Another Urban Farm Rises in Baltimore

The concept of urban farming is something that continues to grow with each passing year, given the value it brings with regard to reduced costs and an expansion in options. In the city of Baltimore, another addition to the list of growing areas has been added, this one coming about because of the collective assistance of both farmers and volunteers.

 

The Real Food Farm is located in the Clifton Park area of the city, the northeast section of a community that has far too many food deserts that don’t offer fresh or healthy food to local residents. It’s been incrementally broadening its geographical imprint on the area over the past eight years.

 

On April 1, those farmers and volunteers built the eighth greenhouse for this area, one made with clear plastic and metal piping. This allows for year-round growing to take place, which wouldn’t ordinarily be possible due to the winter climate the area endures on a yearly basis.

 

Once the construction of that particular greenhouse is completed, both raspberries and blackberries will be grown. Fresh fruit, which offers numerous health benefits, often tends to be one of those scarce commodities in these types of deserts.

 

Simply constructing greenhouses takes money, something that was addressed through the philanthropic work of the Abell Foundation. They’ve provided the funds for Future Harvest CASA to organize such projects. The goal of the latter organization is to not only supply food to these deprived areas, but also offer tips and other education so that residents can seek to expand their knowledge of farming.

 

Some residents have done smaller-scale projects on their own land or been part of a more informal community garden effort. Depending on the size of the particular garden, their efforts have allowed them to cash in through the countless farmers markets.

 

Involving children is one of the goals of this continuing project, since many have grown up with no idea about the value of healthy eating. Much of their diet comes from either canned foods, or starch-laden items that results in health issues as they grow up.

Existing Agricultural Methods May Threaten Access to Fresh Water

Conventional efforts to irrigate crops may be placing greater strain on regional water supplies than previously thought. Addressing the issues with an unsustainable food trade and ensuring that aquifers, rivers and other sources of fresh water at not being placed at greater threat is not a concern that should be taken lightly. Growing populations and the increased demand for specific crops that is currently being seen on a global level may lead to significant challenges in the days ahead. Additional research and greater awareness regarding this issue may be required in order to reduce the risk of regional droughts, loss of major freshwater resources or potentially avoidable food shortages.

 

Making the Shift to Sustainable Agriculture

 

From hydroponic operations and indoor farms that allow for more efficient control of moisture and water consumption to genetically-engineered crops, there are plenty of resources that may soon play a role in protecting freshwater resources from being depleted. Global trade is placing considerable stress on agricultural operations that are able to produce the most affordable crops and specific regions of the world are already beginning to bear the brunt of consequences stemming from unsustainable farming methods. New methods of cultivating crops that need the most water, reducing the scope of artificial irrigation and transitioning to more sustainable methods for growing food all have the potential to provide signification long-term benefits.

 

Higher Food Costs

 

Depletion and more restricted access to water can quickly drive up food prices, especially in drought-stricken regions and more arid environments. Ensuring more efficient use of water, especially for farms and agricultural operations, is of paramount concern for ensuring that rivers, aquifers and other natural resources at not being placed at greater risk. While more developed countries may have a number of different options regarding their efforts to grow or important certain foods, some developing countries are already beginning to see the impact that a long-term water shortage or loss of viable farmland may have.

 

Farming Prices Decline Across US

Earlier this March, thousands of farmers and other agriculture workers from around the United States supported one another on the 44th anniversary of National Agriculture Day. This annual event provides all involved the ability to reflect on how important agriculture is in the United States and the rest of the world.

 

2016 and 2017 have been interesting years for agriculture. Net income made my all farmers across the country has fallen for the third straight year and is now at its lowest point since 2009. The current drop in farm profitability was actually the largest such drop since the Great Depression. While the drop in profitability during the Great Depression was due to a customer’s inability to pay for the crop, the profitability decline today could actually be more associated with too much productivity.

 

Over the past decade, the efficiency of farming has continued to grow. In fact, farmers today are produce nine times as much crops compared to what was grown in the 1930s. At the same time, they are able to do so while utilizing far less land. Today, the amount of crops grown is actually outpacing the need for food, which has helped to reduce the level of hunger across the world. There are now an estimated 5 billion bushels of crops stored all over the United States. While this has been great for the world, it has led to a reduction in the value of the crops.

 

With all of the excess crops sitting around, many are looking for better ways to put it to use. One of the most likely uses will be to continue to increase the usage of biofuel. There are already biofuel stations for consumers in 29 states across the country and there is now enough crop to help grow that number. This would also help to reduce the need to rely on foreign oil, which could provide additional economic benefits to the United States. At this point, the oil companies are fighting the plan, but it appears that more government intervention could come that will increase the production of biofuel across the country.

 

Why Organic Farming is the Future

We’re living in a world now where it’s more common for our fruits and vegetables to be sprayed with chemicals than it is for our foods to be grown organically. Thankfully, there is a growing trend of people starting organic farms. Organic farming is still a relatively small industry, but it is growing because of the need and demand for cleaner food.

 

Organic farming means that all of the fruits and veggies that are being grown are not sprayed with chemicals or have artificial fertilizers used on the soil. In order for organic farming to be labeled as such, the farm needs to adhere to strict guidelines and regulations set by the USDA. If a food is labeled as being USDA organic, you can trust that it is as clean as it can possibly be. These farms have to be inspected regularly to ensure that they are still working under organic guidelines.

 

The reason organic farming is becoming so popular is because people are becoming aware of what their food is made of. Parents don’t want to be feeding their kids chemically-sprayed vegetables when they want to be introducing a healthier lifestyle into mealtimes. There have even been a variety of studies that show that even after washing the fruits and vegetables, the chemicals are still found on the foods and are being ingested by the people eating them.

 

Buying organic is easy and highly convenient now that it is becoming more popular. All you have to do is go to your local supermarket and look for the USDA organic seal. You will even find food products down the aisles that have this seal. When something is labeled as being organic, it means no chemicals were used during the growing and processing of that product. If a product says that it is natural, this does not mean the same as organic as anyone can label a product as natural without needing to follow any regulations. Switching to an organic lifestyle can be expensive, despite what you might have heard. Organic foods and produce are more expensive, but they’re a healthier choice for those interested.

 

Love Cooking? The Top Herbs Your Kitchen Garden Needs

If you enjoy cooking, you surely know the value of herbs and spices. But if you’re new to cooking, you may be unaware of just how powerful these can be to the final flavors and tastes of your dishes. For this reason, let’s go over the top herbs that you should use in your cooking to enhance the flavor and make your friends want to eat at your house every night.

 

The best cooking herbs for your kitchen garden

 

Before starting in on the best herbs to use in your cooking, let’s talk about having a kitchen garden. Every great cook and even amateur chefs should have a quality kitchen garden. The good news is that it’s not difficult to start one of these. All you need are a few organic herb seeds and some containers and soil. Pick a place that won’t be disturbed and that has lots of sunlight. Plant your seeds according to the directions on the packets.

 

In time you’ll have some great herbs growing, but the question remains as to which herbs you should choose for your garden and which you can subsequently use in your cooking.

 

First, let’s talk about basil. Basil is absolutely essential for any kitchen garden because it can be used in all types of Italian cooking. If you like to make lasagna, spaghetti, pizza and ravioli, basil will be your best friend.

 

Next, you’ll want to have cilantro unless you’re one of those people who hates it. Cilantro is the staple herb for Mexican cooking. You can add it to salsas, sauces, tacos, tostadas and other Mexican dishes. Cilantro is also great on hamburgers and in wraps.

 

Parsley is another good herb to grow. If you like to make falafel, you’ll definitely want to have a lot of parsley. It can also be good as a garnish on dishes that you want to look a little bit more fancy. At the end of the meal, if you chew on a bit of parsley, it will help your breath smell better.

 

Use all of these herbs in your kitchen garden and in your cooking for great food that is healthy and delicious.

 

Moving Farming from Corporate Farmers to Small Scale Farmers

There is a need for the US government to make a progressive movement to the interior communities. For that reason, it needs to stop subsidizing corporate farms and rather return the land to the small family farmers who work on the farms. Farming should not be restricted to farmers who owns 20, 000 acres of the rented land just to make a living. It is also important that everyone including the city dwellers be enlightened about the basic literacy regarding agricultural shifts that have encompassed the United States and what needs to be done regarding moving agriculture from corporate agriculture on a mass scale.

 

 

Farming business has not changed for over 200 years. We have cultivated two types of crops that are soybeans and corn. For some time, this system has benefited farmers. Over the years, there have been strong established markets for the product, and proven farming techniques. Improvement of machines over the years has improved efficiency. Well developed seeds and planting methods that have increased the yield with time. The greatest transformation that has happened to farm is the rise of large farms. Along with the two crop system, the big farms are a problem to the agriculture and the economics of agriculture.

 

 

One of the significant challenges with the big corporate farms is that, for instance, if there are just 12 of us for the 20,000 acres, we earn an average income. For us it is a better living compared to others in the field; we are happy. That may seem good until you consider that no more than 30 years, 20,000 acres provided a living for over 100 families. Is there any solution to this problem?

 

 

There is a solution to these challenges. The initial solution is that we need to stop subsidizing the current business model of large farms and the two crop system that it supports. Another solution is to create a system that would return the farms to the small family farmers who work on the rented land. Through this, we will be taking full advantage of the most valuable resource that we have; land. We must do it in a way that refrains from corporate exploitation and invests money to our farmers.

 

Is The U.S. Facing an Economic Downfall in the Poultry Agricultural Industry?

Could the United States be facing an economic crisis in the agricultural industry similar to the farmers’ debt crisis in the 1980s? There is the possibility that it may happen when we observe the events that occurred during those times. Farmers were consumed in debt which caused them to lose their land, equipment and homes. It affected global economies because of incurred loan debts and decreased assets value. The same thing happened in the mortgage industry beginning in 2007, which resulted in homeowners and entrepreneurs losing their assets.

 

 

 

 

In the 1980s, farmers relied on bank loans to purchase new equipment and inevitably increased prices for their farm products, such as chickens and turkeys. The profitability margin increased for many farmers, but only lasted for a little while. The agricultural debt in the U.S. increased to more than $350 billion by the end of 1981. Farmers were heavily in loan debt with low value of assets. According to The Huffington Post, over 60,000 farmers lost their farm and homes between 1981 through 1986.

 

 

It appears that farmers who raise poultry, including chickens and turkeys are subjected to loan debt compared to large chicken factories. Companies, such as Perdue and Tyson contract with farmers to produce the products. The poultry farmers obtain loans and put their whole possessions up for collateral without knowledge of the outcome. Just because the interest rates are low during the time of the loan, the Federal Reserve can interest rates at any time.

 

 

But, what happens when farmers have to refinance at a higher interest rate? It causes financial stress, risk, and burden on the farmer and his or her family. To start a chicken farm business, the entrepreneur needs approximately $1 million or more in capital. That’s an enormous debt for farmers considering one chicken is sold at approximately five cents per pound. So, who’s really bringing in high revenue, the chicken companies and manufacturers.

 

 

Farmers incur mostly financial debt and risk, rather than profits when they use their assets as collateral to receive loans from banking institutions. The banks are protected by federal government agencies, including Farm Service and Small Business. Who is protecting the farmers when they are encouraged to get loans and eventually default? Maybe the government can do something to start protecting the farmers who do all the hard work to raise chickens and turkeys.

How Do Organic Farms Keep Production Efficient?

Organic farming is becoming all the rage nowadays. You can’t go into any supermarket without finding information and products specifically made using organic methods. Organic farming is far different from any other type of production available. If the farm is certified USDA organic, they must follow strict regulations and guidelines in order to achieve and maintain that seal of approval. This means that the farm cannot use any type of chemical pesticide that is harmful to the environment and consumers’ health.

 

The problem with organic farming is that production can be slow and the yield of crops can be small because chemicals are not being used. The farm cannot use growth hormones or chemical growing agents because they will lose their USDA organic seal. Because of this, many farmers are using natural methods to grow their crops and keep the plants in good shape. There are many natural methods to get crops to grow stronger and for longer periods of time. Greenhouses are often used in organic farming because they use the natural sun to encourage growth and vitality. Because the plants are protected in a greenhouse, pests are often not an issue for these particular farmers.

 

Organic farming is more expensive to those working on the plants and this price is reflected in the product you’ll find in your local supermarket. It’s not uncommon to pay two or three times the price for organic produce than you’d pay for the chemical-riddled crop next to it. However, you can save money by visiting farmer’s markets and looking for supermarket sales and discounts specific to organic produce. Once you get in the habit of buying only GMO-free and organic products, you’ll find that going back to your old way of shopping seems “off”. You just won’t feel right buying chemical-produced items that you know are not healthy for your loved ones. While buying organic is more expensive and can be frustrating because crops are generally much smaller in size, it is well worth the price of admission when you look at all the health benefits of going on an all-organic diet.

 

How to Shop for Organic Produce in the Supermarket

Gone are the days when it was considered normal to spray our farms with hundreds of gallons of pesticides to keep the plants healthy and pest-free. Nowadays, most people are aware of the dangers that these chemicals impose upon our health and why it’s crucial we begin to avoid them altogether. Unfortunately, shopping for organic can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can buy your organic produce at a supermarket for the same price as its pesticide-riddled neighbor. This simply isn’t true because organic farming is much more costly to farmers and workers, thus putting that price back into the produce that they yield.

 

To save money on your organic produce, you can look for sales in your local grocery store. Most stores have sales going from week to week and you’ll be surprised to find that many of these discounts include organic produce. If you’re able to find a great sale, you could essentially get organic at the same price as other pesticide produce. Another way to buy organic is to visit your local farmer’s market. If you live in a rural area, there should be no problem finding a great market that sells a wide range of homegrown vegetables and fruits. You may have to travel to get to the farmer’s market if you live in the country, but it is well worth it and you can stock up on all the produce you need to feed your family for months.

 

It’s important to note that not all organic products cost the same. You might find cucumbers that cost different prices because one type comes from a specific organic farm and the other comes from an entirely different GMO-free organic farm. Comparison shopping is yet another benefit when you’re looking to save money on healthier options. Even different stores charge varying prices for their organic produce, so it pays to look at shop advertisements before making your trip. When you switch to organic produce for your loved ones, you’re doing something great for your family and they’ll appreciate it because they’re living healthier lifestyles.

 

Why More People are Setting Up Their Own Organic Farms

Organic farming is a growing trend found all throughout the country. It’s estimated that for every five regular farms being established, there is at least one organic farm being created. This is an amazing shift in our way of farming, since there has been an enormous problem with the use of pesticides in recent years. Pesticides are hazardous to our health, making it difficult to feel safe consuming the fruits and vegetables that we buy from our local supermarkets. Thankfully, many people are forgoing supermarket produce shopping altogether and are choosing to set up their own organic farms in their backyard.

 

Setting up your own organic farm in the backyard is great if you’re tired of the high cost of produce and the insecurity of knowing where your food is coming from. The only disadvantage to having your own farm and relying solely on its production is that certain foods can’t be done all year and are specific to certain seasons. This limits the amount and type of produce you’re able to yield. Other than this minor inconvenience, organic farming in your backyard is a marvelous way to regulate what’s being put onto your foods before you chow down.

 

To set up your own farming spot, you’ll need an adequate area in the backyard that gets both sun and shade throughout the day. Most crops do best in partial sun and shade, allowing them time to heat up and cool down during the hotter months of the year. You need to keep your crops watered daily to prevent them from burning and drying out, especially if you’re living in a hot climate. If you can’t plant the crops directly in the earth, consider building a vegetable box and filling it with dirt and organic matter to encourage the plants to grow their best.

 

You should begin to see a yield of crops within the first couple of months after doing your planting. You need to read all directions for the specific plant you’re putting into the ground as some require more or less water and full sun to keep them healthy.