consideration to its impact on farming communities, thus adding a new challenge in an always price driven commodity market. Other resources that feed farming, such as and especially water, are now a regulated, debated, and increasingly expensive resource. The rate of global civilization advancement coupled with the above societal shifts has left the farmer technologically behind.
The list could go on.
All of the above has resulted in farming communities feeling threatened and marginalized at a time when we need them most. Quoting one of our clients – “…we feel like we have a target on our backs.”
There is a new movement that is countering the above, farmers and farming communities are beginning to take control of the future and pool their resources to fund the innovation they need. A major impediment has been a lack of familiarity with complex technology development at a global scale. The technology companies that do engage with farmers have ignored the generational knowledge and insights that rests with farmers and hence have failed in providing the needed advancements. Several technology companies have taken advantage of farmers whether through data rights, usage/modification restrictions, or limiting revenue trickle down to farmers. Some companies have engaged in all of these and more.
This has led to audacious farmers engaging companies like Motivo, to develop their needed solutions. Motivo’s unique commercial arrangements allows farmers and farming communities to leverage their insights by encapsulating them into unique services and products for deployment not just on their farms but globally. Early adopters and visionaries in agriculture are seeing a world of opportunity with new innovations leading to intellectual property and new revenue streams.
This is just the beginning and unless we apply the kind of societal focus and resources applied to other global challenges, our next generation will be re-introduced to the word “famine”, a word that has largely disappeared from the public vernacular. Unlike previous famines, this time around our society antipathy towards farmers and farming would be the primary cause.
In our upcoming blogs we shall examine additional ways to overcome the highlighted food security challenges and accelerate a future where farming is viewed as an exciting and profitable profession globally.
A future where society has advanced by taking the next giant leap in agriculture.
Steve Babin is a Product Manager at Motivo who grew up working on and around farms in rural Northern Idaho where he now resides. After 12 years working in aerospace maintenance, production, and R&D, Steve joined Motivo after noticing the work they were doing in the AgTech space.
Praveen Penmetsa is the CEO and founder of Motivo Engineering.
Motivo Engineering is an innovation engineering firm headquartered in California, USA and has executed numerous projects in mobility, aerospace and AgTech. Motivo’s unique innovation framework and phased product development approach has reduced the risk in transformative product development for audacious visionaries. Motivo projects range from innovation and intellectual property development to low volume manufacturing of these transformative products. Several Motivo clients are now leveraging these technology solutions for additional future revenue through licensing or by selling these unique products.
Motivo will be at the 2019 World Ag Expo, February 12-14 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare.
Rogue Farm Corps helps train the next generation of farmers via hands-on immersive training on sustainable farms in Oregon. Live and learn side-by-side with a mentor farmer. Take part in classes, farm tours, and discussion circles. Learn more and apply today for the 2019 season: http://roguefarmcorps.org
Rogue Farm Corps’ Internship Program is a full season entry-level residential internship that combines hands-on training and skills-based education in sustainable agriculture.
Participants live and learn on a host farm, receiving up to 1,500 hours of on-farm training and learning in-depth skills from their mentor farmer over the course of a farming season. The hands-on, residential training experience is combined with farm tours, classes, and discussion circles throughout the region, as well as an independent study project, and access to lots of resources for further learning. Interns are exposed to a vast array of knowledge and expertise by engaging in the daily life of vibrant, agricultural communities.
The Apprenticeship Program is an advanced program for those with farming experience who are seeking mastery in the art and business of sustainable agriculture. Hands-on training, classes, weekend workshops around the state, an independent study project, and guidance in farm business development will allow participants to gain the skills to plan, design, and run integrated farming systems on their own.
This full-immersion program is designed for those who have completed an internship program with RFC or a similar organization, or have two years of on-farm experience. Apprentices live and learn on a host farm, receive up to two seasons of on-farm training, and learn in-depth skills from their mentor farmer. The rotating two-year curriculum focuses on advanced farming techniques and business planning and management.
Rogue Farm Corps is the only organization in Oregon that offers structured, entry-level and advanced farmer education and training programs rooted in real-world farm businesses. The program works with host farms located in the Rogue Valley, the Portland Metro Area, the South Willamette Valley, and Central Oregon and offer experiences with vegetable production, animal husbandry, dairy, mixed operations, and more. For complete program descriptions, host farm profiles, and applications visit http://roguefarmcorps.org
Mountain Roots Food Project is a local food systems initiative in the beautiful Rocky Mountain community of Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado. At Mountain Roots we have a newly established community farm (2 years old) and manage six community /school gardens.
We are seeking a full time Farm & Gardens Manager to start in 2019 and help take our programs to the next level.
This is a perfect role for someone who has been an apprentice or assistant under an older farm manager for a couple of years and feels ready to step into a management and leadership role. The ideal candidate has enough experience to confidently manage a start-to-finish growing season for 2 acres of crops and a pastured poultry project and teach/mentor new/emerging farmers in internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level community garden coordinator. The job description can be found on Indeed, our website, and Facebook.
Mountain Roots will be accepting applications through Wednesday Nov 21 for a mid-January start.
We’ve written about the Maine Rice Project before, it is a non-profit with a mission to get more people to grow and eat sustainably grown rice and grain throughout Maine. It is the brainchild of Ben and Asher of Wild Folk Farm in Benton, who have shown successfully that rice can be grown in Maine and that there is a strong market for it. Their original small experimental paddy was 2/3 of an acre but demand has outstripped supply and they are looking for new sites to help them expand their project. The grant that they received form Maine Technology Institute has allowed them the financial flexibility to do just this but they still need land!
“A good site for a paddy will have clay soil, an uphill pond with good capacity, a slight slope for water management and be identified in the United States Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness map as in Zone 4b or warmer. For farmers who can and want to grow rice on their farms, Rooney and others from the Maine Rice Project will work with them to design and build paddy systems based on individual site characteristics. Some of the knowledge of how to build paddies on Maine farms came from his own years of trial and error at Wild Folk Farm, where rice growing began somewhat experimentally.”
If you have land that meets the requirements of the project that you would be interested in leasing, get in touch with Ben by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Permaculture is essentially a design philosophy created for and typically applied to food producing systems. However it has also been translated for use in many other areas such as architecture, community building, and corporate structures. Permaculture, developed by Bill Mollison in the late 1980s in Australia, has been adopted and adapted by gardeners, farmers, and designers across the world in the years since. Many permaculture solutions mimic natural ecosystems by creating tightly interwoven environments where all parts support each other. For example, in wild ecosystems, monocultures don’t exist as they do in our gardens and on our farms. Highly diverse planting, called a polyculture, serves several functions. These include slowing pests by making it more difficult to find the next plant of the variety they feed on. With varied crops in one bed, soil life can be in better balance. One plant may be nitrogen fixing to the benefit of its neighbors while another might provide a trellis or shade out competitive weeds. The three sisters planting strategy (or guild as it is called by permaculturists) is a simple example of the benefits derived from polycultures.
Complexity and diversity are pillars of permaculture, helping create a stable, healthy system. The more opportunities for interaction – between plants, insects, birds and animals, the better. We see this in a pond setting. More activity and life occurs at the edge of the pond where the water and land meet than in the middle of the pond or on the land a few yards away from the pond. The biodiversity found on ecological edges helps keep ecosystems stable. When one organism, say mosquitos, experiences a population boom, a diverse ecosystem supplies the habitat that mosquito predators will be able to live in. Thus the frogs and toads living on the banks of the pond can leap into action to bring the mosquito population back under control. The same is true on farms. Many of us already know the benefits of having strips of wildflowers planted near fields of cash crops. Similarly bramble-y edges that provide habitat for birds will be protection against a sudden attack by locusts or other pests.
Permaculture adopts the attitude that the benefits of a diverse system outweigh the losses in terms of harvesting efficiency and the space that is often called upon to be wild habitat. For many permaculturists, the increase in biodiversity and stability of their sites bring increases in crop health, yield, and pleasure. Permaculture systems require often heavy front end work in terms of observing the site and the pre-existing forces at play as well as establishing the backbone of the intended system (earth-moving, orchard establishment, etc.). Once the system is established, however, the permacultural model aims to shift the bulk of labor back to nature and off the shoulders of the farmer or gardener. Farmers Masanobu Fukoka and Sepp Holzer have been utilizing permaculture strategies since before the term existed. Their farms are prime examples of the impressive results permaculture strategies can yield in even inhospitable locations.
Many permaculturists advise that the best way to learn is to observe nature at work and to start trying things. If you’re interested in reading more, however, check out the following books:
This post was written by the newest member of the Greenhorns Blogging Team Cambria Whitcomb! Cambria is closing in on the end of her first official year of farming. She grew up in a rural town in Michigan and is a graduate of the University of Chicago. After a stint in San Francisco, she has returned to small town life – now in North Carolina where she pursues a plethora of environmentally-focused activities. She is interested in combining her background in the arts with her love of farming and the belief that systemic agricultural shifts make the most direct path to improving the environmental crisis. (How exactly those interests will mesh remains to be seen!) Cambria’s favorite farm implement is the scuffle hoe and she once incorporated cow manure into an assignment for a college art class.
In March of this year, we along with our partners, sponsors and friends held the first FaithLands gathering hosted at Paicines Ranch in March 2018. Organized by a small group of dedicated faith and land access leaders, the gathering brought together 30 multi-faith participants from around the country working at the intersection of faith, ecological stewardship, and farming.
In planning for the gathering we came together and spoke about the great potential and needs for these groups to work together. We recognised that religious bodies hold a lot of legacy land and that this land can be used for creation in a way that benefits all members of a community. Tied into this hope was an acute awareness that this process needed to be nurtured.
Civil Eats published an article recently about faith lands. A number of the organisers and participants of the gathering and featured. They speak about the work that they are involved in and other work that is being done between farmers and churches across America. It’s well worth a read! We are so proud to have been given the opportunity to be part of this gathering and are so excited to see what comes next!
“FaithLands attendees left with a list of commitments to pursue. The Greenhorns are creating a guide to working with local churches, and they’ll present on the topic at upcoming EcoFarm and Biodynamic Association conferences. Inspired by the New York City-based 596 Acres, a group of Catholics committed to mapping Catholic Church-owned land that might be suitable for sustainable agriculture, a steering committee coalesced to articulate the shared values and theological principles (across faith groups) that inform and inspire the FaithLands movement. And farmers like Moses Kashem will coach other beginning farmers on forming fruitful land partnerships with churches, especially when it comes to securing long-term leases.”
There are less than two weeks to go before we kick off our jam packed summer events schedule in Downeast costal Maine! First up on June 10th is GPS for Beginners, led by Markley Boyer. This workshop will be particularly useful for agrarians, young and old who are looking to more efficiently use their land, as well as those interested in cartography and topography. (more…)