sustainable agriculture

The debate on food safety is heating up in Congress! The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) is planning to mark up S. 510, the Senate version of the draconian House food safety bill (H.R. 2749). This is a major step towards passing the bill. Big Ag and Big Food have distributed melamine-contaminated milk from China and salmonella-contaminated peppers from Mexico. Yet Congress hasn’t gotten the message that they need to solve the real problems – the centralized food distribution system and imported foods – and not regulate our local food sources out of business. We need your help to make them listen! Please read through the problems with the bill and then call your Senators (details below).


 1. The bill applies to all food, not just food in interstate commerce. On its face, the bill applies to any farm or food producer, regardless of location, size, or scope of distribution. If the intent truly is to limit the bill to food that is crossing state lines, then it must be amended. And even then, the bill would still negatively impact small farmers and food processors who live near state lines and who cross state lines to reach local farmers markets and co-ops.

 2. The major foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been caused by the large, industrial food system. Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet S. 510 subjects the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system.

3. FDA regulation of local food processors is unnecessary and overly burdensome. Federal regulations may be needed for industrial, large-scale processing facilities that source raw ingredients from multiple locations (sometimes imported from other countries) and ship their products across the country, but federal regulation is overkill for small, local processors. Existing state and local public health laws are enough for local food sources.

4. Relying on HACCP will harm small processors. S. 510 applies a complex and burdensome Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system to even the smallest local food processors. Although HACCP may be good in theory a good theory for large, complex facilities, USDA’s implementation of HACCP, with its requirements to develop and maintain extensive records, has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country. In the meat industry, HACCP has substituted paperwork review for independent inspections of large meatpacking plants, while sanctioning small processors for paperwork violations that posed no health threat. Applying a HACCP system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers’ options to buy fresh, local foods

5. FDA does not belong on the farm. S. 510 calls for FDA regulation of how farms grow and harvest produce. Given the agency’s track record, it is likely that the regulations will discriminate against small, organic, and diversified farms. The House version of the bill directs FDA to consider the impact of its rulemaking on small-scale and diversified farms, but there are no enforceable limits or protections for small diversified and organic farms from inappropriate and burdensome federal rules.

6. S. 510 favors foreign farms and producers over domestic. The bill creates incentives for retailers to import more food from other countries, because it burdens family farms and small business and because it will be practically impossible to hold foreign food facilities to the same standards and inspections. The bill will create a considerable competitive disadvantage for ALL U.S. agriculture and food production (see analysis at ).

ACTION TO TAKE: 1. Contact both of your U.S. Senators. Ask to speak to the staffer who handles food safety issues and if you are able to speak to them rely on the talking points above to explain the problems with the bill. If you get their voice mail, leave this message: “I am a resident of _____. I am opposed to S. 510 because it will place unnecessary and burdensome regulations on our small farms and local food processors. Contrary to FDA’s testimony, the bill is not limited to food in interstate commerce. In addition, it does not address the root cause of foodborne illnesses, i.e., a centralized food system, and it will impact small and local producers. I urge Senator __ to take every action possible to stop unlimited FDA power from destroying our local food sources. Please call me back at _______” To find contact information for your Senators, go to or call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. 2. Also contact the Chair and Ranking Member of the HELP Committee: Chairman Harkin, (p): 202-224-0767, (f): 202-224-5128 Senator Enzi, Ranking Member, (p): 202-224-6770


By: Joseph Freeman Posted: August 27, 2009 02:33 PM BIO Become a Fan Get Email Alerts Bloggers’ Index
Where My Bees At? Five Brothers Rap and Dance To Save The Honey Bees  

So you think you can dance? Can you do the honeybee?

In preparation for the first-ever National Honey Bee Awareness Day that took place on Aug. 22, big bee backer Häagen-Dazs used the creative efforts of five brothers from Los Altos, Calif. to make a short video raising awareness.

Max Lanman, a 21-year-old senior at Yale majoring in film studies (and the third-oldest Lanman brother), directed, edited and photographed the result of the request, a viral video entitled “Do the Honey Bee.”

The video, which was released Friday, begins hypnotically like any mainstream rap song. The beat leads you to expect a candy-colored car might glide by, dollar bills could rain from the sky or a troupe of well-tanned bikini-clad women may appear, crowding a bored rapper draped in fur.

Instead, suited-up beekeepers spit rhymes about the honey bee plight and dressed-up bees perform an invented dance.

“The goal behind this was to make a mainstream rap video that appeals to the masses,” said Lanman in a phone conversation from New Haven.

The dancing in the video is a nod to a ritual of the honeybees, who after returning from a particularly good round of pollinating “dance” directions to the rest of their hive.

While other videos were shot by highly paid professionals, Lanman’s was a family affair; his oldest brother Fritz, 28, advised the budding bee activists; second-oldest brother James, 26, produced the song; younger brother Connor, 18, choreographed it and raps the first verse; youngest brother Christopher, 13, cameos as a dancing bee; high school friends were extras; and the video itself was shot in a family friend’s organic garden in Los Altos.

The friend, Jeffrey Warnock, has been teaching the Lanman brothers about bees since they were young enough to want ice-cream for every meal.

“It’s something my family has been involved with for a while. Ever since we were in elementary school we had first-grade field trips where we walked to his (Warnock’s) house and he’d show us his hives,” Lanman said.

The passion stayed with them. Most notably with Connor, who wrote a book called “Plight Of The Bee” that initially caught Häagen-Dazs’ attention. They contacted Connor and he contacted his brothers.

Then they all did the honeybee, so to speak.

Fifty percent of the ice-cream manufacturer’s ingredients come from the nuts and fruits which honey bee pollinations provide.

“We want to keep these little heroes buzzing,” reads a statement on the company’s Web site to raise awareness,

And even if you don’t indulge in a little Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan, there is cause to worry.The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that honey bees are responsible for 90 percent of food crops.

According to the USDA, the disappearances– formally known as Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder–started occurring in 2006. Though causes are unknown, environmental groups like The Natural Resource Defense Council speculate that the unregulated use of plant pesticides are major contributors to the decline.

The save the bee buzz is catching on, and the Lanman brothers will continue to try and take it mainstream through different mediums like music.

“We’re hoping that “Do The Honey Bee” will help raise honey bee awareness in a fun and original way, and appeal to the greater population,” Lanman wrote in an email.

“The honey bee crisis affects the global community, and music is definitely the best way to transcend language barriers. We actually found a German forum where different people were talking about the video and the cause–it was really cool to see that our video generated discussion, and in another language!”

Well, I just finished watching “The World According to Monsanto” on DVD. And I must say, my stomach is in a knot and I’m quite uncomfortable. As we all should be.

I strive to educate myself on food safety constantly and I was quite surprised by some of the information in this film.

There aren’t many other ways to say it: if you eat, you must watch this.

Clover Wreath Farm 2010 CSA Program

Clover Wreath Farm continues to expand our CSA program. We are thrilled and honored to have such fantastic CSA members who depend on us for food. We depend on our CSA members in much the same way, without our CSA members, we would not be able to keep doing what we are doing.

If you are interested in becoming a CSA member, please visit our CSA agreement page.

Garden CSA:

Weekly share distribution from May 16 until October 16, 2010.

Garden Shares: You are not paying for produce, you are paying Clover Wreath Farm to garden for you.

Paid Shares:

$572.00 per share. If you pay in full by January 1, 2010, you receive a $30 discount.

1st payment: $100, this holds your share. (non-refundable) Current CSA members are asked to inform Breann if they would like to continue in 2010 as soon as possible so they may retain their share. Current CSA members are not asked to make their first payment until Nov 1st but any new members must make this first payment to hold your share.

2nd payment, Jan 1, 2010: $118

3rd payment, March 1, 2010: $118

4th payment, May 1, 2010: $118

5th payment, July 1, 2010: $118


Farm, Tuesday 3-7, Friday 11-2 and East Chattanooga pick up TBA.


Chicken Flock CSA:

Starts: Nov 1, 2009

***I’m sorry but there is no room for new members in our Chicken Flock CSA. You are welcome to ask to have your name added to our waiting list.

To reflect the new law, all current egg CSA members will become the proud new owners of 5 of this year’s pullets who will begin laying this fall: this should average out to a dozen eggs per week over the year. CSA members will receive more eggs in the Winter and Spring, less in the Summer.

$44 feed cost for every other month (Nov, Jan, March, May, July, September) payment

$22 feed cost for half share: 2.5 chickens

With the chickens, you are not paying for eggs. You are paying for Clover Wreath Farm to feed and water your chickens. Then you pick up your eggs every week.


Farm, Tuesday 3-7, Friday 11-2 and East Chattanooga pick up TBA.


Dairy Sheep CSA:

7 Shares Available and they are going fast! Act now!

Sheep Share: $40

Purchasing a sheep share will allow you to pick up a quart of milk  from your sheep every week when you pay your boarding fee.  The boarding fee will be $5 per week per share.

Milking Season: (approximate dates) April-August


Farm, Tuesday 3-7, Friday 11-2 and East Chattanooga pick up TBA.

Kermit (chocolate colored breeding ram) and Matilda (ewe)

, our newest dairy sheep have arrived. Matilda is still in milk and Butch got the privilege of milking two fine ladies this evening. Kermit and Matilda are from Locust Grove Farm.

Information on our 2010 Dairy Sheep CSA will be posted tomorrow!

Dear Supporters,

Thanks to everyone for your support. We’ll have to continue to fight for more “reassuring language” in the Senate. But more of the public is finding out about this and support for positive changes to the bill is more than “reassuring” to me. I am so thankful for the fine community of supporters who will stick their neck out for their local farm. Again, thank you and I am grateful for the privilege of being able to grow your food. Breann

Thursday, July 30th, 2009 | Author: KristenM  | 

Well, friends, HR 2749 has passed. Of course, we knew it would. But thankfully, a reasoned debate happened before hand, some wording was altered, and many reassurances were given.

I’m still skeptical about the actual implementation of this bill, but that’s because I’m always skeptical about the choices Big Government makes that consistently support Big Industry, and in this case Big Ag.


To find out how your representatives voted, click here.

Thanks to Jill at the La Vida Locavore, we have a rough transcript of the section of the debate centered around how this bill will affect small-scale direct-to-consumer producers and certified organic producers.

A few highlights:

Representative Farr shares his concerns –

I have deep concerns, however, about the fee structure in the measure, which would charge a farm family making jams or syrup or cheese the same fee as a processing plant owned by a multinational corporation employing hundreds or thousands or workers.  This strikes me as not only unfair but contrary to federal farm policy that has encouraged small and mid-sized family farms to get into small scale value-added enterprises to survive economically.  I am seeking an assurance from the gentleman that a more progressive fee structure will be found that does not inhibit our farm families from taking advantage of new markets.

As a member of the Organic Caucus, I also have concerns about the interplay between this bill and the National Organic Program.  Is it the Chairman’s understanding that this bill would not establish any requirements for organically produced or processed products which are in conflict with the requirements established by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the USDA’s National Organic Program regulations?

Representative Blumenauer echoes his concerns and adds a few more –

I am also concerned about the language regarding interaction between wildlife, livestock and farming practices. Biodiversity is a prerequisite for a healthy farm and not something we should penalize farmers for. Last week in my state, staff from Oregon State University and the Xerces Society led a tour to four diverse Oregon farms where farmers are utilizing techniques such as naturescaping, floodplain restoration and natural hedgerows to encourage crop health, control pests and invasive species, and enhance soil quality. I am concerned that these practices, which are cost effective and bring benefits to the farm and local wildlife, would be in jeopardy under this legislation.

I believe we should target reform and safety efforts towards practices which have been directly linked to food disease outbreaks, rather than limiting approaches that farmers have used for centuries to reduce their dependence on pesticides, herbicides and other carbon intensive farming techniques.

I would like assurance from the Chairman that as the Food and Drug Administration develops these criteria, they will consider the needs of small farms and the practices of organic farmers.

You’ll note that these are most of the concerns I listed yesterday in my post (pretty much all except giving the FDA the power to ban raw milk sales). The representatives questioning the bill made no mention of the NAIS system being implemented on small scale farms, but that’s because the bill that went to floor today provided exemptions from NAIS-type requirements for small-scale farms selling more than half of their products directly to consumers. YAY! For those of you who called your representative, give yourself a pat on the back!

And, you’ll also be pleased to hear the assurances given in response to the concerns of Mr. Farr and Mr. Blumenauer:

The bill before us includes important language that would exempt from registration and from fees on-farm processors who sell more than half of their product by value directly to consumers or who process grain for sale to other farms.  I believe these two provisions go a long way to satisfying the kinds of concerns being expressed.  However, I realize there are other small farms or small local processors who will not fit under these exemptions who may face a hardship and I promise to work with my colleagues to address these concerns as the bill moves into conference.

With respect to the National Organic Program, it is my expectation that the FDA will work very closely with the NOP as it implements this bill to ensure there are no such conflicts. There is direction within the bill for the FDA to consider small farms, organic practices and conservation methods, and I trust that this will be followed. The intention of this bill is not to harm farming practices that have existed for centuries with minimal documented health risk.

So, it seems like the worst of this bill has been amended, and hopefully the rest will work towards creating a safer industrial food supply

Dear Supporters,

I hate to send out a distress signal like this, but our lovely gov’t’s wisdom has offered me no choice.

There is a bill, that did not get a majority today, that will go for a revote again tomorrow.

It is called HR2749.

Please understand that I am not being dramatic here when I say that if this passes with a majority tomorrow, I could go to jail for doing what I am doing with the farm. I’m not overstating the proposed legislation.

EVERYONE PLEASE for the sake of food and me not going to jail, call your representative in the a.m. and tell them NO on HR2749! Zach Wamp’s phone number is  202-225-3271! Please!

With all my gratitude,


Clover Wreath Farm
Certified Naturally Grown
Open Tuesdays 3-6 p.m. and
Fridays 11-2 p.m.   

“There can be no doubt that a society rooted in the soil
 is more stable than one rooted in pavements.” -Aldo Leopold

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