Sat, 18 April 2009
On last week's episode we ended up at Mountain Valley Farm - a dairy farm in the Creston Valley of B.C. operated by Wayne and Denise Harris and family.
Mountain Valley Farm is a working example of an organic dairy farm that is quickly recognizing the economic potential of tapping into the growing public interest in organic and locally produced food. The farm is one of many models in Canada that is moving in a much different direction than most of the industrial food system. For the Harris family, this 'direction' is already proving itself to be socially and environmentally rewarding, and as they've gradually begun to recognize since the launch of their Kootenay Alpine Cheese business - economically rewarding too!
On this episode we take a tour of the farm and their new cheesemaking facility, and we'll hear from Wayne Harris on the challenges and opportunities found from operating a small-scale organic dairy.
Rounding off the show, a segment from a talk recorded in Burnbay, B.C. in October 2007 at an event hosted by Health Action Network Society (HANS). Speaker Mark McAfee is the founder of Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) - the first raw milk dairy with certified organic pasture in the State of California. Since the 1950s, McAfee Farms have been leading advocates of "nature-friendly farm practices". Organic Pastures is one of the few remaining family-owned and operated dairies in California.
Wayne and Denise Harris, Farmer, Mountain Valley Farm / Kootenay Alpine Cheese (Lister, BC) - Towering over Mountain Valley pastures is the magnificent Thomson Mountain range, and it's alpine meadows and forested slopes maintain a sentinel over this dairy farm. The farm is situated in the heart of the Kootenays, on benchland above the Creston Valley, 10 minutes from the Idaho border and 4 hours from the Alberta border. Mountain Valley uses no pesticides, GMO's or chemical fertilizer on the land. They nurture and replenish the soil through many sustainable management practices, including the application of composted manure from the farm and whey from their new cheesemaking facility. The health of the herd is maintained following organic practices, with no hormones being used. They are certified organic with Pacific Agricultural Certification Society and also belong to Kootenay Local Agricultural Society whose mandate is to foster local, sustainable agriculture.
Mark McAfee, Founder, Organic Pastures Dairy Company (Fresno, CA) - Founder of Organic Pastures Dairy, Mark is internationally recognized as an expert in raw milk production, and has spoken in over fifteen states and three countries on the subject. He invented the first dietary supplements made from fresh raw colostrum, and secured their certification from the FDA and DHS. Mark created and published the first international raw milk safety standards at www.rawusa.org.
Fri, 10 April 2009
In late March 2009, the University of Guelph announced that a number of programs at the school would be cut in response to budgetary challenges. Among those proposed cuts was Canada's only organic agriculture degree program. While the number of enrolled students in the program is small in comparison to the University's entire Agricultural College (the largest in the country), there is of course a rapidly growing interest in organic food and the values and principles such food espouses. Understandably, the proposed cancellation of the program concerned many students and a number of rallies were held alongside intense vocal opposition.
Deconstructing Dinner invited two students to share their concerns with the proposed cuts.
Host Jon Steinman also delivers an in-depth analysis of the University's proposal. While the demand for organic food has skyrocketed to the point where demand is far outstripping supply, Jon seeks to understand why a University and its President would be unable to recognize the economic, social and environmental potentials of maintaining one of the most promising futures within the food system. What was discovered was a telling story of a convergence of non-organic interests going well beyond the walls of the University of Guelph.
Silvie Fojtik, Third-Year Student, Water Resources & Engineering, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) - Water Resources Engineering combines elements of other disciplines such as Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Agricultural Engineering, Planning and Geography in a unique combination ideally suited to addresses society's concerns and needs surrounding water. Silvie participated in designing a water resource system for the University's newly established Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming.
Erin Carlson, Second-Year Student, Organic Agriculture, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) - Erin hails from Summerland, BC, where her family grows cherries. The Major in Organic Agriculture at Guelph is available within the 4-year B.Sc.(Agr) degree program at the University. Diploma or degree students may also elect specific courses from within the organic repertoire available at Alfred, Guelph, and Kemptville campuses. Interdisciplinary research programs approach questions ranging from composting and nutrient management, to crop breeding, weed control, and marketing, and offers research positions to undergraduate as well as graduate students.
Wayne Harris, Farmer, Mountain Valley Farm / Kootenay Alpine Cheese (Lister, BC) - Towering over Mountain Valley pastures is the magnificent Thomson Mountain range, and it's alpine meadows and forested slopes maintain a sentinel over this dairy farm. The farm is situated in the heart of the Kootenays, on benchland above the Creston Valley, 10 minutes from the Idaho border and 4 hours from the Alberta border. Mountain Valley uses no pesticides, GMO's or chemical fertilizer on the land. They nurture and replenish the soil through many sustainable management practices, including the application of composted manure from the farm and whey from their new cheesemaking facility. The health of the herd is maintained following organic practices, with no hormones being used. They are certified organic with Pacific Agricultural Certification Society and also belong to Kootenay Local Agricultural Society whose mandate is to foster local, sustainable agriculture.
Alastair Summerlee, President, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) - Summerlee became the 7th President of the University of Guelph on July 15, 2003. Summerlee, whose career as a scholar, professor, researcher and administrator spans nearly 30 years, joined the University of Guelph faculty in 1988 as a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He was named an associate dean of the Ontario Veterinary College in 1992, dean of graduate studies in 1995, associate vice-president (academic) in 1999, and provost and vice-president (academic) in 2000.
Fri, 3 April 2009
Hosting a Community Dialogue on Local Food Systems II
Part II in a series featuring recordings from the 2009 Community Food Matters Gathering.
Over the past few years, Deconstructing Dinner has involved itself with the Nelson, B.C. based networking group, Community Food Matters. Like many similar community food security groups operating throughout North America, Community Food Matters is made up of organizations, businesses and individuals interested in enhancing the local food system.
On March 24, 2009, Deconstructing Dinner, alongside Community Food Matters, hosted an event designed to stimulate awareness and collaboration within the community. For those outside of the community, the event acts as a model of how other North American communities concerned with local food security could gather once a year and share their work and future plans.
What resulted from the March 24 event was an amazing snapshot of the capacity of just one community seeking to tackle the difficult but critical task of fostering a viable local food system.
Funding for this project has been provided by the Community Food Action Initiative, in cooperation with Interior Health
Backyard Chickens VI (Farming in the City VIII)
John Alton - Community Farm (Nelson, BC)
Florence Christophers - Nelson CARES Society (Nelson, BC)
Paul Hoepfner-Homme - Nelson Urban Acres (Nelson, BC)
Paul Craig - Sharing Backyards (Nelson, BC)
Jesse Phillips - Canning (Nelson, BC)
Joe Karthein - Community Futures Central Kootenay (Nelson, BC)
SueAnne Smith - Ellison's Market (Nelson, BC)
Nadiv & Chets-Rashone - Preserved Seed Cafe / Mount Sentinel Farm (Nelson, BC)
Valerie Sanderson - Backyard Chickens (Nelson, BC)
Abra Brynne - Foodshed Animator (Nelson, BC)
Robert Agnew - Upper Columbia Co-operative Council (Crawford Bay, BC)
Jay Blackmore & David Oosthuizen - Kootenay Lake Sailing Association (Nelson, BC)
Jennie Barron - Central School Garden (Nelson, BC)
Bucky Buckaw - Host, Bucky Buckaw's Backyard Chicken Broadcast (Boise, ID) - Bucky Buckaw gives advice on raising backyard chickens as just one example of how a locally based economy can work. Through this segment, he informs listeners about the downside of factory farming and what kinds of toxic chemicals you can expect to find in the resultant livestock. He promotes organic gardening and composting, and supporting local farmers.