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Chelsea Green Blog

Organic Farming Study Is Well Grounded

You’ve heard the myths about organic farming: It’s more trouble. It’s more expensive. The yields are smaller. And the yields are, well, icky — spots and blemishes, hidden bugs, etc. I call them “myths” because guess what? They’re wrong. In a posting on the Web site of the environmental advocacy group Truth Out, writer Susan S. Long reports on the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, a 22-year study (that’s two decades plus, not a misprint), the results of which were published in the July issue of Bioscience magazine. The study, which Long describes as “the longest running comparison of organic vs. conventional farming in the United States,” analyzed the costs and benefits – environmental, energy and economic – of growing soybeans and corn organically versus conventionally. If one of the top organizations in the study of organic agriculture lacks sufficient credibility for you, the study itself was conducted with the assistance of scientists at Cornell University. Tack on the active participation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a University of Maryland agricultural economist, and the anti-organic-farming Luddites will soon run out places to stand. And (one would hope) to farm. The 22-year study offers plenty of numbers to crunch about the advantages of organic farming, perhaps the most salient of which are these: Thirty percent less fuel energy consumed; More efficient water usage; Less soil erosion and better soil quality, and; More conservation of biological resources. The report acknowledges that yields were lower during the first four years of the study. But as time went on, that trend was reversed. There are even implications for global warming: The Rodale study indicates that organic farming increases carbon storage in the soil by 15 to 28 percent. In this instance, that was the equivalent of taking almost two tons of carbon out of the atmosphere per year. More information about the study is available at the Web sites of Rodale, Cornell University, and Truthout Town Meeting. Oh, yes – did I mention that Chelsea Green Publishing Co is one of the most prolific publishers of books on organic gardening (how to do it, and why) in the country? But you already knew that.


Radical Ruminations of a Home Gardener

The editors here at Chelsea Green are constantly seeking out what’s new and important in the world of sustainable living. As part of an occasional blog series, our editors are sharing what they’ve been reading, researching, or just plain pondering. Below Senior Editor Fern Marshall Bradley daydreams about the coming growing season and reflects on some radical gardening ideas inspired by Maine farmer […] Read More

Not Level? No Problem. How to Build a Greenhouse on a Slope

Have you ever considered building a greenhouse on sloped terrain? It may not seem like the “perfect spot,” but as permaculture designer and farmer Shawn Jadrnicek points out, a sloped site for a greenhouse offers a bonus that a level site does not—the ability to use gravity to harvest rainwater.In his groundbreaking new book, The Bio-Integrated Farm, Jadrnicek offers in-depth information […] Read More

Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you. Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and […] Read More

Hands-On Learning: School of The New American Farmstead

This summer, twelve of our authors (plus Chelsea Green’s own President and Publisher) will be leading hands-on intensive courses at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont.These workshops, classes, and certifications will inspire you, equip you with marketable skills, and provide you with new perspectives on integrated, community-centered farming and food production.Engage your SensesThe hands-on courses will […] Read More

Q&A: Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution:

A Q&A with Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food SecurityQ: “Carbon farming” is a term that isn’t yet widely recognized in the mainstream. And even among people who are familiar with the term, not everyone agrees on what […] Read More
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