Category Archives: Sustainable Farming

Black Earth Project helps Equip Farmers to Combat Climate Change

RWANDA–()–Radio Lifeline, a non-profit based in the US, announces the launch of the Black Earth Project, a new initiative designed to help farmers mitigate the growing effects of climate change. Radio Lifeline’s partner in this project is re:char, a leading developer of small-scale biochar technologies, based in Kenya. Major funding for the Black Earth Project is being provided by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR), headquartered in Waterbury, VT.

The Black Earth Project is a two-year research project designed to evaluate the effectiveness of biochar when used as a soil amendment by smallholder coffee and pyrethrum farmers in Rwanda. Biochar is produced through a process called pyrolysis, or the burning of dried biomass in a low or zero oxygen environment. The process prevents combustion and the usual release of carbon dioxide, black carbon and other greenhouse gases associated with traditional charcoal production methods. Continue reading

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The Principal Solar Institute Documents Role of Solar To Power Organic, Local Food Production

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Principal Solar, Inc., a publicly traded solar energy holding company executing a unique roll-up strategy to create the world’s first distributed solar utility, today announced the release of “Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Organic Food Supply.” Authored by James W. Keyes, chairman, Key Development LLC, R. Michael Martin, executive vice president, Business Development, PSI, and Brett T. Gage, research assistant, the paper examines how alternative energy resources, such as photovoltaic (PV), can enhance organic and local food production.

“In recent years, solar has become increasingly cost effective,” says Keyes, advisor to Principal Solar. “Organic certification requires that foods be produced without genetic modification, synthetic hormones, unsustainable practices, or use of certain substances.”

He adds that, of the various renewable energy alternatives available to fuel organic agriculture, PV solar systems are the most economical on the farm. Continue reading

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September Book Review: Brewing Change, Behind the Bean at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Written by Rick Peyser and Bill Mares, with foreword by Bob Stiller

Authors’ and publisher donations benefit Food 4 Farmers

SHELBURNE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rick Peyser, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ (GMCR) Director of Social Advocacy and Community Outreach, was swayed by running partner and co-author Bill Mares to tell the story of Peyser’s personal journey and quiet crusade to help change the world of coffee.

Their book, Brewing Change: Behind the Bean at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
, is the inspiring result of those frequent runs and steady conversations. Brewing Change chronicles Peyser’s 24-year career with an insider’s view of GMCR, one of the largest specialty coffee companies and purchasers of certified Fair Trade coffee in the world. Brewing Change is part travelogue, part social commentary, and part motivating business model for building corporate social responsibility. Continue reading

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Access to Feedstocks Remains a Key Barrier to the Growth of Biofuel

As a renewable and ubiquitous resource distributed throughout the world, biopower – the generation of electricity and heat from biomass resources, whether derived from forest resources or waste streams – offers considerable benefits over traditional fossil fuels and, in some cases, emerging clean energy technologies.  When combusted in place of traditional fossil fuels or “co-fired” with coal, for example, biomass can, in most cases, mitigate GHG emissions while delivering a base load generation source with high capacity ratings.  Despite these advantages, however, a recent report from Pike Research finds that the cost and logistics associated with sourcing, aggregating, and transporting these resources are likely to continue to inhibit growth in the biopower industry.

“Biopower market growth is tied to the ability of facilities to access a continuous and consistent supply of feedstock,” says senior analyst Mackinnon Lawrence.  “While most estimates conclude that sufficient biomass resources are available to support robust biopower growth over the next decade – especially with the potential for dedicated energy crops to expand the feedstock supply – a number of obstacles still remain.” Continue reading

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Burger King Commits to going Cage and Crate-Free

Burger King, the world’s second largest fast food chain, signaled bold change this week when it announced it will source 100 percent of its eggs and pork from cage-free chickens and crate-free pigs by 2017. The company, which purchases hundreds of millions of eggs and millions of pounds of pork annually, currently sources just nine percent of eggs and 20 percent of pork from cage-free vendors. Burger King joins a number of other brands making cage-free egg purchasing decisions, but according to Matthew Prescott, a spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States, this is the first time a major chain has made a commitment of this caliber. Continue reading

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Fair Trade USA Produce Imports Post Huge Increase

Article from The Packer on import growth of Fair Trade produce

Fair Trade USA logged a 40% increase in fresh produce imports in 2011 compared to 2010, partially driven by the reintroduction of cucumbers and bell peppers and a 170% increase in citrus imports.

Officials expect tremendous growth for 2012 also because several commodities from northern Mexico are being added.

In its recently released 2011 Almanac, the Oakland, Calif.-based Fair Trade-certifying organization reported year-to-year increases for 2009 and 2010 were only 2%.

“Notably, 2011 marked the first time that Fair Trade-Certified bell peppers, cucumbers and bananas from Mexico were imported into the United States,” the almanac states.

Hannah Freeman, director of produce and floral development for Fair Trade USA, said additional new commodities certified for import from Mexico this spring include grapes, watermelons, honeydew, cantaloupes, roma tomatoes and peaches.

“There’s a lot of excitement in Mexico right now,” Freeman said. “We expect to see several new growers certified this year offering new products like asparagus, strawberries, eggplant and tomatoes.” Continue reading

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Whole Foods Market® to stop selling red-rated seafood

Becomes first national grocer to eliminate red-rated, wild-caught species from fish counters, meets seafood sustainability goal one year early ‘Fishmonger Face-Off’ contest to highlight team members’ skill and knowledge while educating shoppers on responsibly caught seafood

NEW YORK (March 30, 2012) – Beginning this Earth Day (April 22), Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) will no longer carry red-rated wild-caught fish in its seafood departments. The move, which comes one year ahead of the company’s self-imposed deadline of Earth Day 2013, makes Whole Foods Market the first national grocer to stop selling red-rated seafood.

A red rating indicates that a species is suffering from overfishing or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats; the ratings are determined by nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Continue reading

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LEED’s Artificial Barriers Continue to Fail Responsible Forestry

(3BL Media) Washington, DC - March 6, 2012 - The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) continues to put up artificial barriers in its latest draft of its LEED rating tool, shutting out 75 percent of North America’s certified forests from the LEED credits that deal with “responsible extraction of raw materials.” The third draft of LEED 2012, released on March 1, includes credits for certified wood that is “FSC or better.”

“This new language raises more issues than it resolves: Who will decide what is ‘better than FSC’ and on what basis?” saidKathy Abusow, President and CEO of Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Inc. (SFI®). “SFI clearly has requirements that are not matched by FSC varying standards around the world.  This fact continues to go unrecognized by the USGBC, despite the fact that governors, congressmen, and 6,000 individuals have urged the USGBC not to turn its back on North American forests and recognize all forest certification standards.”

Currently LEED only recognizes forests certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which account for about one quarter of North America’s certified forests. The rest are certified to three independent standards in use across North America – SFI, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS), all of which are endorsed by the international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Continue reading

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