Local Grains: Taking Back Our Wheat

Our “National Hymn,” America the Beautiful, opens with the image of endless skies over fields of ripe golden grain that reach to purple mountains on the horizon. Poet Katharine Lee Bates would probably be appalled to realize that she was eulogizing one of the worst examples of mono-cropping in existence – second only to the carpeting of Iowa with corn.
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Buy local? Why local? Time for the REAL story!

Getting our food from the farm to the consumer – the “supply chain” – is certainly not as simple as it was the past. Once upon a time, the consumer, his/her family, and the local community WERE the growers and a supply chain didn’t exist. Transportation from the field and barn to the kitchen was a matter of feet or yards, not miles. What once was a simple connection with one or two stops along the way, has become a spaghetti-like tangle of connections, links, and cross-links to get fresh fruits and vegetables to your plate.
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Tilth Producers of Washington: Growing Forward

The weekend started out mild and sunny and finished with a “blustery day.” Regardless of the weather – late fall sunshine or cool, brisk November overcast – the more than 650 people who attended the 2012 Tilth Producers of Washington Annual Conference enjoyed warm friendship, made new acquaintances, and dined on some of the best locally produced organic food available.
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From Garbage to Garden

Sometimes when Samson Aberra is working in the garden, planting seedlings or replenishing his nursery, onlookers gather to watch him toil. What they don’t know is that Samson Aberra is not “toiling” — he’s barely working. In fact, he is doing what he loves: gardening. Samson’s garden lies next to the main highway running through the Ethiopian highland town of Dessie, located in the northeast of the country. The garden forms a triangle between the main road and a contaminated stream that meanders through the city in its journey to the low lying plains below.
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True Example of the End of Crop Diversity: The Great Irish Potato Famine

The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s is a perfect example of how monocropping can lead to disaster. Lack of genetic variation in Irish potatoes was a major contributor to the severity of the famine, allowing potato blight to decimate Irish potato crops. The blight resulted in the starvation of almost one of every eight people in Ireland during a three-year period. But the greatest shortcoming of monocrops may lie in the compromised quality of those foods, and the long-term effect that has on your health.
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Students in India rediscover organic agriculture 75 years after Sir Albert Howard

It was in India that Sir Albert Howard conceived and developed the scientific footing of “organic” agriculture. Today, a group school children in India have rediscovered what Sir Howard proved in his field trials there more than 75 years ago.
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Designing Resilient Farms for a Changing Planet

Visit a modern supermarket and what do you see? Pictures of farmers, the picket fence, the silo, the ’30s farmhouse and the green grass. Nice photos, folks, but very little of the food – and “edible food-like products” – sold there actually comes from a small family farm. In fact some of it doesn’t actually come from a farm at all, but a factory. When you rub elbows for days with farmers of all ages, there is no doubt where your food comes from!
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Plumbing the Agroecology Zeitgeist

The highlight of the Tilth Producers of Washington Conference was the keynote delivered by professor Miguel Altieri of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, at the University of California. His specialty – agroecology — combines agriculture, the science of cultivating the land and raising livestock; with the principles of ecology, the study of the relationship between living organisms and their environments. Altieri began with a series of startling statistics proving that when measured in total output small scale indigenous agriculture is actually more productive than industrialized agribusiness.
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Where have all the farmers gone?

We’ve got young people who want to farm, but they can’t. When the New York Times recognizes that an industry is in trouble, it is time to correct the problem – fast! We’ve got a cadre of tough, energetic, smart and dedicated young people who want to farm. They’re ready! All we need to do now is give them the financial support they need to do the job.
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Canastas Comunitarias: an Ecuadorian alternative to industrial food systems

In the Andes, there have been fundamental changes in production patterns as a result of the different processes of land reform in the region and “agricultural modernization.” Today, the environmental context and local culture are no longer the main determinants of production systems, but rather the habits of unknown consumers and their food demands are determining what farmers grow and when and how they grow it.
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