It’s a tough time for aspiring small farmers. On top of start up capital, they need land, which is next to impossible to find at a reasonable price. This situation has only been made worse since the 2008 economic crisis by a surge of investor interest in farmland. On top of wealthy individuals, large hedge funds, pension funds, and university endowments have all gotten in on the act, treating land, “like gold, with yield.” Read more
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By all accounts, Jude Becker is a very successful farmer. His organic, pasture-raised Becker Lane pork, is considered the best of the best. It’s for sale in several Northern California Whole Foods and at farmers’ markets in Chicago, as well as on plates in several high-end restaurants around the country. There’s even a small retail market for it in Japan. Read more
Marji Guyler-Alaniz has spent the last nine months documenting women farmers for her ongoing photography project, FarmHer.
“My goal is to capture the beauty in the every day and my style is to show who these women are through subtleties,” says the Iowa-based photographer. It’s an important goal at a time when the number of female farmers is on the rise, women now make up 30 percent of U.S. farmers, and many women are approaching this work in sustainable, creative, and mold-breaking ways. Read more
The word “teamster” carries meanings both modern and ancient. In current day usage, we associate the term with truck drivers moving freight, fuel, and food across the continent. Originally, a teamster was someone who drove a team of draft animals–typically horses, oxen and mules–to transport heavy loads by cart and for agricultural tillage. This practice dates back to 3000 B.C., originating in Mesopotamia (Iraq), Turkey, and Egypt.
Gina Wertz is a horse and ox teamster. Her animal-powered market vegetables and herbs are grown at Under the Stone Garden on the grounds of Tillers International, a Kalamazoo County working farm and learning center dedicated to the preservation and training of inexpensive methods of food production in rural areas around the world. Read more
If you’re up on sustainable farming, chances are good that you’ve heard of The Greenhorns. But, if by some chance you have not, let me fill you in. The non-profit organization was founded in 2007 by Severine von Tscharner Fleming with the primary goal of promoting and supporting the young farmer movement in America. Their first project, the eponymous documentary The Greenhorns brought attention to the plight of young farmers and introduced viewers to a myriad of grassroots endeavors. Through new media production, events, publications, workshops, and actual farming, The Greenhorns aim to organize, build, and bring attention to a network of budding agrarians. I’m happy to report that the latest Greenhorns project has arrived and it’s an impressive body of work that deserves some attention. The 2013 New Farmer’s Almanac is an adventure. Read more
In the Basque Country—an autonomous community in Northern Spain—the official unemployment rate for young people lingers around 40 percent, but some estimate it might be even higher. It’s a region where the steel and manufacturing industries once dominated, but have since faced huge declines. Finding a first-time career, or returning to an old one for that matter, is increasingly difficult. Read more
What do you get when you cross a U-pick and a CSA (community supported agriculture) membership? The Masumoto Family Farm adopt-a-tree program. For the last nine years, peach and nectarine lovers in California have filled out “adoption forms,” paid $600, and made the trip to this Fresno-based organic farm for two consecutive summer weekends to harvest between 350 to 450 pounds of fruit from their adopted tree. Read more
It’s a new day for those who have felt poorly served by California’s chief food and agriculture agency.
In a significant shift, an $18 million state-managed program that supports growers of vegetables, fruit and nuts is strengthening its focus on ecologically minded farmers and local, urban and healthy food programs.
New funding guidelines announced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture mark an important break from decades of mostly serving the interests of larger, conventional growers. Read more