Sustainable Agriculture

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Many people give up their dreams for lack of knowledge. Not only is there money out there to assist you in learning how to farm, but there’s also grant money to train you how to operate (not buy) farm equipment, raise organic crops, and even buy seed and livestock. The average age of the American farmer is 55, but regardless of your age, new farmers are needed.

While traditional farming is labor intensive, there are many ways to enjoy growing food, experiencing the natural rhythms of the land, and the life cycle of healthy, well-cared for animals other than over-burdening yourself beyond your limits. I’m more of a “Large Gardener” than I am a farmer. I don’t have to “farm” for a living. I grow only what I want to grow. I enjoy the land and watching nature work her wonders. I enjoy raising chickens, and facing my fears around touching, and caring for livestock. A grand, empowering feeling comes over me when I sit in the seat of a John Deere tractor, raise the front bucket, and scoop up a load of fresh organic compost that I know is rich and healthy, and that will nourish healthy, large, great tasting vegetables.

So it’s wonderful to YouTube a video and learn something new about plant production. SARE Grants come under USDA funding and are intended to fund innovative ideas that demonstrate new sustainable techniques that enrich the lives of farmers and the communities they live in. SARE assists with farmer development, education, and increased agriculture profits turning that otherwise would have ended up only as a forsaken dream.

Click to view a SARE video on grants–>


Raw Sangha

Echo Roberson of "Raw Sangha"

Totally pumped about this new organization I found last week. Echo Roberson is either the spokesman for the group or “Raw Sangha” is his website for all these products, recipes and ideas.

He takes all the food, spiritual and organic farming ideas that have been pushing their way West these past 20 to 60 years and presents them in fun, informative, short videos. There’s even a link to Bhakti Fest!

I was drawn in through his presentation about I don’t know about you, but I’m totally bored with Safeway and the prospects of all the  food-based illnesses that will come out of eating all that processed, GMO crap  sold there.

Visit Raw Sangha and give them a look for yourself!

Failing Urban Cities Look To Urban Farming

I really hate to say, “I TOLD you so,” but Time just wrote a story about Detroit becoming the model for other failing American cities. From Cleveland, Ohio to Oakland, California, mayors and city councils facing bankruptcy are accepting sad truths: “We simply cannot afford to continue down this road.” Detroit mayor, Dave Bing made that said that last month at a podium in a downtown Detroit theatre.

One of the keys to success is to jump on an opportunity BEFORE everyone else seizes it. 
Everyone has to eat. Monsanto (the huge multinational herbicide company that gave us “Agent Orange” and “RoundUp”) are feeding us toxins through major shopping chains like Safeway, Kroger, and Wal-Mart. Perhaps a mixed-blessings because those major stores no longer exist major rust belt cities. Residents  depend on corner grocery stores and gas station convenience stores for their vegetables and proteins.

The Obama Administration and the Federal Government can’t solve the problems of all the troubled cities and the predominately black, Hispanic and poor whites who remain within those cities.

Two months ago, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the ambitious “Let’s Move” campaign, aiming to eliminate food deserts, especially in urban communities, in the next seven years. The administration has committed $400 million to “Let’s Move.” –Full Time story here.

Food, Education, and Land

Detroit may well turn out to be the city other Rust Belt and decaying cities copy. Remember, corporations and the mega-rich have all but closed shop on American manufacturing. Even though Mayor Bing and the feds are attempting to sell cheap land to large business that resettle in these areas once abandoned buildings and homes are torn down, the thinking is that it’s going to take investing in schools and promoting urban farming to again create stability.

All across the country, small urban farms and garden projects are being setup by people like Ph.D. graduates from UC Berkeley and UC Davis. “Follow the money” is the tried and true thinking. When the media announced there was a shortage of nurses, people began enrolling in nursing programs by the droves. That was 10 years ago. Nursing grads are currently finding it difficult to impossible to obtain work after graduation. So if you want a prosperous, decent life, STOP following that same old carrot. Try a different line to stand in … one with far fewer people ahead of you.

Those people obtaining urban farming and organic gardening certificates will be the winners. Wait, you don’t even need education to put a seed in the ground. But it’s one thing to grow food, and it’s another to sell it. Volunteering or becoming an AmeriCorps worker for one of the many current urban farming projects teaches everything anyone will need. Just Google, “Urban Farming” in your area and find what comes up. (There’s also a host of information on my blogs.) Here are just a couple of links:

City Slicker Farms, Oakland, CA

Full Circle Farms, Sunnyvale, CA

Green Fred Blog

Black Solutions Blog

African Farm Project Is World Model

“The best way to fight poverty is to turn the poor people into active producers. Communities can only be developed by involving all the members as productive and valuable contributors.” ~ Songhai Project

Much of Africa is difficult … no, hard to live in. You can literally be eaten by something. Wild animals, disease, or the greediness of the World Trade Organization that has systematically imposed crippling financial restrictions on Africa that has burdened it for decades.

But Fr Nzamujo Godfrey looked at starvation, the restlessness of youth, and poverty and came up with the Songhai Project. By teaching people to grow crops, raise farm animals, and create “Value Added” food-based products, Songhai is able to instil moral values that uplift both the individual and the wider culture as a whole.

The objectives of the Songhai Project is to develop technical skills, moral awareness, and empower people with entrepreneural techniques that lead to socially relevant, environmental consciousness and sustainability so that people can lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of society.

Naturally, the State of any country doesn’t have to worry about farmers involving themselves in demoralizing crime nor involving themselves in activities that threaten civil society. People who are taught social consciousness along with integral facets that foster living balanced, happy, and productive lives with others are able to free themselves from hopelessness, addiction, and the mental illnesses that come out of self-hatred.

Please watch the video below and view the others posted on YouTube. You’ll quickly see why I–and others, view agriculture as a much needed “emerging field” for people who live in cities and country sides throughout the world.

A Black Agriculture Secretary??

1910 was the peak year of land ownership for African Americans. Collectively, blacks own over 15 million acres of land of which  US-POLITICS/OBAMA218,000 black farmers are full or part owners. A steady decline of landownership begins after 1910.

[Click here to read The Federation of Southern Cooperatives timeline]

The idea of undoing the many years of backroom deals that robbed blacks of their land is not simply a notion of justice. It’s a matter of wholeness. Not just for African Americans… but for whites … and … for all of us.

Each year, singers like Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Kenny Chesney perform for white farmers (Farm Aid) who lost or are in danger of losing their land.  How much of that land was formerly held by black farmers is not the question. I mention them because during my trucking through the South I heard from blacks who used to pick cotton in some of those fields.

Apparently, in their opinion, when minimum wage came into law, many white farmers refused to pay blacks “that much money.” So they invested in huge combines, larger tractors and other farm equipment to replace the African Americans who historically worked the fields. Then when they discovered they were over invested couldn’t keep up the payments to the banks loans and subsequently… they either reached across the Mexican border and found even cheaper labor, or were too in dept, and lost the family farm. All those dollars spent on  mega-machinery in the effort to both make a profit and deny blacks from improving their economic lots appears to have created a karma that was inescapable. Then, like small-minded crooks, in efforts to make up for all the lost, each year more small black farmers were targeted for their lands, and huge, mega corporate farms were created … hurting the smaller white farmers even more.

[NOTE: Does volunteering their time and talents to raise money for Farm Aid make the afore mentioned recording artist racist? Not when the lineup also includes artists like Neil Young, and Dave Matthews, and Arlo Guthrie.]

The agenda to correct the wrongs done to black farmers is not a vendetta against white farmers … nor Hispanic nor Asian farmers. It’s more a matter of finally doing the right thing allowing the turning of the page so entire new chapters can be written.

The very idea that President-Elect Obama is considering a black man for the Secretary of Agriculture, is an awesome sign that America is emerging from the dark shadow of “Good ‘Ol Boy-ism” that has plagued its heart, stifled its creativity, and literally, driven the economy into the ground. (Any time the mega American automobile industry is on its back, gasping for what may be its last breath, YOU KNOW creativity and innovation left the room a very long time ago.)

John Boyd, isn’t just a black political token available to fill this very important position. Mr. Boyd has been an advocate for the fair treatment of black farmers for over three decades. He is credited with building up the National Black Farmers Association  (NBFA) to a membership of 94,000.

To read more on who he is and how he did all this, click here: (NBFA)

Vallejo Woman Saves Thousands In Georgia

Her father had been ill. She’d bought a house for him to live in here in laranablu1California. Then the downsizing began. The next purchase was an 800 sq ft 2 bedroom loft in the San Francisco Bay Area. But her desire to lower her over-head so that she could devote precious time to all the projects she dreamed of doing continued.  So eventually she sold every thing, bought 30 acres of RAW land in the deep south (Georgia—between Warner-Robbins and Macon) and in a few months ago, moved into an idea she calls an ecologically centered Convertible Community.

The World Help Training Center is currently working on residential housing and agricultural planning in advance of the 2009 spring planting season,” writes LaRahana Huges on the Intentional Community that already has 30 lots slotted for the next Katrina-like disaster. She and 9 other equity partners (each of them purchased $2500 of equity input) now live on the land, and are TOGETHER, pioneering a black Intentional Community that frees them from all the constraints modern urban living straps us with.

So now, she has “downsized” to the point of freedom. She has paid for the land she’s on. With the money added by the other equity partners, her ongoing living cost is about $100 a month. Did you get that? All she has to earn … is ONE HUNDRED (“100”) DOLLARS a month, plus food cost (until the land is producing this summer) and fuel to live. If you were LaRahana, and you’re a writer, artist, farmer … you would now have time and energy to work on the main dreams and pursuits you have in life.

But basic ongoing costs (for the land) $100….ONE HUNDREN DOLLARS. That alone is freeing. The equity contribution ensures we can install the complete infrastructure, wells, septic, power and provide food and living expense stipends for 6 months. After that…$100 is what i need to spend time earning. I have no water bill. I have no electric bill….My life changes when I can decide how to use all of my time for things that are vitally important to me, rather than chasing dollars for someone else to maintain an illusion that will never be satisfying. I don’t mean to get on a rant, but that to me is HUGE.

Freeing up my life so that I own it ALL, every hour of the day is like early retirement! And that is life changing. Being able to live doing the things I want to do, which happen to be growing stuff and planning stuff and writing stuff… the reality of my new adventurous life.

But the move is not without “pain.” She speaks about the pain of letting go of the old so that she can fully enjoy the new involves “pushing through the fear and the pain … which is really is a good thing! It’s critical to learn how to keep moving long until the clearing occurs. Being able to look back to tell others that to venture out and get on this road is a awesomely beautiful gift…to be able to tell them that there IS a clearing ahead is vital. It really does feel like pioneering, except its not uncharted land, but it is a new society emerging!”

So … there it is. LaRahana Huges, former Vallejo resident, is saving thousands in Southern Georgia. Thousands of dollars … and one day … thousands of people. Good on ya LaRahana Huges. Proud of that girl. Check out her Mission Statement. Who knows … you might even want to join them.

LaRahna’s Links

The Open Toolbox

The Mad Houser’s Group

Food Not Bombs

Other Links:
Hetep Land Project

Happier Abroad

The Blue Goose Community

The Farm Dog

So, what say you get that little 5, 10, or 20 acres out in the country … not too far from a city or college african boerboel town. How are you going to protect your critters? Coyotes, Raccoons, skunks and snakes are all predators  capable of wreaking havoc on your chickens, goats, sheep and calves.

Enter: The Farm Dog
The South African Boerboel was raised to fight off lions and protect the homestead. The Boerboel is also reported capable of herding, hunting, and tracking. Due to this Mastiff’s size, (140 to 200 lbs.) their bite is reportedly so strong that if it bites an intruder in the arm, chances are they’ll break it.

It’s important to know that this dog is bred to be loyal. It will protect—with its life—anything it was raised up with. It’s common for children to ride them like horses. Their mouths are dryer than English or American Mastiffs and they are a great deal more active than the Mastiff. Due to being a mixed breed, they don’t commonly have the same hip problems that their mastiff brothers do.

Confident But Not Aggressive
You don’t have to train a Boerboel to protect. If you’re away, no one is going to get in. Hence, it’s also important to be a responsible owner and keep these dogs securely fenced. These are not good “first time” dogs. The owner should know how to be the Alpha Pack Leader. You’ll most likely want to lean on the socializing side rater than doing something like Wrap Training (bite), or chaining this sensitive, intelligent, easy to train dog. Oh, and Boerboels want to be with you. Don’t relegate this fine friend to the backyard with rare visits. And never, never beat on your Boerboel. Like a Great Dane, he’ll remember it…

Best Boerboel Breeder
I’ve traveled the country and I’ve sought out Boerboel breeders to talk with. These dogs aren’t cheap. Think: $1,000 to $1,500. More if you want a proven female that’s ready to breed. The best, most knowledgeable breeder I’ve found is a brother named Roger who lives just outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

Roger’s mother showed dogs so he grew up with deep, inside knowledge of breeding, showing, and training dogs. One of the problems I’ve experienced with many Boerboel breeders is that after paying all that money for your dog, they want you to sign contracts stipulating what THEY want you to do with the dog. But Roger, while he may express openness to continually work with you in raising this high quality animal, he too is amazed at the arrogance of other breeders and will not attempt to over-step normal boundaries. Click here on: Atomic Boerboels to visit one of his websites.

Other Flock Guardian Breeds

Good Companion Dogs (With Boerboels on farm)