Permaculture being taught to Timorese coffee farmers and in national education … – ABC Local

ABC Local

Permaculture being taught to Timorese coffee farmers and in national education
ABC Local
The coffee country of Timor Leste is a world away from the birthplace of permaculture in northern Tasmania but it's taking off there in a big way. The Timor-based NGO Permatil is working with the Timorese Government to train coffee bean farmers in …

Good Reads | Can We Level the Playing Field for Coffee Growers?

Check out Lucas Oliver Oswald’s article (August 12, 2015) in Grist: “Can we level the playing field for coffee growers?”  Oswald does an analysis about the changing coffee industry and the rise of direct trade. CAN affiliated researcher Dr. Christopher Bacon (Santa Clara University) was interviewed for the article and raised caution about direct trade. Read the article here.

Read about CAN’s alternative trade model — AgroEco® Coffee — operating under principles of participation and transparency. We build relationships to ensure that what’s behind the cup of coffee is quality of life and quality of bean.

Guest Blog: Pollinators & the rigged neonic seed market

Farmers are no different from any buyer – they want to know what they’re buying, how much it costs and its expected performance. But in the brave new world of agricultural seeds, where multiple traits and technology are stacked like Microsoft’s operating system, it’s becoming more and more difficult for farmers to separate out what is really needed and discover how much each piece is costing them. In the case of neonicotinoid (neonic) seed coatings used as a pesticide, both the effectiveness and costs are somewhat of a mystery, according to a new paper published by IATP today.

As farm income is expected to drop more than 30 percent from last year, farmers are carefully examining all input costs to see where they can save. With their financial cost and actual effectiveness unclear, neonic seed coatings may be one of those places to cut costs. But the real cost of neonics likely goes well beyond the input price. A growing body of science directly implicates neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides as a contributor to the significant decline of bees and other pollinators. Neonics are applied in multiple ways in agriculture and horticulture but are most prevalent as a seed coating material for commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Based on convincing and mounting evidence, beekeepers, scientists and other individuals concerned about pollinators are working together to spur regulatory action and shifts in the marketplace to reduce the use of neonics.

In May 2015, the White House issued an interagency National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators.  The strategy focuses on efforts to restore honey bee loss, increase monarch butterfly populations and restore pollinator habitats. But the White House plan virtually ignores the on-the-ground farm economics that directly contribute to rising neonic use in seed coatings – specifically the role of a few large companies that have a stranglehold on the seed market. This concentrated market power in the seed industry has allowed a few multi-billion dollar companies like Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto to significantly limit U.S. farmers’ choices around seed coating.

In most cases the seed is coated with neonics whether wanted or not and our paper found that this lack of choice has made it difficult for farmers and their advisors to assess the actual value of these pesticides in crop production, or to understand their true financial and environmental costs. Most farmers understand the value of pollinators to plant growth and the food system and would not intentionally harm them.  However, without credible information on the risks or the freedom to choose their seed coating, farmers are left with little choice but to accept what their seed company delivers.   

The good news is that there are independent seed companies and dealers able today to provide farmers with information and choice around seed coatings. Representing a small segment of a highly consolidated industry, independent seed producers and dealers are able and willing to respond to market changes and farmer preferences associated with not only neonics, but also other areas of market interest, such as non-genetically modified organisms (GMOs), certified organic, cover and specialty crops. But a farmer’s ability to choose what kind of seed coatings they want as part of their crop management system should be the rule, not the exception, in the seed market. 

One of the most basic and necessary aspects of a free market is available and accurate information about products and their efficacy, cost and benefits. It should go without saying, then, that in a competitive marketplace, farmers should receive accurate, up-to-date information from researchers and other farmers at field days about the costs and benefits of neonics and other seed coatings related to both crop production and the environment, including pollinators. Yet, this isn’t happening with neonics or other seed coating ingredients today. We need credible, farmer-led field trials that compare different seed coatings and traits, and that information should be shared with other farmers. And those findings should be compared with the effectiveness and costs of other pest control approaches, such as integrated pest management (IPM), that have proven benefits and economic returns. Only with complete information and choice – about neonics and other crop management tools – can farmers make smart choices that allow them to produce crops and take care of pollinators and the environment.

You can read the full paper: Unknown Benefits, Hidden Costs: Neonicotinoid seed coatings, crop yields and pollinators.

– See more at:

Farmers are no different from any buyer – they want to know what they’re buying, how much it costs and its expected performance. But in the brave new world of agricultural seeds, where multiple traits and technology are stacked like Microsoft’s operating system, it’s becoming more and more difficult for farmers to separate out what is really needed and discover how much each piece is costing them.

In the case of neonicotinoid (neonic) seed coatings used as a pesticide, both the effectiveness and costs are somewhat of a mystery, according to a new paper published by IATP today.

read more

Permaculture and Soil: How to Follow Nature’s Lead to Grow Amazing Produce – One Green Planet

One Green Planet

Permaculture and Soil: How to Follow Nature's Lead to Grow Amazing Produce
One Green Planet
A couple of years later, upon discovering permaculture, I learned to look at things differently. Truth be known, my little garden beds had been pretty successful, with a harvest of green beans, snow peas, tomatillos, and radishes that all tasted

Latin America commits to policies that ‘boost agroecology’ – News from AgriCultures Network

Latin America commits to policies that 'boost agroecology'
News from AgriCultures Network
July 2015: Last week (24-26 June), governments, civil society and academics in Latin America and the Caribbean committed to promoting actions and policies across the region to 'boost agroecology and food sovereignty' as a way to strengthen family

Latin America commits to policies that ‘boost agroecology’ — AgriCultures Network – News from AgriCultures Network

Latin America commits to policies that 'boost agroecology' — AgriCultures Network
News from AgriCultures Network
July 2015: Last week (24-26 June), governments, civil society and academics in Latin America and the Caribbean committed to promoting actions and policies across the region to 'boost agroecology and food sovereignty' as a way to strengthen family

Notes from the Field: Ixhuatlan del Café, Veracruz, Mexico

In early June, CAN Executive Director Rose Cohen and Associate Director Heather Putnam traveled to the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico to meet with CAN network partners there and visit rural coffee-growing communities where CAN is working to promote food security and sovereignty in addition to women’s and youth economic empowerment. Heather filed this report:

Our visit included participating in a workshop with families working with CAN and VIDA’s food security and sovereignty project. Women and youth collectively reflected on what they had achieved in the last four years of the project and what they saw that still needs to be improved to further decrease seasonal hunger and strengthen livelihoods in their communities. The women shared their accomplishments, which include having more food available because of their vegetable gardens and all of the agroecological practices, like composting, that they had learned through the project. As one woman put it, “with all of the different food available, if there are no beans, then we can go get some squash or something else out of the garden and change our diet according to what is in the garden, and we eat well. Or we could trade foods that we have for foods that we don’t.”

However, the women pointed out that with the continuing crisis of the coffee leaf rust affecting their coffee yields even more this year than last, that things had been difficult in the last year and would probably be more challenging in the year to come. One woman said, “this year we will have to look for another way to earn money. I am going to take in sewing. That is what we have to do—be creative.” They also said that the situation will be difficult for a few years to come as they are replanting the affected coffee plants this year, but it will take at least three more years to have a coffee harvest from these plants.

The next day we were able to meet with AgroEco® coffee farmers from the Campesinos en la Lucha Agraria Cooperative and sign this year’s coffee importing contract based on the price and terms we had negotiated with them. They told us how they had invested the Women’s Unpaid Labor Fund from last year’s coffee harvest into the development of a women-centered agroecological coffee brand called Femcafe, which they will market locally in Mexico.

Finally we were able to visit the CAN-supported school garden in the high school in the community of Ocotitlan. There we met the graduating class of seniors who had built the school garden in its new location on land donated by a local farmer. The students showed us the amazing diversity of plants in the garden and shared the skills they had learned, like production planning, double-digging, making compost, and companion planting.

How would YOU regulate GE crops?

Criticisms of genetically engineered (GE) food have gone mainstream lately — from Chipotle going GMO free to GE labeling bills moving forward in states across the country. But very little public attention has been given to the important crossroads we are facing right now around how GE crops get onto the market to begin with.

After the controversial approval of Dow Chemical's latest GE corn and soybeans, Enlist Duo, USDA announced it will finally be revising the agency's outdated, ineffective, hands-off approach to regulating GE crops. We have until June 22nd to weigh in on how GE products should be evaluated before they enter our fields, and how the USDA should regulate them once they are planted. So what needs to change?

read more

Report from the Field | Quintana Roo

CAN Associate Director Heather Putnam recently visited the Zona Maya in Quintana Roo, Mexico to meet with women’s groups working with CAN and the Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo) to improve household food security and sovereignty in a two year project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Here is her report from the field.

I traveled with Robin Pacheco, a project field technician, and three UIMQRoo students working in the field, to four of the six rural communities we are working with in the Zona Maya. The goal of the collaborative project between CAN and UIMQRoo is to improve household food security and nutrition by promoting increased production diversity (more vegetables and protein sources) and income diversification.  The project team on the ground make up of professors, field technicians, and students works directly with small groups of indigenous Maya women in the communities to strengthen traditional and agroecological food production practices, establish direct market channels between the women’s groups and local and regional venues like restaurants and markets, and also to ensure the long-term sustainability of the women’s groups themselves to operate these enterprises.

Our first stop was the community of Kancabchen, a community that was recently integrated into the project in October 2014. The eight women there established their vegetable gardens in October, and have now expanded their home production from yams, beans, and tomatoes to include habanero chile, green chiles, Maya squash, cilantro, radishes, and cucumbers. They told me that they were happy to have these products available right behind their houses for their families’ tables. Lidia Moo Poot, the president of the women’s organization, told me “Now we can have confidence in what we eat and what it contains. Our children will grow up healthier.”

The women were were excited to have participated for the first time the previous Saturday in the monthly tianguis, or farmers market, organized by UIMQRoo in José Mariá Morelos , where they enjoyed telling consumers there about their agroecologically grown produce. The women are looking forward to getting more training in the production of organic fertilizers, and to completing the fences around their gardens to keep animals out. One challenge that is worrisome is the unseasonal drought that is affecting production; the rains should have arrived in the middle of March, but as of the end of April still had not. We talked about the need to install water catchment systems to ensure that families could continue to produce diverse nutritious foods throughout the year, even as climate change brings more seasonal drought.

I also visited the communities of Candelaria, Bulukax, and Tabasco and spoke with the women’s groups there. The women in Candelaria are expanding their chicken and egg production through the project and are anticipating have enough hens producing enough eggs to bring to market in about six months. In the meantime they will be working with the team at UIMQRoo to establish relationships with buyers who will value the organic production and healthiness of their eggs.  In Bulukax and Tabasco my conversations with the women’s groups were dominated by their worries about water — they are affected not only by the drought, but by salty groundwater or chlorinated municipal water, both unfit for irrigation.  These conversations only reinforced by understanding of the urgency of focusing on ways to improve water access; any changes we hope to make in increasing the availability of healthy and nutritious foods year round will depend on water.

April 7 talk to explore alleviating food insecurity in the U.S.

What we know and what we need to know about food insecurity in the United States will be the topic of the 2015 M.E. John Lecture, presented by Craig Gunderson, the Soybean Industry Endowed Professor in Agricultural Strategy at the University of Illinois. The lecture, sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will take place at 2:30 p.m. April 7 in the Faculty and Staff Club Room at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Plant breeding in revolutionizing agriculture – Rwanda News Agency (registration)

Plant breeding in revolutionizing agriculture
Rwanda News Agency (registration)
Many farmers lose enthusiasm on growing climbing beans due to this staking problem, particularly in new areas like in the east where climbing beans are being introduced and agroforestry is yet to take root. Even in traditional climbing bean zones, as

Tipping Points In Chocolate – The NextWomen Business Magazine

The NextWomen Business Magazine

Tipping Points In Chocolate
The NextWomen Business Magazine
Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bartl is a third generation social entrepreneur who works to evolve standards to influence food sovereignity and agroecology. She is the mother of, which harvests cacao beans for foodies who expect more from …

The “Big 6” drifting to a farm near you

Two weeks ago, I was speaking to a roomful of specialty crop growers and organic farmers from Indiana. They were concerned about the pesticide drift that is expected to accompany the planting of Dow and Monsanto’s new herbicide-resistant corn and soybean seeds this spring. Presenting alongside me was Anita Poeppel of Broadbranch Farms, a family-owned and operated farm in north central Illinois.

Anita shared a message with her fellow growers: We need to be ready. If USDA allows these new GE seeds — that’ve been designed to be sprayed with highly toxic, drift-prone herbicides — onto the market, we are all going to be in a lot of trouble.

read more

Tropical Countries Vow to Fight Deforestation at Lima Climate Conference – Triple Pundit (blog)

Triple Pundit (blog)

Tropical Countries Vow to Fight Deforestation at Lima Climate Conference
Triple Pundit (blog)
Seven Latin American and Caribbean countries launched Initiative20x20 to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land to a combination forest, agroforestry and plantation by 2020, and that's just the beginning, say the organizers. To get an idea how …

and more »

NPS Second Thursday Lecture Focuses on Native Plants, Agroforestry – Saint Croix Source

NPS Second Thursday Lecture Focuses on Native Plants, Agroforestry
Saint Croix Source
This Second Thursday Lecture features Michael Morgan from the University of the Virgin Islands, who will speak on “Agroforestry in the Caribbean, Traditional Systems, Both Sustainable and Biodiverse.” Morgan, and Dr. Thomas W. Zimmerman, both of the …

Probing Question: What is a heritage turkey?

Over 45 million turkeys are eaten by Americans each Thanksgiving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hunters provide some — last autumn, about 24,000 wild turkeys were harvested in Pennsylvania. Vegetarians might serve up a soybean-based alternative, like Tofurky.

Neonics? Not much help to farmers.

Independent scientists have been saying it for a while now: neonicotinoid pesticides aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And finally, scientists and economists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are showing signs that they’re listening to the science.

Last Thursday, EPA released preliminary findings on neonic-coated soybeans — a small part of the agency’s broader review of neonicotinoids. EPA’s headline finding? Neonicotinoid seed treatments “provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations.”

read more

Kickstarting help for Belizean cocoa farmers – Candy Industry (blog)

Candy Industry (blog)

Kickstarting help for Belizean cocoa farmers
Candy Industry (blog)
We're making an impact in the local community by developing an industry together, from the ground up — from seed to tree to bean to bar! Maya Mountain Cacao launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the agroforestry Demonstration Farm. To support …

2,4-D crops rubberstamped

It's official. EPA and USDA have both evaluated Dow Chemical's new line of 2,4-D-resistant seeds, Enlist — and have approved both the seeds and the accompanying pesticide formulation for market.

This is a turning point, not just for grain production but for food production in the U.S. and internationally. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will have pervasive impacts on farmer livelihoods, public health and control of our food system.

read more

Even more bee-toxic pesticides?

Pesticide corporation Syngenta is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow even more use of one of its bee-harming neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam. But with science clearly showing that neonics harm bees and other pollinators — contributing to dramatic die-offs in recent years — allowing increased use of this chemical would be a striking move in the wrong direction.

If EPA grants the request, more thiamethoxam will be applied to common crops — including corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa — that cover over 250 million acres of U.S. farmland, much of it in the Midwest. The proposed residue level increases vary by crop, but some would go up by as much as 400 times what is currently allowed.

read more

Bad call, USDA

Very disappointing news came out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday. The agency announced it is greenlighting Dow Agroscience's new genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans that are designed to withstand repeated applications of 2,4-D — an antiquated, dangerous herbicide.

PAN scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman called the decision "a slap in the face" to the thousands of farmers who have expressed concerns about crop damage, economic losses and health risks associated with the dramatically increased use of 2,4-D that will accompany Dow's new crops. USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production will increase between 500% and 1,400% by 2020.

read more

Mexican beekeepers vs. Monsanto

Beekeepers and indigenous groups in the Mexican state of Yucatán recently won an important court decision against Monsanto. A district judge overturned Monsanto's permit for  commercial planting of RoundUp-ready soybeans in the state.

The judge found that "co-existence between honey production and GMO soybeans is not possible," given European restrictions on imports of honey contaminated with GMO pollen. The court also took regulators to task for ignoring the constitutional requirement to consult with indigenous groups on decisions affecting their territory.

read more

XV International Agroecology Shortcourse | Trip to La Pita

The La Pita Landscape

From a hill in the center of the community, one sees the landscape management. The top of the mountain is maintained as a reserve. In La Pita you can hear howler monkeys and many birds. Below the reserve the community grows corn and beans in family parcels. Coffee is grown below the trees surrounding the community. There is a two-room primary school that all of the children from pre-school through grade 6 attend. See photos.

The Heart of the Story — and a Hope as Well

La roya,” coffee rust, began showing up in the coffee parcels in significant amounts in 2012. It is throughout Nicaragua and much of Central America. When Steve (Gliessman) and I were in La Pita in February 2013 (with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour) we saw many plants infected and losing their leaves. There was still coffee harvest that year, but it was less than the normal amount. Farmers were hoping it would be contained and were not sure what to do. Now almost all the coffee plants we saw were dead. Coffee is the main source of income for the families of La Pita.

Without the coffee what are the impacts for the family, for the community, for the UCA, for the region ….? The women’s group has learned how to make home-made fertilizer with several goals: using them to renovate the coffee parcels as they prepare to plant them again; using them in their home gardens; and potentially selling them. The fertilizer is a mixture of minerals, forest fungus, forest soil, flour, and molasses. During our group’s visit, we joined the women’s group, along with Don Pedro and Juan Pablo, in making the fertilizer. It will be used in both the gardens and the coffee parcels. The farmers are very inspired by this process — both improving the soil with their own hands and saving a lot of money by making the fertilizers themselves. Don Pedro said, “When CAN first came to us, they told us we had everything in our own hands to move ahead. We’ve found out that we really do.”

See photos.

Womens’ Gardens

When we were here in February 2013 with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour, there were no home gardens in La Pita. Farmers had their coffee parcels, many with fruit trees integrated to provide shade for the coffee and bananas, citrus, avocados, etc to eat. As part of CAN’s collaboration with the UCA and the families of La Pita there are now seven home gardens in La Pita plus a garden at the school. (This is part of a larger project with participants in other cooperatives in Nicaragua and coffee farmers in Mexico funded by Kuerig-Green Mountain Beverage Co.) As part of the project, Bismarck was selected as the youth leader to work on the developing of the gardens in La Pita. He receives training and participates in CAN’s annual international intecambio (exchange) among the youth leaders. The effort to establish the gardens comes at a critical time. Food from the garden is feeding families at a time when they have hardly any money to purchase essentials. See photos.

IICA, CTO sign agreement to boost agriculture in Caribbean tourism – Jamaica Observer

IICA, CTO sign agreement to boost agriculture in Caribbean tourism
Jamaica Observer
According to the agreement, the types of tourism in which agriculture and rural areas could play a bigger role are those related to the region's agro-ecology, cuisine, culture and heritage; as well as activities involving rural communities and health

Happy(?) anniversary, Monsanto!

Time sure flies, doesn't it? This spring marks the not-so-happy 20th anniversary of the introduction of Monsanto's flagship "RoundUp Ready" GE crops. USDA approved the first of these pesticide-intensive systems for commodity crops back in 1994. The new products came with big promises: they would fatten farmers' wallets and at the same time feed starving people around the world.

Farmers bought into RoundUp Ready corn, soy and cotton in a big way. Now, 85% of all corn and 90% of all soybeans grown in the U.S. have that trademarked RoundUp Ready gene. RoundUp Ready is king of the hill when it comes to commodity seeds — but not for long. Five years from now, RoundUp Ready may be nothing more than a relic of the past.

read more

Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean – Independent European Daily Express

Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean
Independent European Daily Express
Joining him is a fluid group of permaculturalists working from their home islands and sharing the same goal: to harness permaculture as a solution to climate change, food and water insecurity, and rising costs of living. [pullquote]3[/pullquote]â

and more »

Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean – Inter Press Service

Inter Press Service

Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean
Inter Press Service
But that dream is poised to conquer the Caribbean. Rahaman-Noronha wants to see 'permaculture' – short for permanent agriculture – take root and spreads across the Caribbean, and he is doing his part by teaching anyone who will listen about its benefits.

Agroecology Movement Addresses Challenges of Food Security – Independent European Daily Express

Agroecology Movement Addresses Challenges of Food Security
Independent European Daily Express
Agriculture in this Caribbean island is going through its worst moment. Whereas this sector accounted for 71 percent of its gross domestic product in 1914, now it amounts to no more than one percent.Â. AÂ century ago, local agriculture employed over …

and more »

When Dow pushes, agencies jump

“This pesticide is toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Do not apply directly to water… Drift or runoff may be hazardous….The use of this chemical…may result in groundwater contamination.” Does this sound like a green chemical of the future, something that you’d want drifting over fields, rivers, streams, schools and homes? Not so much. But our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may disagree.

EPA has been stumbling hard and making some bad decisions lately, including this latest announcement: the agency intends to approve Dow AgroScience’s new formulation of the highly toxic herbicide, 2,4-D — to be used with the corporation’s genetically engineered (GE) 2,4-D resistant corn, cotton and soybean seeds.

read more

FAO’s regional meet for Latin America & Caribbean underway in Santiago –

FAO's regional meet for Latin America & Caribbean underway in Santiago
“It is an important dialogue space to convey our views to governments,” said Mary Noel, representative, the Latin American and the Caribbean Agro-ecology Movement (MAELA). Special recognition for Chile Bachelet received special recognition from FAO's …

and more »

Latin America and the Caribbean redouble efforts to eradicate hunger – EIN News (press release)

Latin America and the Caribbean redouble efforts to eradicate hunger
EIN News (press release)
"It is an important dialogue space to convey our views to governments" said representative of the Latin American and the Caribbean Agro-ecology Movement (MAELA), Mary Noel. Special recognition for Chile. President of Chile Michelle Bachelet received …

and more »

Implementing the Water Framework Directive in overseas Europe: a multimetric macroinvertebrate index for river bioassessment in Caribbean islands

Publication date: Available online 4 May 2014
Source:Limnologica – Ecology and Management of Inland Waters
Author(s): Heliott Touron-Poncet , Caroline Bernadet , Arthur Compin , Nicolas Bargier , Régis Céréghino
Neotropical overseas regions of Europe have the same water policy objectives as the continental ones, but were overlooked during recent developments of bioassessment tools that fulfill the Water Framework Directive guidelines. We designed a macroinvertebrate-based multimetric index (IBMA) to assess ecological health in rivers of Martinique and Guadeloupe, two densely populated islands in the Lesser Antilles (Caribbean Sea). Invertebrates were sampled at 114 sites including reference and impacted river reaches following a normalized protocol. Among the 411 biological metrics calculated from our site-specific data, we selected metrics exhibiting the best trade-off between high discrimination efficiency, low specificity, low redundancy, and high stability under reference conditions. We finally retained seven metrics related to taxonomic diversity, species abundance, and preferences for some substratum types. Each metric was weighted by its discrimination efficiency. Using test data sets, we found that the IBMA was sensitive to the full range of disturbances in the area. Also, our index improved the detection of impairments, compared to the former practice by regional administrations. Finally, we suggest that the IBMA might prove relevant to neighboring islands in the biogeographic area.

Caribbean gardener brings exotic plants and vegetables to Toronto – Toronto Star

Toronto Star

Caribbean gardener brings exotic plants and vegetables to Toronto
Toronto Star
He's also teaching a course at York University in agro-ecology in May and is involved with Friends of the Greenbelt, which spreads the word about urban food crops. (Adjodha can be reached through his Facebook page Catalyst Organic Gardens or by email …

Monsanto and Natura taste the true cost of palm oil and soybeans – Business Green

Business Green

Monsanto and Natura taste the true cost of palm oil and soybeans
Business Green
In the case of palm oil production, the environmental value of agroforestry was three times higher than monoculture – about $176,044 (R$410,853) per hectare versus $52,384 (R$122,253) per hectare, according to the Trucost analysis. (One hectare is

Jovenes SobAl Project: Update

We are closing Year 3 of the CAN and the UCA San Ramón collaborative Youth Leadership and Food Sovereignty Project in eight coffee cooperatives in San Ramón, Nicaragua. Year 3’s  achievements include:

  • Increase in the number of home vegetable gardens — from 24 to 45 gardens.
  • Further diversification of production from basic grains, coffee, and garden vegetables, to vine crops, diversified fruits, and forest fruits.
  • Establishment of a pilot food storage and distribution center (CADA) in the Ramon Garcia Cooperative. Basic grains are stored at the center for distribution at below-market prices during the “thin” months season.
  • Establishment of a pilot seed bank in the Ramon Garcia Cooperative. The seed bank will ensure the availability of quality seed for use by the cooperative. The first seed that is being stored is a variety of local heirloom bean, which will be planted next season. 
  • Increase in the number of school gardens from two to five gardens.
  • Individual knowledge exchange and workshops to promote vegetable seed-saving practices among the 45 women managing home gardens.
  • Women gardeners took their excess garden produce to sell at ten farmers markets in San Ramón.
  • Developing and publishing a cookbook focused on local knowledge and plants.
  • Eight youth leaders took on increased leadership roles in their cooperative, and at the level of the UCA San Ramón and the San Ramón municipality.

Year 4 of the project, set to begin in March 2014, will include some exciting new developments:

  • Home gardens will increase from 45 to 72 gardens.
  • A new focus on protein production for increased protein consumption and for income diversification.
  • Two women’s rural business plans will be financed through a revolving fund, with a focus on promoting the production and sale of value-added products by women in the project.
  • Diversification of markets for excess production, including linking the project with a new café in San Ram Ramón  to be run by a cooperative women’s group. The café will offer space to sell value-added products from the project.
  • A second CADA will be developed and established in the Silvio Mayorga and Amigos de Bonn cooperatives, which are the most isolated and poor cooperatives in the project.
  • The basic grains seedbank in Ramon Garcia Cooperative will be expanded to include corn.
  • The eight cooperatives will be exploring models of community seedbanks for vegetable seeds.

USDA greenlights Dow’s 2,4-D seeds

Last Friday, USDA welcomed in the new year by presenting Dow AgroSciences with a bountiful gift: a virtual green light for the pesticide company’s new genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean seeds. These crops are designed specifically to be used with Dow’s infamous herbicide, 2,4-D. 

Dow has been waiting two years for the go-ahead from USDA to start marketing its 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy. And it now appears the corporation will get what it wants, despite strong opposition from farmers, healthcare professionals and concerned communities across the country.

read more

Christmas deluge brings disaster to Eastern Caribbean – PreventionWeb (press release)

Christmas deluge brings disaster to Eastern Caribbean
PreventionWeb (press release)
These include capacity-building for adaptation to climate change at a cost of 3.7 million euro; construction of storm drains at a cost of 5.2 million euro; agroforestry, food security and soil stabilisation at a cost of 6.0 million euro; and road works

and more »

Christmas Deluge Brings Disaster to Eastern Caribbean – Reuters AlertNet

Christmas Deluge Brings Disaster to Eastern Caribbean
Reuters AlertNet
These include capacity-building for adaptation to climate change at a cost of 3.7 million euro; construction of storm drains at a cost of 5.2 million euro; agroforestry, food security and soil stabilisation at a cost of 6.0 million euro; and road works

Professor leads project to breed beans resistant to climate stresses

With support from a $5 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, an international team led by Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will establish the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate-Resilient Beans. The project will employ novel techniques to accelerate breeding programs for common bean aimed at conferring traits that can increase yield under heat and drought stress.

What’s the deal with glyphosate?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's RoundUp, is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient in the U.S. From the product's beginnings back in the 1970s, it's been touted as a relatively safe, non-toxic chemical.

But the use of glyphosate has surged dramatically since the 1990s, when genetically engineered (GE) "RoundUp Ready" corn and soybean crops were introduced. This intensive usage raises an important and increasingly urgent question: have the human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate been carefully and exhaustively evaluated? What do we know and what don't we?

read more

Garden salads coming to an end as summer ends

IMG_7362_ed_lFor over a month I’ve been enjoying my favorite summer dish, a tomato, cucumber and feta cheese salad. This year I’ve had more of these than usual, given the productivity of my tomatoes and cucumber. My Sungold and Indigo tomatoes have produced hundreds of tomatoes, enough for salads, sharing and dehydrating. Of course, in addition to tomatoes and cucumbers, I like to throw in whatever else I can from the garden. I forgot to put in some celery, but did include my favorite summer squash, trombetta, and a new string bean, Musica Romana. All in all, combined with some whole grain bread, this provides a delicious meal.

I should add that if you’ve never tried a homegrown cucumber, particularly an English or Persian style cuc, they are nothing like store bought. They lack the unappealing paraffin coating, are crisp and crunchy, and have a good cucumber taste. Grow some, or hie thee to a farmers’ market and buy some.

Small Insect’s Big Lessons for the Farm Bill: Agroecology and Breeding Top … – The Equation: Blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists

The Equation: Blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists

Small Insect's Big Lessons for the Farm Bill: Agroecology and Breeding Top
The Equation: Blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists
Agroecology provides the principles and practices to accomplish this, and breeding and agroecology can work together. Research on soybean aphid resistance breeding and the value of natural aphid enemies in diverse landscapes provides a good example 

No, these aren’t jelly beans

IMG_7286_ed_lI’ve been experimenting with growing a few dry beans in the past couple of years, but this year decided to ramp it up and grow more beans and more varieties. Today, I picked about half of my crop and shelled them. Although they look like something from the Jelly Belly factory, they’re not jelly beans. I just like beans that look interesting.

I’m still not growing enough to provide a lot of protein, but it is a worthwhile experiment. Most gardeners grow only fruits and vegetables that don’t provide a lot of protein. So, this is one way to get some protein from my garden.

Monsanto’s new GE crops already in the ground?

Early in July, Monsanto rolled out the red carpet for farm media in North Dakota, promoting its new, yet highly controversial, herbicide-resistant genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Touted at an industry field day in Cass County, these new soybean seeds are designed to be used with the volatile herbicide, dicamba — a close cousin of 2,4-D.

Dicamba-resistant soy is still awaiting USDA approval, as are 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy. And after receiving hundreds of thousands of comments opposing the approval of these crops, the agency recently extended its decision-making timeline. Despite the outcry, however, Monsanto has plowed full speed ahead, planting and spraying these crops in large, field-sized “Ground-Breaker” demonstration plots in North and South Dakota and in research plots in undisclosed locations.

read more

A plum of a week (and my first fig)

IMG_6876_ed_lThis morning I was excited to harvest my first fig of the season, and it was tasty! I then started my regular pass through the garden, harvesting what’s available today. My two BIG items for the day are my string beans and my plums.

The string beans are a new variety for me, a musica romana. These beans are huge! And the plants (about eight) are very productive. Since this is just the beginning of their harvest, I’ll have to make room in the freezer for lots of them. They provide a nice addition to my winter soups.

IMG_6877_ed_lThe plums have been ripening like crazy this week. This will be my biggest harvest ever (what you see in the picture is about 1/3 of the harvest so far this week) and I’m struggling to deal with all of them. They don’t travel well because they are so ripe and juicy, so giving them away is harder than my berries.  I started four batches of plum liqueur yesterday. I thought of making jam, but what I’ve been learning is that they are simply too ripe to make good jam. I’ll try to be very careful with them and take them for snacks to dance class tonight and tomorrow. And I’ll take lots of napkins. :-)

Badal’s blue print for agri-diversification – Latest News From Punjab

Sahara Samay

Badal's blue print for agri-diversification
Latest News From Punjab
Moong bean (0.6 lakh hectare), Kinnow (0.8 lakh hectare), Guava and Pear (0.2 lakh hectare), Agro Forestry (three lakh hectare), Groundnut (0.2 lakh hectare) and Vegetable (0.5 lakh hectare), he added. Mr Badal said that the Diversification plan would
Punjab readies strategy to reduce area under paddy cultivation – SME Times SME Times

Badal unfolds blueprint for crop diversification Hindustan Times
CM-for-multi-pronged-strategy-to-propel-crop-diversification Punjab Newsline

all 28 news articles »

CAN’s 4th Annual Youth Exchange – A Success!

WelcomeSignCAN’s 4th Annual Youth Exchange or Intercambio took place from May 15-23, 2014, in the coffee-growing highlands of Veracruz, México. The Youth Exchange brought 32 youth leaders together to share experiences and knowledge about building food sovereignty in their own communities. The majority of the youth are leaders or promotores from CAN’s Food Security and Sovereignty Initiatives in Nicaragua (San Ramón and Las Segovias) and México (Quintana Roo and Veracruz). The youth leaders were joined by university students from the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo in Veracruz, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. CAN’s non-profit partner in Veracruz, VIDA A.C. (Vinculación y Desarrollo Agroecológico en Café), hosted the Youth Exchange.

For eight days, the youth engaged in capacity building exchanges, workshops and field visits. They taught each other how to make homemade fertilizers, tell captivating stories for social change, grow a milpa Maya (corn and beans), and catalyze social innovation. The program included visits to home gardens, coffee farms, markets, and a cooperative focused on sustainable living and workshops about permaculture, raising chickens, and ecotechnologies. It also included a university forum organized by CAN-affiliated researcher, Carlos Guadarrama (Professor of Agroecology, Universidad Autónoma Chapingo), about community struggles to maintain control of seeds and water resources. Throughout the Exchange, youth explored new ideas for increasing food sovereignty at the community level, and reflected on how to contextualize these efforts within broader social and political contexts.

The Youth Exchange also provided the youth with an opportunity to evaluate their work to achieve food sovereignty and make concrete plans for the coming year. They committed to sharing their experience at the Youth Exchange with their home communities, implementing practices learned from each other, maintaining regular communication, and creating a resource that compiles their collective expertise. In particular, the youth expressed a lot of excitement about applying their new knowledge about ecotechnologies.

Double green payments back on CAP reform agenda – ENDS Europe (subscription)

ENDS Europe (subscription)

Double green payments back on CAP reform agenda
ENDS Europe (subscription)
Changes include the addition of nitrogen-fixing crops (such as beans), agro-forestry, and areas covered by agri-environment agreements. Member states would also be able to define further types of land as EFAs, with the commission's consent.

AgroEco® Coffee Tour | Day 6 Highlights

Posted in: News   Topics: Action Education, Coffee, Events,

Day 6 Highlights:
The first five days of the AgroEco® Coffee Tour we explored what’s behind our cup of coffee: we connected with the farmers who grow the coffee we drink and followed the processing of the beans from harvest to export. During this time, we saw how dependent the farmers are on the income they earn from the sale of the coffee they grow — at the expense of their families for they grew very little of the food they need to sustain themselves. In fact, the farm families at Denis Guiterrez, like coffee farmers throughout Latin America, do not have enough food to eat for the three months prior to the next harvest. Typically, this is the time when all of the harvest money has been spent.

On our last day in the coffee growing region of San Ramón, we visited Ramon Garcia Cooperative, another farmer cooperative of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in San Ramón (UCA). We explored how CAN, in partnership with UCA, is collaborating with farmers to produce more food for their own and local consumption.  Here, with funding from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, CAN and the UCA have been working in collaboration with the farmers on food security and sovereignty projects. Through these projects, families will grow a diversity of produce for their own use. Here the president and vice-president of the cooperative and the youth leader of the project, Juan Pablo, greeted us. They, along with several families, showed us around the cooperative.

Juan Pablo explained that over the past two years he has been working with families in his cooperative to establish large gardens with technical assistance from the UCA. Their work has included installing a manually operated irrigation system and creating composting and vermicomposting systems. Juan Pablo’s own garden serves as a model where he conducts various experiments for the farmers to observe. Here we saw an innovative drip-irrigation system made of a recycled plastic bottle and corn-cob stopper with water dripping through it.

We were amazed at gardens, which included trellises of passion fruit to be sold on the local market, tomatoes, squashes, herbs, carrots, papaya, citrus, and other fruit trees. We were not only struck by the diversity of foods being grown, but also the beauty of the gardens and the joy of the families in sharing their gardens with us. This is a new venture for Ramon Garcia and one that will expand to Denis Gutierrez and other cooperatives of the UCA in the year ahead.

In the evening, we celebrated with our guides and friends from the UCA as we reflected on the people we connected with and the experiences that we shared — bringing together the people who farm the coffee and the people who drink it.


AgroEco® Coffee Tour | Day 4 Highlights

Day 4 Highlights:

Denis Gutierrez cooperative is part of the UCA’s ecotourism program. About eight families have constructed simple brick rooms with bathrooms as guest rooms for visitors. Our groups spread out among these families with a unique opportunity to experience their lives. As always, magical matches happen! For example, the musician in our group found herself in the musical family. They communicated through their music and we all enjoyed the results!

After breakfast with our families, we visited the one-room schoolhouse and had fun interacting with the teacher and students, who were between ages 3-12. The students began with traditional dances. Then we traded songs back and forth. We ended by giving supplies to the school including baseballs, soccer balls, paper, and pencils. Next was time for the campo!

We went to the field to work in the coffee nursery. We filled bags with soil to prepare them for transplants. This season’s goal is to prepare 4,000 bags — we prepared 800. This is all part of the cycle that’s the story behind a cup of AgroEco® Coffee.

Our afternoon held more adventure. Daniel Lira, our local guide, led a group up the mountain to a forest reserve that the cooperative has established. This forest reserve is the source of their water and home to howler monkeys, orchids, and much more. Later in the afternoon, we helped — actually, we watched — one of the farmers roast coffee his own dried coffee beans. This process was a sensory delight — from watching him remove the outside skin to roasting over a wood fire to smelling the aroma of this freshly roasting coffee. After a very full day, we retired to our rooms and visited with our families.

AgroEco® Coffee Tour | Day 3 Highlights

Day 3 Highlights:

Yesterday we observed coffee growing in Denis Gutierrez cooperative — today we followed the coffee through its preparation for export. What a process that is!

UCA is a member of the export cooperative, CECOCAFEN, which oversees the coffee from the time it leaves the farm until it is packed into a shipping container and trucked to a port to be shipped to its destination. Solcafe, the processing plant, is the first stop for the coffee. Here it is laid out on concrete patios to dry in the sun. Workers rake and turn the beans so the humidity is uniformly decreased. When the beans are ready, the coffee is moved to the warehouse where it goes through the sorting process. There are several machines to sort the beans by size, weight, color, and quality. It was amazing to watch!

This labor-intensive work includes men carrying two sacks, each weighing 152 pounds, on their backs from location to location. At multiple steps throughout the process the coffee is cupped (a process similar to professional wine tasting) to determine the qualities and grade of each cooperative’s coffee. CECOCAFEN is also responsible for at least six certification processes including Fair Trade and Organic. As consumers, we know how complicated the certifications are for us and now we learned the complicated steps the farmers have to go through to verify that they meet the standards of the various certifications. We all felt like we are in the same boat: systems of certification set up to benefit the farmers and educate the consumers are complex for both ends of the supply chain.

We returned to the Denis Gutierrez cooperative in the evening for a two-day homestay with a deeper understanding and many questions. We each met our families and settled into their homes.



Supreme Court battle: Farmer v. Monsanto

Today, 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer Hugh Vernon Bowman will face off with Monsanto in front of the Supreme Court. Five years ago, Monsanto sued Bowman for seed patent infringement and won. Now the high court will hear the farmer's appeal.

Monsanto's aggressive pursuit of patent infringement lawsuits like Bowman v. Monsanto is well documented in a recent report by the Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds. As of January 2013, the company had filed 144 suits against 410 farmers in 27 states. Corn and soybean growers across the country will be watching the outcome of today's case very closely.

read more

Cameroon Clamps Down on Roadside Cocoa Driers – Think Africa Press

Think Africa Press

Cameroon Clamps Down on Roadside Cocoa Driers
Think Africa Press
Tweet · Share |. Cocoa beans drying out on the road to Yaoundé. Photograph by World Agroforestry Centre. Douala, Cameroon: 2013 dawned rather sullenly for thousands of recalcitrant cocoa dealers across Cameroon unwilling to refrain from drying their

Sustainable Topanga: Growing Green on Cross Bull Ranch with Lisa Cianci – Topanga Messenger

Topanga Messenger

Sustainable Topanga: Growing Green on Cross Bull Ranch with Lisa Cianci
Topanga Messenger
A proponent of permaculture, she covers the nutritional basics with 25- and 50-pound sacks of garbanzo beans, and invites Topangans to join her in ordering bulk dry food. She also grows sprouts, calling it farming in the kitchen, where organic seeds

Dupont hires ex-police to patrol soybean farms

Seed and chemical giant Dupont just hired a fleet of ex-police officers to patrol the farmlands of North America.

The second-largest seed company used to rely on their partner/competitor Monsanto to play the industry ‘bad cop’ when it came to seed policing. But now Dupont executives have made it clear that they are not afraid to make some enemies as they protect the company's intellectual property interests in genetically engineered seeds. And they've hired an "agro-protection" company staffed by former policy officers to do it.

read more

Pass the (pesticide-free) green beans, please!

Like others across the country, this Thursday I'll be joining extended family and friends to celebrate each other and the earth's bounty. I look forward to meeting up with cousins coming to town from distant cities, and enjoying the yummy dishes we'll all contribute to the feast.

I'm also hoping we keep the acephate, methamidophos and chlorothalonil off the menu. (Easy for me to say, right?) Sadly, according to government testing, these  hard-to-pronounce pesticides are among those commonly found on green beans. And they're not good for you.

read more

AgroEco® Holiday Package Available NOW!

Posted in: News   Topics: Coffee,

This year’s holiday gift package features:

  • 1-lb. bag of AgroEco® Coffee
  • 5.5 oz. of CAN’s new product: chocolate-covered AgroEco® Coffee beans
  • holiday gift card

As always, the shipping is FREE!

Total price: $22

Place your order today. The holiday gift package is available December 16-31, 2012.

Cal Poly Chocolates Develops Product for CAN Holiday Package

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN, Coffee,

Chocolate-covered AgroEco® Coffee beans offered this holiday season!

This year CAN’s holiday gift package will include a one-pound bag of AgroEco® Coffee PLUS a 5.5 oz. container of chocolate-covered AgroEco® Coffee beans developed by Cal Poly Chocolates.

<--break->About Cal Poly Chocolates

Cal Poly Chocolates was started in 2000 and is part of the Food Science and Nutrition Department. It is the only chocolate production course taught in an American university that is also a full-fledged business. Students whot take the class learn how to produce, package, and market different chocolate products. They also learn about where cocoa comes from and the importance of ethical and sustainable food systems. The aim is to show students the complexities of cocoa production as well as the inequities of the world cocoa trade.

Cal Poly Chocolates supports a fair livelihood for cocoa farmers — this means that all the chocolate used is from organic and Fair Trade Certified co-ops in the Dominican Republic and Peru. 

Through this course, students have the option for delicious and ethically sourced food products on campus. Cal Poly Chocolates has worked closely with the Fair Trade Club to encourage mindfulness while consuming.

How did this collaboration begin? For the past year, the Fair Trade Club has been working to get CAN coffee offered on Cal Poly’s campus. Because of the shared value for fairly traded food products, the Fair Trade Club connected CAN with Cal Poly Chocolates to develop chocolate-covered coffee beans. The first batch was a success we are delighted to offer this new product.

Look an upcoming announcement about CAN’s holiday gift package.

NYT Dot Earth | Los Meses Flacos | GMCR and CAN

The October 9, 2012 Dot Earth (Andrew Revkin) includes a “Your Dot” contribution from Mike Dupee, VP for corporate social responsibility at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) in Vermont. Dupee writes about Los Meses Flacos (the thin months), the prolonged period of hunger that occurs after the coffee harvest during the rainy season. He describes GMCR’s efforts to alleviate this phenomenon. According to Drupree, GMCR “… convened nonprofit partners and communities in its supply chain to understand the factors influencing food security in the region and, with the farmers and their families, develop potential solutions. What emerged was a new strategy that included crop and income diversification tactics.  Families that depended on coffee for all, or a substantial portion of their livelihood, had new choices that could help increase their economic security. Some were taught to farm fish, cultivate mushrooms and produce organic honey for personal consumption and to sell in local markets. They were educated on food preservation techniques to make the (literal) fruits of their labor stretch further. We have seen diets that once consisted of primarily beans and rice shifting to include nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Balanced nutrition is leading to improved energy levels, heightened productivity and stronger immune systems – and happier, healthier individuals mean stronger communities.

CAN is proud to be among the organizations working to help communities build a healthier and more sustainable future. To learn more about our food-security projects that are supported by GMDR, go to: Action Research Initiatives.

To support coffee farmers in Nicaragua and Mexico, buy AgroEco® Coffee!

Learn more about After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands






Give Greece A Chance

Recent media reports on Greece have been dominated by images of civil discontent and unrest.  As the country enters its fifth consecutive year of depression, the most severe since the Second World War, I rediscover another Greece.

Credit: geopavlos

The Greece of corruption and inefficiency, you hear so much of in the media is far removed from the Greece that I know. My country has historically been, and continues to be, a place of creativity, altruism, civilisation, hard work and thought. As household incomes decrease, resourcefulness is on the up and as the economic crisis hits home, the Greek people are once again looking to the country’s natural assets.

Greece’s  rural and agricultural history is unique. We have a range of micro-climates and a unique agro-biodiversity in which virtually any crop will grow. The Greek peninsula represents an important centre of crop diversity, and has been the bread-basket of European evolution since ancient times. Fava beans from Santorini for example, have been cultivated since 3500 BC, and the grains of selected wheat varieties can be found on prehistoric archaeological sites in northern Greece, dating back over 9000 years. With this in mind, the Greek people have much more heritage to protect than simply ancient ruins.

Despite the potential of our land, Greece now imports the majority of its food and on average we are the second most obese people in the EU. These abnormalities are largely attributable to the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, which has supported the growth and development of a very narrow range of large-scale monocultures, almost entirely for export purposes. The failures of the CAP have had a profound effect not only on our food culture and agricultural skills, but also on the landscape of the country. In just three decades, Greece has lost most of its local agricultural varieties and almost all of its dry land, low-input agriculture was pushed out of the market. In Crete, a large number of two-thousand-year-old olive trees were turned into firewood, within a very short period of time.

But there is change in the air, driven forward by the dynamism that is born of a people in crisis, albeit through a small, fragmented minority of interested young entrepreneurs. Younger generations are becoming more aware of the provenance of their food and have a renewed interest in the land, with great numbers of post-graduate students relocating to rural areas. Greek youth bring with them university degrees, the command of several languages and the knowledge and willing to harness the potential of digital technologies for agricultural innovation and productivity.   Their work to create a knowledge-based agricultural and rural sustainability sector is beginning to show despite the current economic stagnation. The first steps were made visible by the“potato movement” harnessing the potential of volunteer action and online marketing to expose the abnormalities of food distribution and the perverse role of middlemen in the domestic market. Social enterprises like Gine Agrotis (Become a Farmer) are using web-platforms in order to directly link young organic farmers with conscious consumers all over Greece, organizing CSA systems and green-box schemes. A large number of seed keepers and breeders from every corner of Greece are conserving and exchanging seeds from old, traditional crop varieties through a network called Peliti. And non-profits like Organisation Earth in Athens are working with educating children, aiming to develop a better environmental and social mentality. The role of Slow Food is also important in creating collaboration and promoting our activities.
A renewed focus on social values around food is not only about uniting people in an attempt to revamp the economy, Together these efforts are helping to shape a new identity for Greece, one that is founded in principles of equality, collaboration, entrepreneurship and pride in our culture and heritage.  The challenge is great and much will depend on whether we resist ongoing speculation over the country’s lands and resources, and a new new native mentality that has grown to depend on the consumption of imported commodities. From its sun-drenched coasts to its noble mountains, the small crisis-stricken country of the European south will not cease to represent land, sea and sun –all vital elements of nature and food.
My Greece is full of promise, solidarity and spirit, and it is up to the young generation to decide whether we will continue as an over-consuming nation, or if we will productively work together to create a better future.
Article originally published at:

It’s going to be a very good year!

This year looks to be my best yet for growing food. The warm winter, followed by a wet spring, resulted in blossoms galore and lots of soil moisture for my plants. Following is a sampling of fruits and veggies on their way, in various states of growth. Enjoy this beauty from my garden that I get to enjoy every day. As always, you can click on any photo to see a larger version.

Baby plums


Beet sprouts

Baby apples

Apriums–only my second year of these sweet-tart taste bombs.

String bean sprout–first time I’ve been on the ball early enough to plant these from seed.

Blackberry vine–my old standby.

Baby grapes. This is my first year to harvest grapes after several years of growing out the vines. Looks like I’ll have a bumper crop!

I’ve got a good crop of spiders, too! I think these are the orb weavers that are all over my garden later in the summer.