Posts Tagged 'Farming'

Rurality Online

Rural Recommendations

Browse: Farmgirl Fare blog has friggin’ cute baby donkeys, seriously delicious recipes, and beautiful quilts. To put it simply, this blog is good therapy after a long day of work.

Read: Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, is a rare example of a novel that confronts politics, money, and the environment without being, um, badly written. Which is quite a feat, given that environmental novelists like Wendell Berry and Barbara Kingsolver (as much as I enjoy them) quite often become preachy and one-sided. Refreshingly, Franzen has created some of the most complex and engaging characters I’ve read in a long time. (And the book still manages to be a damn good exploration of the complicated political side to environmentalism)

In other news…

My alma mater, Kenyon College, just received a grant for a three-year project called Rural by Design, which focuses on a cutting-edge holistic approach rural sustainability. Over the past century, urban design has become accepted as a legitimate profession or pursuit, but this grant hopes to put rural design on the same page.

Speaking of rural design, check out these creepy aerial images of disconnected sprawl.

Grist posted this super-interesting article about the “war” between cities and suburbs— which might as well be titled “a real-life enactment of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom”. Unfortunately, this so-called war between cities and suburbs is not about the benefits and drawbacks to each structure of living and communing, but rather about structural sustainability versus the infringement on personal liberty. You might notice that there’s a third party missing from this debate: rural populations.

Obama talks rural communities and energy challenges. I don’t have nearly the leisure time to blog about the question of energy in the United States (aside from the occasional rant about the coal industry), but extraction of natural resources should always be in mind when thinking about rural areas.

…speaking of which, the coal industry is setting its sights on Illinois now that Appalachia is nearly used up and fucked over. Is anyone else reminded of that sleazy guy in college who was clearly dealing with his own insecurities by sleeping with one girl after another?

On the plus side, there’s finally going to be a study released about the links between mining and cancer! Except–oh, wait– we’ll only see it after it’s been reviewed by a mining industry group. Biased much?

Meanwhile, a new study looks at the different lifestyles that young urban people want— and while cushy, it also sounds pretty sustainable…

Hooray, my mountains! The Blue Ridge Mountains preserve 58,000 acres

Farming

Natasha Bowens offers a solid critique of the white majority in sustainable agriculture.

In Ireland, recession is returning the economy back to its rural roots. More evidence to support my quiet hypothesis that underneath the fluctuations of money, rural living is the natural state of communities.

A Kentucky county finds that the Farm-to-School movement isn’t as simple as it should be. Having worked with local food programs at my own college, I know that these projects are so exciting in those early idealistic stages, but are less easy to actually execute.

Native American Indian farmers have settled with the Obama administration after years of discrimination from the USDA.

Digital v. Analog

USA Today discusses the role that e-books have played in renewing people’s love of reading

…while the New York Times interviews college students about the same debate between e-books and hard copies.

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Rurality in the News

Some of this blog’s overarching themes have been all over the news lately:

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*For the record, a “Western Diet” was defined as one that relies heavily on takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products, and confectionery.

Act III: The Departure

Have I mentioned that I’m moving across the country? I’m exchanging the Appalachian Mountains for the Rockies, and saying goodbye to everything I love about Appalachia and the American Southeast:

Me, 1989 or 1990

I started this blog when I was farming in the heartland of Virginia last summer. I wanted to reconcile my passion for place— that real, earthy spot where you stand –with the global networks of the internet. I posted about things like strawberry rhubarb crisps, eating disorders and farming, and handsome farmers (see #5). I wanted to post all my art in one place, and prove that “rural” doesn’t mean “lacking in culture.”

I admit that, during the school year, I forgot my focus on rural politics and got caught up in art supplies. But I still saw those things as connected: binding my own books connects me to generations of Appalachians who made their own clothing, furniture, and instruments. And even if I was no longer living next to the old plantation slave quarters, I still focused on race through my studies, posts, and in my life. Sure, I had some difficulty readjusting to a liberal arts school where most of my peers were from the urban centers on the coasts– but the main themes of my life (and of this blog) remained the same:

Self-Sufficiency (D-I-Y. Crafting. Creating. Energy independence. Independent women. Growing your own food.)

Rurality (Community. Music on porches. Real-life interactions).

Agriculture (Dirt. Dark soil. Sweaty bandanas. Staking tomatoes.)

Art and Design (Art supplies. Meditative safety. Blank pages. Flex nibs. Watercolor.)

Literature (Everywhere. All the time. The story of each life. The collective story of all lives.)

Politics (Being a woman. Being white. Being Southern. Being Appalachian. Being educated.)

Poetry (Powerful poets. Contemporary poets. Poetry saving lives.)

And So Now…

Here I am headed toward a new climate, a new altitude, a new landscape. But I don’t think it will be forever (what ever is?). I’ll be missing a lot about this part of the country. I’ll be back.


Urban Window Farming

I was tipped off to this from Tiny Choices, a great blog about the big effect of small decisions.

So Window Farming is a way to grow your own food in small spaces, when you don’t have land. And not only this is friggin’ cool, but these are some of the most beautiful windows I’ve ever seen:

"Britta's Windowfarm - Outside View" from Flickr

Women in Agriculture

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Click to read

Delicious Food and Strong Women

I’ve been meaning to give some publicity about a super post, “Feminism through Cooking,” over at RMJ’s blog.

Kenyon’s psychology department contains several of the national leading experts on eating disorders, especially media images and eating disorders. Although these are serious issues that require confrontation, I found that I was disappointed with the effect that the department seemed to have on the women students around me. It seemed like every girl I met had bad self esteem, a history with eating disorders, and–here is what really struck me– they seemed to take it as an essential part of their identity. Furthermore, these girls complained about their relationships with men, and yet continued to act in unhealthy ways that deprived them of their own autonomy.

Women for Women Int'l: a group of graduates who have formed a farm collective in Kyonza, rwanda

Women for Women Int'l: a group of graduates who have formed a farm collective in Kyonza, rwanda - ggInTheField on Flickr

What seemed to be lacking was a pro-active approach, something that would change their own relationship to food (and perhaps to men) in a positive way. Instead of critiquing the same commercials and magazine ads over and over, they could have read Francis Moore Lappe‘s studies of women’s communities in Central America who are remodeling their food system in order to better ensure that their children all get regular meals, or communities of women in India who are fighting for (and winning) food and water rights.

They could have studied also the effects on young urban/suburban women who work or intern on farms. In a scene from The Real Dirt on Farmer John, a young woman intern talks about her self-consciousness regarding her voluptuous body– until working on a farm, where adjectives like “full” “plump” and “juicy” are words that signify health, not ugliness. In fact, the strongest and most peaceful women that I meet are not the ones that I meet in WGS classes; they’re the ones that I meet on farms.

For further reading:

When my generation of women walked away from the kitchen we were escorted down that path by a profiteering industry that knew a tired, vulnerable marketing target when they saw it.“Hey, ladies,” it said to us, “go ahead, get liberated. We’ll take care of dinner.”

“Elf Hats,” My Sister Calls Them

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I love baby tomatoes! They look like they’re wearing hats.

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An “about to be” tomato


Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

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