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: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201508/pollinators-and-the-rigged-neonic-seed-market#sthash.C8AuHc1y.dpuf

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

Sowing the seeds of permaculture at Eats, Shoots & Roots – Malay Mail Online


Malay Mail Online

Sowing the seeds of permaculture at Eats, Shoots & Roots
Malay Mail Online
First of all, what is permaculture? The word stands “permanent agriculture” and is about letting Nature run its course so that the land is always suited to farming. There are 12 rules to live by that cover, among others, environmental design, water

Graduating seniors plant seeds for future student farm

The idea of a student-centered farm at Penn State already has inspired dozens of students to become involved in its planning, even though many will graduate before the farm is realized. Julian Subick and Briana Yablonski, two seniors graduating from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, have devoted much of their last year at Penn State to the rigorous farm-planning process, and they don’t regret a single moment.

Jane Goodall plants seeds of hope at BAM – Brooklyn Daily Eagle


Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Jane Goodall plants seeds of hope at BAM
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Her organization, she said, had involved those people in its work, asking for their advice on how to improve land fertility, healthcare, agroforestry and education, particularly among women. "As women become more educated, family size drops and life …

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Peak food? Can food tech supercharge crop yields and address global food … – Genetic Literacy Project


Genetic Literacy Project

Peak food? Can food tech supercharge crop yields and address global food
Genetic Literacy Project
In a speech in September 2014, he said that we need to try it all, referring to both genetically modified seeds and agroecology, which is often held up as the preferred option by anti-GMO activists. “We need to explore these alternatives using an

Will Hawai’i lawmakers stand up to Monsanto & Co?

Later today, the Hawai'i House Committee on Agriculture will take up an important bill that could create new protections from pesticides for children. But if prior votes are any indication, the committee — and the industrial agricultural interests driving it — will be a tough obstacle to overcome.

We've seen this same showdown on island after island, as each county has attempted to enact new protections on the use of pesticides or pesticide-promoting genetically engineered seeds and crops. And we've also seen the force with which, each time, Monsanto and the rest of the Big 6 pesticide corporations have tried to stop these laws in their tracks.

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Don’t ‘abhor’ us – abhor GMO scientists laden with conflicts of interest! – The Ecologist (blog)

Don't 'abhor' us – abhor GMO scientists laden with conflicts of interest!
The Ecologist (blog)
Africa's biotech establishment is deploying its biggest guns to attack NGOs opposed to GMO crops to help push through Ghana's corporation-friendly Plant Breeders Bill – a key element in the corporate enclosure of Africa's farming, seeds and

Report from Veracruz, Mexico

3 February 2015: The coffee leaf rust (la roya) has reached the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico and small-scale coffee farming families are working to quickly respond to the blight before it further impacts their livelihoods. As the Mexican government promotes a host of new agrochemicals, CAN’s partner VIDA A.C. is steadfast in its promotion of agroecological practices to replant coffee fields and is distributing seeds of the Geisha varietal, which is tolerant of leaf rust and also considered to be of excellent quality among coffee buyers. Geisha is hailed by specialty coffee roasters around the world as a vibrant cup with distinct notes of jasmine and bergamot; however, on-farm processing is crucial to achieving its famed profile.

During the last week of January 2015, AgroEco® coffee producers in Veracruz attended a three-day course on the improvement of on-farm coffee processing practices for export standards. Led by Engineer Clemente Santiago Paz—former organic certifier for CertiMex—this workshop highlighted the importance of quality control at every step of the process from picking to fermentation.

Suraya Arlsan, Technology Trainer for this year’s Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project (YLFS) evaluation, is currently in the region with our partner VIDA, A.C. In addition to attending workshops with coffee producers, she is working to train VIDA, A.C. staff and youth leaders in CAN’s Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project in the use of portable tablets and Excel in data collection, to improve youth leaders’ capacity to monitor changes in their communities. The group is working to create uniform and accessible definitions for fertilizer and soil conservation practices in order to increase the accuracy and consistency of the data collected this year. In the process, they are increasing their knowledge of methods that could further the health of the soil and in turn, producer families’ livelihoods. The data collected by youth leaders in the annual evaluation will work to identify the strengths of the beneficiary families as well as the areas where CAN and VIDA A.C.can further support them as they face the additional threat of la roya.

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.

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Seeds of Haiti agroecology project to be planted by locals – U-T San Diego


U-T San Diego

Seeds of Haiti agroecology project to be planted by locals
U-T San Diego
1 for the first part of a five-year agroecology project in Gressier. It is a community where FFCC has sent more than 2.5 million nutritious packaged meals since its devastating earthquake in January 2010. Their goal for the first year is to establish

Seeds and Soil vs. the Tyranny of Corporate Power: A 2015 Message of Hope – Center for Research on Globalization


Center for Research on Globalization

Seeds and Soil vs. the Tyranny of Corporate Power: A 2015 Message of Hope
Center for Research on Globalization
Within that challenge and amid the context of the 'Year of Soil' ahead, Shiva finally reminded her listeners that it is organic farming and ecological agriculture (frequently called agroecology) which offers the “answer to the havoc that's being

Tax break sowing the seeds of urban agriculture growth – San Francisco Examiner


San Francisco Examiner

Tax break sowing the seeds of urban agriculture growth
San Francisco Examiner
One recent rainy afternoon, Aaron Roland stood on his Potrero Hill vacant corner lot with sweeping views of downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge, bit into a kale leaf he picked from the permaculture garden and explained how he once turned down a …

Pair find enough backers of crackers to fund a business based on tree seeds – Houston Chronicle

Pair find enough backers of crackers to fund a business based on tree seeds
Houston Chronicle
Oaks are "a very useful crop for agroforestry and what has been called permanent agriculture," Bainbridge said. When he started researching acorns as a food source, he "was surprised by how widely used they had been historically," he said. Acorn

Even this organic advocate thinks African farmers need herbicide – Genetic Literacy Project

Even this organic advocate thinks African farmers need herbicide
Genetic Literacy Project
Why aren't agroecological techniques farming spreading faster among poor farmers? If you are a farmer in the rural part of an undeveloped country, where it's hard to get synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds, it only makes

EarthDance Farms tries to help plant seeds of change in Ferguson – Herald & Review

EarthDance Farms tries to help plant seeds of change in Ferguson
Herald & Review
Rockamann remembers meeting the Muellers when she visited their farm as a teenager. After studying agro-ecology and taking part in environmental projects around the world, including in the Fiji Islands, Ghana and Thailand, she returned to her hometown.

and more »

EarthDance Farms tries to help plant seeds of change in Ferguson – Bloomington Pantagraph

EarthDance Farms tries to help plant seeds of change in Ferguson
Bloomington Pantagraph
Rockamann remembers meeting the Muellers when she visited their farm as a teenager. After studying agro-ecology and taking part in environmental projects around the world, including in the Fiji Islands, Ghana and Thailand, she returned to her hometown.

and more »

Seeds of (policy) change

Before we move fully into the busy end-of-year season, it seems useful to take a moment to step back, take a breath and take stock of where we landed after the mid-term elections. Some surprisingly heartening lessons emerge.

We're all familiar with the high-level analysis by now — the very big impact of big money, ascension of climate-deniers to Senate leadership, polarization of politics, etc. But as you dig a bit deeper, a more optimistic picture comes into focus. From community pushback of corporate control to a rekindled conversation about national food policy, some very real, very hopeful shifts are in motion.

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Even this organic advocate thinks African farmers need herbicide – Grist


Grist

Even this organic advocate thinks African farmers need herbicide
Grist
Why aren't agroecological techniques farming spreading faster among poor farmers? If you are a farmer in the rural part of an undeveloped country, where it's hard to get synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds, it only makes

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.

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National Day of Maize in Mexico: Protecting the Sacred Plant – Upside Down World


Upside Down World

National Day of Maize in Mexico: Protecting the Sacred Plant
Upside Down World
Adelita San Vicente Tello is an agronomist with a master's degree in rural development and a doctorate in agroecology. She is director of Seeds of Life (Semillas de Vida), a group promoting agro-biodiversity and protecting native corn. San Vicente is

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ON NATIONAL DAY OF MAIZE IN MEXICO, PROTECTING THE SACRED PLANT – Huffington Post

ON NATIONAL DAY OF MAIZE IN MEXICO, PROTECTING THE SACRED PLANT
Huffington Post
Adelita San Vicente Tello is an agronomist with a master's degree in rural development and a doctorate in agroecology. She is director of Seeds of Life (Semillas de Vida), a group promoting agro-biodiversity and protecting native corn. San Vicente is

and more »

L is for likoti – World Development Movement (press release)


World Development Movement (press release)

L is for likoti
World Development Movement (press release)
Likoti means 'holes' in Sesotho (one of 11 official Lesotho languages). It is used to describe a method of Conservation Agriculture where pits of about 30cm in diameter by 20cm in depth are dug and filled with organic fertiliser and seeds. The practice

USDA takes wrong turn at ag crossroads

Earlier this month, USDA made clear that they plan to give the final go-ahead to the next generation of herbicide-resistent GE seeds. Widespread public concern about this new technology delayed its approval by more than two years. But on September 6, the final 30-day "waiting period" will come to a close, and Dow's new 2,4-D corn and soy will be approved for market.

PAN stands with communities across the country who are outraged at the pending decision. "USDA is much more interested in working with Dow and Monsanto to bring their products to market than in protecting the well-being of our farmers and rural communities," says PAN Senior Scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman in a passionate press statement.

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Science academy falters in launch of new GE study

One morning a few weeks ago, I received an email from the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC), announcing the makeup of a provisional committee of experts that has been tasked with carrying out a comprehensive new study of GE crops. This study is supposed to assess the history of GE crops around the world, the diverse experiences of farmers in different countries and a wide range of “purported” negative and positive impacts of GE seeds and their associated technologies (for example, pesticides).

Done right, this could be an illuminating investigation, right? But as I looked over the bios provided on NRC’s webpage, I quickly realized that the Council appears to have a pretty poor idea of how to carry out such a challenging, complex and multi-faceted study. In fact, this week 67 scientists and researchers publicly rebuked the NRC for failing, right at the outset, to put together a slate of experts equipped for the task (full letter here).

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Fine Print of the Food Wars: Monsanto and Biotech Industry Pushing for World … – Center for Research on Globalization

Fine Print of the Food Wars: Monsanto and Biotech Industry Pushing for World
Center for Research on Globalization
Agroecology gives us a deeper scientific understanding of how ecological processes work at the level of soils, living seeds and living food. The promises made by the biotech industry — of increased yields, reduction of chemical use and control of

Avaaz’s global ‘ebay of seeds’ – how did they get it so wrong? – The Ecologist (blog)

Avaaz's global 'ebay of seeds' – how did they get it so wrong?
The Ecologist (blog)
"Small farmers practising agro-ecology need first of all to be able to select and multiply their seeds locally, in order to suit their local growing conditions and adapt to climate changes as they occur in the fields. "They don't need seeds selected

Dow’s “Enlist” crops: A GE double whammy

The pipeline of new genetically engineered (GE) crop technologies is full to bursting. Many of the GE seeds queued up for approval are engineered for use with hazardous herbicide mixes intended to overcome the "superweed" crisis — a direct result of widespread adoption of Monsanto's RoundUp Ready crops.

On June 30th, EPA will close the public comment period on the "new use" of the herbicide 2,4-D being proposed by Dow AgroSciences to accompany their latest GE seeds. The new products — going by the name "Enlist" — would combine 2,4-D and glyphosate, and would be used with corn and soy seeds that have been engineered to tolerate to this chemical cocktail. Please join us in urging EPA to say no.

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Book review: ‘Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonders from the World of Plants’ by … – Lincoln Journal Star

Book review: 'Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonders from the World of Plants' by
Lincoln Journal Star
With the authority that can come only from someone like Jane Goodall, she urges her readers to adopt the term "agroecology," over the popular "organic" when describing the kinds of farming that she and other defenders of the environment will accept.

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.

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Progress in paradise

Whew, three islands in four days. I recently returned from a whirlwind speaking tour in Hawai'i with Dr. Tyrone Hayes covering issues of pesticides, corporate control in agriculture and genetically engineered (GE) seeds.

Addressing the topic in high school auditoriums and community health clinics, it’s increasingly clear that people across the state want to build a food system that feeds them, protects community health and fragile ecosystems, and offers fair employment — including pushing back against corporate takeover of the islands' farming land. And they're making real headway.

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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.

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Mariam Raqib brings the gift of trees to Afghanistan – Christian Science Monitor


Christian Science Monitor

Mariam Raqib brings the gift of trees to Afghanistan
Christian Science Monitor
That's why Samsortya doesn't just hand out saplings, it teaches people tree nursery and agro-forestry skills, Raqib says. The saplings and seeds come from Samsortya's fundraising efforts here in the United States. A donation of $15 provides a family

Distributing seeds, fertilizer and pesticides to poor farmers is OUT … – Oxfam America

Distributing seeds, fertilizer and pesticides to poor farmers is OUT
Oxfam America
Agroecology enables us to grow food in ways that cut emissions, create more resilient landscapes, and ensure ample yields – all while reducing the use of non-renewable resources. Gina Castillo is the Agriculture Program Manager at Oxfam America.

Open-source seeds challenge Monsanto, support International Day of Farmers … – Twin Cities Daily Planet (blog)


Twin Cities Daily Planet (blog)

Open-source seeds challenge Monsanto, support International Day of Farmers
Twin Cities Daily Planet (blog)
Agroecology recognizes diversity and sovereignty as key elements of a sustainable agricultural system. Diversity is the very building block of evolution and adaptation, and keeping germplasm in the commons allows all communities the maximum ability to …

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Tour to Inspire Communities to Take Ownership of Their Seed – Scoop.co.nz (press release)

Tour to Inspire Communities to Take Ownership of Their Seed
Scoop.co.nz (press release)
During May and June, Kay Baxter, director of Koanga Institute and world-renowned expert in seed-saving and permaculture gardening is conducting a nationwide speaking tour in a quest to raise funds to save New Zealand's heritage organic seeds by 29 …

First Anniversary of the EcoTianguis Alternativo y de Trueque (Alternative Ecomarket and Trading Center)


Recently, community participants in CAN’s project Food Security in Quintana Roo: Agroecology, Income Diversification, and Nutrition Education for Women and Youth, in the Zona Maya of Quintana Roo, Mexico, participated in the First Anniversary of the EcoTianguis Alternativo y de Trueque (Alternative Ecomarket and Trading Center) in Cancún. Participants in the project are currently in the process of identifying new markets for vegetables, fruits, and value-added products that they are now producing in their communities. They took part in the Cancun market to explore the possibility of making the market a regular channel for selling their produce and diversifying income for women and youth in the project.

The first anniversary of the market was kicked off with a traditional Maya ceremony offering seeds to the gods (see photo) to ensure an abundant harvest. After the ceremony, seeds were exchanged among the participants. The experience of participating in the market in Cancun was important for everyone. It not only gave them ideas for improving their own small monthly farmers market in Jose Maria Morelos, but also made them more aware of which products are more in demand, like vegetables, citrus, and eggs. All in all, everyone was happy at the end of the day, and excited about the prospect of participating in the market again. Hard work is ahead to resolve the ongoing problem of organizing transportation for getting products to market.

 

Student Stories: Not a dirty job — alumnus enjoys work in soil industry

Long before Cory Chelko graduated from Penn State in 2011, he knew that working with soils was what he wanted to do. Growing up around farms in Sarver, Pa., piqued his interest, as did the potential for real-world applications of the agricultural sciences. Today, as a zone support coordinator at TA Seeds, Chelko provides technical support on products and promotes research and sales behind the scenes.

Planting the seed at first annual Seedy Saturday – Moose Jaw Times-Herald


Moose Jaw Times-Herald

Planting the seed at first annual Seedy Saturday
Moose Jaw Times-Herald
The event featured two vendors selling heirloom and heritage seeds and other vendors such as the Yara Community Gardens, Permaculture Regina and the environment advisory committee that was raffling off a rain barrel. “A lot more people turned out for

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.

AfDB Supports Ghana Local Communities With $14.55 Million to Reduce … – AllAfrica.com

AfDB Supports Ghana Local Communities With $14.55 Million to Reduce
AllAfrica.com
It will directly benefit 12,000 people, half of them women, by providing capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods. The project will

Farmers call out Monsanto’s risky business

With recent news that USDA intends to greenlight new pesticide-promoting crops, farmers across the country are calling on Monsanto’s shareholders — owners of the world’s largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seeds — to change business as usual.

Facing risks to their health and livelihood from herbicide-resistant crops coming down the pike, farmers will speak directly to shareholders at Monsanto's annual gathering of investors in St. Louis next Tuesday. The request to shareholders? Pass a resolution requiring the corporation to accurately report the risk associated with increased exposure to their pesticides.

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Healthy Soil, Healthy Coffee | Report from La Pita


Update prepared by Rachel Lindsay from ETICO The Ethical Trading Company and Heather Putnam, CAN

In La Pita (Nicaragua), the farmers of the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative who produce CAN’s AgroEco® coffee have had 80% of their coffee fields affected by the coffee leaf rust blight (la roya).  Cooperative members of the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative, with allies from the Union of Cooperatives in San Ramón, CAN, and ETICO-The Ethical Trading Company, have identified the strategy of improving soil fertility as critical to rebuilding coffee production and increasing coffee plant resistance to the ongoing threat of la roya and related plagues. 

The first steps in fulfilling this strategy is to first know what the soil needs, and then to produce organic fertilizers that address mineral deficiencies identified in soil testing.  On January 17-18, 2014, the 15 members of the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative, together with women and youth from the cooperative, participated in a two-day workshop on chromatography soil testing, a simple methodology that can produce reliable profiles of soil minerals, with limited resources. 

 The  workshop, facilitated by visionary Nicaraguan coffee farmer Byron Corrales, began with a group brainstorming of the problems with coffee production in La Pita after the economic crisis and the ecological crisis created by the agrochemical companies. Then, farmers brainstormed what the necessary elements are for healthy soil and healthy coffee production. We then collected soil samples, as well as samples of leaf cover from the forest to later make into a mycorrhiza* fertilizer, working in the cooperative’s primary school classroom until late that evening preparing the samples and the laboratory for the chromotography tests to be done the next day. 

The next day, we prepared the chromatograms, mixing the soil with solution, applying the solution to the papers, and then leaving the tests in the sun at least a half hour so that all of the colors could develop. Byron demonstrated how to read the tests, which are effectively “photos” of the soil and its properties, and we saw that some samples demonstrated an abundance of minerals, while other samples were mineral-poor; all samples showed low levels of biological processes and energy, which means that the plants are not able to absorb the minerals that are in the soil. 

Using material gathered the previous day from the forest, we looked at beneficial mushrooms, mycrorrhizae and spores, and coffee leaf rust spores under a microscope, before turning to the making of the  mycorrhiza fertilizer using forest leaf litter.  First we sterilized soil by heating it over a fire, and then innoculated it with mycorrhyzae and also added some corn seed.  We also saw a sample of what the final product would look like after one month of fermentation, and we applied it to the soil under the fruit trees in the patio of the school house.  Finally, we saw a video of how mycorrhyza is used in Colombia in plant nurseries and coffee plantations.  Overall, the two days were an incredible learning experience, encompassing everything from soil testing to fertilizer making to the observation of microorganisms under a microscope.  As Byron Corrales said at the end of the workshop, “everyone has to sharpen their machetes now to put into practice everything they have learned about restoring, remineralizing, and protecting their soils so that the plants can grow healthy and productive.” 

This two-day workshop is only the beginning of the Denis Gutierrez’s journey to improve its soil fertility so that it can restore its coffee fields and improve its members’ home garden production.  The next step is a two-day visit and exchange to Achuapa in Leon state to learn about a cooperative-scale fertilizer-making operation there, the local women’s economic initiative group, and a model farm owned by the cooperative there. From there cooperative members will receive one more workshop from Byron Corrales in February focused on tmaking other types of fertilizers, and on how to start coffee seedlings with seeds inoculated with mycorrhyzae. In early February, CAN, the UCA San Ramón, and ETICO will meet again with the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative to decide how the cooperative wants to implement the newly learned technologies and what kinds of support it needs to do so at a scale that will benefit both its coffee fields and its home gardens. 

Photo credit: Rachel Lindsay / Social Business Network

 

Pesticide corporations bully Kaua’i

Last Friday, three global pesticide corporations threw the legal equivalent of the kitchen sink at the island of Kaua’i. The suit filed in federal court is the latest in a long stream of corporate bullying that has become commonplace on the island and around the world.

For years, the Hawaiian islands have been a global epicenter of testing genetically engineered (GE) seeds. This means big money for pesticide and biotech corporations. And as momentum grows to restrict GE testing and pesticide use thoughout the islands, corporate bully tactics are becoming increasingly agressive. And desperate. 

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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.

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FAO distributes 1800 tons of rice seeds in ‘Yolanda’-battered areas – Business Mirror

FAO distributes 1800 tons of rice seeds in 'Yolanda'-battered areas
Business Mirror
Plan in response to Yolanda, FAO is seeking for $38 million to support more than 128,000 severely affected households in the Philippines, through interventions targeting rice and corn farming, fisheries, coconut farming, livestock, and agro-forestry.

Punjab Woos New Investors; but Faces Flak from Existing Ones – The New Indian Express

Punjab Woos New Investors; but Faces Flak from Existing Ones
The New Indian Express
Aiming to bring down area under water-guzzling paddy crop, both Punjab and Haryana laid emphasis on encouraging growers to diversify into less water consuming crops like maize, sugarcane, agro-forestry, oilseeds, vegetables,pulses etc. Armed with a 

Punjab woos new investors but faces flak from existing ones – Business Today


Business Today

Punjab woos new investors but faces flak from existing ones
Business Today
Aiming to bring down area under water-guzzling paddy crop, both Punjab and Haryana laid emphasis on encouraging growers to diversify into less water consuming crops like maize, sugarcane, agro-forestry, oilseeds, vegetables, pulses etc. Armed with a 

and more »

Punjab Woos New Investors, Faces Flak From Existing Ones – Businessworld


Economic Times

Punjab Woos New Investors, Faces Flak From Existing Ones
Businessworld
Aiming to bring down area under water-guzzling paddy crop, both Punjab and Haryana laid emphasis on encouraging growers to diversify into less water consuming crops like maize, sugarcane, agro-forestry, oilseeds, vegetables,pulses etc. Armed with a 
Punjab woos investors; faces flak from existing ones The Day After



all 5 news articles »

Punjab woos new investors; but faces flak from existing ones – Economic Times


Economic Times

Punjab woos new investors; but faces flak from existing ones
Economic Times
Aiming to bring down area under water-guzzling paddy crop, both Punjab and Haryana laid emphasis on encouraging growers to diversify into less water consuming crops like maize, sugarcane, agro-forestry, oilseeds, vegetables,pulses etc. Armed with a 

and more »

Project Report from Veracruz, Mexico


Associate Director Heather Putnam filed this report from a visit to CAN’s partner organization, Vinculación y Desarrollo en el Café, AC (VIDA AC), and CAN’s collaborative Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project in the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico in early November. 

The project’s advances and achievements over the last year since entering its second phase are truly innovative, impactful, and inspiring.  Whereas the first phase of the project focused heavily on organizing groups of youth and women around the theme of community food sovereignty, training, and capacity building in vegetable production and nutrition, the building of strong foundation of youth leadership in each of the five communities, and the establishment of home gardens, Phase 2 has seen incredible work done to build on these strong foundations, and really strengthen family livelihoods in a sustainable way.  One big milestone was the first organic market, which was held on the campus of the Huatustco Regional Center of the University of Chapingo and included more than 30 women and youth project beneficiaries proudly selling their excess garden produce, and value-added products from their own patios and fields, like orange marmalade and roasted coffee.  The experience was highly successful not only because of the income it generated, but for the visibility it gave the project. It has motivated the women and youth to plan ongoing participation in existing weekly or monthly organic markets in regional centers, which will contribute to their livelihoods on an ongoing basis. 

With the income diversification strategy on a strong path, the project is also putting increasing attention to a critical problem for community food security in the region: the lack of access to heirloom vegetable and basic grains seeds, and the loss of knowledge around how to select and conserve seeds in the best ways.  The strategy the project will be pursuing is the establishment of community seedbanks.  Lucia, a star youth leader from Guzmantla, who mobilized a group of youth in her community this year to make fruit preserves for sale, has stepped into a leadership position and will be in charge of organizing the seedbanks. The first seed collection for the banks happened in November, and seeds will be distributed for garden planting in April 2014. 

I also visited the high school in Ocotitlan where we worked with the senior class last year to establish a school garden. We met with the new senior class and brainstormed with them about foods that are available and native in the region versus the foods they eat regularly, noting the difference between the two.  They were excited about establishing their garden and learning more about the relationship between food production, food sovereignty, and what we eat.

We then met with a group of women and youth in the project in Ocotitlan, and did a training and practicum on garden mapping and plants inventories.  It was amazing to listen to the women as they named every plant in the patio and garden and discussed each one’s attributes and how to eat or use it — an extraordinary richness!  The youth leaders and women are participating in performing garden mapping and plant inventories in December as part of the annual project monitoring and evaluation of impact.  

Finally, I met with the group of coffee farmers from the Campesinos en la Lucha Agraria Cooperative who produce CAN’s AgroEco® Veracruz Coffee.  We signed the final shipment contract and discussed needs and desires for this coming harvest season.  Carlos Guadarrama, CAN’s affilliate researcher at Chapingo, is working with the farmers to assess the impact of the la roya blight on their coffee fields. The farmers all expressed their confidence that with Carlos’ assistance they can identify the best agroecological management practices to minimize the roya infestation in their fields. 

 

Centre for quality seeds launched – HispanicBusiness.com

Centre for quality seeds launched
HispanicBusiness.com
World Agroforestry Centre director general Tony Simons said the centre would help provide farmers in the most malnourished, poorest, rural and the least forested areas in Africa with a chance to use the latest technologies. Orphan crops are mainly
African Plant Breeding Academy Will Sequence 100 Traditional Food Crops GenomeWeb


UC Davis celebrates opening of African Plant Breeding Academy UC Davis
Plant Breeding Academy Opens In Nairobi That Will Boost Africa's Food Supply PR Newswire (press release)

all 11 news articles »

Breakfast @ Tuoitrenews – November 9 | Tuổi Trẻ news – Tuoitrenews

Breakfast @ Tuoitrenews – November 9 | Tuổi Trẻ news
Tuoitrenews
southern city of Can Tho City, with 450 booths highlighting domestic and foreign products, including machinery, farming tools, production lines, processed products, fertilizers, animal feed, agro-forestry products, seafood, seeds, and traditional

and more »

Industrialized agriculture brings change in Turkey

We’ve all heard versions of the story, and many of us have relatives or ancestors who were a part of it. Small farmers, the story goes, are being squeezed out of business by large-scale, “industrial agricultural” corporations. Forced to buy patented, more expensive but higher-yielding hybrid seeds and the fertilizer and pesticides they require from multinational conglomerates, farmers harvest larger crops but at the price of rising debt. It is sometimes portrayed as a David and Goliath morality play — with Goliath winning — but the reality is much more complicated.

Ghana’s forestry expansion receives $9.7m From CIF – spyghana.com

Ghana's forestry expansion receives $9.7m From CIF
spyghana.com
“Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities,” the AfDB

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Food System Learning Journey: Seed Saving

Title: Food System Learning Journey: Seed Saving
Location: UCSC Farm (or leave from the UCSC Recreation Office Porch, East Fieldhouse)
Link out: Click here
Description: On Saturday, October 12 ,come learn the importance of seed saving, why individuals should save seed and not rely on larger companies to provide it, and how to harvest seeds! Participants will walk away with a handful of gorgeous seeds and know what to do with them!

Register online at http://www.ucscrecreation.com/foodSystemsLearningJourneys.html for this free event.

Community members welcome!

Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2013-10-12
End Time: 13:00

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector … – BusinessGhana

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector
BusinessGhana
Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities. An additional 

and more »

Ghana receives $9.7m climate investment funds for forestry expansion – Ghana Business News


Ghana Business News

Ghana receives $9.7m climate investment funds for forestry expansion
Ghana Business News
“Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities,” the AfDB

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector … – Sierra Express Media

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector
Sierra Express Media
Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities. An additional 

and more »

AfDB backs Ghana to boost community engagement to transform forestry sector – WorldStage


WorldStage

AfDB backs Ghana to boost community engagement to transform forestry sector
WorldStage
Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities. An additional 

and more »

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector … – Vibe Ghana

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector
Vibe Ghana
Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities. An additional 

and more »

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector … – Newstime Africa

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector
Newstime Africa
Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities. An additional 

In Their Own Words: News from La Pita and the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative


<--break->

Update received on September 24, 2013

Translated by Heather Putnam

Well, Daniel and Xiomara (the community guides) have been busy as always studying at the university — Daniel just finished his studies there and is only waiting to defend his thesis to finally get his degree in Tourism Management! Xiomara reports that she decided to change her university schedule from only studying on the weekends in Matagalpa to attending daily classes there. Both Daniel and Xiomara continue helping their families with their coffee and milpa, as well as being youth leaders in the cooperative and taking care of tourists as guides in the tourism program there.

As far as the homestay families in the community, they are busy working on the food security and sovereignty project which has motivated them to continue organizing their efforts around the vegetable gardens and the school garden. They are also still receiving tourists in their homes, but have been working with the UCA San Ramon to find new markets for the tourism project in La Pita, since backpacker tourists seem to be the only ones showing nowadays, and this kind of tourist does not motivate the families to continue working with tourism. In general, all of the families are fine, but the fact is that La Roya is something that is affecting all of the families emotionally since it is their principal source of subsistence. Tourism can be an alternative while the cooperative renovates their coffee fields, and the UCA SR is helping to investigate ways to increase tourism traffic in the community. 

The impact of La Roya in La Pita is severe to say the least — the coffee leaf rust heavily affected last year’s harvest and will definitely have an equally negative affect on this year’s harvest.  In the meantime the cooperative is implementing management practices, including “recepo,” which is cutting the plants down to the stalk to allow new, healthy branches to grow out of the root stalk. There are, thankfully, still areas within the cooperative that have not been affected by La Roya yet, so a total  recepo of all of the cooperative’s coffee fields has not been necessary. 

It has been difficult to respond to La Roya due to the lack of assistance or guidance from government institutions. But we as a cooperative now understand that this is an opportunity for us to make great efforts to produce our coffee without chemical inputs, and to increase the types of sustainable practices we use to produce coffee. One alternative we are exploring right now with the guidance of the staff at the UCA San Ramon and the assistance of CAN and GMCR, is to build an collective artisanal compost plant within the cooperative that would produce enough compost not only for our home gardens but also to apply t our coffee plants four times per year, which is the amount necessary to make the plants strong enough to resist the infestation of La Roya, or at least survive it. We are currently developing a full proposal outlining the costs and management plan for the composting plant, as well as the other sustainable coffee management practices we want to implement, and will deliver it to the UCA San Ramon on September 30. 

We can now quantify the impact of La Roya on our coffee yields; we know that this year we will be able to deliver 100 quintales (11lb bags) of green coffee, and as we work over the next few years to replant our coffee fields with caturra variety coffee, we expect the yields to slowly go up, as detailed below:

 

2013–2014                100 quintales (perhaps more) (about 65 sacks)

2014–2015                150 quintales

2014–2015                200 quintales

2015–2016                250 quintales

2016–2017                300 quintales

2017–2018                400 quintales

 

The estimations could be larger, since many cooperative members are already replanting their coffee on their own independent efforts, and also because of the prospect of a new government program that will subsidize coffee field renovation next year, which will increase yields over time.

In La Pita the food security and sovereignty project continues at full speed. So far seven home gardens have been established and are currently in production season, with one more planned for the next planting season. The school garden continues being developed — recently a seedling bed was established with seeds for parsley, lettuce, onions, and creole tomatoes, and this week the schoolchildren are transplanting the seedlings into the garden bed. They have also planted plantains, and naranjilla tree seedlings, as well as other fruit tree grafts in the fruit tree area of the school garden. All of the activities in the school garden are coordinated with the teacher, and the parents of the students assist in the workdays as well. Everyone has two wishes for the school garden: first, to build a small ranchito, or shade structure in the schoolyard, to be able to do garden work, workshops, and meetings there; second, to install a small greenhouse to be able to produce seedlings in a protected environment that would serve for the home gardens as well as the school garden. 

Another exciting development within the project is that the youth group in La Pita is working collectively to build a tree and plant nursery within the cooperative, which would house plant seedlings, and fruit, ornamental, and reforestation tree seedlings, the idea being to produce the seedlings to sell to generate income for themselves in a collective youth business. For now, the youth are looking for funds to help pay for the materials needed to install the basic infrastructure for the nursery.

 

Planting seeds to save the forest and improve lives – Manila Standard Today


Manila Standard Today

Planting seeds to save the forest and improve lives
Manila Standard Today
“We're not stopping at the provision of seed capital for agro-forestry because there are other component parts of AFCDP that still needs private sector support such as increased access to livelihood and education. That's why we are continuing with the

Harvest Festival Coming Up on September 29

Bright orange pumpkins, roasted red peppers, and apples galore mark the changing seasons at the 19thannual Fall Harvest Festival, coming up on Sunday, September 29 at UC Santa Cruz’s 30-acre organic farm.

The festival features live music from reggae to bluegrass, along with hay rides, kids’ crafts, workshops, tours, pumpkin and produce sales, and campus and community group information tables.

Visitors of all ages are invited to sample more than 25 apple varieties, savor roasted peppers, enter the pie baking contest, try their hand at pressing cider, scale the climbing wall, and enjoy locally sourced, tasty treats.

Also on tap—workshops on making salsa, growing and using peppers, saving seeds, creating popcorn treats, and understanding permaculture design, along with farm tours and an herb walk through the garden.

The festival will take place at the UC Santa Cruz Farm on Sunday, September 29, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for UCSC students, kids 12 and under, and for members of the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden; general admission is $5. See below for a full schedule of the day’s events.

Want so see how your favorite apple pie recipe measures up? Be sure to enter the Apple Pie Contest by 12:30 pm (see rules, below).

The Harvest Festival is cosponsored by the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), UCSC’s Measure 43, and the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden, with major support from Driscoll’s, and additional support from New Leaf Community Markets, Tradin Organics, and Veritable Vegetable. People Power will provide free valet parking for bicycles.

Click here for directions to the UCSC Farm. Free parking will be available at the Campus Facilities and Barn Theater parking lots, and a free shuttle will be available. For more information call (831) 459-3240 or email casfs@ucsc.edu.

2013 Harvest Festival Schedule

MUSIC

Feed Me Jack          11:00 – 12:00

The Downbeets       12:15 – 1:30

Live Elk                      1:45 – 2:45

Kinetic Poetics         3:00 – 3:25

Ancestree Reggae   3:30 – 5:00

Activities, tours, workshops

Apple and Pepper Variety Tasting                          11:30 – 4:00

Apple Pie Contest Bake-Off (entry deadline)       12:30

Salsa It Up!                                                                    12:00 – 1:00
Crystal Owings, Food Systems Working Group

Guided Tours of the UCSC Farm                              12:30 and 4 pm

Popcorn Palooza                                                         1:15 – 2:15
Austin Lewis, Food Systems Working Group

Herb Talk & Walk through the Garden                2:00 – 3:00
Darren Huckle, Western/Chinese herbalist & licensed acupuncturist

Introduction to Permaculture Design                  3:00 – 3:45
David Shaw, UCSC Common Ground Center

Pepper Talk: Varieties and How to Use Them      3:30 – 4:00
Orin Martin, manager of the Alan Chadwick Garden

Seed Saving and Cleaning Workshop                    4:00 – 5:00
Cole Thomas and Connor Spears, Demeter Seed Project


Official Rules for the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden Apple Pie Contest

Pie entries accepted 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Official judging begins at 12:45 p.m.

Winners will be announced at between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

1. The Friends of Farm and Garden Apple Pie Bake-Off is a nonprofessional baking competition open to Harvest Festival attendees (entry to the Harvest Festival is $5; free admission for UCSC students, Friends of the Farm & Garden members and for children 12 and under).

2. Contestants are responsible for submitting a written (preferably typed) recipe with their pie.

3. Contestants are responsible for supplying all ingredients and baking the pie prior to bringing it to the contest.

4. All entries in this contest must be homemade.

5. A representative of the Friends of the Farm & Garden will assign each contestant a number. Contestants should verify that the number on the bottom of their container is the same number assigned by the representative.

6. Contestants’ entries are judged on taste, presentation, and creativity.

7. The decision of the judges shall be final. Pie not consumed during judging will be returned to the contestant.

All pies must be entered by 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 29, at the Fall Harvest Festival, UCSC Farm. For questions or additional copies of the rules, call (831) 459-3240 or e-mail casfs@ucsc.edu.


Guatemala: The Long Battle To Preserve Ancestral Farming Practices – Eurasia Review

Guatemala: The Long Battle To Preserve Ancestral Farming Practices
Eurasia Review
Agroecology, fair trade, responsible consumption and the protection of native seeds are some of the practices that Mayan farmers have rescued from their ancestors. Mayan farmers of the Cuchumatanes mountain range in northwestern Guatemala know that 

The Durango Herald 09/06/2013 | Small seeds; big results? – The Durango Herald

The Durango Herald 09/06/2013 | Small seeds; big results?
The Durango Herald
He spent six months in 2006 at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The goals of the center are research and education. Nolan recently bought 13 acres in Mancos, where he plans to