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Archive for the ‘Organic/Environment’ Category

It’s fair to say that a lot of people who grow their own vegetables take an interest in organic farming and a more sustainable approach to food production. Hand in hand with this – the perception that monocultures are a complete no-no. That’s what makes this article (and accompanying video) by Frederick Kaufman so interesting (to me, anyway).

Written for  America’s Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Kaufman’s article puts an alternative spin on the concept of sustainability by looking at how large-scale monoculture farming (in this case, Frank Muller’s uber-tomato farm which, last year, supplied 60,000 tonnes of tomatoes to Unilever) might actually be part of a green farming solution rather than wholesale contributor to its problems.  The article looks at ways in which high-precision management, a focus on productivity and spot-on book-keeping can be part of a green farming solution.

Counter-intuitive, but plenty of food for thought….


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If you live in the UK, count yourself lucky (even if you are under a few feet of snow!) – the Soil Association is offering free courses on a range of gardening/agriculture/organic topics throughout the country between now and March 2010. From crop planning to pig keeping, horticulture and growing vegetables in your community, there’s something for everyone.

Free courses with the Soil Association this winter.

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Landshare.org is a British initiative that looks to re-think the way we produce and grow food. The community puts people who have land in touch with people who want to produce food and encourages people to get talking and working together. The idea is that people with a bit of spare space can offer it to a would-be grower in exchange for some of their harvest. The British TV station Channel 4 has set up a web site and forum based around the aims of the organisation. If you’re looking for some inspiration and would like to get involved, why not check it out.

www.landshare.org

http://landshare.channel4.com

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If this doesn’t get you out into the garden and growing your own, nothing will. Writers Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser are involved in this documentary about everything that’s wrong with the American (and, consequently, global) food system and what we can do to change it.

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The UK’s Soil Association has announced that if all British farmland was converted to organic farming, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be absorbed by the soil each year – the equivalent of pulling almost 1 million cars off the roads.

Research undertaken by the association (available for download here), further suggests that a worldwide switch to organic farming could offset 11% of all global greenhouse gases. Among the other findings: widespread adoption of organic farming methods in the UK would offset 23% of the country’s agricultural emissions through soil carbon sequestration alone – significantly better than the UK government’s current target of 6-11% by 2020.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that 89% of agriculture’s global greenhouse gas mitigation potential is from carbon sequestration. In addition to helping to counter climate change, soil carbon also helps improve soil structure and quality, reducing the impact of climate-related problems such as flooding or drought. One of the main causes of low carbon levels in arable land is intensive, overly specialised farming.

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There’s more to bees than honey and stings. Without them, we’d have a lot less food on our plates – honeybees pollinate more than 30% of everything we eat, which is why scientists are increasingly concerned about the mysterious phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder, the apian world’s answer to the Marie Celeste…

“The Vanishing of the Bees” is a feature-length documentary highlighting the real impact a declining honeybee population could have on the world we live in and the food we eat. Check out the trailer here:

YouTube – Vanishing of the Bees Trailer.

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Worm composters beware! Pesticide-covered watermelon could kill your squirmy friends – and make you sick too.

164009_watermelonIf you’re reading this blog, there’s every chance you’re the owner of some type of worm composter. The people over at FullCycle in Noordhoek, Cape Town are reporting that several of their customers noticed their worms died after being fed watermelon. In looking for a possible cause, they found that a pesticide by the name of Aldicarb (brand named “Temik”), although severely restricted for use in other countries, is listed for use on crops by the Department of Agriculture in South Africa. (more…)

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