Monday, April 13, 2015

A New England Agricultural Revival based on Carbon Sequestration Techniques

Ridge Shinn has been dubbed the "Carbon Cowboy" by Time Magazine (1/2010)

A New England Rural Revival?

A new agricultural model developing for the region
Sunday, April 26 at the Village Lyceum in Petersham
PETERSHAM - Ridge Shinn, a resident of Hardwick MA,  is developing a new agricultural model for raising cattle in the Northeast, not only to supply the region with local, healthy food, but also to address a number of confounding global problems, including climate change.   On Sunday, April 26, starting at 3:00 pm, Shinn will present a slide show and talk, “A New England Rural Revival? A new agricultural model developing for the region” as part of the Village Lyceum at the Unitarian Church on the Town Common in Petersham. 

The presentation will focus on details about the new program as well as the multiple benefits of grazing for the region: nutrient-dense food, ecosystem restoration, carbon sequestration and rural economic development.  A grass-fed beef supper will immediately follow the program.

 Currently most of the beef calves born in New England and New York are trucked to feedlots in the Corn Belt or further west, where they are fed a corn-based diet for the rest of their lives.  As a leader in the growing movement to abandon the practice of fattening cattle in feedlots, Shinn is developing a supply of 100% grass-fed beef raised in the Northeast for Northeast markets. These cattle are fattened on pasture alone - no corn, ever.
Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, who is studying the health and climate impacts of the feedlot system, has called Shinn’s project “inspiring and hopeful.” 
Ridge Shinn,
According to Shinn, approximately 97 million acres in the US are devoted to corn, causing problems for the environment, for the cattle, and for people who eat beef.  “Industrial agriculture is destroying natural systems - both above and below ground - that are critical to our survival. The same natural processes that created the once-fertile Great Plains also sequester carbon and provide the oxygen that we breathe. The way we grow food can help or hinder these systems.” Shinn is on the advisory board of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, a Boston-based group whose mission is to reverse global warming by restoring ecosystems worldwide.
David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest in Petersham, stated, “It’s important to explore agricultural practices that take carbon from the air and put it back in the ground. Putting grazing animals back into the New England landscape in a sustainable way can be good for human health and the environment.”
According to Shinn, the model he is developing will be a win for New England farmers.  “If environmental methods are going to catch on, they have to make financial sense for farmers.  And farmers will get a better price for 100% grass-fed beef than they currently get for commodity cattle.”  
The Petersham Village Lyceum is inspired by the 19th century New England Lyceum movement which offered cultural programs including music and the arts, technical information and lectures on the pressing issues of the day. A talk by a leading expert on the subject of sustainable agriculture, ecosystem restoration, and climate strategies honors the history of the Lyceum movement as we work through issues of the 21stcentury.   The cost of the presentation is $5; the grass-fed burger supper is $10.  All proceeds will go toward the maintenance of the Church’s historic buildings.   For further information, contact Genevieve Fraser at Tel.(978) 544-1872 or Rini Kilcoyne at (508) 735- 1411.

Biodiversity for a Living Planet:

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