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Remembering Dennis Piluri

Dennis Piluri, age 69, of Scottsdale, Arizona, passed away on January 5, 2019, in Phoenix. At the time of his passing, he was the proud owner of Great Western Sales, along with his brother, Robert. Dennis, Robert and Great Western, an organic fertilizer distributorship, have long supported the eco-agriculture movement. Their product, Organic Gem, has reached farms around the world.

Dennis touched everyone he met with his warm wit, loyalty and exemplary character. Continue Reading →

Clay Bottom Farm Turns Lean Principles into Profit

It’s a frigid March day in northern Indiana, but inside Clay Bottom Farm’s hoop house, Ben Hartman is planting onion sets. The work is done quickly with a Japanese paper pot transplanter — a wheeled cart with a slanted chute.

Ben Hartman waters plants in his hoop house with his young son.

Ben Hartman and his son Arlo work in the hoop house at Clay Bottom Farm.

A tray holds a honeycombed square of paper pots that unspool as a linked chain of seedlings slides down the red chute as Hartman wheels it down the bed.

“Origami designers developed this tool,” he explains, as each paper pot slips into the soft furrow at evenly spaced intervals, to be tucked in by the transplanter’s slanted rear wheels.

At the end of the row Hartman tears the damp paper linking the pots and turns the implement for another pass. The first seedling in a row gets planted by hand, but the rest are hands-off. “You’re supposed to use a used chopstick,” he says, staking the first paper pot with tongs to keep the line in place, “but we didn’t have any on hand.” Continue Reading →

Book excerpt: Albrecht’s Foundation Concepts Vol. I

Front cover image for the book Albrecht's Foundation ConceptsDr. William A. Albrecht was Professor of Soils and Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture. Through his extensive experiments with growing plants, soils and their effect on animals, he sustained his theory and observation that a declining soil fertility, due to a lack of organic material, major elements, and trace minerals – or a marked imbalance in these nutrients – was responsible for poor crops and in turn for pathological conditions in animals fed deficient feeds from soils. Within this book – volume 1 of his many collected papers – are articles on topics such as “Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition,” “Soil Acidity is Beneficial, Not Harmful,” “Trace Elements and the Production of Proteins,” “Soils, Nutrition, and Animal Health,” and much more.

The excerpt below dives into the topic of soil fertility and the problems that occur when fertility is low. Continue Reading →

Seedsman on a Mission

In 1979, a 25-year-old college freshman from Idaho stood over a bare garden plot in the backyard of his newly purchased home in Missoula, Montana, and asked himself, “Now where am I going to get seeds that will grow here?”

Bill McDorman smiles as he stands in his corn patch

Bill McDorman, shown in his corn patch in September 2018, has pursued a lifelong career of nurturing regionally adapted seed varieties and encouraging the people who save them.

Answering this question would lead author, speaker and educator Bill McDorman on a lifelong career of nurturing regionally adapted seed varieties and encouraging the people who save them. His quest to re-normalize seed saving motivated him to co-found the Down Home Project, Garden City Seeds, Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens, the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens, Seed School and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance (RMSA), as well as to serve as the executive director of Native Seeds/SEARCH and to author the book Basic Seed Saving.

Known by many in the seed saving community as a mentor, McDorman has personally trained over 1,000 seed savers through his Seed School (created by McDorman and his wife/RMSA Deputy Director and cofounder Belle Starr), including 13 students who went on to start bioregional seed companies.

McDorman is a refreshing advocate for the benefits of seed saving — not because growing seed was easy throughout his life in the Rocky Mountain West, but precisely because it was hard. The difficult climate and soil conditions led McDorman toward an ethos of seed saving that goes beyond the basic idea of finding and using open-pollinated seed varieties. He goes a step further to illuminate the values of local, regionally adapted seeds that will perform better in their unique bioregion. Continue Reading →

2019 Farming Evolution Event to Feature Christine Jones

The 2019 Farming Evolution event will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 20 & 21, 2019. The Phillips County Event Center on the Fairgrounds just north of Holyoke, CO, will house the event.

Speakers

Christine Jones

Christine Jones head and shoulders

Christine Jones, a soil ecologist from Australia, will be the headline speaker. Over several decades, Jones has worked with farmers and ranchers using renewing practices. After a highly respected career in the public sector, she began to promote the benefits of soil carbon throughout the world. Continue Reading →

Tractor Time Episode 24: Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute, 2018 Eco-Ag Award Winner

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh. Sponsored by Albert Lea Seed.

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. We are happy to be bringing you another episode, our 1st of season 3 starting this year, and 24th overall.

On today’s program, we’re going to honor our 2018 Eco-Ag Award winner, who we celebrated in December at our 43rd annual conference. Jeff Moyer, is a longtime organic farmer, author, lecturer. His work with the Rodale Institute, both in hands-on farming and as executive director, is advancing the state of the art of organic agriculture and building bridges to bring these methods to mainstream, conventional farmers.

His talk at our conference was aimed at helping farmers see the future of the organic certification industry, and how words like “regenerative” and “sustainable” are already being fought about in the advertising board rooms across the world.

“Like it or not, we’re in a food fight,” he says. “Right now, organic is in the middle of that fight. So is the word regenerative. And sustainable. And sustainability.”

Other past winners who have showed up on the Tractor Time podcast have included Dr. Vandana Shiva, who won in 2017, Ronnie Cummins in 2009, Joel Salatin in 2006, and Neal Kinsey in 2003.

Learn more about the Rodale Institute here.