Archive for June, 2010


From the Farmstead Creamery Advisor, 10 Questions for Aspiring Cheesemakers

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Gianaclis Caldwell, award-winning cheesemaker, goatherd, and author of The Farmstead Creamery Advisor, wanted to make sure her book brought the notion of small-scale dairy farming down to earth. Not because there’s no romance in a close relationship with animals and the earth, but because it takes a LOT of work to maintain a successful creamery. It can be frustrating, and Murphy’s Law (i.e. anything that can go wrong, will) exerts a force not unlike the Laws of Thermodynamics. Especially with animals as clever and willful as goats! They’ll always figure out if you left a gap in the fence, they’ll eat the wrong thing and get sick, they’ll eat your raspberry canes before you get any fruit, etc.

Take this brief quiz to see if you’re up for the task.  The book looks at these questions in greater depth:

 Ten Questions to Test Your Suitability

  1. Do you like to get up early – every day of the year and for many years to come?
  2. Do you mind working late into the evening – and then getting up early the next day?
  3. Do you mind working hard between getting up early and going to bed late?
  4. Does your spouse or partner also enjoy these hours?
  5. Do you have a good head for business?
  6. Do you have an artistic or creative flair?
  7. Can you be satisfied with repetitive labor and a lot of dishwashing?
  8. Do you have a great love for working with animals, no matter how exhausted you are?
  9. Can you deal well with constantly changing challenges and problems, including animal deaths, equipment failure, product loss, possible lawsuits and product recalls, and rising insurance and power costs?
  10. Do you mind working for below minimum wage for several years, or do you have an independent source of income to help pay bills?

Get a copy of this essential guide during our Gardening & Agriculture sale, which ends next Wednesday!

Thanks to the bloggers over at GoatLove for mentioning this!

WATCH: Will Allen’s Presentation from Bioneers, 2007

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

In this video, Will Allen, author of The War on Bugs, speaks about the history of toxic pesticides and his work to raise awareness about their dangers at Bioneers by the Bay, 2007.

The War on Bugs tells the story of how American farmers in the mid-1900s were convinced that dangerous chemicals were not just good business but, “Necessary, Critical, Essential, Modern, Progressive, Profitable, Economical,  Miraculous, even Heroic—all in capital letters.”

From the Preface:

At farm field days, meetings, potlucks, and Farm Aid concerts, we began recounting how each of us had become convinced that farm chemicals were indispensable. All of us recalled how farmers,  extension agents, schoolteachers, feed store salesmen, and billboard ads claimed that the chemicals were miraculously effective and safe.

As farm kids, we knew that the chemicals were effective. We knew that arsenic, nicotine, and lead killed pests and that the chemical fertilizers produced good yields, even though most of our folks  were small farmers who rarely used them. All of us knew, however, that the claims about safety  were B.S., because we would get our butts whipped if we went near the chemical storehouse. At my grandma’s farm in Hemet, California, she and my aunt repeatedly told us to keep away from the shed with the chemicals. At home, my mom would always warn us: “Remember Bobby Arbuckle? He played with arsenic, and he’s dead.” Then she would follow with, “And don’t forget that boy Danny what’s-his-name, who lived down the road—he got into that Black Leaf 40 tobacco poison
and it burned him like a fire.”

Check out The War on Bugs, which is 25% off until July as part of our Gardening & Agriculture sale.

Small-Scale Grain Raising, An Excerpt

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The advice in Small-Scale Grain Raising; An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers, by Gene Logsdon, can help the small farmer gain an extra edge of self-sufficiency, and reduce her feed bill. In this excerpt, Logsdon gives detailed information about rye and barley, including tips for growing, harvesting, storing and a few recipes. From the introduction by Logsdon:

“This book is intended for the pioneers of this new, low-cost way of making food—those gardeners and “garden farmers” or cottage farmers who are interested in increasing both the quantity and quality of their homegrown food supply by incorporating whole grains and dry beans into their fruit and vegetable growing systems.”

If you just read our post on Collapse and are fretting about peak oil, some winter rye growing in your backyard could help soothe your soul!

Along with all our Gardening & Agriculture books, Small-Scale Grain Raising is on sale through the month of June.

Read Chapter 7: Rye and Barley

Collapse, The Documentary is Now Available

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

“Collapse is the type of doom-and-gloom documentary that should have audiences running, but it’s so masterfully made and riveting that it’s impossible to look away.” –Kimber Myers, AllMovie.com

Inspired by Michael C. Ruppert’s book Confronting Collapse, the documentary Collapse is now available in our bookstore. Director Chris Smith, whose 2004 film The Yes Men chronicled an infamous group of tricksters and their attempts to embarrass big corporations, brings us this beautifully shot long-form interview with Ruppert. The film covers the seriously scary and deeply connected issues of peak oil and global financial instability–issues about which Ruppert has made eerily prescient predictions for the past decade.

Watch a trailer:

And get a copy of the book here.

Poisoned for Profit, How Toxins are Making our Children Chronically Ill

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Alice Shabecoff, author of Poisoned for Profit along with her husband Philip, speaks to a meeting of the National Disease Clusters Alliance.

The book was written to answer the question, “Why is my child sick?” The answer, according to the Shabecoffs’, is constant exposure to toxic chemical by-products from industrial processes–and millions of children are suffering.

First published in 2008, this updated edition tells the same disturbing story. Not much has changed since the book first appeared, and a recent President’s Cancer Panel Report corroborates the book’s findings.

“Poisoned for Profit” book party and speaker panel from Terry Nordbrock on Vimeo.

WATCH: Eliot Coleman on Organic Farming and Soil Health

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Eliot Coleman, best-selling author of The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook, tells the story of how his adventure in organic farming began.

In the video, Coleman speaks of how his farming practices focus on the health of the soil, “Which can provide everything we need, in a low work system, by taking advantage of the synergy inherent in all the diverse pieces of the biology at our disposal.”

While Green Revolution practices still continue to produce massive quantities of commodity crops, they do so at the expense of that fragile soil biology. Organic farmers like Eliot Coleman take traditional methods like composting and interplanting to a high level of sophistication, creating healthy, delicious food, and supporting diverse soil ecology along the way.

Check out The Winter Harvest Handbook and The New Organic Grower. Both on sale through the month of June!

Watch the extended video.

COMING THIS FALL: A video workshop with Eliot Coleman. If you’ve ever wanted to take one of Coleman’s popular farming workshops, but can’t seem to make it to Maine, check out this valuable DVD. Available as a set with The Winter Harvest Handbook.

WATCH: Joel Salatin talks about building forgiveness into the system

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Joel Salatin, farmer and best-selling author of Pastured Poultry Profit$, You Can Farm, and Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, provides insights on agricultural practice that is environmentally, economically and spiritually sustainable.

At present, farms across the nation are vulnerable to rising fuel prices, climate change, and shifting political structures. In order to ease these liabilities and cultivate a stable, abundant agricultural landscape, Salatin proposes building “forgiveness” into the system. The author speaks of his own experience implementing forgiveness on his grass-based farm where reliance on solar energy and the natural intuition of livestock generate agricultural wellbeing and resiliency.

Salatin and his family own and operate Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, providing local produce and informational outreach to the surrounding community.

All of Joel Salatin’s books are on sale this month as part of our Gardening and Agriculture promotion!

James McCommons in The L.A. Times

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

James McCommons is the author of the award-winning book, Waiting on a Train; The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service, which chronicled a year spent riding Amtrak across the United States.

In a recent piece for the Los Angeles Times, he shares his experience of effortless connections, convenient stations, and gorgeous routes as he traveled by rail in Europe with his son. There’s more than a touch of lament in his words for the way passenger rail works back here in the States. As Waiting on a Train illustrates, Amtrak is hampered by ineffective subsidies and decaying infrastructure, making rail travel difficult where it’s possible at all.

McCommons is not alone in hoping that we can follow in Europe’s footsteps to create viable rail transit in this country. The fuel efficiency of rail, when compared to cars and trucks makes it a favorite for those looking to trim carbon dioxide emissions. We won’t be holding our breath for a change, however. Subsidies for less efficient travel methods have been strong for ages, and even the recent oil disaster doesn’t look to be changing that anytime soon.

Read Waiting on a Train.

Read the full Los Angeles Times article.

The Case for Food Rights: David Gumpert featured on Grist and NPR’s Living on Earth

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution, Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, argues on Grist that the courts should break with another major taboo: restrictions on our access to food, most notably, raw milk.

The Farm-to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is facing off with the FDA over their repeated attempts to restrict consumers access to raw milk, a product many believe to have important and unique health benefits. The FCLDF is arguing on the basis of civil rights, not merely on the basis of consumer preference. This frames the raw milk debate in more meaningful terms for those seeking policy changes.

Gumpert was also interviewed for a recent episode of Living on Earth that focused on a recent rally in Boston where fans of raw milk staged a “drink-in” on the Common, with Suzanne the cow providing the beverages.

Check out David’s book here.

Read the full Grist article here.

Listen to Living on Earth here.

WATCH: Richard Wiswall on farming for profit

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Richard Wiswall spent his junior year at Middlebury College abroad, with a family of subsistence farmers in Nepal. Inspired by this and the writings of Wendell Berry, he returned to Vermont and started a business growing organic veggies. “Plenty of information on production techniques in farming…but there’s a decided dearth of information for how to run a business.”

“My goal is to see more happy, prosperous farmers,” says Richard Wiswall in this video introducing The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook; A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit. Wiswall began farming with an eye towards making ends meet when he took out a loan to finance his startup. He had to convince the bank that his business plan would work. Years later, his book is helping small farmers make their enterprises more viable and sustainable.

And check out the book here (remember, it’s on sale through the month of June!).

Watch the extended video here.


Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com