2014 Declared International Year of Family Farming, UN
Last spring, the United Nations (UN) announced that it would recognize 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. The declaration aims to increase awareness on the importance of family farming in addressing world issues such as poverty, food security and protecting the environment. On its website, the UN says that the goal of the declaration is to “reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas.” It hopes that it will spur discussion at local, national and international levels of governments. The declaration includes both developing and developed countries. Farms.com story.
For those with the correct attributes and skills, I believe “farming tourists” will become mainstream in the next five years as this industry uses agritourism to interact with consumers, to drive demand for UK food and drink and to deliver a product demanded by the public – an opportunity to experience a real live farm and its farmer. We will come to have confidence in our offering so that we can give consumers the opportunity to experience farm life and make money by telling our story in an engaging way. If we put forward a value proposition and a great experience people will pay. Summary of Oxford Farming Conference Speech by Caroline Millar, Speech.
The foundation of my book was a 10-mile diet experiment in September 2010. It shifted me from an anywhere eater in an industrial system to a relational eater in a living system. I discovered belonging and community as well as many ways to cook a turnip or kale. It also showed me the fragility of that industrial system. When you do a 10 or 100 or locavore diet, you realize how our current food system is like a stage set for the Okay Corral. Behind those false fronts is a machinery of illusion. Seeing this vividly during my 10-mile month I began to ask why, and what we could do about our utter vulnerability to the Matrix, how we could restore regional food and farming to the point that perhaps even 50% of our nutrition would come from within a few hundred miles of our homes. Vicki Robin blog.
Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
CUESA is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1994 to educate urban consumers about sustainable agriculture and to create links between urban dwellers and local farmers. We have managed the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market since 1999. Website.
New RNA sequencing techniques show why crop rotation works
A new study to be published in Nature’s ‘The ISME Journal’ reveals the profound effect crop rotation has on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa. “Changing the crop species massively changes the content of microbes in the soil, which in turn helps the plant to acquire nutrients, regulate growth and protect itself against pests and diseases, boosting yield,” said Professor Philip Poole from the John Innes Centre. Soil was collected from a field near Norwich and planted with wheat, oats and peas. After growing wheat, it remained largely unchanged and the microbes in it were mostly bacteria. However, growing oat and pea in the same sample caused a huge shift towards protozoa and nematode worms. Soil grown with peas was highly enriched for fungi. Farming Futures post.
Food & the New Community: How the Internet Changes Food Culture
A decade after Facebook’s birth at Harvard University in 2004, the concept of community has been utterly upended. The “third places” that sociology professor Ray Oldenburg wrote about in his 1989 book, “The Great Good Place”—gathering spaces between work and home that he argued are the heart of social vitality and the grassroots of democracy—have evolved beyond tangible environments. The landscape now teems with online third places where people connect while sitting wherever they choose, drinking whatever they like and wearing pajamas if they want to. Hartman Group post.
Food Safety Guidelines Could Dampen Local Foods, Farmers Markets
Awhile back, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). They then handed it over to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to write the rules for the act, and that’s when the problems became clear. FDA isn’t used to working with small and mid-sized family farmers. Instead, they apparently wrote the rules with big produce farmers and big food processors in mind, since a few of those producers and processors have been causing many of the massive food safety scares in the last few years. However, the small, mid-sized, and beginning farmers would still have to follow the rules. This might put a lot on small businesses out of business. Center for Rural Affairs post.
66 Instagram Accounts Helping Cultivate a Better Food System!
One of the fastest-growing and powerful emerging social media networks is Instagram. The photo and video sharing site now has 150 million active users who are uploading an astonishing 55 million photos a day. And while Rihanna, and Usher use Instagram to show off their latest outfits or connect with fans, many organizations are using the network to create awareness, spur action, and make positive change in the food and agriculture system. Food Tank post.
The Role of Food Hubs in Food Supply Chains
The dramatic rise of the “local foods” market and the need for sustainable local food value chains has correspondingly led to innovative solutions designed to meet this burgeoning demand. Food hubs are just one of the local entities increasing in number across the U.S. and being used to facilitate a closer connection between producers and consumers. Despite their popularity and increasing numbers, there exists comparatively little systematic research regarding food hubs; for example, investigation into the primary impetus for the formation of food hubs and local food chains, best practices, demonstrated impacts on the community, coexistence with current food supply chains, food safety, and the long-term viability of such entities have been explored only minimally in current literature. This commentary provides a brief context to present relevant questions for further research in the emerging trend of food hubs. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development abstract.
Carbon footprint higher in Finnish cities than in rural areas
Despite better public transport and more energy-efficient housing, city dwellers have a larger carbon footprint than those in rural areas, according to a recent Finnish study. This is partly explained by the phenomenon of ‘parallel consumption’ in which people extend their living space by using services that the home also provides. Europe Science for the Environment post.
AND IF YOU HAVE TIME
The felfie: how farmers are embracing social media
Pouting at a camera isn’t the preserve of trendy young urbanites. The “felfie” – or selfie snapped on the farm – is taking off, with farmers posting photos of themselves next to their favourite sheep, cow or tractor. Farmingselfie.com, a blog set up by Essex farmer @willwilson100, collects the latest felfies from around the world – showcasing rural working lives everywhere from Finland to Argentina. The Guardian story.