All posts by nedhamson

Activist, writer, researcher, addicted to sharing information and facts.

Energy Forests, the Feminine Art of Reforesting – IPS

Energy Forests, the Feminine Art of Reforesting – IPS

The project benefits about 50 families – 300 people – and the energy forest component will be expanded from Los Lagartos to other participating communities.

In Los Lagartos, population 5,000, the women work in their family gardens, where they grow vegetables with organic compost that they themselves produce. They also use it in their plots of corn and beans, staples of the Salvadoran diet, and on fruit trees in the forest.

The compost is helping change planting techniques in the area, in favour of the environment. And the women plan to start selling their organic fertiliser in the future, to earn funds for the project.

The forest is less than one hectare in size, but it has a special importance for the women in Los Lagartos because they have managed to regain control over the area and replant it, after a sugar mill destroyed it 10 years ago to plant sugar cane.

“For 10 years we have been fighting for this forest,” said Muñoz, a married mother of four. When she and the rest of the women saw that the forest was being cut down, they complained to the authorities and managed to rescue a small portion – but the damage was already done.

So they began to replant. They planted avocado, mango and nance (golden spoon) trees. And this year they began to grow plantains (cooking bananas), and trees that can be used for their wood, like conacaste (elephant ear tree).

“Now we don’t let anyone cut down our forest,” Álvarez said during a break in the planting work. “We exploit it ourselves, but only the dry branches and what is cut in the pruning process.”

The concept of energy forests followed here is not based on planting trees to cut them down later for lumber, but on the sustainable use of trees, by using dry branches as firewood, and planting fruit trees.

The House Version of the 2012 Farm Bill | Eat Drink Better

The House Version of the 2012 Farm Bill | Eat Drink Better.

The “let them starve or just eat fast food” farm bill. Soylent Green – here we come!

The House of Representatives is just starting their work on the 2012 Farm Bill. The House Agriculture Committee has been gathering information and testimony for some time now, but they were waiting to see the Senate version before putting forward their ideas.

This Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture will hold a hearing on specialty crops and nutrition programs.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill cuts about $4 billion from nutrition programs like Food Stamps over the next ten years. The House version is expected to contain more cuts, with estimates of cuts up to $200 billion over the next decade.

Nutrition programs aren’t just food stamps, though. Nutrition programs also include school lunches, increasing access to fresh foods in food deserts, nutrition education and research, and other programs.

If a certain amount of money isn’t cut from the federal budget, automatic cuts will take place, due to an agreement last year where Congress avoided making tough budget decisions. A large chunk of the automatic budget cuts will be in the defense budget. By cutting enough out of the food budget, some representatives hope to avoid defense budget cuts altogether.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The bulk of the Farm Bill (not just this year, but all previous farm bills) is concerned with large commodity crops, such as wheat, corn, rice, peanuts, etc.

Funding for specialty crops goes to programs that impact entire industries, rather than just a few individuals or organizations. Some specialty crop programs include research into local varieties and plant health, buy local programs, trade assistance, promotion (think of the “Got Milk” campaign), and marketing.

Just as fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced diet, they’re also part of a well-balanced agricultural economy.

US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations | World news |

US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations | World news |

“All true and I sympathize greatly. What to do about it and similar exploitation in Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Peru, Finland, Russia, Japan, Mali, Palestine, Vietnam? When humans “grow up,” can/will we love one another as we want to be loved?”

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and “numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination”.

“It’s a racial discrimination that they feel is both systemic and also specific instances of ongoing discrimination that is felt at the individual level,” he said.
Anaya said racism extended from the broad relationship between federal or state governments and tribes down to local issues such as education.

Associated Baptist Press – Rooftop farm an urban oasis in NYC

Associated Baptist Press – Rooftop farm an urban oasis in NYC.

The paradigm shift not only brought more guests into the pantry, but more guests are turning into volunteers. “A lot of what we can celebrate is that we’ve almost done a complete 180 with our pantry,” Henkel said. “We’ve found ways where we can still be efficient but provide dignity to our guests.”

Sherouse sees the farm as a church entity, but its primary purpose is not to increase the Sunday-morning crowd. “We’re very content to throw our resources into something that is focused on serving the community, whether or not it increases our Sunday attendance,” Sherouse said. “If that happens organically, that’s a wonderful thing.”

Yet with the rooftop farm literally being in the public eye for thousands of people in surrounding apartment, office and high-rise buildings, it is prominent advertising in itself.

“I think of it as public witness,” said Sherouse. “It has given people another point of entry to our church and community ministry and our understanding of the gospel.” Sherouse describes it as “public theology.”

Building on Metro’s success, Sherouse said he would like to see more urban farms in his neighborhood. “We think this is a replicable model,” he said. “In the grand scheme, we hope that Metro’s farm will be the initial site of many rooftop farms started by the Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project.”

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea: How We Lost Track | Wired Science |

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea: How We Lost Track | Wired Science | Not so nice Friday but important nonetheless… SuperBug Reporter: “if I were starting this blog today, I’d be tempted to name it the Department of Unintended Consequences. So much of what I write about seems to belong in that zone: Send UN troops to Haiti, start a cholera epidemic. Aim to eradicate wild polio, clear the way for the vaccine-derived kind. Drive down the price of producing animal protein, ramp up antibiotic resistance.

Now add to the list: Develop cheap rapid tests for detecting sexually transmitted diseases, and lose the ability to track that those diseases are becoming resistant to the last antibiotics that work reliably against them.”

Afghan Women’s Writing Project | Daughter of War

Afghan Women’s Writing Project | Daughter of War.

I am a daughter of war.
When I was born,

The war was going on.
The sky was dark.
The houses were broken.
The weather was dusty.
The trees were seared.

There was no plant,
No awake human,
No tears in the eyes left.

The streets were covered
By dead human bodies;
The blood was like a river
In the street, house and everywhere.

I didn’t consider failure.
I was full of hope;
I could see

Green places, a blue sky,
Smiles on everyone’s face, tall buildings,
A book in my hand,

Sitting under the tree,
Studying with my parents and siblings,
In my dreams.


War never gave this chance.
War took my parents from us.
War took my book

And gave me burqa;
They put me in the jail of burqa.
War forbade me from going outside.

War changed my beautiful land
To the worst place in the world.
War changed our smiles to tears.

War made our dreams
Of going to school,
Freedom of speech,
To be just a dream.


I will try.
I will stand for my right.
I will break the silence.
I will show my power.
And I will bring peace
In my country once again.

I promised.

There will be no more war;
I will make my dreams come true.

Once again,
My homeland will be like heaven
And my people will be happy.

By Zahra A.

Anti-GM activists urged not to trash wheat field – by “scientists” The Guardian

Anti-GM activists urged not to trash wheat field | UK news | The Guardian.

“Scientists” plea makes me think of “scientists” wanting to continue unethical, or immoral experiments on humans because of all the time they had expended. The trashing of their work may well be the only way humans can defend themselves.  I don’t think these “scientists” have given much thought to what evil they might do in their attempt to “improve” industrialized and profit-only oriented agriculture.

Work in Germany – a nightmare for Bulgarians | Presseurop (English)

Work in Germany – a nightmare for Bulgarians | Presseurop (English)One case of abuse was revealed in Frankfurt by the Migrant Counselling Centre of the German Trade Union Confederation when Ali S. and D. Hyusein, two Bulgarians of Turkish descent, stepped forward. They had worked for six weeks at a construction site, they reported, and part of their salary was still being withheld. From early March to mid-April, each of them had worked 349.5 hours. They should have received €4,526.03 gross, but were paid only €1,200.

Only rarely, though, are such cases ever fought in the Labour Court or even pursued by police and prosecutors. Most Bulgarians are not willing to testify against those who give them work – out of fear.

How advanced the market in Bulgarian workers has become has also been noted by the municipal housing authorities. Several years ago the Frankfurt Housing Agency observed that landlords were renting more and more rooms in flats to Romanians and Bulgarians. The often substandard dwellings were rented out at lucrative rates, exploiting the vulnerable south-eastern Europeans in need.

Looks good, not sure I can find all ingredients here but will try…

The Gaza Kitchen

I had many requests to post the recipe for Gaza’s Kishik Stew, which I made the other day as a special treat for my mother, who has been requesting it for weeks now, and posted on Facebook.

Let me preface this by saying I used to detest Kishik. It was one of those things I thought you either hated or loved, and I concluded that I hated it-dried kishik itself is pretty pungent stuff (especially the Lebanese variety), and since we eat as much with our eyes and noses as we do with our mouths, its hard for our senses to imagine what a finished meal would taste like. Then I tried kishik stew at Hajja Um Ibrahim’s in Gaza. And again at my cousin’s house in Davis, California (shout out to khalto Nawal!), and I was won over…

A little culinary history lesson: Kishik is a sun-dried mixture of…

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