Friday, February 27, 2009

A Sense of Wonder: 2 interviews with Rachel Carson

It would be so cool to show this film at Carleton...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grow Girl! Women in Agriculture

On February 18, Northfield and Carleton Food Truth women gathered after dinner for a dessert potluck and discussion on women and agriculture. Students shared homemade fudge bars while community organizers, cooks, farmers, and mothers shared their views and experiences. What are the joys of farming as a woman? What are the challenges? What would you pass down to the next generation of farmers?

Women farmers are not so different from their male counterparts. They are strong farmers and hold a wealth of food and farm wisdom. These women are passionate about nourishing those around them and passionate about food. They describe nourishment from ‘hands in the soil to plate’ as a most rewarding life work.

The farming world, like the larger society, is not free of gender biases. Women have historically been less acknowledged and visible than men farmers. Further challenges have resulted from the growth of farm size in the United States because the importance of agricultural machinery has grown and continues to be engineered to fit men.

 Farming does not have to require big and expensive machinery. Rae Rusnak, widow, mother, and farmer of L&R Poultry and Produce, stated at the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Association Annual Conference (2/21/08) that people of all shapes and forms can farm. It is true – different people will think about and approach farming differently but in the end, anyone can grow food and grow it well. Indeed, woman farmers are becoming prominent movers in our country’s agricultural revolution. The evening gathering ended with activism. We collectively wrote a letter, urging Michelle Obama, to make the creation of a more sustainable food system and White House Victory Garden a priority. This will signal our country’s potential to grow locally and change our food policy.

 The evening was wonderful because it was intergenerational, a passing on insight from generation to generation, from woman to woman, from seasoned to aspiring farmer. Oral culture has and will always be a part of agriculture – it is the best way to capture the nuances and experiences that come along with working and living on the land. It also creates the sense of community that makes farming both an individual effort and collective enterprise.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grow girl: Women in Agriculture Discussion

"It keeps coming back to women"
"They're growing food everywhere, all over the world, with their babies on their backs"
"we want to raise EVERYBODY up"

"I feel detached every day from what's grounded in the earth--it's important for us to get our hands back into the ground"
"we're raising the bar"
"we're not going to be afraid, because it's OUR food."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tell Mars and Hershey's to sign the Non-GM Beet Sugar Registry

The People's Garden

Oh. So. Exciting.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the organic revolution in campus dining

this is a piece that i posted that's about food truth and our food revolution on the 'organic on the green' website 


Applications are now available to spend your summer outdoors in beautiful Northfield, growing and tending bounteous plots of veggies. 

Applications available on the Shrinking Footprints blog. 

And worry not! If you can't be in Northfield, there are still oh-so-many farms to work on. Check out:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Seed Peace

As a follow-up to the post below, this looks like a pretty amazing organization, working for peace in the Middle East through restoring heirloom varieties and growing practices:

And check out this article about them at the Rodale Institute.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

All the casualties of conflict

In tune with all the recent discussion on campus of Israel/Palestine and specifically the recent and ongoing conflict in Gaza, an noteworthy piece from The Guardian:

Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland

Officials warn of 'destruction of all means of life' after the three-week conflict leaves agriculture in the region in ruins

Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion.

According to the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.

Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme's country director, said: "We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north - where the farming was most intensive - may not be exploitable again. It looks to me like a disaster. It is not just farmland, but poultry as well.

"When we have given a food ration in Gaza, it was never a full ration but to complement the diet. Now it is going to be almost impossible for Gaza to produce the food it needs for the next six to eight months, assuming that the agriculture can be rehabilitated. We will give people a full ration."

The FAO estimates that 13,000 families who depend directly on herding, farming and fishing have suffered significant damage. "Before the blockade and the attack," said Ahmad Sourani, director of the Agricultural Development Association of Gaza, which runs programmes with charities such as Britain's Christian Aid, "Gaza produced half of its own food. Now that has declined by 25%. In addition, a quarter of the population depends on agriculture for income. What we have seen in large areas of farmland is the destruction of all means of life.

"We have seen a creeping process of farmers being forced out of the buffer zone around Gaza's border. Before 2000 we could approach and farm within 50m of the fence. After Israel's evacuation of the settlements in 2005, the Israeli army imposed a buffer of 300m. Although it is elastic, now there are areas, depending on the situation, where farmers cannot reach their farms in safety within an area of over a kilometre. It is indirect confiscation by fear. My fear is that, if it remains, it will become de facto. Bear in mind that 30% of Gaza's most productive land is within that buffer zone."

The wholesale destruction of farms, greenhouses, dairy parlours, livestock, chicken coops and orchards has damaged food production, which was already hit by the blockade.

Buildings heavily damaged during Israel's Operation Cast Lead included much of its agricultural infrastructure. The Ministry of Agriculture was targeted, the agriculture faculty at al-Azhar university in Beit Hanoun largely destroyed, and the offices of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees in Zaitoun - which provides cheap food for the poor - ransacked and vandalised by soldiers who left abusive graffiti.

Although international and local officials are still gathering figures, they believe that scores, perhaps hundreds, of wells and water sources have been damaged and several hundred greenhouses have been levelled, as well as severe damage inflicted on 60,000-75,000 dunums of Gaza's 175,000 dunums (44,000 acres) of farmable land.

As well as the physical damage done by Israeli bulldozers, bombing and shelling, land has been contaminated by munitions, including white phosphorous, burst sewerage pipes, animal carcasses and even asbestos used in roofing. In many places, the damage is extreme. In Jabal al-Rayas, once a thriving farming community, every building has been knocked down, and even the cattle killed and left to lie rotting in the fields.

In al-Atatra, Ahmad Hassan, 65, the overseer of an orchard that once had hundreds of lemon and orange trees, surveyed an area flattened by bulldozers. "This was the well," he said, showing a pile of bulldozed concrete. "We can clear the ground in two weeks. Then what? The well is gone. The pump has been destroyed. And where will the trees come from to replant the land?"

Van Nieuwenhuyse said: "Already, the price of meat has tripled since the Israeli operation began. What is more worrying is the situation over vegetables. Protein we can help with, but before this there were already deficiencies in the diet. Now they will have to rely on Israel."

It was a view echoed by Hassan Abu Etah, the deputy agriculture minister in Gaza. "It has all been hugely damaged. And it affects all of Gaza, not simply the farmers. We produced some of what we needed. It makes you wonder whether they wanted to change Gaza from production to consumption."

In the heavily damaged village of Khuza'a, near Khan Younis, Salam Najar surveyed the no-go zone that extends from the last houses in the village to the border fence where Israeli farmland begins. "Most of the families here have farmed that side. Now no one feels safe to go there. They have destroyed it all."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

White House Farmer!

The results are in. Based on Michael Pollans' suggestion in the NY Times in an open letter to the President this past fall, many farmers from around the country were nominated, and the people have spoken.

Check It Out!