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Build a $300 underground greenhouse for year-round gardening (Video)

Build a $300 underground greenhouse for year-round gardening (Video) | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Can't afford a glass greenhouse? Check out how to build your own underground greenhouse for cheaper and for growing veggies 365 days a year, even in cold climates.
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Time to explore the native veggie

Time to explore the native veggie | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Growing indigenous vegetables is on the decline in India – despite increases in vegetable production as a whole. Experts fear that this could have disastrous consequences for the population’s food situation.

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As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth

As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Across the Caribbean, food imports have become a budget-busting problem, prompting one of the world’s most fertile regions to reclaim its agricultural past.
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Community Spirit: Residents rally to save historic pub

Community Spirit: Residents rally to save historic pub | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Residents and real ale fans have flocked together in a bid to raise the money needed to safeguard their much loved 'local', The Fox and Goose, Hebden Bridge
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Pierre Rabhi: “Il n’y a plus de paysans, uniquement des industriels de la terre”

Pierre Rabhi: “Il n’y a plus de paysans, uniquement des industriels de la terre” | Agroecology | Scoop.it
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Bill Mollison and one of my key ‘Doing Stuff’ moments | Transition Network

Bill Mollison and one of my key ‘Doing Stuff’ moments | Transition Network | Agroecology | Scoop.it
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15 Seed Saving Initiatives Protecting Biodiversity for Future Generations

15 Seed Saving Initiatives Protecting Biodiversity for Future Generations | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Food Tank and SEHN are highlighting 15 important seed-saving projects across the globe that are helping preserve global agricultural biodiversity.
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Seed saving initiatives around the world

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Putting the Culture Back in Agriculture: Reviving Native Food and Farming Traditions

Putting the Culture Back in Agriculture: Reviving Native Food and Farming Traditions | Agroecology | Scoop.it

"At one point 'agriculture' was about the culture of food. Losing that culture, in favor of an American cultural monocrop, joined with an agricultural monocrop, puts us in a perilous state..." says food and Native activist Winona LaDuke.[i]

 

Her lament is an agribusiness executive's dream. The CEO of the H.J. Heinz Company said, "Once television is there, people, whatever shade, culture, or origin, want roughly the same things."[ii] The same things are based on the same technology, same media sources, same global economy, and same food.

 

Together with the loss of cultural diversity, the growth of industrial agriculture has led to an enormous depletion in biodiversity. Throughout history, humans have cultivated about 7,000 species of plants. In the last century, three-quarters of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops have been lost. Thirty crops now provide 95% of our food needs, with rice, wheat, maize, and potato alone providing 60%. Eighty-five percent of the apple varieties that once existed in the US have been lost. Vast fields of genetically identical crops are much more susceptible to pests, necessitating increased pesticide use. The lack of diversity also endangers the food supply, as an influx of pests or disease can wipe out enormous quantities of crops in one fell swoop.

 

Native peoples' efforts to protect their crop varieties and agricultural heritage in the US go back 500 years to when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Today, Native communities throughout the US are reclaiming and reviving land, water, seeds, and traditional food and farming practices, thereby putting the culture back in agriculture and agriculture back in local hands.

 

One such initiative is the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, which is recovering healthy stewardship of local tribes' original land base. They are harvesting and selling traditional foods such as wild rice, planting gardens and raising greenhouses, and growing food for farm-to-school and feeding-our-elders programs. They are reintroducing native sturgeon to local waters as well as working to stop pesticide spraying at nearby industrial farms. They are also strengthening relationships with food sovereignty projects around the country. Winona LaDuke, the founding director of the project, told us, "My father used to say, 'I don't want to hear your philosophy if you can't grow corn'... I now grow corn."

 

Another revival effort involves buffalo herds. In the 1800s, European-American settlers drove wild buffalo close to extinction, decimating a source of survival for many Native communities. Just one example of the resurgence is the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative, a cooperative of small-family buffalo caretakers, on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The cooperative sees its work as threefold, to "restore the buffalo, restore the native ecology on Pine Ridge, and help renew the sacred connection between the Lakota people and the buffalo nation." At the national level, the Inter-Tribal Bison Cooperative is a network of 56 tribal bison programs from around the country with a collective herd of over 15,000.

 

In New Mexico, Native communities are organizing a wealth of initiatives. Around the state, they have started educational and production farms, youth-elder farming exchanges, buffalo revitalization programs, seed-saving initiatives, herb-based diabetes treatment programs, a credit union that invests in green and sustainable projects, and more. Schools like the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and the Santa Fe Indian School - along with grammar schools, high schools, and non-profit programs - have developed agricultural education programs. The Traditional Native American Farmers' Association helps farmers get back onto the land, hosts workshops on seed saving and agricultural techniques, and has a youth program.

 

The annual Sustainable Food and Seed Sovereignty Symposium at the Tesuque [Indian] Pueblo in northern New Mexico brings together farmers, herbalists, natural dyers, healers, cooks, seed savers, educators, water protectors, and community organizers. From the 2006 symposium came the Declaration of Seed Sovereignty, which denounced genetically engineered seeds and corporate ownership of Native seeds and crops as "a continuation of genocide upon indigenous people and as malicious and sacrilegious acts toward our ancestry, culture, and future generations."

 

In addition to the symposium, the Tesuque Pueblo also hosts Tesuque Natural Farms, which grows vegetables, herbs, grains, fruit trees, and cover crops, including varieties long lost to the region. The project is building a Native seed library. The overarching goal is to make the Pueblo autonomous in both food and seeds. Emigdio Ballon, Quechua farmer and geneticist at Tesuque Natural Farm, said, "The only way we can get our autonomy is when we have the resources in our own hands, when we don't have to buy from seed companies."

 

The farm provides fresh foods to the senior center, sells at the farmers' markets, and trains residents to begin farming themselves. The farm also grows medicinal herbs to treat HIV, diabetes, and cancer, and makes biofertilizer from plants. The preschoolers at the Head Start program garden; grammar school students are beginning to, as well.

 

People from across the nation come to Tesuque Natural Farms to study agricultural production and to take workshops on pruning, beekeeping, poultry, soil fertility, composting, and other topics. Soon the farm hopes to create a research and education center, where people can come for three to six months.

 

Nayeli Guzman, a Mexica woman who worked at the farm, said, "What we're doing is very simple. These ideas are not an alternative for us, they're just a way of life... We need to all work together as land-based people.

 

"Creator is not exclusive, so there's no reason we should be," she said. "They tell us, 'The more biodiversity you have, the richer your soil is going to be.' It's like that with people. The more different kinds of people you have, the more able we're going to be to survive. We can't compartmentalize ourselves. That's what industrial agriculture does."


Via Giri Kumar, Liya Dejene
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Small Scale Farming: Simple, Successful, Sustainable

Small Scale Farming: Simple, Successful, Sustainable | Agroecology | Scoop.it

On a recent visit to Japan, I was struck by the remarkable success of smallholder farming. I left the country convinced that subsistence farming can eradicate Africa's hunger crisis.
I wade into the paddy fields, nestled in the gentle mountains, hugged by the forests, along with Seiji Sugeno-san and his family. Rice occupies a historical place in Japanese history, society, and political economy. But for me it was my first experience of planting. The earth feels warm and the soft clay soils wrap around the feet in a tender clasp.

Sugeno-san is the president of the Fukushima Organic Farmers' network. His rugged frame advertises his dedication, hard work and love of the land. He embraces me like an old friend. I am from the country of Mandela, who is an icon in his community, admired for his integrity, sacrifice and compassion for the oppressed of the world.

We are barely 50 kilometers from the epicentre of the Fukushima meltdown. I am here to pay my respects to a community that has suffered the traumatic hardships of nuclear conflagration. Across the region, farmers dumped millions of gallons of milk and tons of ripe vegetables, unable to sell their products legally on the open market. Fukushima's 70,000 commercial farmers lost billions of dollars in income.

But Sugeno-san does not dwell on the past. He talks matter-of-factly about how the community is pulling itself up.

Yet all around us is the evidence of the radiation threat. A Geiger meter to measure radioactive levels is an ever-present companion. He waves it around ceaselessly. The levels fluctuate wildly as we encounter 'hotspots' higher up in the mountains and forests that surround this region, where they are more concentrated.

Sugeno-san is a philosopher. His love affair with the land is poetry. "These trees are planted by our ancestors. These 'tambos' -- the orderly descending terraces of rice paddy fields -- are blessings from our communal mountains and forests. We smallholder farmers are the guardians of this Earth. It is our ancestral connection with their spirits. We pay our respects by respecting the land." I realise that this deep and profound link between our planet and our humanity is being shattered by our human greed and ever-rising consumption.

Here, even in these mountainous areas, his fields are organized and more productive than any agro-industrial farm I have seen. His four hectares gives the highest yields, and all of it is based on a sustainable organic farming model. A motley bunch of urban students and activists have arrived to help him. I am not sure whether we are a hindrance or help, but his humour is infectious. I think he knows that he is educating us on what is important in life. He is a born teacher.

It feels so good to connect back to nature. The waters are abuzz with life, insects and sparkling green fluorescent frogs. The government has recommended that farming be suspended. But Sugeno-san is a farmer, the land is his canvas and planting his paintbrush that brings life. I sense he would die if he did not touch the earth with his hands each day. "The farmer is the bridge between humankind and nature. Disrupt that bond and the balance of our world is destroyed," he reflects quietly, almost to himself.

As we spread through the paddy fields I see a box with technical measurement devices connected to the ground. "What is this?" I ask.

"It is a university experiment that measures the levels of radioactivity in the water and eventually in the food. We can be contaminated through the air or the food we eat or water we drink. But we must fix our soils: only working it will help it to heal," he says.

I see why smallholder farmers like him are the true guardians of our planet. They breathe and feel the land. They are the extension of nature. But they have perfected productivity. A simple, inexpensive mechanical machine plants a hectare of rice seedlings in a few hours. He teaches me to use it in a few minutes. I wonder why we have not prioritised linking farmers with his expertise to farmers in Africa. Unlike a consultant or expert, he has learnt his skills in the fields, not a classroom.

Seeing my interest, he herds us into his farm truck and we go to the local organic composting facility.

"We do not use chemical fertilisers here. We have aggregated cattle-rearing in our community and use the cow dung as the base of our organic fertilisers. Linking to local businesses, they collect natural vegetable waste and produce several tons a day. It helps the soils recover their strength, and we build social solidarity as the foundation of our community."

I visit a local co-operative centre the community has established, and witness the social solidarity they have built at a grassroots level. I recognise the human values that Nelson Mandela represents in their actions. I wonder why we have not done more to build human dignity. No-one is left behind. I reflect on the influence Mandela had on my life, when he powerfully said, "Fighting poverty is not an act of charity. It is an act of justice."

Why have our leaders forgotten this most profound wisdom? Why have we not planted the seeds of social solidarity, human dignity and compassion that are the legacy of Nelson Mandela?

That evening we gather to hear the tales of a village elder recounting cultural stories of the ancestors. It reminds me of my time spent with Mandela - the simplicity of village life in India and Africa. The stories are expressive and traditional, but with the underlying morality we have forgotten.

As we share a supper, I understand how deeply entrenched nutrition is in Japan. I did not see a single obese person around the table or in my journey here. The meal has an astonishing variety of delicious vegetable dishes that have been planted locally, with the appropriate carbohydrate mix, usually rice, and fish or animal protein. Culture has developed a tradition of balanced nutritious diets that has ensured that Japan has largely resisted the western junk food invasion.

I think about what we need back home. We need farmers like Sugeno-san to connect to farmers in Africa. He demonstrates that organic farming can be done at scale and be productive. Smallholder farmers, especially women, who produce 80 percent of our food, do not need charity. They need legal land ownership, the support to build their own seed banks and finance for power, irrigation and water in the first few years. Smallholder farmers are the most valuable part of the market, of the entrepreneurial value chain.

Yet they are largely excluded. They are the unrecognized foundation of the market system. Many have said to me, "Help us improve their productivity through provision of extension support, and ensure that we are able to connect to the market and keep the major part of the value -- then we will feed Africa and the world."

The next day in a GAIN-hosted workshop on agriculture and nutrition, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania says in his keynote speech:

I know that my ancestors who lie in the ground will not allow me to take the land that belongs to my people and give it away. We need smart partnerships that ensure that value goes to the smallholder farmer also. We also need to change our eating habits, even if it goes against what our tradition teaches us. Science has shown us that it is not just the amount of food we eat but the quality of the food that is important. Our mothers and children must get the right nutrients to be healthy and productive.

Professor Ruth Obiang, speaking on a panel, remarks,

You look good, Mr. President, because your mother and your wife feed you. Talk to your counterparts in Africa that nutrition and food security are two sides of one coin. Make them understand that women smallholder farmers are the centre of the agriculture value chain. If they go on strike, Africa will starve.

I return from Japan convinced that we can make malnutrition history. As Obiang said, "I hate to see an African child starving on our TV screens. African children are beautiful when they have the right nutrition. Let us work together to eradicate stunting as the poster child of Africa."

I completely concur.


Via Giri Kumar, Liya Dejene
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Indigenous methods of food preparation: what is their impact on food security and nutrition? | Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) - FAO

Indigenous methods of food preparation: what is their impact on food security and nutrition? | Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) - FAO | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Indigenous methods of food preparation: what is their impact on food security and nutrition? | Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) - FAO
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How a Manchester co-op is getting the food revolution moving

How a Manchester co-op is getting the food revolution moving | Agroecology | Scoop.it
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Réforme de la PAC : un tournant dans l’avenir de notre modèle agricole | Mouvement Colibris

Réforme de la PAC : un tournant dans l’avenir de notre modèle agricole | Mouvement Colibris | Agroecology | Scoop.it
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Marion Cotillard et Pierre Rabhi : “Nous avons le pouvoir de changer la société”

Marion Cotillard et Pierre Rabhi : “Nous avons le pouvoir de changer la société” | Agroecology | Scoop.it
Amis et militants écologistes, l'actrice oscarisée et le philisophe paysan partagent leur point de vue sur l'écologie. Interview croisée
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Pierre Rabhi, un algérien d'origine, devenu le maître à penser de l'agriculture écologique

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Sobriete heureuse

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