Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering Elizabeth Harris on Riverdale Farmers Market opening day

Elizabeth Harris

Today is the opening day of the 2013 season for Riverdale Farmers Market in Toronto. I find myself at home on the farm. A gentle rain is falling on the lush spring greenery all around. Feeling slightly guilty not to be at market as the rain falls in Toronto, I find myself remembering fondly Elizabeth Harris, the founding market manager, on this her breakout day of the year. It is not possible to imagine not being at market were she still with us, marshalling her farmers and cajoling.

Honouring Elizabeth, here is an excerpt from my newly-published book, High Up in the Rolling Hills:   

It was the irrepressible Elizabeth Harris who had given me my big break as a certified organic grower all those years ago. Then as vice-president of Quinte Organic Farmers Co-operative, I approached Elizabeth to apply for the co-op to be a vendor at her flagship organic farmers market at Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown, Toronto. She sized up what we offered, 12 small certified-organic family farms pooling their produce to market direct to the customer, and she voiced her doubts. She was used to allowing only single farms to join her family of vendors. But she sized me up too and found something she liked or trusted, so she said, “Okay, but only as long as you bring all the farmers in to sell at your stand through the season.” “Sure,” I promised having gotten a foot in the door. It wasn’t to be, of course; only one or two farmers bothered to come in at all, but the first season was a roaring success for the co-op as a fledgling sales organization. I made sure we stayed on Elizabeth’s good side—as one had to—and, over several years, Elizabeth and I developed a wonderful mutual respect. I was awed by her tight control of the market, her fairness, her discipline with slack vendors, her amazing vision in holding it all together and bringing people together.
“Peter, I’d like you to meet Jamie Kennedy.”
“Peter, can any of your farmers supply three bushels of romano beans for a dinner for seventy-five this Friday?”

She would often call up and tell me about the latest new vendors that she was excited to have visited. She had such respect for farmers and for food produced honestly and in a fresh way. And she would ask my opinion and advice. Early on at market, I incurred her wrath. She had strong rules and enforced them. Vendors were not allowed to sell before the bell rang, right at 3:00 p.m. As I tried to sneak in a sale for a customer who was running off to work, a booming voice bellowed out from the other side of the park: “Mr. Finch, the market opens at three o’clock, and not before!” Last year, held up in traffic and running late in setting up, I upheld her rule when an impending storm told her to ring the bell early. “No, Elizabeth, that’s not fair; I’m not ready,” I pleaded. She agreed to wait, and for weeks after, she deferred to me to see if I was ready before ringing the bell. A softening, maybe? I feel deep down that she truly respected her senior farmers, and I was lucky enough to have been in that number.

Elizabeth slipped away from us, succumbing to cancer, but her amazing energy, drive and spirit would remain with us as we tried to honour her legacy and continued to provide for the table she set for us so passionately. It had been an honour and a privilege to know her; hard to believe that she wouldn’t be shuffling along on a glorious spring afternoon on opening day of market in May and that her voice wouldn’t be greeting me across the park: “Peter, who do you have helping you today? I’d like to introduce you to …”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BREAKING: European Commission to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants not registered with government

As I wrote in my newly-published book High Up in the Rolling Hills:
Imagine a world in which nature were privately owned. Well, that world is increasingly upon us now—with the overzealous regulation and restriction of natural products, the patenting of crops, the corporate ownership of seeds and food, the escalating genetic modification of foods, the killing of the bees. It really is the end of nature as we have known it.”

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor 
View online at

(NaturalNews) A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to "grow, reproduce or trade" any vegetable seeds that have not been "tested, approved and accepted" by a new EU bureaucracy named the "EU Plant Variety Agency."

It's called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.

The draft text of the law, which has already been amended several times due to a huge backlash from gardeners, is viewable here.

"This law will immediately stop the professional development of vegetable varieties for home gardeners, organic growers, and small-scale market farmers," said Ben Gabel, vegetable breeder and director of The Real Seed Catalogue. "Home gardeners have really different needs - for example they grow by hand, not machine, and can't or don't want to use such powerful chemical sprays. There's no way to register the varieties suitable for home use as they don't meet the strict criteria of the Plant Variety Agency, which is only concerned about approving the sort of seed used by industrial farmers."

Virtually all plants, vegetable seeds and gardeners to eventually be registered by government
All governments are, of course, infatuated with the idea of registering everybody and everything. Under Title IV of the proposed EU law:

Title IV Registration of varieties in national and Union registers
The varieties, in order to be made available on the market throughout the Union, shall be included in a national register or in the Union register via direct application procedure to the CVPO.

Gardeners must also pay fees to the EU bureaucracy for the registration of their seeds. From the proposed law text:

The competent authorities and the CPVO should charge fees for the processing of
applications, the formal and technical examinations including audits, variety denomination, and the maintenance of the varieties for each year for the duration of
the registration.

While this law may initially only be targeted at commercial gardeners, it sets a precedent to sooner or later go after home gardeners and require them to abide by the same insane regulations.

Government bureaucracy gone insane
"This is an instance of bureaucracy out of control," says Ben Gabel. "All this new law does is create a whole new raft of EU civil servants being paid to move mountains of papers round all day, while killing off the seed supply to home gardeners and interfering with the right of farmers to grow what they want. It also very worrying that they have given themselves the power to regulate and licence any plant species of any sort at all in the future - not just agricultural plants, but grasses, mosses, flowers, anything at all - without having to bring it back to the Council for a vote."

As a hint of the level of insane bureaucracy that gardeners and vegetable growers will be subject to under this EU law, check out this language from the proposed EU law:

Specific provisions are set out on the registration in the Union variety register and with regard to the possibility for the applicant to launch an appeal against a CPVO decision. Such provisions are not laid down for the registration in the national variety
registers, because they are subject to national administrative procedures. A new obligation for each national variety examination centre to be audited by the CPVO will be introduced with the aim to ensure the quality and harmonization of the variety registration process in the Union. The examination centre of the professional operators will be audited and approved by the national competent authorities. In case of direct application to the CPVO it will audit and approve the examination centres it uses for variety examination.

Such language is, of course, Orwellian bureaucraticspeak that means only one thing: All gardeners should prepare to be subjected to total government insanity over seeds, vegetables and home gardens. warns about any attempt to actually try to understand the law by reading it:

You cannot just read the first 5 pages or so that are an 'executive summary', and think you know what this law is about. The executive summary is NOT what will become the law. It is the actual Articles themselves that become law, the Summary has no legal standing and is just tacked on as an aid to the public and legislators, it is supposed to give background information and set the proposed legislation in context so people know what is going on and why.

The problem with this law has always been that the Summary says lots of nice fluffy things about preserving biodiversity, simplifying legislation, making things easier etc - things we all would love - but the Articles of the law actually do completely the opposite. And the Summary is not what becomes the law.

For example, the Summary of drafts 1, 2 & 3 talked about making things easier for 'Amateur' varieties. But the entire class of Amateur vegetables - which we have spent 5 years working with DEFRA to register - was actually abolished entirely in the Articles right from the start. Yet the Summary , and press releases based on it, still talked about how it will help preserve Amateur varieties! The Summary is completely bogus. Do not base your views of the law on it!

So, be warned. By all means, read it yourself. But you have the ignore the Summary as that is not the Law, and does not reflect what is in the Law. 

As you might suspect, this move is the "final solution" of Monsanto, DuPont and other seed-domination corporations who have long admitted their goal is the complete domination of all seeds and crops grown on the planet. By criminalizing the private growing of vegetables - thereby turning gardeners into criminals - EU bureaucrats can finally hand over full control of the food supply to powerful corporations like Monsanto.

Most heirloom seeds to be criminalized
Nearly all varieties of heirloom vegetable seeds will be criminalized under this proposed EU law. This means the act of saving seeds from one generation to the next - a cornerstone of sustainable living - will become a criminal act.

In addition, as Gabel explains, this law "...effectively kills off development of home-garden seeds in the EU."

This is the ultimate wish of all governments, of course: To criminalize any act of self-reliance and make the population completely dependent on monopolistic corporations for their very survival. This is true both in the USA and the EU. This is what governments do: They seize control, one sector at a time, year after year, until you are living as nothing more than a total slave under a globalist dictatorial regime.

An online petition has already been started on this issue and has garnered nearly 25,000 signatures so far.

NOAH'S ARK and 240 other organizations from 40 European countries have also initiated an "open letter" appealing to Brussels bureaucrats to stop the insanity. Click here for a translated version of their petition.

I saw this coming
By the way, I am on the record predicting this exact scenario. Read Chapter Three of my fiction book, "Freedom Chronicles 2026." (Read it FREE, online.) It depicts a seed smuggler living in a time when seeds are criminalized and people earn a living as professional seed smugglers.

In my book, a woman uses a specially-crafted breast prosthesis to smuggle seeds to "underground gardeners" in full defiance of laws crafted by Monsanto. A vast underground network of grassroots gardeners and scientists manage to put together a "seed weapon" to destroy GMOs and take back the food supply from evil corporations.

Mark my words: Seeds are about to become contraband. Anyone who grows their own food is about to be targeted as a criminal. The governments of the world, conspiring with corporations like Monsanto, do not want any individual to be able to grow their own food.

This is about total domination of the food supply and the criminalizing of gardeners. And this is what big government always does after centralizing sufficient power. All governments inherently seek total control over the lives of everyone, and if you don't set boundaries and limits for government (i.e. the Bill of Rights), it eventually runs roughshod over all freedoms and liberties, including the freedom to grow your own food.

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