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Farmers Markets Keep Growing

Touch the Soil News #620 If you are planning to be an urban farmer or a market gardener, the number of potential sales outlets keep growing. According to the USDA, the nation had 8,669 farmers markets in 2016. The USDA also has a data base of all the farmers markets you can access: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets On average, since 1994, the nation has added over 300 new farmers markets every year. Following is an info-graphic that illustrates the growth in farmers market numbers: Following is a short video clip on the new year starting off with a big bang at a farmers market in Florida: Want More? – Sign up below Special Deals…

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Growing Food – Help for War Veterans Getting Back to Normal

Touch the Soil News # 156 When a good idea hatches, it usually takes a little time for the word to get out and for a vision to take form. Back in 2012, U.S. Marine veteran Chris Brown co-founded Growing Veterans – an organization that combines sustainable farming with helping veterans re-establish some semblance of a normal life. Recently, Growing Veterans have been making news and the word is getting out. Brown, with three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, knows of the injuries veterans come home with that are physical and mental – that can lead to isolation, substance abuse, unemployment and even suicide. Turning attention to growing food and…

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National Farmers Market Week – And the Nation’s top 10 Farmers Markets

Touch the Soil News # 136 Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared August 2 through August 8, 2015 as National Farmers Market Week. This year marks the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week. On Saturday, August 1st, Anne Alonzo, the administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, will kick of ceremonies at the Santa Fe Farmers Market – one of the top 10 markets in the nation. The growth of farmers markets in America has been nothing short of stellar. Interesting to note is that despite economic problems in the nation, the number of farmers markets has nearly doubled from 2008 to 2014. Some of that success also comes…

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Grow A Row – Is This a Window into the Future of Food?

Touch the Soil News # 127 The non-profit  “America’s Grow a Row” was started by a non-farmer – Chip Paillex – some 14 years ago in New Jersey. Back in 2002, Chip and his daughter rented a small 30’ X 30’ plot and started planting food crops for the first time in his life. One day they saw a three-line article in the paper that said if you ever have extra produce, “grow-a-row” for the hungry and bring it down to the food pantry. Chip Paillex – Founder of Grow A Row (photo courtesy of Grow A Row) Moved by the simplicity of the message Paillex and his daughter began…

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Food Not Lawns – Is This Issue on the Rise to Stellar Heights?

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It was back in 2006, Susan and I were publishing the magazine Touch the Soil. We were doing stories in Eugene, Oregon and hooked up with Heather Flores who had just published the book “Food Not Lawns.” Since then, Heather has sold over 25,000 copies and helped launch the Food Not Lawns movement: http://www.foodnotlawns.com/about.html Since then the Food Not Lawns movement has spread into over 55 chapters across the United States, three in Canada and one in Australia. This year, Heather Flores is embarking on an International Tour to some 30 cities in the U.S., Canada and the UK. In a rather unanticipated emergence of events – drought and poverty…

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Abundant Life Farm – Illustrating Career and Life Options Around Growing Food

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Linda Borghi is on her third farm. Her present farm is in Walker Valley, New York – about a one and a half hour drive north of the Big Apple. Abundant Life Biodynamic SPIN Farm is situated in the Shawngunk Mountains that has been turned into a “terraced” farm that hints of centuries old practices in exotic places like Nepal and China. Borghi came from an Italian family, the oldest of eight in a family of fine art dealers. Beginning her career in the corporate world, she ultimately broke away and got into raising and marketing local food. “It was a big change for me, considering where I came from,”…

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News Roundup – News You Might Have Missed – Vol 2

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April 2015 │ Springdale, Arkansas Tyson Foods announced that it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. They will report annually on their progress, beginning with their fiscal 2015 Sustainability Report. Tyson has already stopped using all antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries, requiring a veterinary prescription for antibiotics used on broiler farms and having reduced human antibiotics used to treat broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011. See uploaded video here. April 2015 │ USDA The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically…

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Food Hardship – Is the Solution Food Gardening?

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently published its 2014 National, State and Local Index of Food Hardship. Food hardship is a state of being in which there is struggle to put food on the table.  According to the report, food hardship afflicted between 17.2 and 18.6 percent of Americans at various times over the last seven years – that’s between 55 and 61 million people. Here are some of the highlights: Mississippi has the highest food hardship rate of any state at 24.7 percent. About one out of every 4 people in Mississippi is food challenged. North Dakota has the lowest food hardship rate of any state at…

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Hooligan Farm – David Elias Rises to the Challenge

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David Elias from New Jersey (see photo of David with daughter Jasmin) started food gardening in 2010 after losing his job. The immediate economic need to supplement his family’s nutritional needs precipitated the gardening effort. “What motivates me is giving my family an opportunity to eat better at affordable prices and allow them to eat real food that is not processes junk,” says Elias. For Elias, food gardening for the family awakened other visions and opportunities. As a jujitsu teacher and competitor, Elias started seeing the benefits of eating cleaner. Soon he was growing so much that he could sell the extra to friends, family, co-workers, fellow athletes and coaches.…

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Emerging Specs of a Food-Chain Mega Trend (Part 1 of 2)

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There is an emerging correlation between retirement savings and the future of food. Most of us don’t know where our pension funds and retirement plans are invested. In many cases, retirement funds end up in the hands of an institutional investor. Institutional investors handle large sums of money for high net worth individuals, pension plans, endowment funds and municipal treasurers. By far and away, the largest source of investment funds in the U.S. is the retirement arena. Research, by the Investment Company Institute, reveals that at the end of 2008, assets in the U.S. retirement market totaled $14.2 trillion. By year end 2014, that number was $24.7 trillion – a…

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