Entries in farming (5)


Today in Organic: Nov. 2nd, 2010

  • It's voting day! Be sure to find your polling place and support candidates that will help make your community more sustainable. Check out Sierra Club's Voter Guide to find representatives in 12 key states who support clean energy.
  • The Washington Post covers a story about a young Chinese farmer who is sowing the seeds for an organic revolution.
  • A USDA grant aims to enhance sustainability of beginning farmers and ranchers. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) will fund projects to to train, educate and provide outreach and technical assistance to beginning farmers.
  • Amber Turpin at Civil Eats writes about what happens when a small organic farm fails.

New Video: Does America Have a Water Crisis? 

Have you ever considered how much it costs to keep unlimited clean water flowing into your faucets at home? Or how much water goes into growing all the food that you eat? Can you imagine our supply of water running out?

These are topics we explored during our interview with Robert Glennon, Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Arizona and author of Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It. He's on a mission to hold government and individuals responsible for true stewardship of our our most valuable natural resource: water.

Glennon explains that it took thousands of years for water to accumulate in our underground aquifers but we're pumping it out in mere decades. Consider these events that have occurred in the last two years:

  • Lake Lanier, the water supply for Atlanta, a metropolitan area of 4.5 million people, came within 90 days of going dry.
  • In the summer of 2009, California faced mandatory water rationing. Many farmers could have been entirely cut off, costing the economy more than $1 billion and putting more than 50,000 people out of work.
  • Lake Superior, the earth’s largest freshwater body, was too shallow to float fully-loaded cargo ships.
  • Decimated salmon runs prompted cancellation of the commercial fishing season off the coast of California and Oregon.
  • Excessive groundwater pumping has caused sinkholes, earth fissures, and subsidence in geographic regions that range from California to Florida.

Glennon believes that America must make hard choices—and his answer is a provocative market-based system that values water as a commodity and a fundamental human right. He advocates creating legal and financial incentives to encourage conservation and smart re-use of water.

For example, because cheap water is essential for running factories and even the tech industry, he thinks companies should be charged for the real cost of what they consume. He also wants to support farmers in achieving more efficient watering methods such as drip tape irrigation and growing higher nutrient crops that are adapted to the growing climate.

He cites his home town of Tucson as an example of innovation because instead of getting rid of water that was used only once, the city diverts grey water into gulf courses, highway medians, parks and light industrial uses. But in most of our nation's cities, there's still a long way to go in preserving our water supply. Whether you agree that we should pay more for our water or not, Glennon's analysis certainly makes you think differently about wasting what comes out of the tap...

-Dorothée and Mark


New Video: What Is Biodynamic Farming? 

During our travels across America, I've been lucky to visit many beautiful farms and gardens. But none have captivated my imagination quite like Frog Hill Farm in Port Townsend, Washington. The farm's diverse acres include woodlands, an herb and flower garden, wetlands, pastures for goats, ducks and chickens as well as neat rows of vegetables. Sebastian Aguilar, who runs the farm with his family, has taken his organic certification to the next level by employing biodynamic farming practices.

An often misunderstood technique due to its roots in Rudolph Steiner's esoteric spiritual philosophy, biodynamic agriculture treats farms as unified organisms and emphasizes the relationship of soil, plants and animals. Biodynamic farms try to eliminate inputs (such as fertilizers) and instead create a closed-loop system of soil maintenance using cover crops, manure and herbal composts.

Learn more about biodynamic farming via the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

Special thanks to Robin Grey for the use of his music in this video!



New Video: Is BIG Organic the Enemy?

Consumers and activists alike tend to be nervous about big corporations taking over organic brands. Many wonder, how can we make organics available to a larger audience at cheaper prices while maintaining the standards on which organics were founded?

These are questions we brought to Ken Cook, the President of Environmental Working Group (EWG) during our visit to Organic Valley's Kickapoo Country Fair.



New Video: Hearing from Farmers at Farm Aid

This past weekend, Mark and I had the pleasure of attending Farm Aid 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. The concert is a massive fundraiser that aims to help struggling family farmers stay on their land and features music by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews.

At the concert, I got a chance to talk with farmers attending the event about the importance of family farms, educating the public about healthy food and which musician they like the best!