ReGroup.Farm is the tale and reality of a group of Boomers, Gen X-er’s and Millennials found themselves on a farm in the Midwest. They recognized that something very interesting was happening in society at large, that in spite of all the division and decay of rural towns, that these phenomena can be reversed. In fact this process has already begun via the “food movement”.
There is a recognition that people come together over food. Whether it’s family, friends or community, food tends to bring us together for a pretty good time. Exploring this movement, asking questions and improving the food system is the core of ReGroup.Farm.
Click HERE to read more about ReGroup Farm and their mission for the future!
“We live and die by chemical agriculture”. In the age of rampant use of chemicals such as the dreaded dicamba, truer words have perhaps never been spoken. Zachary Michael Jack, Iowa View contributor recently writes in the Des Moines Register about stark contrast between pesticide and herbicide spraying in the 80’s during his childhood versus the situation today. In times past, farmers applied chemicals to their crops when the winds was calm, and neighbours knew even then to bring their children inside away lest they be exposed to these toxic clouds.
“Sadly, the common-sense, Golden Rule honor code that held sway in the fields each spring in my 1980s Iowa boyhood no longer holds. And for those of us who still live on the farm but don’t engage in chemical-intensive large-scale farming, the results are both toxic and terrifying. Farmers now routinely spray their seasonal herbicides in winds so fierce even private pilots think twice about taking off. We watch as wind-driven clouds of chemicals drift across our fields and into our children’s lungs, onto our plants and trees, and, through the cracks and fissures of our old farmhouses, right into our very homes.”
As formerly rural populations have become increasingly urbanised, chemical hungry crops have become the dominant life-form and rural human populations are suffering from higher mortality levels as a result. Jack goes as far as describing those relocating to urban and suburban areas as rural refugees. And yet he does not call for these farmers, generally good, down to earth people, to cease their spraying, but rather makes a poignant plea that they reinstate the golden rule honor code out of concern not for himself, but for the rural children who have no choice but to breathe this chemical laden air.
Click HERE to read the full article on the Des Moines Register.
A new documentary tells the tale of the hunters waging war against an invasive swamp rodent species, the nutria, in Louisiana. There is a government bounty on the heads (or tails) of the 20lb, orange-toothed critters – $5 for each severed 12-18in tail collected. Nutiva grazing habitats adds to coastal erosion in a region whose land is already vulnerable to hurricanes. The rodents, introduced to the region for their fur in the days of the fur trade are undermining the land for the people who live there.
The documentary explores the context of nutria in Louisiana explaining the role they play in a range of areas from ecological destruction as well as their role in the economy as a food source and clothing resource. The film premiers on Wed Nov 15, 2017, 7:15 PM at the IFC Center, NY. and you can read a full review HERE.
“The sense of impotence and dread in rural America is a consequence of decades of economic extraction and exploitation carried out in the guise of rural economic development. Rural areas are suffering the consequences of prolonged “economic colonization”—a term typically used in reference to neoliberal economic development in nations previously colonized politically. Rather than being colonized by national governments, most economic colonization today in rural America, and indeed in rural communities around the world, is carried out by multinational corporations. (more…)
“But for my entire life, my own country has apathetically accepted an American model of farming and food retailing, mostly through a belief that it was the way of progress and the natural course of economic development. As a result, America’s future is the default for us all.
It is a future in which farming and food have changed and are changing radically — in my view, for the worse. Thus I look at the future with a skeptical eye. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.”
– James Rebanks in the New York Times op-eds last week explaining why the stakes are so high, but missing all the reasons to hope… (This is the part where we say, YOU, Greenhorns! From your draft-powered farms to your new resilient corporative models, there are a lot of new energy in rural America. And, thank you!)
This recent submission to our series on whether or not hydroponics should be considered organic comes from Joanna Storie, a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of Estonian University of Life Sciences. She takes a similar stance on hydroponics to our last contributor, adding that hydroponics are not sustainable agriculture in that they divert attention from strengthening rural economies and reinforce urban ways of being that divorce people further from the land.
In your recent blog you asked the question on whether hydroponics is organic or not and I have to agree that it is not. The following statement sums it up for me:
“Hydroponics may be a fine way to grow food and it might be an important part of how cities feed themselves in the future, but it’s no more a form of sustainable agriculture than producing wood fiber in a laboratory is a form of sustainable forest management.”
It also worries me that Hydoponics divorce people even further from the idea of stewardship of the land– which is something that makes the urban areas increasingly vulnerable, because– even if they can produce food in the cities using hydroponic techniques– this will not be the sum total of their food supply.
Recently I submitted an abstract for a conference, which took the position against urban-centric ways of structuring our society, arguing that “rural social networks need to be seen as inherently valuable to the resilience of the whole region.”
I think the hydroponics fits into the urban 24/7 mindset, which values cheap food and devalues rural social network, thus exacerbating the situation of removing people further from the knowledge of healthy food and healthy environments.
Tianna Kennedy, of Star Route Farm in the Catskills of NY, contributed this compelling argument to young agrarians and agrarian-minded professionals. She says, so you think rural areas like the Catskills are a dead-end: you’re wrong. Make sure to read beyond the break to see the three amazing farm positions she’s spotlighted– two “professional” jobs and one farming incubator.
“So many great Ag jobs up at the moment in the Catskills.
People, it is time we for real reverse the trend towards urbanization – strong self-sufficient local communities and the thriving informal economies and the distribution routes they engender are more resilient than vulnerable urban centers. They are pockets of resistance and value. Quality of life skyrockets proportionate to distance from urban centers. Plus, the clean air, water (to swim in as well as to drink), farm-fresh food, views! The country has it all. (more…)
Social obstacles faced by the youth of San Luis are many for a small town. Since traditional ways of life have been eliminated by loss of land rights, youth are challenged by poverty, northbound drug trafficking, and alcoholism. Costilla County has the highest rates of diabetes in the state. The 2012 Census states 37.3% of residents of San Luis were below the poverty line; more than double the rate of Colorado. Despite these challenges, the youth involved in our program are achievers. 19 out of 21 surveyed youth at the culmination of Summer 2015 internships agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I have a plan for my future that makes me feel excited.”
Move Mountains focuses on transforming all forms of oppression by focusing on empowering individuals and learning how to best support their organizing efforts to make change. To learn more and to support their cause, click HERE!
“In the end there is more than just fiber that tears and fades when you use cheap goods to hold things together.”
Harvesting Liberty, about Michael Lewis (of Growing Warriors) and Rebecca Burgess (of Fibershed), who have received a grant from Patagonia to support their incredible budding hemp projects in Kentucky. Like most videos we’ve been posting here these days, this one is liable to make you cry.
Growing Warriors is a Kentucky-based farming program designed to train, assist, and equip military veterans with the skills, tools and supplies needed to grow organic produce for their families and communities. growingwarriors.org. Fibershed develops regenerative textile systems that are based on carbon farming, regional manufacturing, and public education. fibershed.com