in defense of hydroponics

posted February 9, 2017

national_organic_program

The latest post in our ongoing discussion about the inclusion of hydroponics in the National Organic Production standards comes from Helen Lee, a sustainability specialist, consulting and promoting local and sustainable businesses who currently works as a brand ambassador for a maple water company and holds a Master of Science degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College in Vermont. While her opinions diverge from the Greenhorns’ stance that hydroponics should not be included in organic, we’ve reprinted her submission here today on account of its well-researched facts and the spirit of lively debate. Also, of note, another nuanced opinion in favor of hydroponic inclusion comes from Food Hub manager Michael Powell and appears in the comments section here.

I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with Matthew Hoffman’s opinion. I have recently obtained my MS in Sustainable Food Systems and, at Green Mountain College, I studied with one of the people who helped write the original NOP standards.

Hydroponics is neither the ultimate nor the hackneyed solution to solving our current food system crises. A better question to pose would be, “when and how do hydroponic systems fit into a sustainable food system?”

It is a fallacy to think that any system, hydroponic or otherwise, can ever be fully removed from its surrounding environment or from the rest of the supply chain. From the construction materials used to the resources utilized in production and distribution, everything is ultimately connected.  There can be no one ultimate solution in such an interconnected ecosystem. Furthermore, it is misguided to think the NOP standards specifically focus on soil health or that all organic certifications are equal. (more…)


woman power: home to cameroon’s sustainable farming movement

posted January 5, 2017

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Check out Woman Power, an organization started by Cameroon locals Victor (above) and Betty Kubia.

NW Cameroon is a particularly hardworking agricultural region where 90% of the farmers are women and revolution is in the air.

In this region, a culture of chemical farming (imposed during the green revolution) has created a longstanding degenerative cycle for soil health and the nutritional quality of vegetables. As it stands, many women are obligated after so many years to purchase expensive, synthetic products to even get a yield. As one woman from the town of Bafut in NW Cameroon says: “the harvest I get is not enough to pay for the fertilizers and then feed my family of seven and also pay tuition and buy school materials for my children.”

The Kubia’s seek to build the Woman Power Training Center on their own land just outside of Bamenda City strategically close to the three villages of Bafut, Ndu, and Santa. Here nearly 600 women will have access to hands-on workshops on soil health, composting, crop rotation, cover cropping, fallow cultivation as well as many traditional methods. One such method is forming the crescent moon shaped beds that are ideal for handling some 400″ of rain per month during the rainy season.

If you are interested in being a supporting member of this project you have two options!

  1. You may email Andrew at wpcameroon@gmail.com to join their emailing campaign
  2. You may click HERE to learn more about Woman Power and then Donate at least $10 to support building a Woman Power Training Center for alternative agriculture.

revolutions start from the bottom: film series on agricultural solutions to climate change

posted December 20, 2016

Unbroken Ground from Patagonia Provisions on Vimeo.

Film maker Chris Malloy asks, how can different aspects of agriculture and our food economy alter to change our relationships to our land and our oceans.


wanted: donations for educating the next generation of farmers

posted December 18, 2016

farm-front

Heading into a third year of providing educational programs, the good folks at the Grange School of Adaptive Agriculture have been busy training the next generation of farmers:

The Grange School’s programs recognize that food production must continually adapt to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The students in our three-month residential program are determined and creative people, with a desire to acquire essential skills for a career in food production. We believe there is no silver bullet to addressing the food crisis facing our world, so we teach a broad spectrum of sustainable agricultural theory. We also give our students hands-on classwork and practical experience in skills as diverse as small engine repair, carpentry, animal husbandry, soil and ecology, crop production, entrepreneurial skills, and much, much more.

If you have the means, they could use your help! They’re looking for donations to help build infrastructure at their beautiful ranch/campus in California’s Mendocino County. Feel free to donate, large or small, to their crowdfunding campaign HERE.


news from the grange school

posted December 13, 2016

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Attention, future and current food producers! The Grange School of Adaptive Agriculture has openings in their 2017 Practicum Program. Details below!

How do you practice Adaptive Agriculture? You start by educating yourself on cutting edge practices, by questioning conventions, by equipping yourself with the skills to flex, adapt, adjust to changing conditions and contexts.

At the Grange School of Adaptive Agriculture, students are immersed in a residential training program and are exposed to a broad spectrum of scales, styles, strategies, and skills. This 14 week program combines experiential learning on a 5,000 acre diverse ranch with classroom based learning in order to send students off with a comprehensive vocabulary, skill set, and understanding of the foundations of small scale agriculture. Over 25 field trip hosts and 12 guest instructors participate in the learning experience, giving students a well rounded education that will help to launch them into a career in the food system.

Are you looking for your entry point into sustainable agriculture? Having a strong understanding of crop production, animal husbandry, business management, industrial arts, and community dynamics is integral to launching you into the food system. Join us at the GSAA for an inspirational and transformational 14 weeks. April and July 2017 start dates, applications are now open!

For more information visit our website



book launch: big farms make big flu

posted June 13, 2016

THIS TUESDAY, JUNE 14th!

The Marxist Education Project is delighted to host the launch of Rob Wallace’s new book, Big Farms Make Big Flu (Monthly Review Press).

In Big Farms Make Big Flu, a collection of dispatches by turns harrowing and thought-provoking, Wallace tracks the ways influenza and other pathogens emerge from an agriculture controlled by multinational corporations. With a precise and radical wit, Wallace juxtaposes ghastly phenomena such as attempts at producing featherless chickens with microbial time travel and neoliberal Ebola. Wallace also offers sensible alternatives to lethal agribusiness. Some, such as farming cooperatives, integrated pathogen management, and mixed crop-livestock systems, are already in practice off the agribusiness grid.

While many books cover facets of food or outbreaks, Wallace’s collection is the first to explore infectious disease, agriculture, economics, and the nature of science together. Big Farms Make Big Flu integrates the political economies of disease and science into a new understanding of infections.

To learn more and to find tickets, click HERE!


new video in the works on the organic movement

posted May 25, 2016

“California Green Fire” is built on “A Fierce Green Fire” — filmmaker Mark Kitchell’s big-picture exploration of environmental activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. Now we want to bring it home, to the cutting edge where movements got started and pushed the farthest. The film will tell three environmental epics: 1) saving the redwoods; 2) the rise of organic agriculture; and 3) air pollution and clean renewable energy, from L.A. smog to climate solutions. This sample suggests what could be, for the organic story. It’s only a beginning. Find out more at our website: californiagreenfire.com


3 days left to see RUNOFF in theaters in los angeles & claremont

posted July 30, 2015

“As an experience, it’s amazing. If you want to be able to say you were there when a great American filmmaker’s career kicked off, you need to see Runoff.”

– RogerEbert

RUNOFF

We are so pleased to bring the narrative feature film RUNOFF to California. Coming off an extended run in New York City where it played to sold-out screenings, RUNOFF has been lauded by The New York Times, RogerEbert, Variety, Indiewire, The Village Voice, Joyce Carol Oates and many more.

RUNOFF was directed and written by Kimberly Levin. It tells the story of a woman driven to desperate lengths when her family is threatened from their land. Shot entirely on working farms, the film takes us into the dark underbelly of agriculture, a world not often seen onscreen. The film stars Joanne Kelly (Warehouse 13, Hostages), Neal Huff (Meek’s Cutoff, The Grand Budapest Hotel, HBO’s “The Wire” ), Alex Shaffer (Win Win, The Lifeguard) and Tom Bower (Crazy Heart, Nixon, Out of the Furnace, Die Hard 2).

LOS ANGELES
Opens July 24
Laemmle’s Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Boulevard
Get your tickets here 

Special Events for Los Angeles Screening:

July 29 – Post-screening conversation with Filmmaker, Kimberly Levin, Cast Member, Tom Bower & Director/Writer/Producer, Rose Troche (Go Fish, The L Word, The Safety of Objects, Concussion) following 7:10 p.m. screening

July 30 – Post-screening conversation with Filmmaker, Kimberly Levin; Producer, Kurt Pitzer & Special Guest TBA following 7:10 p.m. screening

CLAREMONT
Opens July 24
Laemmle’s Claremont 5, 450 West Second Street
Get your tickets here

 


who’s behind the u.s. farmers & ranchers alliance and why it matters

posted April 25, 2014

US Farmer and Rancher

On Thursday, September 22, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), a new trade association made up of some of the biggest players in the food industry—including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dupont, and Monsanto—hosted what they called “Food Dialogues” in Washington D.C., New York City, U.C. Davis, and Fair Oaks, Indiana.

The USFRA describes the Food Dialogues, and their broader multi-million dollar media campaign, as an effort to amplify the voice of farmers and ranchers and help consumers know more about “how their food is grown and raised.”

Sounds good, on first blush.

Most of us are in the dark when it comes to the story of our food. And, farmers and ranchers—the people working hard every day to bring us our food—are nearly invisible in mainstream media. But dig into the Alliance’s membership, and its impetus for forming, and you start to wonder whether it truly represents the voices of grassroots food producers or whether this well-funded media campaign is agribusinesses latest attempt to push back against well-documented and well-publicized concerns about the environmental and health consequences of industrial agriculture.

When I asked a rep from Ketchum—the public relations firm hired by the Alliance—what motivated these groups to come together, without skipping a beat, he answered: Food, Inc. and movies like it. “People see Food, Inc.,” he said, “And think everything in that movie is accurate.” But, he continued, the film only presents one side of the issue and USFRA members feel they didn’t “have a voice in it.” Now, as the Ketchum rep put it, USFRA wants to “clear the air” and “get a national dialogue, a conversation, going.”

Click here to read more of this Civil Eats article—>