Recent Articles About Agroecology

Free seed libraries, swaps, and exchanges increase access to local food and can play a large role in both expanding and preserving biodiversity. Yet for almost 80 years, these non-commercial operations have been running afoul of the law.

That’s because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Federal Seed Act mandates that any activity involving non-commercial distribution of seed be labeled, permitted, and tested according to industrial regulations that would be both costly and burdensome to the over 460 estimated seed libraries operating in 46 states.

Now the tide may be starting to turn. Read more

At the end of the 2009 documentary Food, Inc., Indiana corn and soybean farmer Troy Roush tells the film’s audience: “You have to understand that we farmers, we’re going to deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands … People have got to start demanding good, wholesome food of us. And we’ll deliver. I promise you.”

It’s a simple frame—supply will naturally meet demand—but when it comes to certified organic food, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Read more

Puerto Rico native Raul Rosado, a chef by training, would escape to the forest when he needed a break from his cut-throat kitchen career in the crowded capital city of San Juan. By chance, he met a farmer while hiking in Utuado—the lush, west-central mountains of Puerto Rico—and Rosado came to enjoy this simpler life that the farmer led in tune with nature.

Rosado, then in his 20s, began helping on the farm and soon was helping city dwellers get started with their own gardens. This was just the beginning of his work in changing the way people on this 100-by 35-mile island source their food.

Rosado, now 35, says farmer is not an occupation presented as an option to young Puerto Ricans. “It is not something that the schools or the older people want you to be,” he says. “They tell you you’re not going to have a good income and that those people don’t live well.” Read more

As food activists work to localize food systems in the United States, small farmers who sell their food locally still produce around 80 percent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa. But that does not mean that farmers and food activists on the African continent can be complacent. Quite the opposite. Corporate industrialization of African agriculture is resulting in massive land grabs, destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, displacement of indigenous peoples, and destruction of livelihoods and cultures.

Yonas Yimer works to create a united voice for food justice across more than 50 countries in Africa. He leads communications for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, a policy advocacy group that fights to protect small family farming and community-based food production, and is a recent recipient of the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize. Read more

This article originally appeared in Ensia.

Her face shaded by a wide-brimmed straw hat, Olawumi Benedict is cheerfully tending to her “little babies” — kale seedlings growing in shallow wooden flats until they’re hardy enough for transplantation into soil beds. Three miles over the hills on another small farm, Jonnes Mlegwah is double-digging the soil with a spading fork, preparing to plant potatoes. Both are Africans, but these mini-farms are 140 miles north of San Francisco in Mendocino County, better known for the harvesting of redwood trees and marijuana plants than kale and potatoes. Read more

It’s the dog days of summer, and many people are lucky to be on vacation. But for farmers, this is the busiest time of the year, when the fruit of their labors are nearing perfection, and the hours of caring and tending to their crops must be realized. I spent a recent weekend picking peaches with many others at Masumoto Family Farm near Fresno, California, as part of their adopt-a-tree program, an innovative approach to ensuring they have a market for their fragile fruit. It’s just one of the many ways the Masumotos use their land to connect with the public about the realities of farming, and it’s also an important part of their economic survival. Read more

“In the food business, there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation. If you want to feed your family healthy food, you gotta ask a lot of questions.”

So begins the film Unbroken Ground, a 25-minute production by pro surfer and filmmaker Chris Malloy, featuring four food operations pursuing regenerative food production. The person on camera, speaking passionately about the need to change the food system, is Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the sustainable outdoor-clothing company Patagonia.

But what is the leader of an apparel company doing introducing a film about food? Read more

By now you’ve likely heard the bad news about honey bees. Populations have declined precipitously in the U.S. over the past few years, due to a combination of factors including pests, pathogens, and pesticide use—so much so that beekeepers in some states have formed lobbyist groups to help draw attention to the problem. The shrinking number of honey bees is a problem, because pollinators are essential for agriculture, and honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion of U.S. crops each year. Read more