For the first time, the potential of agriculture as a solution to climate change was included in COP discussions. Attend this session if you would like to learn more about what it was like to attend the Paris meetings as a civil society delegate and what you can do to ensure that our country does its part to reduce emissions and cultivate climate resilience. Presented at the Abundance Foundation’s 4th Climate Adaptation Conference in Pittsboro NC on March 4, 2016. Report From Paris Abundance 2016
I had a wonderful visit to Maine last week to talk about Resilient Agriculture at the University of Maine at Orono and at Unity College in Unity. Quite unexpected was a whirlwind tour of North Haven and Vinalhaven islands hosted by Jacqueline Curtis and James Blair – graduates of my sustainable agriculture program at Warren Wilson College and two of the many young farmers driving the current resurgence of local food production in Maine.
Jacqueline and James have been involved in the restoration of Turner Farm for the last 7 years or so – clearing trees to establish pasture and cultivated fields, building greenhouses and a creamery, and establishing vegetable, beef, dairy, and cheese enterprises on the farm.
Island farming and food systems offer a unique challenges and opportunities for sustainable producers. The cost of importing materials and exporting products encourages farm and food system designs that are tightly coupled to the island’s natural resources – land, soils, water and people – and that foster local interdependence. During my time on the island, I saw many examples of the integration of local resources into food and farming systems.
Concerned about losing additional forested land on Turner Farm, Jacqueline is organizing a cooperative network of land owners with underutilized pastures who are willing to support forage production and rotational grazing on their land. This strategy produces a number of resilience benefits to Turner Farm and the island community that it serves. Jacqueline gets the additional pasture she needs to meet the growing demand for pasture-raised meats on the island, sustainable management of pasture lands on the island will enhance soil and water quality on the island, and the cooperative approach engages many land owners in food production and builds social capital.
Island farmers like Jacqueline and James are innovating sustainable farm and food system solutions that help put us on the path to a resilient food future.
I had the pleasure of giving a webinar on Oct 15, Stories from the Field, for the Climate Learning Network, a new educational project supported by the Northeast and Southeast USDA Climate Hubs and being managed by the cooperative extension service. The Climate Learning Network is designed to educate technical advisers working with farmers and forest owners about climate change science, climate vulnerability and risk, and effective mitigation and adaptation options for U.S. farms and forests. Stories from the Field introduced the concept of climate risk and shared some of the successful adaptation stories of the farmers featured in Resilient Agriculture.
At the end of September, Dayna and I kicked off the Great Plains Cultivating Resilience video with a day of filming with Resilient Agriculture farmer Bob Quinn at Quinn’s Farm and Ranch in Big Sandy, Montana. Videographer Dave Pecunies from Mahoosic Productions completed the production team for this shoot. Bob took such good care of us all day and he was such a trooper with the filming!
We arrived before dawn to scope out locations and capture some footage of the sun rising over Bob’s 4500 acres of dryland grain fields. After 2 hours of work, Bob invited us into his kitchen and made up a batch of his famous sourdough Kamut pancakes for breakfast, giving us a step-by-step tutorial. We enjoyed a zesty breakfast drink made from sour cherries and apples grown in Bob’s experimental fruit orchard.
After breakfast, we headed out to interview Bob about the changes that he has seen in weather over the 43 years he has managed the farm, the adaptations that he has made to respond to those changes, and his concerns about the barriers to farm-based innovation created by federal government programs. Bob enjoyed piloting Dave’s quadcopter as we captured aerial footage of the landscape, antelopes, tractors and all!
Bob put us to work gathering vegetables for a late lunch from his kitchen garden and his experimental dryland vegetable fields. Bob introduced us to ground cherries (yum!) and we picked tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, and arugula. Bob whipped up a tasty vegetarian lunch cooked in safflower oil grown and processed on his farm.
After lunch we filmed at the safflower processing plant at the farm and then headed downtown to do some filming at Bob’s newest venture, a healthy and very tasty snack food called Cracklin’ Kamut. Look for it soon at your favorite food store!
Thank you to Bob Quinn and his family for a delightful and tasty visit to Quinn Farm and Ranch!