>Down with grass!


In the summer of 2008, farmer Harry MacCormack did something on his land that hasn’t been done in the Willamette Valley for over twenty years. In this small act, unbeknownst to most of his neighbors in nearby Corvallis, Oregon, he may have sparked a revolution that could transform the state’s economic structure and create a model for sustainable communities across the country.
So what was MacCormack up to on his farm last summer? He was growing beans. As food and fuel prices rise around the world and Oregon residents scramble for ways to reduce their demands on our fragile environment and economy, farmers are moving toward a solution that may seem simple in hindsight. Instead of devoting 80% of cropland acres to grass seed, an inedible crop of which very little actually stays in the region, farmers led by MacCormack are beginning a movement to use the valley’s fertile lands for growing food. Beans, grains, and other staples used to be primary crops in the region until suburban lawns and golf courses made grass seed a hot commodity. Today, this cash crop is as popular as ever, but increased problems with field burning and chemical use has farmers searching for alternatives.
MacCormack’s experimental planting, known by the coalition of farmers, distributors and retailers he works with as the “Bean and Grain Project,” could be the alternative. But the initiative is not without its detractors: some environmentalists say that attempting to grow certain crops in Oregon would require even more chemicals and energy than it would in their native environments. Many farmers simply cannot afford to switch from grass seed to less profitable crops. And eco-conscious as they may be, most food buyers in the region are used to the low prices allowed by importing beans and grains from countries where standards of living are lower.

Read more about the bean and grain project here: http://www.mudcitypress.com/beanandgrain.html

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