The quest for perennial crops
All the tilling, sowing, and harvesting which is required for annual crops leeches nutrients from the soil and contributes to erosion. It also requires more energy-intensive machines and materials. Perennial crops, on the other hand, could survive for many seasons lessening farming’s wear-and-tear on the environment. Some varieties could also have longer, lusher root systems that would sink deeper into the ground, helping maintain soil health and curbing erosion. The trick, however, will be coaxing crops into simultaneously surviving year-round and growing plump and harvestable seeds. Plants tend to prefer one or the other. Future perennial crops could simply be plugged into the current monoculture system, grown in mixtures or in mosaics which could break farmland up into smaller patches containing a wider variety of plants to provide both economic and environmental benefits. Landbased Library Online Briefing 2179.
City Region Food Systems – Part I – Conceptualization
In this blog-post FCRN-member Professor Michael Hamm discusses a number of contested issues linked to the challenges posed by growing urbanisation. This is the first in a short series of postings by Mike in which he explores the value of city-region food systems, obstacles to their development, and possible ways forward. Food Climate Research Network post.
The New Science of Sustainable Food Systems: Overcoming Barriers to Food Systems Reform
Who holds the power to shape food systems, and who sets the terms of debate when it comes to reforming them? These were the questions asked by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, IPES-Food, as it launched its first report. IPES-Food is a new independent panel for food systems reform, co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and ex-UNICEF nutrition expert Olivia Yambi. It features 18 top experts from various fields connected to food systems. Executive Summary.
Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement
The report highlights practical, effective strategies for communities to add locally sourced food to their institutional food systems; recommends ways to conceptualize and measure economic and health impacts; suggests effective funding strategies; and includes Critical Analysis of Economic Impact Methodologies, which discusses the literature on the economic impact of local foods. Illinois Public Health Institute post. Executive summary.
Michigan Food Innovation Hub Fosters Collaboration between Local Food Producers
Local food producers in Northwest Michigan are entering an era of collaboration thanks to the emergence of the Grand Traverse Food Innovation Hub. The food hub is an important step toward a more connected and cooperative local food community in the region and is in the early stages of bringing diverse local food companies together to share a workspace and possibly more, if everything goes according to plan. Sustainable Cities Collective post.
Local farmers get creative to compete in crowded CSA market
Beougher’s crops are certified organic, which attracts a certain customer-base, and he raises a small number of hogs, chickens and lambs, which subscribers can buy to supplement their produce. This year he added a new feature. “We have a personal chef that will create recipes for everything that’s in the box,” Beougher said. “So when you get that kohlrabi or eggplant that you’ve never cooked before and don’t know what to do with, she’ll have a recipe to help you make something out of it.” Harvest Public Media story.
Urban farming is booming, but what does it really yield?
Food that’s grown and consumed in cities has other advantages: During times of abundance, it may cost less than supermarket fare that’s come long distances, and during times of emergency — when transportation and distribution channels break down — it can fill a vegetable void. Following large storms such as Hurricane Sandy and the blizzards of this past winter, says Viraj Puri, cofounder of New York City–based Gotham Greens (which produces more than 300 tons [272 metric tons] of herbs and microgreens per year in two rooftop hydroponic operations and has another farm planned for Chicago), “our produce was the only produce on the shelf at many supermarkets across the city.” ENSIA story.
Land-Grant Institutions Move To Support Urban Farmers
There is only a single land-grant in the nation that is exclusively devoted to urban interests, and that’s the University of the District of Columbia. Mchezaji “Che” Axum runs its 143-acre research farm in Beltsville, Maryland (coincidentally, the site of the USDA’s National Agricultural Library, which might be considered the nation’s ag equivalent of the Library of Congress). The farm provides demonstration areas showing the diverse ways urban agriculture can work in communities. There are orchards, fish farming and greenhouses. The farm also serves as the headquarters for the area’s Master Gardener Program. UC Food Observer post.
Gut feelings and possible tomorrows: (where) does animal farming fit?
It takes as its starting point the observation that while most of us may agree we have a food problem, there is less unanimity as to what the causes are, what or who is to blame and why. One particular issue exemplifies both the complexities of the problem and the discord it engenders. This is the ‘meat question.’ This paper takes a closer look at who the stakeholders are in the debate around livestock, the different narratives that they construct about the livestock problem – and the solutions they propose. It presents and describes four future scenarios, each of which imagines a different livestock ‘solution,’ and explores the values that underpin them. What might happen if the world were really like this? How is success defined in these futures, what sort of dynamic tensions might start to manifest themselves, and what new problems might emerge? Food Climate Research Network think piece.
The Color of Food: These Sisters are Building a Second Career as Farmers
I am standing on the family’s land listening to the tiller’s engine run. Behind it walks Carol Jackson; her sister, Joyce Bowman, walks behind her, planting sweet potato slips. These two sisters grew up in Burgaw, North Carolina; both became teachers for special needs children and after retirement returned to the land where they were raised to grow organic vegetables together. They call their farm My Sister’s Farm because both are too modest to take credit for the idea and each jokingly blames the other for getting them into it in the first place. They started more than ten years ago, slowly, first to keep busy and active in retirement and then to sell their excess harvest as production grew. Civil Eats story.
AND IF YOU HAVE TIME
So what is a climate-friendly gardener? Just as a wildlife-friendly gardener tries to help wildlife in their garden, so a climate-friendly gardener aims to garden in ways that reduce greenhouse gases and absorb carbon dioxide, and so help the climate remain suitable for the Earth’s existing species, including ourselves. This website isn’t about adapting to the inevitable climate change that we’ve caused already (though we’ll need to do that too) but about doing something to help slow down climate change and stabilise our climate. Life in some form or other will go on whatever the climate, but we need a climate that suits us, the climate that we have evolved for and to which we’re adapted. Website.