home >> health >> sustainable ag
Learn about sustainable agriculture and how policy shapes the world of farming, the global food system, pesticides and why we don't want them on our farms and innovative ecological projects with the following links.
Acres U.S.A. is the only national magazine that offers a comprehensive guide to sustainable agriculture. Most of every issue is written by people who practice what they preach -- farmers, consultants, vets and researchers with years of experience in the science of sustainable farming. A typical article doesn't spend a lot of time on theory. Instead you will find practical, hands-on information you can immediately put to work on your farm or garden.
ATTRA The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
This group is funded by your (US) Department of Agriculture, maintained by the National Center for Appropriate Technology and provides information and technical assistance to “farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, Extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations, and others involved in commercial agriculture, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or belong to traditionally underserved communities. Anyone may read or download publications from our Web site, but we do not have the staff resources to respond to queries to our office from hobbyists and students.”
I have used this website many times and found invaluable information on biodynamic gardening when I was a member of a biodynamic mailing list, and starting my own BD garden. Learn about sustainable agriculture or organic farming in html or pdf file formats. Want to know everything about growing blueberries in the US or all about how to use integrated pest management to grow apples in NYState? Even a home gardener will find much of value at this tremendous resource.
BDNow Mailing List
“Biodynamics Now! (BDNOW) The International Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Discussion List.
“This list is an international forum for discussing Rudolf Steiner's biodynamic agriculture in theory and in practice. I've been running it since July 1996, [says list owner & farmer Allan Balliett. See his Fresh and Local CSA listed in our Farms & Gardens section of the website] and over that time we have grown from a handful of people up to over 300.
“The main aims of the list are: To provide news announcements, about upcoming events which are related to biodynamics; To provide reviews of new books or articles or web publishing related to biodynamics and To facilitate intelligent and adult conversation about all topics related to and inspired by Rudolf Steiner's course in agriculture.”
This is the list I mention above, where I learned so much both as a virtual and actual gardener about sustainable practices, biodynamics and much more. This is a very spirited list made up of farmers, gardeners, educators, healers and more.
Bio-Integral Resource Center
BIRC specializes in finding non-toxic and least-toxic, integrated pest management (IPM) solutions to urban and agricultural pest problems.
Community Food Security Coalition
“The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3), North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times. We seek to develop self-reliance among all communities in obtaining their food and to create a system of growing, manufacturing, processing, making available, and selling food that is regionally based and grounded in the principles of justice, democracy, and sustainability. CFSC has over 250 member organizations”
Read about their “farm to school project”, find out how you can end hunger at the grass roots level with their resource list of community groups, or download some of their free pdf file publications about food security projects.
Founded by Chuck Matthei, visionary thinker and activist for social justice to create new structures for land ownership, working with farmers & farming communities in farmland conservation, Community and Conservation Land Trusts, in partnership with community housing and community development. Their mission is to "promote equity in the world by changing the way people think about and hold property."
Part of their mission is to develop "alternative land tenure models and tools, promoting and supporting their application and maintaining a dialogue to measure and increase their effectiveness", they empower "people to build and strengthen their communities by providing access to ideas, capital and technical assistance". Equity Trust provides financing for "community development and conservation projects, with emphasis on demonstrating alternative land tenure models". They assist communities by helping farmers to "protect agricutlural land for long-term affordability and agricultural use".
An important quote for all of us from their founder, Chuck Matthei on his deathbed: "To me, it is the recognition that we are never without a meaningful choice. This is a culture that nearly drowns people with meaningless consumer choices, yet leaves most of them feeling that they are powerless in the meaningful affairs of life-but that's not true. We may not be able to choose the moment of our entry into the world, the circumstances that confront us, the choices available, or the consequences that face us for making them--but we can always decide how we will respond to the choices and challenges we may not have chosen to confront. We can keep hold of the only "possession" that cannot be taken from us: our dignity, integrity, soul, call-it-what-you-will. That is the decision that defines us, the first important "life lesson" we should teach our children. This is the decision I have to make every morning: I can rise and think about what has been done to me, what I have lost...or I can rise and say to myself, "what do I have to work with today-let's put it to good use." With gratitude for good work, good friends, and a wonderful family, it's not a hard choice to make...it's not hard to remember the 'duty of delight.'"
If you or someone you know wants groundbreaking information on alternatives to public & private ownership, or community investment information, or direction on how csa's can acquire, hold and pass on land, then visit their resources section for both free information and cd's & books to order.
“ETC group is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights. To this end, ETC group supports socially responsible developments of technologies useful to the poor and marginalized and it addresses international governance issues and corporate power.
ETC group works in partnership with civil society organizations (CSOs) for cooperative and sustainable self-reliance within disadvantaged societies, by providing information and analysis of socioeconomic and technological trends and alternatives. This work requires joint actions in community, regional, and global fora.”
If you thought GMO’s were bad enough, you need to catch up with this organization which has some of the latest information on AMO’s (atomically modified organisms) in this very informative article on Jasmine Rice in Thailand published at their website. Now, successor to the ‘green revolution’ which wiped out many indigenous seed stocks through monocropping, requiring poor farmers around the world to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, is a new initiative, started by the UN in 2004 called the “Second International Year of Rice”.
“Neth Daño, executive director of SEARICE in the Philippines, recalls that the first International Year of Rice was thirty-eight years ago in 1966, the year that the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) launched the Green Revolution in Asia with the release of IR8, the first semi-dwarf rice variety. "The so-called 'miracle rice' required irrigation and a costly package of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that drove poor farmers deeper into debt," said Daño. "IR8 was not only highly susceptible to pests and diseases, it also introduced massive genetic uniformity, displaced poor farmers and their traditional rice varieties."
Food First programs include: challenging industrial agriculture and biotechnology, protecting human rights in America, international food rights, and fair trade and agriculture. As a progressive think tank, Food First produces books, reports and articles , films, electronic media, and curricula, plus interviews, lectures, workshops and academic courses for the public, policy makers, activists, the media, students, educators and researchers. In addition, Food First provides handy, web-based tools empowering you to act now to educate your elected representatives about important food issues, and to act in solidarity with oppressed people around the world.
Reshaping the Global Food System has briefing papers on key issues. During 1999, Food First was a global leader in the struggle to turn the tide against free trade policies which imperil small farmers and local food systems everywhere. In January, Executive Director Peter Rosset and Board Member Miguel Altieri were called to the Vaticanto consult on global food policy. Later we released an internationally acclaimed Policy Brief, "The Multiple Functions and Benefits of Small Farm Agriculture," at the Maastricht UN Food and Agriculture Organization preparatory for Seattle, and a Backgrounder "On the Benefits of Small Farms" for the WTO meetings, where we played at key role at numerous teach-ins and on the picket lines.
Backgrounders on the Web has an archive of pdf files including: water privatization, global farmers’ movements, genetically modified food, the myth of food scarcity, and much more.
Media Quick Stop contains articles and interviews on topics such as: agriculture, biotechnology, food aid, the green revolution, human rights, hunger, land reform, peace and security, poverty, urban agriculture, water privatization and more.
GRAIN is an international non-governmental organization which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge. GRAIN produces several briefings every year on agricultural policy issues including: Bt cotton, the World Intellectual Property Organization and patent rights to plants, genetic material, and seeds, farmers’ right to reuse seed, and other key international issues, in English, Spanish and French. Seedling, a quarterly publication, is available online. Online research covers key issues including: Genetically Modified crops and contamination of the food supply, Bt cotton, and hybrid rice.
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
IFOAM is a German-based international federation of associations, institutions, traders and community groups active in the organic agricultural movement. IFOAM engages in international lobbying for organic agriculture, organizes conferences of national and international organic agricultural organizations, and publishes educational materials about the organic movement. IFOAM's main goals include:
•To provide authoritative information about organic agriculture, and to promote its worldwide application.
•To exchange knowledge (via conferences & trade-fairs and publications).
•To represent the organic movement at international policy making forums (IFOAM has for example consultative status with the UN and FAO).
•To make an agreed international guarantee of organic quality a reality.
•To establish, maintain and regularly revise the international "IFOAM Basic Standards" (translated so far into 20 languages!) as well as the "IFOAM Accreditation Criteria for Certifying Programmes".
•To build a common agenda for all stakeholders in the organic sector, including producers, farm workers, consumers, the food industry, trade and society at large.
IFOAM offers many platforms for information exchange e.g. at the Organic World Congress and numerous other international, continental or regional IFOAM events. Check out their bookstore to find information on their magazine "Ecology and Farming", conference proceedings and other publications are also important information and networking tools.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
IATP promotes family farming, vibrant rural communities and sustainable ecosystems around the world on its website, in its books, and other publications, and through advocacy campaigns designed to influence public policy decisions. Deep research on food safety issues, GE foods, global dumping of factory foods, and much more.
The Institute of Science and Society
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho is the Director of ISIS, a London-based not-for-profit organization founded in 1999 to work for social responsibility and sustainable approaches in science. The online ISIS biotechnology article archive contains articles on GM crops, horizontal gene transfer, terminator insects, biomedical applications, biopatents, the ethics of biotechnology, superviruses, biowarfare and bio-terrorism, along with conceptual articles, legal briefs and public lectures on these subjects. The holistic health archive contains articles on the obesity epidemic, how homeopathy works, the war against consumers’ rights to food supplements, the intersection of traditional Chinese medicine and Western science, how organic agriculture fights cancer and more. The sustainable agriculture archive contains articles on topsoil preservation, how organic foods fight cancer, how biodiverse systems are more productive, and how farmers, scientists, politicians and NGOs are fighting genetically modified food production in Africa, Canada and India.
I cannot begin to describe the wealth of articles, scientific publications, books and other resources on this website on a host of important issues, including, genetic engineering, Gaia Theory, global warming, science and ethics, science and government, nanotechnology, science and art and much, much more. Visit, surf, and be amazed.
A non profit group who have been working for many years to educate the public and to bring healthy sustainable foods to the greater NY metropolitan area. They are a network resource for local csa farms and sponsor conferences on sustainable food systems.
A highly entertaining and educational flash movie on the web for teaching kids and adults alike about the dangers of factory farming. The site also has wonderful resources for food activists, from working for safe school lunches to keeping antibiotics out of the food supply.
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture is an alliance of hundreds of grassroots, state, regional and national organizations, representing constituencies that include family farms, rural and urban communities, environmental and wildlife advocates, workers, students, indigenous peoples, consumers and faith-based institutions.
NCSA's national campaign issues include: concentration of ownership in agriculture; genetic engineering in agriculture; organic farming and public policy; agriculture and social justice; rural development; and sustainable livestock.
NCSA's Organizer's Online Toolkit includes a manual with information on how to build an organization, including recruiting, fundraising and developing leadership; how to run grassroots campaigns, how to set strategy, how to run meetings, and how to organize a successful event; and how to create successful alliances to broaden the reach of your organization.
Pesticide Action Network North America
PANNA (Pesticide Action Network North America) works to replace pesticide use with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.
The PAN Pesticides Database is your one-stop location for current toxicity and regulatory information for pesticides. Search the PAN Product database by trade name or U.S. EPA product registration number to find information on formulated pesticide products.
The PAN Registration database contains lists of registered active ingredients by country, as well as information on banned and restricted chemicals from the United Nations Environmental Programme Prior Informed Consent (PIC) process. The PAN Pesticide Poisoning Diagnostic Tool is an advanced search tool to help clinicians identify and report pesticide-related illnesses.
The aquatic ecotoxicity database provides summaries of aquatic ecotoxicity studies by organism group, species, chemical or effect. The complete dataset includes over 223,000 results extracted from the scientific literature by U.S. EPA through the AQUIRE program.
There’s also a pesticide tutorial, reference material and least/non-toxic alternatives database.
As one of five PAN Regional Centers worldwide, PANNA links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens' action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to insure the transition to a just and viable society. Pesticide Action Network International is the global umbrella group for PANNA. Pesticide Action Network International (PAN) is a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organizations, institutions and individuals in over 60 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound alternatives.
“ Masanobu Fukuoka was born in 1913, of a family that has farmed the Southern Japan Islands for over 1,400 years. Educated as a microbiologist and soil scientist, he is now a Mahayana Buddhist who practices simple agriculture as a spiritual path. He is the father and master teacher, the Sensei of the art of Natural Farming.” (quote from Jim Bones’ beautiful seedball website).
Fukuoka said "The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings". Read his wonderful “The One Straw Revolution”.
Read the same interview with Fukuoka at another beautiful and interesting website Basho’s Pond, “a spiritual web-site that provides interfaith dialogue and teachings from all world wisdom traditions. We also provide links to other non-violent spiritually engaged websites in the tradition of M.K. Gandhi. Basho's Pond is a source of reliable information about retreat locations throughout the world.”
You can read a great story by Starhawk, “The Arrest of the Seedballs” about the police raiding the house of organizers who were gathering in Sacramento to protest “against the conference organized by Anne Veneman and the USDA to promote biotech and industrial agriculture to ministers from WTO countries, in the run-up to the Cancun ministerial scheduled for September”. They had prepared seed balls the day before in a well attended agriculture conference by both participants and media where they prepared organic seed balls, in the manner of Masanobu Fukuoka.
The Soil and Health Library
The Soil and Health Library is a free online library offering full-text books about holistic agriculture, holistic health, self-sufficient homestead living, and personal development. All books are available in a format designed for easy reading in a web browser and many are available in Adobe Acrobat format for easy printing.
"The Soil and Health Library has four major sections and a clipfile:
Radical Agriculture. Here, the underlying theme is how to create physical health through nutrition. This section's interest is far wider than organic gardening and farming; other health-determined approaches to food-raising are also included. Go to the Agriculture Library
The Restoration and Maintenance of Health. Here, the focus is nutritional medicine, primarily on methods that maintain health with proper diet and heal illness by limiting or reducing nutrition. There are also selections concerning longevity and nutritional anthropology. Go to the Health Library
Achieving Personal Sovereignty. Physical, mental, and spiritual health are interlinked--holistic. This collection focuses on liberating achievements, especially homesteading and the skills it takes to do that: small-scale entrepreneuring, financial independence, frugality, and voluntary simplicity. There is also a collection on social criticism, especially from a back-to-the-land point of view. Go to the Personal Sovereignty Library
Achieving Spiritual Freedom. There are many seemingly-different self-betterment roads leading to the same place. Most spiritual seekers choose a path that aligns with their own predispositions. The books in this collection empower a person to self-determinedly handle their own development in an independent manner. Go to the Spiritual Freedom Library.
Clippings and Miscellaneous. Since this library's beginning patrons have sent information and URLs where interesting bits of information and viewpoints could be found. Until December, 2001 these were viewed without making permanent reference. Then it was realised that a file of these items might be well worth sharing. Here you will find articles and essays and etc. that support and enhance the information found in our book collections. Go to the Clipping File."
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
The Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) Database sponsored by the Sustainable Agriculture Network has a comprehensive state-by-state guide to CSA farms in the United States. Did you know that a tomato usually travels about 1,300 miles from where it is grown to your salad bowl? Consider an alternative. Join a CSA farm, and join thousands of others who want to support local farmers while receiving delicious, healthy and, above all, fresh produce all season long. With your subscription, you purchase a “share” of the produce harvest, or a weekly portion from someone you come to know and trust. Some farms also offer fruit, herbs, flowers and other products.
You can find resources for small-scale farmers at the SARE website, providing online and offline publications, mailing lists, and more. Their publications provide producers, managers, communities and consumers with valuable information about sustainable farming practices. Sustainable Agriculture Network
Union of Concerned Scientists
Founded in 1969 by some faculty members & students at MIT because of concerns about the misuse of science and technology in society, calling for research to address pressing environmental and social problems.
Their scientists and engineers collaborate with colleagues around the country, conducting “technical studies on renewable energy options, the impacts of global warming, the risks of genetically engineered crops, and other related topics. We share the results of our research with policymakers, the news media, and the public.”
You can find in depth definitions about sustainable agriculture, read about the dangers of bio-technology in the food/pharmaceutical industry, find answers to important questions about why biotech is dangerous, see a great chart on what genetically engineered foods you are already eating or find out about antibiotics in your child’s school lunches and many more vitally important issues for American families.
Dr. Vandana Shiva, an Indian quantum physicist and activist, has done much in her native India to help people organize and fight giant corporate agribusiness’ crimes. She helped in the campaign against Coca Cola, for instance, illegally obtaining precious clean water for their manufacturing plant. Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Znet Homepage is an archive of Dr. Shiva’s articles. In India she has established Navdanya, a non violent activist movement for biodiversity conservation and farmers' rights whose tactics stem from the satyagraha teachings of M. K. Gandhi. She directs the 'Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology' in Dera Dun, Uttar Pradesh, India. Her most recent books are Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge and Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply.
A Day in the Life
by Jean Paul Courtens
Read about a real time day in the life of two farmers who bring food grown with love to 850 families in New York. more >>
Farming in the Age of Expensive Oil
by Jean Paul Courtens
In this country farmers have to be over 80 years old to remember low-input, diversified farming systems. An organic farmer aks: who will have the knowledge to grow our food in the age of expensive oil, with no fertilizers and pesticides? more >>
Organic Production Works
by Rhea Gala
A new study shows organic production outperforms conventional in crop yield, soil fertility, pest reduction and economic return. more >>
Postcards From Eastern Oregon
by Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume
This Spring my farming partners and I found ourselves landless. For the past eight years, we had been actively exploring a variety of forms and practices of small-scale agriculture and restoration...This journey took us to Eastern Oregon to seek out Finisia Medrano, a.k.a. “Tranny Granny”, a Shoshone elder who knows the ways of “The Hoop”, an ancient tradition of food gathering and cultivation that sustained the Native Americans and the land in good health for thousands of years until being violently disrupted by the European Invasion. The Hoop is not dead but, as we were to see, is severely threatened. more >>
Why Do I Farm Organically?
by Jean Paul Courtens
I like to take walks on the farm and during each walk I find something I had not noticed before. In the winter, I spend time visualizing what the fields of the farm will look like in the next season, and I know that this practice contributes greatly to the success of a particular season. more >>
Our Collapsing Food System -- And How to Fix It
by Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry 2/24/2006
The global agricultural-industrial complex is destroying the environment, exploiting farmers around the world, and delivering low-quality, high-cost food to unwary consumers. But a host of alternatives are springing up to provide nutritious food from sustainable farm communities. more >>
Salad Plate with Fava Bean and Snap Pea Purees
by Jane Sherry 6/24/2011
Spring and early summer are times to celebrate one of my favorite legumes, the Fava Bean. If you've never seen, eaten or grown favas, also known as broad beans, you've been missing out on one of life's short & healthy sweet pleasures! more >>
more articles >>