Common Good “bank” helps support local business

Note: the Simple Gifts Farm Store in North Amherst is now accepting Common Good credit cards!  Many Stockbridge students studying Sustainable Food and Farming have worked there.

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And now for the story…..

By Max Marcus, Greenfield Reporter; January 25, 2019

Imagine a world where a community’s financial priorities routinely reflect its values.

Rather than being determined by faraway lawmakers or by single-minded corporations, a community’s economy would be managed by the people who use it. Community infrastructure, social welfare and local quality of life would all be in the hands of the people who are impacted directly by them.

That’s the idea behind Common Good, a local nonprofit organization that’s developing a system for giving communities control to fund the kinds of large-scale projects that typically require involvement of the government or big businesses.

“This gives us a hope of making the world as good as we want it to be, and to have some control over that, rather than feel like we’re victimized by our own institutions,” said Continue reading Common Good “bank” helps support local business

Carbon Farming and the Green New Deal

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By Brian Barth in Modern Farmer; January 29, 2019

Is carbon farming the most economically viable way to keep climate catastrophe at bay?

A year ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez worked as a bartender in Queens. Now the 29-year old is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the Democrats’ biggest rising star since Barack Obama. She has pushed a decade-old idea called the Green New Deal to the political fore, which has major implications for the food system.

Carbon Farming

The overarching goal of the Green New Deal is to develop a carbon-neutral economy. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not coal-fired power plants and automobile tailpipes that emit the majority of greenhouse gases; it’s food production. Tillage, synthetic fertilizer and the manure lagoons of industrial livestock operations emit copious quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. However, agriculture also holds great potential to pull carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in soil and plants, just as natural forests and grasslands do. There are proven techniques to do this, collectively known as carbon farming, though it would take massive government incentives to redesign our agricultural system to become a net absorber of carbon. But there is a growing consensus that, compared to the investments required to transition to 100 percent renewable energy, electric vehicles and the like, an agricultural approach might actually be the fastest, cheapest and most practical way to dial down carbon emissions before it’s too late.

More Farmers

Continue reading Carbon Farming and the Green New Deal

Docs to Prescribe Food as Medicine

NOTE: the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture offers degree programs to help you move toward careers in Sustainable Food and Farming.  For more information, see: https://sustfoodfarm.org/new_students/

BOSTON (THE CONVERSATION) — In this new year, millions of Americans will make resolutions about healthier eating. In 2019, could U.S. government leaders further resolve to improve healthier eating as well, joining public health experts in seeing that food is medicine?

In 2018, Congress initiated a series of actions that represent a shift away from placing the full responsibility – and blame – on individual people to make their own healthier choices. These actions also show a growing recognition that many stakeholders – including the government – are accountable for a healthier, more equitable food system. This shift in thinking reflects an understanding that government can and should play a role in improving the diet of Americans.

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Among the Farm Bill changes, we believe that the new Produce Prescription Program holds special promise. Already offered by some nonprofit and private insurance programs, this new federal program will allow doctors to prescribe not just medications but also subsidized purchases of fruits and vegetables. (James Cohen, Flickr/Creative Commons)

As faculty members at Tufts University, our expertise spans clinical medicine, nutrition science, public health, policy analyses, Congress, federal agencies and government Continue reading Docs to Prescribe Food as Medicine

Urban bees: yards and gardens help

Research also identifies pollinators’ favourite flowers, including brambles, buttercups, dandelions, lavender and borage.

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Yards, weedy corners and fancy gardens are all urban havens for bees and other pollinators, a study has found.

The widespread decline of bees resulting from the loss of wild areas and pesticide use has caused great concern in recent years, but towns and cities have been suggested Continue reading Urban bees: yards and gardens help

Report suggests food systems change

FRANCE — In the report, the World Resources institute suggests ways of feeding almost 10 billion people by 2050. Food demand is set to rise by over 50%, with demand for animal-based food products (meat, dairy and eggs) likely to grow by almost 70%. Hundreds of millions of people already go hungry, Farming uses around half the world’s green areas and generates a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Unsurprisingly, the report says that there is no silver bullet. However, it does offer a Continue reading Report suggests food systems change

Addressing Food Security and Getting Students Paid: UMass Farmer’s Market Grows

Addressing Food Security and Getting Students Paid: UMass Farmer’s Market Grows UMass Food for All network handed out free vegetables and educated people about food security at UMass while other students sold their original work at UMass’ second to...

UMass Food for All network handed out free vegetables and educated people about food security at UMass while other students sold their original work at UMass’ second to last “Food For All Farmers Market,” a market which has grown this season.

“By eating this, you are reducing food waste,” said Dan Bensonof as he served market-goers paper cups of sweet potato & peanut butter soup– the sweet potatoes in the soup were gleaned by his students at Czajkowski Farm in Hadley. Bensonof, who just started working for UMass this June, helps organize the Farmer’s Market, is teaching the practicum class, Permaculture Gardening, as well as coordinating the Permaculture Continue reading Addressing Food Security and Getting Students Paid: UMass Farmer’s Market Grows

UMass Stockbridge School Launches Student-Run Vineyard on Campus

Grapes
November 7, 2018
Contact: Elsa Petit 413/545-5217

AMHERST, Mass. – Fall may not seem like a good time for planting, but cool temperatures and ample soil moisture can help plants settle in, says viticulture expert Elsa Petit at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where students in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture have been busy this fall planting dozens of cold-tolerant grapes at the campus’s first student-run vineyard.

Continue reading UMass Stockbridge School Launches Student-Run Vineyard on Campus

Everything you wanted to know about what’s happening in farming this month!

agriculture

The following list of topics and articles was published as a public service by Grow Calgary, the largest urban community farm in Canada.   Jenny’s Food and Ag Update is published once a month by Jenny Huston of Farm to Table Food Services in Oakland, CA.  To be added to the mailing list, contact Jenny at chefjennyhuston@yahoo.com.

November Update on Food and Ag

  • How activists forced FDA to blacklist “carcinogenic” flavor chemicals the agency says are safe (The New Food Economy) https://bit.ly/2J9s0NS
  • ‘’It’s not fair, not right’: how America treats its black farmers (The Guardian) https://bit.ly/2P5ZmU2                                                  Sugarcane farmers can’t survive without large crop loans. For the Provosts, who say they suffered decades of discrimination, this could be the end of the line

Continue reading Everything you wanted to know about what’s happening in farming this month!

Small farms are important for biodiversity

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The Benzinger Family Winery is a diversified vineyard in Sonoma County. (Corey Luthringer)

Bringing the wild back into our working lands may help prevent mass extinction

BERKELEY, Calif. — With a body the size of a fist and wings that span more than a foot, the big brown bat must gorge on 6,000 to 8,000 bugs a night to maintain its stature. This mighty appetite can be a boon to farmers battling crop-eating pests.

But few types of bats live on American farms. That’s because the current practice of monoculture – dedicating large swathes of land to a single crop – doesn’t give the bats many places to land or to nest.

Diversifying working lands – including farmland, rangeland and forests – may be key to preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change, says a new review paper published this week in Science by conservation biologists at the University of California, Berkeley. Continue reading Small farms are important for biodiversity

Organic farming with gene editing?

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Collaborative problem-solving by organic (and conventional) growers, specialists in sustainable agriculture, biotechnologists and policymakers will yield greater progress than individual groups acting alone and dismissing each other,” states Rebecca Mackelprang, University of California, Berkeley. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Public Domain)

The question of what do we mean by organic agriculture is tested here.  Is it “food grown without synthetic biotoxins and fertilizers?”   Or does organic agriculture include a commitment to family farms and social justice?  What do you think? 

October 10, 2018

BERKELEY, Calif. (THE CONVERSATION) — A University of California, Berkeley professor stands at the front of the room, delivering her invited talk about the potential of genetic engineering. Her audience, full of organic farming advocates, listens uneasily. She notices a man get up from his seat and move toward the front of the room. Confused, the speaker pauses mid-sentence as she watches him bend over, reach for the power cord, and unplug the projector. The room darkens and silence falls. So much for listening to the ideas of others.

Many organic advocates claim that genetically engineered crops are harmful to human Continue reading Organic farming with gene editing?