sight and insight in the californian desert

posted November 23, 2017

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The scorched road leading up to A-Z West, on the border of Joshua Tree National Park. 
Credit: Stefan Ruiz and the NY Times 

Joshua Tree National Park.

“Zittel sees herself as part of the 20th-century tradition of American artists leaving cities for the open spaces of the Southwest, but she is aware of her deviations. O’Keeffe and Martin chose the desert as a form of retreat, but Zittel saw it as liberation. As for the parallels often drawn between her and the largely male artists who came to make their massive, macho marks on the desert, she gently notes that she is not interested in “grand interventions,” only in finding meaning in intimate, everyday gestures.”

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biodynamic wildfire relief fund

posted October 13, 2017

credit: The Biodynamic Association

Following the devastation caused by the spread of massive wildfires in California over the past week it has become apparent that many of those within the biodynamic community have been directly affected. Among these is Frey Vineyards, a pioneer in Biodynamic® wine and dedicated supporter of the BDA. The vineyard has experienced significant losses due to the fires, as have many other farms and vineyards. Many more have been evacuated from their homes and are waiting anxiously as the fires continue to spread. In response the Biodynamic Association is considering setting up a recovery fund to enable donations to assist biodynamic farmers experiencing losses of animals, crops, homes, and infrastructure in the region. If you or someone you know in the biodynamic community is in need of financial support, please contact Karisa Centanni at karisa@biodynamics.com to help them better understand the needs of the biodynamic community and how they can mobilize support.

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action alert! upcoming farm bill listening sessions.

posted July 29, 2017

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pictured: Colin Thompson, a Community Food Systems Educator for Michigan State University Extension credit: OFRF

As the next Farm Bill approaches, the House Agriculture Committee members are beginning to gather input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders. As you may know, several current programmes that contribute to the success of organic agriculture are under threat of elimination as so it is imperative that policy makers hear directly from organic farmers, researchers and organic farming advocates.

There are three upcoming listening sessions in the next week organised by the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Monday July 31 2017 – 1.00 pm. Texas

Angelo State University,
C.J. Davidson Conference Centre,
1910 Rosemont Drive,
San Angelo, Texas

Thursday, August 3, 2017 – 9:30 a.m. Minnesota 

Farmfest,
Gilfillan Estates,
28366 Co. Hwy 13,
Morgan, Minnesota

Saturday, August 5, 2017 – 9:00 a.m. Modesto, California
Address to yet to be announced.

If you are hoping to speak at one of the listening sessions, arrive early as the opportunity to speak will be decided on a first come first served basis and speaking time will likely be restricted to approximately 2 minutes.

Recently, at OFRF’s recommendation, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced H.R. 2436, the Organic Agriculture Research Act (OARA). This historic bipartisan legislation reauthorizes USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), and increases its mandatory funding from $20 million to $50 million annually. If passed, the Organic Agriculture Research Act would become part of the 2018 Farm Bill. It is important to show your support now.

If you would like more information about the listening sessions or the issues at stake, please email policy@ofrf.org.


crops of the future.

posted June 30, 2017

Coffee Beans

When portrayed by the film and TV media, the one thing that all fictional futures seem to have in common is a coffee shortage. Only the elite and the lucky manage to get their hands on a coveted cup of joe. In the dystopian fictional future, coffee is a black market product and in the wake of climate change, future coffee shortages may not be such a far-fetched concept after all. In 2016, Climate Institute, an Australian non-profit released a report that stated that in the next number of decades, the area of land suitable for growing coffee will decrease by about 50%. In addition to this, increased temperatures in the southern hemisphere, where much of our coffee comes from, encourages the spread of diseases and pests that affect the coffee plant, which can only grow well in a stable climate with steady levels of both heat and water.  If you are anything like me, the thought of having to start your day without a cup of freshly brewed coffee may strike fear in your heartbut fear not!

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queer ecojustice project summer reading group

posted May 2, 2017

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Are you dreaming, planting, and tending visions of a queer ecological future? Are you looking to connect with kindred spirits in your region and across the country to share resources to support these visions of collective liberation? Join Queer Ecojustice Project for our first ONLINE reading community!

Most gatherings will be local in your region (we call these regional groups, “nodes”). Monthly online community gatherings will occur in June, July, August, and September.

Already interested? Sign-up HERE.

Read on below for more information about the organizers, facilitators, QTPOC reading group nodes in Oakland and Seattle, and QTPOC community land projects that need your support.

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evolution of organic hits theaters this month!

posted April 14, 2017

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The world premier of the Evolution of Organic (see our previous post on this film here and here) is finally upon us! You can catch the event at the opening Night of Green Film Fest 2017 on April 20 at the Castro Theatre. Schedule as follows:

6:00pm  ::  Opening Night Reception with Mark Kitchell and Festival filmmakers
7:30pm  ::  Evolution of Organic (Mark Kitchell, USA, 2017, 82 mins)

As the Film Fest surmises, “[The Evolution of Organic] started with a motley crew of back-to-the-landers rejecting industrial farming. It went on to spawn a renewed connection with our food and land. Filmmaker Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties; A Fierce Green Fire) presents a celebration of Californian organic farming told by the people that started it all thru to a new generation who continue to reinvent the food system.”

The film will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Mark Kitchell and special guests. Buy tickets here!


historic cover cropping

posted April 12, 2017

Do we like preaching to the choir? Sure do! Enter, this week’s installment from Kiss the Ground on using cover cropping for carbon sequestration. Now, can I get an Amen?!

This video features Jeff Borum, Soil Health Coordinator East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District , who mentions that some of the oldest records of cover cropping come from Virgil. Our interest piqued, we did a little digging to confirm this fact and unearthed some trivia about the history of cover cropping from this UC Davis article, but we know there’s more out there. Can anyone point us in the right direction??


wages, immigration, and a labor shortage on california farms

posted March 30, 2017

CA Fruit Picking

According to a recent article in the LA Times, wages are up for farm workers in California and some farms are even offering perks (think 401(k), health care, vacation days, and profit-sharing bonuses) that were often unheard of in the world of agriculture. So why, then, are farmers struggling with what sounds like a crippling labor shortage? Paired with an increasingly restrictive immigration policy, the article suggests that it’s because native-born Americans simply don’t want to work in the fields:

But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.

What do you think? Although the article has its holes and shortcomings, it’s a great start to a debate that must be had in California and throughout the country. Give the entire piece a read by clicking HERE.