Two miles north of Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street‘s encamped, there’s another would-be hotspot of cultural change occupying a more genteel locale: the James Beard Foundation (JBF). Seriously? This epicurean epicenter housed in an elegant West Village brownstone with eternally well-tended window boxes, wants to stir up something more culturally significant than mouth-watering meals curated by celebrity chefs?

Well, yes. And it’s a logical move, if they don’t want to see their legacy (or their democracy) go down the toilet. After all, as Mario Batali once pointed out on CBS Sunday Morning, “When you think about it, all my greatest work is poop, tomorrow.” Read more

Last week, 200 young farmers gathered at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY for a conference with the aim to provide education and support to sprouting farmers. This was the second year of the Young Farmers Conference, filled to capacity and begging the question, will the conference go national next year, or stay local?

The feeling in the air was one of excitement; despite the obstacles, these twenty- and thirty-somethings were eager to better their skills and be a part of the revolution in how we feed ourselves. Workshops included those on composting, poultry processing, creative ideas for accessing land, navigating Farm Bill programs for beginners, soil nutrition, agroforestry and tree crops, farming through the winter, permaculture, bringing meat to market, and more. Read more

In farmer David “Mas” Masumoto’s latest book, Wisdom of the Last Farmer, he looks back on his agrarian life so far. In it, Masumoto focuses primarily on the things he has learned from his father — the things he wishes he’d paid more attention to (like welding) and the things he chose to do differently once he’d taken over his 80 acre peach, nectarine and grape farm near Fresno, California (like transitioning to organic, and making the tough decision to rip out some very old grape vines in order to preserve and nurture others). Meditating on farm legacies seems to have more meaning just now, when his 23 year old daughter, Nikiko, has decided that she too will continue farming Masumoto peaches.

Wisdom of the Last Farmer contains within it a wealth of experience, which make great lessons for young and beginning farmers. It made sense, then, that Mas and Nikiko Masumoto led a workshop together for young farmers last weekend at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY. The workshop gave beginners the opportunity to ask questions of the experienced farmers present, including Stone Barns’ own livestock manager Craig Haney and four-season vegetable grower Jack Algiere. It was also a chance for local apprentice farmers to get to know each other, fostering a sense of farmer community — something Stone Barns hopes to continue building upon. Read more

There are few moments more powerful and thrilling for a young person than those in which we learn a skill that we want to and will use for the rest of our lives.  Or those first days when we truly realistically consider our futures – just our next five years, if not more – and realize (or think very much) that we know what it is that will make us happy.  Or that last second we have before feeling we are in that future, that brief moment of conviction that we have never in our lives been less prepared nor more determined. Read more

Normally I don’t like soft-boiled eggs.  But there I was, sitting at Blue Hill restaurant at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, New York, with a plate of delicately cooked spinach in a savory sauce crowned with a battered, soft-boiled egg and enjoying every last bite.  That is because chef Dan Barber is out to refocus our attention on the spoils of the farm right outside: an 80 acre four-season and pastured livestock farm that grows and raises most of the food served on the premises.  Watching chickens scratch around on pasture, and then enjoying their eggs elegantly prepared is transparency you can taste. Read more