Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 9:45 am
The average American farmer is a white man in his late 50s. Or at least, that's who's in charge of the farm, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But the number of female-run farms has tripled since the 1970s, to nearly 14 percent in 2012. And if you dig a little deeper, you'll find women are showing up in new roles. But because of the way farm businesses are structured, women's work often isn't included in those USDA counts.
Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:18 pm
Farmers who just got into the business in recent years found it was a good time to both plant and harvest.
"We were all spoiled little brats the past two years, with $5, $6, $7 corn, yep," says farmer Grant Curtis.
He's sitting in the captain's chair of his combine on a brisk, overcast day in western Illinois. He's driving back and forth over rows of corn on his family's farm. Then he arcs the 80,000-pound machine off course towards a single stalk he missed.
Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 5:42 pm
California's Humboldt County is known for its towering redwoods. But this region about 200 miles north of San Francisco has another claim to fame. Humboldt is to weed what Napa is to fine wine — it's the heart of marijuana production in the U.S.
Every fall, young people, mostly in their 20s, come from all over the world to work the marijuana harvest. They come seeking jobs as "trimmers" — workers who manicure the buds to get them ready for market. The locals have a name for these young migrant workers: "trimmigrants."
This will be the last program for this season with Lance Swigart & Lulu Volkhausen.
The panel started with an emailed question about grapes that aren't thriving, & show blotchy colors on the leaves. The show continues with discussion about seed saving, Hutterite beans, tool maintenance, Lance's magnificent compost pile, and more.
To honor the Thanksgiving holiday, Lance expounds on being thankful for the past 10,000 years of human efforts to grow crops, which has resulted in our current plethora of food varieties & growing methods.
KVNF's gardening gurus discussed finishing up this year's garden and prepping for next year. Callers from Norwood & Nucla asked about the wisdom of adding potato foliage to the compost pile, and for garlic-growing advice.
Tip of the week: Don't burn fallen leaves! Doing that is like stealing nutrients from your soil, since the trees take up those nutrients to create the leaves in the first place. Better to just run the lawn mower over them & leave them to decompose, or, if you must rake, pile them up somewhere & wait for nature to turn them back into soil.
Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 1:29 pm
Coffee has been grown since at least the 13th century in places such as Indonesia, Ethiopia and Central and South America. Though it's not a traditional region for growing coffee, California is playing an increasingly big role in the future of this beloved and lucrative crop.
Sammy Venegas stands on a hillside in Goleta, Calif., outside Santa Barbara, that's shrouded in fog, thick with avocado trees, passion fruit and coffee plants. With a white bucket slung around his neck like a baby carrier, he picks only the reddest coffee beans.
Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 3:45 pm
Making license plates is the stereotypical job for a prisoner, but in California's Central Valley, a group of inmates are doing very different work, supplying milk to almost every prisoner in the state system.
They earn just 35 to 95 cents an hour, but inmates at Corcoran state prison say the job gives them plenty of other benefits.
Government regulators have approved a new generation of genetically engineered corn and soybeans. They're the latest weapon in an arms race between farmers and weeds, and the government's green light is provoking angry opposition from environmentalists.
Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 12:24 pm
Ben Hamilton walks down the salad dressing aisle at his neighborhood grocery store in west Denver. The human resources consultant usually seeks out organic options and scans nutrition information.
"I am a label reader. I think a lot of people read labels and really are curious to know what is in our food supply," he says. But Hamilton says he wants more information, specifically whether the food he buys includes ingredients derived from genetically modified crops, or GMOs.
Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 2:06 pm
Could that beloved farmer at your farmers market possibly be lying to you, passing off supermarket produce as locally grown?
California's state officials seem to think so. Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that will raise $1 million to deploy a small army of inspectors to farmers markets around the state. The inspectors will check for signs that farmers are selling fruits and vegetables that they didn't actually grow themselves, but instead picked up wholesale.