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Emerging Farming Model – It’s About Jobs and People Over Profits

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Touch the Soil News #216 The entry of non profit oriented enterprises into food and farming is a theme we have frequently covered. There have been so many stories of connecting food, farming, jobs and social responsibility it has become a growing trend. Perhaps – in time – a mega-trend. RecoveryPark is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Detroit. To implement its vision of employing military veterans, ex-convicts, recovering addicts and others having trouble finding employment – they are starting a large urban commercial farm. Called RecoveryPark Farms, there will be greenhouses, hoop houses and hydroponic systems on 60 acres of blighted Detroit Land. About 35 acres of the project is…

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“Irrigation Subsidence” – Is This the Makings of a Hollywood Thriller?

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Touch the Soil News #106  –  includes 1 info graphic and 2 videos With California providing over 50 percent of the nation’s primary fruit and vegetables, water will be directed towards fruit and veggie production at the expense of other crops. Some of the crops getting the ax include alfalfa (hay), rice, cotton, wheat and barley. American consumers will see short-term benefits from this water allocation in that increases in the price of our fresh fruits and vegetables is forecast to be modest this year. However, in California proper, there will be around 560,000 acres fallowed (not farmed) and a loss of around 19,000 jobs. See (info graphic #1) below…

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

SF photo Linda Borghi in plot

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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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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When It Comes to Raising Food, Are You Part of the Inner Circle?

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Whether or not you are part of the inner circle, may determine how aggressive you pursue alternatives to the industrial food chain – read on. The motto of Forbes Magazine is “The Capitalist Tool.” True to its motto, Forbes is hosting the first ever AgTech Summit in Salinas, California on July 8-9, 2015. Now, before you get too excited about going, the event is by invitation only. Forbes is looking for several hundred of the smartest minds from Silicon Valley and global agriculture to tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges. Forbes wants to connect agriculture with high tech and capital. Smart minds, technology and capital have brought many things…

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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?

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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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