Sunday, 20 December 2009

Klimaforum09 Closing Ceremony





Now in cold Bonn glad to be out of a suit and away from the high tension and high security of Copenhagen and the COP15.

I want to bring some attention to the Klimaforum09, one of the more positive things to come out of Copenhagen. Unlike the disappointing end of the COP15 in the Bella Center the closing ceremony of the Klimaforum was a celebration of success. The various movements banded together in Copenhagen to put on a fantastic conference and several large peaceful demonstrations (Read the Earth Times Summary). The 'System Change not Climate Change' declaration was finished and ultimately shared in a short presentation to the Plenary inside the COP15.

During the closing event Tor Nørretranders gave a very moving speech about the sexiness of helping others. His speech (Read more on his blog 'What it Means to Be Human') centered around the theme of sex and success. Tor Nørretranders tells us that a basic aspect of evolution has been overlooked in Darwinian thought. What Darwin failed to notice is that evolutionary success is not just about being the fittest, sometimes it is about being the most generous. In other words, sharing and caring are also part of reproductive success - being attractive - being sexy. Being attractive is being generous.

Tor Nørretranders has several books out and is certainly worth keeping track of.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Hanging around in Copenhagen




The COP15 organizers (UN, UNFCCC, City of Copenhagen, Denmark) have either done a terrible job organizing this event or they have deliberately messed this up, either way 45,000 registrations were given for a conference that holds only 15,000 people, therefore civil society is left out in the cold. In some cases civil society has even been roughly evicted from the Bella Center. Luckily the IFOAM staff is extremely resourceful and industrious and have been organized enough to find a new space for a side event at Action Aid here in Copenhagen.

Despite the exclusion from the COP15 the NGO world has been active. The side events I witnessed today at the Klimaforum and Action Aid were phenomenal. IFOAM hosted a 2 hour side event dealing specifically with soil carbon and organic systems. Gundula Azeez of the Soil Association Timothy Lasalle of the Rodale Institute, Urs Niggli of FiBL as well as people from IATP, La Via Campesina and others presented information about organic systems.

Great day!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The situaton inside the COP15


Not only are the Danish police both bumbling and heavy handed here in Copenhagen the UN organizers of this 'Conference of the Parties' COP15 event have really made a terrible mess. The IFOAM delegation numbers have been restricted so severely that most of our delegates cannot gain access and we probably cannot host the side event we scheduled for tomorrow. The Friends of the Earth have been restricted completely (The chair was escorted and banned) from entering the event and the venue entrance is now filled with a sit down demonstration of several hundred NGO members who have gone through security but are still not allowed to enter the venue.

The UN organizers informed us last week that that tomorrow 'civil society' will be cut down to 1,000 and by Friday down to 90. Now it seems they have changed the story and intend to cut our numbers down today and restrict access altogether by Friday. The general consensus is that civil society is being marginalized here. For UN organizers to register 45,000 people for an event that they planned to limit to 15,000 attendees is wrong and it is terribly costly to the organizations. People have come from all over the world at great expense. Researchers in organic agriculture from around the world have come to present at our side event and take part in our press conference only to stand outside in the snow for up to 8 hours and then be turned away. Everyone is very upset. Andre Leu even said yesterday that the organizers of this event are incompetent on Australian National television.

What is left of the NGOs inside the COP15 have planned an organized walk-out from the Bella Center today. With less than 1,000 inside the place is quite empty and now that the Plenary sessions will allow only 300 and may not even allow us to speak. The collective understanding is that it makes more sense for us to concentrate our energies on the growing movement outside of the venue.

COP15

Modkraft

Reclaim Power COP15

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

COP15


The early bird gets the worm here at the COP15. It appears that Urs Niggli and I are the only members of the IFOAM delegation to make it inside the COP15 today.

This morning was a necessary early start here at the COP15 in Copenhagen. Half asleep without breakfast or coffee I made my way from our IFOAM flat in the north of the city to the Bella Center to join the ranks of shivering NGO workers. The line outside stretches from one tram stop to another and the line for those not yet registered is even longer. The que outside is probably already beyond the capacity of the center which is a real bone of contention for us -why would UNFCCC register more people for the center than capacity? There are some 40,000 people registered with a capacity for 15,000 for this event. Standing together in line with the rest of the members of 'Civil Society' we discussed the implications of this poor organization on the part of security staff here in Denmark. The lines are neither marked nor is the purpose of each line known to the security staff. It is a mess.

The Party members are now pouring past the IFOAM Booth with entourages of support staff and security. No plenary sessions officially start until after 1700 but these guys are on the way in to pick up tickets and see Prince Charles, Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger speak to the issues.

That is all for now from the COP15

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Can Organic Agriculture Feed The World?

My story has changed a bit in regards to organic agriculture as a global solution. I am sharing my ideas with people every day. I am thinking of it as the good news. My, now zen-buddhist-philosopher father was a preacher when I was young and I can remember him talking about giving people 'the good news' - maybe it is in the blood.

Anyway, sitting at the IFAOM Booth at the COP15 (H-017F) I have been approached by many people who want to hear about yields and argue about the merits of a high input conventional system for the necessary yield increase for a growing world population.

My response, thus far, has been to report the fact that the world is already producing more than enough food to feed everyone - the problem is giving access to that food to the people who need it. Another argument has been to point out that the yield potentials of high input systems is based on the additions of resource inefficient and biologically hazardous chemicals. The pesticides and herbicides remove the potential for the farmer to harvest nutritionally important non-crop food sources. This is a big problem in a world where 1 in 3 people is a farmer and most of these farmers are marginalized people on degraded land and a tradition of gathering food in nature as well as from cropping systems.

After a short chat with Australian Water Lilly farmer and IFOAM World Board member Andre Leu I have learned that the yield potential in organic systems in no lower than in conventional. Having a quick cruise around the web and a read of his 2005 work on the subject I can see that he has strong scientific support for his arguments.

Have a look:

Andre Leu 'Organic Can Feed the World'

Science Daily 'Organic Farming Can Feed The World'

Christos Vasilikiotis, Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley 'Can Organic Farming "Feed the World"?'

Catherine Badgley, University of Michigan 'Scientists Find Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World & More '

New IFOAM Publications at the COP15 in Copenhagen


The staff of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has been sleepless for the last few weeks finalizing two publications to promote organic agriculture as a mechanism that should be included in the talks here in Copenhagen.

New IFOAM Climate Change and Food Security Publications
In time for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference IFOAM and IFOAM EU Group have published two new publications to raise awareness of the important role of organic agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change and securing food supply.

Organic Agriculture - Guide to Climate Change & Food Security
Contribution of Organic Agriculture to Climate Change Adaptation in Africa


I am here at the IFOAM booth blogging and pressing organic (H-017F or those who are here). Smiling behind my green both and mac laptop shell I am trying to catch the attention of the passing delegates and other country officials as they walk past on the way to the negotiations and plenary sessions. Singapore, Uganda and Japan have shown strong interest this morning asking for more information and taking copies of publications with them to the inside.

I have been inside from dawn to dusk each day andI have not had a chance to see what it is like outside the event other than a quick chat with greenpeace activists and the wind powered coffee man. Security is getting tougher and it seems that soon our delegation will be limited by the UNFCCC event staff, perhaps then I will hve a chance to dance and chant with the protesters and the un-invited. Tomorrow in the center of town I will go to see Vandana Shiva speak at the Klimaforum 'People's Global Climate Forum' and get a chance to see what it is like for everyone outside the event. Meanwhile I am well dressed, cheerful, warm and full - I hand out 'fresh off the press' publications like a suited newspaper boy and push organic.

Stay tuned for more on the progression of COP15.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement/ Samwell Naikada and the Maasai Herders



'As long as we think that the other forms of life are here for us
we cannot give them the respect they deserve'
-Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai

Just returing to the busy IFOAM Booth (H-017F for anyone who is around) after an inspiring but packed side event with Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Brighter Green , Nobel Womens Innitiative and a young Maasai herder.

Wangari Mathai has started the Green Belt Movement in 1977 in response to serious soil and water resource losses in her region. It all started when Maatthai decided that the way forward was for the women of her village to plant trees, she found some foresters to teach them how to do it and has since invigorated the land and helped her people through the many benefits of reforestation. Maatthai has since started the Pan African Greenbelt Workshops to encourage and support other communities around Africa to reforest and regenerate natural places in their countries. Maathai then asked for the help of the Kenyan army for reforesting the country. 'While you are protecting the country the country is disapearing' she told them 'To protect the country give it complete protection'. Her requests got the attention of the commander of the Kenyan army who has since had his troops plant many trees. 'They come in uniform' she said. 'Even the UN Blue Helmets should be involved in tree planting.'

Samwell Naikada is a Maasai herder who told us about the changes his people are experiencing in Kenya. The Maasai people (Maasai Association) have about 500 hectares of forest left. This loss of forests is being suddenly felt by the people there. There are now wild grassland animals grazing in the forests and orangutan coming from forests to feed on young goats and sheep in the fields. These are things the Maasai have never seen before. Naikada runs a small organization to try and encourage people to raise fewer animals and stop cutting the trees in Kenya. He says that when he tells the Maasai herders that the animals are part of the problem they tell him he is lying. 'You are not speaking the truth' they say.'When you are a man you need to have cattle' he told us 'not just a few cattle you need many of them. In my family we have five men' he said 'and we will need to have 500 cattle.'

Ultimately it was a packed event with a load of information about the benefits of community involvement, of a sensible agricultural policy, of good governance and of the necessity for giving access to carbon funds to communities, especially communities of women, and small scale community forests.

That is it for now from Hopenhagen.

Mor Useful Links:

Maasai Women Development Organization (MWDO)
ENGISHON
Ngoronogogo

Thursday, 10 December 2009

FAO Climate Change and Food Security

Sacco vuoto non può star in piedi.
An empty sack cannot stand upright

Just returning from a workshop with the world agriculture leaders. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the US Agricultural Minister Tom Vilsack among others were there to discuss in a panel about the role of agriculture in these COP15 climate change talks.

Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Eva Kjer Hansen spoke about agriculture as both a challenge and a solution in climate change. Agriculture produces 14% of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) with another 17% being produced through 'land use change' (converting land from forests and fields to agricultural lands - this contributes to 90% of all deforestation by the way). She went on to say that we need to address hunger and climate change simultaneously, that these are the same project and that organic agriculture can play a large role in this.

Next we heard from Director of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) Gilberto Câmara who spoke of the fact that with the projected climate change scenarios Brazil will have Savannah instead of the Amazon by 2050 - that the coffee will need to be imported from Argentina and that Brazil is doing everything it can to change that. He told us that Brazil will cut emissions by 20% below 2005 levels by 2050, that they will use 55% renewable energies (up from 46% today).

Ajay Vashee president of the International Federation of Agriculture Producers (IFAP) (600 million family farmers member organization) spoke about the problems of hunger, loss of biodiversity disease and the social and economic implications of climate change. He spoke about the importance of access to carbon funds to small producers (or conglomerates of small producers), access to capacity building and income improvement. He pointed out that 1 out of 3 people in the world are farmers and 1/3 of the land surface is agricultural land, farmers play the largest role in human impact on nature therefore the rights of farmers should play a big role in the talks about climate change.

Jaques Dioff of FAO spoke briefly about the agriculture situation in the world. 1 in 6 is hungry, the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050 requiring a 70% increase in food production and that means a 100% increase in many developing countries. Making this change, he says, will require many billions of dollars, maybe even tens of billions, but in a world where we spend over 300 billion on arms we ought to be able to find the money. He warns that we should steer away from this movement toward biofuels, the production of biofuels will compete with the need to produce food and conserve water.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had a lot to say about agriculture from the US and agri-industry perspective. The party line here really seems to be that science and technology will save us, that we need more technological advancement and Dr. Norman Borlaug is our hero - and we should follow his vision so that other countries can have as much extra food as we do in the US. He did (possibly unknowingly) say some inspiring things about the need for more recognition of the role of soil in carbon sequestration. That is clearly in favor of organic.

So, that is it for now. The conference continues.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic




Visit Farmers for the Future


View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

COP15 in Copenhagen


Now sitting over my morning breakfast and getting ready to head in for another day of the COP15 here in Copenhagen. The sun has not yet risen but the rest of the IFOAM staff is already huddled around the kitchen table working on the final draft of a guide to climate change and food security.

We are here selling Organic Agriculture as a viable, affordable, and realistic way for people to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The guide is co-authored by IFOAM, FiBL and the Rodale Institute and is designed as a definitive work to describe the role of organic agriculture in the steps we need to take in the face of climate change.

The food served here at the COP15 is 75% organic which is already a big win for us and says something about the amount of understanding that people already have about the role of organic in climate change. However, few people know about the benefits of organic in sequestering soil carbon, increasing biodiversity and increasing food security. That is where we come in: networking, talking and generally making a fuss about the potential of organic agriculture.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic




Visit Farmers for the Future


View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Ideas about Web 2.0; Social Networking to Save the Planet: Facebook, Twitter and Couchsurfing

The problems left for this generation to tackle are paramount. The facts are clear: our species is using up more than our fair share of the natural resources resulting in a period of rapid global extinction. The fate of the current diversity of life on this planet is in our hands.

The dysfunctional relationship between people and nature is paradigmatic. It cannot be addressed by scientists or politicians but must be tackled by a whole community. Community building through the medium of social networking websites is one important way that the relationship might start to get better. Facebook and Twitter among the myriad others allows people to get informed about issues as they happen and as they relate to their social network through the so called web 2.0.

Since moving back to land I have spent some time dabbling with these tools for democratic and ecological action. One that I am particularly enamored with is the non-profit organization 'Couchsurfing Network' www.couchsurfing.org.
What is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing is a unique idea started, naturally, in San Francisco by a bunch of activists, party animals and college kids. It has grown to become a large and effective community of movers and shakers. Although the mission and vision have no direct link to environmental action I have seen and done some good things through connection with the membership.

I have the unique honor of volunteering for the Couchsurfing Network as a Nomad Ambassador. This means that I basically travel around, doing as I do, with the added responsibility of spreading the word and creating events and gatherings in the places where I travel.

Please check out couchsurfing.org and read the introduction to Couchsurfing pages and the mission. The benefits are great - the cross-cultural and inter-community exchanges are deep and rewarding.

Couchsurfing Mission Statement

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic




Visit Farmers for the Future


View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Couchsurfing Vision Statement

To create a profile and make a donation visit www.couchsurfing.org.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Tropentag


A quick note from a drizzling gray morning in the Rhineland.

I am preparing to leave Bonn once again and am breaking away to attend a conference in Hamburg before moving to Witzenhausen. I have been awarded CeTSAF support to attend the Conference on Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural and Natural Resource Management (Tropentag) Conference next week.

Tropentag is an annual conference for sustainable resource use and poverty alleviation. The style of the conference should be very interdisciplinary and involves people from a range of backgrounds addressing food security, sustainable land management among other things.

Tropentag has been called 'the most important International Conference on development-oriented research in the fields of Food Security, Natural Resource Management and Rural Development in central Europe' (CATST Hohnheim).

The DAAD Scholars (DAAD-lnternational Alumni Summer School) from the University of Göttingen will be there to present and take part after a semester long study focused on this conference.

Tropentag will be a great opportunity for networking with professionals in sustainable forestry and agriculture. learning the 'state of the art' and meeting many of my professors and colleagues from Witzenhausen, Göttingen and Kassel.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The News Today

My qualification as Master of Sail Steam or Motor Vessels is not proving that useful to me in my work with farmers and foresters so I have decided to go back to school and pursue a Masters degree. The program is in Sustainable International Agriculture in Witzenhausen, Germany as part of the Trans Atlantic Partnership between the Universities of Kassel and Göttingen, the Organic Research Center in the UK and the College of the Atlantic in the US.

Recent news has offered more inspiration for this masters program. Listening 'The Changing World' on PRI, Ayisha Yahya looks at life in the Namib desert. The Namib is world's oldest desert, the most stable arid area in the world, and it is going through some big changes. Namibia faces serious challenges in crop and animal production, coastal flooding and the consequential impacts on human and ecological health. Water scarcity, already a serious challenge, is likely to get worse in the near future.

Also in the BBC news today are reports on the farming and forestry practices in the Amazon. Many farmers in the Amazon are using recently deforested land for a meager cattle production of 1 head per 2.5 hectares cattle production, far below the global average. This system of production is a hard life for the animals, the farmers and most of all for the native forests.

This is an important time to pursue a sustainable way to to cooperate with the rest of the world - these studies should offer good connections and qualifications toward that ideal.

Read more about the Witzenhausen: Word Press Blog for the College of the Atlantic sustainableag.wordpress.com

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



Visit Farmers for the Future


View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Mandatory Compost in in San Francisco

'I left my heart in San Francisco. High on a hill, it calls to me.
The morning fog may chill the air - I don't care.
My love waits there in San Francisco
above the blue and windy sea!'
- Dean Martin


Though I have been away for a few years I still feel close to San Francisco. I left a lot of friends, my bike, my surfboard and my heart there. It is a city which represents the progresss toward the Ecotopia dream of my youth. San Francisco is a beacon of progressive policies and steps toward a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment.

Before I go beekeeping this morning I wanted to congratulate that great city on yet another step toward that ideal: This morning I read Gavin Newsom's June 23rd article on Greenbiz.com. He has signed in a tough new law that all businesses and individuals in the city must now compost their waste. All this in the interest of meeting the goal of zero waste by 2020.

'It will take time, but I believe mandatory composting will spread across the country -
improving the air we breathe and reducing our need for landfills.'
-Mayor Gavin Newsom

More Information about San Francisco Recycling Programs.

IFOAM Growing Organic Useful Composting Links page.

IFOAM Growing Organic Pages on Soil Fertility and Plant Cultivation.


Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic




Visit Farmers for the Future


View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Climate Change Talks

I am writing this morning with a little bit of disappointment and frustration. The UN Climate Negotiations here in Bonn have just ended without much change to show for it. Representatives from 182 countries met for 12 days here in Bonn and pushed around a few agenda items. Nothing much happened, as you can see on the UNFCC website, with an issue that requires immediate and drastic action. As we know this is a turning point in history. Al Gore and Bill McKibben are working hard to spread the word and I feel inspired to do all I can to help.

This is an important time for us to stand up and tell these world leaders that we want to live equitably with the rest of the species that inhabit this planet. In today's news Mekong River
Irrawady Dolphins are fast approaching extinction because the river they live in crosses through 5 different countries. The governments of Burma, Thailand, China, Laos and Cambodia are having trouble making decisions together and, though they are encouraged (by WWF Cambodia among others) to take unanimous action, are proving to be unable to stop the polluting of the river. This does not have to be the fate of these dolphins or the thousands of other species who will likely go extinct this year. We must encourage our governments to put environmental issues on the top of the agenda. Without a healthy, clean, biologically productive and rich environment we cannot hope to have peace or save our economies.

During the UN talks here in Bonn Yvo de Boer (UNFCC Executive Secretary) encouraged the NGOs to activate the membership 'out on the street' b
efore the next talks in Copenhagen. This is an important time for us to make some noise - world leaders do not know what they are doing. Politics, bureaucracy, and money are serving as veils. They desperately need our guidance.

Al Gore.com is a place where a lot of information and opportunity for action is posted.

350.org has a new video that needs to be shown to as many people as possible.

Finally, the We Can Solve It Campaign is now over 2 million members strong and could still use more support.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, 18 May 2009

Farming in Germany

"We're only truly secure when we can look out our kitchen window and see our food growing and our friends working nearby." -Bill Mollison

Just a quick note during a sunny afternoon in Bonn.

This is a wonderful place for farming and gardening - although I have not done such a great job learning the language - I have been able to go around and make friends all over the Organic and Biodynamic farming community of Bonn. My friends and I have arranged to have a large plot of land on an organic farm outside of Bonn and have turned it in to a little Permaculture garden complete with a giant potato patch, oats, buckwheat, an Iroquis Three Sisters mound corn and squash field and companion plants of all varieties.

The farming plot is next to a small woodlot with a semi abandoned apple orchard and a whole lot of wild edibles.

The day is auspicious and I am sure to get some more sun, some more wild food and some more fresh veggies out of the garden.

More about Permaculture from Bill Molison's Urban Permaculture Guild.

Learn more about the Three Sisters companion planting from Renee's Garden website.

Learn more about companion planting from the No Dig Vegetable Garden.

More about biodynamic agriculture from the article Gardening by the Moon.


Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Wild Dinner

Last night I had an excellent dinner of wild greens and flowers.

There is a perfect little country road outside of Bonn where wild edibles grow aplenty. It runs beside an old apple orchard near 'Gut Ostler' and along a hill leading up to one of their fields. The road has at least three wild hops plants, numb nettles and loads of small fresh dandelion leaves.

We walked out there and picked to our hearts content last night - intending to feed at least two more people my friend and I picked many bags full of hops shoots and dandelion greens. On the bike ride home we picked the first few flowers of the Elderberry bushes along the bike path. The Hops shoots were parboiled and then fried lightly in garlic and butter. The dandelion greens were fried with bacon and potatoes, spiced with chili.

For desert I mixed up a simple pancake batter with buckwheat flower (eggs, milk, little sugar little salt) which an Italian Farmer left at Biofach in Nuremberg. The flowers were pressed into the pancakes while they were still wet on top and then the stems were timmed off quickly before the pancake was flipped.

Ecstatic to be eating from the wild.


Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Springtime Gardening; Sunday Musings

I am back in Bonn and am subletting a well loved garden and apartment from a Botanist. - Life is good in these busy days of Spring. Every surface in the apartment is covered in plants and seedlings all yearning to go out and be planted in warm summer beds.

I am doing my best to be a good flower gardener. This is a new experience for me - ordinarily if i can't eat it then it has no use to me but I am softening. This morning I was sad to see one of the fritilleria was half eaten with the shining tell-tale markings of the slug all over the remnant petals. The fritilleria grows mostly in the wild here in Germany and has been carefully cultivated here in the garden - It's petals have the pattern of a chess board in purple and white. It is a top-choice for the bumblebees who have been buzzing around them for days waiting for a chance to climb inside and gather.

Because of this half-eaten fritillaria I had the tough task of killing slugs today. - Molluska is an amazing phylum as anyone who has ever spent time with a cephalopod will know. - I love mollusks of all kinds and the snails here in this garden are particularly beautiful. I'd never apply any chemicals to do away with the pest problem - even to the detriment of whole yields of lettuce and other tasty foods. Nonetheless, the slugs had to go.

The The first step to killing off the slugs was 'digging in' a mulch pile where the little molusks were doing all their breeding. I did a sort of double dig, first going through and loosening the soil in the center of the beds, watching out for all the giant earthworms, trying hard not to dig into any buried bulbs or trample any sprouted ones. I then mixed the mulch in to the top later of the soil - the many displaced communities of insects were running for their lives all the while.

The second step was to round up the remaining individual slugs and drown them in the water lily pond. That is better than crushing them - at least at this point in the season - later on I'll be busy enough not to take the extra step.

The epiphany for today is that I need a pet. A small flightless duck to keep me company, walk around in the garden and eat all the slugs. Feed the slugs to the duck and then eat the duck at the end of the summer.

Any idea where I can get one of those?

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Health is Wealth

The ill health of our economies and our natural systems are battling for first on the global agenda. Governments are trying to decide whether to invest in climate change mitigation or economic stimulus. Car companies are getting billion dollar bail outs while others suffer the economic downturn without aid. Treating the problems of the natural environment and the problems of the economy seperately is a mistake, economy and ecology are the same, the shared etymological root is oikos. Ecological health and economic health are inextricably linked. Boosting the economy without considering the natural consequences is addressing the symptom and not the problem. These global health issues must be treated holistically utilizing sustainable practices.

We must find ways to localize and reduce our ecological impacts. Our health and the health of our environment depends on it. As in the Son’s Flesh Sutra where a couple has to eat their own child to survive crossing the desert, if we continue to destroy the environment in order to feed the economy we have no chance of really surviving.

The good news is that holistic medicine for ill economies and natural systems are known and are being utilized. It starts with small communities. The benefits of community action in terms of management of natural resources and food production are incredible. When a community starts an organic garden or a sustainable forestry project they have healthy work, they promote natural systems, ecological tourism, hunting and harvesting, they make money or save some money by producing food for the table and reducing health risks.

On the global scale there are many effective and responsible organizations helping to make a greener future. The Forest Stewardship Council promotes international economically and ecologically responsible forestry management. The We can Solve It Campaign, The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, 350.org and The Slow Food Movement are more examples of socially, ecologically and economically responsible movers and shakers on an international scale.

TTD: I have just finished writing to the newly redesigned US Presidential Office of Public Liaison about the potential of organic and local food for supporting economies and mitigating climate change. The office of Public Liason is accepting and using information and suggestions from everyone. Write them a note about how you feel the US should approach these issues in a more holistic way.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, 12 January 2009

Waste Not Want Not

The current practice of burning excess corn and other grains to keep the market prices up, making fuel and making CAFO meat with resources which could otherwise be fed to hungry people is a travesty. Gross misuses and inefficiencies in the food production and transportation systems waste many precious calories that could otherwise be fed to hungry people. Many are calling these systemic problems a crisis of democracy.

On farm and off, being more efficient about how we treat and eat our food can help us with many aspects of the current ecological and economic crises. Why trash it when you can compost it? Why compost it when you can eat it? Somewhere around 20 percent of municipal waste is organic kitchen waste. A lot of what makes it into the bin is edible and with a simple recipe can be made into more tasty food. Breakfast this morning, for example, is bread pudding and tea. The bread was hard as a rock in the back of the bread box - 4 eggs, half a liter of milk, nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon and 20 minutes at 200 degrees we had bread pudding.

We also made a stock for potato leek soup made from the cut off bits of vegetables. The outside leaves of cabbage, the stems of kale, the garlic bits and the rest can all make for a nutritious and delicious soup stock. It feels so much better to put a little boiled mass in the compost rather than all that food, and the worms go nuts over it.

More information and resources: Save Food Stop Waste is an initiative in Australia to get people using food more efficiently. Using Kitchen Scraps is an informative how-to article on Bukisa.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday, 11 January 2009

You Gotta Kill to Eat ‽

Way up here in the little mountain village of Andermatt I found myself having a mild argument about our practice in Maine of cooking lobster alive. The World's Finest Lobster Comes From Maine (Maine Lobster Council). I grew up with it and cannot bring myself to think of it as cruel. Many of my family and friends are fisherman and our meager economy is dependent on lobster. Likewise when I hear people grumbling about foie gras I think of the Besse family in Southern France. The Besse family makes the best foie gras you ever tasted (check out Dan Barber's Foie Gras Parable on Ted.com). They hosted me on their little farm for several days and showed me the warmest hospitality I am ever likely to experience. In France as in most other western countries the buyers of agricultural products are so big that it has become impossible for a small farm to survive on anything but a niche market.

The careful issue here that many of us feel uncomfortable admitting is that being alive necessitates death. This is one part of life: Life is suffering (many Buddhists eat animals) Even the tofu and the rice requires killing not only plants, but animals too - those harvesting machines don't pause to let snakes and rodents get clear before they cut, even if it did there would be the insects to consider and all the dispaced species.

The solution for this moral dilemma is to know the life before it is taken. Meet the sheep and the cows, walk in the fields and get out on the water. Get to know the farmer and the fisherman who bring that food to your table and help them by supporting their business. Get to know their practices and lend a hand. In all likelihood when you meet that local farmer, fisherman, hunter or gatherer you will come to enjoy your food more and you will certainly have a better sense of what it takes to keep you alive.

For more information about locally grown food check Out Meet Your Local Farmer from Mother Earth News and Sustainable Table. For information and resources about seafood check out Sustainable Fisheries from MarineBio, Sustainable Fisheries from WWF and Sustainable Seafood from Earth Easy. To meet a local fisherman or Farmer go for a walk, ask around and encourage your neighbors to do the same.




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Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic