Nonprofit Grows Important New Crop: Farmers

Written by Clint Williams, Mother Nature Network Before you can grow food, you need to grow farmers. Growing farmers — like seedlings in a greenhouse — is the mission of Dirt Works Incubator Farm near Charleston, S.C. The 10-acre parcel on Walnut Hill Plantation on Johns Island is the keystone of the Growing New Farmers Program of Lowcountry Local First and is funded by USDA-Rural Development. Farmers are something of an endangered breed. The average age of America’s farmers is 57, and one-quarter of American farmers are 65 or older. The trend is even grayer in South Carolina, says Nikki Seibert, the sustainable agriculture program director at Lowcountry Local First, a nonprofit dedicated to promotion and development of the local economy. “We’re trying to lower the barriers to farming,” says Seibert. An apprentice program started in 2010 has trained 80 people in farming practices — and business practices — specific to the climate of coastal Carolina. Some of those apprentices are now part of the first class at Dirt Works, a three-year program. The 10 … Continued

Dunkin Donuts to Phase Out Foam Cups

Written by Melissa Hincha-Ownby, Mother Nature Network Over the course of the next few years, fans of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee won’t have to feel guilty about having their morning cup of Joe in an environmentally damaging foam cup. In its annual corporate social responsibility report, Dunkin’ Donuts announced that it plans to move to recyclable paper cups within the next few years. In his executive statement, Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis said, “We continue to search for a long-term alternative to our Dunkin’ Donuts foam cup and hope to roll out a cup that meets our cost, performance and environmental criteria within two to three years. In the interim, we launched an in-store foam cup recycling pilot in our company-operated stores and will work with our franchisees to expand that program into as many stores as possible. We also plan to introduce an improved reusable cup program in the next six to 12 months.” While this isn’t a solid timeline, environmental advocates consider this as a step in the right direction. As You Sow, an … Continued

Electric-Assist Tricycle Ready to Hit the Streets

Written by Sami Grover, Mother Nature Network Walking into the headquarters of Organic Transit, a North Carolina-based developer of what it calls “the most efficient vehicles on the planet,” I was struck by a decidedly disorienting feeling. At first glance it was hard to put my finger on where that feeling was coming from. And then it hit me. People were actually making things. In a world where manufacturing is so often automated or outsourced to the other side of the world, it’s quite remarkable to see a team welding, assembling and tinkering with a fleet of futuristic-looking pedal electric hybrid vehicles. Early success Based out of a former furniture showroom in the heart of downtown Durham, it’s early days yet for Organic Transit, which closed out a highly successful Kickstarter funding drive in January 2013. Orders are coming in, distribution deals are being struck, and there is talk of opening additional manufacturing facilities, both on the West Coast and in Europe. The brainchild of Rob Cotter, a refugee from the automotive industry, Organic Transit’s … Continued