February 16, 2015
USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden during a visit to Recirculating Farms Coalition.
At the Recirculating Farms Coalition, we continually work to support development of and collaboration in water-based, eco-efficient farms—and on February 2, we got some very exciting news!
We’ve been awarded a New and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support training and mentoring for urban farmers in innovative growing methods like recirculating hydroponics, aquaculture and aquaponics, combined with traditional soil-based farming. AND the announcement came with an in-person visit from USDA’s Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden and various USDA staff from Louisiana and Washington, DC! Read More >
February 12, 2015
The Delmarva Peninsula
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future was one of the sponsors of the recent Annapolis Summit 2015 organized and conducted by The Daily Record and The Mark Steiner Show on WEAA-FM. I attended the summit, and asked Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh a question about poultry contracting and the tournament pricing system (which I’ll explain later) that is common in the poultry industry on the Delmarva Peninsula.
The number of broilers produced in the United States has increased 1,400 percent since 1950, while the number of poultry growing-operations has declined by 98 percent . Approximately 525 million broilers are raised annually on the Eastern Shore alone, which is nearly 6 percent of the nation’s production on .05 percent of U.S. landmass. Those birds produce 42 million cubic feet of waste a year, enough to fill the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building weekly.  Read More >
February 10, 2015
Olivia on a farm with baby goat.
Urban farming was my one and only obsession in high school: the first idea I could latch onto, and eventually commit to as a passion. The problem was, for a while at least, that I didn’t know much about it. It started with a tenth grade field trip to an urban homestead-style garden in Hampden, where beautiful people in cool clothes wandered amongst the beautiful plants they’d grown for themselves. Soon I was following a bunch of blogs that provided me with pages of similar imagery. But it was just imagery. I figured I could get some dirt and floral shorts and I would be well on my way. I didn’t actually set foot on a farm again until the end of my senior year of high school. Read More >
February 9, 2015
Downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek, leading into the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.
Last week, I attended the Annapolis Summit 2015, hosted by the Marc Steiner radio show, where I had the opportunity to hear Maryland’s top elected officials, including Governor Hogan and Attorney General Frosh, speak about topics important to voters, such as education, gun violence, the environment, and the state budget. I was pleased that the health of the Chesapeake Bay came up multiple times in the audience’s questions. However, a common theme that emerged from the summit discussions was the tension between protecting the sustainability and health of the environment, and meeting short-term economic goals for growth and development, Read More >
February 6, 2015
Dr. Hamburg has resigned from her role at the FDA.
Head of FDA to step down. NPR and The New York Times report that Margaret Hamburg will be stepping down as head of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Hamburg held that position for six years, and during her tenure she’s demonstrated a personal commitment to food reforms and improving the efficiency of new drug approvals. The Times says this: “Dr. Hamburg leaves as some in Congress are pushing for change in the regulation of food and drugs. A group of legislators has recently proposed combining the F.D.A.’s food safety capabilities with those of other agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture.” Here’s another Read More >
February 4, 2015
A day of harvesting and cooking at White Rose Farm, Md.
Trying to promote substantive change in the growing and eating of food is a challenge to anyone. Without partners, even the most gifted, eco-friendly farmer grows the finest of foods using the finest of methods only to see the food rot because there is no one to help move and consume it. Likewise, the Baltimore Food and Faith Project (BFFP) needs partners to help us fulfill our mission and to walk alongside us exploring new ideas, holding discussions, and trying new initiatives.
In the summer of 2014, Sally Voris of White Rose Farm in Taneytown, Maryland, Read More >
February 3, 2015
Visionaries from diverse backgrounds—from the arts and media to civil society, faith and ethics, and academia—across the globe recently responded to an opinion piece published in the Times of London entitled “Eat Less Meat: A vital message is buried in a new report on climate change.” Dr. Robert Lawrence, the current director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, is one of the 75 signatories. The response has been featured in the Times and on the website of Compassion in World Farming. We are publishing it here in its entirety because we believe it is important to share news that lies at the intersection of diet, health, and the environment. The health, environmental, and ethical consequences of using ecosystem goods like water, soil, and food without regard for sustainability, vulnerable populations, and future generations are unjustifiable. Here is that letter in full: Read More >
January 26, 2015
Companies from the U.S. and the EU are conducting trade negotiations in secret, and the negotiations are explicitly geared toward eliminating “localization,” which those companies see as a barrier to trade. That’s right, in the view of trade officials, localization is a vice, not a virtue. The U.S. and EU negotiating objectives for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, also known as TAFTA because of its similarities to NAFTA) seek to bring regulatory standards on pesticides, toxic chemicals and food safety between the EU and U.S. closer together Read More >
January 23, 2015
Manure lagoon at a dairy farm
Bad news in Maryland. New Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has wasted no time rolling back environmental protections in this state. On his first day, he killed new farm regulations aimed at helping clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The restrictions were aimed at reducing how much poultry manure farmers are allowed to apply to their fields; the manure is rich in phosphorus, which runs off the fields into Bay tributaries, where it becomes pollution and creates dead zones. The governor has clearly sided with Eastern Shore poultry farmers—at the expense of one of our most important natural resources. More info from Tim Wheeler is in the Baltimore Sun. Read More >
January 22, 2015
Amanda Behrens, Future Harvest conference, 2015
“Most farmers I talk to don’t believe in ‘climate change,’” said Lester Vough, a forage specialist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland. “But they do believe in ‘climate extremes.’”
Vough, who is known through Maryland as “the hay guy,” was speaking about how climate change is affecting farming, specifically the hay business. He was one of the guest speakers at Future Harvest CASA’s annual conference, presenting his observations in the “Environment, Community and Policy” track organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Read More >