Chicago Farmers annual meeting touches on sustainability issues

The Chicago Farmers’ annual Investment Fair is coming up Feb 4. Along with the usual legal and technical topics there will be several issues related to sustainability. Here’s the schedule as it appears on my friend, Rich Schell’s blog

8:45 – 9:30 a.m.     Session 1
Condemnation & Eminent Domain
Managing Drainage
The Business Case for Investing in Local & Organic Farms
Biomass: Your Third Crop
Farmland Values
10:15 – 11:00 a.m     Session 2
Conservation Solutions
Custom Farm Leasing
“How To” info for Farmer’s Markets & Grass Fed By-The-Numbers
Evolving Biomass Markets: Home To Industry
Condemnation & Eminent Domain
11:00 – 1:00 p.m.     Complimentary Lunch Served
11:15 – 12:00 p.m.     Session 3
1031 Exchange
4 R’s of Nutrient Management
Value Added and Its Effect on Farmland Values
Investing In South American Agriculture
Wind & Solar Energy
1:15 – 2:00 p.m.     Session 4
Remote Sensing
Farmland Values

For more info and to register, go to the Chicago Farmers website —


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Finally, legal legs for organic farms

how many lawyers will it take...

It is fairly common for organic fields to be contaminated by careless spraying from conventional neighbors. In Illinois, it is particularly problematic when pesticides are applied by crop dusting airplanes. I have heard more than one farmer express their frustrations. No one seems to care, but that might change now that we have some real legal precedents for organic farmers looking for justice in the courts.

Read more HERE.

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Some progress on shrinking Chicago’s food desert

food desert pic

where's the food?

Here’s a recent article on some surprising developments in Chicago inter-urban areas that have gone decades without ready access to fresh, healthy food. These are referred to as “food deserts,” and most large cities contain such areas. The report on Chicago is encouraging, and there seems to be a lot of activity going on in this area. I have recently become involved in helping start an urban farm for a newly emerging Montessori school in a South Chicago suburb . This self-sustaining farm will feed the kids high-quality, fresh food, but also be used as an outside classroom and laboratory.

Ideas such as this can help break the generations-long cycle of lousy eating habits and food ignorance prevalent in the inner city.

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Lousy GMO news for organic

Less research means more yield.

According to new governmental regulations, companies developing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will now be responsible themselves for conducting the research that APHIS will use to do their environmental impact study on the companies products. That will produce a cheaper, faster road to the marketplace for GMO seed, a growing headache for neighboring organic farmers. And it will tighten their already substantial control over all the research done, and scientific information published, on their products.

Concerns? What concerns?

Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, is quoted in Popular Science as saying, “It’s like asking BP to write an assessment of an offshore drilling operation.”

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Food and politics blog

image: presidential food service

I recently discovered the Obama Foodorama blog. I’ll add it to my blog roll. Michelle Obama’s initiatives to change the food system at the White House and USDA generated some excitement early on among sustainable and organic food types. Unfortunately, the latest budget deal eliminated some SARE programs like ATTRA, one of the greatest, most useful government-funded programs ever.

One step forward. Two steps back.

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Good farm and food TV

Meet the Farmer TV host, Mike Clark

Just discovered this very nice site called, “Meet The Farmer TV.” Lots of recorded video episodes on sustainable farms and food. The ones I watched were well done, mostly out of Virginia. Produced by Planet Earth Diversified.

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The promise of ecological farming

farming's bright future

According to Reuters, a  recent U.N. report claims that ag production could be doubled within 10 years if farmers switched to ecological farming practices, especially in developing countries…

So far, eco-farming projects in 57 nations had shown average crop yield gains of 80 percent by tapping natural methods for enhancing soil and protecting against pests, it said.

Recent projects in 20 African countries had resulted in a doubling of crop yields within three to 10 years. Those lessons could be widely mimicked elsewhere, it said.

“Sound ecological farming can significantly boost production and in the long term be more effective than conventional farming,” De Schutter told Reuters of steps such as more use of natural compost or high-canopy trees to shade coffee groves.

Typically, ecological farming requires less technology, so adoption would be easier for low-income farmers in developing regions. It’s a long-term strategy for sustainable growth —  build up production and the health of the soil at the same time.


Filed under environment, food, natural