I spent 5 days talking about Resilient Agriculture in central New York the early part of this month on the SUNY-Cobleskill campus and at the Farmer’s Museum Annual Conference on Food and Agriculture in Cooperstown. I enjoyed visiting with students in the agriculture and natural resources program at Cobleskill to talk about how dairy and beef producers can prepare for changing climate conditions, how to manage for resilience in food supply chain management, leading edge agricultural education strategies, and how to research and write about sustainable food issues. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation at the evening reception and book signing, and my public presentation, Climate Change, Resilience and the Future of Food was standing room only! The evening events were made even more special because Resilient Agriculture farmers Jim and Adele Hayes were able to attend. I also enjoyed a visit with Jim and Adele at Sap Bush Hollow Farm to catch up on all the latest news, including their most recent venture taken on by their daughter Shannon and her husband Bob – the Sap Bush Hollow Cafe in West Fulton, NY.
This year’s Annual Conference on Food and Farming, hosted by the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown. The museum’s collection of 23,000 artifacts reflect 19th century farm life in central New York. The conference focused on the impacts of climate change on farming in central New York. I kicked off the day long meeting with a keynote on Climate Change, Resilience and the Future of Food and finished the day with a New Times, New Tools workshop for farmers that presented the results of my research with award-winning sustainable farmers and ranchers in the U.S. and new management practices that a proven to reduce climate risk.
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.