We’re big supporters of physical activity here at The FruitGuys. Dan challenged the office to competitive commuting during Bike to Work week 2008: Bridget is racking up 15 to 30 miles a day, Scott’s right behind her, Erik is waiting like a cheetah in the slipstream, and Dan predicts he will crush the competition with an end-of-week 50-mile turbo commute. Visit our friends at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for information or search for “bicycle coalition” + your city to see what bicycling events are happening near you!
Cold Snap Crop Damage: Many of you who remember how tasty they were last fall will be saddened to hear that a recent cold snap took out 100% of farmer Chris Bierwagen’s Arkansas Black apples, which were in the fragile fruit-set growing stage. I asked him what happens to farmers like him when they lose a crop. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs a risk management department that is focused on abating risk due to crop loss for farmers,” Bierwagen told me. “This insurance program varies by county. Because I live in Placer County, which does not have large-scale production of apples, I couldn’t qualify for USDA risk management insurance. What they offer instead is a non-insured assistance program which provides minimal cost coverage if you lose at least 30 percent of the crop. They then calculate your cost for producing and give you a small percentage to cover these costs. It doesn’t cover the lost income, just a small piece of the investment you’ve already made.” I asked Bierwagen to explain farm subsidies and how they affect small farmers. “Many people,” he said, “hear about farm subsidies. These generally apply to larger commodities – grain, cotton, and other large ag-business crops. Most of the small farm specialty crops in California and other regions – fruits, nuts, and veggies – are not supported in any way with subsidies.” Chris paused a moment and then said, “My dad always said that it freezes in everybody’s business once in a while. Everybody gets their turn.”
That may be true, but it seems unfair that small farmers who grow unique and heirloom products are less protected from risk than large-commodity ones.
New Videos: Karla, our most remarkable and acclaimed of documentarians, has produced two new videos for our website. See the installation of the beehives we donated to Torrey Olsen’s farm, and a short feature on Blue Moon Organics, an Aptos, California organic strawberry farm that provides great berries at this time of year.