FNS begins process to offer grants for replacement EBT services and equipment

This is a pre-solicitation notice to assist Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and State agencies to establish a process to award support grants to eligible farmers’ markets and to develop a method that offer replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefits Transaction (SNAP EBT) equipment and services for farmers’ markets and direct-marketing farmers.
The solicitation package will be posted on fedbizopps on or August 22, 2014. All additional details (i.e. closing date, FAR Clauses, Evaluation Factors) will be included in the solicitation package.

The request for proposal (RFP) will have a two part evaluation. Part 1 will be evaluated using a pass/fail evaluation. Part 1 evaluation factor is Experience: Offeros shall demonstrate experience with Farmers Markets and direct-marketing farmers nationwide and associated partnership experience working with the Farmer Market and direct-marketing farmer.

RFP

Part 2 evaluation factors will be provided in the solicitation package.

Alternatively, interested parties may go to https://www.fbo.gov/ and search for the Notice by using the solicitation number AG82014.

Landmark Study Underscores Wide-Ranging Benefits of Pesticide-Free Farming

From The Guardian:

“The research was peer-reviewed and is published in a respected scientific journal, the British Journal of Nutrition.

The results are based on an analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies from around the world – more than ever before – which examine differences between organic and conventional fruit, vegetables and cereals.

“The crucially important thing about this research is that it shatters the myth that how we farm does not affect the quality of the food we eat,” said Helen Browning, chief executive of Soil Association, which campaigns for organic farming.

UK sales of organic food, which is often considerably more expensive than non-organic, are recovering after a slump during the economic crisis.

Plants produce many of their antioxidant compounds to fight back against pest attacks, so the higher levels in organic crops may result from their lack of protection by chemical sprays. But the scientists say other reasons may be important, such as organic varieties being bred for toughness and not being overfed with artificial fertilisers.

Leifert and his colleagues conclude that many antioxidants “have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers”. But they also note that no long-term studies showing health benefits from a broad organic diet have yet been conducted.

The researchers found much higher levels of cadmium, a toxic metal, in conventional crops. Pesticide residues were found on conventional crops four times more often than on organic food. The research was funded by the EU and an organic farming charity.

The research is certain to be criticised: the inclusion of so many studies in the analysis could mean poor quality work skews the results, although the team did “sensitivity analyses” and found that excluding weaker work did not significantly change the outcome.”

link to report at Cambridge Journals

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/organic-food-more-antioxidants-study

Frugality, active lifestyles and pursuit of knowledge make people happier

Hmmm, sounds like a few things that markets could measure and share with their community:

“Another path to well-being is thrift, which means conserving resources as well as money, Tatzel noted. Frugal people are happier with life in general, according to a 2014 study. That may be because avoiding the negative consequences of spending too much and going into debt is one way to avoid unhappiness, she said.

People enjoy doing things more than having things, with other studies finding that people realize more lasting happiness by changing their activities than by changing their material circumstances. “Experiences live on in memory, are incomparable, often shared with others and don’t have to be resource intensive,” said Tatzel.

She described other research that has found that people are more likely to be happy by cultivating personal talents and relationships more than money and fame, and by having an independent sense of self that results in not caring much what others think of their possessions.”

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140811/Study-of-quality-of-life-provides-answers-to-what-really-brings-happiness-to-consumers.aspx

Southeast could become an overdeveloped ‘megalopolis’ in the next half century

Researchers estimate that urbanization will increase 190 percent, resulting in a continuous string of development similar to the northeast corridor, according to the article. As a result, 15 percent of agricultural land, 12 percent of grasslands and 10 percent of forests will be lost, the article reports.

“The upshot is that . . . climate change isn’t the only story in the Southeast,” Terando said. “There are large-scale human impacts on our environment . . . the way we develop.”

Numerous species of animals would be left with no habitat. The loss of woodlands that soak up rainfall would leave local waters more vulnerable to the storm-water runoff that washes nutrient pollution from lawns and motor oils from roads, in addition to increased garbage.”

Southeast could become an overdeveloped ‘megalopolis’ in the next half century – The Washington Post.

Michel Nischan

Great interview with Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Wave and long time Farm To Table chef. He tells Louisiana Eats host Poppy Tooker about how and why he created his public role.
http://wwno.org/post/tradition-begs-evolution-changing-federal-policy-reviving-local-customs” title=”Interview withMichel Nischan by Poppy Tooker”

Rebels With A Cause

Just saw this documentary-I found it fascinating, fairly reported and with a charming manner. I highly recommend it for any ecological or civic leader. The story of the formation of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust is also included and should be inspiring to farming advocates across the country. I might recommend setting up screenings in your market space on a Saturday night!

REBELS WITH A CAUSE is the story of a regional California effort that grew into an astonishing system of fourteen National Seashores — the result of garden clubs, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, politicians from both parties, widows, and volunteers working together through compromise and negotiation, with the American public coming up as the winner.

http://rebelsdocumentary.org

Happy Birthday Wendell Berry

posted on Orion Magazine’s FB page:

Happy Birthday to our esteemed contributing editor Wendell Berry! Still truckin’ at age 80 and keeping his fans on their toes: the so-called father of sustainable agriculture (not his words) stopped by the Bay Area studios of KQED this week and called the word sustainability ‘useless,’ but then expanded a bit: ” So this issue of sustainability requires a lot of careful thought about ways of work and kinds of materials and it’s a conversation that we’ve just begun. The thing that we’re most needing to sustain is the health of the ecosphere, which is a big job. It then divides itself naturally into the need to sustain local ecosystems. The great fact of our time is that while our conversation about sustainability is trying to get started, we’re destroying the health of the local ecosystems.”