The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Most Retiring Farmers in New England Have No One to Take Over the Farm, New Study Shows

May 6th, 2016

American Farmland Trust
Contact: Cris Coffin, Policy Director, Land for Good

Source: Patrick

Nearly 30 percent of New England’s farmers are likely to exit farming in the next 10+ years, and nine out of ten are farming without a young farmer alongside them. This is according to new analysis of U.S. Census of Agriculture data that was part of a study released in April by American Farmland Trust (AFT) and Land For Good (LFG). The year-long study—that also included farmer focus groups—sheds new light on what will be needed to facilitate the transition of farms and farmland in New England to a next generation of farmers. At no point is a farm’s future more at risk than during this transition.

92 percent of New England’s 10,369 senior farmers do not have a farm operator under age 45 working with them. While this does not mean that these farmers don’t have a succession plan, it suggests that the future of many of these farms is uncertain.

“It was a real wake-up call to see how few farmers age 65+ have a next generation working on the farm with them,” said Cris Coffin, Policy Director for Land For Good, who directed the study. “How and to whom this land and farm infrastructure transfers will have an enormous impact on the future of farming in New England.” Read Full Article »

An Urban Food Forest Takes to the Waterways

May 5th, 2016

by Eillie Anzilotti

Source: Michael Wifall

How a floating farm aims to make free, fresh produce available to all.

Green space is vital to cities: it beautifies, reduces crime rates, and provides a necessary space where harried urban dwellers can sit, look up at the trees, and breathe.

In some places, it also feeds people. Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest sprawls out across seven acres in the southern portion of the Pacific Northewestern city. Volunteers cultivate its rows of trees and shrubs, from which anyone in the community can harvest at will. Since its establishment in 2012, it’s grown “wildly prosperous,” Grist reported. It’s local, sustainable, and charitable: an example of the sharing economy at its peak. Similar plots of edible urban forestry have cropped up in places like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.

This summer, one will arrive in New York, too. But it will look a little different. Read Full Article »

Rural Sociologist to Lead Cornucopia’s Communications and Development Team

May 5th, 2016
Jennifer Hayden, PhD

The Cornucopia Institute has hired Jennifer Hayden as its Communications and Development Director. Hayden holds a Ph.D. in rural sociology from Penn State, where her doctoral research focused on how farmers make soil management decisions. As a rural sociologist, she is concerned with the structure and history of agriculture and with conducting research with, rather than for, farmers.

The Cornucopia Institute is a national non-profit organization, based in Wisconsin, engaged in research and education activities concerning farming and food policy. Cornucopia has earned a reputation as a watchdog over corporate and governmental activities involved with organic food and agriculture. One of Cornucopia’s founding advisors was the late renowned rural sociologist Fred Buttel.

Hayden’s research interests dovetail with her experience in non-profit development and communications, helping to tell the story of the changing landscape of organic agriculture, while ensuring that organic farmers and eaters have the information, networks and support needed to help uphold the integrity of the organic standards. Read Full Article »

Climate Change Adds Urgency To Push to Save World’s Seeds

May 4th, 2016

by Virginia Gewin

Source: USDA

In the face of rising temperatures and worsening drought, the world’s repositories of agricultural seeds may hold the key to growing food under increasingly harsh conditions. But keeping these gene banks safe and viable is a complicated and expensive challenge.

During the 872-day German siege of Leningrad in World War II, in which an estimated 1.1 million civilians died, a small band of workers devoted themselves to safeguarding a priceless trove of 200,000 seeds at the Institute of Plant Industry. Then the world’s largest seed bank, the collection had been amassed, in large part, by famed Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov during expeditions to 64 countries.

As the siege wore on and starvation became epidemic, workers at the institute refused to eat the seeds and protected them from hungry citizens.

Nine of Vavilov’s seed bank colleagues ultimately died from starvation.

Seventy years later, in 2012, employees of a gene bank at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Syria (ICARDA), heroically duplicated irreplaceable wheat, barley, and lentil seeds and spirited them out of the battle-scarred country to the frozen Svalbard Seed Vault, located inside a Norwegian mountain. Last year, the vault was opened for the first time to retrieve those seeds in order to re-establish ICARDA’s gene banks in Lebanon and Morocco. Read Full Article »

Nutritionally-Enhanced GM Crops? Too Bad About the Deformed Butterflies

May 4th, 2016

The Ecologist
by Claire Robinson / GM Watch

Field of canola
Source: Massmo Relsig

It looked like such a good idea: take the pressure off wild fish stocks by growing GM oilseeds that produce health-enhancing long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, writes Claire Robinson. But as a new study has established, those fish oils, novel in terrestrial ecosystems, cause wing deformities in cabbage white butterflies. Yet a third open field trial of these GM crops could soon be under way.

In humans, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health, brain development and function, and the immune system.

They are naturally found in oily fish and algae. Many people take supplements of omega-3 oils produced in algae to boost their health status and alleviate allergies, arthritis and other diseases.

Recently, scientists have genetically engineered GM canola and camelina (also known as ‘false flax’) to contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000