Posts tagged Southern SAWG Conference
Amazed by Fungi

The world is an amazing place, and one of the entryways to amazement is through farming. The process of growing plants and raising animals alone can provide endless wonder. When you try to understand the surrounding ecosystem and work with it instead of against it, as those in sustainable agriculture do, even more surprises await every day.

I was struck with amazement recently by learning about the beneficial role of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in the soil. As I was inviting David Douds to present at the 2012 Southern SAWG Conference, I read about his studies on AM fungi at the Rodale Institute.

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Farmers Cannot Become Sustainable Alone

Just as it takes a whole village to raise a child; it takes a whole society to create a sustainable food and farming system. Policies need to encourage it, public education needs to teach it, and research needs to support it. Agricultural products and services need to serve the farmers who are practicing sustainability. And food processing and distribution need to serve community members at all levels of income. Farmers cannot become sustainable alone.

Until recently, most of these sectors have been

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The Weekly Box That Changes Lives

I’m going through withdrawal… a fresh food withdrawal. Our last CSA delivery of the season from Dripping Springs Garden was last week.

From late May until mid-November, this weekly box of fresh food provides nutrition for my body and medicine for my soul. When I’m running from phone calls to meetings, and answering endless emails, I get lazy about food. I can easily fall into the habit of grabbing a pre-cooked burrito or making a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. But when I’ve just picked up my box of food from Dripping Springs, I am enticed into chopping vegetables and cooking a real meal, slowing me down at least once a day.

My weekly CSA box has also expanded my palate. Instead of eating my six or seven favorite vegetables

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Food Hubs

New terms sneak up on me all the time. One day I am laughing at the audacity of someone putting two or three unrelated words together, and the next thing I know those words are a phrase on everyone’s lips. 

“Food Hub” was like that. I believe I first heard the term less than two years ago, and now it is popping up with regularity. There is already a National Food Hub Collaboration, which includes the Wallace Center, the National Good Food Network, the National Association of Produce Market Managers, Project for Public Spaces, and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. USDA-AMS even has a food hub page.

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Mastering Farming

Rusty and Sue Nuffer have been farming organically in the Ozarks for over 35 years. When I first asked Rusty to lead a session at our conference, he declined, saying that he wasn’t sure if he had worthwhile knowledge that he could pass on to other farmers. It had been a rough year for them, with a long drought and greater market competition. Instead of feeling wise, he just felt old. 

After my conversation with Rusty, I thought, “If he doesn’t have anything to teach other farmers, then who possibly can? Does anyone know enough?”

Malcom Gladwell, in Outliers, describes the need to be deeply involved in an activity for a long period of

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