Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group          |          October 2017
Photo by Geoff Johnson for POLITICO.
The Great Nutrient Collapse

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.

By  Helena Bottemiller Evich

During a scientific study, scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them--increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn't work out that way. When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the tiny animals had lots and lots to eat--but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a  problem ? And what does this discovery have to do with our food system?

Organic Research Funding Bill Builds Bipartisan Support

The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) gained crucial bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. The bill's main author, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), confirmed 21 new representatives have cosponsored the proposed legislation.

"OFRF applauds these representatives for working in a bipartisan way to propose this critical support for organic farms and businesses in communities across America." stated Brise Tencer, Executive Director of Organic Farming Research Foundation.

How to Work Successfully With Non-Farming Landowners

By  Ben Waterman 

A successful, long-term farm tenure arrangement between farmer and non-farming landowner depends on good communication, and can help you decide whether or not you, as the leasee can realistically meet the non-farming landowner's goals and expectations, and whether or not the land can realistically meet your goals and expectations. Good communication can also be used throughout the lease terms to maintain a friendly relationship, ensuring issues are brought forth in easy conversation rather than letting them evolve into messy disputes.

150 Years Later, Black Farmers Are Still Fighting to Farm

The soil and the streets of black communities hold a deep agricultural tradition that has been disappearing over the past 100 years.

By   Alexa Ahern , Food Tank
Working the land holds contentious meaning for black farmers in the United States, particularly in the South, where their ancestors were once forced to harvest vast stretches of farmland as slaves before receiving the right to own land for themselves. 

Today, black-owned farmland is experiencing a resurgence. Organic and sustainable farming are methods driving that change, but social and institutional barriers remain a burden to those trying to break into new markets.

5 Ways Schools Can Boost the Local Food Economy

Schools have tremendous purchasing power and influence when it comes to local food. Here are some ways they are sourcing closer to home.

Getting local food into a public school system's meal program seems pretty much like a no brainer. The practice would boost local economies and support smaller-scale farms. It would likewise reduce the environmental impacts related to wide-range distribution. Perhaps most importantly, offering locally sourced lunches would provide the potential for connecting students to agriculture and providing nutrition education, paving the way for future shifts to our food system.

And, October is National Farm to School month. The  National Farm to School Network  offers some great tips for ways farmers can connect with students:
  • Check with your local school and offer to conduct a classroom session during October or offer to host a visit to your farm. 
  • Become a classroom pen pal. Farm field trips are great, but stories and photos from the farm are the next best thing. 
  • Promote National Farm to School Month on your farm or at your farmers' market booth with posters and other materials, which can be downloaded at
Alison Wiediger.
Alison Wiediger: Amazing Teacher and a Lasting Legacy
The sustainable agriculture community lost one of our very best last month, Alison Wiediger. Alison was an innovative farmer, an amazing teacher and a wonderful person. 

In honor of Alison, we will be accepting donations through our website toward the Alison Wiediger Scholarship Fund. This special fund is at the request of her husband Paul, so in lieu of flowers, people can show their love and continue to support sustainable farming by helping a farmer go to the Southern SAWG conference in January.

Join Southern SAWG at the University of Tennessee Organic Crops Field Day October 26th

Join Southern SAWG and a couple hundred other farmers, researchers, and farm service providers in Knoxville, TN at the University of Tennessee's Organic Crops Field Tour on October 26th, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. 
PCAN Call:
November 14, 2017

Our next Policy Collaborative Action Network call is November 14, 2017. We'd like to hear from you on agenda topics. Have a burning concern you would like to share? Want to know what others are doing to meet their local officials? Want to share what you are doing in your community? We want to hear from you! Please submit your thoughts, ideas and concerns on or before November 1, 2017, by emailing We will do our best to have someone on the call who can help address your issue. Look for a final agenda and call registration information in early November! Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.
Registration Is Open for the Southern SAWG Conference!

Start planning now to join us in Chattanooga, Tennessee 
January 17-20, 2018 to learn, network and celebrate! 

Our Mission

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals, and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons in the South without bias.
Do you have something you would like to share  in Seeds of Sustainability?
If so, please send it to