From recent April-like weather here in the East to super-heavy snow
in the High Plains to Ohio State getting drubbed in the Fiesta Bowl,
not much is going normally as January opens. But that’s why
they call it news.
When research corn fields with the least fuel and purchased fertility
invested in them give you the best yields, that’s news and
that was our experience at The Rodale Institute in 2006. Fewer tractor
passes, better moisture retention, no chemicals for weeds or nitrogen—and
the most corn per acre, according to our top scientist.
Unusual only because of the wonderful innovation in one case,
we bring you the contrasting tales of two young farm couples two
counties apart in northern Virginia. In the good news part, you’ll
learn how trust, generosity, problem-solving and patience—and
lots of creative lawyering with a supportive older landowner—allowed
one couple to access farmland without a crushing mortgage. In the
other, a farm that stubbornly survives in an area of rapid “development”
now finds itself viewed as being available for sacrifice to make
way for a new roadway and high-tension lines.
Both Virginia farms show the start-up power of drawing strength
from close connections to customers in the neighborhood. You’ll
also read in this update how these local food relationships are
being re-woven in a variety of ways in Burlington, Vermont, by community
groups, a cooperative businesses, area farmers and deeply committed
“local only” eaters.
These new forces at work in the global food economy—the ones
that can launch new farmers and, we hope, re-route powerlines and
challenge industrial food’s marketplace dominance—get
a rousing farmer-written exposition as well; his retort to a recent
high-profile story that trivialized “new agriculture”
movements with faint praise.
Readers comment this month from India on soil health, and from
an experience in the South Pacific that begs the question of whether
noni fruit puree can prevent Avian flu-like diseases in fowl in
So here’s our first serving for 2007. May it strengthen,
inform and motivate you in all the right ways. Write
us so we can highlight what’s perking and working where
you are with everyone else.