Monthly Archives: May 2010

The midsummer veterinary conference for sustainable ag

I’m helping plan this conference. It is happening August 12-13 here in Champaign-Urbana. More details here. Look it over and pass it on to others, especially the Call for Abstracts.

I’m in charge of planning the tours. We visited all the farmers who’ve agreed to host our tours. All sustainable/organic livestock farms within a couple of hours of Champaign.

The common theme we heard from each of them…”Our vet really doesn’t come around too often. Just don’t seem to need him/her that much.” Not a big surprise. When you take animals out of confinement, they are “magically” more healthy. Go figure.

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Filed under agriculture, animal ag, natural, organic

Another farm adventure in Brazil

Atlantic Rainforest (Brazil)

If you’ve look around this blog at all you will notice a substantial number of entries on my experiences taking students to Brazil. Now I’ve found another interesting farm in Brazil that hosts guests. Check out the Eco-Farm. Looks fantastic, with many of the same options as FAF. From the pictures is looks like much more Atlantic Rain Forest to explore and the lodging appears to be a little more rustic than FAF. Still, I’d try it. Read Ze’s story here, his dream to farm and journey to financial sustainability.

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Filed under agriculture, natural, small farms

ERS local food systems report

discover local food!

Hot off the press, or available on-line, the USDA’s Economic Research Service has published an 87 page report (ERR-97), Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts and Issues.

It’s a review of published research on the topic, and confirms lots of stuff many of us already know, such as…

1. The local foods market share is small but growing,

2. Some consumers are willing to pay more for locally produced food,

3. Local food production mostly happens on small farms located close to large urban centers.

There is much more, and it’s free to download.

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Filed under agriculture, local food, policy, small farms

Birds weigh in on organic

Are these sunflower seeds certified organic?

Here’s a short article featuring the results of research that tested wild bird seed preference.

The birds preferred conventionally grown wheat seed to organically grown wheat seed, both the same variety. The conventionally grown seed tested 10% higher in protein. The birds seem to know the difference. An interesting follow-up test might be to feed convention and organic seed that both have the same protein content. It isn’t a given that conventional wheat has higher protein content. If there is adequate nitrogen in the organic system, the protein should be the same.

Stick that in your bird feeder, and see what the birds say.

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Filed under agriculture