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Archive | September, 2015

Meet an Eco-Farmer: Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm

Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm Eco-Farmer

Earcine Evans, Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm

Why did you begin farming?

My family farmed growing up. I returned to the land 12 years ago to be nourished and renewed after being away for such a long time. In my time away I became a cosmetologist, owned a beauty salon and nearly lost my life to chemical poisons, which led to my personal journey to rediscover the knowledge that my grandmother had while raising me. Thus, Pure Cine All Natural Hair and Skin Care was born.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Yes, I farmed with organic and biodynamic farmers in the beginning to learn about methods that would lead to well-stewarded land and good health for myself and others. I’ve never used any chemical or industrial pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on my land.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

I love being so closely connected with nature, memories of my ancestors and a way of life that honors my predecessors and heals both the heart and mind. Continue Reading →

Book review: Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public

Altered Genes, Twisted Truth Book Review

Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steven Druker

by Steven Druker, review by Simi Summer, Ph.D.

Safe food activists and concerned consumers alike will not want to miss the newest entry into the GM food debate by public interest attorney Steven Druker. Endorsed by Dame Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, the book has been launched at a critical time in the history of national and global food production.

Unwanted trends in the name of “sustainable agriculture” and international agricultural development point to the success of the Green Revolution in deceiving innocent farmers through biotechnology. This includes the widespread distribution of GM seeds to “solve” world hunger. Likewise, many countries with strict labeling laws, that have banned GMOs, are now considering commercial planting of GM crops. This reflects a change in collective thinking which seriously challenges international GM blockades currently in place. On the home front, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, otherwise known as the Dark Act, has been making headway, while GMO labeling supporters are busy letting congress know that this is not the kind of legislation they want implemented.

Although Druker’s book addresses the most current food safety concerns in an indirect manner, his topic is timely. He offers a compelling historical exposé of the way in which both the government and leading scientific bodies have convincingly misrepresented the facts about biotechnology. Druker claims that when GMO crops were first approved for commercial use in 1992, the government covered up and ignored the warnings of their own scientists, lied about the facts and subsequently violated federal food safety law by allowing these foods to be sold and marketed without using standard testing to prove that they were safe. Continue Reading →

Yeasts Protect Fruit from Brown Rot

Yeasts Protect Fruit from Brown Rot Some naturally occurring yeasts may be useful for protecting stone fruits against pathogens that attack after harvest. USDA scientists looked to the microflora on the surface of the plum to find potential biocontrol agents against brown rot.

At the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia, plant pathologist Wojciech Janisiewicz and his colleagues determined that the surface of plums harbor several yeast species with excellent potential for use as biological controls against brown rot. Brown rot is caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola.

Fruit surfaces are naturally colonized by a variety of microbes, including bacteria and yeast. Some of those native microorganisms have been shown to have a beneficial effect on reducing fruit decay after harvest.

In previous efforts, Janisiewicz developed a bacterium normally found on apples into a commercial biological control product that can be used instead of fungicides to control pome fruit diseases. The product is allowed in organic production. A lot of information exists about the benefits of natural fruit microflora on grapes and apples, but for plums, the extent of their potential for biological control of fruit decay remains largely unknown. Continue Reading →

Silicon’s Role in Rice Production

rice-fieldSilicon (Si) is the second most abundant element of the Earth’s crust after oxygen. It has long been neglected by ecologists, as it is not considered an essential nutrient for plants. However, research in recent years shows that it is beneficial for the growth of many plants, including important crops such as rice, wheat and barley.

For instance, Si enhanced the resistance against pests, pathogens and abiotic stresses such as salts, drought and storms. Silicon might, thus, play a crucial role in the development of sustainable rice production systems with lower or zero input of harmful pesticides.

Researchers from the interdisciplinary LEGATO project on sustainable rice production looked in more detail at the cycle of plant-available Si in contrasting regions of Vietnam and the Philippines to provide insights on the importance of this element in rice production.

An article published in the journal Plant and Soil reports on Si cycling and budgets on the farm level in the Laguna province of the Philippines. The data shows that the irrigation water can provide a considerable amount of the Si that is taken up by plants. In rainwater, the concentrations of Si were below the detection limit of the analytical method; the researchers, thus, assume that rain is not an important Si source for plants. Another major source of plant-available Si is the dissolution of solid soil particles. Continue Reading →