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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Best State for Eating Locally - Vermont

from FOOD
Vermont takes the top spot in the 2013 Locavore Index.
The Best and Worst States for Eating Locally
Do you shop at the farmers market or subscribe to a CSA? See where your state ranks. (Photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images)
Martin Langeveld insists that the numbers weren’t rigged: Vermont is now officially, quantitatively the number one state in the union for local foods two years running, according to Strolling of the Heifers’ 2013 Locavore Index.
The annual ranking, which the Vermont-based nonprofit started compiling last year, looks at the number of farmers markets, food hubs and CSAprograms per capita in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. “We certainly didn’t set out to put a spotlight on Vermont,” Langeveld, the index coordinator, told me in a phone interview. “The real reason is to sort of let everyone compare” the local food systems that exist around the country, and to “provide a little incentive to get people thinking about it.”
Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Iowa round out the top five in the 2013 index—an unlikely quartet, especially considering that California, which has more than 800 markets, the most in the country, is number 42 on the list. Who else is at the bottom? Texas came in dead last, with Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana and Florida ranked 47 through 50, respectively.  
“A state that is significantly urbanized will be at somewhat of a disadvantage,” Langerveld offered as both an explanation and admission of the rural-state bias that comes from considering local food systems in relationship to population. But the very challenge of quantifying the presence and significance of the non-globalized food trade has inadvertently become part of the point of the index.
“At this point, for all of the hoopla that local foods have gotten over the past ten years or so, the measuring it is very, very difficult. There just aren’t good, consistent metrics that are comparable across all 50 states,” Langerveld says.
The USDA keeps track of farmers markets and food hubs, but Heifers had to turn to the website Local Harvest for CSA numbers. In 2014 there will be a trove of new data to work into the ranking calculations, thanks to the upcoming release of the 2012 Census of Agriculture—but that survey is only conducted every five years.
But just as the rank of a given state might help provoke a conversation about the success or failures of nurturing the small farms and food production in, say, Connecticut (29th in the country), talking about the list on the micro level eventually shifts into a macro discussion—about local food nationwide and local food as an idea alike.
“One other thing that’s a problem in doing solid metrics is what’s the definition: what is local food?” wonders Langerveld. Data sources and methodologies and weigthed scores are disclosed, but Heifers doesn’t put forth it’s own definition of “local.”—that’s something to hash out while arguing over who (like California) got screwed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Today, Earth Day Network is proud to announce the winners of the first-annual Healthy and Sustainable School Food Journalism Awards!

In October 2012, Earth Day Network – in partnership with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of JournalismThe Edible Schoolyard Project and the Epstein-Roth Foundation – kicked off the competition in honor of National School Lunch Week, asking U.S. high school students to submit articles about the importance of healthy and sustainable food in their schools.
We received dozens of submissions from all over the country – everything from the correlation between healthy diets and improved academic performance, to the ecological damage caused by large agribusinesses, to the need for a good balance between nutrition, portion, and taste.
Best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan selected the winners from among an anonymous pool of finalists chosen by a panel of judges at UC Berkeley.
The six winners will receive cash prizes: $1,500 for first prize, $1,000 for second prize, $500 for third prize, and $300 dollars for each of our three fourth prize winners. In addition, all of the six winners will receive $200 for their journalism classes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monthly Master Gardener Update

There's a lot of good stuff here (all hyperlinked), so I'm re-posting in its entirety.

Springing into Vegetable Seed Saving

Seed Saving: Knowing the Difference Between Hybrids, Heirloom, and Open Pollinated Plants.  John Porter covers the pros, cons, and does a little myth busting about hybrids, heirlooms, and open-pollinated plants, all as they relate to seed you may to want save and plant in your vegetable garden.
5 Seed Saving Lessons From the Ground Up.   Connie Schultz shares how some of her ‘old favorite’ seed varieties needed to be replaced with ‘new favorites’ as she relocated to a new climate (but not a new hardiness zone).  You won’t want miss out on her 5 seeds saving lessons, or perhaps sharing some of your own.
Star of the Vegetable Garden.  Connie shares how one mystery plant became the star of her garden. Now she wants to know: What’s yours?

Admiring Spring – Where Spring Exists.

This month’s Wordless Wednesday contributors helped us wind up our spring gardening imagination.
Poppy in Chihuahua Desert
April Showers Bring May Flowers – contributed from Nebraska, Terri couldn’t take the winter/spring anymore, so she fast-forwarded to May flowers.
What’s in Your Lawn?  This month, Connie prompted us to consider what we appreciate or don’t appreciate in our lawns.
Spring in the Chihuahua Desert - a second Tuesday WW contributor, Sylvia Hacker shared some stunning views you won’t want to miss.
Wordless Wednesday Wanderings, last but not least, MJ shared how her recent WW contributions have changed the way she observes her garden and nature.  Would you be interested in being a WW contributor, she asks?

Garden Research and Innovative Outreach

Biochar Test Gardens in St. Paul
Biochar Test Gardens in St. Paul, MN
The First Year’s Data from the 2012 CenUSA Demonstration Garden Report is out!  This means we have completed the 2012  biochar demonstration gardens story, BUT, we will return shortly with biochar FAQs, and more on the 2013 activities in the biochar demonstration gardens. Stay tuned!
Ideas for Using QR Codes for Demonstration Gardens and Plant Sales. In a continuation from last month’s discussions,  Mary VanDyke of MGs of Northern Virginia and Emily Eubanks of UF,  share their QR Code presentations, giving us technical know-how and vision for using QR Code and smartphone technology in education and outreach.
Ecuador Adventure Update.  Many of you followed the 2013 OSU MGVs trip to Ecuador this year.  It looked so intriguing that some EMGs from other states asked via the blog comments if they could join.  The answer: We would love to have other MGVs join us!

On-demand Learning: Webinars and Online Modules

This month, you may want to consider looking into the following continuing ed or on-demand learning opportunities.
Online IPM Modules for Master Gardeners are still a hit.  Registration is required, but free!
*eXtension Fire Ant Webinars  just released April 5th – Don’t Bug Me Webinar: You Have Fire Ants.  This webinar may be of interest to those that live or travel to places where Fire Ants reside.
*3 Farmer’s Market Webinars. Do you volunteer or work at Farmers’ Markets? Three webinars about marketing and food safety are available this April, May, and June.
Looking for more learning opportunities?  Check out our past monthly updates, where many online modules and recorded Webinars are still available.

What’s Coming Next?

Did you know we’ll be celebrating National Volunteer Week (April 22-27),  Earth Day (April 22), and Arbor Day (April 26) all during the same week?
Stay tuned as we’ll be blogging (in the coming week)  to inquire about how volunteers are involved in Earth Day, Arbor Day, and National Volunteer Week celebrations in 2013.
-Karen Jeannette
-Editorial Reviewer
Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

Saturday, April 6, 2013  9am – 12pm
Find a site - Click here! 

The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has become a decisive catalyst for
progress that ignites people throughout the watershed with the Alice Ferguson
Foundation’s community spirit. The largest regional event of its kind, the Cleanup
provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders
and generates momentum for change.