Category: Community Gardens

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July 23rd, 2013

Onerous Food Safety Rules Could Abolish Outdoor Access for Laying Hens

Cornucopia, WI – Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft guidance document to clarify how egg producers, including organic farmers with outdoor access, can comply with its 2009 egg safety rule aimed at reducing salmonella contamination in the nation’s egg supply.

Since organic producers are required by federal standards to grant outdoor access to their laying hens, the guidance applies to all organic egg producers.  The FDA, which collaborated with the USDA’s National Organic Program in promulgating their guidance, recognizes minute covered porches, which do not afford true and meaningful outdoor access to laying hens, as one of four possible organic production systems and thereby legitimizes their use.

Herbrucks Egg Farm 006-smallAlready the focus of controversy and threatened lawsuits, the USDA has been widely criticized for allowing giant “organic” factory farms, confining as many as 100,000 birds to a building, to skirt the requirements for outdoor access by employing tiny screened porches, often with a capacity of only 1-3% of the confined birds.  The USDA is currently allowing these giant poultry operations to claim these structures as the legally required “access to the outdoors.”

“This is collusion between two Obama administration agencies to significantly and permanently weaken the integrity of the organic standards,” says Mark Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute.

“By giving the OK to use covered porches as ‘outdoor access,’ and putting additional burdens on producers with legitimate outdoor runs or pasture, the recommendations in this food safety document decisively tilt the playing field to industrial-scale producers,” added Kastel.

Some in the organic community had been concerned that the FDA would require impractical swabbing and disinfecting of the outdoor areas but the draft guidance puts these concerns to rest.  However, other prevention and control measures that are included in the guidance could force organic producers to devote significant additional resources, or may even make it impossible for pastured poultry operations to comply.

trip - sara and mark 063_2Stephanie Alexandre, a producer of certified organic, pastured eggs near Crescent City, California, objects to the draft guidance.  “It’s ironic that federal regulators would apply such scrutiny, and costly and labor-intensive requirements, to my farm when there is abundant published, peer-reviewed research indicating that the real danger to society, from salmonella contamination in eggs, comes from giant industrial operations, generally with caged birds, not with modest sized flocks of pastured poultry,” said the organic farmer.

For example, despite weak scientific evidence that contact with wild birds is a significant risk factor for salmonella contamination, the FDA requires organic producers to minimize contact with other birds.  The agency recommends noise cannons, temporary confinement, or netting, or even structures with roofs (porches) which would be cost prohibitive for most organic producers with meaningful outdoor access.

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By David Michael
Food Freedom News

On this Independence Day we should be celebrating freedom and thankful for those who died, were injured and served in the military over the decades to keep the freedom we have. This is the thanks Mark Baker, a 20-year military veteran, has received from the Michigan state government and this is an example of those freedoms being lost.

Late last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) demanded the payment of $700,000 from a small farm family of ten and the destruction of 70 of their pigs at Baker’s Green Acres, operated by Mark and Jill Baker and their eight children. This action followed Mark Baker’s comments during testimony opposing a new rule at a state congressional hearing where he identified himself as owner of three hogs deemed illegal (because of their looks). He understood the new rule, called an Invasive Species Order (ISO) to mean the state would threaten him with fines, criminal charges and a two-year prison term and an order to destroy his animals. Baker answered the ISO by filing a lawsuit against the state agency for the damages and their reckless behavior.

In the latest action on Thursday, June 27—legal papers sent to the court say the state demands $700,000 in fines and destruction of the farm animals—all based on how the pigs look. These actions are not just against Mark and Jill– it is also against their children and their animals, too. This is one of five lawsuits against MDNR and their new ISO (several more suits are pending).

The Baker’s small farm business has nearly been ruined and at jeopardy now are their pastured poultry and beef production for local families who want want farm fresh, healthy food. The Baker’s have set up an interent crowdfunding account through Pledgie to handle the donations (that are only trickling in as of now) to meet family needs, feed pigs and fix the tractor and for the small fees being charged by an independent attorney.

(Below you will be asked to pledge your support to help the Baker’s by donating to help win this case for all farmers nationwide)

George Orwell, author of 1984 also wrote Animal Farm where farm animals revolted because of their treatment and after a new policy was issued: “All animals are created equal, except some are more equal than others.” Orwell coined the term doublespeak, a language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words so as to deceive—where the same word can have different meanings in the same paragraph or where new phrases are made up with no definitions–commonly used in legalese. Doublespeak is common among politicians and state bureaucracies in their sales campaigns for new programs to protect us from potential harm. Hear what it sounds like to me.

What’s The Stink?Can you imagine having your farm animals confiscated and destroyed because of the way they look? Due to a new rule Michigan DNR can enter a private farm and kill hogs that look different than those approved types. To make their point, the DNR has gone after this farm family of ten, just because the farmer has three pigs that look like what is loosely nicknamed Russian boars—a type of pig made “illegal” recently.

The new rule, as described in the Invasive Species Order ( ISO) and declaratory ruling – is touted to control feral pigs (roaming wild) the state says–yet these pigs are already under control by hunters. The ISO clearly states can mean any type of pig. If a pig has a curly tail or a straight tail, ears that are with erect or floppy, striped piglets, hair on the underbelly, certain colors including being black, then these are “wild or feral hogs” even if on a farm behind fences. Approved, exempted swine include those raised in huge hog houses called CAFOs (Confined or concentrated animal feeding operations (commonly called factory farms) and the young pigs raised by farmers under contact with CAFOs contract. These CAFO owners have contracts with the giant food processors controlled by four companies. (The largest US pork producer is Smithfield –sold last month to the Chinese.)

About Baker’s Green Acres

Mark and Jill Baker and their eight children bought farmland in Michigan after he retired from 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force. His goal was to produce specialty pork from an unusual heritage breed called Mangalitsas that he breeds. His nutrient-dense “red meat” pork and lard is of the quality that is highly prized throughout the world and throughout this part of Northern Michigan by fine chefs and restaurants. Mark decided “farm livin’ is the life for me” and bought his green acres so he and Jill could raise their children on a farm and teach them these old skills. They also have educational programs to teach others they can farm too—and a right to farm– and produce healthy food locally in the old humane way which enhances the environment and the health of those consumers who choose this type of fresh farm food. The dilemma they are facing was broadcast last year on NPR with a 11-minute radio segment on Hog Wild.

As crazy as it sounds, it is clear from what has been said, the state’ rationale is that this type of operation may be threat to human health and the environment and a financial threat to the state’s big pork industry. But currently, rivers of pig diarrhea are flowing through CAFOs in 15 states with a new type of virus—similar to the Chinese CAFO outbreak—caused by conditions within these indoor operations. In 2009, the swine flu, later called H1N1, was shown to originate from Mexican swine CAFOs. Studies have shown serious respiratory illnesses and higher infant mortality occur near CAFOs.

More on the Invasive Species

The ISO –which has the force of law — was decided last year by DNR staff in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Michigan Pork Producer‘s Association (CAFO operators) and other Big Food corporations and it’s not just routing out wild hogs. They redefined what the term “feral pig” is rather than using the real English definition in use for at least three centuries. Read the Invasive Species Order ( ISO) and declaratory ruling

The rule allows DNR to call any type of swine as being an illegal feral (wild roaming) pig even if they are within a fence and grown by a farmer for food production. Exemptions are for domestic hog production but there is no definition for this term in Michigan law or listed in the search at the MDNR or MDA. All hogs in a CAFO or raised indoors are approved but not all hogs that pasture outdoors on a sustainable farm.

According to the state DNR and Big Pork written statements, these pigs, including the Baker’s, are a threat to public health and the environment and “the commercial pork industry”. Some states have issued to themselves special pre-approved open burning air pollution permits on farm lands so that state agencies can enter the farm and burn animal carcasses killed by them—if a herd is suspected to be potentially infected with a particular type of listed organism.

This week a Journal correspondent called the program director with MDNR, a wildlife biologist, to discuss the meaning of the new rule for an Indiana heritage hog farmer who may want to relocate to Michigan. The DNR agent gave him false and misleading information by emphasizing that the ISO pertains only to the Russian boar. She could not tell him the definition of domestic hog production (which is exempt) when asked three times. But this is not what the rule says- it even includes cross-breeds and descendents of Russian boars–and that includes many of these domesticated heritage breeds—many of which have some of the looks of the Russian boar. It does not apply to only Russian boars, like the MDNR program director stated, because last week MDNR is demanding all 70 of Baker’s pigs be destroyed because they are part-Russian.

An environmental expert from Ohio, a former state regulatory and enforcement agent provided us with his opinions. He requested anonymity and told us some small family farmers are at a tipping point.

Eventually someone in going to get hurt, and I don’t just mean state and county agents, I mean women and children. They are getting well organized in Michigan and other states. What seems to be occurring more now is employees inside the agencies are speaking out in public meetings and on their jobs against their own agency directives and refusing to carry them out. In my view these actions can be a form of religious persecution. They tend to target large families that homeschool, independent-minded, liberty lovers and that are religious. They believe they are doing right by choosing to farm with older and healthier methods and is a large part of their mission and ministry.

There are a number of legal problems the MDNR will have to deal with—but it is possible the judge will side with the state and not allow this to be mentioned in court. These are some of the disturbing findings of the Journal investigation that included published and internal documents, public hearings and interviews with both sides.

Read More  Here

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Young Lawyers Lower the Bar to Sharing Economy


Published on Apr 14, 2012

Peak Moment 210: “Sharing really is going to save the world!” declares Janelle Orsi, author of The Sharing Solution, noting that it’s fun, doesn’t require special skills — and we can start now. She and Jennifer Kassan co-founded the Sustainable Economies Law Center to help people formalize collaborative structures like producer cooperatives, cohousing developments and tool lending libraries. They’re working to reduce the hurdles to investing in locally-owned and locally-controlled enterprises. No wonder law students are excited to intern with them! [ and]

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Calgary cohousing community celebrates 10 years

2nd cohousing project to break ground in Calgary this weekend

Posted: May 8, 2013 12:57 PM MT

Last Updated: May 9, 2013 10:36 AM

 As one cohousing project celebrates 10 years, another is in the works, reports Devin Heroux.New cohousing project1:51

Alberta’s first cohousing community is preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend.

Prairie Sky Cohousing Cooperative — home to more than 40 people — sits on a large lot in Winston Heights where a single family home once stood.

A spontaneous gathering of Prairie Sky cohousing residents.


A spontaneous gathering of Prairie Sky cohousing residents. (Prairie Sky website)

There are now 18 units spread among three buildings that are fully equipped townhouses or apartments.

Residents also share common spaces, including a 3,200-square-foot common house with a kitchen, dining room and lounge where community members gather for shared meals, recreation and other events.


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Cohousing Tempts Italians During Real Estate Crisis



With the Italian real estate market in free fall, increasing numbers of people are tumbling through the gaps. Too rich to claim social housing and too poor to afford a traditional house, some are turning to a new approach—cohousing.

“The concept of cohousing originated in northern Europe in the ’60s,” says Nadia Simionato, spokeswoman for the Italian network “Then it spread to other countries and reached Italy in 2006.”

The basic idea is to combine in a condominium the autonomy of a private house with the benefits that come from sharing space and resources such as a garden, gymnasium, laundry, gardens, and children’s day care. The whole project is collectively designed and chosen by those who will live in those spaces.

“There’s a ‘gray zone’ of the Italian population who cannot afford a traditional house but that is too rich to access the rankings for the social housing,” says Simionato. “Through the cohousing we think we can solve this critical point.”

But Simionato complains the state is behind the times. “Public administration seems to struggle to understand that cohousing is a successful model. Worldwide there are over a thousand examples of cohousing, from a few family members to dozens. In Italy we have developed three projects, already in place, and we are working with two others, connecting prospective buyers and designers.”



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Farmer Faces Over 2 Years Jail, $10K Fines for Feeding Community

Activist Post

Things are heating up in Baraboo, Wisconsin as a long awaited food rights trial approaches.

Raw milk drinkers are outraged that Wisconsin DATCP is bringing criminal charges against a farmer who serves a private buying club. Do citizens have a right to contract with a producer and grow food to their own standards? That is what is at stake in this case. – Kimberly Hartke, Publicist Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Customers and Other Supporters to Attend Court with Farmer

Food rights activists from around North America will meet at the Sauk County Courthouse in this tiny town on May 20 to support Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger and food sovereignty. Hershberger, whose trial begins that day, is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could land this husband and father in county jail for up to 30 months with fines of over $10,000…

The Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) targeted Hershberger for supplying a private buying club with fresh milk and other farm products.

DATCP has charged Hershberger with, among other things, operating a retail food establishment without a license. Hershberger repeatedly rejects this, citing that he provides foods only to paid members in a private buying club and is not subject to state food regulations.

Hershberger says:

There is more at stake here than just a farmer and his few customers — this is about the fundamental right of farmers and consumers to engage in peaceful, private, mutually consenting agreements for food, without additional oversight.

Read Full Article and Watch Video Here

Monday, April 8, 2013

Want to Build a Guerrilla Garden? This Crowdsourcing Platform Could Help

Wendy Moore

Activist Post

So you know of an open lot in your neighborhood that would be perfect for a community garden. You really, really want to build one, but you don’t quite know how to pull it off. Let’s be honest—the idea of pulling off a garden build can be pretty daunting. You need a lot of supplies, possibly some funds, and, ideally a bunch of people to help—unless you feel like devoting the next couple weekends to digging.

You’ve heard of barn raising, right? That old tradition of collective community action in which the whole community used to gather together to build a barn for their neighbor. At thrdPlace, a newly-launched local platform for social action, we’re bringing it back by tapping online community to drive on the ground action.

So, think barn raising and replace it with… community gardens, mural creation, or art pop-ups. We help get the word out and recruit people to get involved by sharing the story of your project through the social networks of each person who comes to your project page and clicks to support your project.

What does this look like in real time? This past weekend we helped the Social Justice Learning Institute, a local Los Angeles nonprofit “dedicated to improving the education, health, and well being of youth and communities of color by empowering them to enact social change through research, training, and community mobilization,” to organize and execute 10 backyard gardens at South L.A. homes as part of their 10 Homes–10 Seeds initiative.


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The Art of Resistance

Rebel of Oz – March 15, 2013

This is my eighth year as a full time Internet activist. The longer I’m fighting this “War on Evil”, the more I’m concerned with the effectiveness of resistance. No matter what our cause, liberty, false-flag terrorism, free Palestine, debt-free currency, New World Order, Illuminati, chemtrails, vaccination, cancer cures, drug prohibition, or historic revisionism, we must first and foremost make a conscience decision about what’s more important to us, being right or resisting effectively.

In most countries, the ‘ruling elite’ is more than happy for us to say, write and publish whatever we want, as long as nobody that matters listens to us. In facts, it’s a sign of strength and confidence for our self-chosen rulers to let us – figuratively speaking – stand on a box in Hyde Park and scream our head off, while everybody around shakes his head and thinks to…

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Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

As demand for local and raw goods continue to rise, more people are asking – where do I find local organic? Where do I find raw milk and join a herd share? Where are the farmers markets, co-ops and stands?

Search engines are actually terrible at locating these underground hubs, which makes it so frustrating to try and opt out of corporate chains, save money, and build your family’s health. If you’ve ever gotten a bunch of ‘Yelp’ listings for weight loss pills while searching, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve helped a few people find a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but I found it by accident. So where are they all hiding?

As it turns out, many of the farmers and markets you’re looking for have teamed up with certain websites to be mapped. Use this easy list to find yours today. They won’t all be on the same map, but you will be sure to find markets and family farms in your area that were previously invisible.

Why you should bookmark and try them all – not all the hubs will be organic, some are just local. Some don’t provide raw milk but could lead you there. Some have other resources like healthy body care, organic delivery or restaurants serving your favorite farm finds worth looking into. Some of the websites don’t share your political perspective or stance on health and were possibly supported by agencies and organizations you don’t care for. But that’s okay, take only what you need and leave the rest.

20 Quick Resources to Find Local Food, Farms, Markets, Stands, Co-ops and more!

Farmerspal – Click the map or your state to find organic, markets, grocers, online shopping and more. Make sure you like their Facebook page for other great resources.

FarmMatch – Unique because whoever you are, you can put yourself on the map to be matched with producers in your area. Create your food profile today.
LocalDirt – Helps you buy right from the farm. It’s also a marketplace that allows you to sell and trade. Got eggs? Sell them to your neighbors here. It also allows groups and co-ops to set up bulk orders right there. This one is worth revisiting time and again to check out all its features.

Weston A Price Chapter Leaders – This is my favorite, because it puts you in touch with passionate people who give their time to connect you to your CSA and quite possibly raw milk and dairy. They will have the latest sources. Weston A. Price Foundation is a wealth of knowledge for traditional foods and health.

Real Milk Finder – Also from Weston A. Price, this locator could help you to your raw milk and dairy herd share source. Please keep in mind, raw milk availability really depends on your state laws. And not all of the herd share programs are listed there so be sure to read the next important list item.

Meetup – This seems like a weird place to get the connections but it makes sense. Meetup allows groups to safely connect online and publicly meet to enjoy hobbies, clubs, politics, education – anything. It’s just people meeting up, doing what they love, learning or just having fun – I attribute so many happy, life-changing times to this website. This is how I found my CSA! I went to a nutrition wholefoods meetup to take free natural food classes. The woman running it was a Weston A. Price chapter leader who graciously led me through the entire process and got me connected to raw milk and pasture-fed foods. Wherever people who are passionate about their lifestyle meet, you are sure to pick up a wealth of resources and support. You should check it out to find like-minded people and get out there. I’ve made great friends this way. Some people find their soul mate!


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Ian Mauro

Published on Feb 22, 2013

Environmental leader, eco-feminist, philosopher, and quantum physicist, Vandana Shiva’s expertise seems to have no limits. She has become a globally respected activist for grassroots and alternative globalization movements, biodiversity, bioethics, intellectual property rights, and sustainable living. Some of her books include Staying Alive (1988), The Violence of the Green Revolution (1992), Monocultures of the Mind (1993), Biopiracy (1997), Water Wars (2002), Earth Democracy (2005), and Soil Not Oil (2008). Shiva’s scholarship and activism has been recognized internationally and she has won numerous awards, including the Right Livelihood Award, considered the Alternative Nobel Prize.

Ian Mauro is a Canada Research Chair in “human dimensions of environmental change” at Mount Allison University, in Sackville, New Brunswick. He is both a researcher and filmmaker, with a PhD in environmental science, and his work focuses on hunter, farmer and fisher knowledge regarding environmental change, specifically issues related to food security and climate change. He first interviewed Dr. Shiva in 2002, as part of his doctoral research on farmer knowledge and biotechnology in the Canadian prairies, which in part resulted in the documentary film Seeds of Change ( He subsequently went on to make various films, including Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change (…), with acclaimed Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk, as well as the Climate Change in Atlantic Canada project (

The conversation between Drs. Mauro and Shiva took place on February 26th, 2012 at Mount Allison University, with a full audience of 300+ people. This was Shiva’s only New Brunswick event, on a larger Maritime tour, and she went beyond the surface issues facing our world today and explored, through conversation, the solutions and deep changes required for humans to find a more balanced relationship with the earth and each other.

For more information about Dr. Vandana Shiva, visit the Navdanya website:

Thriving economy abandons cash for commodities

With the Western world rocked by economic turmoil, we explore an alternative financial system that’s secure, stable and has stood the test of time. In Vanuatu, a different approach to money is thriving.

According to the UN Vanuatu is one of the world’s least developed countries, but no one goes hungry there. When they need money they simply make their own. “The only thing we need money for is to pay for salt, soap and kerosene.” School fees and medical bills are paid in exchange with local produce, woven mats and pigs.”Pigs tusks can hold their value against any other form of currency.” On the island of Pentecost the bank accepts deposits of pig tusks and claims to have reserves of $1.4 million. As the world frets about the fragility of its financial system, “Vanuatu is ready to teach all the other countries the road to a good life.”

A Film By SBS
Distributed By Journeyman Pictures
May 2012

Sunday, 24 February 2013 07:54 By Tory Field and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds | Interview

A Via Campesina march in Hong Kong, 2005, demanding an end to WTO trade negotiations over agriculture. (Photo courtesy of Via Campesina)A Via Campesina march in Hong Kong, 2005, demanding an end to WTO trade negotiations over agriculture. (Photo courtesy of Via Campesina)

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Agricultural economist Peter Rosset is with the Center for the Study of Rural Change in Mexico and the Land Research Action Network. He is also a member of the technical support team of Via Campesina. Beverly Bell talked with Peter Rosset in Havana in 2009; they updated the interview in 2012.

There are several fundamental pillars that are necessary to take control over food and agricultural systems. One is to force even reluctant or reactionary governments to regain control over their national borders from the flow of imported food. That means canceling free trade agreements and not signing WTO agreements. It means stopping the import either of incredibly cheap, subsidized food from agro-export countries which drives local producers out of business, or of food made ridiculously expensive by food speculation.

Governments also need to support peasant and small-farmer agriculture as the fundamental source of food for national economies. Why not big farms or agribusiness? It’s more than proven in any country in the world that if agribusiness controls the majority of the land, there will not be enough food for people because agribusiness just doesn’t produce food for local people. What agribusiness does, be it the United States or Thailand, is produce exports.

Sometimes those exports are not even food for people but soybeans for animals, or ethanol, or biodiesel for automobiles in other part of the world.


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