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How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe's bird population

How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe's bird population | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In order to boost food production across Europe, the wholesale ripping up of hedgerows, draining of wetlands and ploughing over of meadows has robbed farmland birds of their homes and food. Numbers of linnets, turtle doves and lapwings have crashed as a result.

 

The survey, carried out by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, also found that Britain has been one of the nations worst affected by losses to its farmland bird populations. For example, in Europe the population of grey partridges has dropped from 13.4 million to 2.4 million, a loss of 82%. In the UK, that loss was 91%.

 

These losses were described as shocking by the scheme's chairman, Richard Gregory. "We had got used to noting a loss of a few per cent in numbers of various species over one or two years. It was only when we added up numbers of all the different farmland bird species for each year since 1980, when we started keeping records, that we found their overall population has dropped from 600 million to 300 million, which is a calamitous loss. We have been sleepwalking into a disaster."

 

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Innovation of the Week: Student Program Connects Consumers to the Food System Process

Innovation of the Week: Student Program Connects Consumers to the Food System Process | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
By Graham Salinger In 2009, the average distance that a granny smith apple traveled to get to McGill University in Quebec, Canada, was nearly 3,542 miles. Meanwhile, the dining halls serve approximately 2,500 meals a day.

 

In an effort to increase the amount of food that is sourced locally, students at McGill University established The McGill Food Systems Project (MFSP). The project, which began in 2009, engages students in the food system process by supporting student-led applied research that helps the University establish best practices for purchasing sustainable food. Collaborating with professors, the McGill Food and Dining Services, and the McGill Office of Sustainability, students conduct research and implement projects that help inform the University about the source of its food.


“The objective of these actions is to transition our food supply to more sustainable and local sources,” explains Laura Rhodes, co-founder of MFSP along with Jonathan Glencross. “We want to build a capacity to meaningfully assess what is or isn’t sustainable food. Our role is to communicate in the sense of building capacity to make sustainable choices,” notes Rhodes, who is currently in charge of making sustainable food purchases for McGill’s dining services.

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Don't Call It 'Dirt': Why Healthy Soil Means Healthy People

Don't Call It 'Dirt': Why Healthy Soil Means Healthy People | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Jack Algiere has no qualms about letting his kids eat their veggies straight out of the ground from the fields and greenhouses he manages in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.

 

Our chemical dependencies are stripping soil of its life-giving duties and turning it into lifeless dirt, the film says. We've destroyed half the world's topsoil in the last 50 years, and a quarter of what's left is degraded. Experts in the film suggest that this loss is contributing to a range of today's ills: flooding, droughts, toxic algae blooms, contaminated drinking water, cancer, developmental problems, antibiotic-resistant infections, obesity and more.

 

"The connection between healthy soil and healthy people is so obvious," said Deborah Koons Garcia, director and producer of the film, which screened last weekend at Stone Barns.

 

So, when and how did we lose sight of such a vital relationship? And can we find it again?

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Flame retardants and farm chemicals could affect our bodies for generations

Flame retardants and farm chemicals could affect our bodies for generations | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Recent investigations of the chemicals in flame retardants are eerily similar to those in some agricultural chemicals. And they both persist in the human body long after we once thought.

 

In a new study [PDF] published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Texas and Washington State University found that exposing rats to the common fungicide vinclozolin (still used by some farmers to control blight) caused changes in physiology, behavior, and metabolic activity in their descendants three generations removed.

 

In other words, it’s affecting the rats’ brains for generations — which leads not just to change in their bodies but in their behaviors, including an increase in anxiety. All from an exposure generations ago. If further research bears this result out, it’s an ominous prospect.

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Vegetables in major HK supermarkets turn up with toxic pesticides

Vegetables in major HK supermarkets turn up with toxic pesticides | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Last week Greenpeace campaigners in Hong Kong published testing results from some of Hong Kong's biggest supermarkets and found illegal pesticides and mixed pesticide use on many fresh produce samples.

 

The scandal was covered on the South China Morning Post.


Almost every vegetable sample taken from major supermarket outlets in a recent survey contained pesticides - in one case seven times over the safety limit - Greenpeace said yesterday.


Eleven of the 12 samples taken from ParknShop, Wellcome and Jusco in February contained residues of various types of pesticides.

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More Farms Vie for the $1 Billion Spent at Farmers' Markets

More Farms Vie for the $1 Billion Spent at Farmers' Markets | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
For decades, Beechwood Orchards in Biglerville, Pa., sold its apples, peaches, and other fruits and veggies to wholesalers, who would then consolidate the produce with shipments from other farms and dispatch it to supermarkets across the region.

 

The number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 2004, to more than 7,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, throwing a lifeline to struggling family farms. Though only about 2 percent of farm sales in the U.S. are retail, the USDA estimates that consumers spent $1 billion at farmers’ markets last year. Growers today “are willing to try new things, new products, interact with customers,” says Nicky Uy, a senior associate at the Food Trust, a Philadelphia nonprofit that runs 26 markets. “It bodes well for the future of small farms, especially near big cities.”

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Revenge of the Weeds | The Scientist

Revenge of the Weeds | The Scientist | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"If the situation wasn’t bad enough already, it appears to be snowballing. Weeds in nine different countries have independently developed resistance to multiple modes of action. Some stubborn survivors can now survive most of the chemicals used by farmers, and the infestations are spreading.

 

Last year, for example, farmers in Iowa reported infestations of waterhemp in their corn and soy fields. The weed has now encroached on 500 acres, and continues to survive treatments of glyphosate and six additional chemicals. The case is a rare example of a weed developing resistance to three chemical classes, each with a unique molecular target. Even more impressive, a biotype of Rigid Ryegrass growing in Victoria, Australia, is now resistant to four chemical classes. Only about 10 acres are impacted so far, but the weeds are predicted to spread."

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Organic farming growing; ND is No. 2 state

Organic farming growing; ND is No. 2 state | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Organic farming is the fastest growing farming segment in a decade. California leads the nation in organic cropland, followed by North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

The USDA also reported in 2008 that 45 states had certified organic farmland, but organic farming still accounted for less than 1 percent of the nation's cropland.

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Organic Seed Sources

Organic Seed Sources | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Organic seed sources must respect and promote ecological diversity and health to obtain desirable yields. Seed farmers encourage natural mating and evolution of strong seeds by breeding plants that perform well under local environmental conditions. Such seeds grow into plants well adapted to the local climate and inherently resistant to pests and disease. Naturally bred seeds also produce foods with increased nutritional value and taste."

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Regenerating Landscapes for a Sustainable Future

Regenerating Landscapes for a Sustainable Future | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Let's start by taking a look at the root of the problem. Production agriculture today is one of man imposing his will on nature.

 

The living biology in our soil has increased to the point that we no longer use synthetic fertilizer. This soil biology provides the plants with the nutrients they need. We do not use any fungicides or pesticides. A healthy ecosystem thrives on its own. Skeptics say we cannot feed the world with this return to natural based farming and ranching on large scales. That is simply not true. Our average corn yield is over 20 percent higher than the county average and we've seen strong net profits consistently for many years.

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USAID | Infographic: How to Feed the Future

USAID | Infographic: How to Feed the Future | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Poverty is a principal cause of hunger – it prevents people from having access to food and the tools they need to grow it. Natural disasters, conflict, lack of infrastructure, and poor farming practices also contribute to the growing problem of hunger as the world population increases.

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Tasmania to ban battery hen farming - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tasmania to ban battery hen farming - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Tasmania is to become the first Australian state to ban battery hen farming and will fast-track the phasing out of pigs in sow stalls.

 

The Government announced $2.5 million for animal welfare in yesterday's state budget, including a phase-out of battery farming and the fast-tracking of a planned ban on sow stalls by the middle of next year.

 

Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green says the Government will immediately ban any future battery hen operation and cap the existing number of pens in production.

The Government says it will help farmers transition away from battery hen and sow stalls in response to a growing consumer preference for products that are sensitive to animal welfare.

 

Lyn White from Animals Australia says it is a significant first step for Australia and follows the European Union battery hen ban at the start of this year.

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90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayer's Bee-Decimating Pesticide

90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayer's Bee-Decimating Pesticide | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

... "Bayer's neonicotinoid pesticides, which now coat upwards of 90 percent of US corn seeds and seeds of increasing portions of other major crops like soy, have emerged as a likely trigger for colony collapse disorder."

 

... What if a farmer wants to opt out, to plant seeds free of neonicotinoids? Good luck. According to a Pesticide Action Network press release I received today, farmers in the midwest are complaining that it's virtually impossible to buy untreated seeds. In other words, farmers there have two choices: either pay up for Bayer's poison, or exit the corn-growing business.

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Factory Farming in America, Part 3: The Environmental Impact of Factory Farming | Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Factory Farming in America, Part 3: The Environmental Impact of Factory Farming | Ian Somerhalder Foundation | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Land: In the US, more than 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to create cropland. The cropland is used grow grain fed to farmed animals. Of all the agricultural land in the US, 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed them; this is almost half the total land mass of the lower 48 states! Worldwide, a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass is used to raise animals for food; this includes land used for grazing and to grow feed crops.

 

Water: Factory farms use massive amounts of water. It is estimated that nearly half of all the water in the US is used in the process of raising animals for food. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat and only 25 gallons to produce one pound of wheat. It takes over 4,000 gallons of water to produce a day’s food for one meat-eater compared to 300 gallons for a day’s food for a person who eats a plant-based diet.

 

Crops: In the US, as much as 70 percent of the grain harvest and 80 percent of the corn harvest are fed to livestock and poultry. Approximately two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat. Throughout the world, cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population on Earth.

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Factory Farming in America, Part 5: The Life of a Dairy Cow | Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Factory Farming in America, Part 5: The Life of a Dairy Cow | Ian Somerhalder Foundation | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"When we hear the word “dairy,” many of us picture a large red barn, gentle rolling hills covered in bright green grass, and cows grazing in the countryside, enjoying the sunshine and a gentle breeze. The media and the dairy industry perpetuate this myth by bombarding us with images of happy cows in California. The truth is that the majority of the dairy products in this country come from cows that are raised in a factory farming environment, where they rarely see the light of day and they suffer from chronic health problems caused by the way the industry operates."

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Urban Agriculture Part I: What Cuba Can Teach Us

Urban Agriculture Part I: What Cuba Can Teach Us | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Using Cuba as its example, the article explores how design must make alternative food systems visible before they can be viable.

 

In the 1990s, in the face of a massive food shortage, the citizens of Havana did the only thing they could – take their lives into their own hands. On balconies, terraces, backyards, and empty lots, neighbors began planting beans, tomatoes, bananas – anything they could, anywhere they could. In the span of two years, there were gardens and farms in every neighborhood in Havana.

 

The government took notice, and instead of squelching these efforts, facilitated them. In 1994, the newly formed Urban Agriculture Department undertook a few key actions: (1) it adapted city law to the planning concept of Usufruct, making it not just legal, but free to adapt unused, public land into food production plots; (2) it trained a network of extension agents, community members who monitor, educate, and encourage gardeners in their neighborhoods; (3) created “Seed Houses” (agricultural stores) to provide resources/information; and (4) established an infrastructure of direct-sale Farmers’ Markets to make these gardens financially viable.

 

By 1998 there were over 8,000 officially recognized gardens in Havana – from individually run plots to large State-run estates – all organic (by necessity, no pesticides were being imported) and producing about 50% of the country’s vegetables.

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local food markets | The Best & Worst States for Locally Grown Food | Rodale News

local food markets | The Best & Worst States for Locally Grown Food | Rodale News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
How does your state rank in terms of local food markets? Read more at Rodale.com.

 

To come up with the ranking system, the organization looked at data from the United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Census, and other government data that compared the number of community-supported agriculture(CSA) programs and farmer's markets to a state's population. They used this metric to measure the availability of locally produced foods in each state.

 

Vermont topped the list, boasting 42 farmer's markets or CSA programs per 100,000 residents. Iowa, Montana, Maine, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho rounded out the top 10 most locavore-friendly states.

 

The states ranking worst in terms of availability of locally produced food include Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Arizona, and Florida. Florida came in dead last. The state offers just two CSAs or farmer's markets per 100,000 residents.

 

See the Entire List

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Grocery's rooftop garden a supermarket first

Grocery's rooftop garden a supermarket first | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The only supermarket in downtown New Orleans is the first grocery in the country to develop an aeroponic urban farm on its roof.

 

What exactly is an aeroponic urban garden?


Think vertical instead of horizontal. The garden "towers" use water rather than soil, and allow plants to grow upward instead of outward. It was developed by a former Disney greenhouse manager, and is used at Disney properties, the Chicago O'Hare Airport Eco-Farm and on the Manhattan rooftop of Bell Book & Candle restaurant.


"This is very cutting edge for urban farming," Donny Rouse said. His company has named the farm "Roots on the Rooftop."


Via Alan Yoshioka
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Vietnam Organic Agriculture makes debut

Vietnam Organic Agriculture makes debut | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The first congress of the Vietnam Organic Agriculture Association (VOA) was held in Hanoi on May 22, electing a 19-member executive board for the 2012-2017...

 

By the end of 2009, IFOAM had certified 160 countries around the world in organic agriculture, with 37.2 million hectares of organic agriculture land or 0.9 percent of the world’s agriculture land.

 

In Vietnam , 14,000 hectares have been put under organic cultivation, accounting for 0.14 percent of the country’s agricultural land. Of this, aquaculture makes up 7,000 hectares. Thirteen producers are qualified for organic recognition and they are producing shrimps, basa fish, tea and cashew nuts.

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Biodiversity projects improve lives in China | UNDP

Biodiversity projects improve lives in China | UNDP | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), identified 18 villages in the area to carry out community-based projects aimed at conserving biodiversity and improving local people’s...

 

Backed by US$1.8 million in grants awarded by the EU-China Biodiversity Programme, and with a total budget of US$3.5 million, this four-year project has seen a dramatic shift in the way people balance their short and long-term needs with those of future generations.  According to monitoring and statistics from the nearby protected areas, individual trespassing has decreased significantly.

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Egypt: UAE backs agriculture projects

Egypt: UAE backs agriculture projects | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A United Arab Emirates firm has agreed to invest up to $3bn in Egyptian land reclamation “mega-projects” that would turn 100,000 acres into agricultural fields, according to the website of Egypt’s General Authority for Investment.

 

Egyptian minister of agriculture Mohammad Reda Ismail announced earlier this week the UAE’s Al Thaherah firm would turn 20,000 acres a year over the next five years into chicken farms as part of a massive agricultural project called Toshka, near Lake Nasser in the upper Nile River region of southern Egypt.

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Land grabbers: Africa's hidden revolution

Land grabbers: Africa's hidden revolution | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Vast swaths of Africa are being bought up by oligarchs, sheikhs and agribusiness corporations.

 

... "Hearing his testimony of ancestral connection with this patch of forest, and his determination to keep it, I was struck by how most westerners have lost any sense of place and attachment to the land. I move around all the time and buy and sell houses without feeling ties to the soil. But here in Gambella, their land is like their blood. It is everything. And to lose it would be to lose their identity."

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Bringing Garden Fresh into Food Banks

Bringing Garden Fresh into Food Banks | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Communities across North America are finding new ways to combine sustainability, volunteerism, and teaching about food to bring fresh and nutritious food to hungry children and families.

 

When people think of food banks, they often think of non-perishable food drives. Stacks of boxed mac and cheese, tons of canned foods, big bags of pasta and rice. Those foods certainly do fill bellies, which is good, but some organizations are stepping up their efforts to ensure more balanced nutrition and fresh foods for food insecure families. By thinking outside the box and engaging with local communities, schools, and farmers, these amazing programs are revolutionizing the food bank system.

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Eating the planet - Feeding the world without factory farming

Eating the planet - Feeding the world without factory farming | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF)...

 

Findings:- 

 

Feeding the world in 2050 is possible without using the most intensive forms of animal and crop production or a massive expansion of land for farming

 

Humane methods of farming animals can provide sufficient food to feed a growing world population

 

Providing sufficient food for all would be helped greatly if rich countries adopt healthier, lower meat-based diets and food is distributed more equally

 

Sufficient food can be provided in 2050 without further deforestation.

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Seattle Creating Massive Edible Forest Filled with Free Food | Wake Up World

Seattle Creating Massive Edible Forest Filled with Free Food | Wake Up World | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Taking the urban garden to the next level, Seattle, Washington has officially broken ground on a dedicated seven acre area of city land set to be converted into an “edible forest” that will produce free food for the city’s residents and visitors, human or otherwise.

 

According to the Beacon Food Forest’s website, the project’s mission is “to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food and rehabilitate our local ecosystem.” The perennial permaculture forest project, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., will eventually be self-sustaining, much like the way a forest in nature works. 

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