PROJECT IDEAS:

A mobile garden truck ... educating youth about healthy eating, environmental sustainability and the benefits of growing one’s own food. https://truckfarmomaha.com/about/


RECOMMENDED READING:

New Research Finds Climate Solutions in the Soil

4/19/2016, by Daniel Kane, reposted from the NSAC Blog -- Earlier this month, the journal Nature published alarming new data about the potential for much higher sea level rise this century due to melting in Antarctica than previously predicted, and NASA reported that 2015 was the hottest year on record. As the impacts of climate change are increasingly apparent, the need to not only reduce emissions but to also draw carbon out of the atmosphere has become more urgent. One potential solution is literally underfoot.

Last week, the journal Nature published a review that was all about the role of soils in addressing climate change, and earlier this year NSAC and Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions published a similar paper detailing different agricultural practices with the potential to build carbon in the soil. Both papers highlight a growing body of evidence that with proper management, soils could play an important role in battling climate change.

What’s Agriculture Got to Do with Climate Change?
Globally, land use accounts for nearly a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions. Poor management of agricultural lands and the conversion of native ecosystems to agriculture can lead to release of all three primary greenhouse gases: CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), and N2O (nitrous oxide) via soils. The good news in the Nature review and the NSAC report is that improving agricultural management can substantially reduce these emissions and in some cases sequester carbon from the atmosphere in the soil. 

(Read the full article here: NSAC Blog ; also see Policy Solutions for Healthy Soils, the second  in a two-part series on the integral role of agriculture and soil health in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/policy-soil-science/ )

 

Preparing Smallholder Farm Families to Adapt to Climate Change

A new set of pocket guides aimed at “Preparing Smallholder Farm Families to Adapt to Climate Change” does a very good job of providing sound, science-based information and innovative approaches to transferring knowledge. Funded by USAID and developed by Catholic Relief Services and the Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) project, these guides were written with smallholder farmers in developing countries in mind.  The information, however, is very relevant to farmers anywhere in the world, including here in the U.S.  The first guide, for example, provides an excellent overview of climate change and its impact on agriculture – now and into the future. 

POCKET GUIDE 1: Extension Practice for Agricultural Adaptation

POCKET GUIDE 3: Managing Water Resouces

 

Cultivating Climate Resiliance on Your Organic Farm

February 23, 2016 -- a webinar by Laura Lengnick, weaving practical lessons from the field with the latest climate science and resilience thinking. Offered by eXtension.org, check their website archives for the video recording; click here for a pdf version.

 

Soil Solutions to Climate Problems

November 19, 2015 -- Emerging science proves that shifting to regenerative forms of agriculture such as agroecology, agroforestry, cover-cropping, holistic grazing and permaculture will allow us to store excess carbon safely in the ground.  See the video narrated by Michael Pollan here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxqBzrx9yIE

 

Ag Viability Study & Recommendations Released

November 2015, Wysox PA -- After a series of conferences and committee meetings conducted to help construct a current and fluid model of the agricultural landscape in Bradford County, the Agricultural Viability Study & Program has been finalized. (read more here.)

 

From NOFA:

On Farm Skill Development Guide

This guide provides activities to plan, monitor, reflect upon and track changes as an aspiring or new farmer goes through a season of farm training.  Its primary function is for beginning farmers and their farm mentors to identify areas to provide education, increasing skills and work responsibility on the farm.  Completing this guide will allow you to develop a plan for information exchange and monitor progress of the beginning farmer and improved farm efficiencies. (nofany.org/files/On_Farm_Skills_Development_Guide.pdf )

Small Farm Quarterly

http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/quarterly/archive-2/spring-2016

 

Facilitating Farmer-to-Farmer Education

September 2015; an instruction guide from WSDA and Tilth Producers of Washington to help organizations sponsor and organize Farm Walks, which are peer-to-peer, on-farm education events that allow sustainable and organic farmers to learn about innovative farming practices and build relationship with peers in their community.  (click here for 20 pg pdf)

 

Soil -- from dirt to lifeline:

Fred Kirschenmann at TEDxManhattan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life-Giving Link Between Carbon and Healthy Topsoil

March 2015, Dr. Christine Jones, interviewed by Tracy Frisch (reposted from ACRES U.S.A.)

To the pressing worldwide challenge of restoring soil carbon and rebuilding topsoil, the Australian soil ecologist Dr. Christine Jones offers an accessible, revolutionary perspective for improving landscape health and farm productivity.  "... People have confused the weathering of rock, which is a very, very slow process, with the building of topsoil, which is altogether different. Most of the ingredients for new topsoil come from the atmosphere — carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen..."

Read the full interview here: Interview: SOS: Save our Soils

Ten things you should know about soil

February 27, 2015, Elisabeth Winkler (re-posted from Sustainable Food Trust)

Along with air to breath and water to drink, soil is one of our most important natural resources. Without it we would starve. However, due to poor farming practices, we are using soil at a completely unsustainable rate. The United Nation’s General Assembly has designated 2015, the International Year of Soils, to raise awareness of the urgent need to switch to sustainable soil management. If we do not make major changes to farming methods, food production will decline in future, instead of rising to meet the needs of a growing population.

Most current food production methods do not nurture the soil. Instead they exploit it, as if it were an infinite resource. As a result, 24 billion tonnes of soil is washed or blown away every year. That’s equivalent to 3.4 tonnes for every adult and child on the planet, every year. As well as being eroded, soil is also being degraded – losing its organic matter and structure – a process which ultimately turns 30 million acres of food producing land into desert every year.

Soil isn’t just important because it is the source of our food, it also plays a vital role in regulating the climate, providing clean drinking water and supporting plant and animal biodiversity.

The situation will only improve if we all understand what is going wrong and why, and what needs to change. There are many inspiring examples from around the globe of farmers who care for their soil, as well as examples of how once degraded land and even desert, is now producing food and sustaining local communities again. However, there are many more examples of abused soils in serious decline.

In this International Year of Soils, the Sustainable Food Trust will be returning to soil many times. We start with an introduction to this extraordinary and life-giving natural resource.

    1 - Over 95% of our food comes from the soil. The quality of soil influences the quality of food, especially in relation to the content of important trace elements, such as selenium and zinc, and arguably also in relation to taste.

    2 - A spoonful of healthy soil can contain more living organisms than there are people on the planet. The more fertile the soil is, the more organisms it has living in it. The more fertile the soil is, the more organisms it has living in it. These organisms include bacteria and fungi, as well as larger soil creatures like nematodes, earthworms and ants. All are important for the health of soil.

    3 - Soil is a mixture of minerals from rocks (45%) along with organic matter derived from decaying plant and animal material, plus the tiny living creatures in the soil (5%) – along with air (25%) and water (25%). It takes approximately 500 years for 1 inch of soil to form.

    4 - Soils still contain more carbon than the atmosphere and all the world’s forests combined. Soil is one of our key defences against climate change because of this. The healthier the soil, the more carbon it holds.

    5 - Soil organic matter is about 50% carbon. Humus is dark, stable, organic matter in healthy soils. Each gram of humus can hold twenty times its own weight of water, allowing soils with high organic matter to act as a sponge to soak up heavy rain and continue to provide moisture for crops during dry conditions.

    6 - To increase humus levels by adding organic matter, it is vital to compost it first in an aerobic way – which takes place above ground – before adding it to the soil.

    7 - Most cropland globally has lost 30-40% of its organic matter. Well managed grassland that is not overgrazed generally rebuilds organic matter.

    8 - Professor John Crawford of Rothamsted Research has pointed out that, at the current rate of degradation, we only have enough soil left globally to provide food for another 60 years. Soil degradation in countries with temperature climates is less severe than in some parts of the world, but researchers at Sheffield University claim that even in the UK we only have enough soil left for another 100 harvests at current rates of decline.

    9 - Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck tells the story of families that had to leave their land and become migrant workers due to soil erosion in the 1930s. The severe soil degradation in the ‘Dust Bowl’ was caused by unsustainable farming practices which replaced native deep-rooting long grasses with continuous cropping of mostly wheat and led to three million people leaving farms in the praires of North America and Canada.

    10 - History shows that civilisations, like the Summerian society in Mesopotamia (the world’s first literate culture) which flourished from 3,000 BC, came to an end because of over-cropping and over-irrigation of their soils. Irrigation in hot countries is a major cause of salinisation – the build up of salts in topsoil, because evaporation prevents minerals being taken down to plant roots. As US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself”.

 


"Freebies for Science Teachers"

at http://www.nsta.org/publications/freebies.aspx - use "soil" as the search keyword!!!





Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities

(A Guide to Federal Programs)

Oct 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Using Conservation To Make Each Acre Count

posted 3/18/14 (from USDA-NRCS) - Sarah Woutat founded Uproot Farm because of her love for farming. Conservation programs funded through the Farm Bill helped her get her start and grow her farm.

For Woutat, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, offered by NRCS, provided her with the help she needed to install a high tunnel and field borders.  Click here to read more about how Woutat benefited from EQIP.


 

 

 

Creating and Hosting Events at Your Agribusiness, by Kathleen M. Kelley

Publisher: Penn State University, Publish Date: August 2009,  (3 pages)Many consumers can remember spending time with their families visiting apple orchards for doughnuts and cider or a local farmer’s field to pick a pumpkin. These opportunities provide children and adults with an exciting and enjoyable day. This may have prompted a return trip for the family. Research indicates that consumers desire opportunities where they and their families can have an enjoyable day together, support a local business owner, and “get back to nature.” By inviting the public to help celebrate your business’s grand opening or anniversary, the season, a holiday, or other occasion, you may also be developing a relationship that will last well after the event is over.

 

Charting The Path Of Your Agritourism Business: The Components Of An Effective Business Plan, by Marsha Laux

Publisher: Iowa State University, Publish Date: March 2009,  (41 pages) A business planning overview for agritourism operators who are contemplating or beginning the process of writing a business plan. The presentation was made to the Visit Iowa Farms conference participants in March 2009. The presentation provides direction and motivation for completing and using a written business plan as well as giving an overview of the necessary components in an effective plan.

 

School Lunches: Goodbye fries, hello fennel

Teacher Marisa Szynal passes lunch to a student during lunch at the People for People Charter School, in Philadelphia. (photo credit: AP)

By KATHY MATHESON — Feb. 27, 2013-- PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It sounds more like a restaurant order than a school lunch menu: baked ziti with a side of roasted fennel salad and, for dessert, cinnamon apple rice pudding.

But that's one of the meals offered in the cafeteria at People For People Charter School in Philadelphia. And it's served family-style. Students pass serving dishes around circular tables, where they eat off plates, not cafeteria trays, and use silverware instead of plastic utensils.

People For People is one of four schools participating in the "Eatiquette" program, which was designed by local chef Marc Vetri to provide nutritious, low-cost lunches in a setting that reinforces social niceties and communication skills. (read the full article at  http://bigstory.ap.org/   - will open in a new browser tab)

 


 

POTENTIAL FUNDING RESOURCES:

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion - http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP

Microloans up to $35,000 aim to assist small farmers, veterans, and disadvantaged producers ... from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ... Producers can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses. As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for an operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial lender under FSA’s Guaranteed Loan Program. click here for more information.

Small Business Innovation Research Program - Due Sept. 26
The USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program awards grant funds to small businesses for research and development projects related to agriculture manufacturing technology, energy efficiency, and alternative/renewable energy, such as biofuel or ethanol production. Click here for more information about SBIR. Click here for application information, apply by September 26, 2013.

USDA Organic Cost Share Program - Due Sept. 30
If you are a certified organic farmer or rancher in the Northeast, you are eligible to receive a 2013 organic certification cost share reimbursement to cover as much as 75% of your certification costs from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013, up to a maximum of $750. To get reimbursed, contact your State Department of Agriculture. You will need proof of organic certification, itemized invoice of certification expenses, and W-9 tax form. Learn more about the cost share program here. Contact Rita Meade at rita.meade@ams.usda.gov or call (202) 720-3252 with questions.

Local Producer Loan Program - Whole Foods Market is now accepting applications to provide loans between $1,000 and $100,000 to small, local, independent producers. Desired candidates are expanding production, implementing organic practices, and located within a few hours drive of a Whole Foods store. Funds can be used for expansion and capital expenditures (e.g., buy more animals, invest in new equipment and infrastructure, or expand crops), but not for operating expenses. Learn more and apply here.

 

CURRENT and PAST PROJECTS:

(click on project title for more information, which will open in a separate browser window or tab)

  Pasture Walks

  Transitioning to Organic/Technical Assistance

  Local Foods Initiative

  Many Voices of Agriculture

  Healthy Kids Community Garden

  Holistic Planned Grazing for Sustainable Agriculture

  Installation of Grazing Best Management Practices
and Solar/Wind Powered Water Pumping Systems for Rotational Grazing

 


On LAURA's LIST (articles I want to revisit; on quick look, these seemed interesting - but until/unless I read them thourougly, I don't know if they are worth recommending.  If you read them first, please share your informed opinion!)

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris-climate-talks/type/change-visualized

 

Do local on-farm markets do this?
http://www.fastcoexist.com/3057813/this-new-brooklyn-grocery-is-designed-for-zero-waste/1

http://letthemeatmeat.com/post/2730074865/meat-a-benign-extravagance-book-excerpt

 

http://www.richsoil.com/raising-chickens.jsp

https://www.engineeringforchange.org/news/2012/10/14/how_to_make_a_worm_composting_bin.html

press release re vermiculture lesson plan (http://pa-professionalrecyclers.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/249) and link to plan (http://pa-professionalrecyclers.civicplus.com/index.aspx?nid=236)

Worm Diner (teaching kids!) http://www.sfenvironment.org/sites/default/files/fliers/files/sfe_se_worm_diner_k-4.pdf   (also archived on harddrive with Org Outreach project files)

Marketing Agritourism Online,” a program released by North Dakota State University and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  available at http://go.unl.edu/agritourism