Back-breaking work, without the payoff

I written before about Plough and Stars, Erik Jacobs's blog about a year as a farming student. Jacobs and I don't know each other, but we worked concurrently at the Boston Globe.

What I expressed previously was my adoration for Jocobs's overwhelming combination of stunning, affecting photography with good writing and reporting about his experience. And, completely, I still have it, but it's hardly worth repeating oneself.

Plough and Stars farmers-in-training blog

I'm trying to imagine the readers who wouldn't like the Plough and Stars website and blog being operated by two former Boston Globe colleagues whom I barely knew: Erik Jacobs and Dina Rudick. Both are photographers, though that's only the beginning of a serviceable description.

Stolen headline: "God Made A Farmer? Oh, Really?"

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I commend to you Rachel Laudan's take on that Dodge "God Made a Farmer" video that so far has retained the hold on the popular consciousness that it grabbed during the Super Bowl.

The ad is nicely done but is nevertheless a bunch of emotional hooey, so I'm not linking to it. If you don't know what I'm referring to, you surely don't care.

Thanks to Hugh Joseph and the Comfood loop he proctors at Tufts University for sharing it.

An innovative hunt for Mass. farmland

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The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project has devised a fresh way to expand arable land in Massachusetts — by seeking to put former farmland that was subverted by subdividing back into production.


Yes, of course, they put houses onto those farm plots, but in cases of low-density lots, small-scale farming — enough to make a profit — is still possible.

Wash. Monthly ag story illustrates the corruption of our politics

In Washington Monthly, reporter Lina Khan lays bare the scandalous treatment of the nation's farmers at the hands of Big Ag. The story shows that we've been here before, with a handful of meat companies controlling their suppliers' markets, which gives hope that we can escape this stranglehold again, as we did in the '20a.

Pay attention to the crop-insurance debate

Few things sound as boring as a discussion of future federal crop insurance fortunes, but believe it or not, said discussion will be a fulcrum in the next Farm Bill, whether it comes up this year or next.

I don't care about crop insurance per se, but I do care about federal ag policies that subsidize some crops at the expense of others.

Two stories in the Globe today

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Though they weren't conceived in tandem, I had two stories on related topics in the Boston Globe today.

The business section's centerpiece is about farmer Joe Czajkowski of Hadley, Mass. A fascinating, very literate guy, he does a lot of business with schools and other institutions through the Mass. Farm To School Project.

Crops can fail. No, really.

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Another excerpt from "Animal Vegetable Miracle," Barbara Kingsolver's 2007 book. This one comes from the same paragraph we visited last time, but I wanted to make a separate point:

Crop failure is a possibility all farmers understand, and one reason why the traditional farmstead raised many products, both animal and vegetable, unlike the monocultures now blanketing our continent's midsection. [p. 54]

The notion of crop failure — hell, the notions of crops at all, as opposed to consumer goods sold under plastic wrap in supermarkets, has longer standing in most Americans' thinking — came to me in a new way during the hurricane last month.


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