Urban farmer: 'If I do not farm, I’ll get sick.'
April 2nd, 2014
01:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. In honor of the SFA's featured oral history project, Women Who Farm: Georgia, we’re sharing “She Spoke and I Listened” by Sara Wood, the group's oral historian.

The evening I met Haylene Green, an urban farmer in Atlanta, Georgia, rain mercilessly poured on midtown Atlanta—and on me. I squeaked across the lobby of Ms. Green’s apartment building and followed her to a small room in the basement. There, she opened a thick photo album with pages of fruits and vegetables from her West End community garden. And she started talking. I put the recording equipment together as fast as I’ve ever assembled it. My job was simple: She spoke, and I listened. All of her answers were stories.

Speaking of his book "The Storied South" on a radio program, folklorist Bill Ferris recently said something that stopped me in my kitchen: “When you ask a Southerner to answer a question, they will tell a story. And embedded in that story is the information that they feel is the answer to the question.”

Oral history, like the most satisfying literature, relies on listening and observation. The way people speak, how they tell stories, where they choose to pause and scratch their nose, to me, is the greatest part of listening. Being an oral historian or a writer requires you to listen as though your life depends on it. What seems like a simple acts is actually the heart of the work. To that end, I share an excerpt from my interview with a farmer who also happens to be a storyteller.

Haylene Green’s Story
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February 17th, 2014
01:15 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.

Farmers and ranchers are upset about how a burrito company is portraying their business. If you haven't seen them already, Chipotle has run a series of ads during the past few years centered around "Food With Integrity" and the idea that we can "Cultivate a Better World" by eating their burritos. 

These ads depict modern food and livestock production through Chipotle's marketing eyes and as their spokespeople tell us, the motive is to raise awareness about learning more about where our food comes from. But does Chipotle practice what it preaches?
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'Frostbite on their teats' and other cold weather farming issues
January 9th, 2014
03:00 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.

Winter storm Ion, polar vortex, or cold outbreak. No matter which term we use to describe this week’s weather across much of the country, it has been downright cold. Most of us are aware of precautions to prepare our homes and pets for the harsh conditions, but how are farmers and ranchers dealing with all of this weather?

Last year we talked about how there is no such thing as a snow day on the farm or ranch. Livestock must still be fed, equipment must still be maintained, and preparations for the next growing season continue. All of that work becomes much more difficult when the mercury drops well below zero degrees.
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Drones, drones on the range
December 10th, 2013
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

Farmers and ranchers are going to take flight to improve the profitability and sustainability of their operations. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are on the verge of playing a big part in modern agriculture. In fact, many people expect agriculture to be the top market for UAV technology when, by 2015, the FAA lays out regulations pertaining to the commercial use of these systems.

These Aren’t The Drones You’re Looking For

Farmers interested in being on the ground floor of farm UAVs have already learned that "drone" is a dirty word. Proponents of putting this technology in the hands of civilians believe the term conjures images of missile strikes and secret surveillance.

Rest assured that the farms and ranches of America won’t be putting Global Hawks and Predator drones to work. Agricultural devices will be something carried around in the back seat or bed of a pickup truck used to take photos and videos of farmland.
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Opinion: Big farms aren't 'bad'
November 6th, 2013
01:45 PM ET
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Bo Stone, his wife Missy, and his parents jointly own P & S Farms in Rowland, North Carolina. He represents the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance as one of its Faces of Farming and Ranching. Follow our Farmers with Issues series for more perspective from people out in the field.

It’s just before 7:00 a.m. I’m pulling on my boots to step onto the fields of our family farm. The sun is rising, casting a pale glow across the land, making the warming frost sparkle. I love this part of my day. I walk out to the middle of the field and look over my crops.

I am proud of the corn, wheat and soybeans we grow on my 2,300-acre family farm. We grow sweet corn and strawberries to sell at the roadside market and also raise hogs and cows. And I feel good about the role we play in food production in our community and well beyond.

Yet many people choose to attack me when they say big farms are bad. They say I’m doing something wrong, but they’ve never stepped foot on my farm. It is time for farmers of all sizes to stand up and tell consumers how it really works on farms of all sizes. And stop the attacks.
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October 30th, 2013
12:05 AM ET
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The delightfully demented Derek Klingenberg of Klingenberg Farms offers up his farm-spun take on Ylvis' unlikely hit, "The Fox."

Previously:
Farm it, maybe
Farmers parody LMFAO – 'I'm farming and I grow it"

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Farmers with Issues • Farms • Video


August 19th, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.

Transparency in food and agriculture can have different meanings to different groups of people. As Illinois farmer, Katie Pratt, recently discussed on Eatocracy, transparency includes having an open mind for education on both sides of the plate. The issue of animal slaughter is a topic that brings much heated discussion. Recent efforts to improve the transparency in this area continue to be met with much resistance.

The New York Times ran an opinion article titled “Open the Slaughterhouses” that opened debate on the "ag gag" bills and our ability to report cases of animal cruelty. As the author suggests, increasing visibility in slaughterhouses would be a good thing, but there is a problem with that. Americans are so far removed from the reality and graphic nature of the process of death, that images of animal slaughter can stir quite the negative response.
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Opinion: Farming in a fishbowl
August 15th, 2013
02:45 PM ET
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Katie Pratt is a corn and soybean family farmer in Illinois and serves as a Face of Farming & Ranching for U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. Read more about her on her blog and follow her on Twitter @KatiePratt4.

The word of the day in agriculture is "transparency."

As the debate rages over the pros and cons of labeling things from fruits and vegetables to cereal, ground beef, soil and plastics, we farmers and ranchers continue to greet each sunrise doing what we do: plant, protect, grow, raise, care, nurture, conserve, preserve, maintain, and improve their crops, land and livestock.

It’s all part of the job and the life we have chosen for seven generations on our farm. We grow corn, soybeans and seed corn, and we do plant genetically modified varieties. I’ll tell you why.
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Corn crops - what a difference a year makes
June 6th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

If I'd met Mother Nature in 2012, I would have to assume at this point in 2013 that she is bipolar. Record high temperatures last March pushed us to planting time nearly a month ahead of an average start date. At the beginning of June 2012, we did not yet know that the rain wouldn't fall for another six weeks, and temperatures would hold steady in the triple digit zone.

I asked my sister to snap a picture of me standing in the corn we planted on April 2. I was surprised at how well the crops looked without more than a few tenths of precipitation since seed met soil, and wanted to show off our earliest planted corn blowing away that old "knee high by Fourth of July" saying.
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