On a sunny winter day, the Ancona ducks at Boondockers Farm in Oregon wandered around their pasture and frolicked in several blue plastic kiddie pools, under the watchful eye of two Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs. The 500 or so ducks spend day and night outside, protected from predators by the dogs, not walls. Cows, turkeys, and Delaware chickens wander in pastures and barns. Vegetables destined for the farmers’ market grow in a nearby garden plot. Read more
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This is the third in a series of four excerpts from The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience, and Farming. Read more about the book and the author here, then check out the first and second posts.
When I visited North Carolina, I heard a lot about Tahz Walker and Cristina Rivera-Chapman of Tierra Negra Farms, who are well known among young food-movement activists and urban gardeners in New York City. So as I pull up the long driveway to the land they are renting outside of Durham, I am excited to finally meet them. Read more
According to Jean-Martin Fortier, it isn’t a farmer’s job to feed the world. And he finds it absurd that many U.S.-based food and agriculture companies tell farmers they should do so. “Feeding the world? People in Africa don’t need the U.S. to feed them.” What we need, the Canadian farmer argues, is small farms feeding their communities, and that task is difficult enough. Read more
“It [was] a total girl-power year around here,” says Janet Whalen Zeller, co-founder and co-director of Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture and Education Project, which oversees two farms totaling 56 acres. In fact, during the past few years the majority of apprenticeship applicants at the farm have been women.
At New Orleans’ Recirculating Farms Coalition (RFC), vegetables grow in an intricate system of recirculating aquaculture systems and raised garden beds. Founded in 2009, the nonprofit organization trains urban farmers in both soil-based farming and fish farming—a combination that provides food for the local community.
Now, thanks to a federal grant, RFC has received $500,000 to create a more robust free training program for budding urban farmers, specifically targeting its outreach and support to new farmers in some of the most low-income and underserved communities in New Orleans: Central City, Algiers, New Orleans East, the Seventh Ward, and the Ninth Ward. Read more
In August, five young men showed up at Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable farm near Albany, New York, where I work as educator and food justice coordinator. It was the first day of a new restorative justice program, in partnership with the county’s Department of Law. The teens had been convicted of theft, and, as an alternative to incarceration, chose this opportunity to earn money to pay back their victims while gaining farm skills. They looked wary and unprepared, with gleaming sneakers and averted eyes. Read more
Kiera Butler’s fascination with 4-H began in 2011 after she attended a county fair for the first time. A senior editor at Mother Jones, Butler grew up in “unleafy” Sommerville, Massachusetts, where country living wasn’t an option. Flush in the middle of a love affair with CSA-boxes, urban chicken coops, and Michael Pollan-inspired farm-to-table food, Butler writes about her first trip to the Alameda County Fair: “You might be wondering why a grown woman was displaying toddler-like delight at the prospect of seeing barnyard animals. The truth is I was going through a livestock phase.” Read more
I grew up visiting the local grange in the small town of Los Olivos, California. The lawn outside was always abuzz with activity. Picnic tables were laden with potlucks, babies lounged on blankets, and streamers were flying high. It was the place where everything in our town happened, at least that’s how it always seemed to me. We went to the grange to see films, attend dances, and sit through my parents’ boring grownup meetings. There was a close-knit spirit of support, collaboration, and family that I rarely see anymore. Read more
Searching for the perfect holiday gift for your locavore friends? The Farmer’s Guild Cookbook makes a great stocking stuffer. A beautiful collection of recipes and photographs, the book highlights the new and young farmers from across Northern California. The Farmer’s Guild selected each farmer who offers advice on cooking the food they grow themselves. Read more
When Leah Penniman posted on Facebook about an upcoming one-week Black and Latino immersion program on her upstate New York farm, it filled up in 24 hours. The program at Soul Fire Farm is designed for young people of color, “to ease them back into relationship with the land,” says Penniman.
This farmer/educator’s life is rooted in a commitment to fighting racism and dismantling what she calls “oppressive structures that misguide our food system.” Penniman wants everyone—regardless of class, color or creed—to have access to fresh, healthful food and an understanding of how to grow their own. Read more