Regenerative Agriculture Revolution

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Source: Modern Farmer

Organic farming is the agricultural “trend” that we keep hearing about for the future, but what about a different type of farming method that is not certified organic but is still environmentally friendly? The following is the story of John Kempf, a young Amish man who embarked on a quest to rescue his family farm from worsening disease and pest problems and from it all, became a staple in the alternative-agriculture lecture circuit and founder of a consulting company, Advancing Eco Agriculture (AEA). Here’s his story as shared on Modern Farmer:

Once he finished school at age 14, Kempf went to work on his family’s fruit and vegetable farm in northeastern Ohio, overseeing irrigation, plant nutrition and herbicide and pesticide applications. In the fields, Kempf used horses instead of a tractor, with a sprayer powered by a small Honda engine.

It was a trying time for the family. Pests and disease were ravaging the crops, and Kempf found himself mired in escalating chemical warfare against them, with little success. Things hit a low point in 2004, when well over half of the Kempfs’ mainstay crops – tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and cantaloupes – were lost. With the family staring at an increasingly bleak financial situation, Kempf, then 16, set off on his mission to relearn everything he’d been taught about farming.

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The Bishnois of Rajasthan: The First Environmentalists

Khamu Ram Bishnoi fights against the pollution carried by discarded plastic bags in India since 2005. Every year during Mukam festival, the Bishnois, his community, must bring sand on top of dunes to solidify them and block the advance of the desert.  Lately pilgrims had taken the habit of collecting the sand in plastic bags, causing a widespread pollution in the Thar desert. To protect the landscapes and the animals who regularly ate plastic bags, Khamu Ram started to demonstrate noisily to educate his community about alternatives to plastic bags.

In 2008, he was invited to talk at a series of environmental conferences in  France. When looking at the street dustbins in Paris, Khamu Ram had the idea of a mobile public dustbin.  Since 2010, he installs these dustbins complete with jute bags in public places, during festivals, pilgrimages, and organizes their collection. Last February Khamu Ram Bishnoi received the award of “Extraordinary man of India” in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

If Khamu Ram Bishnoi is an extraordinary man, he’s also part of an extraordinary community. He is a bishnoi. Continue reading

Daily Thanksgiving Banquet

In 1621, Plymouth colonists and Native Americans gathered for an autumn harvest feast that set the precedent for today’s American Thanksgiving holiday.  Thanksgiving traditionally brings families together (in-laws and all) to give thanks to the various aspects of their lives.  Many memories are created and a cornucopia of food is shared.  In my family, the holiday lingers until only the turkey carcass remains and the stuffing is amply stuffed into our bellies…a week later.  See, we tend to err on the side of caution and over-prepare for the rare event that an extra ten people arrive to celebrate.

In one sense, Thanksgiving occurs every day in many restaurants—they over-prepare; however, restaurants are without the willing and unashamed stomachs of my family to eat their daily surpluses of food.  As I mentioned in my previous post, much of this perfectly edible food goes to a landfill.  Yet, food shelters are often unable to match their supply with their ever-increasing demand.

Increasingly, restaurants are turning to local Harvest Programs to provide an alternative to discarding surplus food.  With food donation programs, restaurants and other food service businesses have the opportunity to reach more than just their customers.  Programs provide social, environmental, and economic benefits to businesses.

Donating helps disadvantaged members of any community.  A Hunger in America study shows that one in eight American families rely on donated food. This outreach helps employees contribute to a greater good knowing that they are helping members of their community.  It also helps food pantries better match their supply and demand so restaurants can serve more than just the traditional customer. Continue reading

They’re Real, Not Plastic

Earlier this year I would have thought blogging about plastic bags would be boring and quite redundant.  I have heard and read of the dire effects plastic bags have on the environment countless times.  And I am well versed in the “green tips” of bringing my own bag that are so prevalent.  Intellectually, I realize that plastic bags…well, suck.

I heard the implications and I pride myself to be eco-savvy yet I still would often be caught red-handed with those pesky plastic bags on a few desperate occasions. Continue reading

A Thousand Miles

I recently watched a video that became a personal challenge.  It brought to mind that famous Lao Tzu quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

After watching this video, I arrived at the equation: small changes = sustainable.  In other words, sustainability is the thousand mile journey; small changes are the baby steps that get us there.  This video highlights our ability to grow as we challenge ourselves to do something new for a mere thirty days.  I thought and thought of something that could be worthy to merit a thirty-day challenge; however, it was then that I realized that I was taking the small step out of the equation—no task is too small towards my sustainable journey.

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