In recent months, there have been so many happenings in food policy – from genetically modified foods studies to questionable permits issued for ocean aquaculture in Hawaii. As each new occurrence was announced, we thought – more people need to know about what’s happening with our food system and speak out for affordable healthy food produced in a sustainable way. So this December, Recirculating Farms Coalition is asking for more people to get involved in the good food movement! All of you supporters who are committed to fresh, local food, please join our Coalition – and ask your family and friends to join us too!
From December 4th through the end of the year, we’re launching the “Member in December” drive: and we’re asking you to help us spread the word about the Recirculating Farms Coalition. Whoever recruits the most new members (at least 10!) will win a fantastic pack of prizes and a special profile on our blog. Click here for membership sign-up.
Be sure to tell all your friends and family to let us know who connected them to us when they sign up. Tell them to write the name of the person who invited them to become a member on the membership form, in the box that says “tell us about your farm if you have one.”
And if you are already a member and want to further support the Coalition, please consider making an end-of-the-year donation so we can keep on doing important things to support recirculating farming!
THANK YOU for all you do!
The Recirculating Farms Coalition is very thankful for all of you – our members, supporters, friends, partners, colleagues, staff and all those who help us accomplish important goals every day. Our Coalition has grown so much in a very short time, and it is entirely due to the commitment and hard work of many people who genuinely believe in recirculating farming as an innovative green growing method. We here at the Coalition so appreciate your support and look forward to many more successes that we can be thankful for in the future!
An excited crowd gathered on an empty lot in Central City New Orleans this morning as the Recirculating Farms Coalition and the New Orleans Food and Farm Network officially broke ground on a unique community farm and food center – “Growing Local NOLA”.
Neighbors stopped by to talk about their hopes for the new facility, city and state officials gave congratulations and well wishes and partners and supporters joined in celebration.
The core of the Center will be a working farm that showcases cutting-edge yet affordable, water, space and energy efficient growing techniques, like recirculating hydroponics and aquaponics. These systems use constantly recycled nutrient-rich water in place of soil to grow plants (including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs) and aquaponics raise fish too (learn more here).
Products will be offered to local distributors and restaurants, and directly to consumers through a nearby green market, and special events like a farmers’ market.
There will be a wide range of programs at the Center like personal gardening, commercial farming, and farm-to-table cooking classes, fitness workshops, youth and senior events, lectures, and community discussions related to food, health and more. The Center will also host a community garden, with raised soil beds and fruit trees
Working with other existing programs, Growing Local NOLA plans to help tackle the city’s label as a food desert and the state’s high obesity rate – the second worst in the country by providing healthy fresh affordable food and training in urban farming.
The organizations recently received major grants for the project from, among others, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and the Claneil Foundation. Christy Oliver Reeves, Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana attended the event in person.
Read more about the groundbreaking here – see what city and state officials and others said about Growing Local NOLA!
Sanjay Kharod, Christy Oliver Reeves, Marianne Cufone
and Ayame Nagatani Dinkler at groundbreaking
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision on a very important lawsuit about ocean fish farming. Several groups had sued to stop the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency responsible for conservation and management of ocean resources, like fish, from issuing a permit to an ocean fish farming company in Hawaii.
The lower court initially ruled against the groups, saying that aquaculture was a form of fishing and therefore the agency, which is tasked with regulating fish and fishing in U.S. waters, was able to issue such permits. The lower court also ruled that the agency was under no obligation to study the impacts of allowing fish farms in federal waters, once the facility’s activities had terminated.
This decision was appealed, and NMFS contended that the groups had no standing even to appeal.
Today, the Appellate Court reversed some of the lower court’s decision and rejected the agency’s argument about standing.
Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition (and past Director of the Oceans and Fish Program at Food and Water Watch, one of the groups on the lawsuit) said, “We are pleased that the higher Court acknowledged that the groups did in fact have standing to sue – meaning public concern regarding how ocean resources are used is a recognizable right. We are also very pleased that the Court said NMFS is not off the hook for studying the impacts of its permits after this type of project is finished.”
Though the Court decided the agency was able to issue a permit in this limited circumstance, the court specifically found that the permit set no precedent.
“The ruling supports that NMFS does not have blanket authority to permit ocean fish farming in U.S. waters, and should immediately stop its attempts to permit fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Hawaiian coast, both of which were premised on the lower court’s original ruling in this case.” Cufone said. She continued, “We hope NMFS and others pushing ocean aquaculture will now get on board with alternate more sustainable forms of fish farming rather than continually trying to promote outdated, unpopular approaches that are not authorized under existing law.”
Recirculating aquaculture systems and aquaponics involve raising fish in tanks on land. These methods are space and energy efficient, can run on alternative energy like solar power and recycle water and waste. We look forward to working with NMFS and other entities in developing eco-friendly fish farming practices in the U.S. and beyond.
Steve Earle on stage at the Civic Theatre in New Orleans with a sign about GMO labeling
Several of us were lucky enough to get tickets to see the amazing Steve Earle along with his unbelievably talented band tonight at the recently restored Civic Theatre in New Orleans. True to form, they rocked the house for several hours, playing numerous guitars and a wide range of other instruments, through a three plus page set list and two multi-song encores.
As fantastic as the show itself was (and it was both in venue and content) – something else stood out to at least a few of us in the audience too – a sign on the front of the drums saying “I’m supporting – 522 – YES”. For those who didn’t recognize the message immediately – we are pleased to explain – this is a reference to Proposition 522 in Washington State, requiring genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if we, as consumers, could know just by looking at a label which foods have or have not been genetically altered? Let’s hope Washington State’s efforts catch on – so everyone can more easily make informed choices about the food we buy and eat.
This wasn’t the only issue raised during the concert. Steve told us about his son being diagnosed with autism, his concerns about the environment, what we eat, drink and the air we breathe, and how those likely impact our health, that lines at a soup kitchen in a church near his house have gotten noticeably longer in recent years, and why people should focus on important matters – taking care of other people and our planet.
Kudos to them for bringing us together for the music – and helping us think a little more too.