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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Life as a Lunatic: Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin Talks to Seedstock

October 20, 2014 |
Joel Salatin. Image courtesy of Joel Salatin.

Joel Salatin. Image courtesy of Joel Salatin.

“Conventional-farmers call us bioterrorists,” says Joel Salatin of the much heralded Polyface Farm.

“They are literally scared to death that one of our unvaccinated animals is going to get sick and then bring a disease to the area and shut down everybody’s farming and destroy the planet’s food supply. They would like us to pack up and leave. I could either respond with viciousness, depression, frustration and you know, ulcers or whatever, or I can just have fun with it. I decided to have fun with it.”

Joel Salatin is a holistic farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and an iconic figure in the sustainable food movement. Salatin practices a healing-the-land approach to farming in the face of much criticism from both traditional and sustainable agriculture advocates. Salatin self-deprecatingly refers to himself as a “lunatic” and is rather proud of it. A wordsmith and wise meat producer, Salatin offers perspective on all things farmer related. Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 17, 2014 |

seedstock‘Young Farmers NY’ provides financial help for St. Lawrence County’s future farmers

Excerpt: New ‘Young Farmers NY’ providing incentives for farmers starting out or hanging on in St. Lawrence County and around the state.

Parts of the program launched include more than $600,000 in grants and a loan forgiveness program, both aimed at helping young farmers overcome obstacles to give them a greater chance of a successful career in agriculture.

Source: North Country Now Read More

Sustainable Food Toolkit Targets Next Generation of Community Food Advocates

October 16, 2014 |
Credit: Melanie McLean

Credit: Melanie McLean

Since children are the future, it is important to teach them about issues that matter, and sustainable food is at the top of that list. The sustainable food movement has gained a lot of momentum in recent years, but despite its growth there are still more than six million children in the U.S. living in communities that lack access to healthy, sustainable food. Often, these children (and other children across the country) know very little about where food comes from, which foods are healthy, and which foods are good for the environment. Read More

DC Urban Agriculture Bill Could Encourage Farming With Tax Breaks

October 15, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of DC Greens

Photo courtesy of DC Greens

The urban farming movement finally appears to be coming of age in the nation’s capital.

No longer just a novel idea, it’s now on the cusp of receiving institutional support from DC’s city leaders–that is if its backers can get votes to line up in their favor.

Earlier this year, District Council Members David Grosso and Mary Cheh introduced a piece of legislation called the DC Urban Agriculture and Food Security Act of 2014 that would not only provide a framework for urban ag, but actively encourage it while fostering the consumption of local foods by underprivileged residents. Their bill seeks to achieve these goals through a three-fold strategy of identifying vacant city-owned properties that could be used for farming, incentivizing private landowners to lease out space to farmers through a tax abatement and offering a tax break for fresh produce donated to food pantries and shelters. Read More

Five Colleges Leading the Way in Online Sustainable Agriculture Education

October 14, 2014 |
Green Mountain College Photo courtesy of Green Mountain College

Green Mountain College
Photo courtesy of Green Mountain College

As the demand for local, sustainable food grows, so does the need for farmers who are well-versed in the ways of sustainable agriculture. Fortunately, many educational institutions are ready to train the next generation of sustainable farmers through sustainable agriculture curriculums that cover everything from soil fertility to marketing to food policy.

In recent years, many institutions have even started offering these programs in a flexible online format that makes sustainable agriculture education more accessible to working professionals and sustainable agriculture enthusiasts across the country and world. Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 11, 2014 |

seedstockL.A. City Council introduces plan to encourage urban farming

Two Los Angeles City Council members want to transform empty, blighted lots into flourishing urban farms. A motion introduced Wednesday by Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Curren Price calls for landowners to receive tax breaks for leasing vacant property for agriculture.

Source: LA Times Read More

Women in Food: From Theatre to Tech, Erika Block Helps Build a New Food Economy

October 9, 2014 |
Ericka Block, founder of Local Orbit. Photo Credit: Local Orbit

Erika Block, founder of Local Orbit.
Photo Credit: Local Orbit

This piece is the part of a Seedstock series profiling women who are leading change in sustainable agriculture and local food. Read more profiles here.

You might call Erika Block something of a web weaver for the local foods economy.  As CEO of Local Orbit, a company dedicated to providing sales and business management software and services to entrepreneurs, farmers, food hubs and others involved with local foods, she’s intricately familiar with the logistics that make the movement possible.  With clients in 16 states and Canada, her 8-person team provides local food producers and aggregators with cloud-based tech tools and coaching so they can sell their products more efficiently to restaurants, grocers, and institutional buyers.

Read More

Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference Enhances Offering; Adds Keynote and Rooftop Garden Tour

October 8, 2014 |

10460362_727611740607629_8779402262242269463_nCommitted to bringing the best in urban agriculture experience, information and resources to the Southland, organizers of Seedstock’s 3rd Annual Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference have continued to enrich the Nov. 11-12 symposium’s offerings, making “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” an event not to be missed.

On Day One, lucky urban farm field trip participants have been granted the addition of a special tour of the 200-square-foot rooftop garden atop Los Angeles’ famed Jonathan Club. The historic social organization partnered with Farmscape, the largest urban farming venture in California, to design, install, and maintain a system of raised bed planters for intensive food production. There, in Farmscape’s first rooftop installation in Los Angeles, fresh greens are grown for the Club’s onsite restaurant. Read More

Nonprofit Gets Flashy With Local Food, Employs Disadvantaged

October 8, 2014 |

postFarmtoFreezer_InnFader-01Sometimes it takes a little flash to make a good idea happen. Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan (GINM) has been taking this approach to heart with their Farm to Freezer program, a job training initiative that flash freezes produce for the benefit of participants and local farms.

The Traverse City-based  organization is part of an international network of independent nonprofits that provide services and support for people with barriers to employment. Proceeds from Goodwill retail outlets help to finance their work. Read More

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

October 7, 2014 |

post_usdalogoWASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.

“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.” Read More