agriculture

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It all starts with a sugar bush. While that sounds like something out of the board game Candy Land, it's actually another name for a stand of sugar maples -- one of the trees that gives us maple syrup.

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Connecticut farmers will have an opportunity to become authorized to accept food stamps from customers at their farms and at farmers markets. 

Lewis Hine (1874-1940) / Wikimedia Commons

Shade tobacco came to Connecticut in 1900 from the island of Sumatra, which was beginning to dominate the world of cigar wrappers. The leaf had a light color, delicate texture, and mild flavor that cigar lovers love.

So it seemed like a good idea to grow it somewhere besides Sumatra and the artificial shade concept developed in Florida in the 1890s. Connecticut growers tried it on one-third of an acre in Windsor in 1900, and the result was so good that farmers, in an un-Yankee-ish burst of headlong passion, planted 50 acres in 1901.

The industry grew like shade tobacco -- that is, fitfully -- and woven into its life were the stories of the latest set of immigrants willing to work in cheap and concentrated bursts. We tell you as many of their stories as we can.

Fast food giant McDonald's announced Wednesday it will begin sourcing chickens raised without antibiotics.

Over the next two years, the chain says its U.S. restaurants — which number around 14,000 — will transition to the new antibiotics policy, which prohibits suppliers from using antibiotics critical to treating human illness.

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A Cornwall farm operator, accused of mistreating dairy goats, has been arrested on animal cruelty charges. Tara Bryson, who operates Butterfield Farm Co. with her boyfriend, Michael Hearl, was arrested Thursday.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market / Facebook

The well-known Coventry Regional Farmers' Market is heading into its final summer season, beginning on May 31 and running every Sunday until October. While local businesses and vendors are sad to see the market go, they are grateful for the executive board’s dedication and ambition over the past 12 years.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

I totally get the case against the Oscars and I look forward to hearing our friend Steve Almond make it on the show today. The case is that the creative arts and zero-sum games to not belong together because art is fluid and not hierarchical.  How can one performance or movie lose when another wins? It's absurd right? Wrong.

For example, we all know it was appalling in 1995 when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "Shawshank Redemption." Or, in 1981 when "Ordinary People" bested "Raging Bull." Whether we want to cop to it or not, we have internal standards and we know when they've been violated. This hour on the Scramble, Almond and I will debate that. 

Revelations about animal suffering at a federal animal research facility have sure gotten the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

They've also prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the facility through its Agricultural Research Service, to name its first ever animal welfare ombudsman — as well as review and update its animal welfare strategy.

Eggstrordinary Eggs!

Feb 5, 2015
Shawn Zamechek / Creative Commons

Just about all of us eat eggs and when we say that, we mean chicken eggs. But, there are all kinds of other eggs you can eat. I cook occasionally with duck eggs and I've tasted goose and quail.

Today on the show, we talk to a farmer who ranches exotic eggs, including emu, and a chef who cooks with them.

Flickr Creative Commons, Pink Sherbet Photography

Let's take a frozen cheese pizza. We'll add a little pepperoni to it -- and ship it off to a supermarket. Now, the question: who makes sure that pizza is safe to eat?

"As soon as you add the pepperoni, you introduce the Department of Agriculture," said reporter Wil Hylton. "Otherwise it will be under Health and Human Services and the FDA."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Unlike other parts of the country, New England has been seeing a growing number of new farms. Connecticut is among eight states recently chosen for a federal pilot program supporting locally-grown food in schools.

Existing federal funds in this year’s Farm Bill will now allow 16 school districts to use tax dollars to purchase fruits and vegetables from Connecticut farms for school lunches. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty calls it a double-win.

Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Work songs can be found around the world, sung by a variety of laborers from field workers to fishermen. 

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

As I scrolled through tweets about a panel on agricultural entrepreneurs at the SXSW Eco conference earlier this month, one caught my eye. The sender was Vance Crowe, Monsanto's director of millennial engagement.

Corporate America is currently caught up in a torrid infatuation with millennials, who befuddle and torment the companies who want their dollars.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Shade tobacco came to Connecticut in 1900 from the island of Sumatra, which was beginning to dominate the world of cigar wrappers. The leaf had a light color, delicate texture, and mild flavor that cigar lovers love.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The notion of drug-resistant bacteria has gone from an exotic problem to a common one. If you have even a medium-sized circle of acquaintances you probably know somebody - or an older parent of somebody -battling an infection that ignores standard antibiotics. It's a big problem and today we're going to focus on one chunk of it, the connection between antibiotics given to farm animals and the rise of these diseases.

If we treat ourselves the way we treat pigs, cattle and chickens, we'd be put on antibiotics at birth and pretty much never go off them until we die.

d o w n s t r e a m / Flickr Creative Commons

Members of Congress, including three from Connecticut, have signed a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to better regulate a controversial class of pesticide called neonicotinoids.

Héctor García / Creative Commons

Bamboo is a lot of things: fast growing, durable, edible, and attractive. Coming up, we take a look at this increasingly popular wood with bamboo experts and enthusiasts. What makes bamboo special?

Horia Varlan / Creative Commons

Back in March, a team of Harvard scientists claimed to have found the first direct evidence of gravity waves from the Big Bang. Within a matter of hours, their story had made its way around the Internet, spreading across blogs, news sites, and social media.

People like to see stuff get wrecked. Which is why demolition derbies are popular attractions at county fairs.

A county fair in the Midwest is offering a new twist on this staple of Americana. Instead of a demo derby featuring old cars, one county fair in Minnesota is sponsoring a smash-up derby featuring riding lawn mowers.

Danger At 5 MPH

If you’ve ever pushed a lawnmower or ridden one, you need to meet these people.

Welcome to the Lawnmower Demolition Derby at the Goodhue County Fair in Zumbrota, Minn.

An independent journalist says he's found a way around the so-called "ag-gag" laws by flying drones over large livestock operations to document animal welfare problems and pollution.

Will Potter, a Washington D.C.-based author and blogger, recently raised $75,000 on Kickstarter to buy the drones and other equipment to investigate animal agriculture in the U.S.

Horia Varlan / Creative Commons

Back in March, a team of Harvard scientists claimed to have found the first direct evidence of gravity waves from the Big Bang. Within a matter of hours, their story had made its way around the Internet, spreading across blogs, news sites, and social media.

A growing number of Americans are buying raw milk. That's milk that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria.

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Back in March, a team of Harvard scientists claimed to have found the first direct evidence of gravity waves from the Big Bang. Within a matter of hours, their story had made its way around the Internet, spreading across blogs, news sites, and social media.

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Governor Dannel Malloy plans on signing a bill into law that says horses are not inherently vicious. Both the Senate and House unanimously passed the bill in recent days. It was first introduced by Malloy in response to a court decision involving a horse named Scuppy, who bit a child. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For people with really bad arthritis the idea of intentionally suffering bee stings is an easier sell than it is with the rest of humankind. Sometimes my knees hurt so bad, a bee sting would be a welcomed distraction. I mean, it couldn’t make things any worse and there’s something intuitive about the idea that our body’s natural response to the venom might actually counteract other problems. So, this hour, we talk about apitherapy.

First, we explore the world of long-haul bee truckers. The nation’s farm depends on these peripatetic pollinators who cross the country and travel up and down the coasts. It’s a lot like other kinds of trucking and then it’s totally different.

It's easy to find goat milk and goat cheese in Vermont. Goat meat, not so much.

That's frustrating for the refugees, immigrants and others who've settled in the state who are accustomed to eating fresh goat meat. Though it's not so common in the U.S., it's a mainstay in many African, Asian and Caribbean diets.

But there's a movement afoot to meet the demand for goat meat throughout New England.

Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill

Apr 24, 2014

The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted he will sign a bill state lawmakers passed Wednesday mandating that foods with GMOs be labeled as having been produced with "genetic engineering." The bill would also make it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled "all natural" or "natural."

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Our Earth Day celebration: a gift certificate for you to White Flower Farm. Litchfield's famed garden center, White Flower Farm, thanks you for supporting WNPR with a $25 gift certificate for you toward any store or online purchase.

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