The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Deadline November 15: Protect Your Local Food Sources!

We’ve been warned. Over and over again. By the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). By the John Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future (CLF). Industrial agriculture is killing the planet and making us sick.

So how has the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) responded to these warnings? By trying to make it tougher, not easier, for small, local, sustainable food growers and producers to survive.

Unless changes are made to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), your local farms, farmers markets and food hubs could be in trouble.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has published the Top 10 Reasons farmers and consumers need to let the FDA know that these rules need to be rewritten in a way that promotes, not threatens, local, sustainable agriculture.

Food writer Tom Philpott just came out with a list of four foods that could disappear if the FSMA isn’t revised.

The deadline for sending comments to the FDA is November 15. Please take action today!

More here and here

TAKE ACTION BY NOVEMBER 15: Tell the FDA: The FSMA puts small and mid-scale farmers and processors at a competitive disadvantage against corporate farmers and producers who can more easily absorb costs, fees and fines. Please revise the FSMA to level the playing field for small growers.


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Farmer to Farmer Program Spearheading Agroecology Efforts in Nicaragua

Carmen Herrera writes about a program in Nicaragua which “encourages an appreciation of local knowledge to reestablish food sovereignty. ”

In an area carved into small farms known as minifundios, where each lot measures 0.75 to 1.5 Ha (1.8 to 3.7 acres), participants in the project called Farmer to Farmer (Campesino a Campesino) are spearheading agroecology efforts in Nicaragua. Crop diversification is one method for which small-scale farmers are using their skills and creativity to “take advantage of the soil,” said Leonel Calero, an 18-year veteran of agroecology practices and program promoter in El Mojón, about 37 kilometers (22 miles) from Managua, in the municipality of Catarina, Masaya.

They are employing new techniques rather than burning the land, and use crop residue and weeds to their advantage, Calero explained. “It’s a matter of conscience, to understand the earth needs care, that it can die but it can also live if we treat it well,” he said. “Everything is in nature as long as we use those resources from our farm and from our communities.” Continue reading

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Love What You Do

Harvey Mackay emphasizes the importance of loving what you do — no matter what your age:

 Donna Frantz’s greatest skill isn’t the organic farming that has dominated her life for the last 16 years. It’s the passion for living her dream and working tirelessly with energy and dedication.
At age 81, she is not about to stop learning and doing new things. You read that right – age 81.
Frantz and her husband, Leon, had started a seasonal farmers market that eventually grew into a year-round florist and gift shop which they operated for 21 years. However, she really wanted a farm. After looking for 19 years, a farmer finally asked her if she was still interested in buying, telling her he would sell the next year. “I’ve already waited 19 years,” she told him. “I can wait for one more.”
So at age 65, when most folks are seriously contemplating retirement, they moved to the farm – her “25 acres of gold.” I recently spent four hours with Frantz as she proudly showed me her farm. As long as she can physically work the farm and her mind stays sharp, there is no desire to retire. Continue reading

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Indian Farmers Learn From Past Mistakes

Tan Cheng Li writes about a growing number of farmers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu who are returning to the old way of chemical-free cultivation of crops:

YONG Weng Thing was amazed when he saw the field of spinach. Being a farmer himself, he knows good quality stuff when he sees it and quickly helped himself to the greens. A bunch of spinach in hand, he gestured a thumbs up to R. Venkatrasa, owner of the organic farm in a village in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
“Very good, very healthy,” quipped Yong. Showing me the leaves, he added: “See this layer of oil under the leaf? It helps repel insects. You don’t get this in vegetables grown using conventional methods.”
The farm was one of several stops for a group of 15 Malaysians on a trip to observe natural farming practices in Tamil Nadu. The visit was put together by the Consumer Association of Penang and on the trip were farmers who grow vegetables, sweet potato, mango, papaya and strawberry, as well as wholesalers and one agriculture researcher.
They hope to learn from the past mistakes of Indian farmers, who had relied on hybrid seed varieties, synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides which eventually robbed the soil of its nutrients and biological life, resulting in poor yield.
In Tamil Nadu, a growing number of farmers are undoing the mistake of the past by returning to the old way of chemical-free cultivation. Over the course of four days, the Malaysians observed how these farmers use home-made fertilisers formulated from farm waste, natural pesticides concocted from plants, and various techniques to grow produce with minimal water and without relying on costly, harmful chemicals.
Indian farmers are gradually going back to the sans-chemical traditional way of farming. At this market in Trichy.

A market in Tiruchirapalli, a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Some Indian farmers are going back to the traditional way of farming, one that does not rely on synthetic chemicals. — TAN CHENG LI/The Star Continue reading


Chhattisgarh state launches “Organic Farming Mission” in India

This is how government policy influences the market in a positive way.  Imagine how much different our agricultural landscape would look in the US if we adopted the same practices on a large scale.

RAIPUR: In a bid to boost organic farming in state, Chhattisgarh government, on Friday, launched an ‘organic farming mission’ in districts of Bastar, Bilaspur and Ambikapur. Under the mission, the government would provide infrastructure, certification and knowledge to farmers, who opt for organic farming.
Speaking on the occasion, state agriculture minister, Chandrashekhar Sahu, said the mission would benefit farmers, who diversify to fertilizer-free farming.
He said since the demand of organic food was increasing in markets outside the state, the department would provide required certification to enable farmers to get the best price for their produce.

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VEGGIE cooperative established to mitigate effects of BP oil spill on Vietnamese community in New Orleans

VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative is comprised of local farmers and fisherfolk dedicated to providing the highest quality local produce and seafood to the Greater New Orleans area and beyond.

VEGGI Farmers Cooperative was established following the effects of the BP oil spill on the Vietnamese community in New Orleans. With many community members losing their jobs because of the spill, VEGGI was developed to provide sustainable economic opportunities in urban agriculture. In late 2011, we trained 12 community members to utilize aquaponics and greenhouse technology through a curriculum developed in partnership with JOB1 and Delgado Community College. We then provided microgrants to these community members so that they can build these systems on their property, using them to grow fresh, quality produce.

Our produce is grown naturally without use of chemical pesticides, using both traditional inground farming as well as aquaponics. Greenhouses are used to enable year-round growing of various greens.

Our goal is to have all of our farmers to supplement their pre-BP oil spill income while providing the best quality, fresh, local produce to local markets and restaurants.


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Organic Innovation Award Announced

UKLandandFarms announces new Innovation Award.

Launched by organic sector watchdog the Soil Association, the award is for those who excel in low impact farming and growing.

The winner will receive a cash prize of £3000, with two runner-up prizes of £1000 each.

The Innovation Award, made in association with Nesta, the Innovation Foundation, recognises the achievement of individuals, teams, companies or organisations that are:

– Pioneering practical new approaches to farming and growing;

– Achieving real benefits for people, the planet or animal welfare;

– Promoting sustainable agriculture in line with organic principles.

The award is open to anyone doing these things, including producers, community groups, scientists, IT developers, farming consultants, designers and engineers. Continue reading