'Win for Science and Democracy' as Court Rules California Can List Glyphosate as Probable Carcinogen



Originally posted on www.commondreams.org

In a development heralded as "a win for science and democracy" and for "all Californians," an appeals court on Thursday backed the state's listing of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, as a probable carcinogen.

"This is a huge win for all Californians—and a huge loss for Monsanto—as it upholds our right to protect ourselves and our environment from unnecessary and unwanted exposure to the dangerous chemical, glyphosate," said Adam Keats, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety (CFS).

Following the the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2015 listing of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that, in adherence with its Proposition 65, it planned on listing glyphosate as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer, citing the IARC research. That listing would require warning labels on packages.

Monsanto promptly sued the state over the move, and CFS intervened in the case to defend the listing and accused the agribusiness giant of "trying to keep the public in the dark about potential hazards from their products." Other labor rights and environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also intervened to support the listing.

Though Monsanto had argued that basing the designation on the IARC's conclusions was improper because the research body is a foreign entity, California's 5th District Court of Appeal rebuffed that argument.

The ruling says that "there is no question... that the state has authority to delegate legislative authority under long-settled principles consistent with republican forms of government." It goes on to say that the "appellants provide us with no reason or analysis why the United States' guarantee to states that they shall enjoy a republican form of government should provide appellants with an individual right to challenge a state's authority to enact its own laws."

Rebecca Riley, senior attorney with NRDC, also applauded the court's affirmation, calling it "a win for science and democracy."

"Monsanto doesn't get to tell California how to protect its people from dangerous chemicals or how to run the Prop 65 list," she said. "The ruling clearly backs the voters' choice to rely on expert scientific bodies to add dangerous chemicals to its list."

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Gratitude For Donated Seeds and Trees

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We are feeling full of gratitude and potential today, after receiving some beautiful living gifts from our partners at the Glen Helen Ecology Institute and Central State University last week. One of our first priorities at Agraria is removing invasive honeysuckle and replacing it with plants that will increase the biodiversity and support for the local food web. We’re off to a great start with the removal—and please watch our website, newsletter, and social media for more opportunities to get involved—so now we are ready to begin the replacement. These donations will help the process take off!

Dr. Marcus Nagle, Assistant Professor of Agriculture, Research and Development at Central State, supplied three lovely northern pecan seedlings. Future human and animal denizens of Agraria will benefit from their delicious bounty. From Glen Helen, we received burr oak, bitternut hickory, butternut hickory, and shagbark hickory seeds. All these trees are native to woodlands in Ohio, and several provide great food sources for humans and/or animals. In addition, the shagbark hickory provides critical bat habitat. For now, we will grow these seeds into seedlings in pots while we develop a planting plan. Soon enough, thanks to our terrific partners, there will be new and flourishing tree growth at Agraria!

Can Dirt Save the Earth?

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Originally posted on nytimes.com

Written by Moises Velasquez-Manoff

Nearly all the carbon that enters the biosphere is captured during photosynthesis, and as it moves through life’s web, every organism takes a cut for its own energy needs, releasing carbon dioxide as exhaust. This circular voyage is the short-term carbon cycle. Carbon farming seeks to interfere with this cycle, slowing the release of carbon back into the atmosphere. The practice is often conceptualized and discussed in terms of storing carbon, but really the idea is to change the flow of carbon so that, for a time at least, the carbon leaving a given ecosystem is less than the carbon entering it.

Dozens of land-management practices are thought to achieve this feat. Planting or restoring forests, for one: Trees lock up carbon in woody material. Another is adding biochar, a charcoal made from heated organic material, directly to soil. Or restoring certain wetlands that have an immense capacity to hold carbon. (Coal beds are the fossilized remains of ancient marshes and peatlands.)

More than one-third of earth’s ice-free surface is devoted to agriculture, meaning that much of it is already managed intensively. Carbon farming’s fundamental conceit is that if we change how we treat this land, we could turn huge areas of the earth’s surface into a carbon sponge. Instead of relying solely on technology to remove greenhouse gases from the air, we could harness an ancient and natural process, photosynthesis, to pump carbon into what’s called the pedosphere, the thin skin of living soil at the earth’s surface. If adopted widely enough, such practices could, in theory, begin to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, nudging us toward a less perilous climate trajectory than our current one.


Two Weeks Until Walter Jehne & Peter Bane Workshop

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This 2-day intensive seminar with Australian microbiologist and climate scientist Walter Jehne and permaculture expert Peter Bane will bring our group together May 4th and 5th in a deep exploration and discussion of how we can meet many of our most important goals with soil biology–by restoring the living, intelligent, water-holding, cooling, soil carbon sponge that used to cover most of the land around us. Walter Jehne–founder of Healthy Soils Australia, and one of the early researchers on glomalin, myccorhizal fungi, and root ecology– will be the main presenter each day.  He’ll be joined by Peter Bane, President of the Permaculture Institute of North America.

The seminar will be held on Agraria, Community Solutions Center for Regenerative Agriculture, in Yellow Springs, OH. Registration is now open, and only 6 tickets remain, so reserve your place soon!  

For more information and to register, visit Our Registration Page.

We're very grateful to our co-sponsors for the Soil Carbon Sponge Workshop, the Great Rivers and Lakes Permaculture Institute and the Permaculture Institute of North America. For more about Community Solutions or this workshop, visit our website or call 937-767-2826.

To see other places Walter Jehne is presenting during The Soil Carbon Sponge tour, see the Soil Carbon Coalition's tour page.

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When Nature Says 'Enough!': The River That Appeared Overnight in Argentina

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Originally posted on theguardian.com

Written by Uki Goni

After a night of heavy rainfall, Ana Risatti woke to an ominous roar outside her home. Mistaking the noise for a continuation of the night’s downpour, she stepped outside to look.

“I nearly fainted when I saw what it really was,” said Risatti, 71. Instead of falling from the sky, the water she heard was rushing down a deep gully it had carved overnight just beyond the wire fence around her home.

The sudden appearance of a network of new rivers in Argentina’s central province of San Luis has puzzled scientists, worried environmentalists and disheartened farmers. It has also raised urgent questions over the environmental cost of Argentina’s dependence on soya beans, its main export crop.


Trump’s Border Wall Would Condemn US Jaguars to Extinction


Originally posted on motherboard.vice.com

Written by Stephen Leahy

The biggest single threat to reestablishing a US jaguar population is Trump’s border wall, wildlife advocates say. In recent years, two, or possibly three lonely males have been documented in the desert mountains southeast of Tucson, Arizona. The multi-billion dollar border wall envisioned by President Trump would cut them off from the females in a population of 125 to 150 jaguars, some 80 miles south in the northern Sonora region of Mexico.

“A viable jaguar population could be reestablished in the US, but not if the wall is built,” said Howard Quigley, a jaguar expert at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation nonprofit.


Wonderful Help For a Beautiful Space

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The staff of Community Solutions shared an inspiring work day with our partners, the Yellow Springs Children's Montessori Cooperative (YSCMC), on Monday, April 9. Parents and staff of the Montessori school joined with our staff and community members in what turned out to be a formidable crew. Our object—to clear a huge volume of invasive honeysuckle and dead ash trees from a 6,000 square-foot piece of Agraria chosen to host YSCMC’s summer program for children aged 3-6, beginning in June. We didn’t know what the work day turnout might be, given that we had to reschedule the event three times for the especially capricious Ohio spring weather.

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It was around 40 and had snowed all morning, though it melted before our scheduled start at 3pm. The work began, and the parents and other volunteers showed up in terrific numbers—we wound up with a crew of around 20 amazing brush haulers! We had not anticipated that the whole area could be cleared in one afternoon, but the wood seemed to fly off the ground as the crew felt a collective energy and excitement. Agraria Property Manager Gabby Amrhein wielded a precise chainsaw wherever necessary. Incredibly, before the day was done, every branch and log had been carted or carried off! The sense of gratitude and accomplishment was palpable. For more photos, see our online gallery.

This beautiful area is now ready to be cleared of stumps, carpeted with wood chips, and outfitted with work and play equipment for visiting children. These next steps will require continued volunteer help and community funding. We welcome your support—you can watch our events calendar or subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming volunteer days, and support Community Solutions financially by donating. To find out more about YSCMC, email ys.cmco@gmail.com or call (937) 769-5084.

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Sustainability is not enough: we need regenerative cultures

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Originally posted on medium.com

Written by Daniel C. Wahl

Sustainability alone is not an adequate goal. The word sustainability itself is inadequate, as it does not tell us what we are actually trying to sustain. In 2005, after spending two years working on my doctoral thesis on design for sustainability, I began to realize that what we are actually trying to sustain is the underlying pattern of health, resilience and adaptability that maintain this planet in a condition where life as a whole can flourish. Design for sustainability is, ultimately, design for human and planetary health (Wahl, 2006b).

A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity. The concept of resilience is closely related to health, as it describes the ability to recover basic vital functions and bounce back from any kind of temporary breakdown or crisis. When we aim for sustainability from a systemic perspective, we are trying to sustain the pattern that connects and strengthens the whole system. Sustainability is first and foremost about systemic health and resilience at different scales, from local, to regional and global.


Regenerative Agriculture Works on Large Farms!

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Biological Farming: Customizing Methods for Large-Scale Operations

Originally posted on ecofarmingdaily.com

Written by David Yarrow

Biological farming is not just limited to small plots. Take the story of one Missouri farmer, who through holistic approaches to farming, managed to improve his yields and the size of corn on the stalk.

At the end of 2015, I talked to Missouri boot-heel farmer David “JR” Bollinger about his experiences growing corn, soybeans and milo using carbon-smart farming principles and practices. In his first year fully committed to biological agriculture, Bollinger cut conventional fertilizers by 50 percent and applied blends of biocarbons, minerals and microbes. Soils, plants and yields are all showing positive results.


Save Ohio's Only National Forest


Originally posted on biologicaldiversity.org

A few weeks ago the U.S. Forest Service announced that it will rewrite the Wayne National Forest's land management plan. This new plan will guide decisions for a decade or more. But we need to make sure it fully protects the Wayne's forests, watersheds and biodiversity from destructive mining, logging and fracking.

Using the Center for Biodiversity's website, tell the Forest Service to protect Ohio's only national forest by maximizing protections for the Wayne.

Read more and submit a form...

Free Antique Barn Wood Available

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As part of our ongoing barn restoration and renovation, Community Solutions is offering free antique barn wood for pickup at Agraria! We have quite a lot of wood to offer, including pine from a 1918 granary, and large whole pieces of more recent plywood. To make an appointment for viewing and pickup, please email gabeamrhein@gmail.com or call 937-767-2161. 

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A Once-Thriving Coal Town Has Turned Toxic, and Citizens Are Desperate for Help


Originally posted on thinkprogress.org

Written by Mark Hand

Percy Edward “Eddie” Fruit has lived in Minden, West Virginia his entire life. But without funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he cannot afford to move away from his hometown, contaminated by industrial chemicals over the past 40 years. Fruit wouldn’t be able to get anything from the sale of his house because no one would want to buy property in a toxic town.

“That’s the bad part about Minden,” said Fruit, who worked in the coal mines for eight years before becoming a pipefitter who installed sprinkler systems in schools and hotels. “There’s no one here anymore. Most people have died off or got away from the problem, or moved to find work.”


Grow Native Plants for Bees


Originally posted on ecofarmingdaily.com

Written by Dr. Leo Sharashkin

From their knowledge of every corner of their kingdom comes bees’ great strength and, in our times, their great vulnerability. You see a few foragers dying in convulsions at the hive entrance and become concerned: did they visit some poisonous plant (of which there are a small number), or perhaps the neighbor sprayed something on his fields? Will this honey be safe for my children to eat? What can we do to help the bees? I keep hearing this question over and over again. It is heartwarming that so many people are concerned about the welfare of bees and other pollinators.

Fortunately, there is a good answer, and it is very important, because by helping the bees we can also help ourselves.


Recognizing the Importance of SNAP in Rural America


Originally posted on cfra.org

Written by Jordan Rasmussen

In the nation’s rural communities, where the food that feeds the world is grown, food insecurity is endured by millions of children, seniors, and hardworking Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps stave off hunger in one in six rural households.   

Yet, the president’s budget for 2019 outlines a nearly $214 billion budget cut to SNAP over the next decade. A cut of this magnitude would undoubtedly impact rural Americans.


Community Solutions Seeks Americorps Summer Associate

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Community Solutions seeks a passionate, committed individual to join our team as an Americorps Summer Associate supporting local farmers markets and enhancing efforts to increase food security and soil health in a three-county area. Job responsibilities will include coordinating a farm stand, managing the EBT transactions at local farmers markets, and researching food and composting needs in the area to generate a business plan. The EBT machine allows customers to use their government benefits at farmers markets. Applicants must be 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or GED.

Read more and apply...

Two Permaculture Institutes to Co-Sponsor Soil Carbon Sponge Workshop at Agraria

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Two institutes for the study of permaculture--the Great Rivers and Lakes Permaculture Institute (GRLCI) and the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) --have agreed to co-sponsor the Soil Carbon Sponge Workshop, to be hosted May 4th and 5th by Community Solutions at Agraria. The workshop, with Australian soil microbiologist and climate scientist Walter Jehne, will explore how we can restore the living, water-holding, cooling, soil carbon sponge that used to cover most of the land around us. Walter will be joined by Permaculture Activist Peter Bane in a participatory discussion about how we can work with other species to regenerate the underground infrastructure that drives our climates and makes life on land possible. 

GRLCI is a professional development organization for permaculture practitioners across many fields, and serves as a regional hub for PINA. PINA is a professional association working across North America and Hawaii to:

  • Promote permaculture pathways to professional development
  • Grant diplomas
  • Preserve the integrity and quality of the Permaculture Design Course
  • Facilitate networking among permaculturists

Community Solutions is very grateful for the co-sponsorship of these organizations. As a prelude to the workshop, a public discussion will take place on the Soil Carbon Sponge on Wednesday evening, May 3rd at 7 pm at Agraria. To learn more about the workshop and to register, please see our registration page.



USDA Ignores Public Will, Kills The Organic Animal Welfare Rule


Originally posted on blacklistednews.com

Written by ASPCA

On Monday, March 12, 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially withdrew the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP), killing these groundbreaking protections for animals raised on Organic farms. The ASPCA condemns this decision in the strongest terms possible.

“The USDA’s withdrawal of the OLPP is a violation of the public trust that reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers that led to this groundbreaking rule,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards.” 


Farmland Could Be Used to Sustainably Offset America’s Entire Carbon Footprint—If the Will Exists

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Originally posted by Quartz Media

Written by Dr. Louis Verchot

Amid the roaring debate on how to curb climate change in Bonn last year, an impasse was finally broken on agriculture. Both a cause and casualty of climate change, our food system accounts for up to 24% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet hit by soaring temperatures and more frequent extreme weather, farming is becoming more difficult, as demand continues to increase.

Positive agricultural interventions could achieve up to 6% of reduction emissions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goals—showing that this sector is not only part of the problem, but part of the solution to climate change.


Community Solutions Wins Community Impact Award

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The Yellow Springs Community Foundation has recognized Community Solutions for the work it has done over the past year with The 2018 Community Impact Award. The Foundation explains that "the award is given to a local organization that has made the most impact on the community through its initiatives and projects." Community Solutions is honored and humbled to receive this recognition.

The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation on Saturday, April 7.

When Twenty-Six Thousand Stinkbugs Invade Your Home


Originally posted on newyorker.com

Written by Kathryn Schultz

One October night a few years back, Pam Stone was downstairs watching television with her partner, Paul Zimmerman, when it struck her that their house was unusually cold. Stone and Zimmerman live just outside Landrum, South Carolina, in an A-frame cabin; upstairs in their bedroom, French doors lead out to a raised deck. That week, autumn had finally descended on the Carolinas, killing off the mosquitoes and sending nighttime temperatures plummeting, and the previous evening the couple had opened those doors a crack to take advantage of the cool air. Now, sitting in front of the TV, Stone suddenly realized that she’d left them open and went up to close them.

Zimmerman was still downstairs when he heard her scream. He sprinted up to join her, and the two of them stood in the doorway, aghast. Their bedroom walls were crawling with insects—not dozens of them but hundreds upon hundreds. Stone knew what they were, because she’d seen a few around the house earlier that year and eventually posted a picture of one on Facebook and asked what it was. That’s a stinkbug, a chorus of people had told her—specifically, a brown marmorated stinkbug. Huh, Stone had thought at the time. Never heard of them. Now they were covering every visible surface of her bedroom.