rich people farming

posted October 30, 2017

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credit: NRA Show/Vimeo

The NY Times published an interesting article recently about Kimbal Musk’s (brother of Elon) foray into farming.

Mr. Musk is promoting a philosophy he calls “real food,” which nourishes the body, the farmer and the planet. It doesn’t sound much different than what writers like Michael Pollan and everyone who has ever helped start a farmers’ market or community garden have preached for years.

Musk having spent years working in the tech industry has set his sights on ‘innovating’ the food world motivated by his passion for healthy food and what he sees as the ceremony of food. He has effectively dedicated himself to changing the way Americans eat. He is keen to promote soilless farming a controversial, disruptive opinion within the organic farming world.

For all his business and tech acumen, Mr. Musk can sometimes seem tone-deaf. At a conference on food waste in New York last month, he declared from the stage that “food is one of the final frontiers that technology hasn’t tackled yet. If we do it well, it will mean good food for all.”

When the comment was posted on Twitter, Lawrence McLachlan, a farmer in Ontario, Canada, shot back: “You might want to visit a Farm Progress show. Or even a farm. I think you might have missed 70 years of Ag history. It’s Hi-Tech stuff bud.”

To read the full article click HERE


mapping perennials

posted April 4, 2017

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Ever wish you could find every perennial farm any where you went in the country? Turns out you can. Perennial Map provides a great interactive platform for finding perennial farms across the country. Whether you’re looking to network, hire, or just learn more, farms that raise everything from maple syrup to asparagus are listed here. Is your farm missing from the list? It’s free to create a new posting!


the incredible american-made, open source, radically accessible, and utterly adaptable tractor

posted February 28, 2017

One thing that is clear when you look at Oggún’s website, watch its videos, and study its tractor, is that this a no-frills organization. No frills: just results. And that is precisely why we love them and it so much.

In his ever-relevant essay “In Distrust of Movements,” Wendell Berry writes that the local food and land movement must “content itself to be poor,” because, “We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions. The solutions of modern medicine and modern agriculture are all staggeringly expensive, and this is caused in part, and maybe altogether, because of the availability of huge sums of money for medical and agricultural research.”

What we see here, in the Oggún tractor, is exactly what kind of practical, pragmatic results come from a thrifty approach. Accessing Cuba’s local food shortage, Cuban-born  Horace Clemmons and his business partner Saul Berenthal quickly realized that Cuban farmers needed technology that was simple, rugged, and easy-to-repair. And then they asked, why don’t tractors like this already exist, tractors like the original Allis Chalmers G that farmers in the US used in the 1950s? They suspected that stock-based shareholder business models might be to blame: too much money and the input of too many people with money who just do not understand the problems of small farmers.

So, in the grand spirit of Farm Hack, they used open-source technology to build a tractor with all off-the-shelf parts. Thus, repairs can be done in the field and in small local machine shops. Oggún adapted its business model to keep over-head costs low, partner closely with other local businesses, and never develop products that are planned for obsolescence. The tractors is made in Alabama, but it’s available to and possibly revolutionary for small family farmers all around the world.

Tune into Greenhorns Radio today at 4:00 PM to hear Locky Carton, Oggún partner and graduate of the University of Iowa’s agricultural business program, speak more about this exciting project. If you can’t tune in today, don’t forget that a podcast version of our show is always available at the Heritage Radio Network!


does food tech hurt small farmers?

posted May 11, 2016

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Does Food Tech Help Farmers?,”was the central question of a Civil Eats article from last week. Reporter Dave Holt spoke to several small scale CSA and market farmers about their experience with the recent glut of internet startups– from Farmdingo to Good Eggs– asking mainly if e-commerce was good for business. Some farmers said yes, some said no. Most indicated that regardless of the relative benefits and costs of partnering with online distribution companies, doing so is becoming increasingly necessary. In the words of one farmer interviewed, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

 

But the farmers say they were disappointed, when, after being Farmigo’s loyal customer for several years, the company (backed by $26 million in funding) “came into the market we’ve developed over the past 25 years and started competing with us.”

We’d love to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments section if you use or have used an e-commerce platform for marketing and how it worked for you!