Mushroom Buoys Could Be Contender in Fight to Reduce Ocean Plastics
“We know that the myco buoys show promise,” said Sue Van Hook, a mycologist who led a pair of workshops on how to make the buoys at Smithereen Farm in Pembroke this month. “This is a solution for replacing styrofoam flotation.”
“Instead of running away from the downsides, let’s be open to material innovation and best practices,” said Severine Fleming, who runs the farm and the grassroots farming organization Greenhorns that hosted the workshop.
Book Review: “The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume V”
“What kind of nourishment prepares us for bravery?” Severine von Tscharner Fleming asks in her introduction to “The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume V.” As we emerge into summer after a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, social justice uprisings, wildfires and floods, we need to be brave enough to map a new way of being. One that connects rather than separates, weaves rather than dominates...
Book Review: The New Farmer’s Almanac, Vol V
This is a great winter treasure trove to dip into by the woodstove after darkness brings you in from the fields. Or to absorb you on snowy days. Or to leave by a frequently visited seat (!) for browsing. It’s a compilation of pictures and writings as an antidote to helplessness. Here you will find reports from the fields, shores, woods, beehives, kitchens, watersheds, and compost piles.
Aquaculture and the Plastic Problem
An article in Edible Maine exploring Downeast Oyster and kelp growers. Colles Stowell reports on plastic-free materials currently in use on Smithereen Farm kelp-growing experiments.
THE GREENHORNS & THE NEW FARMERS ALMANAC ENVISIONING A FERTILE FUTURE
As we enter the season of seed saving, of easing into dormancy and beginning to consider next season, forward planning, this week we explore some big thinking for the future in conversation with Severine Von Tscharner Fleming of Smithereen Farm, a certified organic farm in down east Maine, and founder of The Greenhorns, a collective who believe “humans must reform agriculture to survive on this planet” and whose mission is to “create a welcoming cultural space and a practical professional resource for those new to ecological farming." ...
The Wall Street Journal: They Ditched the Office for the Farm. And Stayed.
The number of farmers under 35 has climbed in recent years, bringing a different outlook to the age-old business of agriculture
Kelp at the Crossroads: Should Seaweed Farming Be Better Regulated?
Major players are investing in seaweed farms in Canada and Maine, but some Indigenous communities, small-scale farmers, and harvesters are concerned about fast, unregulated growth.
Severine von Tscharner Fleming operates a small organic farm on the southeast coast of Maine, where she grows fruit and farms and harvests wild kelp, and is a creator of the Seaweed Commons as well as the young farmer group, the Greenhorns. At the hearing, she said, the big debate was around whether Maine should allow leases for seaweed farms as large as 1,000 acres. “The Maine Aquaculture Association said, ‘Yes, we must have it this big, we need this industry for jobs and coastal prosperity,’” she said. “It was yet another slap in the face for those of us who believe we need a regulatory context that will enable a right-scale sector to emerge.”
For the Wild
Severine Von Tscharner Fleming on The Commons to Which We Belong
A discussion on land distribution, the settler desire to own land, and a collective commitment to caring for the land. “Severine shares the messiness and opportunity of living amongst the prosperity of extraction in the spaces we inhabit while dedicating ourselves to a land-based livelihood that awakens the call to live inside of accountability to people and place.”
What Could Possibly Go Right?
Episode 18 - Severine von Tscharner Fleming
"That those willing to do the reparations and healing of the land for our collective good should earn an enduring right to subsistence."
Free Speech TV
Bioneers Seeding the Field
The new farmer's response to modern farming, the new agrarian trust, and the new farmers almanac.
Small Farms, Big Ideas
The wayfaring founder of an agrarian lit mag is calling Down East Maine home — and reimagining the area’s rural economy.
The New Farmers’ Almanac has proffered meteorological predictions, planting tips, recipes, and witty aphorisms for more than two centuries. So too has the Lewiston-based publication’s chief rival, the slightly older Old Farmer’s Almanac, out of New Hampshire. But the six-year-old New Farmer’s Almanac, a biennial book compiled by a nonprofit in Pembroke, does something else entirely. “It’s really more of a literary journal,” says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, editor-in-chief. “Personal research projects, poetry, manifestos, obscure agrarian histories, political economy — all farmer-written.”
Hard Cider Production Is Focus of DIY Cider Camp
Abandoned many decades before, the tall trees produce golf ball-sized, relatively hard, semi-sweet to bitter, yellow to red apples or “pippins,” a somewhat archaic word used by farmers and residents of North America during the 19th and early 20th centuries to describe several cultivars of dessert apples.
“We believe that there are a lot of fruit trees in this region already, and that there’s a lack of fruit-tree processing, value-added economy related to apples,” [Severine Fleming] said. “That’s why we invited Gene Cartwright (from Whaleback Cider in Lincolnville) and Abbey and Angus Deighan (Rocky Ground Cider in Newburgh) to come from the mid-coast to share their experiences — not just about how good the cider is, but what the business of cider is, and how to find the balance between entrepreneurship and subsistence for this region.”
Cartwright, in his brief presentation at Reversing Hall, which serves as Greenhorns’ venue for lectures and other presentations, told the small group of Cider Camp guests that on the three-hour drive to Pembroke “you see so many apple trees and it’s exciting (to) do something with all that fruit, even if it’s on a small scale.”
Edmund Hillary Fellowship
What Does the Land Want?
A discussion of the purpose of Greenhorns and the New Agrarians, and how programs like these support the new, young farmer networks by working within regenerative agriculture and working within the Commons.
The New Farmer’s Almanac wants to change the way we see farming
Spread from the New Farmer's Almanac Volume IV, published by Chelsea Green. Credit: Courtesy of The Greenhorns
Farmer’s almanacs, yearly compendiums of weather predictions, astrological calendars and more, have long been a fixture of rural New England life. The Old Farmer’s Almanac and Farmer’s Almanac have been printed for centuries out of New Hampshire and Maine...
Eat, Pray, Farm, Manitoba Cooperator
Eat, Pray, Farm – U.S. Churches Turn Faith Lands into Food
“Western North Carolina is predicted to have 40 per cent of its churches close in the next 10 years because of lack of parishioners,” said Severine von Tscharner Fleming, director of Greenhorns, a non-profit that supports young farmers. “What will happen to that land?”
Von Tscharner Fleming co-organized the first FaithLands conference last year, bringing together land activists and the faithful to improve the health of both people and the planet.
“These are people who are interested in activating their land portfolio for good… For many of these groups, the answer is food charity, and that’s been a long-standing tradition within the church,” she said. “But increasingly it’s also a question of food justice, local economic development and environmental stewardship.”
The Movement to Turn Church Land into Farmland
An essay on land ownership by religious groups, and how the generation who is connected to these groups are aging. What will happen to these land trusts when they leave?
Vermont Folklife Center
Oral History: An Introduction
Short stories about the Grange, excerpted from oral histories collected by the Greenhorns as a part of Grange Future and the Grange Oral History Project.
Findhorn New Story Hub
Land Healing through Young Farmers: A conversation between Severine von Tscharner Fleming and Charles Esenstein
Recorded through “A New and Ancient Story Podcast”, Charles and Severine discuss “the evolution of farming, its planetary healing potential, issues of ownership and the commons, and how to bridge our ideals and best practices to present-day economic realities.”
Edmund Hillary Fellowship
How Does Change Happen on the Land?
The widespread food revolution being spearheaded by Severine von Tscharner Fleming.
An article that reflects the work of Greenhorns, the Agrarian Trust, and Farm Hack.
Activist buys historic Pembroke hall to house ‘new farmers’ movement
Fleming has founded four nonprofits and is involved with the Center for New Economics, The Greenhorns, the Agrarian Trust and the open‑source resource for farmers, Farmhack. She was also involved in founding the Pomona Organic Farm, the University of California at Berkeley's Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology and the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Fleming told the paper she’s interested in bringing new farmers and life to traditional organizations, plans to house a library in the hall of the country's agricultural history, and is researching the possibility of creating a youth summer camp focused on local agricultural and fisheries history and an artist and writer residency, performance space and more.
New Frontiers 2017
Severine von Tscharner Fleming : Land Repair with Agrarian Trust
Conference and lecture series based in New Zealand, bringing together visionary entrepreneurs, investors and startup teams to create solutions to global problems. Here, Severine von Tscharner Fleming discusses the process of becoming a Greenhorn, and how programs such as FarmHack support new agrarian groups, and how these groups can work together to restore and repair the land, together.
Women We Love: 25 Influential Women in Food and Agriculture
Based in Chaplain Valley, NY, Fleming is an activist, farmer, founder and director of The Greenhorns, a grassroots cultural organization that advocates for a growing movement of young farmers and ranchers in America. After graduating from University of California-Berkeley, Fleming founded the Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology (SAFE), which advocates for sustainable farming practices. Fleming then founded the Agrarian Trust, which builds a national network to support new farmers, as well as Farm Hack, an open-source platform for farmers to receive affordable farm tools and technologies.
Main Sail Freight Goes Public!
Meet: Severine von Tscharner Fleming of Sail Freight Maine
She wants to borrow your boat, but it’s all about farming.
by Mary Pols for the Portland Press Herald
Severine von Tscharner Fleming recently landed a spot (No. 23) on Food & Wine and Fortune magazines’ dual list of the most powerful women in food and drink. The honor came about in large part because of her work with the Greenhorns, a national organization to support new farmers, but the 33-year-old resident of Essex, New York, and frequent visitor to Maine has her hands in many projects. The latest is Maine Sail Freight, a plan to get Maine sailors and farmers to work together to ship goods down the coast to urban centers (Boston and New York, as well as points in between) in the old-fashioned way. Von Tscharner Fleming masterminded a similar project in Vermont in 2013, and now her vision is to harness the sustainability of wind power and the romance of the seas to spread the Maine brand in the prettiest possible way. We talked to the University of California-Berkeley graduate, who majored in conservation and agro-ecology, about seaweed, the troublesome future and how to pronounce that mouthful of a name of hers (the “t” is silent).
Maine’s MOFGA Receives $1 Million for Farmer Training
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, A farming organization with a strong grassroots history, announced Wednesday that it received a gift of $1 million to help support and train new farmers, the largest financial donation in its history.
Officials from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association said that they were thrilled with the gift from the New York City-based Partridge Foundation, which also pledged an additional $1 million to MOFGA if the Maine group can raise a matching amount over the next 18 months. All the monies are to be used for MOFGA’s new farmer programming.
Young Farmers in the News
Organic agriculture attracts a new generation of farmers by Ricardo Lopez for the LA Times
Agriculture trade groups have developed programs, including training and financial incentives, aimed at attracting young people. The National Young Farmers Coalition through member surveys has found that the bulk of new operators are going the organic route.
Many new farmers are motivated primarily by the desire to show that mainstream methods aren’t the only way to grow food.
Agriculture officials are hoping more young people heed the call to till the land, whether organically or conventionally, as the average age of California farmers continues to climb. It hit 58 in 2012, up by nearly two years from 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent census.
So You Want to Be a Farmer…
Before dropping it all and moving to the country to start the farm of your dreams, read this.
Farming dreams are a modern seduction. For city dwellers, the vision of making a living from the earth salves the psychic wounds of a day job, and acts as an antidote to urban malaise. If you could just get out there on the land, far from spreadsheets and stress, cubicles and car alarms, things would surely be different. Eating overripe tomatoes, fresh from the vine and bursting with juice. Cavorting with goats.
Symposium on Farmland Access in the 21st Century, hosted by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics
Two introductions to the day’s ahead within the event, and two speeches titled “Other Words”.
Discussions on land ownership, and ways to create shared ownership of land.
Farm Hack - Resilience.org
by Courtney White, originally published by The carbon pilgrim
The nonprofit Farm Hack (www.farmhack.net) bills itself as an “Open Source Community for a Resilient Agriculture.” It was born during a design workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology involving engineers and young farmers and quickly evolved into an online platform to document, share and improve farm tools. If you are a young farmer in possession of an old tool, or a veteran farmer who seeks a new tool or someone who has invented a new practice or has a cool idea in mind, Farm Hack is the place to go. A quick peek at the web site, for example, reveals ‘how to’ information on the benefits of a small axial flow combine harvester (way cooler than it sounds), picking the right organic carrot seeds, implementing a web-connected irrigation system, trying a pedal-powered rootwasher, and using low-cost overhead balloon-mounted cameras for imaging a farm.
Food Matters | Fifteen Tons of Groceries, Sailing Down the Hudson
The New York Times Blog covers Vermont Sail Freight Journey to NYC
Seeking a more sustainable way to get his grain to market, the Vermont farmer Erik Andrus conceived the Vermont Sail Freight Project to find out if this model could work again today. In April, he raised more than $15,000 on Kickstarter to build a 39-foot-long plywood sail barge named Ceres (after the Roman goddess of agriculture). The Greenhorns, an Essex, N.Y.-based farmer advocacy group, and the Willowell Foundation, a nonprofit education organization, signed on as partners to raise additional funds, handle the project’s logistics and recruit farmers and volunteers.
“We’re at an inflection point,” said Severine von Tscharner Fleming, the founder of the Greenhorns. “Can we, as farmers, collaborate on a distribution system that matches our values and preserves the craft economy?”
The boat, loaded with 15 tons of cargo from 30 farms, is about to complete its maiden voyage down the Hudson. The crew has been hosting daily dockside markets at port towns from Hudson to Yonkers, selling pantry staples, like wild birch syrup, heirloom beans and Atlantic-harvested seaweed, and fresh produce, like blue fingerling potatoes from Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams, N.Y., and shiso from Grange Co-Packer Cooperative in Essex, N.Y., which von Tscharner Fleming co-founded.
In Conversation with Severine von Tscharner Fleming
Young Farmer and Activist
I first met Severine von Tscharner Fleming when she was a student at UC Berkeley. Her bubbling, nay BOILING energy was a pleasant surprise for me. This wasn’t some idealistic naïve college student nonsense: Severine was already at that point a killer organizer, a thoughtful writer, and a principled investigator into all things farming. In working with and knowing her for the past 8 years, she’s only gotten better, and her work has successfully spread and become more and more effective. Severine’s list of projects is positively intimidating for people not used to such ambition, or trying to plot their own path into food/farming activism. My read is, if you have that ambition, and you can marshal it for good, and not be a jerk in the process, then go for it! And Severine should serve as an inspiration to all activists: young, farmy, or not.
"Calendar, Clock, Compendium"
Why are almanacs still produced today in spite of the web? Why are they so compelling?
In this episode of In My Backyard, Lisa Bralts uses modern technology to research some answers. She also talks to a young woman working with many others to reclaim and redistribute old farming knowledge by publishing an analog farmers almanac… but with some current-day touches.
New Farmer's Almanac - BoingBoing Review
"Our friends at The Greenhorns, a national organization of young farmers, just published the first (and hopefully not the last) edition of their New Farmer's Almanac, which they call "an entertaining collection of practical advice for farmers and other patriots." Its 300 pages are full of surprises — field notes from new farmers in city and country, archival tidbits from 200 years of agricultural bulletins and magazines, deep thoughts on land use in America, puzzles, meat-cutting charts and reproducible labels for your own homemade cheese. It's much more than a patchwork, though — this book is at once radical and traditionalist, a generous handful of dispatches from the DIY movement that aims to fix our broken food system and relocate the center of innovation and idea-making from city to country.
Farmers Brainstorm Simple Tools to Make Their Work Easier
The Iowa Gazette
Farm hacks - which were started in 2011 by the National Young Farmers' Coalition - have been held across the Northeast, but Wednesday's event was the first hack in the Midwest.
The events consist of demonstrations, presentations, and collaborative problem solving. Through these, organizers said they hope hacks can be a place where small or beginning farmers can learn about existing, and brainstorm designs for future, cost-effective tools.
“It is certainly a challenge to break into farming these days,” said Severine Fleming, the co-founder of the Young Farmer's Coalition. “For beginning farmers with limited resources, having the skill set to be able to hack your farm equipment, fix your own farm equipment, and adapt it to suit your smaller scale and needs is invaluable.”
"The Greenhorns" Screening in Santa Barbara, CA
The Greenhorns documentary will be shown at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery on Wednesday, August 31, 6-8 p.m. The film will be introduced by Olivia Sargeant and followed by discussion with a panel of young local farmers.
"The Greenhorns" Wins Grand Prize at Strolling of the Heifers Film Festival
This year's Grand Prize winner is "The Greenhorns," a short film by Severine von Tscharner Fleming which looks at the diverse, and changing, farmers of the 21st century.
From radical Christians, to young punky urban gardeners to the children of migrant farm workers to families in suburbia, the film shows how many different groups are getting their hands dirty in small gardens.
And while they come from different backgrounds, they all are motivated by the desire to have a closer connection to their food production.
Kiendl said that while some of the films take of weighty topics like migrant labor, the loss of agriculture land and environmental threats to the food system, the messages are largely positive.
"You can read the news and really feel down about what is going on this crazy world, but then you see young people who are making an attempt to make it better," said Kiendl. "You come away with a positive outlook, and it can really be invigorating."
Motley crew of farmers celebrates a passion for the land
“The new entry farmers are a very diverse bunch. You know there’s punky people and there’s backwoods homestead people and there’s Christian people and there’s ‘we’re going to produce food for middle class families’ people and there’s social justice people and farm worker rights people," Fleming said. "Farming takes a lot of motivation and different people have different motivations but the motivation is real and a lot of times it has to do with a critique with how mainstream America is feeding itself and polluting the land and the water and the air.”
cnbc on young farmers
A growing interest in small-scale agriculture is beginning to reverse a decades-long flight from the farm.
For nearly 70 years, the number of US farms has been declining, while the average age of farmers has been rising — it’s now 57 years old — according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture survey.
A University of Vermont project found that about 70 percent of the nation’s private farm and ranchland will change hands over the next 20 years, and up to 25 percent of farmers and ranchers will retire.
“Generation after generation of farmers were making less and less money, and were not encouraging their children to farm,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute, a young vegetable famer in Tivoli, N.Y., who is a board member with the National Young Farmers Coalition.
“The number of young farmers has steadily decreased,” says Shute. “There were 6 million American farmers in 1910. In the 2007 USDA agriculture census, there are 2 million, and 119,000 of them are under the age of 36.”
But new interest in organic farming, farmers markets and restaurants purchasing directly from farmers is turning that trend around, says Shute. “Family farms, through more local purchasing, are able to make a profit and a living. Young people are seeing this as a very rewarding lifestyle and career. For the first time in a long time, young people are interested, after decades of farming not being a very desirable career.
Farmers growing super high-volume vegetables can do quite well on one-acre plots, she said.
The most recent USDA agriculture census backs up some of Shute’s assertions. From 2002 to 2007, the number of farms increased 4 percent, and the new farmers are younger, with an average age of 48. And in one big way, their farms are very different: They’re half the size of the past. Farms founded since 2003 are an average of 201 acres, compared to the overall farm average of 418 acres.
“It’s like the craft brewing industry, where once there were only three big brewers in the country,” says Dawn Thilmany, an agricultural economics professor at Colorado State University, who received one of the new Beginning Farmer grants. “People all over started these hole-in-the-wall breweries that built up into regional forces. It’s the same model. Microfarms are like microbreweries.”
Consumers tired of tasteless tomatoes and wary of mad cow or e.coli scares have shown a willingness to spend more for healthier organic fare, at farmers markets and natural grocery chains like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. Many restaurants are boasting more localized food sources. And a new influx of young farmers are disillusioned by a dour urban economy and eager for a lifestyle that promises a measure of independence and, at least for now, a good living.
Fuelling that trend is Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s 2010 clarion call for 100,000 new farmers — and loan programs that start to put money where his mouth is.
Last October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recipients of $18 million in 2010 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grants.
“These beginning farmer project awards are an important first step toward realizing [Vilsack’s] goal,” says Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “Beginning farmers face a range of challenges to successful start up including access to credit, access to land, access to markets and technical assistance.”
Thilmany says CSU partnered with land-grant universities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico and Nevada to secure a $750,000 grant to offer short courses for people who want to get into farming.
“It’s the best-received extension program we’ve put on in 20 years,” Thilmany said. “We help them develop business plans and do followup mentoring, placing them with established farmers. It used to be families passing on information generationally. Now people with non-agricultural backgrounds can benefit.”
She is seeing more people in their 40s enroll in classes, many without agricultural backgrounds, “entering farming as a second career, after an early retirement or a layoff.”
People who own or lease less than 10 acres are earning $20,000 their first year and up to $300,000 within a few years, says Thilmany. “It’s a good option in urban corridors, with very high-volume crops that are grown direct-to-chef or to farmers markets. It’s a model no one saw coming 20 years ago.”
Small family farms — those with annual sales of less than $250,000 — made up 88 percent of U.S. farms in 2007. They also controlled 63 percent of the land owned, but produced only 16 percent of annual agricultural output. According to the USDA, most small-farm households typically do not rely primarily on the farm for their livelihood, and get substantial off-farm income from wage-and-salary jobs or self-employment.
But things are getting better. This year, income for U.S. farmers probably will jump 20 percent to a record, as increased crop exports and livestock sales boost food prices, the USDA said in a February issued report.
Practical Farmers of Iowa received a new USDA grant, and director Teresa Opheim reports more than 300 beginning farmers are enrolled in their network. “It’s growing all the time,” she said.
Another grant recipient, the Land Stewardship Project in Lewiston, Minn., is using the money to fund its existing programs for beginning farmers. “We’ve got a waiting list and, after 14 years of Farm Beginnings, we continue to see increased demand,” says LSP director Amy Bacigalupo. “People want to farm.” she said.
A few years ago, Neysa King was in a history PhD program at Northeastern University in Boston, studying genocide in the 20th century. Her husband Travis was working for an environmental nonprofit.
“I became disillusioned with my field,” she says. “At the same time, I became interested in food and the questionable effects of industrial agriculture on our health and environment.”
In May 2009, they left Boston for an internship on a three-acre organic farm near Brewster, N.Y.
“We had no background in agriculture,” says King. “We were simply two kids who grew up in the suburbs and went to college. Farming seemed like the intersection of everything important to us — health, sustainability, financial independence, environmental responsibility, and community.”
After a season of farming in New York, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where they can farm year-round. They live in an apartment in town and work on two farms 10 minutes away. They also farm their own land, a third of an acre they hope to expand next year.
“We’ve fallen in with a group of about a dozen folks who came into farming from college,” King says. “The niche we’ve found is direct wholesale to local restaurants. There’s a lot of demand for chard, carrots, spinach, squash and beets. We’re not making a living yet off of our land, but with our jobs as farm workers, we’re getting by.”
Like many beginning farmers, King had romantic ideas about getting in touch with nature.
“Mine were crushed immediately,” she says. “It’s a lot of organization, business sense and science. Getting stuff to grow – on a scale that’s economic – is hard work.”
photo by loomis dean
Agriculture Gets Old: Will The West Run Out of Farmers?
A nonprofit helps young farmers break into an increasingly tough business.
By Tim Sprinkle, New West Food & Agriculture
First, consider the numbers.
According to the latest census data, there are about 285 million people living in the U.S., every single one of whom has to eat (and most of us do that several times a day).
On the flipside, the country is currently home to some 960,000 full-time “agricultural professionals” operating about 2 million farms (including part-time facilities). That’s almost 300 Americans for each full-time U.S. farmer to feed (though, granted, a lot of the food that we eat these days does come from overseas, but that’s another story). And if that figure isn’t scary enough, consider the fact that the average American farmer right now is 57 years old, most likely looking forward to a comfortable retirement sometime in the next decade or so.
Now the push to encourage the next generation of farmers makes a lot more sense.
“The hair turns gray on the prairie,” says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, creator of the nonprofit Greenhorns organization and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition, “and farming is a physical job. In order to be responsive to the landscape and to be responsible to the land you’re farming you need to be thinking about of the future, and that includes the future practitioners.”
i ferment you
This week in the New Yorker magazine, Burkhard Bilger writes about Sandor Katz and the underground food movement. Bilger talks with Blake Eskin about making sauerkraut at home, the surprising ways in which bacteria are integral to human life, and some of the unusual foods he ate (or refused to eat) during his reporting.
Listen to the mp3 here: right-click to download.
Read the abstract here, and make your way to the local library to read the article in full. Raw milk is also a topic in the article, for those interested.
Newbie Farmers Find That Dirt Isn't Cheap
Local food is fashionable. Customers are swarming farmers' markets. Organic vegetables sell at a premium. So what's to keep a young, smart, enthusiastic would-be farmer from getting into this business and making a good living?
The lack of hard, cold cash for land and farm equipment, apparently. The National Young Farmers' Coalition asked more than a thousand young farmers what their biggest problems were. Most of the respondents said "lack of capital" and "land access." Those difficulties ranked much higher than health care, finding profitable markets, or lack of marketing skills.
major news. major bucks. all started by willow
Prop 84 Funding for City Slicker Farms Brings Land Security to West Oakland’s Urban Agriculture Movement
City Slicker Farms is awarded $4,000,000 to purchase land in West Oakland to create a Community Market Farm and park.Oakland, CA (November 10, 2010)—On Monday, November 8, 2010 City Slicker Farms was awarded $4,000,000 for a “West Oakland Park and Urban Farm” project. The funds come from Proposition 84, a California bond initiative approved in 2006, which reserves 5.4 billion dollars in bonds for projects involving water quality and access, park improvements, and natural resources and park preservation. The funds will be used to purchase a vacant lot in West Oakland at 28th and Peralta Streets and construct a farm and park there. At 1.4 acres, this will be City Slicker Farms’ largest farm site; greatly increasing their ability to grow and distribute food for the West Oakland community. City Slicker Farms conducted a three-month long community design process with West Oakland youth, seniors, and families to determine what they wanted in the new park.
The design was submitted and, after a lengthy and competitive review process, City Slicker Farms was selected to receive a grant. There were 475 applicants from throughout California, and only 62 were chosen for grant awards. The “West Oakland Urban Farm and Park” was the second highest award in Alameda County and the 22nd largest award in the state.Since 2001, City Slicker Farms has been successfully partnering with thousands of West Oakland residents to transform vacant lots and hundreds of backyards into food-producing gardens, growing over 20,000 pounds of food each year. This exemplifies a successful, resident-driven movement to utilize urban agriculture as a means to get needed food on the table. West Oakland is an 8.2 sq mile industrial area bounded by three major freeways, and it is home to the 5th busiest port in the country. The neighborhood struggles with poverty, environmental pollution, and a lack of access to fresh, affordable healthy food. Thirty-two percent of residents live below the poverty level, and mortality rates for diabetes and heart disease are 1.5 times above the county rate. The lack of access to safe open space and healthy foods contributes to chronic illnesses. This new project will address these issues in a greater capacity by more than doubling City Slicker Farms’ operations and programs.“This is a huge boon for the West Oakland community,” said Barbara Finnin, Executive Director of City Slicker Farms. “Of the seven market farms we operate, this will be the largest and only one owned by City Slicker Farms. We will be creating a legal structure to ensure that this park remains an open maintained space for all community members to enjoy in perpetuity.” The “West Oakland Urban Farm and Park” will contain an abundance of new open space as well as new recreational and educational opportunities. The community has requested that this park include lawn space (to provide ample room for youth of all ages to run, play, and exercise), a vegetable growing area, a community garden, a fruit orchard, a chicken coop, a beehive, a dog run, and a tot lot. It will be open seven days a week, from morning until night without charge. City Slicker Farms will collaborate with other community-based groups and individuals to provide ongoing programs and opportunities for the community at the site.The land itself was home to a paint factory for 50 years and is currently owned by Peralta Street, LLC. For the past five years, the site has been vacant and fenced off. In 2005-06, the site underwent a thorough Brownfield cleanup process. Under the supervision of the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the site was exhaustively tested, analyzed and ultimately cleaned up. In December 2006, DTSC issued a Certificate of Completion acknowledging successful completion of the cleanup. In partnership with Peralta Street, LLC, City Slicker Farms will conduct ongoing assessments and maintenance of groundwater and soil. Peralta Street, LLC and City Slicker Farms will start the Purchase and Sale Agreement process in early 2011. A community engagement and construction schedule will be announced after the purchase is completed.
About City Slicker Farms: City Slicker Farms supports food self-sufficiency in West Oakland by creating organic, sustainable, high-yield urban farms and partnering with residents to transform their yards into food-producing gardens. These spaces provide healthy, affordable food and improve the environment. City Slicker Farms seeks to serve all West Oakland residents, prioritizing people who have the least access to healthy food. The farms and gardens demonstrate the viability of a local food-production system; serve as community space; empower children and adults who want to learn about the connections between ecology, farming and the urban environment; and support tools for self-reliance and empowerment.Contact:Barbara Finnin, Executive Director,
we like the sound of hundreds
Hundreds of young farmers expected at ‘Greenhorns’ screening tonight By Jennifer Pittman
PESCADERO – Hundreds of young farmers are expected to leave their wet fields early today to gather for some local food, music, workshops and a preview screening of “The Greenhorns,” a documentary about a burgeoning new generation of American farmers.
The Greenhorns is a 3-year-old nonprofit organization focused on rallying young farmer entrepreneurs into an agricultural movement. It has grown out of a film project of the same name by Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a UC Berkeley graduate who is screening her documentary at regional farm events across the country before its public release in 2011.
The film includes interviews from several local young people for the project including farmers from Freewheelin’ Farm in Santa Cruz and Pie Ranch and Blue House Farm in Pescadero. Pie Ranch is hosting the event starting at 3 p.m.
“It’s a really powerful and fascinating world to be involved in,” said Jessica Beckett, a UC Davis graduate student and “market gardener” who toils part-time in a 1-acre parcel on Ocean Street Extension in Santa Cruz. “It’s a cultural movement.”
Beckett, who sells flowers and avocados as La Semenza Farm, plans to attend the event to socialize and gather more information for her thesis on land access and the viability of farming. The harsh economic reality of the business can be daunting for young farmers.
“I see people going into it and they’re not making money,” Beckett said. “A lot of them are getting spit out the other side.”
The organization has already hosted 37 similar mixers across the nation “to create a space for young farmer entrepreneurs and up-and-comers from the nation’s leading agricultural state to hang out, network, share skills and connect with statewide support organizations.” A couple of the events in the Pacific Northwest drew more than 300 people, according to von Tscharner Fleming, who expects an equally good turnout in Pescadero because the area is home to many teaching farms.
we’re getting some press for our mixers
Groups help novice farmers grow into new role by Gina Kim
Tim Van Wagner, 25, spent last week getting his fields ready for winter – moving from row to row dropping one bell bean seed after another into the fragrant earth along a winding mountain road outside Nevada City.
The life can be a solitary one, but as an increasing number of college graduates and urban professionals choose farming over the proverbial rat race, they are bringing their networking skills along with them.
Dozens of new farmers spent a recent evening under the twinkling lights of a red barn at Bluebird Farm, sharing roast pig, fresh-picked greens, beet salad and cinnamon chocolate-covered strawberries.
“It can be very lonely as a farmer, and to feel a part of something larger than yourself makes it worth it,” said Ryan Montgomery, 26, the farm manager at Four Frog Farm, a 10- acre plot in Penn Valley that grows produce for farmers markets, grocery stores and 100 members who buy seasonal shares.
The potluck and meet-and-greet was organized by Severine von Tscharner Fleming, director of the New York-based nonprofit Greenhorns, which was founded two years ago to help new or young farmers talk to each other.
The Greenhorns in The Ecologist
by David Hawkins
It’s helping attract youthful talent into sustainable agriculture across the US, but can the Greenhorns movement survive in the land of Big Ag, or cross the Atlantic to the UK?
The Greenhorns is an exciting new movement tearing up the turf (gently) in the USA. This fresh network of young farmers is mapping the future of food production with ambitious targets, incisive communication and savvy marketing – all fertilised with plenty of organic passion.
Severine was recently chosen by Grist as one of 40 people who are “redefining green”.
Meet a young farmer leading a greenhorn ‘guerilla’ movement
The beginning of the Greenhorns as a media outlet, publishing house and event coordinators. A discussion of the beginnings of the Greenhorns film. A call for recruitment and dedication to the work of building a new generation of farmers.
Eat, Drink, Think, Change
“All we have are these little canisters of film, and we’re launching them at a fortress,” said Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a filmmaker and farmer who is finishing a documentary on the young agrarian movement called “The Greenhorns.”
Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat
“Young farmers are an emerging social movement,” said Severine von Tscharner Fleming, 26, who is making a documentary called “The Greenhorns” about the trend.
While this is hardly the first time that idealistic young people wanted to get back to the garden, the current crop have advantages over their forebears from the 1960s and 70s, many of whom, inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog or Wendell Berry’s books about agrarian values, headed to the country, only to find it impossible to make a living.