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Posts Tagged ‘farms’

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Photo: Owen Dubeck
Stanford sophomores James Kanoff and Stella Delp created the not-for-profit FarmLink to salvage surplus food from farmers and donate it to overwhelmed food banks. Above, Kanoff is seen helping to deliver a shipment of onions.

One of the more troubling manifestations of Covid-19’s impact on the economy is that farmers who no longer have restaurants and large institutions buying their food, unable to afford to transport it to food banks that desperately need it, are destroying much of what they produce.

Two sophomores at Stanford University knew that something had to be done. Sydney Page at the Washington Post has the story.

“Doug Hess spent the last three months staring at a mammoth mountain of potatoes — enough to feed more than 6 million people. The potato farmer in Ashton, Idaho, who sells to commercial farms that supply the food service industry, said the novel coronavirus pandemic has gutted his business. …

“He donated what he could, but the cost to pack the produce and ship it to food banks was too high, especially considering the massive financial loss the family farm, which goes back four generations, was already suffering.

“As Hess’s pile of wasted potatoes slowly started to rot, stomachs rumbled across the country.

“Food banks in the United States are grappling with unprecedented need — a direct symptom of widespread unemployment, as roughly 16 percent of Americans are still without a paycheck. …

“James Kanoff, 21, a sophomore at Stanford University, took note of the troubling paradox: Farms have a surplus of food from canceled restaurant contracts and a shattered supply chain, while food banks are experiencing a staggering surge in demand. …

“So Kanoff and a group of college students from Stanford and Brown universities started FarmLink, a grass-roots movement to prevent food waste while also working to address food insecurity. FarmLink raises money to pay farmers for produce and dairy that would otherwise be wasted, then funds the transportation to send the goods to food banks in the neediest areas around the country.

“Since it started in mid-April, FarmLink has delivered 2 million pounds of produce, including some of Hess’s potatoes, to hungry Americans, in just over a month. That’s roughly 1.5 million meals.

“Volunteers have delivered potatoes, eggs, milk, onions, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, salt, celery, carrots and sweet potatoes to communities in 22 states, including Hawaii — with no plans to stop, even after the pandemic ends. …

“Through social media campaigns and word of mouth, the initiative has raised more than $750,000 — mostly from small, individual donations.

“Kanoff grew up volunteering at Westside Food Bank in Santa Monica. When he heard the organization’s food supply was scarce, he decided to test the FarmLink concept by reaching out to a local farm and asking if it had an oversupply. …

“Farmers all around the United States are experiencing a major surplus — from thousands of acres of fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida and California, to millions of gallons of milk and countless eggs in Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York and Wisconsin.

“Once Kanoff and his team secured 90,000 pounds of [onions from Shay Myers, the CEO of Owyhee Produce,] they reached out to Food Finders, a nonprofit food rescue organization that connects donated food to hundreds of pantries in Southern California. …

“ ‘The problem with the government programs is that the farms are not in the business of sourcing food banks,’ said [Diana Lara, the executive director of Food Finders]. … FarmLink is helping to bridge the gap. USDA distributors, including Borden Dairy, have started reaching out to FarmLink directly for assistance in finding food banks in need and distributing surplus product, Kanoff said.

“The burgeoning organization has divided its [100] volunteers into three specializations: the farms team locates farms with excess supply, the logistics team targets hot spots with the greatest food insecurity, and the food banks team connects directly with local pantries across the country to assess demand. The organization also has sponsorships with Uber Freight and Coyote Logistics, to assist with transporting the goods.

“FarmLink’s work has made an impact on some of the hardest-hit regions of the country, including Navajo Nation at the intersection of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah … Nathan Lynch, a site coordinator at Navajo Nation Christian Response Team, … who delivers emergency food boxes to 2,000 homes on the reserve, said the food insecurity in the region is pervasive. ‘FarmLink has filled a big void.’ ”

More here.

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Photo: http://www.knollfarm.org/
Knoll Farm’s Icelandic sheep.

We stayed in a perfect little ski house — fitted up with everything you could imagine needing on a weekend, including toys for the grandkids. Our son and daughter-in-law rented it through Vacation Rental by Owner.

The drive up the steep road featured gorgeous mountain and farm views.

One farm had a sign out that sent us straight to our laptops once we got settled: “Knoll Farm, Center for Whole Communities.”

According to the Whole Communities site, “The Center for Whole Communities (CWC) fosters inclusive communities that are strongly rooted in place and where all people – regardless of income, race, or background – have access to and a healthy relationship with the natural world. …

“Through our programs and ongoing support we network more than 1,200 leaders working in 500 organizations and communities in 47 states.” More.

One of the center’s videos, below, explains the process community members in Waitsfield, Vermont, went through to reconnect “with the sun and the land” by getting off the grid and using only renewable energy sources.

A separate, related site describes the farm products: “We still have some gorgeous purebred Icelandic 2013 ewe and ram lambs, as well as mature ewes and rams for sale. Check out our Icelandic Breedstock pages for more information.

“Order whole and half shares of lamb for the holidays and winter supply anytime until November 4th. After that we will be selling cuts here at the farm and farmer’s markets.  Read more.

“Our farmstand has our grass-fed lamb and frozen organic blueberries in stock through the winter, or until we sell out. New hours: Open 8 am-6 pm every Saturday and Sunday. We also have our home-made blueberry jam, as well as free-range eggs, blankets and sheepskins.

“New Product: Heirloom quality pure wool blankets woven from our own Icelandic fleeces. Learn how to custom order your own Knoll Farm blanket.”

More here.

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Here is an annual spectacle I’d love to see.

“Shepherds led a flock of 2,000 sheep through the streets of Spain’s capital and largest city on Sunday, in defense of ancient grazing, droving and migration rights that have been increasingly threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.

“Those urban settings were once open fields and woodlands, crisscrossed by droving routes. Since at least the year 1273, the country’s shepherds have had the legal right to use about 78,000 miles of droving routes around the country to move livestock seasonally between summer pastures in the cool highlands and more protected lowland grazing areas in the winter.

“Every year, a handful of shepherds defend that right in Spain’s capital city.”

I guess it’s use it or lose it. Plus it’s good to make people think about where their food and wool come from, and whether things have changed for the better.

More from the Associated Press.

Photo: Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Shepherds led a flock of 2,000 sheep through some of Madrid’s most sophisticated settings on Sunday.

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Newport, Vermont, is way up north near Canada. It’s the southern port of vast Lake Memphremagog, whose name comes from an Abenaki Indian word meaning “beautiful waters.”

Any destination near Canada, as I should have known, means having access to French radio on the drive up, one of many small bonuses. Another bonus was the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, which provides shop space for sellers of many Vermont products under one roof. I bought a very nice turkey sandwich there and a bottle of Granny Squibb‘s Unsweetened Black Currant Tea. (I thought Granny might be a local, but the bottle says she’s a “Rhode Island original.”)

Discover Newport blogged about the Tasting Center in June, “The Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, LLC, has completed its equity financing and will open its doors to the public this summer, announced Managing Partners Eleanor Leger and Gemma Dreher.

“ ‘This is a unique enterprise that we hope can serve as a model for other rural areas, not only in Vermont but in other regions that value their working landscape,’ said Eleanor Leger, the primary leader of the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center project.

“A total of sixteen individuals and two foundations purchased equity shares in the holding company that purchased the building at 150 Main Street in downtown Newport in September of 2012.  Their equity of $562,000 is being leveraged with $750,000 in financing from Community National Bank and the Vermont Economic Development Authority [VEDA]. …

“Said Gemma Dreher, an early lead investor. ‘The Tasting Center will benefit from all of the changes happening in the Kingdom, but it will also play a key role in keeping our local farms and food producers viable for the future.’

“The building is fully leased to four local food and beverage businesses that feature products from across the region.” More.

You can learn how Newport conducted a visioning process to get input from residents on what they would like their community to be like in the future, here.

And there’s more at Newport’s website, here.

While I was enjoying my turkey sandwich and currant tea, my friends were taking a tour of nearby Jay Peak, which is benefiting from that special type green card that foreign nationals can get if they invest $500,000 in high-unemployment or rural areas. The resort is posh. I don’t think Princess Mononoke would like the loss of woodlands, but I am pretty sure the people getting the new jobs are grateful.

By the way, even if you hate superhighways, the drive  to the Northeast Kingdom, as that part of the world is known, is spectacular — green mountains, rivers, farms, red barns, cows. For all the photo ops, there are not nearly enough places to pull over and capture the autumn asters or the clouds over the mountain over the farm over the river.

Photo: http://discovernewportvt.com/fresh

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“How will the world find the water to feed a growing population in an era of droughts and water shortages?” asks Fred Pearce of Yale Environment 360 by way of the Christian Science Monitor.

“The answer, a growing number of water experts are saying, is to forget big government-run irrigation projects with their mega-dams, giant canals, and often corrupt and indolent management.

“Farmers across the poor world, they say, are solving their water problems far more effectively with cheap Chinese-made pumps and other low-tech and off-the-shelf equipment. Researchers are concluding that small is both beautiful and productive.

“ ‘Cheap pumps and new ways of powering them are transforming farming and boosting income all over Africa and Asia,’ says Meredith Giordano, lead author of a three-year research project looking at how smallholder farmers are turning their backs on governments and finding their own solutions to water problems. …

“Such innovations are becoming a major driver of economic growth, poverty reduction, and food security, says her report, “Water for Wealth and Food Security,” published by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a research center based in Sri Lanka.

“The report says better support for this hidden farmer-led revolution could increase crop yields threefold in some places …

“But such help could be a while coming, because much of the revolution is happening out of sight of governments and international organizations. In Ghana, the study found, small private irrigation schemes cover 185,000 hectares – 25 times more land than public irrigation projects. ‘Yet when I asked the agriculture minister there about these schemes, he hadn’t even heard of them,’ says Colin Chartres, director of IWMI.”

Read more.

Photograph: Noor Khamis/Reuters/File
Boys from Nalepo Primary School draw water using a manual pumping machine in a semi-arid region south of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

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