Stephanie Ogburn

Stephanie Ogburn is an editor at the High Country News currently lives in Paonia, Colorado.

Diversity in the field, and at the table

A multicolored good food movement

Photo courtesy of M J M, via FlickrAs the good food movement matures, its members have begun discussing its inclusiveness. This week, at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s ninth Food and Society Conference, speaker after speaker touched upon the topic of race and access to good food.  “Who is at the table?” asked Anim Steel, Director of National Programs for The Food Project, a Boston-based organization that works to engage youth in sustainable agriculture. Steel’s rhetorical question referred to a growing conversation among members of the sustainable food movement about helping the movement grow and include all people, not just those …

Dispatches From the Fields: Your tax dollars at work

Big ag, little ag, and government support

In “Dispatches from the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. —– In the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a couple of events here in southwestern Colorado sponsored by the state and federal governmental agriculture agencies. Taxpayer-funded ag technicians showed off impressive new methods of irrigation and water management. They also demonstrated their commitment to the standard ag paradigm: maximizing yield of industrial inputs — e.g., crops that produce seeds that …

Dispatches From the Fields: Back to the garden

On the transformative potential of community-scale food production

In “Dispatches From the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. —– This spring, someone transformed the vacant lot across the street from my in-town apartment here in Cortez, a town of 8,000 in southwest Colorado. Until the transformation, I had never really noticed the parcel of land. It wasn’t an after-hours hangout, was never vandalized, and was thus invisible to me as I ran, biked, or drove by it nearly every day. That all …

Mark Udall visits rural Colorado

Udall stumps on renewables and more to a crowded room

I had the opportunity to attend a campaign event for Mark Udall Friday afternoon, when he stopped by the Montezuma County Democratic headquarters for a short stump speech and Q&A. Udall is a sitting representative in the House who is running against Republican Bob Schaffer for the Senate seat vacated by Republican Wayne Allard. Udall, a tall, rangy, candidate who sported the requisite Western dress of cowboy boots, denim, and a button-down, only spoke for about 20 minutes, but his understanding of and dedication to Western and national environmental issues quickly shone through. Udall said he wanted American policies to …

Dispatches from the Fields: The trouble with small-scale farming

Can sustainable farming provide a sustainable living?

In “Dispatches from the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. —– Should small-scale farmers who grow organically and sell locally or regionally be able to make a middle-class living with farming as their sole source of income? I’ve always answered this question with a fervent “yes,” at least from a philosophical perspective. But the answer to the follow-up question — “do they?” — is nearly always a resounding no. Sure, there are exceptions. In …

Dispatches From the Fields: Whatever happened to organic?

The limits of consumption-based food movements

In “Dispatches From the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. This Olathe Sweet Corn is regionally renowned, entirely local, and grown entirely conventionally and industrially, meaning farmers use large amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Its locality has become a selling point; should this be the case? Photo: Stephanie Paige Ogburn A few years ago at farmers markets here and around the country, most customers would ask a farmer how she grew her vegetables …

Dispatches From the Fields: From tepary beans to arugula -- and back

Can locavores embrace a truly place-based agriculture?

In "Dispatches From the Fields," Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America's agro-industrial landscape.   The architectural remnants of an ancient agrarian civilization known as the Ancestral Puebloans cover the Southwest. Photo: Stephanie Ogburn. It's somewhat astonishing that there's a thriving local food scene where I live, in Montezuma County, Colorado. Not because the area is poor, rural, and thus removed from the trendiness of the local food movement that has hit most large population centers -- rather, because it's so difficult to grow food here.   In a normal year, towns in Montezuma County get between 13 and 18 inches of precipitation. The growing season is short; although most of the region falls into zones 6a/5b on the USDA hardiness map, it frosted here on June 12 this year, and that's not unusual. Temperature variation between day and night can easily range 40 degrees, as the thin desert air heats up with the sun but fails to retain any of that heat due to the lack of humidity.

Dispatches From the Fields: The 'far' in farmers markets

For some farmers, distant markets offer the best prices

In "Dispatches From the Fields," Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America's agro-industrial landscape. I don't know how many different farmers markets readers have the opportunity to attend within one area. As a consumer, it seems reasonable to pick one and stick with it. But as a farmer, it's a good idea to sell at multiple markets; it offers the opportunity to sell products at different times during the week as produce becomes available and also increases sales, since the farmer can reach that many more customers at each market. Here in southwest Colorado, the farmer for whom I work attends no fewer than four markets per week. Two of them are fewer than 10 miles from the farm, and the other two are much further afield, requiring drives of 45 and 75 miles to reach. Interestingly, the market that is farthest away is also the most lucrative, and this got me thinking about farm location versus consumer location, a dynamic that makes the buy-local trend a little challenging.

Wanted: One good environmentalist

USDA Seeks to fill enviro slot on Organic Board

The United States Department of Agriculture seeks to fill an "environmentalist" slot on the National Organic Standards Board, an opening announced in an April 16th press release. Why should you care? The NOSB makes recommendations to the USDA on what is allowable under USDA Organic Standards. Cloned animals? Recombinant DNA? Sewage sludge? The Board influenced all the decisions to keep these substances out, and will make important future recommendations as well. Contact Katherine E. Benham, of the National Organic Program. Nominations close August 17, 2007. The position will probably be filled around January, as that's when environmentalist Andrea Caroe's term ends. More in the press release here. Holla, people! I know you know someone!

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