Monday, December 17, 2012

2013 Stan Christensen Conservation Movie Series

Everybody mark you calendars for the 2013 Stan Christensen Conservation Movie Series. This is our second year partnering with the Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District for this film series! The 2013 food film will be GROW!, a great film about young farmers in Georgia who are remaking their local food system. Fun, heartfelt, and inspiring--you don't want to miss it! GROW! will be showing on February 28th, but don't miss the other films in the series either!

See you there!


GROW! Trailer for your enjoyment:
GROW! Movie Trailer (2:00) from Anthony-Masterson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Great workshop happening this Saturday!

If you're interested in citizen's rights, not corporate rights, and in protecting our valley from GMO seed and mining that destroys the soil, don't miss this weekend's workshop! Details below!

The deets:

When? Saturday December 15th, 2-5pm
Where? First Baptist Church

RSVP requested: email
Donation requested: sliding scale $5 to $30. 
No one will be turned away.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fill Your Pantry Events

If you've not had a chance to attend the Fill Your Pantry events that have been sprouting up across the Willamette Valley in recent years, be sure to mark your calendar for next year (the events run from Mid October to Mid November, and this year were hosted in Linn, Lincoln, Benton, and Lane counties).

Fill Your Pantry is the one chance most of us locavores have to stock up on locally grown pantry staples including grains, beans, potatoes, onions, and corn. All vendors at the events are local, and many of them are also processing their own products (milling their own grains, for instance). It is a fantastic event and well worth the drive. Or, perhaps someone will host an event in Yamhill County next year!?

For a great recap of the event (circa 2011, but the structure hasn't changed), visit the Stitch and Boots blog here.
For a few pictures and a short article about this year's event, click here.

And for a video, just to convince you of the awesomeness of these events, watch below!
See you out there next year!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Upcoming event!

On November 10th there will be a screening of The Greenhorns, a documentary about young farmers in America at Belle Mare Farm in Willamina. Details and flier below! We hope you can join us!

watch the trailer here:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Canola Update

Text copy from here. Image credit: New England Travel.

Oregon Appeals Court halts canola rules after farm groups say they would cause 'irreparable harm'

Responding to opponents' worry that growing canola in the Willamette Valley would cause "irreparable harm" to valuable specialty seed crops, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ordered a temporary halt to state rules that would have allowed canola planting this fall.

The court issued a temporary stay to an Oregon Department of Agriculture decision that would have opened perhaps 480,000 acres to growing canola. The decision puts a hold on planting until the court rules on objections raised by a coalition of vegetable seed farmers and food safety activists. The court may rule on the case by the end of August, according to the Associated Press.

Some farmers want to plant canola for processing into cooking oil or biodiesel fuel. They see canola as a valuable crop that can be safely grown in rotation with grass seed or grains. The state previously banned canola from a 3.7 million acre protected zone in the valley, but  Aug. 3 revised that to allow canola plantings at the edges of the zone.

Although the state decision opens 480,000 acres to canola, the agriculture department believes only a fraction of that land would be planted in any given year. Farmers would grow it in rotation with other crops, planting canola two years out of any five.

Specialty seed and fresh market vegetable growers are outraged. They describe canola as an "aggressive and weedy species" that easily cross-pollinates and contaminates other crops and carries pests and diseases. According to a motion filed with the appeals court, canola pollen is documented to spread more than five miles and canola seed can remain in the soil for three years.

The motion says the Willamette Valley grows the majority of the world's Brassica seed crops, a genus that includes broccoli, turnip, radish, mustards, rutabaga and cabbage. In addition, almost all of U.S. canola is genetically engineered for resistance to Roundup, the most commonly used agricultural herbicide. That resistance will make it harder to control escaped canola plants, the motion says, and many international buyers will not purchase seeds that contain traces of genetically modified material.

They point to an Oregon State University report that said some seed buyers indicated they would "pull all contracts" if canola production is allowed.

Canola will do "irreparable harm and damage to a globally unique agricultural resource," opponents conclude.

The motion was filed by Friends of Family Farmers, the Center for Food Safety and Willamette Valley seed grower Frank Morton.

--Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We're getting excited for Friday!

I hope to see lots and lots of folks at our Farm to School meeting this Friday! RSVPs are ringing in around 40, which is great to see! Several local school nutrition programs will be represented, and someone from Ecotrust's Farm to School Program too, and Paul Hudak, and Barbara Boyer! It's going to be an awesome conversation.

To wet you appetite for our conversation, here are a few great articles about Farm to School I've run across recently. Enjoy!

1. The USDA is doing a census of Farm to School programs this school year, with the hope of identifying barriers that they face and helping pave the way for easier adoption of F2S programs across the country.

2. The Capital Press reported recently that institutions (schools, hospitals, etc) are becoming more interested in purchasing directly from farms.

3. Colleges report that enrollment in agriculture programs is up.

4. The Farm is relevant again in this Washington school district. What a great story!

See y'all on Friday (if you need details/directions to get there, click on the "events calendar" tab above!).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

School Greens program connects students to their food

Here's another fun video--learn about what the kids in the School Greens project in New York City have been up to and what they've been learning about where their food comes from. Inspiring!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Please join us for Farm to School: a Community Conversation August 24th at 6pm

A joint presentation of Slow Food Yamhill County, the Small Farms Conservancy, and Terra Nova Community Farm.

Please RSVP so we have enough food for everyone! Contact Beth Satterwhite at or 503.724.9384. Thank you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ACTION ALERT! Canola coming to the Willamette Valley

Hello everyone. This post is reblogged from Friends of Family Farmers. Please take action now to protect organic farmers and specialty seed growers in the Willamette Valley from the threat of GMO Canola. To read more about the spread of this crop, read this article from NPR.

Tell ODA to Protect Organic and Specialty Farmers and to Halt the Temporary Canola Rule

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is preparing to steamroll seed and crop farmers and open up the Willamette Valley to canola production, which could be ruinous to Oregon specialty seed industry. The debate surrounding canola has been going on for some time and the most recent turn in events has vegetable and seed growers furious and fiercely criticizing ODA's process and motivation.  We are asking that ODA refrain from releasing any rules changing the protected canola planting areas until more stakeholders are heard and there is more transparency around the decision making.  There is no need to rush into what is potentially a very bad situation for many of Oregon's farmers.  Please note, this is not just a GMO issue.  Even if GM canola were excluded from planting, most of the same problems still exist for crop farmers and especially for specialty seed growers.  This is also not just an issue for the Willamette Valley - not only will other areas of Oregon be affected by these boundary changes, the way these rules are being created sets a dangerous precedent for agriculture in Oregon.

Follow the links to the full article and to sign the petition. Thank you!

For reflection on what this means for seed growers in the valley, please read this article from Eugene Weekly (reposted from here):

Growing Canola Controversy

Canola. It sounds so harmless. Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed in Philomath says that the name comes from “Canadian oil,” and the moniker was devised after Canadian scientists took a plant called rapeseed and modified it to make it lower in erucic acid and thus a little more edible for animals and humans. Canola is causing a controversy among those who support local foods as well as spurring allegations about biofuels producers and suppliers such as Eugene’s SeQuential Biofuels.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is expanding the areas where canola can be grown in the Willamette Valley — some farmers in Oregon are interested in growing canola as an energy source — but that endangers the livelihoods of specialty seed growers. 
The ODA has adopted a temporary rule starting Aug. 10 that will expire in 180 days, but allows canola planting in September. Morton says that temporary rule does not allow for public comment. ODA is also going for a permanent rule that will allow public comment, but at that point canola will already have been planted — without public input, Morton says.
He says the reason that canola was known as rapeseed is “because once you have it in your field, it doesn’t go away.” He says the seed is “very, very long lasting in the soil” and spreads like a weed. If you plant canola one year, it will come up as a weed the next year. “It’s what it’s known for,” he says, and “if you’re a seed grower and your neighbors have canola, you have a big problem as a seed producer.”
The prospect of GMO (genetically modified) canola spreading into crops in the valley makes the problem even worse. The heart of the matter, Morton says is that canola seeds can cross with rutabagas, turnips, some kales and other vegetable crops. It doesn’t just affect the seed industry; it also affects red clover growers. 
According to 2010 ODA data, Oregon’s specialty seed industry is worth more than $32 million. Canola is worth $2.5 million. Morton says that the seed industry sales are generated on only 10,000 acres, while canola takes many more thousands of acres to turn any sort of profit. Oregon sells its seeds to other countries whose seed crops are already contaminated by canola, Morton says. 
At an Oregon House Agriculture Committee meeting in 2010 when the canola issue came up, according to the agriculture newspaper Capital Press Dan Hilburn, director of the ODA’s plant division, said that during phone calls to an international panel of seed-production experts, “the department heard over and over again to be careful.” The newspaper reported that Hilburn told the committee, “All these people knew about the Willamette Valley. They said, ‘That’s a very special place. Don’t blow it.’”
So Morton wants to know why the ODA would want to bring canola in and risk an agricultural industry that brings Oregon international recognition. He says a three-year study by Oregon State University scientists that was completed in 2009 showed that canola “was a one-way street,” and that they would not advise introducing canola to the valley because there were risks to seed industry.
Some have speculated that the demand for biofuels might be part of what is spurring the ODA to change the 3.7 million acre canola restriction zone that goes from Portland to Springfield. Ian Hill, CEO & co-founder of SeQuential Biofuels, says this demand to plant canola in the valley is not coming from SeQuential, and the business flatly does not support GMO canola.
“No, we’re not in support of GMO, period,” Hill says, and he adds that SeQuential does not and will not purchase GMO oils. The rumors may have started because Tomas Endicott, a SeQuential founding partner who left in 2008, is now part of the Willamette Biomass Processors in Rickreall, and there has been further speculation that WBP would process GMO canola. However, the facility is Oregon Tilth-certified for organics, Endicott says. He says WBP has been GMO-free since 2008 and at least one of its companies, whose seeds Willamette Biomass processes, purchases its seeds in Europe to ensure they are GMO-free.
The Oregon ag department has said in a press release that “the rule does not address the production of genetically modified canola within the protected district” because genetically modified canola “has been deregulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
Hill says he feels the dialogue that has started over the canola issue is important, and while SeQuential has supported the ODA in the past in looking at oil seed crops that could be grown locally in the Willamette Valley, the company would only support crops that wouldn’t hurt others. Hill says SeQuential has let ODA know it will not purchase GMO crops. 
SeQuential is in favor of moving from Oregon importing petroleum to growing its energy in state, Hill says. He says the company focuses on waste stream-based energy such as cooking oil for biodiesel and sugar water waste from fruit drying for ethanol. Growing energy crops in conjunction with our food system is a long-term goal, Hill says, but “it’s a terribly difficult problem that will take years to unravel.”
Endicott, who was part of the advisory group that discussed the changes to the planting restrictions, says that the new planting zones are on the edges of the valley where high, dryland farmers want to rotate canola into their crops. Morton says the problem there is that growers of red clover in those areas could be affected by canola and its spread as well as the pests and diseases that accompany it.
Morton objects to the process by which the decision to change the planting zones came about. He says, “We are a world-class seed production area,” and he doesn’t want to see the “beautiful nest befouled by a plant that could become a roadside weed.”
He says the seed growers were basically told canola was going to be planted and the seed growers’ cooperation was wanted. “That’s like sort of like asking someone for permission to have a camel sleep in your bed,” he says. “It’s not collaboration if you have a gun held to your head.”
“If we are to continue to exist, we have to resist the introduction of canola in the valley. That’s the mantra,” Morton says.
For more on the canola issue, visit 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kids talk about their school gardens

One aspect of many Farm to School projects is a school garden. The notion of Edible Schoolyards was popularized by Alice Waters and her work with Berkeley, California schools, and has since spread across the nation. School gardens are wonderful outdoor learning spaces for kids, offering a chance to learn science, math, history, and more in a hands-on way. They also bring much needed green space, fresh air, tactile enrichment, responsibility, and more for kids of all ages.

Here are a couple of videos of kids talking about their school gardens from the City Sprouts program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Pretty awesome!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Save the Date: August 24th

We hope you can join us! Check back in the next couple of weeks for a series of posts on Farm to School programs from around the nation! Click on the "Events Calendar" tab above for more details.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is it a crisis yet?

infographic from Oxfam

Some days it is hard not to wonder when someone is going to call it and finally say, "yes, our food system is in crisis." Why the doomsday feeling? It's hard to avoid after a headline line-up like this one:

Buzzkill: EPA rejects beekeepers' pesticide petition
GMO sugar beets get the green light
The lesser of two evils: Why food advocates are pushing a Farm Bill they don't love
A dry run from hell: Drought hits the small farms the hardest
For young farmers: No land, but plenty of climate change to go around

Now admittedly Grist is especially colorful with their headlines, but still... the underlying message is equally worrisome: the bees are dying and no one cares (don't forget that 70% of our food has to be pollinated by someone), another GMO crop enters the market (and more important, the environment) with the most paltry attempts at evaluation, having to settle on the Farm Bill because the House is full of bullies, our nation is stricken with drought and small farms are taking the biggest hit (but never mentioned in the media), and for the new folks trying to make a difference for our food system there's no land and a million climatic challenges standing in their way. Some days it is rough to read the news.

So why do we keep going? Why not give up, surrender to the (supposedly) inevitable, and crawl back into bed with a Hershey's bar and bag of Lay's?

Because it is our food system. Every single one of us eats, hopefully two or more times a day. That means this is our responsibility. No one else is going to stand up for our food if we do not. Business will always chase profit, and government will (probably) always stall and pander to the businesses with the money. But we are just people, trying to feed our families, live healthy lives, and enjoy food that we aren't scared of, that nourishes us, that doesn't destroy the planet, and that helps feed and employ our neighbors. It sounds like a lot to ask, doesn't it? And it is. 

This is why every single one of us needs to step up. Make the decision that health is something you value, a future for your children is something you value, your community is something you value. Put your dollars where your mouth is... and I mean a significant portion of your dollars. Just picking up a pint of strawberries from market and placing them in your reusable bag once a week isn't enough anymore. Better yet: move beyond dollars. Grow extra food and give it away to friends, family, or people in need of it. Trade a few hours weeding for a bushel of produce. Get together with friends and go in together to buy a local grassfed beef or heritage pig from someone you know, whose hand you can shake. Split the meat (and the cost), and learn to cook frugally and make the most of what you have. 

We need to get serious. We need to be thoughtful. We need to decide what really matters, and then work toward that with every ounce of our being. No more halfhearted attempts, no more political posturing, no more talkin' without the walkin'. (I know no one is super human, and there will be moments of weakness and exhaustion, but conviction and commitment are what we need now more than ever before.)

If you're reading this, you probably know where to start. And you probably have the resources to do so. So please, go out and do it. And then share what you are doing--offer to teach people skills that you know, offer to cook for them, plan a berry picking outing and freezing party with them, give them a ride to the farmers market. Read more of these difficult articles instead of glossing over them. Maybe you have land that isn't being used--offer it to someone who doesn't have a garden. Maybe you have a full canning set up--offer to rotate it between houses so everyone can preserve the season's bounty. Maybe you have capital--invest it in the local community. Maybe you have good ideas--share them!

What do you do to stand up for our food system? Leave your stories in the comments! Simple or complex, easy or hard, we want to hear about them all! Thank you for sharing your ideas with us and the world. Thank you for caring!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Urban Gardens & a Save-the-Date!

(Image credit: The New York Times)

Urban gardening is all the rage! From the New York Times to LA, and everywhere in between, from Cuba to China, and all across the globe, folks are growing more of their food than they have in years, and a lot of them are growing it in cities. To learn more about the movement, click on one of the links above! 

A little closer to home, you have a great opportunity to see urban gardens in action! The Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District is holding their second annual Garden Bike Tour this month!

The details:
JULY 28th

This self guided tour is free, open to the public, and a great opportunity to learn from experienced urban gardeners right in your own community! There are three stops on the tour, all a leisurely pedal apart. To print off your map you can click here, or visit our events calendar here! Hopefully we will see you out there!

This picture is from last year's tour: bikes and visitors at Ellie's beautiful garden. Look what you have to look forward to!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In the midst of all this talk about subsidies...

...this article came out!

With the House Ag Committee having just passed their version of the Farm Bill, protecting subsidies but making cuts to programs like SNAP, Farmers Markets, and local food systems work, you may feel like despairing. But did you know that New Zealand, a nation whose agriculture was even more subsidy-dependent than our own, did away with their agriculture subsidies in one fell swoop back in the 1980s. And despite the drastic, abrupt shift (not to mention that they undertook it in the middle of an economic crisis in agriculture), only 1% of farms were lost. Everyone else figured out what they needed to do to remain viable, diversified their operations, branched out into value-added products, and otherwise found ways to make things work. Today, New Zealand agriculture is stronger than ever, and completely subsidy-free. Inspiring! Read the full article below.

Do you think that something like this could ever happen in the US? What would it take to make it happen? What would it look like? Leave your comments below!

image credit:

In New Zealand, Farmers Don't Want Subsidies
By Mark Ross (original article by the Huffington Post here)

Every five years or so, members of Congress from rural areas team up to push through a costly extension of farm programs. They are at it again this year. The Senate recently passed legislation to keep billions of dollars in subsidies flowing to farm businesses, and the House just passed a similarly bloated bill out of committee.

Farm bills are an inside game. Politicians never give the public a good reason why U.S. agriculture needs to be coddled by the government. Members of Congress focus on grabbing more subsidies for home-state farmers, and they rarely discuss or debate whether all this federal aid is really needed.

It isn't needed. New Zealand's farm reforms of the 1980s dramatically illustrate the point. Faced with a budget crisis, New Zealand's government decided to eliminate nearly all farm subsidies. That was a dramatic reform because New Zealand farmers had enjoyed high levels of aid and the country's economy is more dependent on agriculture than is the U.S. economy.

Despite initial protests, farm subsidies were repealed in 1984. Almost 30 different production subsidies and export incentives were ended. Did that cause a mass exodus from agriculture and an end to family farms? Not at all. It did create a tough transition period for some farmers, but large numbers of them did not walk off their land as had been predicted. Just one percent of the country's farmers could not adjust and were forced out.

The vast majority of New Zealand farmers proved to be skilled entrepreneurs -- they restructured their operations, explored new markets, and returned to profitability. Today, New Zealand's farming sector is more dynamic than ever, and the nation's farmers are proud to be prospering without government hand-outs.

Prior to the 1984 reforms, subsidies stifled farm productivity by distorting market signals and blocking innovation. Many farmers were farming for the sake of the subsidies. For example, nearly 40 percent of the average New Zealand sheep and beef farmer's gross income came from government aid.

When the subsidies were removed, it turned out to be a catalyst for productivity gains. New Zealand farmers cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed new products. Farmers became more focused on pursuing activities that made good business sense.

Official data supports on-the-ground evidence that New Zealand greatly improved its farming efficiency after the reforms. Measured agricultural productivity had been stagnant in the years prior to the reforms, but since the reforms productivity has grown substantially faster in agriculture than in the New Zealand economy as a whole.

Since the reforms, agriculture's contribution to New Zealand's economy has remained steady at about 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Adding activities outside the farm gate, such as processing of milk, meat and wool, agriculture is estimated to contribute over 15 percent of GDP. By contrast, agriculture's share of the economy has fallen in many other industrial countries.

With the removal of subsidies in New Zealand, agricultural practices are driven by the demands of consumers, not by efforts to maximize the receipt of subsidies. At the same time, the whole agricultural supply chain has improved its efficiency and food safety has become paramount. Businesses that deliver inputs to farming have had to reduce their costs because farmers have insisted on greater value for money.

More efficient agricultural production in New Zealand has also spurred better environmental management. Cutting farm subsidies, for example, has reduced the previous overuse of fertilizer. And cutting subsidies has broadened farm operations to encompass activities such as rural tourism that bring management of the rural environment to the fore.

The message to American farmers is that subsidy cuts should be embraced, not feared. After subsidy cuts, U.S. farmers would no doubt prove their entrepreneurial skills by innovating in a myriad of ways, as New Zealand farmers did. And we suspect that -- like New Zealand farmers -- American farmers would become proud of their new independence, and have little interest in going back on the taxpayer gravy train.

Now would be a great time for America to embrace Kiwi-style reforms because commodity prices are high and U.S. farm finances are generally in good shape. It's true that weather conditions and markets create ups and downs for agriculture, but over the long run, global population growth will likely sustain high demand for farm products. Some people claim that America needs to subsidize because other countries do. But unsubsidized New Zealand farming is globally competitive, with about 90 percent of the country's farm output exported.

The removal of farm subsidies in New Zealand gave birth to a vibrant, diversified, and growing rural economy, and it debunked the myth that farming cannot prosper without subsidies. Thus rather than passing another big government farm bill that taxpayers can't afford, the U.S. Congress should step back and explore the proven alternative of free market farming.

# # #

Mark Ross is a general manager of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, which is New Zealand's leading farm organization. Chris Edwards is editor of the Cato Institute's

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wins & Losses on the Farm Bill

Wins & Losses: Breaking down the Food and Farm Bill

(from the Slow Food USA Blog--for original post click here)
Written by Tim Smith, Slow Food USA’s Associate Manager of New Media
Last week, Washington became the food capital of the country as the Senate debated the 2012 Food and Farm Bill, culminating in the passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 yesterday afternoon. Like most people in the country, your next thought most likely is: what does this mean for me?
Well, it means that we are one step closer to approval of the single biggest piece of legislation that governs what we grow and eat in this country, and how it is distributed. It is a 5-year, $969 billion bill that touches every single person’s life in this country. Every farmer, parent, cook, eater, student, and activist is impacted by the policies the Bill addresses and we only have one chance every five years to influence it. Now that the Senate has passed their version, it is up to the House of Representatives to pass their own version before the bill can officially become law.
Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, you’re probably wondering: is the Senate Bill a good thing or a bad thing? Well, I guess that depends on what you’re priorities are. Back in March, Slow Food USA sent a letter to the leaders of both the Senate and House Agriculture committees outlining our priorities and asked for a good, clean, and fair Food and Farm Bill. You can read the letter here for more specifics, but we basically boiled it down to three key points:
We asked them to ensure…
  1. a health focused food system, an end to hunger, and access to healthy food;
  2. a level “plowing” field for family farmers & vibrant regional farm and food economies;
  3. good environmental stewardship.
Under these guidelines, in a lengthy bill that involved over 300 amendment requests, there were definitely some victories and certainly some losses. In an attempt to make sense of it all, I’ve broken it down with the top 5 wins that we can take away from the bill and rounding it out with a bottom 3 of losses from the process:
  1. The Senate passed an amendment sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that provides critical funding for rural jobs and new farming opportunities. This means, among other things, that a young person in Wisconsin who wants to start a new farm, but lacks access to the kind of credit that would allow her to do that could now qualify for funding through the Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program.

  2. The Senate passed an amendment sponsored by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) that makes sure that farms receiving subsidized crop insurance will be required to follow basic conservation guidelines. This means if a large conventional farm in Ohio receives insurance payments to cover against their losses for the year, they will need to follow the same conservation laws that were previously only applied to farms receiving direct subsidies.

  3. The Senate passed an amendment sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) which makes it much easier for organic farmers to gain access to crop insurance. Right now, if an organic farmer in New York wishes to receive crop insurance, he will have to pay a much higher premium than his conventional farming neighbor, but they are both reimbursed at the same rate. This would change that and set the reimbursements to more appropriate levels.

  4. The Senate rejected amendments by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Sessions(R-AL) that would have further weakened the already weakened SNAP program. These amendments would have made it harder for states to provide food assistance to their most vulnerable citizens.

  5. The Senate Agriculture committee’s bill puts an end to costly, direct subsidy programs that do nothing to support healthy farming practices. Currently, if you own farm land in New Mexico that qualifies for a direct subsidy, you will receive payments from the government even if you don’t plant a single crop. This bill will end that practice.
  1. The Senate did not consider an amendment sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would have make it unlawful for a meat packer to own or feed livestock intended for slaughter. The current practice among meat packers is to slaughter their own livestock when prices are too high and buy from farmers when prices are low. This amendment would have created a fair marketplace for family farms raising livestock, not disproportionately favoring large slaughterhouses.

  2. The Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would have re-directed some crop insurance funding to eliminate the cuts to the SNAP program. Without this amendment, an estimated 500,000 households across the country will lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits.

  3. The Senate did not consider an amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have enabled schools to purchase from local and regional producers. This amendment would have allowed school districts to continue participating in the Department fo Defense Fresh Program while making their own fresh produce purchases.

In the end, how do we score the Senate Food and Farm Bill? I think it was best said by Senate Agricutlure Ranking member, Senator Pat Roberts before the official votes were cast, “Is it the best possible bill? No. It is the best bill possible.” Now, on to the House we go.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Farm Bill Victories So Far!

Good morning everyone!

In case you haven't heard, the Senate has been working away on the 2012 Farm Bill and its some 300 amendments over the past several days. So far, the voting has been a succession of victories for those who are interested in a better food system that honors local and regional food systems, small scale, beginning, and organic farmers, and the value of direct-to-consumer marketing avenues. You can read the latest updates on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website, here (day one of voting), here (day two of voting), and here (live updates!).

Even better news is that our Oregon Senators have been hard at work pushing valuable legislation to successful votes! Senator Merkley spearheaded the move to make crop insurance programs work better for Organic farmers. Previously, crop insurance pay outs were dispensed based on commodity prices, meaning that Organic farmers, with their diverse crops and high market values, did not receive fair compensation in the aftermath of farm disasters. Bravo, Senator Merkley! And second, Senator Wyden successfully passed his amendment to establish a pilot program for Farm-to-School purchasing of unprocessed and minimally processed foods. Another great victory!

This is such an exciting year for the Farm Bill! Even if you are normally bored by legislative happenings, I hope that you will take a moment to read the updates linked to above, and perhaps give our Senators a call to say "Thank you for supporting Good Food!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another Look at the Farm Bill

If you've been wrestling with the whole concept of the Farm Bill (it's complex for sure!), then check out these great infographics! They do an excellent job of breaking down just what this huge piece of legislation means, what it does, and how it affects our daily lives. I can't stress enough how important it is for citizens to understand this bill: remember, everyone eats!

Do you have any questions about the Farm Bill? Post them in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer them!

From to see a bigger, zoomable version, click here.

From GOOD magazine: click here. This one is interactive!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Farm Bill

If you didn't know already, the new draft of the Farm Bill is currently in debate on the Senate floor. This behemoth piece of legislation consists of 5 years and billions and billions of dollars of funding for nutrition, commodity subsidies, farm insurance, conservation, and other food and farm programs. Historically, the Farm Bill was established to assist farmers in a volatile and flooded marketplace. Today it is best known alternatively as the source of commodities that support a broken agribusiness program, and as the source of the largest single government handout (SNAP, formerly food stamps, is funded by the bill).

Love it or hate it, this piece of legislation is a crucial measure of the food and farm environment in our nation. It has the potential to do great good and great harm. It is vital that we each know what the Farm Bill is, and the affect that it has on the foods available to us and the farmers in our communities.

Here are three things that you can read that will catch you up to speed on the Farm Bill 2012 happenings: 

First there is an awesome infographic that summarizes the history of the Farm Bill, it's current function, and the affect that it has on our lives as Americans.

Second there is a report from the Community Food Security Coalition about the current amendments and proposed funding per program for the 2012 bill. 

Finally, there is a letter recently delivered to Congress from the foremost food advocates in our country: Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Wendell Berry, and about 30 other major voices for our food system appeal to Congress to pass an effective Farm Bill that invests in a healthy and sustainable future for our nation. Very inspiring.

All right then... that's a quick and dirty introduction to the Farm Bill situation. If you are moved to act by reading any of the above, please take a moment to call your congressperson. You can find their phone number via the US Capitol switchboard by calling (202) 224-3121, and asking for your senator's or representative's office. Thank you for advocating for a better food future in America!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

They took a trip across America...

... and documented it in food. Awesome.

Watch the trailer right here, and if you like what you see, you can find all of the videos they made during their cross-county odyssey right here.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food and Art

Hello all,

I've run across this artist's work a couple of times now, and thought that I ought to share it with you.

Tattfoo is an artist based in New York who has done a whole range of products drawing attention to social and environmental issues, from urban development to loss of food histories, to (my favorite) the nature matching system. The nature matching system is a visual & colorful representation of healthful eating habits--a fun and engaging way to get folks talking about their food, be they little tikes or adults. Below are a few images from the project.

How fun would it be if our fruit stickers all said "Remember to take your daily dose of color"?
Each color is associated with a healthy food. Below is the key.

These murals have been installed in a few cities and exhibitions focusing on food have also visited cities across the US.

I hope that you'll take a second to check out some of his work! You can find it here.

There are also a few free downloads through the nature matching system project that can help you spread the word of colorful, healthy eating! Try the printable coloring book pages for the kids or the screen saver for adults.

Any thoughts on using art in food activism? Please share in the comments!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Fun (And a Sneak Peek!)

Hello all!

To all of you who came out for the first installment of our film series, thank you! There was an amazing turnout, and I am sure everyone who attended left feeling inspired.

We have another film coming up this month! If you didn't make it out last month, make sure to clear your calendar for this month's offering. Good Food is the film this time around, and it features a number of amazing Northwest farmers (and more folks too!) who are fighting for our local food system. You can watch a preview right here:


Good Food
Thursday, February 16th, 6:30 pm
Third Street Pizza, McMinnville
Good Food is an uplifting film that celebrates the visionary farmers, business owners, restaurants, and leaders of the Pacific Northwest who are challenging the traditions of big Ag by focusing on growing food for our region rather than the international market. Visit Farmer's Markets, farmers, distributors, stores, and restaurants that are on the forefront of the fight for food quality & security as well as environmental sustainability.

Also check out this weekend's installment of the Explore Oregon series at the McMinnville Library! Food is on the agenda... For more information, click here.

See you out there!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Winter Film Series

Hello everyone!

Well, it is officially 2012, and we are starting to gear up for another year of Slow Food activities. We wanted to let you know about our first one for the year!

We are very proud to be partnering with the Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District this winter for the Stan Christensen Conservation Movie Series! This film series includes three films and is spread over three months. Each film showing will be held at Third Street Pizza in downtown McMinnville, the third Thursday of the month. Showings will start at 6:30pm (please come a little early to order some tasty food and great local beer!). Each month will feature a new film with unique themes related to conservation efforts and/or slow food efforts. We hope you can join us for this FREE and informative event! Details below.

First Film
Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time
 January 19th, 6:30 pm
Green Fire explores the conservation goals of the visionary conservationist Aldo Leopold. Recognizing that land has inherent value and the way that we interact with land affects that value, Leopold developed a unique conservation ideal that was way ahead of his time. Please join us in contemplating our relationship with our land community.

Second Film
Good Food
February 16th, 6:30 pm
Good Food is an uplifting film that celebrates the visionary farmers of the Pacific Northwest who are challenging the traditions of big Ag by focusing on growing food for our region rather than the international market. Visit Farmer's Markets, farmers, distributors, stores, and restaurants that are on the forefront of the fight for food quality & security as well as environmental sustainability.

Third Film
Salmon Forest
March 15th, 6:30 pm
We live mere miles from the largest tract of intact temperate rainforest in the world. This film celebrates this fantastically diverse resource and examines its impact on watershed, salmon, and beyond. Come learn about the richness of the Salmon Forest!

See you soon!