Modern Farmer


Farmers Markets Aren’t Just For Rich People, Says Study

Potatoes from Sweet Berry Mountain Farm. Union Square Market
Potatoes from Sweet Berry Mountain Farm. Union Square Market

Maybe a better headline for this article would be this quote from the article, “solutions to a lack of availability of food don’t have to be solved with supermarkets or Walmarts—.” Either way, farmers markets are not removed from the intersections of food and justice.

There is a perception, even among some commentators here on Modern Farmer, that some farmers markets are “selling status symbols to rich people.” That’s not just anecdotal; studies, including one survey from the Oregon farmers markets, found that there is a distinct impression that farmers markets are expensive indulgences for rich people.

But there are also studies, including one new one from Michigan State University, that suggest otherwise. This new study, published in Applied Geography, took a look at Flint, Michigan, a city known for basically anything except as a home for rich people. In 2013, Flint’s farmers market moved from the suburbs to the city center, and researchers at Michigan State have been looking into the effect of that move.

Read on at Modern Farmer.


The Farmers’ Argument for Postal Banking

Photo by tales of a wandering youkai, Flickr, via Modern Farmer
Photo by tales of a wandering youkai, Flickr, via Modern Farmer

In more affluent urban and suburban areas, banks proliferate like bacteria: In cities like New York, there’s seemingly an outpost of a giant bank on every corner. But that doesn’t hold true for the entire country. “Twenty-eight percent of U.S. households are underserved by traditional banks,” writes Katherine Isaac, an organizer with the Campaign for Postal Banking, in an email.

Poorer and more rural areas suffer from a dearth of banks. Without them, nearly 90 million Americans rely on payday lenders, check cashing joints, and even pawn shops to handle traditional, basic banking services. These are people with, often, full-time jobs and no way to actually save money. And these non-bank financial services are very expensive. From an editorial in The New York Times: “The average annual income for an ‘unbanked’ family is $25,500, and about 10 percent of that income, or $2,412, goes to fees and interest for gaining access to credit or other financial services.”

Read the rest on Modern Farmer.

At Sky High Farm, Everything That’s Grown Goes to Food Banks

foodnews 10.08.2015 skyhighfarm

Dan Colen was once a hard-partying New York artist whose medium of choice could be chewing gum or bird poop. Now, a bit older and much wiser, he continues to make provocative art but is also giving back to New Yorkers through his farm, which has produced thousands of pounds of vegetables and meat that’s donated to the city’s food banks.

Sky High Farm is both a sustainable farm—whose produce is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, alongside pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb, and chicken—and Colen’s home and art studio. He purchased the 40-acre plot in Columbia County, New York, two hours north of New York City, in 2011…

Read on with Modern Farmer. 

The USDA Farm Income Forecast: Not So Good

From Farm to Factory:  While our general impression of farming tends to center around food production, farms contribute to many other aspects of our lives as well.  Farming provides the raw materials for many of our everyday necessities from the clothes we wear to the houses we live in.  These historical photographs from the National Agricultural Library’s Emerson Brooks Collection show a few of the many places where the farm meets the factory to supply the needs of the American people.
via Modern Farmer

The USDA’s newest Farm Income Forecast is bleak. Income will be down. Prices of milk will be down. Payments from the government will skyrocket. Everything, basically, will be going down the tubes. And here, bizarrely, is a quote from USDA secretary Tom Vilsack: “Today’s farm income forecast is heartening for all Americans.” What’s going on here?

Find out what is going at Modern Farmer.

Meet Alan Chadwick, The High Priest of Hippie Horticulture

Foodnews 8.18.2015 alan-chadwick

Biodynamic pioneer Alan Chadwick turned America on to radical growing methods—influencing everyone from Alice Waters to winemakers Fetzer and Frey. So how come you’ve never heard of him?

Chadwick came to Santa Cruz on the recommendation of Freya von Moltke, the widow of a leader in the German resistance against Hitler. Her husband, Count Helmuth von Moltke, was arrested, accused of treason, and hanged. But before Helmuth was executed, he sent word to his wife requesting that she make a place where young people could learn about creation in a world of destruction. The countess, often described as Chadwick’s muse, may have had that request in mind when she mentioned his name to Paul Lee, a UCSC philosophy professor who had pitched the idea of developing a teaching garden to the school’s chancellor.

Chadwick arrived on campus without so much as a salary or official position. He simply began digging—14 hours a day, seven days a week—on a steep and barren hillside of chaparral and poison oak. Within a year, he had transformed that hillside into a vibrant and abundant garden of flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees. Young men and women were soon drawn to work with this temperamental perfectionist who cared about his garden above all else.

Read on about Alan Chadwick at Modern Farmer.

The Lending Library Model Hits The Farm


The Shared-Use Farm Equipment (SUFE) Pool is a partnership between the Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) that lends out larger farming pieces in an effort to diffuse the costs of effective but expensive gear.

MFT staff member Mike Gold came up with the idea several years ago after the trust launched its Farm Viability Program, for which he serves as program manager. Seeing the breadth of the region’s burgeoning agricultural scene, Gold saw the need for a machinery fractional that could defray costs for both nascent and established farmers. Several less-organized sharing efforts had been launched in the past, he says, but Gold wanted to formalize the process. (Joint equipment ownershipmachinery co-ops, and formal rental outfits like Machinerylink.com have paved the way for this sort of program, but the lending model still seems to be a relatively new one.)

Read the rest on Modern Farmer.

Love Chickens But Hate Commitment? Try Renting

Everyone loves a summer chicken. But come February, when you’re schlepping food and water across the snowy yard, getting your PJs wet, cursing your kids who promised to help, and not getting any eggs for your trouble, the romance of the backyard chicken may start to wane. Enter Rent-a-Chicken. Leslie Suitor started the company in Traverse City, Michigan as a way to spare you from cold weather trauma. ”We get hellacious winters up here,” she said. “Who wants to slog through snowdrifts to get to your coop?”

Click here to read more on Modern Farmer.

Glossy Acres: A Magazine’s Lush Take on Farmers

Think of it as Gourmet crossed with Dwell and sent to “Green Acres,” as veteran editors from Manhattan’s largely livestock-free magazine world try to tap into the interest in back-to-the-soil living. Modern Farmer, which hits newsstands Tuesday, offers a luxurious mashup of agricultural reportage — on, say, the effects of climate change on rice cultivation in India — and the high-sheen stuff of lifestyle and fashion magazines, such as travel to the Italian countryside.

To read more on The Wall Street Journal click here