A hunger for opportunity

Country Guide – Feb 25, 2020 – By Lorraine Stevenson

“As a grain farmer, I felt I needed to be part of that conversation,” says Shelley Spruit. Canadians were turning away from the foods our farmers grow, creating a unique business opportunity. Photo: Jeff Clifford Photography

Shelley Spruit likes to say she began a thriving farm business with a single cup of seed. In fact, there’s a certain rightness to her choosing those exact words, as if it was a recipe. After all, Spruit can run a kitchen and turn out five-course meals just as well as she operates a farm and produces bountiful crops.

Spruitt, you see, is a chef and baker by trade as well as a fourth-generation Ontario farmer who has farmed outside Ottawa with her husband Tony for just over 30 years. Here, the couple has grown mostly corn and soybeans on their 250-acre farm before beginning an entirely new venture here five years ago.

That new venture is Against the Grains Farm, a subsidiary of the family’s farm, with a goal to engage in trialling and growing out varieties of ancient grains, and selling a variety of commercial wholesale and retail products made from them.

The idea for the business itself was planted when Shelley was eyeing selling another farm business she’d operated for over a dozen years. Her farm-to-table banquet hall had been a popular on-farm destination, offering meals made from ingredients sourced on their farm and from surrounding neighbours, plus delicious breads she’d baked from scratch. It was a time of learning about consumers’ interests in agriculture and dietary trends, too, says Spruit.

Selling the banquet hall business back in 2014, she thought at the time she might be getting out of the food business. Instead, she was about to transition right back into it.

“This was at the time of the gluten-free craze,” says Spruit. “I was really concerned about that, and I felt as a grain farmer I needed to be part of that conversation.”

She was watching, with growing alarm, consumers switching to nutritionally inferior rice flour and tapioca starch-based products, and knew what people were going to miss both from a cultural and a culinary perspective if they eliminated grain-based foods from their diet.

She also saw gluten-free diets leading to even more disconnection between eaters and what Canadian farmers actually grow. The last time she checked, she says, there was precious little rice grown on Canadian farms.

Initially, Spruit did set up a few plots of quinoa, millet and coloured corn to explore opportunities and options for what they might grow for new markets. But her attention was soon being drawn to ancient strains of wheat and other heritage grains as she began to read and learn about older strains of wheat and the research around the world looking at how some were better tolerated by those adversely affected by gluten.

“All too often the word ‘niche’ conjures up a small and perhaps marginal enterprise,” Spruit says. Instead, it’s all about growth.photo: Courtesy Shelley Spruit

This was around the time Spruit began sourcing out that single cup of seed, finding heritage varieties of grains, getting pseudo-grains like quinoa and amaranth from small seed companies or through connections she began to pursue with others interested in ancient grains.

What struck her was just how many varieties of wheat and barley were still to be found around the world.

“That was a real eye-opener to me,” she says.

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“ONENESS VS. THE 1% “DR. VANDANA SHIVA INTERVIEWED BY DR. JOSEPH MERCOLA – Video 70 min

Mercola – Oct 21, 2020 – Video 70 min

Navdanya

https://www.navdanya.org/site

Mercola

In this interview, social justice and anti-GMO advocate Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., discusses her book, “Oneness Vs. the 1%: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom,” which she co-wrote with her son, in which she argues that the ultra-wealthy elite are responsible for a majority of the environmental, financial and health crises currently facing us.

In “Oneness Vs. the 1%: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom,” Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., argues that the ultra-wealthy elite are responsible for a majority of the environmental, financial and health crises currently facing us.

.Bill Gates’ wealth and “philanthropic” efforts, for example, have allowed him to gain unprecedented influence over agriculture and global health policies that threaten food security and human health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed a massive transfer of wealth to the rich.

.While global lockdowns have decimated small businesses and left many to struggle financially, wealthy globalists have amassed immense profits, and lockdowns have prevented public mobilization against tech and retail giants.

To facilitate the transfer of wealth, the elite lobby for the elimination of labor and environmental laws, as well as human and farmer’s rights.

Navdanya

https://www.navdanya.org/site

Mercola

https://www.Mercola.com

SOURCE VIDEO (70 MIN)

EASTERN ONTARIO: Growing, packaging, processing, marketing ancient grains a winning strategy for Winchester farm

Farmers Forum – Oct 19, 2020 – By Connor Lynch

“It was my answer to Uncle Ben’s,” says Spruit. Now she gets asked to talk to farmers around the world on how to find new opportunities in old grains.photo: Courtesy Shelley Spruit

WINCHESTER — When bigger is seen as better, going against the grain to focus on locally-grown ancient grains might seem at best misguided.

But Against the Grains at Winchester has done just that and built a thriving business growing, processing, packaging and marketing ancient grains.
Shelley Spruit, who farms 250 acres with her husband Tony is a grain farmer but also a baker and a chef. They’ve been farming together for over three decades, getting their start in pig farming before transitioning to a crop farm. Spruit, who’s from what’s now Barrhaven in the Ottawa-area and is a trained chef, opened her own banquet hall, which she ran for 11 years.

About six years ago, after selling the banquet hall, Spruit started hearing about the gluten-free trend. It got her curious about grains other than your bog-standard corn or soybeans, and different species within those alternative grains as well. In a related way, local was becoming a buzzword. Spruit had been local before it was cool but as it started becoming a broader conversation she noticed something. “People were talking about local meat, veggies, but nobody (was) talking about local grains.”

It didn’t take long to grow a new business. “Three years ago, we had six products,” she said. “Now, altogether, we have 22 on our website.” The farm sells retail and wholesale, does some of its own processing, markets to chefs and restaurants (primarily in Toronto, anywhere from 20 to 25 pre-COVID-19) and even sells grain to other companies to use for their own private labels.

Pulling off an operation like this wasn’t for an inexperienced hobbyist. (“There’s a) huge amount of upfront cost for infrastructure. Grains have to be stored properly and mills are few and far between.” Some mills want as much as five tonnes at a time, she said, but the first crop of a heritage grain might only yield a half-tonne.

The business’ bread-and-butter has shifted gears with COVID-19. Before the pandemic, wholesalers and small manufacturers were their biggest buyers. Now it’s a lot more direct to consumer or closer-to, adding local grains to Community-Supported Agriculture produce boxes and introducing products to local stores looking for local products.

Spruit’s background with both farming and as a professional chef has helped her see both sides and speak both languages, a boon for a business rooted in farm country but marketing to cities.

The processing and value-added parts of the business are by far the most difficult, Spruit said. “There are very few options for milling, flaking, polishing, roasting, sprouting. So every step is like re-creating the wheel. We have to ship or have had to set up our own processing to make it financially feasible.”

Growing is the easy part, she said. “Getting the grains ready and in useable form for the client is the big challenge.”

The farm also participates in and advocates for participatory plant breeding, something Spruit herself is passionate about. She wrote a report for not-for-profit Nuffield Canada as part of its ag scholarship program earlier this year. A Nuffield scholar, Spruit argued that the on-farm breeding of grains, particularly ancient varieties such as hers, are a “highly relevant and necessity-driven response to weather challenges,” particularly in light of a changing climate, she argued in her report. “Given unpredictable weather patterns, self-replicating seed stock contributes to greater seed adaptability and plant resilience within the Canadian food system.”

It’s all part of making sure farms remain viable businesses for farmers, she said. “We do what we do because we feel that seed sovereignty, developing markets outside of commodities, is going to be important going forward. With what’s going on, it’s not good to have all your eggs in one basket.”

SOURCE

The 6 Amazing Benefits of Gardening in Your Backyard

Outdoor Happens – by Elle Meager – Posted Oct 21, 2020

Author:

Elle Meager

Jack of all trades, master of some. Precision editor, wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one – although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.

Ah, the reward!

The value that you get from gardening is much more than the vegetables your plot produces. It can be therapeutic, healthy, educational, communal, environmentally friendly, and good exercise. The vegetables you harvest are just the tip of the iceberg, gardening offers us “sow” much more.

It’s true: Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes! Here are 6 amazing benefits of gardening in your backyard.

Table of Contents

1. The Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening as Exercise

Absorb Some Vitamin D

2. Benefits of Gardening for Kids

Gardening Encourages Picky Eaters to Try More Vegetables

Incorporate Gardening into Your Home School Plan

How to Grow Your Own Food

Where Food Comes From

How Plants GrowBackyard Ecosystems

Woodworking

Physical Literacy

Emotional Maturity

Gardening Decreases Allergies in Children

3. Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

The Antidepressant Properties of Soil Microbes

The Joys of Harvesting Your Own Food

4. Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

5. Benefits of School and Community Gardens

Community Gardens Build ConnectionDetroit: How Community Gardens Can Transform a City

6. Benefits of Gardening for the Environment

Your Garden Minimizes Your Carbon Footprint

Gardening Saves Bees

Go OrganicMaximize Your Nectar Flow

Make Bee Watering Stations

Designate Space for Native Bees

To read the whole article go to: SOURCE

Up To Half Of Americans Unwilling To Take Coronavirus Vaccine

Dr. Rath Health Foundation – Sept 24, 2020

“With fears growing that checks on the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines will be rushed through, a new poll by the Pew Research Group has found that half of Americans are unwilling to take them.” [Source: independent.ie]

Comment

Vaccines normally take years, if not decades, to develop. Nevertheless, around the world, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories are working at breakneck speed to produce vaccines against the coronavirus. About 40 such vaccines are already believed to be in clinical trials on humans. Whether any of them will prove to be successful still remains to be seen.

There is particular concern over the development of so-called ‘genetic vaccines’. The active principle behind such vaccines involves introducing genetic material (DNA or RNA) into cells. This technology is still in the experimental stage and is associated with serious side effects. The long-term side effects, due to the introduction of artificial genes into the DNA of human cells, are currently completely uncontrollable.

A mass use of this technology could potentially change the genetic makeup of mankind irreversibly, for generations to come. Despite this, amidst the challenge of the corona pandemic, all concerns about this technology would appear to have been thrown overboard. If pharmaceutical companies and some governments get their way, millions of people will be injected with these high-risk vaccines and essentially treated as human guinea pigs. The sole beneficiaries will be the pharmaceutical ‘business with disease’ and its shareholders.

To read in-depth about our Foundation’s position on vaccines, download a free copy of our brochure, ‘Can we make our vaccines safer?

SOURCE

Gates Foundation Doubles Down on Misinformation Campaign at Cornell as African Leaders Call for Agroecology

Sustainable Pulse – Oct 1, 2020

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded another $10 million last week to the controversial Cornell Alliance for Science, a communications campaign housed at Cornell that trains fellows in Africa and elsewhere to promote and defend genetically engineered foods, crops and agrichemicals. The new grant brings BMGF grants to the group to $22 million, USRTK reported Wednesday.

Source: USRTK

The PR investment comes at a time when the Gates Foundation is under fire for spending billions of dollars on agricultural development schemes in Africa that critics say are entrenching farming methods that benefit corporations over people. 

Faith leaders appeal to Gates Foundation 

On September 10, faith leaders in Africa posted an open letter to the Gates Foundation asking it to reassess its grant-making strategies for Africa. 

“While we are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its commitment to overcoming food insecurity, and acknowledging the humanitarian and infrastructural aid provided to the governments of our continent, we write out of grave concern that the Gates Foundation’s support for the expansion of intensive industrial scale agriculture is deepening the humanitarian crisis,” says the sign-on letter coordinated by the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).  

The letter cites the Gates-led Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) for its “highly problematic” support of commercial seed systems controlled by large companies, its support of restructuring seed laws to protect certified seeds and criminalize non-certified seed, and its support of seed dealers who offer narrow advice about corporate products over much-needed public sector extension services. 

“We appeal to the Gates Foundation and AGRA to stop promoting failed technologies and outdated extension methods and start listening to the farmers who are developing appropriate solutions for their contexts,” the faith leaders said.

Despite billions of dollars spent and 14 years of promises, AGRA has failed to achieve its goals of reducing poverty and raising incomes for small farmers, according to a July report False Promises. The research was conducted by a coalition of African and German groups and includes data from a recent white paper published by Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute. 

The Gates Foundation has not yet responded to requests for comment for this article but said in an earlier email, “We support organisations like AGRA because they partner with countries to help them implement the priorities and policies contained in their national agricultural development strategies.”

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