Posts By Rose Egelhoff
In a time and place where unprecedented numbers of small farmers are going under every year, a new book profiles eight small farmers who are using a blend of creativity and market research to craft a niche for themselves in difficult economic conditions.
Published by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) Growing Innovation 1.0 reveals a thriving subculture of small farmers who continue to defy the trends of industrial agriculture. Through a series of short vignettes showcasing the work of eight very different operations, the reader gains insight into goat-raising operations, small dairies, orchards and row crop farming.
Jo Ann Baumgartner’s interest in wild farming—the practice of integrating agriculture with local ecosystems to support both high crop yields and a healthy, biodiverse environment— started when she and her husband worked their own organic farm.
Baumgartner “came from an understanding and love of wild nature,” and had always relished a chance vacation or outing that let her be in the outdoors. While farming, she began to see connections between the land she cultivated and the wild places she loved. While working on a book about California’s endangered species, she noticed that many creatures were rare precisely because of agriculture, which has replaced the natural habitat of many species with crops grown in monoculture.
Sustainable agriculture techniques like companion planting and dryland farming were practiced for thousands of years in North America by Native Americans. Today, health problems and loss of ancestral knowledge about food and farming are common in many tribal communities. Sustainable farming is a way for tribes to get back to their roots while addressing these problems.
Here are five organizations looking to their heritage for solutions to address these and other problems.
I arrive at the address I was given, but all I see, at first, is an empty lot, covered in weeds and blocked by a chain link fence. After a second look, I realize the place I am looking for is next door. I walk past the house at the front of the property, through a wide gate and into what at first glance appears to be a sea of mulch.
It’s 8:30 a.m. Tony de Veyra and Rishi Kumar, the managers of the half-acre plot, have already been at work for two hours at Ethan’s Farm.