Submit Final Public Comments on Class B Sewage Sludge Application #VPA00076

The public hearing on the proposed permit (VPA00076) took place Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at the Madison County High School.  The Virginia Water Control Board will render a final decision to deny or approve (or approve with amendments) the application during its next regular meeting on June 27th. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am.

General Assembly Building, House Room C
9th & Broad Streets, Richmond, Virginia 23219

Only those citizens who spoke at the hearing on June 8 and/or submitted a public comment by June 17, 2016 will be permitted to address the Water Control Board on June 27.

Please review the Public comment policy at State Water Control Board meetings  if you plan to participate.

Attention Local Producers!

Navigating a Treacherous Landscape:

A Practitioner’s Guide to GAP Food Safety Certification & The Food Safety Modernization Act

Free Webinar
Tuesday August 2, 2016
1:00- 2:00 PM EST


For produce growers, now more than ever food safety certification is a major hurdle to entering and staying competitive in the wholesale marketplace. More and more buyers are requiring 3rd party audits and frequently farmers are left to find their own way through a confusing and complicated food safety landscape. Add to this the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and you have a perfect recipe for dismay and misinformation. In this webinar we will attempt to demystify the mysterious, find out what questions farmers and buyers should be asking each other, and answer some of the burning questions about FSMA and food safety audits:

  • Why produce food safety and why now?
  • What is GAP certification?
  • What questions should I ask? – As a farmer or as a buyer
  • What is a food safety standard and how do I know which one to choose?
  • When is a 3rd party audit necessary? Who is qualified to provide the audit?
  • What training do I need?
  • Who has to comply with FSMA and what does it take?
  • What will all this cost me in time and money??
  • Who can I trust?


Presenter Bio

Lindsay Gilmour is the owner of Organic Planet LLC and plays two roles: as a personal chef, and as a food systems consultant. Ms. Gilmour has over 35 years’ experience in the food industry as a chef and adult educator, and 13 years in Value Chain Coordination working with farmers to develop efficiencies and systems to meet the demands of the wholesale marketplace. Her current focus is assisting farmers with food safety compliance. Ms. Gilmour has trained in Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standards, is qualified as a USDA internal auditor for the Harmonized Standards, is a qualified trainer for the FDA Produce Safety rule, a “qualified individual” under the FDA Preventative Controls for Human Food regulation, and has trained as an internal auditor for ISO 9001-22006 quality management systems for agricultural enterprises. Ms. Gilmour has a particular interest and experience in helping farmers work together to achieve food safety certification. From 2013 to 2015 she managed a Group GAP Pilot in Pennsylvania for Fair Food Philadelphia, successfully shepherding more than 120 Amish and Mennonite farmers through USDA Group GAP certification. She is currently managing a project in Mississippi for the Wallace Center at Winrock International, creating a USDA approved ‘single-entity management’ food safety model as a viable solution for under resourced, small farm cooperatives. She continues to work with farmers and orchardists, individually and in groups, helping them overcome their trepidation and develop food safety programs that make sense for them.

Culpeper supervisors to seek bids to fix up Carver school complex

Join the GWC Alumni Association and meet representatives of the GWCARC, GWCFEC, and Rural Madison at the “Carver Homecoming” on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the school grounds.

After a Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise

These Black farmers don’t stop at healthy food. They’re healing trauma, instilling collective values, and changing the way their communities think about the land.

via Yes! Magazine

After a Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise

Lindsey Lunsford gathers peppers at TULIP’s community garden. Photo by Wil Sands.

For decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against Black farmers, excluding them from farm loans and assistance. Meanwhile, racist violence in the South targeted land-owning Black farmers, whose very existence threatened the sharecropping system. These factors led to the loss of about 14 million acres of Black-owned rural land—an area nearly the size of West Virginia.

In 1982, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights extrapolated the statistics on land loss and predicted the extinction of the Black farmer by the year 2000.

They were wrong. While the situation is still dire, with Black farmers comprising only about 1 percent of the industry, we have not disappeared. After more than a century of decline, the number of Black farmers is on the rise.

These farmers are not just growing food, either. The ones you’ll meet here rely on survival strategies inherited from their ancestors, such as collectivism and commitment to social change. They infuse popular education, activism, and collective ownership into their work.

We Live Here. We Work Here. We Give Here.

As you know, Rural Madison, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit citizen’s organization dedicated to thoughtful planning and policies for sustainable growth, stewardship of our natural, cultural and historical resources and the protection of the rural character of our region.

Give Local Piedmont

We ask that you consider making a donation to Rural Madison during The Northern Piedmont Community Foundation’s annual Give Local Piedmont fund drive for local non-profits on May 3rd. Your donation will allow us to continue to be involved in important activities such as the Stone Soup Project, The George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center, The Community Garden and the recent Madison County Green & Clean Day, to name just a few.

Thank you for all you do to help preserve and protect the natural beauty of our mountains, woodlands and farmlands, and to improve the well-being of our people, environment and economy!

Samsara – The Food Sequence

SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

This clip showing industrial food production is both beautiful and disturbing..

Learn more at

Agricultural pollution is the price we pay for cheaper food

Agricultural pollution is the price we pay for cheaper food


In certain situations, Virginia and Pennsylvania continue to allow the land application of organic waste to be nitrogen-based, guaranteeing a massive over-application of both nitrogen and phosphorus and proving that agricultural economic concerns continue to trump concerns about water quality.

Pollution is an externality and its real cost is never accounted for. In Virginia, dairy manure is applied assuming that 35 percent of the nitrogen is available to the next crop because it takes time for microbes to decompose the organic material in the waste and release the nutrients for plant uptake.

What happens to the other 65 percent of the nitrogen? Unless nitrogen fertilizers are considerably reduced for subsequent crops — which is not required and rarely done — much of the excess nitrogen is pollution. It is easy to understand why animal waste — poultry litter, sewage sludge and manure — accounts for half of all agricultural nutrient pollution, or a little more than a quarter of Bay nutrient pollution because less than half of the disposed nitrogen and phosphorus ends up in the crop.

Read the rest..

Rural Madison 2016 Pop-Up Film Fest

Please join Rural Madison for a pop-up film fest featuring stories about food, farming, and sustainability.



7:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Madison County Extension Office
2 South Main Street
War Memorial Building, 2nd Floor
Madison, VA 22727

This event is free and open to the public.
Donations to help us cover expenses greatly appreciated!

food, farming, and sustainability


SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Real Food Films Contest is pleased to announce the outstanding finalists in its third short films competition featuring stories about food, farming, and sustainability. From the depths of fishing in Thailand, to the true grit of Alabama, the changing climate of maple syrup and creative ways to quell hunger, the ten finalist films cover a broad range of topics in today’s growing good food movement. A panel of judges, including Padma Lakshmi, Raj Patel, Susan Ungaro, and chef Tom Colicchio, will select the Grand Prize winner, first runner up, and special awards. Online voting, starting today, will determine the “People’s Choice Award” at

The 2016 Finalists were selected from 160 submissions representing filmmakers from 20 countries in this year’s first ever call for entries outside of the U.S. and Canada. Diverse formats include documentary to advocacy to spoken word. Films are all four minutes or under and feature original voices and stunning cinematography that lean toward the get-your-hands-dirty stories at the heart of the food movement over the perfectly styled plates of restaurateurs. Top 10 short films eloquently capture action in the food system from down the block and around the globe.

This year’s finalists include:

Everybody Eats | Boone, North Carolina | USA
Mindful Vineyards | Napa Valley, California | USA
Farmed with Love | Outskirts of Shanghai, China
A Sustainable Catch | Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand
McEwen & Sons True Grits | Wilsonville, Alabama | USA
Naturali Tea | Fujieda, Japan
Saving Sap | Loudon, New Hampshire | USA
The Kelly Street Garden | South Bronx, New York City | USA
Home Flavored | Oakland, California | USA
Beyond the Seal | El Oro Province, Ecuador

Prize winners will be announced on May 2, 2016 and include a $5,000 Grand Prize, a new $5,000 Lens on Hunger Award, as well as $5,000 more in awards for best student film, best cinematography, and more. All winning films have distribution opportunities with Contest media partners, including Devour! The Food Film Fest, Disposable Film Festival, SXSW Eco and Vimeo.

Viewers can join Real Food Media in celebrating the stories featured in these Top 10 films and vote for their People’s Choice favorite now through April 30 online.

Announcing EWG’s Updated Guide to Healthy Cleaning, Spring 2016

The cleaning products in your home may be harboring hazardous ingredients. Many brands make it difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to learn what ingredients are in them. These products commonly contain chemicals that can cause reproductive problems, exacerbate asthma, burn or irritate your skin and harm the environment. Some have even been linked to cancer.

All those chemicals wind up going down the drain, where they ultimately wind up in streams, rivers, municipal drinking water and sewage sludge applied as fertilizer to agricultural land.

Antibiotic use in livestock is getting worse

Antibiotics From Farm to Fork

via AlterNet

By now, most conscientious eaters know that Big Food uses tons of antibiotics to make animals gain weight with less feed thus driving antibiotic resistant bacteria and infections. Antibiotics are also used to prevent illness in the extremely crowded and unsanitary conditions of “factory farms.” What people may not realize is that Big Food has repeatedly defeated government attempts to regulate and prohibit antibiotic use, and that Big Pharma and Big Food, not the government, actually call the shots. In 2008, the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries stormed Capitol Hill over the proposal to prohibit the use of Cefzil and Keflex (important human drugs called cephalosporins), claiming they could not “farm” without the drugs. They won.

 In 2014, the FDA tried regulation again, proposing a voluntary plan in which drug makers would agree to remove the use of “growth promotion and feed efficiency” on antibiotic labels and the drugs would only be used to prevent disease. Did the government really think Big Pharma and Big Meat would undercut their own profits and meat producers would comply?

Soon after the announcement, Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, told me it was likely Big Pharma would simply replace “growth production” with “disease prevention” on the labels and continue the routine antibiotic use. Cattle producers could continue to feed grain instead of grass to animals even though it produces more liver abscesses, then treating them with the antibiotic Tylosin to “prevent disease,” he told me.

So far, according to the FDA’s 2014 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, domestic sales and distribution of livestock cephalosporins increased by 57 percent between 2009 through 2014, antibiotics like clindamycin by 150 percent and antibiotics like gentamicin by 36 percent. Thanks for nothing, FDA.

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