Post Tagged with: "farming"

Welcome to the Acid Age

Welcome to the Acid Age

From a press release issued by the United States Geological Survey:

Human use of Earth’s natural resources is making the air, oceans, freshwaters, and soils more acidic, according to a U.S. Geological Survey – University of Virginia study available online in the journal, Applied Geochemistry.

This comprehensive review, the first on this topic to date, found the mining and burning of coal, the mining and smelting of metal ores, and the use of nitrogen fertilizer are the major causes of chemical oxidation processes that generate acid in the Earth-surface environment.

These widespread activities have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing the acidity of oceans; produced acid rain that has increased the acidity of freshwater bodies and soils; produced drainage from mines that has increased the acidity of freshwater streams and groundwater; and added nitrogen to crop lands that has increased the acidity of soils.

The United States Geological Survey: Earth’s Acidity Rising – Major Causes and Shifting Trends Examined to Guide Future Mitigation Efforts

(via Doc Searls)

You can find the study here (I’ve not read it).

A few thoughts, assuming this study, and the description of i, is accurate:

1) I’ve argued for a while that even if global warming isn’t real, or if humans aren’t causing it, most of the tasks associated with trying to slow or stop it are still worth while (see: What If We Created a Better World for Nothing?). This study seems to confirm that.

2) I was skeptical about the value of organic farming, but this essay by Manuel Delanda convinced me that there is value there, if nothing else, in reducing dependence on external sources for fertilizers, therefore creating more resilience for organic farms (but I still think it’s an overhyped, poorly defined term mostly used by large corporations to bilk customers into paying more for food). This study presents another reason to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers.

February 29, 2012 4 comments
Jail Time for Gardening in Canada

Jail Time for Gardening in Canada

Becker Farm

Grist is calling this a trend, but doesn’t it take three times to make a trend?

Hey, remember the woman threatened with 93 days in jail for growing a garden in her front yard? She could have a cellmate! Dirk Becker of Lantzville, British Columbia turned his scraped-dry gravel pit of a property into a thriving organic farm, so of course he’s facing six months of jail time. Why? Well, the thing is, this farm was full of DIRT. You can’t have dirt in a yard! It’s unsanitary.

The Beckers were cited under Lantzville’s “unsightly premises” bylaw, for having piles of dirt and manure on the property. As the Beckers wryly point out, the letter came on the same day that 8,000 compost bins were distributed to residents in their region. So, to recap: Gravel pit: not unsightly. Beautiful farm with dirt in it: unsightly. Fertilizer in bin in kitchen: civic responsibility. Fertilizer actually out fertilizing: filth!

As it turns out, Lantzville has a bylaw that residentially zoned plots can’t grow food at all — even the no-dirt kind! — whether or not they’re farming commercially. The Beckers’ 2.5-acre property is zoned as residential, so they essentially are not allowed to eat anything that comes out of their garden. Ah, local government, always improving lives.

Grist: Jail time for gardening: Now officially a trend

July 21, 2011 1 comment
The Rise of Farmpunk

The Rise of Farmpunk

Farmpunk

Mr. Jones, 30, and his wife, Alicia, 27, are among an emerging group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career. Many shun industrial, mechanized farming and list punk rock, Karl Marx and the food journalist Michael Pollan as their influences. The Joneses say they and their peers are succeeding because of Oregon’s farmer-foodie culture, which demands grass-fed and pasture-raised meats. [...]

The problem, the young farmers say, is access to land and money to buy equipment. Many new to farming also struggle with the basics.

In Eugene, Ore., Kasey White and Jeff Broadie of Lonesome Whistle Farm are finishing their third season of cultivating heirloom beans with names like Calypso, Jacob’s Cattle and Dutch Ballet.

They have been lauded — and even consulted — by older farmers nearby for figuring out how to grow beans in a valley dominated by grass seed farmers.

But finding mentors has been difficult. There is a knowledge gap that has been referred to as “the lost generation” — people their parents’ age may farm but do not know how to grow food. The grandparent generation is no longer around to teach them.

New York Times: In New Food Culture, a Young Generation of Farmers Emerges

(via Eric Schiller)

March 16, 2011 0 comments
Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

Acres of vacant land are eyed for urban agriculture under an ambitious plan that aims to turn the struggling Rust Belt city into a green mecca.

Reporting from Detroit – On the city’s east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.

Cottonwood trees grow through the collapsed roofs of homes stripped clean for scrap metal. Wild grasses carpet the rusty shells of empty factories, now home to pheasants and wild turkeys.

This green veil is proof of how far this city has fallen from its industrial heyday and, to a small group of investors, a clear sign. Detroit, they say, needs to get back to what it was before Henry Ford moved to town: farmland. [...]

It is the size and scope of Hantz Farms that makes the project unique. Although company officials declined to pinpoint how many acres they might use, they have been quoted as saying that they plan to farm up to 5,000 acres within the Motor City’s limits in the coming years, raising organic lettuces, trees for biofuel and a variety of other things.

LA Times: Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

(via Brainsturbator)

December 28, 2009 0 comments
Former Poor Farm will help feed county’s poor

Former Poor Farm will help feed county’s poor

A blackberry-infested plot of land once farmed by indigent people at the former Multnomah County Poor Farm is being reclaimed to feed the poor again.

Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen is spearheading a campaign to convert one to two acres of county surplus land north of McMenamins Edgefield Manor in Troutdale into a temporary organic farm to combat hunger. Volunteers will harvest enough fresh produce this growing season to feed 240 people for 24 weeks, Cogen estimated.

Cogen will ask fellow members of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on May 28 to approve $22,000 in county funds to buy materials. But he’s already secured commitments for private donors to repay $15,000 of that, and expects the rest of that sum will be raised privately.

Portland Tribune: Former Poor Farm will help feed county’s poor

May 29, 2009 0 comments
Markets, Antimarkets and the Fate of the Nutrient Cycles

Markets, Antimarkets and the Fate of the Nutrient Cycles

From the point of view of this essay, that is, as far as the distinction between markets and antimarkets is concerned, the splitting open of the nutrient cycles had important consequences. Every input to food production which came from outside the farm (not only fertilizers but also insecticides and herbicides) was one more point of entry for antimarkets, and hence, it implied a further loss of control by the food producers. While a century and a half ago farms produced most of what they needed (and hence ran on tight nutrient cycles), today American farms receive up to seventy percent of their inputs (including seed) from the outside. (7) Worse yet, the advent of direct genetic manipulation has allowed large corporations to intensify this dependency.

Although most of the early technical innovations in biotechnology were created by small companies engaged in market relations, antimarket organizations, using the economic power which their large size gives them, readily absorbed these innovators through vertical and horizontal integration. Moreover, these antimarkets were in many cases the same ones which already owned seed and fertilizer/pesticide divisions. Hence, rather than transferring genes for pest-resistance into new crop plants (thus freeing food producers from the need to buy pesticides) these corporations permanently fixed dependence on chemicals into the genetic base of the crops.

Ars Electronica: Markets, Antimarkets and the Fate of the Nutrient Cycles

This is the best case I’ve read for organic farming: a reduction in outside dependencies (ie, resilience).

May 27, 2009 0 comments