Tag Archives: farming

Dispatches From the Sweet Life- very Inspiring New Book

Way more than a Farm Life or ALT Life book. You’ll hear about the upside and the tough times too!

Talks about Choosing Your Good life, not always pushing for more & the struggle: “Dispatches from the Sweet Life— One family, Five acres and Community’s Quest…”

It’s  a thought provoking read, from an author that knows about the rat race and downsizing. This book has an optimistic view, struggles and resilience that leaves you hopeful!!

author William Powers. #Greeneroo

Hatching New Farmers at Grass + Grit Farm in New Paltz, New York

The owners of Grass + Grit Farm in New Paltz, New York, never imagined they’d pursue careers in farming. Instead, they pursued art, culinary arts, and architecture.

Today, Maddie Morley, Ben Roberts, and James Walton operate a small, sustainable farm that focuses on providing pasture-raised meat and eggs.

“It’s really hard work that’s never felt so good to do,” Walton says. “It’s extremely gratifying knowing what I’m doing is beneficial to society by providing nutritious and delicious food.”

Morley, Roberts, and Walton are able to get their farm off the ground as participants in the Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator program. Partially funded by Wells Fargo, the agricultural nonprofit Glynwood offers the program for newcomers who want to focus their work on food and sustainable farming. Through the program, they farm the land that Glynwood leases from Mohonk Preserve, use its equipment, and receive training on farm management.

New Farmers

The three didn’t grow up in farming families, but as adults they were all drawn to food and nutrition.

  • Walton, who previously worked in art galleries, started focusing on his own health and nutrition when his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer six years ago. He then started working at community gardens.
  • Morley was a vegetarian for 14 years and didn’t consider a career in agriculture until taking a college course in sustainability. After college, she participated in an apprenticeship focused on organic vegetable production.
  • Roberts grew up with a large family garden and an appreciation for hard work. He initially pursued architecture and then culinary school before deciding he wanted to learn more about where food comes from and how it’s produced.

But Walton, Morley, and Roberts — all in their 30s — had a desire to work with animals, so they applied to Glynwood’s Apprentice Program,   where they met. The 10-month program allows new farmers to get paid for their work (through an hourly wage and affordable housing) and learn about farming in the field and classroom. During their time there, they learned about managing a variety of livestock, managing a pasture, and operating farm equipment.


Agriculture harvesting  farmers market

Farming with More Assurance

After finishing the apprenticeship, the three joined Glynwood’s incubator program and started Grass + Grit Farm in December 2015. In the program, they attend workshops on topics such as building fences, maintaining tractors, building a business, and budgeting. Once they complete the incubator program, Glynwood will help them secure land through a network of landowners who lease their property to farmers looking for land.

“It provides a way to launch your business with less of a financial investment and risk,” Roberts says.

The farmers at Grass + Grit raise chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep, and goats, and sell most of their products directly to the public. The three of them split their time on the farm and supplement their income with part-time jobs. Morley works at a food packing company; Roberts works on a goat dairy farm; and Walton works in catering and at a vegetable farm.

They can remain on the Glynwood property for up to three years. The 323-acre property hosts one other farm and a compost company.

Support for Training Programs

Wells Fargo Foundation has supported Glynwood’s farmer training programs with a $150,000 Clean Technology and Innovation grant in 2014 and a $50,000 grant in 2016.

“We love their programs and share mutual goals of sustainability and job creation with Glynwood,” says Stephanie Rico, business initiatives consultant for Environmental Affairs. “Glynwood’s Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator program is a great model. It’s important to preserve land in the Hudson Valley and maintain its farming value.”

The nonprofit used some of the Wells Fargo funds to provide financial training for participants, says Liz Corio, Glynwood’s vice president of development. The group hired a consulting firm to provide business-related workshops and help with strategic planning.

“There’s a movement among young people to become food entrepreneurs because it’s a profession that combines their environmental ethics with a strong desire to return to the land,” Corio says. “These emerging farmers may not necessarily want to develop business skills, but it’s crucial to their long-term success.”

The Farmers’ Future

Grass + Grit Farm’s first animals arrived in January 2016, and the farmers began selling their meats and eggs in summer 2016.

“It’s a huge stress reliever that we didn’t have to shell out capital to start this,” Walton says. “We have minimal cash flow because many of the animals won’t be processed until the fall or winter. Without the incubator’s support, we’d be struggling and have to work longer hours at our other jobs. That sense of security allows us to make better and smarter decisions.”

Morley says, “For people like us who grew up in a city or the suburbs, it’s extremely important to have groups like Glynwood. Also, a lot of farmers are aging out, and their kids won’t necessarily take their place.”

Roberts concludes, “It’s been a challenging year but an exciting one. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, doing what I’m meant to be doing.”

“Farm-to-Fork” movement

As the “farm-to-fork” movement continues to gain momentum in the restaurant scene, the owners of Girard Gourmet in San Diego dare to take the concept to the next level. Owners, Francois and Diane Goedhuys, own and operate their very own one acre farm in Julian, sourcing fresh produce to include stone fruit, banana squash and a variety of herbs, which they incorporate into their seasonal dishes and libations.

While many restaurants incorporate the “farm-to-table” approach by purchasing local ingredients, the restaurateurs of Girard Gourmet are actually growing their own, personalizing the process as they go. They also make better use of food waste by recycling all of their kitchen scraps back into the farm, furthering their specialized process.

Girard Gourmet has been featured in famed travel guide books, Lonely Planet and Frommer’s, as one of La Jolla’s “must-eat” destinations as well as publications to include National Geographic Traveler, San Diego Home and Garden and VIA Magazine. They have also been featured numerous times on local media and broadcast stations.

About Girard Gourmet: 

Girard Gourmet is a staple in the La Jolla, San Diego dining scene, having served savory dishes and sweet treats to San Diegans for nearly thirty years. Girard Gourmet specializes in European specialties ranging from delicious baked goods to fresh soups and salads to gourmet coffee and teas. Girard Gourmet is a full-service restaurant and catering business serving the San Diego and surrounding communities.

Girard Gourmet is known for its unique “farm-to-table” approach, which is unlike any other in San Diego. Owner, Francois Goedhuys, grew up on a small farm in Belgium where cultivating your own garden was a way of life. He was so inspired by this approach that he decided to open his very own sprawling one acre farm in Julian, California, where most of the produce for Giard Gourmet is sourced. The restaurant recycles all of the leftover kitchen scraps back into the farm, furthering their specialized process. 

Girard Gourmet has been featured in famed travel guide books, Lonely Planet and Frommer’s, as one of La Jolla’s “must-eat” destinations as well as publications to include National Geographic Traveler, San Diego Home and Garden and VIA Magazine. 

Stop Waste’s Business Efficiency Awards 2014

Jim Foley, Greater Bay Area region president at Wells Fargo and vice chair at the East Bay Economic Development Alliance addressed an audience of local leaders at Stop Waste’s Business Efficiency Awards 2014 held at Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro, Calif.

The event, which was sponsored by Wells Fargo, recognized local businesses for their efforts to reduce waste and lead local environmental change. Each awardee had the chance to accept their award and briefly explain the reason behind the change.
Congratulations to the 2014 award winners!
Company City Award
America’s Best Coffee Roasting Company Oakland Waste Reduction Excellence in Food Processing
traX Berkeley Excellence in Eco Social Media Innovation
The Sacred Wheel Oakland Waste Reduction Excellence by a Restaurant
The Home Depot Several Waste Reduction Excellence by a Building Material Supplier
Kaiser Permanente  Livermore Waste Reduction Excellence in Commercial Property Management
South Shore Center Alameda Waste Reduction Excellence in Commercial Property Management
Carriage House Apartments Fremont Waste Reduction Excellence at a Multi-family Property
Reliance Metalcenter Union City Waste Reduction Excellence in Manufacturing
Recology Grover Environmental Products Several Excellence in Quality Compost Production
Republic Services Newby Island Compost Facility  Several Excellence in Quality Compost Production
WM EarthCare Several Excellence in Quality Compost Production
Zero Net Energy Center, IBEW and NECA Electrical Training San Leandro Energy Efficiency Excellence in Commercial Construction and Operations
About StopWaste
StopWaste is a public agency responsible for reducing the waste stream in Alameda County. They help cities, businesses, schools, and residents reduce waste through source reduction and recycling, market development, technical assistance and public education. Stop Waste’s vision is that by 2020, less than 10% of Alameda County’s trash will be readily recyclable or compostable. Check out their website, there are guides, info and events! – editor
Our commitment to our environment 
At Wells Fargo, we believe those of us who can, should lead positive environmental change and we embrace that responsibility. We foster and fund entrepreneurial ideas for new and emerging clean technologies with leading universities and incubator programs. We are investing in nonprofits focused on sustainable agriculture and forestry, land conservation and water resources, habitat and urban ecosystem restoration, green infrastructure, and environmental education.

Puente Celebrates its 10th Year of Making Differences

Kate Seely and Katherine Lorenz, two young American philanthropists who were fascinated by the nutritional value and economic potential of amaranth, founded Puente in 2003 in Oaxaca, Mexico.

In late 2012, Forbes named Katherine as “an up-and-coming face in philanthropy.”

It’s easy to see why. Some solutions to hunger are so easy to understand and so straight-forward that they make sense instantly. amaranth1Please take a look at the videos on the Puente site they tell the stories from the farmers perstpective.  Here’s the link: in celebration of its 10th anniversary, Puente created a 4-minute video that communicates Puente’s special story (http://www.puentemexico.org/index.php/multi-media).

I’ve eaten this ancient grain in cereal, and it can easily be added to the cereal you currently eat. The composition of amaranth makes it easy to realize that this plant is a life-saver in poor villages, and a health booster all over the world.

The importance of Amaranth is highlighted in recent stories and broadcasts. Michele Maisto wrote a healthy article on the “Aztec Superfood” way back in ’11.  The crop is gluten-free and nutritious with extremely high values of the essential amino acid lysine — and amaranth contains significantly more calcium, iron, fiber, magnesium, and protein than common cereals like oats, rice, sorghum, wheat, and rye.

This wholesale effort was kicked off by Kate and Katherine ten years ago when they founded Puente in 2003. Their participatory community intervention model for food sovereignty and sustainability is helping to make amaranth the “crop of now.”

amaranth grain

Come on IN, Chickens!!

I love chickens (they eat slugs), I love fresh eggs (they taste better), I love this decision (it’s about time!)

Chickens can now live “un-hassled” in unincorporated San Mateo County. Chickens in unincorporated San Mateo County can now legally come home to roost thanks to a unanimous board of supervisors vote Tuesday that permits homeowners to keep the birds in their backyards.  The unanimous vote, happened Tuesday July 27, congratulations to our supervisors for doing the right thing and not being “dumb clucks”!

The regulations approved by supervisors allow for up to six domestic poultry on parcels that are at least 2,500 square feet and up to 10 chickens and ducks on sites that are 7,500 square feet or larger.

The birds must be kept within property limits and housed in backyard coops no bigger than 100 square feet set back a minimum of eight feet from adjacent buildings. In addition, the sites must be “kept in a sanitary condition and free from offensive odors.”

The board asked county staff to report back within six months to discuss any poultry-related complaints. County Community Development Director Jim Eggemeyer told supervisors that, to date, the county has received “very few complaints and situations involving chickens.”

The effort to legalize poultry in unincorporated parts of the county began in 2009, when a neighbor complained about a couple in Emerald Hills, Jessica Holcombe and Vincent Van Gerven, who were keeping chickens, hens and two roosters on their property.


The full article appeared here: http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_15616769