Indian Reforestation Hero Planted Assam’s Molai Forest

How did it all start? Three decades ago, the tribal teenager named Molai had found a large number of dead snakes, killed by the harsh heat after a spate had washed them onto the bare Majuli Island sandbar. (Incidentally, the Brahmaputra’s Majuli happens to be the largest river island in the world.) The event had a strong emoptional impact on the boy. Realizing that the snakes had does becaise there was no shade in which to hide from the severe sunchine, Molai planted two dozen bamboo seedlings on the sandbar, to provide shade. Then, in 1979, the social forestry office of the state’s Golaghat District launched a tree plantation effort on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori. [In India, the term “social forestry” refers to the afforestation of treeless land or the restocking of depleted forests by engaging the common classes of the population in such work. – EcoRama.] Molai immediately signed up for this project, which went on for five years, and worked tirelessly on it for its entire duration. When the project was finished and other workers left, he decided to stay and keep working, although the effort was officially over. He kept planting more trees, striving to transform the entire area into a dense, pristine tropical woodland.

Source: Indian Reforestation Hero Planted Assam’s Molai Forest


These living algae lamps produce light, heat, and a protein-packed

The future of furniture might also be the future of food. Or is that the other way around? Designers are increasingly turning to microalgae, which is effectively a “liquid plant,”

Source: These living algae lamps produce light, heat, and a protein-packed

The Commons as a Living Process: David Bollier on Transforming Our System 

In his recent paper, Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm, author, activist and commons scholar David Bollier argues that the commons, which he describes as “at once a paradigm, a discourse, an ethic, and a set of social practices,” holds great promise in transcending the conundrum of imagining and building a “radically different system while living within the constraints of an incumbent system that aggressively resists transformational change.”

Source: The Commons as a Living Process: David Bollier on Transforming Our System – Shareable

Carbon Farming – Agriculture’s Answer to Climate Change?

Through more traditional farming methods, or “back to basics” if you will, farmers, the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), grower’s groups and others have been exploring the potential of conservation and other measures such as cover crops, no-till and the use of biochar, which not only decrease the amount of fossil inputs on the farm but also increase the soil’s ability to store carbon.  Just one example can be found on Dave Brandt’s Ohio wheat, corn and soy farm, where he hasn’t tilled the soil since 1972.  Every winter, he plants over 10 varieties of cover crops, providing continuous living cover over the soil – a key ingredient in not only building soil carbon but preserving water holding capacity of the soil and maintaining water quality. Independent scientists have estimated that Brandt has increased the carbon content of his soils an astounding 61 percent in the past 35 years, with his corn yields increasing by up to 44 percent.  Brandt and other farmers are proving that it’s possible to pair conservation with productivity.

Source: Carbon Farming – Agriculture’s Answer to Climate Change? | Regeneration International

Farm Tourism Law, Philippines

Republic Act 10816 aims to draft a comprehensive program to support farm tourism in the country. The law also aims to give access to loans for farm tourism operators and practitioners so that there would be more farm tourism camps and activities in the Philippines and develop the country’s agri-tourism,” Pangilinan said.Under the new law, a Farm Tourism Development Board shall be composed of the Tourism Secretary as the chairperson; Agriculture Secretary as the vice chairperson while members include the Trade Secretary; the president of an educational institution providing farm tourism programs; the president of a national farm tourism organization; the president of a national inbound tour operations association and the president of a national federation of farmers cooperatives.The Farm Tourism Development Board shall formulate plans and programs for the development and promotion of farm tourism in the country and shall set the overall direction for the implementation of the Farm Tourism Strategic Action Plan.The action plan shall include investment promotion and financing, market research, trends, innovations, and information; accreditation of farm tourism camps, institution and human resource development, and infrastructure development.Accreditation of farm tourism camps shall be on a voluntary basis and shall be valid for two years. However, accreditation may be suspended or revoked for any violation of the standards.

Source: Farm Tourism Law to Raise Incomes of Farmers, Fisherfolk: Pangilinan – Official Website of Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

Farm Tools for Women, by Women

Adams and Brensinger (Green Heron Tools) see what they do, in part, as a form of social justice. “Lots of women farmers want to farm alone,” Adams says. “They’re not married, they don’t have a support system right there. It was very obvious that women were at a disadvantage [when it came to tools].

”Liz Wagner runs Crooked Row Farm in New Tripoli with her mother, Donna Wagner. Donna bought a HERShovel before they even broke ground on their 3.5-acre farm after meeting Adams and Brensinger. Until then, Liz said, she had no idea any woman-specific farming tools existed—or that they’d be useful.“Before, a shovel was a shovel, with a handle that was usually too tall for me to use with any real dexterity and a blade that often cut into the soles of my shoes over time as I dug,” says Liz.

She adds: “I’ve met people who feel like using a different tool expresses weakness, and I think when I first moved into this field, I felt similarly. It’s an ego thing, [but] not realistic when you look at the science and see the differences in our body structure.”

“The HERShovel has completely changed the way I use this type of tool,” says Danielle Marvit, a former organic grower and herdswoman, who is currently the production manager for Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery in Pittsburgh. “It has been great for my body, and it is the most efficient shovel I have ever used.”

Source: Farm Tools for Women, by Women – Food Justice | Civil Eats

Food as a Commons – P2P Foundation

In order to provide a sound foundation for the transition towards sustainable food systems, the very nature of food as a pure private good is contested and subsequently reversed in this paper, proposing a re-conceptualisation of food as a common good, a necessary narrative for the redesign of the dominating agro-industrial food system that merely sees food as a tradable commodity. This aspirational transition shall lead us to a more sustainable, fairer and farmer-centred food system. The idea of the commons is applied to food, deconstructing food as a pure private good and reconstructing it as an impure commons that can be better produced and distributed by a hybrid tri-centric governance system compounded by market rules, public regulations and collective actions.

He proposes or revives such ideas as “social charters” and “food trusts” adopted by local communities or associations. Such “decentralized, self-governing systems of food production” would provide fairer access, higher efficiency and greater concern for externalities in food production, than the market would provide. The “re-commonification of food shall take several generations,” predicts Vivero Pol, so he offers a number of transition strategies for the commons, government and market sectors.

It’s refreshing to read such imaginative yet rigorous scholarship about food as a commons and how the concept might be practically advanced. Policymakers, politicians and commoners would all benefit from exploring the concepts that Vivero Pol proposes.”

Source: Food as a Commons – P2P Foundation

The Food Commons » Summary

The Food Commons model will:

  • Make healthy and sustainably produced food accessible and perhaps more affordable to all.
  • Enable food enterprises within and across foodsheds to efficiently produce and exchange goods and services that meet high common standards.
  • Capture benefits of scale in infrastructure, asset management, financing, information systems, marketing, and learning, while preserving local identity, ownership, control, diversification and accountability.
  • Transparently and seek to equitably distribute common benefits along the value chain from farmers, ranchers, and fishers to distributors, processors, retailers, workers, consumers, and communities.
  • Harness underutilized foodshed assets and protect and steward those assets for current and future generations.
  • Foster and celebrate regional foodshed identities that generate widespread consumer awareness, participation and buy-in.
  • Create a wealth of new small businesses and jobs and build a skilled and respected 21st-century food system workforce.
  • The Food Commons has designed a model that will connect local and regional food system enterprises in a cooperative national federation that enhances their profitability and sustainability while creating and supporting a robust system of local community financing, ownership, management and accountability.

The Food Commons model has three integral components:

  1. The Food Commons Trust, a non-profit, quasi-public entity to acquire and steward critical foodshed assets
  2. The Food Commons Financing Arm, a community-owned financial institution that provides capital and financial services to foodshed enterprises
  3. The Food Commons Hub, a locally-owned, cooperatively integrated business enterprise that builds and manages foodshed-based physical infrastructure and facilitates the complex logistics of aggregation and distribution at different scales among all the moving parts of the system, and provides scale economies, business services, technical assistance and training to new small food businesses.

The Food Commons model is a new economic paradigm and whole system approach for regional food.In order to move the Food Commons model from vision to reality the Food Commons nonprofit is pursuing the following near-term objectives to advance development of the Food Commons concept:

  1. Develop the Food Commons Financing, Hub and Trust models.
  2. Identify partners and resources for a Food Commons prototype project, which will be developed through separate entities.

Source: The Food Commons » Summary

Plants with Teeth

For the first time, researchers have found calcium phosphate in the structure of plants – in this case, used to harden the needle-like hairs used to defend against predators.

“The mineral composition of the stinging hairs is very similar to that of human or animal teeth,” says Weigend, who has been studying rock nettles for more than two decades. “This is essentially a composite material, structurally similar to reinforced concrete”, adds Weigend. While the structure of the trichomes are made of the fibrous typical of plant cell walls, they are densely encrusted with tiny crystals of calcium phosphate, making the stinging hairs unusually rigid.

The researchers are not clear as to why these plants have evolved such a unique type of biomineralization; most plants use silica or calcium carbonate as structural biominerals, so why not the rock nettles? “A common reason for any given solutions in evolution is that an organism possesses or lacks a particular metabolic pathway,” says Weigend. But since rock nettles are able metabolize silica, why the calcium phosphate?

“At present we can only speculate about the adaptive reasons for this. But it seems that rock nettles pay back in kind,” muses Weigend, “a tooth for a tooth.”

Source: ‘Biting’ plants discovered with teeth like ours! : TreeHugger