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Stephanie Ogburn's Posts

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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.   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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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Java justice

Implications of the last organic latte

  Fair Trade producers in Mexico depend heavily on organic certification to reap price premiums for both labels, and will be hurt on more than one front by the recently released USDA rule requiring them to change certification practices, researchers say. In a recent article in Salon, later followed by a post on Gristmill, Samuel Fromartz detailed the consequences of a USDA ruling that would force a radical change in the way grower groups in the global South certify their products. The USDA ruling, Fromartz writes: [T]ightens organic certification requirements to such a degree that it could sharply curtail the …

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The human costs of oil and gas

Roughnecks have it really rough

  It's harder to view oil and gas workers as disposable when their stories are told. And that's what Ray Ring does in the latest issue of High Country News. In a special report, Ring painstakingly documents the stories of oil and gas boom workers who have lost their lives and limbs in the past six years, all in the service of cheap energy. I won't quote much here, since the story simply must be read, but here's an small excerpt: Workers get crushed by rig collapses, they fall off the steel ledges and the maze of catwalks and ladders …

Read more: Climate & Energy