Beloved Virginia farm takes heat for standing up against white supremacy

Years ago, I used to party with some folks from Centerville, Virgina's Cox Farms, a well-known and well-loved family farm, produce market, and host of an amazing annual Fall Festival. I found them a bright, creative, and fun-loving gaggle of humans who were extremely passionate about food production and building community around food. There was always a sense of mirth and mischief about them, too. Back in the 80s, their T-shirts and bumper stickers read: "You can't lick Cox for fresh produce" and (IIRC) featured a cartoon of a picker holding a basket full of phallic-looking vegetables. They've also displayed messages like: "Dad loves Cox, too!" (for Father's Day) and "We're so excited, we wet our plants!"

No stranger to the negative reaction of their provocative signage, the Cox farmers have created a new round of controversy with their latest series of signs taking a stand against white supremacy and Islamophobia. The response they posted on Facebook is wonderful. It's astonishing that speaking out against white supremacy would be a controversial position, but hey, not here in The Upside Down. Here is their response to the naysayers in the community:

Our little roadside signs have power. Most of the time, they let folks know that our hanging baskets are on sale, that today’s sweet corn is the best ever, that Santa will be at the market this weekend, or that the Fall Festival will be closed due to rain. During the off-season, sometimes we utilize them differently. Sometimes, we try to offer a smile on a daily commute.
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Wasted! Looks at the major issue of food waste

Chef Anthony Bourdain hosts this interesting documentary on the massive amount of wasted food in our current supply chain, and how it could be diverted from landfills to feed humans, animals, and plants. Read the rest

Real crop circles seen from space

This NASA photo taken from the International Space Station shows crop circles in southwest Egypt's Sahara Desert. The crops thrive in the middle of the desert thanks to either secret alien technology or the amazing underground Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System that covers two million square kilometers. From the NASA Earth Observatory:

The crop circles are a result of center-pivot irrigation, an efficient method for water conservation in agriculture. Groundwater from the Nubian aquifer is drawn up from wells in the center of the circles, and it is sprayed or dripped out of long, rotating pipes that pivot around the center.

Most of the crops pictured here are likely potatoes (darker green circles), wheat (lighter brown circles), or medicinal and aromatic plants such as chamomile. The light, tan-colored crop circles likely have undergone controlled burning to remove excess plant matter and essentially clean up the land for the next crop.

"Crop Circles in Sharq El Owainat" (NASA via the Daily Grail) Read the rest

Giant high-tech rooftop greenhouse uses no soil

Lufa Farms is a commercial rooftop greenhouse built in 2010, one of three such gardens that help feed 2% of Montreal. Read the rest

Watch how maple syrup harvesting has gone high-tech

Buckets hanging on maple trees may have worked great 200 years ago, but modern producers use a system like the internet: a series of tubes! Read the rest

Guy makes good money farming in other people's yards

Justin Rhodes profiles an urban market gardener who leases other people's residential yards for planting produce, which he harvests and sells up and down the east coast of the United States. He makes over $5,000 a month. Read the rest

Incredibly relaxing video of a seaweed farmer

I was enjoying a dried seaweed snack the other day and wondered how they harvested seaweed. The answer was even cooler than I expected, involving underwater farms and a giant vacuum. Read the rest

This farm animal sanctuary's rotating cow brush is a huge hit

Cows love to rub stuff with their faces and bodies, so lots of farms like the Hof Butenland Foundation install these rotating cow brushes. Rescue cow Paul is no exception. Read the rest

Robotic drone bee pollinates flowers

Japanese researchers demonstrated how a tiny remote-controlled drone could help bees pollinate flowers in areas where bees populations have been reduced due to pesticides, climate change, and other factors. Eijiro Myako and his colleagues at the Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology hope that eventually robotic bees could handle their share of the work autonomously. From New Scientist:

The manually controlled drone is 4 centimetres wide and weighs 15 grams. The bottom is covered in horsehair coated in a special sticky gel. When the drone flies onto a flower, pollen grains stick lightly to the gel, then rub off on the next flower visited.

In experiments, the drone was able to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies (Lilium japonicum). Moreover, the soft, flexible animal hairs did not damage the stamens or pistils when the drone landed on the flowers...

“We hope this will help to counter the problem of bee declines,” says Miyako. “But importantly, bees and drones should be used together.”

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Hypnotic videos of high-tech tractors

If you've never gone down a rabbit hole of watching tractor videos, that may change after watching tractors topping tulips or planting potatoes on Tractorspotter: Read the rest

What Would Happen if We Stopped Eating Meat?

Today we go to a future where animal products are banned. It’s one that lots of listeners have asked for so here you go. We talk about what happens to the land, the animals and the humans in this equation.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit

In this episode we discuss the arguments in favor and against banning meat. How does that impact culture? Why should we do it? Does it help or hurt the environment? Can you really grow meat in a lab? And is that meat vegan?

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Meet your robot gardener

The FarmBot Genesis is an open-source robot gardener for home food production. You design your mini-farm with their app and then the Raspberry Pi-powered robot handles the rest, from planting to watering, weeding to harvesting. The FarmBot Genesis sounds like the evolutionary descendant of Ken Goldberg and Joseph Santarromana's groundbreaking 1994 telerobotic artwork, the TeleGarden:

FarmBot Genesis:

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Thai agricultural fertilizer TV ad may be the best fertilizer TV ad ever

Hubba Hubba. Read the rest

Land near Woodstock Festival site may become pot farm

The New York State Department of Health is selecting companies that may be given license to grow weed on farmland in Bethel, New York adjacent to the site of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Read the rest

FDA rules make it nearly impossible for beer makers to give their grain to farmers for feed

Joe sez, "There's a new FDA rule that will make it nearly make it financially impossible for small craft brewers to give their grain away to farmers for animal feed. I work for a small brewery and all of us there are very upset about this and the general disregard for sustainability. At the end if the article linked there's direct FDA links that cover their proposal."

Leftover brewing grains have been fed to livestock since the dawn of agriculture, so this is a pretty radical shift. The proposed new requirements for animal feed handling stipulate that the feed has to be dried, analyzed and packaged before being donated to farmers (the spent grains are generally given away at the end of the brewing process), at substantial expense.

It's clear that food safety is important, but I'm not convinced that the stringency of this rule is commensurate with the risk. Read the rest

Bomb shelters as underground farms

Underground the city of London are eight massive bomb shelters like the one pictured above that have been empty or used as document storage for more than 50 years. Now, one of them is being transformed into a subterranean farm. The farming group, called Zero Carbon Food, based their system on hydroponics and LED light powered by wind-generated electricity.

"When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy, but when I visited the tunnels and sampled the delicious produce they are already growing down there I was blown away," says two Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jr.

"Would You Eat a Salad Grown in a Bomb Shelter?" (Smithsonian) Read the rest

As Idaho moves to criminalize undercover video with 'ag-gag' law, clip of dairy worker sexually abusing cow surfaces

A still from the video shot undercover at an Idaho dairy by animal rights group Mercy For Animals. Under a proposed law, filming scenes like this would become a crime.

In Idaho, the dairy industry has successfully lobbied lawmakers to propose a new law that would make it a crime for animal rights advocates or journalists to lie about their backgrounds to applications at dairy farms, for the purpose of documenting criminal activity or animal abuse.

Striking back at this proposed legislation that would curb free speech, Los Angeles-based nonprofit Mercy for Animals today released video of a dairy worker sexually abusing a cow at Dry Creek Dairy (owned by Bettencourt Dairies) in Idaho. Read the rest

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