Posts Tagged ‘cooperatives’

Ms. Garrold Goes to Washington Parts Four and Five

So it has been two busy, busy weeks down here in the swamp. I am going to change formats a bit and just hit the highlights. Believe me that will be enough.

Memorial Day weekend was a madhouse here at the Pink Village. At one point we had eleven people sharing one bathroom. I know, I know “such a first-world problem.” And you’re right.   
We had many Veteran’s for Peace  staying with us for three days of activities around the Memorial Day holiday. I arrived back in DC on Sunday evening to find a dozen or so VFP members singing peace hymns in the living room of the Pink House. The next day we went to the Vietnam War Memorial to place letters from all over the country written for visitors to The Wall to read. I was randomly given one from my friend Phil Worden a, now retired, great civil rights lawyer in Maine. Such a nice coincidence.   
On Tuesday the VFP group had a rally and I went back to the NFFC office. It was a quiet day except for one incident. On my way back from the bank mid-afternoon I walked through the entire staff and all the Senators who had been evacuated from the Hart and Dirksen Senate office buildings. Buildings which are, as I have previously mentioned, right across the street from my office building. Hundreds and hundreds of people standing in Stanton Park. I asked, and was told, that it was just a “drill.” I had to walk around the block to get back to my office as the roads and sidewalks around those two buildings were a no-go zone. So that was the excitement for Tuesday.

I am still keeping an eye on things going on in Maine. FairVote and the League are finally stepping up to protect Ranked Choice Voting. It’s about time. There was a “town hall meeting” call on Tuesday evening with some reassurance that these two groups have figured out that the only way to save RCV is by rallying the troops. It is probably too little too late but I am hoping for the best.
On Wednesday the elderly homeless lady was back in the park but the ducks have moved on. And the new episode of The Handmaid’s Tale dropped. 
Skipping to Thursday of that week I attended a Code Pink demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy calling for the secession of extra judicial killings of peasant farmers and leaders of MST, the landless farmers movement in Brazil, by that country’s illegal government (hint: they took power in a soft coupe). Go to the Code Pink link for a picture of me at the demo.
But the best part of the day was my adventure being part of the live studio audience for Redacted Tonite. Go here to watch the episode. It was a good one. Be warned, however, if you are thinking about going to a taping it is a tiny studio and you have to sit on the floor. But totally worth it!
On Saturday of that week we had another cannibas edibles event at the Pink House. Not as well organized or attended at the Mamajuana event. But interesting none the less.
On Sunday I did laundry and grocery shopping.
On Monday the new intern for NFFC arrived at the office. And I totally forgot she was coming. My VERY bad. But she is a hard-working, low-key type and was not rattled by it at all.
Then I deserted her for two days to go to NYC for a Friends of the Earth-organized meeting with TIAA about their farmland grabs in the US and Brazil (yep, Brazil again). Here is something from NFFC about the farmgrabs in the US. 
It was two intense days of strategy and meetings. We are banned from saying anything about what went on in the meeting with TIAA staff but here is your challenge for the day: find the interactive map of their farmland holdings on their website….Go! Okay how long did you spend? My friend Tristan from ActionAid and I both spent 45 minutes trying to find it on their website after we were told it was there. We both failed. So much for transparency. In case you are interested here it is. ‘Cause you will never find it on your own!

Two other important things that happened during this trip. #1 was that my lovely daughter-in-law dropped her first podcast. Go and watch it. She is lovely, smart, charming and the podcast is a hoot! And #2 was that I got to visit ParkSlope Co-op. Notequally important   events by any means but both really good things.  

Thursday was Comey Day on Capitol Hill as you are all well aware. I was on The Hill doing serious grown-up business, attending a House Agriculture Sub-committee hearing on SNAP benefits.  But the media circus was in full swing. As one of the folks I was standing in line with said, it is a most interesting time to be in DC. I got back to the office in time to catch the end of the hearing on TV, our suite mates were watching it and we all gathered around. Reminiscent of watching the Watergate hearings. Probably won’t end as well as that episode in our sordid history did. 
Friday ended with a demonstration outside the Whitehouse marking the 50th anniversary of the total Israeli take over in Palestine known as the Six Day War. Can you say US supported apartheid?   I knew you could.
And now you are all caught up on my wild ride in DC.


From the The Complete Patient: They Wonder Why People are Pissed?

More shenanigans in Michigan, notice the mention of Mark Baker (of Baker’s Green Acres)  seems they are going after his friends now.

by:David GumpertSat, 07/19/2014 – 20:11posted in:
Regulation,Food Club,Raw Milk,Resistance,

Jenny Samuelson was all set to do the deal dictated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: Dispose of nearly $5,000 worth of raw milk, cream, butter, eggs, and cheese. Under MDARD supervision, she was to bring the 250 gallons of milk to a neighboring farm, where the farmer would use it for fertilizer. The 10 gallons of cream and 20 pounds of butter would go in a dumpster. And the 100 dozen beautiful unwashed and unrefrigerated pastured eggs (raised without soy feed) would be smashed and turned into compost.

She would also discontinue all deliveries of cream and butter to herdshare members, despite their serious unhappiness about losing access to these foods.

But then the MDARD agents canceled out on the Saturday morning arrangements whereby they would observe the disposal of the food. They then said they would show up Monday morning. So she waits, and ponders her options.

Samuelson is pretty upset, as you might expect. She was trying to be an obedient citizen so she could have unfettered access to her refrigerated delivery truck and resume deliveries of raw milk. She had made the hard decision to go against what she feels is right and just, because she didn’t want to risk any further interruption in deliveries for the more than 600 families around Michigan that depend on her food.

She is still smarting from last Tuesday’s raid on her delivery truck in Washington Township, which saw agents from MDARD swarm aboard the delivery truck while it was stopped in a private parking lot, with her brother as driver. She thinks they had been following her and the truck for a number of day beforehand, and picked last Tuesday morning to do the raid instead of when she was driving, because they knew her brother likely wouldn’t know to demand a search warrant, and the presence of the local sheriff or police before being allowed (or possibly not being allowed) to take people’s food.

They told her brother it would take an hour to look through the Co-Op’s inventory—instead it took six-and-a-half hours.

Later, the MDARD told her she was prohibited from giving the food to a farmer as feed for his pigs, since she didn’t have a feed license.

Perhaps most significant, she doesn’t feel they had the right to prevent the food from being delivered in the first place. “They didn’t seize my products,” she says. “They seized the consumers’ products.”

Samuelson has been doing this drill for more than six years–during which time her co-op has grown from 20 members to more than 600– and knows the rules well. She says the cream and butter the MDARD was supposedly targeting were produced separately by the farmer from milk the members obtained as herdshare members, under contract to them individually. She also faults the special policy group that agreed with the MDARD last year in its policy statement that sanctioned herdshares for raw milk, but disallowed other raw dairy products. “I wasn’t allowed to have a voice in that,” despite her requests.

She wanted to feed the condemned food to Mark Baker’s pigs, or some other pigs, but state ag reps had told her she couldn’t feed the food to farm animals because she didn’t have a feed permit, and insisted the food be destroyed with MDARD agents watching.

Baker is the Michigan farmer who continued raising pigs the state considered wild, and he got the state to agree that he could continue raising the pigs after he sued the the Department of Natural Resources. He had a planned “Constitution Hall” program on slate for Sunday, at which Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff, will be discussing how the U.S. has veered from upholding its Constitution. Baker will be talking about his plans to run for Missaukee County sheriff. And there will be a pig roast for the many attendees expected.

Samuelson is going to have some very unhappy members based on her decision to refrain from delivering the raw cream and butter. “They are very pissed,” she says.

She is encouraging them to sue the state much like Mark Baker did. In the meantime, she is encouraging them to flood the MDARD with calls. Here are people she urges her members and sympathizers to contact:

Kevin Besey, director of the Food and Dairy Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (phone 517-582-1156 or e-mail

Tim Slawinski, Compliance Manager, Food and Dairy Division (phone 517-420-5364 or e-mail

In a letter to her members Saturday, she said: “The only way we can get cream and butter back is to WIN this war! You the people can do it!”

(This post was revised on Sunday, July 20, to update the situation.)

Update on Baker’s Green Acres

Here is an update on the feral pig story from Michigan.   Mark Baker is running for sheriff in his county.  And he’s made a movie about it.  “Hogwash”  This is a bit of a commercial for the movie but I think it is important so here is the trailer/commercial.  I think I will buy a copy and have it shown at my local co-op.

NPR Discovers Kale

Beedy's Camden KaleI was standing in my kitchen the other day.   Doing dishes, listening to NPR and basking in the glow of knowing that the Supreme Court may consider the OSGATA VS. Monsanto seed patent suit.    Pubpat has asked the high court to hear the case.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful fallish morning in Maine and I was happy.   But that is not what made me almost fall on the floor laughing.    Soon after the good news on the OSGATA lawsuit on All Things Considered the host spent over eight minutes on what you might be lead to believe was a newly discovered vegetable: KALE.   It made my day.   That is a lot of national radio real estate to give over to this humble plant.   I was very impressed.


Personally I love kale and have for years.   I braise it with some garlic and onions from my garden and a little local sunflower oil.  I grow a great variety called Beedy’s Camden Kale developed by a woman I know, Beedy Parker, specifically for growing in our local climate.  It is well adapted to my growing season and soil.   Truly local food.  The seeds are sold by a local worker’s co-operative, Fedco, and guaranteed no GMOs!  The two stories were a great synergy for improving my general outlook on life as we slog along trying to keep it legal to grow our own, save our own seeds and breed plants that grow well where we live.


And the NPR audience got introduced to kale.   All in all a good day!



Winding Down


I will be temporarily winding down this blog over the next few days.  I will be taking a month-long hiatus while I take part in the National Novel Writing Month challenge during November. More on that later.


But over the next few days I will post a few links to keep you entertained for a bit.  The first one today is the trailer of a great movie I saw last week in Belfast at the Colonial Theater.  Betting the Farm is a documentary made by Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann about the two-year struggle of a group of Maine organic milk farmers to start-up, run and make a success of Maine’s Own Organic Milk (MOO Milk).  It is a very moving film and is getting showings all over the state and the country.  See it if you can.



Common Ground Fair in Pictures

Common Ground Country Fair is unique. And believe me I use that word advisedly.  There really is nothing else like it.  There are sights, sounds and smells you will not experience at any other agricultural fair in the world.  Or at least none that I know of.  Perhaps in some far, far land where fairies rule and sugar plums grow on trees there is another event that can compare to this wonderful weekend.  But I have my doubts.

I am going to share some of these sights with you now.  Maybe I can get the sounds and smells out to you next year.  Or even better come to the fair next year and experience them for yourself.

Here they are in no particular order:

My friend Mandy, the Roller Derby Queen, with the shiner she acquired in the rink.

Apple ladders walking by.

The Sewall Orchard booth, with none of their usual, delicious cider; but a very informative sign about why the apple harvest is way down this year.  Hint:  it’s climate change.

The beautiful, huge bus that brought one of the food vendors to the fair.  I heard it was all custom wood paneling inside and very, very nice!

The train that brings the fair-goers in.

Or the tractors, one driven by my friend Ron, that bring the fair-goers in from the parking lots (you are encouraged to carpool!)

Hobbit Holes for chickens.

Two farmers markets.  One at each gate.  So as you leave you can stock up on all the wonderful organic produce these farmer/members grow on their organically certified land.

The Harry S Truman Manure Pitching Contest.  Great for this Presidential election cycle but it happens every year.

The raw materials and their producers.

Trees dedicated to much-missed, long-time activists like Tom Sturtevant.

Speaker podiums made of driftwood.

All sorts of alternative transportation devices.

And the next generation of transport.

But these are the only “rides” at the fair.  Cardboard sleds down the amphitheater’s berm.

Farmers in residence.  Who live at the fairground year round and farm it.  Here’s Angela giving a talk about growing medicinal herbs.

Volunteers everywhere.   This fair is volunteer-powered.

An Occupy Encampment.

People taking pictures of people taking pictures.  That’s my pal, Roger, the Maine Paparazzi.


Veggie parades.

Very tall people.

Stone arches created at the fair by the Stone Workers Guild, right there at the fair grounds, over the last several years.

Pet pigs named Peanut.

Some of the best food you will ever eat.  Bean-hole beans at the Wilderness Encampment.

Juice made with solar energy to give you energy.

Here’s the winning food booth.  Local Sprouts Co-op. The best butternut squash sandwich you will ever eat.  Know any other fair that offers butternut squash sandwiches?

  Booths to sort your compost and recyclable.  Keeping them out of the waste stream.

And the team that does the final sorting.

And Music, Music, Music.

It’s a big place and you really do need three days to see it all.  Just follow the sign posts.

Organic Salad for the Mind

Home-grown organic salad.

A salad of stories about organic agriculture:

2012 Farm Bill.  Congress has until the end of this month before the old farm bill expires and we are left with no support for the people who produce all the food we eat.  We need to get this new five-year bill through the House and into conference committee and passed by September 30th.  Not a lot of time in any year but especially during an election cycle when, face it, Congress may not be working quite as hard as usual.  Go to FarmBillNow for a complete run down of what is in the bill and what you can do to help get it passed.  For a more regional view of what this all means go to the New England Farmers Union site.

OSGATA.  Holli Cederholm the new General Manager of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), yes the folks that brought you the suit against Monsanto, wrote a great article for the Belfast Co-op News about what OSGATA is up to in it’s spare time (i.e. when not suing Monsanto).  I can’t link you straight to the article cause the Co-op’s website still has the summer issue online but keep checking back the article, it’s worth the effort.  No new news about the appeal that is pending in the OSGATA et al vs. Monsanto case.

Stanford Organic Study.  I saved the best/worst for last because I want to go off on a little rant about this piece of spurious research.   When I was practicing in the medical field we were taught that our practice should always be evidence-based.  As a part of this we read any new research with a critical eye  to its methodology and analysis of results.  Well, this study out of Stanford just does not pass muster on either of those counts.   See this Huffington Post article for the best analysis of the situation I have seen.   This study just does not pass the straight face test when parts of its results are based on a misspelled word.  But when your funder is Cargill you write what they want you to write.  This incident says a lot about the culture now present in academia of publishing to please the funder.   It happens in every discipline.   Medical academics are bought off by the drug and medical equipment companies.  Agricultural academics are bought off by the likes of Cargill and Monsanto.  In this case it seems to be a mash-up of the two disciplines since it was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  Not a good trend.  And one we should all be very aware of when we read sensational headlines like the ones this junk science piece elicited.