Opinion/Editorial Archive

My Love Affair with Soil

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

by Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Vermont

Butterworks Farm Cattle on Pasture

We celebrate forty years on our farm this summer. Four decades of Earth stewardship has taught us many lessons—some easy and obvious, others more difficult and involved. Originally, we bought our farm because we wanted to be self-sufficient homesteaders producing everything we needed to sustain ourselves.

We soon found out that we needed some income to provide for the other necessities required by the modern world. This meant off-farm jobs and some kitchen stovetop milk processing of the milk from our two family cows. We began selling a variety of homemade dairy products to our friends and neighbors in 1979. All of a sudden, we were real farmers.

We began cutting hay and growing wheat and barley in 1977. It was also right about this time that I became acquainted with Fred Franklin, a self-proclaimed soils guru and soil fertility expert. Read Full Article »

Agrarian Elders Alarmed by Direction of Organic Agriculture, Share Concerns With the NOSB

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

[This letter was sent to all members of the National Organic Standards Board on April 15, 2016, prior to the recent NOSB meeting. Read more about the Agrarian Elders here.]

Source: Adam McLane

Dear NOSB Members,

As Agrarian Elders we want to tell you how concerned we are about the organic farming movement losing connection with its roots and traditional organic concepts.

  • Production of milk, meat and eggs from giant CAFOs, overtly skirts the spirit and letter of the organic law, betraying consumer trust.
  • The flood of imported organic commodities, including corn and soybeans, is now making up the majority of the market and shutting out U.S. farmers. Can we really trust the organic certification process in China, India or former Soviet bloc states?  US production shortfalls are due to unstable markets and unsustainable pricing: current efforts to recruit more farmers by the OTA is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
  • Allowing hydroponics to be certified as organic is just one area where the USDA has refused to respect the NOSB and its past deliberations, and is defrauding the public. 
  • The current wholesale usurping of the historic NOSB process through shifting the power of board governance from the NOSB to USDA-NOP leadership (Policy & Procedure Manual rewrite).

We are writing, respectfully, to ask you to carefully consider the research that is performed by The Cornucopia Institute, and other nonprofits, respected by the organic farming community, in your deliberations. Read Full Article »

Children Should Have a Safe Environment to Play

Monday, May 9th, 2016

[This piece by Nico D’Orazio, age 10, was originally published in Maryland’s Montgomery Gazette. The paper has since closed, so no link is available. Nico’s parents shared this with us, we found wisdom in Nico’s words and wanted to share them with you.]

Drawing by Nico D’Orazio

by Nick D’Orazio

I watched on CNN “Why Are All The Bees Dying?” and I felt very sad for those bees. Did you know that bees will fly 90,000 miles to collect enough pollen to make 1KG of honey? Why would people use pesticides on dandelions thinking they are weeds? Dandelions actually are bees food and fun to play with it.

The World Health Organization says: “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has assessed the carcinogenicity of five organophosphate pesticides. “

“The herbicide glyphosate and the insecticides malathion and diazinon were classified as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).” Read Full Article »

U.S. Organic Dairy Politics by Bruce A. Scholten

Monday, March 28th, 2016

UK Soil Association’s Organic Farming magazine, Autumn 2015
by Tim Harrap MPhil

Published by
Palgrave Macmillan

With the title U.S. Organic Dairy Politics you might think Bruce Scholten’s new book was too parochial to be of interest to non-US readers interested in organic dairy farming systems. Far from it, this book highlights the social, economic and political challenges we all face in a commercial world.

The book ranges over the background to agricultural revolutions with reference to Balfour, Steiner and Carson and sets the scene for the battles over the number of days on pasture for cows that constitutes an organic production model. With such a variety of climates in the US a one size fits all will always cause friction – EU no different?

Bruce Scholten spends some time teasing out the question of animal welfare, GMO’s and the use of antibiotics in organic herds. He highlights for instance, the conflicting approaches whereby use of antibiotics in the US permanently removes an animal from an organic herd and yet a more liberal interpretation is used when bringing cows in calf into the herd for herd replenishment. Read Full Article »

Farmer John Writes about Farm Monogamy

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Angelic Organics: A Community Supported Agriculture Farm
by Farmer John

I LOVE YOU (Neighbor’s farm is in the
background; maybe it loves the neighbor?)
Source: Angelic Organics

I was driving along one of our fields the other day, and a gleam of light caught my eye. I backed up and spotted what looked like plastic trash. I was about to get out of my vehicle to pick up the shiny intruder when I noticed that it was emblazoned with the words I LOVE YOU.

Who, Who Do You Love?
This was just a cheap, garish balloon, but it was announcing that it loves me. What does this I LOVE YOU mean, I wondered?  Does it love me? Did it love someone else? Perhaps it’s in a serial relationship, and used to love someone else, but now loves me. Perhaps it’s a polyamorous balloon and it loves me and someone else. I began to feel that my irritation with this disheveled balloon was inappropriate. It’s saying it loves me. Maybe I should just take a deep breath and let it in.

I left the balloon where it had landed and drove off, pondering the nature of love. What makes love authentic? Is it the person, or balloon, who declares it? Is it authentic depending on how the love is proclaimed? Does it depend on the setting in which it is delivered?

Love…I thought about the love for a farm. What has to be in place for there to be love for a farm?

Relationship has to be in place for there to be love for a farm. Read Full Article »