A Cuban agricultural scientist who uses a guitar and a song to spread the benefits of organic farming has won the prestigious Goldman Prize, a $150,000 award presented each year to grass-roots ''environmental heroes.''
Humberto Ríos Labrada, a PhD with Cuba's National Institute of Agricultural Science, runs a program for local farming innovation. It's his job to convince farmers to plant diverse crops without chemicals in a centralized economy that tightly controls what can be planted and when.
Ríos is credited with creating a program that spread to 55,000 farmers, which increased access to seeds and helped growers find more environmentally friendly ways to plant their harvest.
As young people everywhere put their lives on display on networking websites, some Metchosin farmers are using social media to share the rural life with city dwellers.
Heather Ramsay, 28, was living in Vancouver before taking an apprentice at Uminami Farm, where she now spends long days working alone in the fields.
"It was a struggle to adjust to not seeing people," she said.
Already a casual blogger, Ramsay started posting entries about her time on the farm to keep her friends and family updated. And because the 15-year-old farm hasn't joined the online world with a website of its own, her blog also attracted attention from Uminami customers.
Wes Jackson has the next agricultural revolution all planned out. He’s even drawn up the budget and the 50-year Farm Bill needed to do it.
In his vision, future farms will mimic the way nature grows food and let the ecosystem – rather than fossil fuels – do most of the work. They will follow the economics of a prairie as opposed to industrial agriculture.
The visions starts with replacing the current system of annual plowing, fertilizing, and grain planting with a more permanent set of crops that will regenerate on their own, rebuild the soil and even sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
The notion that politics only takes place in the voting booth or halls of state basically evaporated in the 1960s. We now know that political acts occur in a range of settings: in our neighborhoods, bedrooms, kitchens, and, yes, even in our gardens.
The use of gardens as a means of social engagement and a forum in which to articulate oppositional ideas is the subject of George McKay’s Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism, and Rebellion in the Garden. In the work, he chronicles the history of politicized gardens and documents some of the various ways that activists have utilized them to express their views. He hopes that his book will provide “a small corrective to the parochial or suburban or landed versions of garden understanding [by tracing] the strands of idealism, rebellion, political action and social criticism in the garden historically and presently.”
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