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Faces & Visions of the Food Movement: Denise O’Brien

Denise O’Brien is a farmer and community organizer from Atlantic, Iowa. She has farmed with her husband, Larry Harris, for 37 years in the southwest of the state and maintains 16 acres of fruit and vegetable production. Denise also raises turkeys and chickens for market.

For over 30 years Denise has helped develop agriculture policy on the state, national and international level working specifically on local food systems and conservation issues. She is the founder of Women Food and Agriculture Network and recently returned home after a year working as an USDA agriculture adviser in Afghanistan.

Denise has spent years as an activist farmer, raising children and crops, milking cows and being politically engaged. Now, she wants to restore prairie, save seeds, support women landowners and encourage the next generation of women activists. Read more

The Seeds of a New Economy

With the economy in shambles and banks closing across the country, a ray of light has appeared: a former bank in Petaluma, California has been reborn as a new heirloom seed bank. And the timing could not be better. From the White House garden to your garden, growth in the good food movement, coupled with a recession and concerns about food safety, has led to a resurgence in seed sales and revived interest in growing, canning and cooking your own. Imagine: out of the failing financial institutions languishing on the Main Streets of America, real economic stability and prosperity taking root and blooming. Empty banks across the country could be transformed into warehouses of independence and sustainability. Read more

Farmers + Fashionistas = Sex and the Country?

My style is more Birkenstock than Birkin bag, so Fashion Week doesn’t do much for me. You know the Shopocalypse has arrived when designers go dumpster diving for shoulder pads in the Dynasty/Dallas dustbin. Padded assets in this Grapes of Graft depression? Dust Bowl duds, à la the Waltons, would be more fitting for the hard times ahead.

But the John Patrick Organic fashion show managed to bypass both eighties excess and seventies scarcity and find fertile ground in “Green Acres,” the sixties spoof starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as neophyte homesteaders. I knew this wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill runway show because (a) it featured a “young farmer bake sale,” and (b) the invite came from Greenhorns director Severine Von Tscharner Fleming. Read more