Newsbits 10-21-2010 and one more link…

Yes, I forgot an important link: the American Farmland Trust. You can’t have farmers if there’s no land to farm. Rather important, I’d say.

Okay, on to some interesting, intriguing, and almost urban news to report:

  • The Stranger, a decidely citified publication, ran a fabulous article on The Greenhorns, which is an association of young farmers. They have a site and a new documentary coming out soon. 
  • The USDA has a Beginning Farmer and Rancher program. This year’s grants are closed but bookmark this site for 2011. 
  • They also have information on grants for Farmer’s Markets. There are grants and all kinds of good information.
  • My geek-o-meter is hitting the red zone because this weekend is the opening of the Battlestar Galactica exhibit at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. If I didn’t have a concert on Saturday, I’d be making noseprints on all their shiney new glass cases that day. Blast! I’ll just have to go later.
  • My ability to grow sweet potatoes has, once again, completely tanked this year. So, I’m actively seeking techniques for improving my success at raising my favorite tuber. I’m dying to make some fries. There’s just something about sweet potato fries…mmmmm…

Okay, that’s all for now. I’ll try to use actual paragraphs in my next missive…unless I can create some really cool bullets, that is. (I wouldn’t hold my breath, however.)

Resources and Links

After today’s delightful meeting of Slow Food Port Susan, where we got to chat about all the potential for local, organic farming and the good things that come from it, I thought I would post links to the resources I’ve found so far. There are a few. First, the farming links:

  • The USDA Farmers Market site, with lots of information on funding, resources, and other ways to market your produce.
  • Washington State’s Guide for Farmers Markets has resources for insurance, funding, and it looks like there is a conference coming up. 
  • The Small Farms Conservancy has many resources for small farmers, including access to land, job opportunities, access to insurance, education, etc.
  • The Small Farmers Journal has fantastic information on all aspects of farming, whether or not you use horses. I’ve been reading it for years and I’m always surprised by how much I learn in every edition. They also sponser a fantastic 3-day auction in Madras, Oregon, every spring. I’ve picked up some great equipment and advice there.
  • The Healing Harvest Forest Foundation promotes healthy forests through sustainable, animal-powered forestry practices. The site explains much more about this eastern US-based group.
  • Jon at Open Gate Farm told me about World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which gets apprentices and temporary workers onto small farms so that they can learn new techniques and share knowledge. It’s an international group, so people can exchange ideas worldwide. How fun is that? (Thanks Jon!) (And how weird is it that the URL is shorter than the name of the group?)
  • Crop Mob is a new idea started in North Carolina. (There is now a Seattle chapter, as well.) This group is made up of people who enjoy farming but aren’t able to yet. (Yes, farmer wannabees!) Instead, they volunteer to help on small farms when many hands are needed. They are volunteers who will assist with planting and harvesting and who only ask for a good meal and a chance to spend some time in the country in return. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Then, the geek links (yes, you can geek and farm at the same time):

  • The UK has a concerted effort to extend broadband access to its rural areas: Rural Broadband.
  • Worldometers – this site has constantly running statistics on many interesting things including food, ecology, water, and energy.
  • The fastest broadband speed in the US you would think would be in some happening urban area. Not so! It’s actually in Ephrata in rural Grant county. No kidding. It’s Grant County PUD.

That’s it so far. If you have some I should pass along, please send them to me.

Harvest Jubilee

Yes, I promised you pictures of Harvest Jubilee. Here are a few quick ones:

Miniature Donkey mare and foal

The mama donkey is probably not more that 30 inches tall, which makes the foal very tiny. There’s nothing cuter than a fuzzy face with big eyes and little tiny hooves. This little guy was all tuckered out after the festivities of the day. So was his mom. I was actually kneeling down when I took this shot. That tells you how small these little equines are.

I resisted the urge to take one home. I must remember, and properly recite, the horseowner’s mantra: I do not need another horse…I do not need another horse…

Alpaca Convention

Alpacas come in so many beautiful colors. There were weavers and spinners on site, demonstrating how fleece becomes clothing. There was one baby alpaca who had found a small gravel area and was rolling around, having a good scritch. It was quite the giggle-fest.

This farm is actually for sale as the owner is consolidating herds with another producer and they want to be closer together. They have a beautiful barn (yes, I was having barn-envy) and the place is fully fenced. It was lovely.

Booths at the Country Store

 There was a great showing of groups, vendors, handicrafts, and food at the Country Store. In addition, there were musicians playing and a fabulous assortment of horses, cows, and goats, which were brought in by their owners. Since the weather was great that day, the turnout was fairly huge. It’s always good to see people visiting the farms.

Newsbits 10-1-2010

There’s always something going on here. In fact, maybe too much. Here are a few things happening in the world of farming:

  • The state of Kerala, in India, has made it a new policy to go completely organic within the next 5 years. This is in response to the estimated 200,000 suicides among farmers since 1997. (See my earlier post on this.)
  • We now have a new Slow Food group in my neighborhood, Port Susan Slow Food. I think I’ll have to join.
  • The Harvest Jubilee was a gas! There were lots of people, lots of farms, and the cutest thing I’ve ever seen – a miniature donkey foal. Seriously, the “awww” factor was rediculous. Pictures are forthcoming.