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Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

The People Making a Difference series of the Christian Science Monitor is a reliable source of worthy stories that don’t make the US headlines. I thought this one — about women in Nepal holding things together as their husbands pursue jobs in India — was worth sharing.

Zoe Tabary, of the Thomson Reuters Foundation writes, “Ratna Chaudhary delicately lifts the hem of her pink and green dress with one hand, while using the other to scoop up a batch of cabbages in her garden in the village of Phulbari, a dozen kilometers from the Nepal-India border.

“She calls three women to help, who join the dance-like movement, bending and swaying as they pick up vegetables and lay them in a basket.

” ‘Since my husband works in India now, I’m responsible for harvesting all our crops,’ said Chaudhary, holding two cabbages to her face before throwing the yellower one to the ground.

“Her husband, Chatkauna, is one of at least 2.2 million Nepalis – nearly 10 percent of the population – who work abroad, according to the Nepal Institute of Development Studies.

“For the past three years, Chatkauna has taken on seasonal work for most of the year as a miner in the Indian city of Haldwani. It pays more than the daily jobs he used to do in his hometown, and he returns to Phulbari every four months to see his family and hand over his earnings. …

“The outflow of male workers – in particular from rural areas faced with worsening climate conditions – has major implications for the country’s agricultural sector, believes Madan Pariyar, project director at International Development Enterprises (iDE), a non-profit group that helps poor farmers with work and income opportunities. …

“Chaudhary used to work on a sugarcane farm in India herself. ‘We just couldn’t earn enough in our village,’ she said.

“For the past six months, however, she has cultivated her own patch of land and leases the remainder of it – 1,700 square meters (18,299 square feet) – to other poor, low-caste farmers from the ‘tharu’ ethnic minority group, one of Nepal’s largest.

“In 2015, iDE helped Chaudhary set up a village vegetable co-operative, which she chairs, to boost local farmers’ incomes. The project is part of the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) program, funded by the British government. …

“With iDE’s help, 25 subsistence farmers – 18 women and five men – grow vegetables on 68 square-meter plots of land, which they rent from Chaudhary, paying her in cash or in kind. They bring their spare produce to a collection center, which transports the vegetables and other crops to large markets or sells them to regular buyers.

“The co-operative also gives farmers better access to cheaper seeds, fertilizers and finance such as private investment and micro-credit. While the project is still in its early days, it is already yielding results. ‘Farmers now earn 50 rupees ($0.50) more a day than they did previously,’ said Pariyar.”

More here.

Photo: Zoe Tabary
Women farmers pick vegetable crops in the village of Phulbari, Nepal, May 18, 2016.

 

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As a coffee drinker and a fan of Dean’s Beans (whose mission is “to use high-quality specialty coffee as a vehicle for progressive change throughout the coffeelands of Asia, Africa and the Americas”), I was interested to come upon a Living on Earth radio story about the wider sustainable-coffee movement.

Steve Curwood is host of the Public Radio International show.

“CURWOOD: A cup of joe might help sustain your energy, but it may not be so sustainable for the Earth. Just 12 percent of coffee is sold under the label ‘sustainably grown.’ A new initiative called the Sustainable Coffee Challenge aims to change the way the coffee industry operates to the benefit of the Earth. Peter Seligmann is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Conservation International. … So tell me about the sustainable coffee challenge that CI has just formed. Why did you zero in on coffee as a target for sustainability?

“SELIGMANN: Well, we started working on coffee about 15 years ago with Starbucks, and after 15 years we’ve been able to announce with Starbucks that 99 percent of all their coffee is certifiably sustainably harvested and produced. Which means that as their company has grown they have not cut a single tree, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests have been set aside as Starbucks has expanded its coffee business. That inspired us to think, is it possible to make coffee the first agricultural commodity that is completely and 100 percent sustainably produced. …

“The dark side of coffee growing is that coffee that is not produced under the shade of forest, [is] produced by clear-cutting forests and planting coffee. And when you clear-cut a forest, you destroy the biodiversity, you put emissions — CO2 emissions — in the atmosphere, you lose soil, and you do industrial agriculture, which maximizes pesticides and chemicals and reduces the benefits to society.

“CURWOOD: So, what’s the obstacle to growing coffee sustainably?

“SELIGMANN: It’s convincing the producers that this is in their enlightened self-interest. To go from non-sustainable coffee to sustainable coffee requires an investment of money and it requires time. Most of these growers, farmers actually work in co-ops, and the challenge is getting the co-ops to agree that this is the transition they want to make from non-sustainable to sustainable and what’s going to motivate them is there being a buyer for the coffee they grow. And so it gets back to the consumer, and the consumer says it’s what we want.” Read on.

Photo: Martin Diepeveen, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Coffee beans are the pits inside the fruit or “cherry” of the coffee plant.

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Photo: Bob Plain

I do love the inventiveness of entrepreneurs. A friend of Suzanne and Erik’s is an inventive entrepreneur — an oyster entrepreneur, to be specific. Since oysters are a seasonal crop, he looked for something that might become his winter crop.

Bob Plain’s Narragansett Bay Blog has the story on Jules Opton-Himmel, RI’s first kelp farmer.

“Kelp, you may or may not have heard, is the next super food. It’s nutritious, sustainable and ecologically beneficial,” writes Plain.

He continues with a quote from a recent New Yorker article by Dana Goodyear: ” ‘Seaweed, which requires neither fresh water nor fertilizer, is one of the world’s most sustainable and nutritious crops. It absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dioxide directly from the sea — its footprint is negative — and proliferates at a terrific rate.’ …

“Coincidentally – and quite auspiciously – just as the blockbuster New Yorker article hit the newsstands, Opton-Himmel was gearing up to introduce kelp farming to Rhode Island. …

“Farm-raised kelp is grown on a longline – a submersible thick rope, held in place by anchors and buoys, that is used to hold in place seafood harvesting equipment. A thin string of kelp spores is wrapped around the longline, and the kelp grows toward the bottom. Opton-Himmel, with the help of Scott Lindell and David Bailey from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass, planted 1,000 feet. …

“Unlike oysters, which grow in the warmer months, kelp only grows when it’s cold. That means it could prove an off-season bumper crop for otherwise summertime-only seafood harvesters. Walrus and Carpenter downsizes from 7 to 3 employees in the winter, Opton-Himmel said, and kelp could help him keep the other four on the payroll all year long.

“ ‘I’d love to keep all 6 on year-round,’ Opton-Himmel said.”

More here.

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Photo: Geoff Childs
Cleaning harvested yartsa gunbu prior to sale. 

Thanks so much to the folks who recently signed up to follow this blog. If you joined hoping that I would blog often about the topic that drew you here, you will soon find that the posts are rather eclectic. A couple years back, Suzanne thought it would be nice to have a blog tied to Luna & Stella, and she said I could write about anything that interested me. I thought, Wow! What an opportunity!

Today’s story is from the radio show Living on Earth. It’s about Tibetans in Nepal who have managed to avoid overharvesting a fungus that’s wildly popular in China.

“Anthropologist Geoff Childs of Washington University tells host Steve Curwood how one [area] is managing to harvest the resource sustainably. …

“Nubri is a valley in Gurkha district in the country of Nepal. The residents are ethnically Tibetan. They’ve been living there for about 700 or 800 years, so it’s an indigenous population of Nepal. What they have done in contrast to other areas is they’ve limited the number of collectors to only residents of the villages, and so that keeps the number of collectors way down. …

“CHILDS: What they’ve arrived at in Nubri is a combination of what they call ‘yultim,’ which we could translate as village regulations, secular regulations, and ‘chutim,’ which are religious regulations. … What they will do is, they will decree certain areas off-limits to human exploitation, and usually that’s a sacred grove of trees, a certain slope of a mountain that a deity inhabits or something like that. … In terms of the sustainability of Yartsa Gunbu, that’s going to be important because those are areas where annually nobody will harvest it. So it can come to fruition. It can spore. It can live out its normal life cycle.

In terms of the village regulations the first one that I just mentioned is the exclusion of all outsiders. The second one is they’ve got a designated starting date, and they arrive at that by looking at the snow melt, looking at the conditions in the alpine pasture and figuring out what’s going to be the likely time when it’s best to gather it.

“And so for a couple weeks prior to the official starting date, every adult in the village has to check in four times daily to the village meetinghouse to prove that you’re not collecting early. A third thing that they do is they tax it. For the first member of your household, the tax is very low; it’s 100 rupees or approximately $1 dollar … they gather that tax and use it for communal purposes.

“CURWOOD: So this consensus process, everybody agrees, everybody trusts, but they also verify. … looking at this from a broader resource management perspective, what are some lessons that we can take away from what’s happening in Nubri?

“CHILDS: Trust indigenous people. Don’t immediately assume that as outsiders with more education we can come in and devise a system that will work for them. I think, first of all, study what’s in place. Study with an open mind and move from there.”

Photo: Geoff Childs 
Mt. Manaslu (26,759ft.) in Nubri is the 8th highest mountain in the world.

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pumpkin-stack

A time of year to get creative with squashes, visit a farmers market, kayak on a river, roof the barn.

Get it all in before winter. Only the wooly bear knows for sure how long the winter will be.

Photo of farmers market: Sandra M. Kelly
Other photos: Suzanne’s Mom

kayak-2101213-autumn-bounty

roofing-the-barn

autumn-leaves-new-england

deciduous-holly

wooly-bear

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Check out this story in the Boston Globe. It seems especially timely given the increasing numbers of people growing their own food and the concerns about many others who are struggling.

“Every summer, 40 million backyard farmers produce more food than they can use, while people in their communities go hungry. If only they could link up. Enter Gary Oppenheimer, 59, of West Milford, N.J. He was directing a community garden a couple of years ago when inspiration struck. In May 2009, AmpleHarvest.org hit the Internet, connecting food pantries and gardeners. In just 150 days, Rosie’s Place in Boston became the 1,000th pantry on the site, and the growth has continued. As of Labor Day, 4,188 pantries were listed, in all states. Oppenheimer says the nonprofit organization is actively seeking grant funding to sustain what has sprung up.” Read more here.

If you have extra produce from your garden, you can go to AmpleHarvest to find a food pantry near you.

Photographs: Sandra M. Kelly

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Here’s an interesting thought for harvest time.

In the NY Times, T. Lynne Pixley writes about Kelly Callahan and other Atlanta residents who forage for food among the many neglected, foreclosed properties in their neighborhoods.

Walking her dog in her neighborhood, Callahan saw “plenty of empty, bank-owned properties for sale.”

She also noticed that the “forlorn yards were peppered with overgrown gardens and big fruit trees, all bulging with the kind of bounty that comes from the high heat and afternoon thunderstorms that have defined Atlanta’s summer. So she began picking. First, there was a load of figs, which she intends to make into jam for a cafe that feeds homeless people. Then, for herself, she got five pounds of tomatoes, two kinds of squash and — the real prize — a Sugar Baby watermelon.” Others have joined in. Read more here.

I was interested to learn about “foraging” in Atlanta because I had recently read about a related activity in Vermont, called “gleaning.” Gleaning is a bit more out in the open. Farmers who are finished harvesting their crops give permission to gleaners, usually volunteers, to pick over what’s left and take it to families in need and to food pantries. One group engaged in this effort is the Addison County Gleaning Program. Read about it here.

It turns out that there is a lot of food that would otherwise go to waste. So it seems good that the food benefits someone.

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