Date: February 10th 2012

 
 

PEI ADAPT Council Agri-Newsletter

Vol. XI; No. 3; February 10, 2012

 

In This Issue:

PEI ADAPT AGM & Conference ‘The Future Face of Island Agriculture’ March 7-8

Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week, February 26 to March 3, 2012

Young Farmers Sprouting Up Everywhere

Seeds For Young Farmers

"Young Farmers" Land and Sea documentary

PEI ADAPT AGM & Conference ‘The Future Face of Island Agriculture’ March 7-8

Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

DRAFT February 10, 2012

Agenda

Wednesday March 7, 2012

Annual General Business Meeting 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. and Reception: 7-9:30 p.m.

With Guests; Dr. Av Singh, AgraPoint and

Lucia Stephen, ACORN, ‘Grow a Farmer’ and the Atlantic premier of, ‘Grow’

(Winner BEST DOCUMENTARY – 2011 Rome International Film Festival;

Conference Thursday March 8, 2012

‘The Future Face of Island Agriculture’

                                                                            Monique McTiernan, Atlantic Agriculture Leadership Program, ‘Moving Ideas into Action’

                                                                            Jennifer Waugh-Campbell, New Generation Young Farmer ‘Our Island Family Farm

                                                                            Dr. Av Singh, Agra-Point, ‘Adopting the Wisdoms of Global South Farming’

                                                                            Jeff & Debra Moore, Co-Founders, Just Us Coffee Roasters Cooperative

                                                                            PEI ADAPT Project Expo, Project Leaders on their project’s Objectives, Outcomes and Impacts

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS FREE and is open to anyone with an interest in the future of the Island’s agricultural and agri-food production.

However, pre-registration is necessary as space is limited.

Please pre-register by calling: 902-368-2005 or by email: phil@peiadapt.com

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week, February 26 to March 3, 2012

Want to help convey the excitement of agriculture, stewardship and the love of the land to a new generation of future farmers?

Agricultural readers are needed to meet the demand of the classes who want to participate. This is an excellent opportunity to educate youth about the importance of the agricultural industry! Please spread the word to your members or neighbors!

For further information on what is expected of readers and how to sign up, contact calwpei@yahoo.ca or Wanda at 892-1091.

 

Young Farmers Sprouting Up Everywhere

By Jared Pickard; www.civileats.com

In an attempt to explain what seems to be the seed of a cosmic shift in how farming is practiced and portrayed in America, I offer you my story:

I’m 26 years old, and after a three year stint working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and navigating the concrete jungle, I needed out.

I was interested in much more than a career change. My mind, my body, my immune system, my belief system, my soul, my skin, and my fingertips—every piece of me began aching to evacuate the city immediately.

Without any major physical ailments or health concerns to speak of, my ill feelings inspired me to reexamine what I, as a human being, truly needed to get by. All the things I felt I needed—fresh food raised naturally, exercising and sweating in the sun, getting dirt under my nails, breathing fresh air, walking on earth, feeling accomplished by my labor—these very personal things I craved were being hustled, bustled, and trampled on by my own over-stimulated, under-satisfied, never-sleeping, big apple life.

Exposed to organics, local farmers, and the flourishing Brooklyn farm-to-table restaurant scene, I had gotten a taste of what was possible and there was no turning back. I was hooked—something from deep inside me began to slowly bubble towards the surface.

As I looked around me–whether it be America as a whole, a particular state I was in, the strangers sitting across from me on public transit, or even my closest loved ones–I’ve seen that we are becoming a sick people. Fat and obese people everywhere, widespread learning disabilities amongst children, and cancers riddling away entire family trees are now cultural norms.

Finally there came a point in time (about a year ago to the day) when I refused to continue going along for the ride. There are wrongs—serious wrongs—being committed to our land, to our people, and to our freedoms on a daily basis at the grocery checkout counter. The expression "you are what you eat" is no old wives’ tale, it’s pure truth. At any given second our cells are dying and new ones are being reproduced using whatever we put in our mouths. Do you want to replace your dead cells with nutrient dense vegetables and healthy, well-balanced animal fats—or processed and packaged toxins?

Organics pioneer, Sir Albert Howard, wrote in his 1943 book An Agricultural Testament, "artificial manures lead inevitably to artificial nutrition, artificial food, artificial animals, and finally artificial men and women." This cycle is an ever-worsening situation for our country, and it realizes an unholy amount of cash flow for the nation’s worst perpetrators against the public health and well-being.

Young people everywhere are living with these effects first hand. The drastic changes, consolidations, short cuts, and widespread use of drugs and chemicals in conventional agriculture have all taken place right under our grandparent’s noses. Food did not used to be like this, and the older generation is our witness. While old timers can cheerfully reminisce about the days when they had chickens out back, or picked berries with their papa, people my age are first beginning to bear the true consequences of industrialized food. Young people can see it in their broken families, in their autistic sisters, and in their asthmatic cousins who survive on diets of fruity pebbles and Ritalin. We see it, and we want to change it.

For the first time in many generations there is an uprising of young men and women stepping onto America’s fields, digging into earth, and making a sustainable and satisfying life for themselves. We are doing it not only because we want to, but because we need to. We are passionate, we are educated, and we are on a mission to heal our communities, our families, the land, and ourselves.

And so, from Wall Street one day, to rural Georgia the next, I am currently farming under the tutelage of farmer/restaurateur Jason Mann. Through our vegetable wing, Full Moon Farms, and our pasture raised meat cooperative, Moonshine Meats, we feed the community through a successful community supported agriculture (CSA) program, as well as supplying Jason’s two farm-AND-table restaurants that please both mouths as well as minds (Farm255 in Athens and Farm Burger in Decatur).

I’d like to close this post with a quote from a fellow young farmer, and good friend, that I think embodies the spirit of our movement. This was the closing to a farewell email he wrote on his departure from our Athens community: "It may not seem like it all the time, but our paths are both humble and righteous, and we cannot go wrong."

 

Seeds For Young Farmers

By Brie Mazurek; www.civileats.com

When Jesse Kuhn started Marin Roots Farm at age 28, he already had dirt under his fingernails. He’d studied ag in college, managed a student farm, and worked as a landscaper. But when it came to succeeding financially in the farming business, he had a long way to go. "I was charging up my credit cards like crazy and bouncing balances back and forth," he says. "I almost had to declare bankruptcy during the first year."

Almost 10 years and many lessons later, Marin Roots is a well-established organic specialty produce business. "It’s a lot of people’s dream to live off the land, but the reality of it is, you have to have a plan for how you’re going to pay the bills," says Kuhn.

His journey is not unlike that of many beginners who are eager to try their hand at farming but don’t yet have all the necessary skills and resources. In a recent report titled Building a Future with Farmers, the National Young Farmers’ Coalition (NYFC) surveyed 1,000 young and beginning farmers across the US and found that access to land, capital, health care, credit, and business training posed huge challenges.

"What’s different for young and first-career farmers is that they don’t have a lot of equity," says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a young farmer in New York’s Hudson Valley who is also co-chair of NYFC and director of The Greenhorns, a film and nonprofit organization that advocates for young farmers. "You see a lot of student debt. Farming is a high-capital industry—an industry that really needs us, but we’re walking in without any cash."

Green Thumbs To Greenhorn

Kuhn’s path to farming started as a child in San Geronimo, where he had little exposure to agriculture but picked up a passion for gardening from his grandmother. "She had two green thumbs for sure, and I learned from that," says Kuhn. When he went to Humboldt State, he joined their new agriculture program and studied permaculture on the side. He also took time off from school to work at an organic soil company and contemplate career paths.

After college he started farming a small one-acre plot, using the model he’d learned on the student farm, but realized the operation was more like a hobby farm than a viable business. So he worked as a landscaper while farming small plots in friends’ backyards, which eventually helped him build the courage to take the leap into full-time farming.

He took out a "land wanted" ad in the Press Democrat and, after receiving a number of responses, settled on a 15-acre agricultural plot on a goat dairy ranch near Petaluma. But there were setbacks infrastructure-wise, such as having to install a new irrigation system, and Kuhn began charging up his credit cards. Right when he was about to declare bankruptcy, a low-interest beginning farmer loan through the USDA Farm Service Agency came through. He was able to buy a tractor, a delivery truck, and seeds.

Through much experimentation, Kuhn found his niche growing organic specialty crops such as baby greens, roots, beans, and summer squash for farmers markets and grocery stores, restaurants, and wholesalers. "A lot of the products I was selling weren’t standardized because I was doing open-pollinated varieties, but there was certainly a market for that," he says. He now employs a handful of full-time market and field staff.

Kuhn has had to learn much through trial by fire, particularly the organizational side of growing a successful business. He’s found support in his family (his mother helps with accounting, and his father is on call as farm mechanic), as well as in other Marin farmers and the Bay Area farmers market community. "It’s definitely tough farming," he says. "The farmers market has been a great support network for me, meeting up with the other farmers every week, bouncing ideas off each other, seeing what they’re bringing to market, and getting their advice."

Growing Roots

Kuhn is still a young farmer by national standards, which place the average farmer at 57. The USDA estimates that 500,000 US farmers (about one-quarter) will retire by 2030, leaving a large gap for the next generation to fill. "We have ever older farmers and ever fewer people who are growing our food," says Fleming. "I think young farmers are especially well poised to address food security and the re-regionalization of our food system."

As a result of the Building a Future with Farmers study, the NYFC has proposed a policy agenda including recommendations such as improving credit and savings opportunities, addressing land access and affordability issues, legalizing farm apprenticeships, and expanding training programs. (For more about legal issues related to apprenticeships, see The Farm Intern Conundrum.)

The NYFC study underscores the viability of direct marketing as a start-up strategy for new farmers, with 61 percent of their respondents selling at farmers markets and 49 percent through CSAs. "Helping young farmers means reorienting our food systems so that we’re not just supporting producers who are growing commodity crops and abandoning the small- and medium-scale producers who are more than likely selling directly to the marketplace," says Fleming.

For aspiring greenhorns, Kuhn recommends getting a job or volunteering on a farm in order to get to know the business. When taking the plunge into starting your own farm, he emphasizes finding the right piece of land, with infrastructure already in place, and developing a niche.

But despite the challenges he’s encountered along the way, Kuhn loves what he does. "Being able to wake up on the farm is incredible," he says. "And it’s rewarding to go to the farmers market and meet the people who are going to be eating my food."

 

"Young Farmers" Land and Sea documentary

http://www.cbc.ca/landandsea/2012/01/young-farmers.html

"Young Farmers" documentary- In a time when our appetite for mass produced, imported foods seems to have no limits - we'll meet a small group of young farmers who are choosing new ways to work their land and sell their goods."

 

 

 

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The Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) is a five-year (2009 - 2014), $163 million program with the objective of facilitating the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector's ability to seize opportunities, to respond to new and emerging issues and to pathfind and pilot solutions to new and ongoing issues in order to help it adapt and remain competitive.

Launched as a successor to the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program, the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) will continue to support industry-led initiatives at the national, regional and multi-regional levels.

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