Category Archives: Uncategorized

Equitable food

I had the good fortune to serve on a panel about food access at this year’s SXSW, in Austin this March. Entitled “Re-linking the Food Supply Chain: Connecting Producers and Consumers,” we heard from six people working in this space. Food access was also the topic of this month’s Talking Freight, hosted by the US Department of Transportation. An audience of about 175 state and regional transportation planners, logistics companies and others interested in improving food access to urban and rural communities participated in the session. If you have a chance to check out these sites, I would love to hear what you think.

Food, ag and climate seminar

Laura Lengnick will be at the UW-Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems from 10-noon on Friday April 26, 2019 to discuss climate resilience, midwest flooding, and give us an overview of what happened at the National Adaptation Forum at the Monona Terrace in Madison that week. Please join us!

Lengnick is a CIAS fellow, and author of the book Resilient Agriculture (2015). She recently authored a SARE publication on Cultivating Climate Resilience on Farms and Ranches. She is the principle of Cultivating Resilience. Current and past clients include: 

Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council, Asheville, NC
USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Washington DC
North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance
Forageable Community Project, Charlotte NC
Glynwood Farm, Coldspring NYClimate Listening Project, Asheville NC
Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics, Capital Institute, Greenwich CT
Agriculture, Forestry and Climate Learning Network, Athens GA
NC Adapt: The North Carolina Agriculture and Forestry Adaptation Work Group, Raleigh NC
Farm Beginnings Program, Organic Growers School, Asheville NCAlliance for Resilient Campuses, Second Nature, Boston MA

Kate Clancy on food systems

Many of you may know Dr. Kate Clancy’s work on food systems. She has led many a project to diagnose what is working and what is not, including a multi-state project in New England – EFSNE.

Kate was on the UW-Madison campus the week of April 2 and gave a presentation for the Food and the Wisconsin Idea. The session is titled “The systems that feed us and what it will take to change them”. ( https://youtu.be/3yVx9OqKTcA ) The term “food system” is widely used in academia and the nonprofit sector, but what do we really mean by it? Are we really using systems approaches to complex problems that could lead to greater understanding and effective solutions? What stands in our way? I was honored to join Kate on the stage to address these questions. UWEX runs these sessions so that people outstate can join the event as though it is a webniar, or watch the talk on line after the event.

On April 4, Kate was the featured speaker at the Weston Roundtable Lecture speaking on “Building Successful Interdisciplinary Projects” (hotlink to come). Despite widespread acknowledgment that interdisciplinary research (IR) is among the most important ways to drive sustainable development, many collaborations fail, and it has not been embraced by many researchers and institutions. The extensive literature on IR provides guidance on the “ingredients for success”: these elements are illustrated by the experience of a seven-year project – EFSNE – conducted in the Northeast US on enhancing food security in the region. The lecture offers lessons on how to develop and manage robust interdisciplinary projects, and ideas on how to build more IR capacity.

Kate is a food systems consultant, visiting scholar at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.


Flood Risk Mapping

The Driftless is prone to flooding, as we all know, and with the rapid snow melt, areas are already experiencing flooding. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, with funding from the US Centers for Disease Control has developed a Flood Risk Mapping Application that you can use to figure out – in real time – what your flood risk is. The tool is intended for use by emergency personnel, city planners, and public health officials. But if you have access to internet services, you can also see forecasted precipitation, areas of flooding and the degree of flooding. It also maps healthcare facilities, socio-economic vulnerability, and areas with electrically-vulnerable people.

Hazelnut growers conference March 8-9

The University of Wisconsin Division of Extension is proud to welcome you to Wisconsin for the 10th Annual Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers Conference. The focus of this year’s conference is hazelnut plant improvement with four different breeding programs providing updates on where they are at with developing improved varieties for growers in the Midwest. Anyone interested in planting hazelnuts should not miss this conference!
As in the past years, the focus on Friday will be providing information on the planting, management, harvest, and processing of hazelnuts. These Friday sessions are intended for aspiring, beginning, and experienced growers alike. Saturday morning will focus on hazelnut variety options and Saturday afternoon on a range of hazelnut projects and initiatives.
Questions or comments about the agenda or the conference can be directed to:
jason.fischbach@ces.uwex.edu

Eric Holt-Gimenez, Food First, in Appleton

Eric Holt-Giménez is keynoting Saturday 1/26 at the Wisconsin Farmers Union convention in Appleton!

Eric Holt-Giménez, author and executive director of Food First, grew up milking cows and pitching hay in Point Reyes, California. He’ll share how farmers and consumers can transform our food system to restore justice to American agriculture. His book A Foodies Guide to Capitalism: Understanding the Political Economy of What We Eat has served as a consumer primer on many of the issues that Wisconsin farmers have organized around for more than a century.

If you are a Wisconsin Farmers Union member, this is worth the drive to hear. (FYI Organic Valley members are automatically members.) If you aren’t a member, sign up and attend! BTW, members need not be a county delegate to attend. Members may attend and “vote their own vote” if you like.

Tribal Food and Farming 101 workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This two-day workshop will be held February 15-16 at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin, and this workshop will connect to additional workshops and training opportunities throughout the 2019 growing season, including the Wisconsin Intertribal Seed Stewardship Cohort that will be hosting monthly online training sessions.

To register and learn more, go to: https://iacgreatlakes.com/workshop/

Google’s Refresh: Food + Tech

Google wants to better understand the ways that technology can benefit food systems. Skeptical? So was I. But after participating in three meetings, including one in Chicago last week, I am warming to the idea.

Watch the conversation about the future of AI in our food system with former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Food Tank, Google, and Refresh Working Group members. I think you will particularly enjoy the duet between Ali Lange (Google, formerly of the Center for Democracy and Technology), and Don Bustos, a Native New Mexican farmer. Ankita Raturi hit the ball out of the park when she notes that rural US needs stable internet access. This one is worth the watch.

“I think we have a long way to go before we start deploying Siri for farms,” she said. “We need fundamental technical infrastructure right now … very basic building blocks. What are the fundamental pieces we need to build first, and then people can imagine what other tools might be able to do.” –Ankita Raturi

In a first report from the working group, From Soil to Supper, you will see short pieces on how AI is currently in use, primarily for data collection for traditional production, distribution, and retailing. It is my hope that future reports will begin to address power disparities in the food system and the way that data privatization and technology appropriate for small to mid-scale farms is being developed. Something to help farmers anticipate extreme weather, like the Driftless flooding, would be appreciated, I am sure.

And if you have thoughts about food+tech you want me to bring to the table, please post comments below. I would be happy to share your thoughts with the working group at our next meeting.

 

Beginning Farmer School January 11-13, 2019

Planning a small business growing and selling fresh vegetables? Join us for the 2019 Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers, January 11-13. Registration is now open! A limited number of scholarships are available. Click here for more information or to register or contact John Hendrickson (jhendric@wisc.edu)