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Does Your City Have 38,000 Acres of Vegetables?

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Touch the Soil News #594 Most community gardens and urban farms in America would be hard pressed to cultivate 1 acre of ground – particularly in the city. Even though estimates are that lawns take up about 40 million acres in the U.S., food production is simply not a high priority for urbanites. But what if vegetables, fish and meat were a high priority? The old city of Saigon in Viet Nam – which changed its name back to Ho Chi Minh city – has embraced food production in a way the defies understanding in first-world nations. The city of Ho Chi Minh, while it has much open space, has…

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The Current State of Organics (and local food) in the USA

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Touch the Soil News #361 The USDA just announced that the number of domestic certified organic farms increased by 12 percent between 2014 and 2015. According to the announcement, the United States has 21,781 certified organic operations or 70 percent of the world’s 31,160 organic farms. The USDA began keeping track of organic farms in 2002. With the growth last year, the number of organic farms have increased 300 percent since 2002. Global organic food sales now top $75 billion out of which $39 billion (52 percent) takes place in the United States. Because of the cost of getting certified organic, large food companies like Costco are getting involved in…

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The World’s Largest Organic Food Vision Moves to Reality

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Touch the Soil News #316 The Times of India has just released an interesting news piece about food and farming. Sikkim, one of the smallest states in India (population 620,000) is a new test case for a much larger movement in India to go organic. This small state is banning the use of chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides and is embracing an agricultural platform of all organic. A much larger state in India – Kerala (population 34,000,000) is looking to become fully organic by year end 2016. Not to be outdone, the largest state in India – Rajasthan (population 75,000,000) has just banned the growing of Genetically Modified Crops and taken…

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News Roundup

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Touch the Soil News #281 It Takes More than Urban Farming Recently, researchers Jeffrey Richardson and Monika Moskal of the University of Washington published an eye-opening research paper on the capacity of Seattle to feed itself from urban farms. The research paper found that urban farming in Seattle – if you used all lawns and city parks and vacant properties would only feed around 4 percent of the city’s population – on a mostly vegetarian diet. However, the more interesting news is that 100 percent of the city could be fed in an area around the perimeter of the city, only 36 miles out, were dedicated to growing food. To…

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A Global First – Sky Urban Vertical Farming System

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Touch the Soil News #265 Singapore entrepreneur Mr. Jack Ng, recently won the world’s top design prize ($110,000 USD) from INDEX – a design award program focused on creating a better world through design. Mr. Jack Ng has an interesting story. He was operating a construction and engineering enterprise out of a factory in Singapore. He had many foreign workers from India, China and Bangladesh – many of which were farmers in their home countries. When Ng discovered many of the workers were homesick, he invited them to farm in an unused space behind the factory. It brought the workers together and they shared what they grew. Mr. Jack Ng…

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Will Draft-Horse Farming Make a Comeback?

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Touch the Soil News #229 A few years back, Susan and I were fortunate to spend a couple of days with David and Debbie Mader of Horsepower Organics. The Maders farm 155 acres with Belgian draft horses in Eastern Oregon. They also breed, train and sell Belgian work-horse teams. To make the most of this enterprise, the Maders take in interns to learn the art of draft-horse farming. It came as a surprise to us that many of the interns were young women and some of them from overseas. Working as interns at Horsepower Organics (from left) Carmen Becker (Germany), Liz Bedsole (Portland) and Hattie Kugler (Vet student from Washington…

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Wyomatoes & Kelp4Less in PBS Special

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Touch the Soil News #226 Recently the Wyoming PBS aired a special program on Wyomatoes.  Wyomatoes is a unique greenhouse that raises organic tomatoes in soil. Also featured in the presentation is Brandon Mason from Kelp4Less. Mason and Kelp4Less helped Wyomatoes go organic and rise to the challenge of soil nutrition, soil biology, plant nutrition and plant health that go hand in hand with organic farming. Wyomatoes logo on the side of their delivery truck (Photo – Susan Gisin) The Wyoming PBS station produces a series of programs under the heading “Farm to Fork Wyoming.”   The series explores the growing direct to market economy – an insightful resource for the…

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