Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I'm always happy to see a story in one of my local papers about family farming, especially one like this one in this week's Chicago Tribune that features farmers and a farmgirl connected to CSA projects. Check out the brief mention, but mention nonetheless, of Trader Joe's employee/Farmgirl Gray Wiechern, who launched Mother Earth Organic Farm. Most of the focus, however, is on Steve Tiwald who founded Green Earth Institute in 2002. The story seems to be a continuation of this blog's first post about farmers as the new rock stars. The Tribune notes: "Just as celebrity chefs inspire confidence because their patrons know who is cooking their food, a movement is gaining traction to know who is growing the food we eat."
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I stumbled across Scott Hutcheson's Hungry Hoosier site recently and was pleased to see how closely he's examined food from the source. In this post from December, Scott blogs about Joel Salatin protege Stan Skillington and then in August about the Phelps Family Farms in Ladoga, Ind. Then closer to home for me, he blogged about Fair Oaks Farms, which is sort of a Disneyland version of agri-tourism.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Bluegrass Farmgirl hero Adrienne Young is set to release a new album this spring, this one supporting sustainable agriculture. Fans will remember that in her Grammy-nominated first album, she bundled seed packets into the liner notes. This album - Room to Grow - will promote "responsible-farming awareness" according to this piece in Cybergrass. According to a release about the album, Adrienne is working with Food Routes Network to form an alliance with the American Community Gardening Association to donate proceeds of record sales to local farming efforts. Room to Grow is due out in May.
Friday, January 26, 2007
I was reading this story on CattleNetwork.com about the death of Nebraska's anti-corporate farming law and the threat to North Dakota's legislation because of recent court rulings, when I came across a quote from someone who seemed suspiciously farmgirlish. Indeed, Jessica Shoemaker, a staff attorney with the Farmers Legal Action Group in St. Paul, Minn., grew up with family farming in Wisconsin and Iowa and has an affinity for the rural life. And it's probably no surprise that several of the attorneys working at FLAG have family farm roots or, like Farmgirl Jill Krueger, would like to.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Kansas Farmgirl Betty Bonjour and her daughter Jessica just won a grassland award for their brand of rotational farming at Double B Ranch. Betty operates a 150-head cow-calf herd and five registered quarter horses. Jessica tells the Marysville Advocate that farming has been her dream since she graduated from high school. And her Farmgirl mother is thrilled to have her daughter by her side. "It gives me a lot of peace of mind and faith that my daughter is so devoted to the farm,” Betty says. The article notes that the farmgirls do all the farm work, including "fencing, cutting trees, calving, moving cattle from pasture to pasture, banding and vaccinations."
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
It's easy to become engrossed in the works of Shenandoah Valley alternative farmer Joel Salatin, who also happens to be a prolific author and innovator. Joel's a third-generation farmer and was most recently featured in this story in American Farm, though he's attracted and generated a lot of press over the years. The American Farm story features Joel's Polyface Farms, where he uses electric fencing to pen in the family's grass-fed animals. Joel talks about the various ways he is able to make money from his operation, including firewood sales.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Check out these agricultural-themed, treasure hunt Nordic Quests in Vermont. This story in the Times Argus features the Morse Farm experience, with the quest about how farming has evolved over the centuries. I love how this farm figured a way to bring winter events, snow shoeing, cross country skiing and these farm history-themed treasure hunts, to this 7th generation maple sugar farm. Farmer Harry "Burr" Morse Jr., describes it as "The Sweetest Ski in Vermont." On his site, Burr says, "As a seventh generation Vermonter I can say winter is beautiful, invigorating and damned hard work, all at the same time. Last winter, I traded in my splitting hammer for a set of cross-country skis. Now I've added another word to my winter vocabulary...'fun'."
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Dealing with animal waste is a huge issue for farming operations, large and small. So I'll be curious to see how this pilot project near Canton, Ohio, plays out. The project, featured in the Canton Repository, marries sewage treatment experts, family farms, environmental groups and local businesses to separate dairy cow waste into liquid and solids. Still not as cool as "cow pots" but possibly more realistic for more farming families.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
I've discovered a few Hoosier Farmgirl Heroes mentioned in this Muncie Star Press piece about the CAFO counter movement. The article notes that "Organizers of local CAFO opponents are typically grandmothers and/or mothers who own farms that have been in their families for decades." My favorite of the bunch is Barbara Cox, a retired nurse, but tireless advocate for farming that won't poison the environment and destroy the quality of rural life. Barbara, who estimates she spends 35 hours a week on CAFO issues, says she could retire down South if she'd sell her "durned farm." But Florida sunshine isn't in her near future. "I'm committed that we will not totally ruin this state and leave a mess for the next generation," she says. Star Press photo is of Barbara at her farm in Lynn, Ind.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
They have 25 milk goats, 100 roasting chickens, 250 laying hens, six pigs and three shepherding donkeys on 15 acres...all part of Farmgirl Dana and her husband Ray's progressive "commonsensical" farmstead, according to this piece in American Farm. The all-natural DanaRay Farm the article says, is complete with vegetables, fruit tress and herb gardens... all part of a "balanced system" where as much waste or oversupply is reused as possible. The couple takes excess harvest to an off-site kitchen for canning. Their trouble is trying to figure out how to grow without overburdening their two-person CSA farming operation. Being able to sell raw milk would help make the venture more profitable, at least to enable them to bring a commercial kitchen onto the farm. But raw milk isn't legal in New Jersey.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
A unique co-op that both offers fresh foods and supports small farming is thriving in the Show Me State, according to this article in The News and Courier in Alabama. A $50 fee to the Oklahoma Food Cooperative allows you to buy in and sell your produce, locally-raised meat, products or wares, including tie-died clothing and wool products. Vendors, the article says, include Clear Creek Monastery "The monks offer lamb from the flocks they tend on their rich pastures." The sheep in this photo are from the Clear Creek flock. The co-op model, which now boasts 105 member-producers is catching on in Texas and Nebraska.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Farmgirl Theresa Freund and her family know what it is to be dirty, having found a niche market in repurposing the cow waste on their family farm for hundreds of nurseries and growers. So there's is no doubt an ideal location for the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs." According to this post in the Litchfield County Times, the Freund family will be on TV this coming Tuesday at 9 p.m. The show will show how the Freunds have figured out how to compost cow manure to make Cow Pots for seed starting. The family now has orders from 1,300 garden centers, the paper report. But ick, this is no job for the meek and involves navigating manure lagoons. This cow is identified here as the production manager at Freund's Farm.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Sad update about Oshie, who was first discussed in this post. Turns out, despite living long past the time set by her vets, Oshie passed away last summer, the victim of a neighborhood raccoon. Her adventurous spirit and advice to "Greet each day with passion and joy for its simple pleasures," will continue to live on.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Check out the "Eat Industry" film project started by a food curious family, who took a five-month, 16,000-mile trek across the country to find out the source of their food. The young family's adventures are chronicled in this story from New York-based Currier Life publication and even more details about their trip can be found at their website, www.transformationfilms.com. Can't wait to see the film if they are able to get enough funding to produce it. You can check back here to find out if there are film-related events coming to your area.
I have a friend in New Haven no less who is an absolute devotee of backyard chickens. Year before last her chicken Oshie "The Miracle Chicken" was featured on her Christmas card. After several nudges from her for me to check this out, I started poking around on the Net. Sure enough, there are many people into this poultry fad. One great place to start is Jane's Backyard Chickens. I'm still not ready to put a coop in my suburban backyard. But when I pass the chicken wire at Home Depot, I pause.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
There's an absolutely charming series of Geek.Farm.Life podcasts near expertly produced by Farmgirl Misty and her husband Andrew, who own Three Elms Farm in north-central Indiana. Their latest podcast from Jan. 7 covers everything from how to cook a goose (both commercial and small farm bred) to their up and down experiences with rehydration and, here's the geeky part, the latest tech gadget purchase by Andrew. The photo of one of their goats is from Andrew's picture of the day gallery. Great listening for a long car commute into Chicago or, with MP3 player pocketed, while doing daily chores.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
The Oakland Press insists that a thin metal frame whirling atop the Long Family Farm & Orchard in Michigan is of this world. But the local farmer is hopeful the addition of this new high-tech weather station will make it easier to farm with fewer pesticides, a concept still alien to many. The "enviro-weather" station - part of Michigan State University's Agricultural Weather Office - measures air temperature, relative humidity, soil temperature, leaf wetness status, wind direction and speed, solar radiation and rainfall. "What it means to me is that we can predict when insects and diseases can possibly infect our crops," farmer Robert Long told the paper. "We'll be able to use less spray by using the computer models to predict crop conditions. Because of that, we'll be better able to protect the environment."
Monday, January 8, 2007
Buried in this story from the Williamsport Sun-Gazette about the 91st Pennsylvania Farm Show is a lucrative bit of trivia. Who knew that with a bit of agricultural knowhow and fine craftsmanship, these squat squash can bring in from $8 to $10,000 and $30,000 in cash? That's at least according to a rep quoted in the story from the Pennsylvania Gourd Society. This photo of a crafted gourd is from the Society's gallery and is credited as the work of Cookie Smith.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Fourth-generation Farmgirl Bonnie Dehn and her husband Bob have secured a commerical farming niche, offering fresh herbs throughout the year to local markets and restaurants, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Faced with competition from year-round farmers in warmer climates, the Dehns took on higher heating and infrastructure costs to make their garden business a success. The couple has been toiling in herbs since the '70s, well before they were in fashion. Indeed, the paper credits the Dehns with helping to shape cooking trends that have made fresh basil, sage, marjoram, etc., must haves at the dinner table. In addition to advising the curious at farmers markets, Bonnie has taught cooking classe, promoted recipes and authored cookbooks. The couple's two grown daughters are being groomed to take over the family business, which has grown to 30 greenhouses and $1.5 million in sales last year, the paper reports. Photo from DIY story about the Dehns.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Friday, January 5, 2007
A blogger posting on a Seattle Post Intelligencer site makes an argument for urban farming, vertical sky-rise farming methods as one solution for easing food shortages, particularly in large urban areas. The blogger, Danielle Johnson, works for GreenWorks Realty, a real estate firm in the Puget Sound area that specializes in "healthy green homes, community-focused developments and innovative properties." Danielle urges readers to check out the musings of Columbia University microbiologist Dickson Despommier, who "envisions 30-story buildings that each take up a city block and grow enough food for 50,000 per year." Much more info at VerticalFarm, where the rendering is from.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Software analyst turned alpaca farmgirl Maggie Wright recently tells the AP about "falling in love" with the puffy animals with cashmere-like fleece and why she ditched the corporate treadmill for life in a niche market that is turning out to be a fashionable trend. The story details the economic incentives in alpaca farming - $1,000 hand knitted sweaters and a whopping $250,000 for a top quality herdsire. But farmgirls say it's the gentle nature of the alpacas and their newfound lifestyle that's particularly attractive. "Alpacas' relatively small size, lack of upper teeth and generally docile temperament make them easier to handle than many farm animals. And the fact that breeders can turn a profit without killing them for meat makes alpacas an attractive option for those who are not so comfortable with the less cute and cuddly side of farm life," the story says. Another farmgirl mentioned in the piece, Lynne Johnson from Wisconsin, sees alpaca breeding as her "retirement plan." Photo from Cinco C's Alpacas.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
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