Saturday, December 27, 2008

Women in Farming

When I was younger, I thought farming was primarily a male profession. Fortunately as an adult, and as I educate myself about the industry, I am encountering amazing women in the field such as Cheryl Rogowski. A graduate of LEAD-New York class in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell and a recipient of the MacArthur award (she is the first farmer to received a MacArthur Fellowship), Cheryl has used her experience as a farmer to promote sustainable agricultural practices in the New York.

Her family farm (2nd generation) is located in the town of Warwick in Orange County, NY. It is150 acres, grows over 250 varieties of fruits and vegetables, and is famous for its black dirt. The farm strives to maintain an ethnic market and provides produce to local and city residents through CSAs and farmers markets. In addition to managing her family farm with her brother, Cheryl has helped to start progressive agricultural programs for low-income families and seniors in her community, along with serving as a mentor and supporting literacy programs for immigrant farmers.

Even though I have not met Cheryl, I had an opportunity to talk with her five years ago and coordinated a visit to her farm for a group of youth. We were greeted with warmth, were able to harvest currents that day, and learned about the value of organic farming. For more information on Cheryl Rogowski or W. Rogowski Farm go to:

Friday, December 19, 2008

15th Annual
Bronx Parks
Speak Up

Parks, Environment and Politics
Presentations: Working with Community Boards, Green Jobs
Workshops: Starting Seeds, Grant Writing, Building Alliances and Morrisania Tree Project

When: February 28, 2009
Where: Lehman College, Faculty Dining Room
Time: 11:30am registration, refreshments & net-working 12:30pm – 5pm
Transportation: Bx10 or Bx26 bus, D or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd.

For more info please send an email to and to sign up to table please send an email to

The Bronx Parks Speak Up gives its attendees the chance to learn about government and non-government resources and participate in face-to-face discussions with city and local elected and appointed officials. It is also an excellent opportunity to network with others active in the Bronx environmental movement.

Sponsored by The Bronx Coalition for Parks & Green Spaces

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tom Vilsack: The Best Pick for Secretary of Agriculture?

As President-elect Obama chooses his cabinet, more specifically the Secretary of Agriculture, I have to ask myself what does his choice for one of the most important national positions mean to folks that are advocating for better food policies? Will the new Secretary of Agriculture support the efforts of local farmers, work create a fair market for grain, and get the agriculture sector to move away from biofuel?In The Nation’s blog, on December 17th, John Nicholas describes the many responsibilities of this position and gives us an insight on how much money goes into the Department of Agriculture. He writes,

With a $97 billion annual budget and roughly 110,000 employees -- more than the departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Energy combined – the [Department of Agriculture] is one of the largest non-defense agencies in the federal government. And its hand is everywhere, with thousands of county extension offices spread across every state.

I encourage folks to read the article. Nicholas gives a history of past candidates and picks and compares Vilsack to other candidates considered for the position. Go to:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Cost of Food and the Holidays

During this holiday season, I often think about how fortunate my family and I are to be able to afford food and share a holiday dinner together. Because a lot of my research and work involves thinking about food security, it is sometimes hard for me to relax, eat, and celebrate without sharing some food facts with relatives, especially over the holiday. This Christmas, I hope to talk a little about our global food crisis and social responsibility. Timing is important, a little bit of humor helps, and using any advantage you have is also useful. Often I get asked to say grace. I will seize the moment to bring attention to the high food prices and its affects on people around the world. A good resource for quick information on this topic is World Vision (Canada) website. Some alarming facts posted on the site include the rising cost of grain since 2007 (wheat has risen by more that 100%), people in developing countries are spending as much as 75% of their income on food leading to food riots in countries like Haiti, and most importantly the site gives reasons for why this is happening listing the rise in the cost of grain, low grain reserves, rise in the price of oil, and the demand of ethanol. Though my family and I are not struggling to buy food, we (and all Americans) are being affected by the food crisis. If we are not buying are produce from local farmers, the quality of our fruits and vegetables is questionable. If meat is a big part of our diet we have to wonder where it comes from (just think of chickens in feedlots). If we aren’t supporting sustainable agriculture practices, we are supporting to the use of oil and ethanol to produce food. I think what I want to express most to my family is the need for them to be more involved in understanding food policies and how to advocate for ones that ensure the growing, production, transportation, and exportation of high quality affordable food around the world because the economic issues that affects one country soon affects all. I will enjoy this Christmas with my family, be grateful for our holiday dinner, say grace with information on food security, and spend a lot of time with my younger cousins who are curious about the world and why things happen.