Posts Tagged ‘Organic Farmers’

The passing scene: Links & comments 10/10/14

October 10, 2014

Where to get a free college degree by Lynn O’Shaughnessy for CBS MoneyWatch.

Germany just made college tuition free to everyone, including Americans and other foreigners.  Students also get discounts for food, clothing and events tickets, and free or inexpensive transportation.

Tuition had been free prior to 2006.  Then German states started charging tuition, typically $630 a semester.  Critics said it was unfair to make college education depend on ability to pay and the states one by one repealed tuition charges.  Lower Saxony, the last holdout, repealed college tuition fees last week.

However, this does not mean that just anybody can enroll in a German university.  You have to be proficient in German, which isn’t an easy language, and you have to pass an entrance examination, which I don’t think would be easy, either.

The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture by Ric Morin for The Atlantic.

An Amish scientist—yes, there are Amish scientists—has discovered a way to fight pests without chemical poisons.  It is based on using nutrients to build up plants’ natural immune systems.   This is a step beyond standard organic farming, because it is pro-active action to make plants healthier.

Generator Produces 250,000 Watts Without Consuming Fuel by Kevin Bullis for MIT Technology Review.

A startup company called Alpha Energy has invented a new thermoelectric material, which converts heat into electricity more efficiently than other such materials.   Its generator runs on waste heat from other generators and industrial engines.  It’s not perpetual motion, but it improves energy efficiency.

Destroying a $30,000 Islamic State pickup truck can cost US $500,000 by Justine Drennan for Foreign Policy (via Stars and Stripes)

To tell the truth, I thought it cost more.

Why America needs its farmers

October 2, 2013

Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms in Virginia, is a famous organic farmer.  Also smart—he puts his chicken coops on wheels so that he can have fertilizer wherever on his farm he wants.

Back in August, he heard a talk by Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture.  Vilsack said that in 2012, the number of American farmers declined.  The percentage of Americans who are farmers have been declining for some time, but 2012 was the first year that the actual number of farmers declined.

Vilsack said American needs its farmers, and the reason he gave surprised Salatin, and surprised me, too, although maybe it won’t surprise you.

SalatinJoel.PolyfaceWhat could be the most important contribution that increasing farmers could offer to the nation? Better food? Better soil development? Better care for animals? Better care for plants?

Here’s his answer: although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military.  Say what?  You mean when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line—you know all the cliches—the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might.  He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we’ll lose our military might.

So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle.  It’s not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it’s all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military.

Click on A Letter from Joel Salatin to read his full account of his encounter with Vilsack.

Click on Polyface Inc. for Salatin’s Polyface farm web page.

Click on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farming Wisdom for more.

Hat tip to corrente for the link.