The next time someone points to the need for more farmers’ markets as a way to help move local food from a trend to a substantive cultural shift, you might consider telling them about the power of institutional purchasing. It may sound less interesting and, on the surface, it certainly is. (Who doesn’t love buying purple carrots to the sound of a didgeridoo?) But bear with us. Read more
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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
Northfield, Minnesota may have to add “CSAs” to their town motto “cows, colleges, and contentment.” Forty minutes south of Minneapolis, this small town is becoming a Midwest hot spot for sustainable agriculture. In the past seven years, 14 young, small-scale, and sustainably minded farmers have started farms within 12 miles of Northfield. They include six diverse vegetable CSAs, three orchards, two livestock operations, one flower farm, a cider mill, and a homesteading artistic community. Read more
Some people go to Daytona Beach in the spring, and others take a deep look at the food on their plates.
This year, 20 members of this second, much more self-selecting, group came together for five days in New York City for the third annual Eco Practicum produced in partnership with Our Name Is Farm, a training aimed at building “effective advocacy for a better food system.” Read more
Nicole DeVito, co-owner of Aravaipa Creekside Growers in Dudleyville, Arizona, says she has had a hard time finding work pants and boots that fit her well. “I do have a pair of women’s Carhartts, but I only wear them if I’m going to crawl around in the mud after a monsoon,” says DeVito. “The crotch is so low that I walk like I’m wearing a diaper, and they pinch my stomach when I bend.” Instead of Carhartts, DeVito often wears worn-out jeans or hiking pants. In place of kneepads, she drags a piece of cardboard along the vegetable rows for kneeling. Read more
Aubrey Fletcher knew she wanted to work on a dairy farm ever since she was a little girl.
“I do remember my mom asking, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’” Fletcher recalls.
Fletcher knew the work was tough, she grew up milking cows every day. After college she and her husband wanted to return to his family farm, but it wasn’t making financial sense. Read more
This is the first spring Davon Goodwin will spend running his own farm. The young farmer is planting grapes and elderberries and raising pastured pork and lamb on Off The Land (OTL) Farms. He’s leasing 150-acres in Raeford, North Carolina, from the farm that he currently manages, Fussy Gourmet, owned by an eye surgeon in town. Read more
Most Americans have never heard of permaculture. And although the approach is gaining traction among U.S. urbanites (full disclosure: I teach urban permaculture), ideas differ about exactly what it is. An environmental philosophy? An approach to ecological design? A particular set of farming practices?
Some new and beginning farmers are also becoming interested, as evidenced by a recent discussion on the role of permaculture in agriculture at a gathering organized by the California-based Farmer’s Guild—a network for “the new generation of sustainable agriculture.” Read more
When Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger started a small heirloom vegetable farm in the early 1990s, they called their new venture Green Heron Farms, after the birds that nested in a copse of trees on their property in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. The name would turn out to be a form of kismet, as green herons are some of the few birds that use tools.
Adams and Brensinger, with their backgrounds in nursing and public health, soon learned an important, albeit painful, lesson: Most of the farm tools they used often had been designed for men. Read more
Two years ago, in the middle of summer, the water was shut off on the 143-acre farm and ranch that Dustin Stein manages in Mancos, Colorado.
As a farmer at the beginning of his career, Stein, who runs Stubborn Farm, was fortunate to share senior water rights with his landowner—a sought-after claim in this part of the country. This seniority meant he had access to a backup reservoir, but even that only gave him two more weeks worth of water and didn’t guarantee that the record-setting drought wouldn’t have a serious effect on his 75 head of cattle, row crops, pigs, and flock of hens. Read more