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December 2015

Other News

GRIT looking for demo sites for their Freedom Chair wheelchair

GRIT, a startup in Boston, designed the Freedom Chair, an off-road wheelchair that uses a lever drive to make it easier to self-propel on rough terrain. They are looking for partner sites to help get the Freedom Chair in front of potential riders and to provide feedback on how the Freedom Chair meets the needs of farmers in their area. The Freedom Chair was designed based on feedback from wheelchair riders, and we want to incorporate feedback from farmers with disabilities as we continue developing future versions of the product. If you're interested in hosting a demo unit please reach out to for more information.

Future farming: hi-tech project growing hydroponic herbs and fish unveiled near Sydney

"On the outskirts of Sydney, in a fast-growing suburb is a model of future farms, growing organic herbs and fish."

AFT helps new farmers with land access

"The new online resources on the FIC website can help beginning farmers find resources on the different options for securing land, programs that help connect farmers with available land, and information about how to partner with private conservation organizations and public agencies."

Facing farm transition planning

"Ag Transition Partners, a group of educators and agricultural consultants, is continuing its no-cost farm transition planning project that includes no-cost consulting services to help producers move their transitions plan forward."

Massive acquisition to hurt family farmers

"For America’s family farmers and ranchers, this is nothing short of ‘death by a thousand cuts."

Chicago bee farm offers help to ex-inmates, and a model for US

"For more than a decade, an area outside Chicago’s O’Hare airport has been the site of an innovative social enterprise combining bees, undevelopable land, and former prisoners in search of a new beginning."
The Christian Science Monitor

What does "organic" actually mean?

"...most of us just want to know if organic means “better”: if it’s healthier, more sustainable, and, in short, worth the money."

Fall prep can lead to healthier pastures

"Fall is the ideal time for livestock producers to walk their pastures and assess what may need to be improved before next year’s grazing season, a Purdue Extension forage specialist says."

Cute Self-Watering Animal Planters

Possible Christmas gifts? "These adorable ceramic animals will prevent you from being a plant-killer!"

Consider applying for organic grant

"The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) grants program is currently accepting research proposals from applicants residing in Canada, Mexico and the United States. In particular, OFRF encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students, early career researchers, veterans, and Extension personnel to consider applying."

NFU extols "RFS' Unqualified Success"

"“The RFS has been an unqualified success since its passage in 2005,” said Johnson in a letter to President Obama. “Wavering from our commitment to the RFS would be a grave mistake for both America’s family farmers and this nation as a whole."

No really. This pencil grows into a tomato

"The startup makes plantable pencils that grow into vegetables, herbs or flowering plants once you're done using them."
CNN Money

Open-sourced food production - the future of urban diets?

"Scientists are developing open-source technologies that reward locally grown foods, cutting down on shipping and improving nutrition"

USDA Vows To Help Young Farmers, But Will It Be Enough?

"The average age of farmers is getting older every year, and few young or new farmers are entering what's widely (and correctly!) known as a difficult, unforgiving, not-very-profitable business. "
modern farmer

Value-added business grants

"Vernita Dore, Deputy Under Secretary of Rural Development, announced today that 258 farm businesses from 47 states, Puerto Rico, and the Western Pacific will receive $34 million in grants from the 2015 round of the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program."

USDA connects schools with farmers

"Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $4.8 million in grants for 74 projects spanning 39 states that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to connect child nutrition programs with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program."

In Florida's tomato fields, a fight for ethical farm labor grows

"Farm worker exploitation, nationally, remains routine – despite strengthened congressional protections this year. Yet for most of Immokalee’s field hands, blatant wage abuses and physical cruelty have largely – and almost suddenly – vanished from the tomato rows."
Christian Science Monitor

Indiana Hydroponic Farm Grows People and Produce

"Growing Opportunities, an urban farm in Bloomington, Indiana, puts disabled, low-income and unemployed/underemployed adults to work in its hydroponic greenhouse."

Scientists Are Using Lasers to Teach RoboBees to See

"Harvard University's robotic bees have come a long way since they were first designed in 2012. "

USDA invests $350 million to protect farmlands, grasslands and wetlands

"America’s agricultural lands are getting another significant boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $350 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation."
Environmental Defense Fund

Family Designs Glass Greenhouse To Wrap Around Home And Warm It Naturally

"...its warming effect produces a climate not unlike the Mediterranean, with Sacilotto adding, 'At the end of January it can be -2°C (29°F) outside and it can be 15 to 20°C (56 to 64°F) upstairs.'"
The San Francisco Globe

Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

"Urban foraging might call to mind images of hipsters picking food out of the trash. But one group in Massachusetts eats only the finest, freshest produce."