Food & Agriculture News: 3/16/23

Food & Agriculture News: 3/16/23

Georgia to receive $7.2 million through pilot USDA school lunch program - Albany Herald

Farm to school continues to grow in Georgia. Already a nationwide leader in connecting Georgia farmers and schools, this additional funding will help farmers work together to meet the demands of school lunches. Senator Jon Ossoff and Representative Sanford Bishop were in Albany to announce the funding. 

Here’s the official language about the “Local Food for Schools” initiative from USDA:

“This program will strengthen the food system for schools by helping to build a fair, competitive, and resilient local food chain, and expand local and regional markets with an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved producers and processors.”

America's agroforestry renaissance - Axios

First thing’s first, what is agroforestry? Here’s how the article defines it: an ancient land management method that integrates the growth of trees with crops or livestock. 

Ancient is an interesting word choice - meaning “belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence.” 

I have to say that using animals to help with crops is definitely still in existence (hence the article in the first place) and was also the dominant form of agriculture until about 40 or 50 years ago. I know several readers of this newsletter who would certainly not consider that the “very distant past”! 

At any rate, this is a good development. Here’s why:

“Agroforestry can buffer extreme weather impacts on livestock and crops, boost soil health, increase crop yields and reduce air and water pollution, as well as assist in growing diverse crops to reduce economic risk, according to Anne Marsh, the director of the USDA's National Agroforestry Center.”

Is ‘No Dig’ Gardening Really Possible? - NY Times 

A rare instance in which a question in a headline cannot immediately be answered, “no.” Nice!

To be clear, no dig or no till gardening is not only possible, it’s arguably easier and almost certainly better for the soil. The key, like any organic growing, is compost. 

(Seriously, compost is the best. All those food scraps most people throw away are pure gold for the garden. We waste a precious resource almost every day.)

With spring right around the corner, this article is definitely worth a look as you think about planting a garden. Plus, you’ll meet an excellent gardener named Charles Dowding who is also a great follow on Twitter, Instagram or Youtube. 

Just don’t plant too soon! As this week has reminded us, the average last frost date in Georgia is mid-April. 

Solar-Powered Mobile Barn Transforms Traditional Agriculture - KMA Land

Well it’s been about a month since I wrote about solar panels and agriculture so I guess the algorithms thought it was about time to send me another gem. 

This is an insanely genius contraption – a gigantic barn that separately houses eight sheep in the front, 10 hogs in the middle, and 125 chickens in a trailing chicken tractor in between rows of corn that can be moved from a mobile phone. Not only do the animals eat bugs in between the rows, they also fertilize the soil. Plus, there’s enough room in these to replace all the CAFOs in Iowa!

That’s a win on so many levels: food security, soil health (reducing both fertilizer and pesticide use), and animal welfare. In this case, the solar panels wouldn’t do much more than power the barn but at least that reduces the need for a gas-powered tractor to move it. 

CAFOs, by the way, are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations which are basically the indoor slaughterhouses that contain disease ridden animals (see the bird flu articles from the last two emails). Any reduction in CAFOs is also a good thing. That's it for this week, we'll be back with more updates next week.

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