Rich Collins was a 4 year old in the city when first he knew that he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up. Now on a farm he calls “Journey’s End” he can look back at productive years of farming, then a vegetable that he learned about as a dishwasher before tracking it to France; and then to look ahead to helping small scale farmers compete and realize their own dreams as he has realized many of his own. Rich talks about his journey and why he believes he’s a approaching “Journey’s End” while he puts more irons in the fire establishing his new farm home and rolling up his sleeves to help farmer organizations, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the Farmer Guild meld in to one. We could argue that it’s not an “end” but we can’t argue that it’s a worthy journey we share in the table talk,
We need new farmers and unhappy careerists wish they could farm. Is this a “just do it” moment? There are a million reasons that it might not be that simple, but there are thousands of people who have concluded that they can’t take the “rat race” any longer and are looking for a better life on a farm of their own. Some will argue that this movement won’t “feed the world” but no one argues that it can’t “feed the soul”. Tim Young was an Investment Banker and his wife a Fashion Designer when they said “enough” and moved to a small farm hundreds of miles away in northern Georgia. While many have to transition slowly, keeping an off farm job, Tim felt that the ideal was to “burn your bridges” behind you and that is what they did as they built a farm from scratch with pasture raised livestock, cheese production, farmers market, direct sales and all that goes with them- although they had never farmed before. They found that beyond just hard work and the passion for the dream of farming, “marketing” was the key to success. Tim started sharing this formula for success with others who wanted to make the plunge and today operates the Small Farm Nation Academy. In this Farm To Table Talk, Tim explains the difference between these beginning small farmers who must create their own markets and Commodity farming. Both kinds of farming can be environmentally sustainable but neither will not if they are not economically sustainable. https://smallfarmnationacademy.com/
A jury in San Francisco awarded $289 million dollars to DeWayne “Lee” Johnson, a school groundskeeper who sued Monsanto because he has a terminal prognosis due to a cancer (Non Hodgkins Lymphoma) caused by his exposure to the weed killer Round Up and its active ingredient of Glyphosate. Monsanto, now owned by the German firm Bayer, presented hundreds of scientific studies, US EPA, National Institute of Health and other evidence that Glyphosate was safe. However the jury, presented with contrary conclusions by the International Agency of Health, the State of California, along with persuasive testimony by Mr. Johnson came to a decision that could be the first of more to come. Over 4,000 similar charges have been made. With so much conflicting science, why did the Jury side with Mr. Johnson against Monsanto? We ask one of the most experienced legal affairs reporters in the nation, Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle who covered the case and has posted the most thorough reporting on the issue to date. On Farm To Table Talk Mr. Egelko explains what happened in this Court and points out that other court decision are coming out with seemingly conflicting decisions about Glyphosate. These cases are not about application of the herbicide on crops such as corn and soybeans that have been genetically engineered to tolerate Roundup as the weeds in their midst are killed. In a range of applications, the issue is whether glyphosate is as safe as has been claimed. Much more is coming on related questions, including the practice of “dessication” where Roundup is applied just before harvest on some crops, oddly including some marketed as “Non GMO” –not genetically engineered but sprayed with Glyphosate.
Read Bob Egelko’s coverage https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Monsanto-case-Bay-Area-man-with-cancer-awarded-13147891.php
Grass fed lamb is not a new idea; in fact it is a couple thousand years old but it’s being newly discovered by Millennials and meat lovers who want the protein on their dinner plates to be delicious and sustainably produced–preferably with few if any other ingredients to the lambs’ diet other than grass. The Emigh family near Dixon, California has been feeding lambs this way, on grass, since the 1860’s. All of the things that concern many of today’s consumers such as GMO grain feed, antibiotics, hormones or cramped living spaces are avoided. Instead the lambs come to open spaces with fresh air in lush open pastures after they are weaned off their mother’s milk. Five generations of Emighs have fed lambs this way, with the primary innovation being irrigating the pastures so that grass is available for the lambs year round. Consequently fresh lamb is available year round. The new generation of Emighs, Sarah, her sister Catie and Catie’s husband Kevin, have joined their father Martin Emigh to continue the tradition with a few modern twists, direct marketing and social media. While riding in a pickup truck through their pastures, Martin and Sarah share their story , including how they now have customers for their lamb among the top farm to fork restaurants and discerning consumers throughout Northern California. And, gratitude that an old idea has new life as people care about the journey from grass to fork. Here their story on Farm To Table Talk.
Tariffs are taxes on food and farming. It starts off sounding distant and hopefully strategic, then degenerates into retaliation. Still trade “war” is an abstract concept for most of the public until the ‘chickens come home to roost’ months or years later in the form of higher costs of food to consumers and reduced income–even insolvency on farms. Concerned as we are with successful marketing journeys from farm to table, disruption in these food channels must be addressed. Organizations like Farmers for Fair Trade, the Farm Bureau and others are calling for the US Administration to reverse course before it is too late to avoid the consequences–consequences learned the hard way in the Great Depression following the Smoot Hawley Act passed nearly 100 years ago. To sort out the cause, implications and solutions of the these battles we have a Farm To Table Talk with Josh Rolf, the Manager of Federal Policy for the California Farm Bureau. #farmersforfreetrade
Every minute we lose 3 acres of farm land, according to Jimmy Daukus, the Senior Program Officer of American Farmland Trust. That is bad news for a hungry world since less farmland means less food when we need much more food to feed a global population that is on its way to 9 billion people.The US Climate Alliance believes that there is urgency to stem the losses. Loss of agriculture capacity is unsustainable and also contributes to the devastating impacts of climate change. Only by sequestering carbon on natural and working ag land can carbon levels be drawn down–possibly even reversing climate change. For farmers it means tilling less, planting cover crops, fine tuning nutrient application and rotating crops. Consumers must be inquisitive about how their food is grown–either by asking their farmers or expecting the manufacturers of the food products they buy to explain and vouch for the production practices of their farmer suppliers. Jimmy Daukus joins Farm To Table Talk to talk about Saving the Land that Sustains Us.
One of the most unfortunate dilemmas in the food chain is that all over the world, including the US, children are going hungry and yet we waste over 40% of the food we produce. A comprehensive political solution is not at hand but progress is happening in local communities–utilizing food that was bound for landfills even though it is still safe and nutritious. The existing cycle of waste is an indefensible contributor to climate change and hunger. LaSoupe is showing a different path forward. It’s founder, Suzy DeYoung, is an experienced Chef who decided that ‘enough is enough’; something must be done to waste less and recover food that can be re-directed to needy families. Food pantries and other non-profit food distribution agencies are not new; however LaSoupe goes further inmany ways, including tapping the creativity, generosity and compassion of Restaurant Chefs who want to help. Volunteering Chefs are pitching in to prepare delicious soups from foods that were otherwise destined to be wasted; then sharing through a “Bucket Brigade” to those in need. The result? Food is not wasted; hungry kids are fed; Cooking talents are shared with the less fortunate; young people are inspired; and selfless individuals realize the satisfaction that comes from helping others. Suzy DeYoung joins the Farm Table to share the keys to this admirable farm to table journey. www.lasoupecincinnati.com
Restaurants and food stores succeed when they meet the needs and interests of their customers. When those customers want local foods, they must oblige and connect with local farms. Not so easy! “Hubs” have been created to bridge that Farm To Table gap connecting the farms to the restaurants, stores or direct to consumers. A great example of these enterprises is the Ohio Valley Food Connection in Newport, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It was founded in 2015 by Alice Chalmers to connect local food producers and buyers. In 2005, after a career in Finance and Strategic Planning, Alice starting looking into the economics of rural communities, land use planning and the future of agriculture near metropolitan areas. She spent three + years as Executive Director of Future Harvest CASA (Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture), promoting local sustainable farming, and creating connections between consumers, businesses and local farmers in the Chesapeake Bay area. From her East Coast beginnings to her current home in the Ohio Valley, she has worked tirelessly to help local farmers with their most pressing challenge: marketing. Farmers, retailers and consumers benefit when smooth connections link the field to the fork. http://www.ohiovalleyfood.com
Farming is changing. Whether your food comes from smaller local farmers, large scale commodity farmers, self grown or imported from the other side of the world, it is inevitable that new ideas will play an important part in the quality and quantity of what the world has to eat. When societies stopped using washboards and started using washing machines, there were skeptics and to this day there are some who believe that we would be better off using horses instead of tractors. Mistrust of the intentions, greed and/or unintended consequences is primary reasons for concerns. Still, smart use of new technology keeps advancing. Tom Farms in Northern Indiana was started in 1837 and has changed with the times. Kip Tom joins Farm To Table Talk to talk about generational adaptation through the years and the future of farming. To sustainably feed a global population of over 9 billion people, even more creative solutions will be required, both outside and inside. New ‘inside’ farming ventures are indoors, hydroponic, near large urban areas and housed in warehouses or abandoned factories. With a concoction of water, nutrients, genetics, light and ingenuity urban retailers and restaurants have a supply of select produce right in their backyards. Irving Fain, CEO and Founder of Bowery Farms, joins Farm To Table Talk to explain the premise and the promise of Inside Farming.
There is a massive wave of technology that is sweeping over the food and farming landscape of the world–a virtual tsunami. The ForbesAg Tech Summit in Salinas has linked global food/ag leaders and Silicon Valley to mark the prospects and the promise of this impressive wave. Summit Keynoters, US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky and Steve Forbes shared enthusiasm for what this means to innovators, farmers, chefs and consumers. UC Berkeley Ag Economists, Gordon Rausser and James Davis join Farm To Table Talk discuss the significance of the $10 Billion dollar investment in changing how we farm and what we eat. The major technology categories include: Precision Agriculture, Agricultural Biotechnology, Vertical Farming, Alternative Animal Products, Decision-Making Tools and Supply Chain Management. Not all of the new technologies will be successfully adopted, but those that will could change the landscape of food and farming forever.
“Recent Developments in the California Food and Agricultural Technology Landscape” http://giannini.ucop.edu/publications/are-updae/