Harvest Public Media

Harvest Public Media
7:55 am
Wed June 26, 2013

My Farm Roots: A Cowboy At Heart

Once an average suburban Colorado kid, Trent Johnson spent years ranching and now owns storied cowboy outfitter Greeley Hat Works.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Trent Johnson didn’t grow up on a farm, but he was always enamored with the cowboy lifestyle.

He sure looks the part now. I visited him in his custom cowboy hat shop in Greeley, Colo. In a sleek black cowboy hat and blue western shirt, Johnson delivers the modern cowboy aesthetic.

During college he hung out with the urban cowboy crowd, which included concerts for country idols like Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw. The city kid, who’d spent part of his childhood on a ski team, decided he needed a change.

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Harvest Public Media
7:40 am
Tue June 25, 2013

The Tricky Business Of Community Supported Agriculture

Michael Baute farms three acres in Fort Collins, Colo. One-third of Spring Kite Farms goes to the farm’s CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, clients.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Within the local food movement, the community supported agriculture model is praised. CSAs, as they’re commonly known, are often considered one of the best ways to restore a connection to the foods we eat.

The model is simple: Consumers buy a share of a farmer’s produce up front as a shareholder and then reap the rewards at harvest time. But running a CSA can bring with it some tricky business decisions.

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Up to Date
10:52 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Farm Bill Failure May Mean Uncertainty For Farmers

Farmer subsidies are one of the items affected by problems passing a new farm bill.
Credit Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

Congress did not pass the new version of the farm bill last week-- but what does that really mean for farmers?

In the first part of Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Harvest Public Media's Peggy Lowe and Jeremy Bernfeld about how this bill's failure affects farmer subsidies and food assistance. We'll also look at what happens when the current farm bill expires.

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Harvest Public Media
7:53 am
Mon June 24, 2013

For Community Shared Agriculture, How Big Is Too Big?

Andy Grant walks among chickens that will provide eggs for a new CSA effort, Sixdog Farms.
Credit Grace Hood / Harvest Public Media

Last year one of the country’s largest Community Supported Agriculture share providers went bankrupt. Grant Family Farms in Northern Colorado launched an organic CSA back in 2007 with 127 members and peaked with more than 5,000 in 2012.

The story behind why Grant Family Farms went bankrupt is complicated. But it also sheds light on whether a CSA can become too big.

Losing it all

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Health
11:48 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Mark Bittman Visits KC, Offers Alternatives To 'Big Food'

Popular food writer Mark Bittman took the pulpit at the Unity Temple in Kansas City Thursday night, preaching his gospel of progressive food policy and offering denunciations of what he calls “Big Food.”

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Harvest Public Media
8:39 am
Wed June 19, 2013

My Farm Roots: A Song In Her Heart

Retired professor Jackie Dougan Jackson lives in Springfield, Ill., but devotes a lot of time reflecting on her childhood growing up on a farm near Beloit, Wisc.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

Jackie Dougan Jackson keeps a pretty thorough log of her life. The 85-year-old retired college professor lives in Springfield, Ill., and has lived there for more than 40 years. However, she has devoted a lot of time to her first 22 years, when she lived on a family farm near Beloit, Wisc.

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Grillers Beware: Drought Driving Beef Prices Up

Edwards Meats in Wheat Ridge, Colo., is already feeling the pinch of higher beef prices.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

If you’ve experienced sticker shock shopping for ground beef or steak recently, be prepared for an entire summer of high beef prices.

Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country’s beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs. Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds – some even liquidated all their cattle – which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.

Dry conditions this summer could cause the herd to dwindle even further. That means beef prices may continue on a steady climb, just in time for grilling season.

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Harvest Public Media
8:09 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Farmers Face 'Weather Whiplash' With Floods, Drought

The motorized growl from an idling John Deere tractor drowned out the sounds of nature on a recent morning on Chris Webber’s central Missouri family farm.

As he checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant that day, Webber worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

“The drought is over at the moment,” he said, “but in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That’s how fast it can get back to dry.”

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed June 12, 2013

My Farm Roots: In Hip Brooklyn, Connecting With A Farm Past

On the Brooklyn rooftop garden she helps maintain, Missouri native Monica Johnson says she's not afraid to show her farm roots.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Monica Johnson, 36, watered edible yellow kale flowers on a recent sunny morning at a rooftop garden in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, N.Y. Standing in front of the Manhattan skyline in her sleeveless top, shades and blond ponytail pulled back in a trucker cap, she looked part-farm girl and part-hipster.

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Harvest Public Media
10:15 am
Tue June 11, 2013

3 Takeaways From The Senate Farm Bill

Credit Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate approved a new comprehensive farm bill Monday, its plan for everything from food and nutrition assistance to disaster aid for livestock producers to crop insurance for farmers. But before you go popping champagne corks and celebrating the creation of five-years of agricultural policy, know this: The U.S. House has yet to weigh in.

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Agriculture
1:01 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Picture This: Sustainability in Action

Lexicon of Sustainability founder Douglas Gayeton photographs Ames High sophomore Will Weber photographing a high tunnel at Berry Patch Farm in Nevada, Iowa.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a picture embedded with lots of words worth?

Quite a lot in terms of connecting with an audience, according to Douglas Gayeton, who brought his California-based Lexicon of Sustainability project to Iowa at the end of May.

The non-profit organization, which Gayeton founded with his wife Laura Howard-Gayeton, creates large collage images of farmers and their farms overlain with text. Each collage is meant to explain some aspect of sustainability that the farmer practices.

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Agriculture
8:21 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Excessive Rain May Challenge Corn Growers

Soggy fields like this one in Callaway County, Mo., have delayed planting in much of the Midwest.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s been a wet spring in the Midwest – and that’s got corn growers a little behind on planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 91 percent of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of June 2, compared to 95 percent at the same time last year.

Iowa, the nation’s largest producer of corn, has only got 88 percent of the crop in ground. In Missouri, 86 percent.

Last year, growers in both states were done with planting by now. But besides the late planting, the abundance of water presents other challenges for farmers.

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Harvest Public Media
7:53 am
Thu June 6, 2013

At The Farmer's Market, With Food Stamps

April Segura, of Lincoln, Neb., uses her SNAP benefits to shop at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market with her sons Jalen, 5, and Jeriel, 1.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

April Segura is a regular at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, Neb. On a warm, May afternoon, the single, stay-at-home mother of three greeted friends and acquaintances while strolling past tables of lettuce and herbs. She hoped to find more asparagus for sale.

“I love asparagus season and it’s probably about to be over,” said Segura, holding two grocery bags with one arm and her one-year-old son, Jeriel, with the other.

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Agriculture
7:35 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Smithsonian To Feature Farms And Farmers In New Exhibit

Smithsonian curator Peter Liebhold shows off some of the artifacts he's been collecting from farms all over rural America for the museum's upcoming 'American Enterprise' exhibition.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Crops and cattle, soil and sweat. American agriculture has a proud history to share, a story to tell. But getting the attention of a tech-savvy nation that has mostly moved away from its farm roots has been difficult. Today, though, there is a glimmer of hope for farm fans. The plow, truth be told, looks a little lonely.

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Harvest Public Media
7:51 am
Tue May 28, 2013

People Gather In Cities All Over The World With Anti-GMO Message

Hundreds of people gathered near the State Capitol in Denver, Colo. to protest GMOs.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Protesters gathered in cities across the country Saturday to protest what they call "big agribusiness" and the prevalence of genetically modified foods.

In front of the statehouse in Denver, there was a crowd of about 500 people. The rally was organized under the banner of March Against Monsanto.

Signs have slogans like "Just Say No To GMOs" and "Keep Calm and Label On."

One of the rally’s speakers, Alan Lewis, works on ag policy for Vitamin Cottage.

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Broader Competition For USDA’s ‘Rural’ Dollars

Bolita beans have been grown in the San Luis Valley since Spanish settlers moved into the area in the mid-1800s. Over time their prevalence has fallen off.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

As lawmakers debate the Farm Bill in Washington, millions of dollars are at stake for small businesses across the country. Rural development grants go out to everything from home loans to water projects to small co-ops.

With budget cuts likely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting how these funds are used, and proposing changes to the word “rural.” But there’s concern that a tighter belt at the federal level means farmers and ranchers in small towns will be left behind.

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon May 27, 2013

How Federal Funds Flow To Rural Communities

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus, left, checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days.

But for Staunton’s part-time mayor Craig Neuhaus, the plant represents more than water security. He expects the water system upgrade to help bring business to this town about 40 miles north of St. Louis.

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Central Standard
1:31 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

5 Things You Should Know About The Genetically Modified Food You’re Probably Eating

The USDA says about 88 percent of all corn planted in 2012 is genetically engineered.
Credit Caveman Chuck Coker / Flickr

Would you feed your family genetically modified food? Chances are, you already have.

On Thursday's Central Standard, the science behind genetically modified (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) food. The guests:

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Agriculture
4:59 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Growing Local Beer From Farm To Glass

Colorado Malting Company tests out malting grains in the experimental malt shed, a former dairy barn where owner Jason Cody malted his first batch of Colorado beer.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

How does a new craft brewer stand apart from the pack? A few have hitched their brewery onto the local food bandwagon, sourcing the ingredients that form beer’s DNA straight from the fields around them.

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Harvest Public Media
8:00 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Missouri River Home To Endangered Pallid Sturgeon

Each spring, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recruits volunteers to assit with a two-week effort to catch and count pallid sturgeon.
Grant Gerlock Harvest Public Media

The volunteer crew members pulled on their life jackets and climbed into a flat-bottomed aluminum boat at a ramp near Nebraska City, Neb. They came out early on a cold, gray April morning hoping to catch an endangered pallid sturgeon.

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Agriculture
7:58 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Will Kansas' Quest To Repopulate Rural Areas Work?

Kendra Short (center) works with students on a dance number at her studio in Belleville, Kan. Short and her husband Shannon have applied for the Rural Opportunity Zone program in Republic County, and are building a house.
Credit (Photo courtesy Rebecca Brown)

When the Homestead Act of 1862 made land in the Great Plains virtually free, people rushed in to settle rural Kansas. But 150 years later, the dust has truly settled. Between 2000 and 2010, more than half of Kansas counties declined in population — many by 10 percent or more. 

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Harvest Public Media
7:55 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Should You Be Talking To Your Plants?

Gardeners Adelay Idler, left, Sharon Roberts-Yuen and Debby Greenblatt say happy plants grow best.
Credit Hilary Stohs-Krause / Harvest Public Media

Ever know someone who talks to plants?

Maybe it was your offbeat neighbor cooing at his gardenias; maybe your grandmother analyzed baseball with her cucumbers. It seems a bit silly, but researchers say farmers should maybe take notice.

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Harvest Public Media
7:59 am
Mon April 29, 2013

How A Niche Market Saved This Farmer's Pork Business

Randy Hilleman turned his suffering pork business into an interstate collective of hog producers.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

There’s more than one way to sell a pig.

And when the hog market plunged to 8 cents a pound in 1998, Iowa producer Randy Hilleman decided it was time to make a change. Hilleman raises Berkshire pigs, a breed that’s fattier than traditional pigs and costs a little more to raise. Back then, that was hurting him.

“If we took them into Marshalltown, [Iowa] to the big packing plant, we would get docked because they’re too fat,” Hilleman said. “What they pay on is lean, and we like to have some fat on ours.”

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Agriculture
1:01 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Seed Companies Fight To Maintain Independence

A robotic arm loads seed bags onto pallets for shipment at Burrus Seed Company, an independent seed company in rural Illinois.
Bill Wheelhouse Harvest Public Media

The window in Tom Burrus’ office gives him a good look at the wide expanse of Illinois River bottomland where his company produces seed corn for farmers across Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin. Hanging on his wall are sketches of his grandfather and others who’ve had a part in the Burrus Seed Co. since it was founded 1935. The 63-year-old company president knows he is a rare independent in a land of giants.

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Agriculture
1:01 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Cagey Issues For Egg Industry

The hens in Hongwei Xin’s basement lab at Iowa State University in Ames have perches, one of the requirements of new cages proposed in an egg industry-supported federal bill.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

Mark Tjelmeland’s 700 free-range chickens lay 45 dozen eggs per day in indoor nesting boxes on his farm in McCallsburg, Iowa. The rest of the time, unless it’s too cold, they roam and peck in a fenced pasture.

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Health
8:47 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Gluten-Free: Fad Or Fix?

Eliminating certain foods from a diet can be risky, says Paula Vandelicht, a nutritionist at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Columbia, Mo. Among other things, she advises customers about the shortcomings of a gluten-free diet.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Six months ago, Kara Welter drastically changed her diet by eliminating food that contains wheat, rye or barley.

“I don’t eat gluten,” said Welter, a 41-year-old marketing executive in Kansas City.

“I happened to just try it because I was having stomach issues for years. And it turns out within three days, I stopped having stomach issues.”

Welter’s gluten decision stemmed from what she read online. Medical tests showed that she did not have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, the disorder that causes the immune system to reject the gluten.

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Agriculture
1:01 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Seeking Profits In Private Labels

Walmart's "Great Value" brand is an example of private label food. After acquiring Ralcorp, ConAgra is now the largest private label food supplier in the U.S.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

You may not think much about store brands as you shop for groceries, but it’s a business worth nearly $60 billion per year. ConAgra, a company based in Omaha, Neb., made a splash recently in what the industry calls private label food when it paid $6.8 billion to buy Ralcorp, based in St. Louis, Mo. The merger created the biggest private label food company in the country.

Every major grocer has its own private label brand. Walmart has Great Value. Kroger stores sell Private Selection. Costco has Kirkland. Almost everything at Trader Joe’s seems to carry the store's name.

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Harvest Public Media
5:15 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

From Flush To Fertilizer: City Farms Recycle Waste

Birmingham Farm, owned by the city of Kansas City, Mo., uses treated human waste as fertilizer.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

While most Americans don’t farm, they do contribute to agriculture by buying food at stores and restaurants. And about half of us make an additional donation in the form of fertilizer. With spring at hand, farmers are getting ready for planting. That means enriching the soil and that may just involve you.

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Agriculture
6:00 pm
Sun April 7, 2013

Taxing Complications For Farmers

From his farm’s headquarters in Nevada, Iowa, Mark Kenney can see his childhood home and farm. Not pictured, but also within sight, is the original piece of farmland Kenney’s great-great grandfather bought, which is still part of the operation that Kenney runs with his father and brother-in-law.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This tax season is an unusual one for farmers.

“Farmers didn’t necessarily have a great crop to harvest, but they harvested a huge amount of income last year. It was one of the biggest years, inflation-adjusted, since going back to the 1970s,” said Roger McEowen, who runs the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.

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Agriculture
9:24 am
Tue April 2, 2013

A New Frontier In Genetically Engineered Food

The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to approve AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon for the U.S. market.
Credit Courtesy Barrett & MacKay Photography Inc.

Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”

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