Green Fire Times

The Green Fire Times is published by Skip Whitson, edited by Seth Roffman, webmaster Karen Shepherd and Breaking News editor Stephen Klinger. All authors retain all copyrights. If you need to contact a particular author, or want to write for us, please be in touch.


Posts by Green Fire Times

Earth Works Institute Climate Change and Community Projects 2010 Forecast

Dana Richards

Erich Fromm said it as well as anyone in his ever relevant book The Sane Society: if we don’t have adequate inner and outer tools to create, we destroy instead. A hundred years earlier, Emerson looked around at the destruction of the first Industrial Revolution and described the shadow-side of our unfulfilled creative needs as “proof of our divinity, but the fig-leaf with which the shamed soul attempts to hide its nakedness.”

One of the hardest parts of my job is saying no to dozens of young adults each year as we hire for our 4C climate change crews. Each More >

Farm Facts – Food Systems Out of Balance

“Communities everywhere were once intensively focused in their agriculture: It was the source of livelihood for a majority of residents, either directly as producers, or as provisionary of supplies, livestock, distributors, brokers and shipments.

We have now raised a generation or two of children many of whom have no idea where their food comes from and who have never visited a producing farm or livestock operation. Ignorance of the basic activity essential to all civilization seems supremely dangerous.”

– Stanley Crawford, farmer, former director of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, author

Farm facts

• Number of farms: 20,930, a growth of over 35% since More >

A Clear Alternative to Cap and Trade – A System Designed to Benefit Main Street, not Wall Street

Ryan Shaening Pokrasso

Despite setbacks from a couple leaked emails taken out of context and called “Climategate,” the science behind climate change is consistent, and tells us that we must reduce emissions rapidly to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Tackling climate change offers the opportunity to jump-start our economy and create jobs for those that need them, but only if we set up a system that works. As of now, there are two very different proposals for how to address climate change at the federal level: cap-and-trade and cap-and-dividend.

Cap-and-Trade: The idea behind cap-and-trade is to create a complex market system More >

An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century

Globally, one in six of us is urgently hungry or starving, according to the U.N. Yet obesity afflicts two-thirds of Americans and costs $147 billion in annual medical bills, Time Magazine reports. Industrial agriculture produces cheap food but erodes soil, poisons the environment with chemical inputs, and consumes 19% of U.S. fossil fuels. Peak oil, climate change, and wobbling economies further jeopardize our ability to feed ourselves.

The Call of the Land, a new book by journalist Steven McFadden, joins a growing chorus voicing a revised vision for food and agriculture. Picking up where Food Inc., the recent documentary on industrial More >

“Kidnapped by the House” – Affordable Housing, Land, and the Green Imperative – Part 1

Rebekah Zablud Azen

The ostensible purpose of this series of articles is to provide a clear road map through which a person of whatever means can obtain sufficient and adequate housing that is:

  • truly affordable for this generation and all future generations, freeing us from a lifetime of servitude
  • self-sufficient in supplying all of our essential needs, disconnected from typical “life support systems”
  • environmentally sound, neither extracting precious resources nor polluting the earth.

There are many other important benefits to this approach that can positively impact the individual and the society, but more importantly, there are profound implications for our future that will be discussed More >

Be Dense: Embracing Urban Green

March 2010 Edition

The 2010 March Edition of Green Fire Times, “Dreaming New Mexico – An Age of Local Foodsheds & A Fair Trade State” is now available on newsstands throughout north central New Mexico, On-line at our website, and on “hand-held” devices such as iPhones, Blackberries, Droids, etc!

The 2010 March edition of Green Fire Times includes the following articles: Dreaming New Mexico: Local Foodsheds & A Fair Trade State, Farmers’ Markets – The Public Face of Local Food, Improving Children’s Health and the Farming Economy, The Landrace Peppers of NM and Familia, Save NM Seeds Coalition and the Farmer Protection Act, Paternity More >

¡Sostenga! – The Value of Our Food System

Camilla Bustamante

We are so far ahead because we are so far behind. – Ted Trujillo, Esq. Chimayo Chile Farmer

Any credible discussion involving how people relate to their food systems must include critical dialog regarding the foundations of how people establish their value for nature. These conversations should include reflection on the dichotomy between intrinsic and instrumental value, where intrinsic value is defined as having value “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” and instrumental value is defined as the value placed on a thing because of its usefulness.

It is hard to digest for some, and sometimes even incongruent to basic More >

My Own Garden – Compost: Black Gold

Susan Waterman

Simply put, there’s nothing like compost if you want to build healthy soil. Making compost is recycling, it’s “free,” and your plants and soil will love it. Let’s take a look at what makes compost happen, and how it benefits you and your soil.

What Makes Soil Healthy Humus is the end product, the transformation product, of composting by microorganisms, insects (e.g. beetles and termites) and worms in nature, or with your assistance in a well-maintained pile. Soil is fertile because of the presence of humus that is generated by the community of soil organisms. Humus gives soil its dark More >

Quiet Through a Loud Land: Awake to Change

In a time that breaks in cutting pieces all around, when men, voiceless against thing-ridden men, set themselves on fire, it seems too difficult and rare to think of the life of a man grown whole in the world, at peace and in place. But having thought of it I am beyond the time I might have sold my hands or sold my voice and mind to the arguments of power that go blind against what they would destroy. Wendell Berry

Scott Pittman

My first memory is of red sandals dancing in the hot sun of the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma. More >

Save New Mexico Seeds Coalition and the Farmer Protection Act

Seth Roffman

Genetically Engineered (GE) and Genetically Modified (GMO) are terms that are often interchanged. GMO is the biotech industry’s preferred definition but the seeds are really genetically engineered. A hybrid seed is created, and then antibiotics (called markers so the companies know who owns the seed) and bacteria resistant to glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide are inserted. The process is patented.

Biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have been creating and patenting genetically engineered (GE) seeds that are resistant to herbicides. Farmers who want to plant these seeds enter into contracts with the seed manufacturer. The contract specifies that these seeds cannot be saved More >

Paternity Suits and Native New Mexican Peppers?

Who Should Pay the Cost if Heirloom Chiles are Genetically Contaminated in the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area?

Gary Paul Nabhan

The Upper Rio Grande—from Isleta and Albuquerque to Chimayo and Taos—harbors more heirloom chile pepper varieties in its traditional fields than does all the rest of the United States. Chilehead Dave DeWitt once tallied sixteen distinct New Mexican pepper “landraces” or native heirloom varieties still available in the watershed, but noted that “some seeds you receive may be unintentionally contaminated.” That contamination, intentional or not, is the rub. The spice rub.

What DeWitt meant was “genetic contamination” resulting from the naturally More >

Letter to the Editor – Farmer Protection Act

Dear Editor:

I am incredibly disappointed in the Senators of the Conservation Committee who voted to table the Farmer Protection Act, Senate Bill 303, on Sunday, February 14. This Act has been four years in the making with alliances between the Tribes, the Aceaquias, and even environmentalist groups agreeing on the importance of this issue. The four page Act does three simple and important things: 1) creates a procedure for Biotech agents to enter private property, 2) limits the liability that farmers and ranchers would suffer if genetically engineered crops or pollen accidentally comes on our land, and 3) states that More >

Genetically Engineered Alfalfa in NM

Two crops that could have a huge impact in NM are GE chile and GE alfalfa. GE alfalfa was temporarily on the market from 2005 to 2007. Since then, it is possible that seed from flowering alfalfa has made its way to areas well beyond where it was initially planted. Ranchers and farmers who have neighboring property could have been contaminated.

Since 2006, the NM State Legislature has been funding the development of GE chile on behalf of the NM Chile Association. This GE chile will be the first GE crop in the world to be eaten fresh, and whose seeds More >

North and South Come Together in the West to Teach Traditional Living Practices


Plant geneticist Emigdio Ballon, Quechua from Bolivia, and Lorraine Gray, a Mohawk from New York, recognized for her revival of traditional agriculture in the Northeast, have come together in Northern New Mexico to co-found the Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute. The establishment of this non-profit organization formalizes the work the couple has been doing for years in New York, New Mexico, Central and South America. Four Bridges is establishing a network of people to address global issues on the community level. Their approach is to accomplish this by first addressing poverty and the lack of healthy sustainable living practices. Currently More >

SFCC Biofuels Class provides fuel for 28,000-mile World’s Record Driving Attempt

Charles Bensinger

Thursday, Jan 28th. There were already four inches of snow on the ground, and the white stuff kept falling at a vigorous pace. I was happy to be inside and not going anywhere. Then came the phone call. The young woman introduced herself as Cloe. She asked if I could provide her with biodiesel or vegetable oil, as she was currently undertaking a cross-country journey seeking to establish the world’s record for distance traveled by a car using only alternative fuels.

She apologized for the short notice, but she needed to refuel as soon as possible. She and her partner More >

Dreaming New Mexico – An Age of Local Foodsheds & A Fair Trade State – Part 2

What is our dream relationship to food and the food system that feeds us? Imagine the year is 2025 and we’ve done everything right. What might New Mexico’s food system look like? The Dreaming New Mexico project engaged with many involved citizen-experts, gathered data and researched neglected topics. We conjured the poster map as a celebratory understanding of contemporary agrarian life, custom-designed a Big Picture of “Food in the Land of Enchantment” and distilled a complex tangle of topics into a long, single-sentence shared dream.

DREAM. A future food system that nourishes all New Mexican citizens, especially the food insecure: with More >

Desalination: More Issues Emerge In The Waiting Game

Joan E. Price South Central New Mexico Correspondent

In spite of a bitterly contested district court ruling against ranchers and farmers that awarded Alamogordo some 4,000 acre-feet per year of brackish water 27 miles to the north for municipal use, residents still await approval of the final Environmental Impact Statement after the public comment period. They will be waiting longer. As the first municipality in the state to build a desalination plant, a number of issues must still be resolved if the city stays with its projected growth rates.

Six years ago, the hopeful city received a loan of $27 million from More >

Children Explore Farm Food

Beneficial Farms CSA families have fun trying new foods together Amy Hetager

Quince is Jonas’ favorite jam; pomegranate seeds satisfy a craving for candy; and a favorite morning treat is an egg and Swiss chard breakfast pizza — as long as the eggs are from the farm. Jonas is Annette Kaare-Rasmussen’s 11-year-old son who enjoys the opportunity to discover food from local farms. The Kaare-Rasmussen family of five; including Jakob, 9 and Jonatan, 5 are members of the Beneficial Farms Community Supported Agriculture program, where they receive a pre-paid weekly share of regionally grown fruits and vegetables. Through the CSA, they More >

One Way To Conserve on the Ranch and Farm

Doug Pushard Agriculture and ranching consume a substantial amount of potable and pumped water around the country, and to some extent in Northern New Mexico. In some areas of the US, farms and livestock consume up to 60% of overall water use. This water is usually either clean, highly processed potable water or well water pumped from precious underground aquifers. This is not a great use for this water, given that a cheaper, better and proven alternative is readily at hand. Rainwater is FREE and sometimes very plentiful even in the arid Southwest. It is no wonder its use is More >