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Message from India – Get a Better Handle on Food

Touch the Soil News #262 A metro area of some 1.5 million people, the city of Vijayawada, India has been recognized as a “Global City of the Future.” So what goes on in such a city so far away? For starters, they are encouraging “Terrace Organic Farming.” This is farming on terraces and rooftops. At a recent workshop, Mr. Rambabu, a former agricultural chemical consultant – turned organic – tells folks why they should change their source of fresh vegetables to their own enterprise. Mr. Rambabu explains that there is a widespread lack of knowledge among farmers in India relative to applying chemical-based fertilizers. This lack of knowledge is creating…

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Organics by the Numbers – Is it Time to Consider a Career as an Organic Farmer?

Touch the Soil News # 144 The Organic Trade Association (OTA) represents over 6,500 organic businesses across all 50 states. Members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, retailers and others. The OTA recently reported on the current state of Organics. “Our latest industry data show robust demand and great opportunity for the organic sector,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. Thanks to the work of the OTA, the following information is made available about organics in America. U.S. Organic Sales reached $39.1 billion in 2014, up 11.3% over 2013. (see Info Graphic #1 below) Organic non-food sales reached $3.2 billion in 2014, up…

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Kelp4Less Product News – Discovering Kelp’s Secrets

Touch the Soil News #143 The use of Kelp as a plant growth supplement has been documented back to Roman times. In the early days, folks would scavenge the beach for kelp washed ashore and work it into their fields nearby. In rather recent times (1979) it was discovered that high levels of biostimulants were present in the cells of fresh kelp. These biostimulants later became known as Auxin and Cytokinin. The Auxin compound was found to cause increased root development. The Cytokinin compound produces greater flower initiation and augments cell division. Kelp is rich in amino acids and is 28 percent minerals by weight – including a large number…

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Is Monsanto Perceived as the World’s Number 1 Villain Corporation? (Part 2 of 2)

Touch the Soil News #110 –– includes 1 video While the world protests Monsanto, the question often arises: Who is Monsanto? This is a difficult question to answer. Monsanto reported that as of year-end 2014, it has assets of $22 billion and a whopping debt load of $14.1 billion. In this regard, Monsanto’s creditors are indirectly large stakeholders. So in some ways, the creditors are one of the faces of Monsanto. However, Monsanto’s creditors do not have a voting voice and are therefore more interested in Monsanto’s earnings, not what the company does to get its earnings. Stockholders use their votes to influence the business practices employed. We can also…

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Dacha Gardening – Small Gardens Produce 51% of Food in Russian Federation

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The discussions will rage onwards in terms of dependence upon industrial food systems – and why there should be an exodus. In an interesting twist of fate, turns out home gardens produce 41.1 percent (in terms of value) of the crops and meat produced in the Russian Federation. Small peasant farms produce another 10.2 percent of the Federation’s food. (Source: Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation for 2013 – most recent year for which numbers are available.) Popularly called Dacha Gardens, these home enterprises produce approximately 80 percent of the Federation’s fruits and berries, over 66 percent of the vegetables, 80 percent of the potatoes and nearly 50…

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Should Hydroponic Enterprises Be Allowed Organic Certification?

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The subject of hydroponics receiving organic certification is raging. On April 25, 2015, The Washington Post brought the issue to the mainstream public. While the debate has been going on for years, it has heightened recently. Jeff Moyer, longtime farm director of the Rodale Institute was quoted by the Washington Post as saying: [quote]“Those heads of lettuce that are grown indoors? Yes, they are beautiful. But it’s just a green leaf with water in it. They can’t possibly have the vitamins and minerals that lettuce grown in the soil would have.”[/quote] Moyers words hit the core of the debate – should soil-less forms of food production be allowed organic certification? There…

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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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Katie’s Krops – How One Girl Re-instates the Connection Between Gardening and Solving Hunger

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As much as we may try, the connection between eating and raising food is permanent. From subsistence farming, the world passed the gavel of raising food to farmers and now to industrial farming. In world almost exclusively organized around dollars, hundreds of millions of people have been externalized from the money it takes to buy from the farm via the grocery store. It took a nine year old girl to figure out that solving hunger was somehow related to raising food. Back in 2008, Katie Stagliano – a third grader, took on a school project to raise a cabbage. Her cabbage turned out to be a 40 lb. wonder. She…

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Market Farmer Profile – Stop Waiting and Jump Right In

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Farmer Erik (Erick Halvorson) – also a student at WSU Vancouver, Washington – thinks it’s best to take action with one’s dreams. With access to five (5) farmers markets within a 30 minute drive from his small enterprise, Halvorson is one of some 70,000 farms in the U.S. that only sells directly to consumers. Halvorson began in 2013, leasing 5 acres from his parents to fill, what he calls, a childhood dream. Halvorson started his first year on the animal side of things – based on pasture-raised regimens. He offers eggs, pork and turkey. For 2015, Halvorson is expanding his offerings to include vegetables from a ¾ acre market garden.…

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