|Welcome to the August issue of E-news. Click
here to view a version of E-news on the web. Can't wait until
next month's E-news?
Check out our Farmland
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CALIFORNIA
Setting the Course for a Sustainable Future in the San Francisco Bay Area
Approximately 40 percent of
the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area is comprised of farmland, but in the
last 18 years alone, 18 percent of the most fertile cropland has been lost. The
Bay Area Agricultural Sustainability Project—a collaboration between American Farmland Trust, Greenbelt Alliance and
Sustainable Agriculture Education—released
these and other findings about the region’s farm and ranch land earlier this
spring. The group will continue to evaluate agricultural viability and
engage the community as they work to design an economic development strategy to
strengthen the agricultural and environmental future of the Bay Area.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN ILLINOIS
Stewarding Farms and
Water in Illinois
We have been working with farmers and partners in Illinois to address natural resource concerns in central Illinois. The
project, Stewarding Farms and Water in
the Upper Salt Fork Watershed, focuses on conservation practices to reduce
environmental impacts while producing profitable crops. On August 16, 2011,
local farmers will participate in a tour showcasing participating farms.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MARYLAND
What’s in a WIP?
the Chesapeake Bay are leading the way for protecting water quality, but
they are just one of many players working to address water pollution in the bay.
counties are developing detailed plans, known as Watershed Implementation Plans
or WIPs, and they want farmers and other citizens involved in the
conversation. A long-time partner with American
Farmland Trust, Dr. Russell Brinsfield of the Harry Hughes
Center for Agro Ecology is
helping pilot counties as they embark on the early steps of this process. Read
the latest Working Landscapes
newsletter to get answers to your questions, find out what part you can play
and how we can all support our local farms!
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW ENGLAND
Trust Welcomes Leah Mayor
We recently welcomed Leah Mayor
to our New England Office, where she will serve as the Working Lands Alliance Project
Director and New England Project Manager. Mayor brings an extensive background
in education and community leadership, as well as experience with
sustainability initiatives focused on food and agricultural systems. Her
work has focused on leveraging enthusiasm of a growing local foods movement to
protect farmland, natural heritage and artisanal traditions. Mayor is also the
founder and principal of Taking Root, an ecotourism initiative devoted to
stimulating local economies, building community viability, and celebrating our
connections to food and culinary history. Please join us in welcoming Leah!
Sundae on the Farm for Farmland Protection
21, join the Working Lands Alliance for a fun-filled afternoon at Graywall
Farms in Lebanon, Connecticut. Ice
cream will be provided by The
Farmer's Cow, a group of six Connecticut
family dairy farms working for the future of the state’s family-run dairy businesses.
Other activities will include farm tours and an opportunity to spend time with
calves that will one day provide milk for The Farmer’s Cow ice cream. Space is
limited, so please register in
advance for the ice
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK
Governor Cuomo Signs Environmental
Protection Fund Awareness Act
Ask and you
shall receive. Last month we encouraged you to contact Governor Cuomo and ask
him to sign legislation to educate the public about projects paid for by
the Environmental Protection Fund. He signed the bill on August 3 and it became
law. Thank you for your great work! Money for the state’s Farmland Protection
Program comes from the Environmental Protection Fund. Increasing awareness of
the great projects paid for by the fund will help build support for increasing state
budget dollars allocated to environmental and farmland protection.
Big Apple Takes First Bite out of
City’s FoodWorks Plan
On July 28,
the New York City Council
adopt legislation that enacts some key recommendations made in FoodWorks,
its ground-breaking plan for a more sustainable food system. This “ground
to garbage” plan, adopted last November, deals with everything from growing
food to minimizing waste. The newly adopted legislation creates guidelines
that encourage city agencies to purchase food produced in New York,
excludes rooftop greenhouses from height restrictions, and requires the city to
issue an annual food systems metrics report as well as create a searchable
database of city-owned property to identify land that could be used for food
Regional Councils for Economic
Development Convene Across State
Last week, New York’s new
Regional Councils for Economic Development began holding their first
meetings. These councils are intended to coordinate economic development across
New York. Each
region will compete for up to one billion dollars in economic aid from the
state. Agriculture has been identified by Governor Cuomo as one of the state’s
key industries for economic investment. Food industry and agribusiness
representatives have been appointed to all the councils from New
York City to Western New York. Each council will
write regional economic development plans by November with opportunities
for public involvement.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN VIRGINIA
Farmers Working for Clean Water
Mid-Atlantic Director, Jim Baird,
recently paid a visit to a Virginia
farmer in hopes of hooking the “slippery fish” of fertilizer. The visit revealed
how a simple soil test and involvement in conservation programs, like the BMP Challenge, can not only help protect
our drinking water but also support a
farm’s bottom line and help keep farmers on the land.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Food, in 100 Miles or Less
busily preparing for the arrival of graduate students from the University of Washington who will begin research for
the Puget Sound Foodshed Study in September. The study will look at food
production and consumption within a 100-mile circle centered on Seattle. We're getting a
jump on the study this summer by looking at supply chains—how food travels from
the farmer to the processor to the distributor and ultimately to the
consumer—for common food groups. Whole Foods and the PCC Farmland Trust have
signed on as co-funders of the project.
Opportunities to Boost Farm Conservation
funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we will be providing
small grants in Washington this winter to farmers in two pilot watersheds (to
be selected) for voluntary conservation projects. This revival of the Pioneers
in Conservation grant program will be particularly focused on situations where
a small amount of funding can result in significant gain, such as the replanting
of streamside vegetation or livestock fencing in stream corridors. The grant
program is being cosponsored by the Ruckelshaus
Center of the University of Washington,
which is looking at the program as a model for a voluntary stewardship program
they hope to offer statewide in coming years.
Will Our Nation’s Fiscal Debt Add to
Its Conservation Debt?
reduction plan recently passed by Congress and President Obama sets the tone
for significant cuts across federal spending. “We
do not know what these cuts will mean for farms, farmland and food since the
immediate and longer-term cuts have not been fully mapped out for each area in
the federal budget,” explains our president Jon
Scholl. “However, it is clear that agriculture will need to
do more with less.” Undoubtedly, there will have to be an evaluation of which
programs should grow, shrink, merge or disappear. And thus far we've had
little discussion or evaluation of what the future should hold for farm bill conservation
programs - a vital process we risk losing if debt deal cuts are pushed
forth too quickly."
Celebrate National Farmers Market
kick off National Farmers Market Week, the USDA released an updated number of 7,175
farmers markets listed in its searchable directory. With 17 percent more
markets than last year, the more than 1,000 new markets represent an
unprecedented increase. Shopping at farmers markets is one of the
best ways to support farms, farmers and local economies. Help support the
farmers where you shop by casting your vote for your farmers market
in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest.
Farmland Plays Active Role in Smart Growth
smart growth strategies can do a lot to protect farmland and open space. Directing
development toward existing communities helps preserve open space and agricultural land on
the urban fringe. But working lands are more than passive beneficiaries of
planning; they are active contributors. From spurring economic growth and helping
provide clean air and water, to supplying healthy food and mitigating the
impact of development, a robust,
regional-serving agricultural sector can have numerous positive impacts on the
local level. Our
work with the Greenbelt Alliance in the San Francisco Bay Area is
facilitating the creation of an economic development and conservation finance
commission to make agriculture a thriving enterprise in the region.
The Cutting Edge of On-Farm
always working on the next conservation idea to help farmers and ranchers
protect the soil, provide clean water and clean air, and preserve wildlife
habitat across America.
To continue this move forward, we
recently co-hosted a conference to work through the nuts and bolts of a new
approach called “pay-for-performance conservation,” an approach that can
deliver better environmental outcomes, do a better job of engaging farmers and
ranchers, and make conservation programs more cost-effective.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
bill conservation programs are helping a young woman in Connecticut rebuild agriculture in her suburban community on
property not farmed since her grandparents raised sheep.
amendment passed to the Texas Farm
and Ranch Land Conservation Program will allow counties to raise money for
A group of
local farmers in northern Virginia recently met to discuss the
environmental and economic benefits of “mob grazing” pasture techniques.
|The recently passed Missouri Farmland Trust Act now permits
the state Department of Agriculture to access farmland donations and
establishes affordable land leases for the next generation of farmers.
In New York, Governor Cuomo announced the
"New York Fresh Connect Farmers' Markets" (FreshConnect) program,
designed to help farmers by increasing the sale of locally grown food in
communities and also to bring fresh food to underserved communities, improve
nutrition education and help create local jobs.
sustainable farming courses for women, by women, are being offered
throughout the Midwest until mid-September.
Oregon’s Farm to School and School Garden Bill will authorize funding for pilot
projects that reimburse school districts for sourcing food from within the
state and that help support school garden teaching activities.
and community are all closely connected at Sheppard
Mansion in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Chef Andrew
Little, the restaurant and adjoining inn boast a
10,000-square-foot culinary garden that supplies 90 percent of the restaurant’s
produce during the growing season, as well as a local foods market.
The USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Service launched its newest version of the online Web
Soil Survey. The site provides soil maps, properties and interpretations
for more than 95 percent of counties across the country to aid farmers in
The USDA is offering up to 75
percent reimbursement for organic certification. 2011 applicants from throughout the country must have received
certification between October 2010 and September 2011.
Our No Farms No Food® message is now
even more local and sustainable with our new 100 percent USA
made hat and totebag. For online donations of $50 or more, you can fill a
new No Farms No Food® recycled cotton totebag with delicious fresh and
healthy food for years to come. Or by becoming a monthly donor by giving $20 or
more each month, you
will receive our No Farms No Food® hat
and you won't receive another appeal for funds in the mail—helping us save
paper and resources.
is running out to vote in the Great Barn Giveaway. Be sure to vote for one
of three finalists—there is one in Connecticut, Michigan, and New Jersey—before
the contest closes on August 15.