S.F. property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms

Under the new law, the five-year contract stays with the property even if it’s sold, but if an owner wants to get out of it they can pay back taxes and interest. San Francisco’s ordinance limits the tax savings of individual property owners to $25,000 per year; if the savings are higher, an official review is necessary. City officials in Sacramento, Fresno, San Jose and San Diego have expressed interest, but haven’t yet passed the necessary local legislation.

Los Angeles is close to doing that, and Clare Fox of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council estimates there are 8,600 parcels within Los Angeles city limits that qualify.

How nice to see so many benefits listed for growing food:
“It’s about food security and food access, but it’s also about transforming blighted vacant places that are prone to illegal dumping into community places,” she said.
“It’s a way to beautify the neighborhood and stabilize real estate values. Plus, there are the environmental benefits.”

S.F. property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms – SFGate.

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The 2014 Local Food Awareness Report for Gulfport MS

In cooperation with their educational partner Real Food Gulf Coast (RFGC), the year-round open-air markets in Long Beach and in Ocean Springs are actively increasing local food accessibility and affordability in South Mississippi. Inspired by their success, the City of Gulfport opened a market in 2013 to accelerate access to regionally grown, healthful foods for their citizens, including those living in the areas defined as “food deserts.” In September 2014, RFGC released a report on the challenges of local food awareness in the Gulfport area in order to assist direct marketing farmers and area farmers markets in addressing those barriers. The report is the result of surveys conducted with existing market shoppers and farmers at the Long Beach and Ocean Springs Farmers Markets and surveys with residents and farmers not currently using farmers markets.

The Gulfport, Long Beach and Ocean Springs markets are all managed with volunteer labor, supported by South Mississippi Farmers Market Association. 

Click here to read the report and to view the survey forms.

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

Welcome Midsummer’s Eve

What kind of public market author would I be if I didn’t mention midsummer? I wish more food organizations would use the old holidays to remind us all of the ebb and flow of life ruled by the sun and the plant…
In 2008, back when we were designing the new iteration of Market Umbrella, the E.D. and I attempted to add two holidays to the employees schedule that represented farming and justice: Harvest Day and May Day. Unfortunately, the staff did not agree since they had to give up two other holidays that their family and friends celebrated, Labor Day and MLK Day; silly us-we thought community organizers might want to work on MLK Day to honor him!
We should have celebrated another way, possibly with a special lunch or an educational outing. In any case, I hope everyone celebrates June 21 with their own outing to a farmers market and a special lunch….

From the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

 

Midsummer’s Eve, Swedish Midsommar, Finnish Juhannus, Danish Sankt Hans Aften, NorwegianSankhansaften,  holiday celebrating the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, thesummer solstice (June 21). Midsummer’s Eve is observed in several countries. It is a national holiday in Sweden and Finland, and the official holiday is typically observed on the third Friday in June to allow a three-day weekend. During this time many Scandinavians travel to rural parts of the country. Midsummer’s Eve activities in Sweden include gathering around a flower-festooned maypole(majstång) to sing and dance, an ancient custom probably related to fertility rites. Before the holiday Scandinavians thoroughly clean their houses and decorate them with flowers and other greenery. In Denmark holiday traditions include singing “Vi elsker vort land” (“We Love Our Land”) and building a bonfire where a symbolic straw witch is sacrificed in remembrance of church-sanctioned witch burnings in the 16th and 17th centuries. Traditional foods, such as pickled herring, smoked fish, new potatoes, and strawberries, are served, along with beer and schnapps.

The celebration predates Christianity and is likely related to ancient fertility practices and ceremonies performed to ensure a successful harvest. The holiday was later rededicated to honour St. John the Baptist in Christian times. Although the meaning of the holiday has changed, some pagan customs still persist, such as the bonfires, which originally were believed to ward off evil spirits, and the focus on nature, which harkens back to when plants and water were thought to have magical healing powers on Midsummer’s Eve.

 

 

from Orion magazine:

 

“no such event is complete without aquavit, herring, or Små grodorna, a dancing game in which people sing this about frogs while dancing around the Midsummer pole:

The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.”

SSAWG

SSAWG

SSAWG conference coming up