What can we do? With his wrap up Keynote at the Food Tank Summit in WDC, Ken Cook the President of the Environmental Working Group, said “Get to work…go to the front line.” In closing the Summit, Food Tank’s Danielle NIerenberg echoed those points and added “don’t mope”. At EcoFarm we talked with Ken about the state of change in Washington and what needs to happen next. “Now is the time for exploration…Get out of your silo” and we’ll you on the front line!
The name of this organization says exactly what it is all about: Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Graduates, retirees, teachers, occupationally-stalled who have dreamed of having the Organic Farming Experience can get stared with this organization. As Uber matches drivers and riders, WWOOF connects those who are willing to donate their work for room and board on Organic Farms, all over the world. Samantha Blatteis explains the opportunity and her own experience as WWOOFER in New Zealand. www.wwoofusa.org
The “Spinning Food” of Friends of the Earth challenges stealth PR tactics that adversely influence the public perception and confidence in organics while defending pesticides and GMOs. Stacy Malkan, Co-Director of US Right To Know and co-author of Spinning Food pulls the curtain back to identify tactics and action that should be taken by consumers and farmers alike. www.usrtk.org
One of the most popular panels at Eco Farm 2017 featured 3 Successful Organic farms: Dick Peixoto, Lakeside Organic;, Watsonville CA Jamie Collins, Serendipity Farms, Aromas, CA; and Will Allen & Kate Deusterberg of Cedar Circle Farms, East Thetford, VT. We sat down for a cup of coffee in the busy Asilomar Conference social hall with Dick Peixoto to get a closer look at how Lakeside Organic has succeeded in becoming the largest family owned Organic farm in the United States. Dick and Lakeside’s success allows them to produce 45 crops, on 1,200 acres with 250 dedicated employees–growing what sells, not just selling what grows. Growth continues with their California Grill featuring fresh Organic produce and the family’s commitment to build an Agriculture Learning Center for locals and visitors to the Monterey Bay.
World famous animal welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin is autistic and thinks by seeing pictures. That ability to visualize what animals experience on farms, ranches and paking houses has contributed to the welfare of the animals, from birth to thier final hours. Temple gives us a picture of the animal welfare issues and opportunities for improvement. It is most important that the people who work with livestock are not overworked and underpaid. Contrary to the recent claims that livestock production is not sustainable, Temple believes that increased use of productive grazing is one of the most important developments for the future.
The growing need and interest in growing farmers is being addressed all over the world. Mary Kimball, Executive Director of the Center for Land-Based Leaning sheds light on this phenomenon with stories of success and the steps aspiring farmers can take to be successful themselves. America needs new farmers asap and many want to farm but wrongly assume they have to be rich or inherit a farm to make a living. www.landbasedlearning.org
If you have advanced degrees that can take you places, why go back to a small farm in the country? This “radical homemaker” has the answer. Shannon Hayes hasI a bachelors degree in creative writing from Binghamton University, and a masters and Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture and community development from Cornell. Her essays and articles have appeared in regional and national publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Review, and Northeast Public Radio. A quirky lifestyle and a life of personal accountability and sustainability, and research and writings about homemaking as an ecological movement have landed Shannon and her family on the pages of the New York Times, Brain Child Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Lancaster Farming, Small Farm Quarterly, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, Grit, Yes! Magazine, Elle Magazine, Juno, the national newspapers of Germany, Turkey and Canada, the Arab News and the Pakistan Observer. If you have ever wondered how you or someone you care for could shuck the corporate conveyor of long commutes and office politics for a life in the country, this is a podcast worth a listen.
When a community faces nearly insurmountable issues as Detroit has, local community leaders need to step up and lead the changes themselves. Malik Yakini, the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network believes that “Struggle is the best University”. We learn more from seeking and achieving solutions in our community that depending on outsiders with a ‘missionary’ approach. The Network in Detroit is a model of community self determination.
There is a scarcity of successful communications in Agriculture and the result is misconceptions and mistrust. Consumer are worried about Big Corporations controlling food system and cutting corners whenever they can get away with it. Author of the Communications Scarcity in Agriulture, Jessic Eise of Purdue Univesity, shares how to work with , not against the power of diversity of perspectives. “The small percent of people who will never open themselves up to a diversity of perspectives…….should not be allowed to dictate the course of our dialogues nor dissuade us from communications efforts.”
“Heretics of the World unite!” Joel Salatin farms, writes, speaks and stirs up people all over the world with his perspective. Joel says that everywhere in the world the number one issue is “who will replace the aging farmers.” The average age of farmers in the US is now 60 (70 in Japan) and within 15 years 50% of all the the Ag equity in the world will change hands. It’s a brand new phenomenon that creates unprecedented opportunity for young people to start farming. If you want to farm and are not sponsored or rich, take the “craft” door instead of the “commodity” door. Joel explains how to take first steps. He also sees the current distrust with international pesticide/seed corporations shifting to “Global Industrial Organic” companies that have put on white hats while they take business from local direct farm sales, farmers markets, and CSA’s, If you want to be a farmer, start now.