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Sustainable Farming

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Growing her own tobacco in Brooklyn [UPDATED]

It is, after all, just a plant.Photo: NancyThe time when having a chicken in your Brooklyn backyard was interesting has long since passed. I mean, heck, everybody has chickens these days, right? Or at least bees. Maybe even red bees. But even in a borough where hipsters regularly tote hoes up to rooftops to tend rows of heirloom cranberry beans, one crop can still surprise: Tobacco. That's right, Audrey Silk is growing her own to roll her own, and she's decided she doesn't care who knows it. After keeping her harvest a secret for a couple of seasons, Silk -- …

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Turning cows into steaks: inside a mid-scale slaughterhouse [VIDEO]

Photo: Kate SommersThere are many levels of animal eaters, farmers, and processors in this country. Even among the green-minded, we have passionate vegans and rampant paleo-style carnivores. There are those who support large farms for their efficiency, and those who want every farm to have only an acre of produce, a cow, and five chickens. As for meat processing, nearly everyone is freaked out for one reason or another. Most of us hate industrial meat processing; others fret that small-scale operations are dying out. Lorentz Meats is on the small side, but it's growing. The small-is-beautiful types think Lorentz is …

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Keeping farm animals alive in a freezing Nebraska winter

Don't let the Arctic look fool you -- Thistle Root Farm is a beehive of activity. Photo: Steph LarsenSparkling snow blankets a dormant pasture, and a red barn stands out starkly against a sea of white. Winter is a beautiful season on the prairie. Everything looks quiet and peaceful, but there's still a lot of activity at Thistle Root Farm -- most of it indoors. Winter is planning time on our rural Nebraska farm, and we've already ordered our seeds and trees, mapped out the 2011 garden rotation, ordered a new tiller, and started preparing for the animal babies that …