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Welcome to the MESA ecoExchange Newsletter
December 2010

Hello [member_name_first],

Upon conclusion of MESA’s annual program each November, we delight in the exuberance and newfound inspiration of the MESA Stewards as they get ready to return to their homelands, and we stand in awe of our generous Host partners who’ve worked alongside, mentored, and befriended this next generation of farmers. In this edition, we feature former MESA host Lowell Rheinheimer’s travelogue about his trip to reunite with past Stewards and explore Ecuador’s diverse farmlands, Diana Loachamin’s Steward blog sprinkled with dazzling photos, and introduce "SPRIG", our newest MESA project in support of farmer-intern mentorships. Enjoy the read, pass it on, and please remember MESA in this season of giving.
Yours Truly,

Former MESA Host Visits Stewards

Lowell Reinheimer pictured with Veronica Chang during her MESA program year.

The Farm Resources Manager at Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative and former MESA Host Lowell Rheinheimer, visited Ecuador and explored the development of organic agriculture led by two “energetic former MESA stewards.” He writes:

“Over the past two years, through a combination of grassroots farmer desire and supportive governmental and educational policy, organic agriculture has surprisingly appeared on the scene in Ecuador in a very strong way. Ecuador is the first country in the world to adopt language in their constitution that recognizes and protects “the rights of nature” and promotes food sovereignty.”

read more from Lowell

Diana Loachamin: Agrarian and Photographer
Click above for a slideshow of Diana Loachamin’s photography

All season long, Diana would send us beautiful photo-set after photo-set. We’d like to share this slide show with you so you can get a sense of how one MESA steward experienced her exchange program here.

Diana is extending her program to stay until March, but at the end of her first placement, she had these reflections:

“I came here looking for so many answers, scientific answers, looking for uniformity, aesthetic, perfection, order, organization, trying to understand how each thing works; and that is understandable because sometimes education gives people many false conceptions and there is a strong push from society toward consumption and fast life; making you forget that nature is life, biodiversity and a frenzy of components, including us. All these months, the quiet, observing everything, trying to understand how soil, water, air, plants and animals interact made me understand that we, both, people and nature have to COEXIST.”

read more from Diana

Introducing SPRIG

This season MESA launched "Sustainable Projects Recognizing Innovative Growers." SPRIG grants help host farmers develop mentoring skills to benefit the next generation of farmers, while adding to their farm’s productivity. We can also announce that the first SPRIG project has already been completed!


New International Partners Join MESA

This year, MESA is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC). There is also a nascent partnership in development for a 2012 program with Haiti.


MESA Bids Farewell to the 2010 Stewards

This year’s 2010 Core Training Program successfully concluded when 33 global Stewards from Peru, Ecuador, Thailand and Ghana reunited in the Bay Area to attend MESA’s November exit seminar. Over the course of several days, Stewards trekked across the Golden Gate bridge, “escaped” from Alcrataz, met with the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market by CUESA staff, Dave Runsten of CAFF, Haleh Zandi of Planting Justice, and UC Berkeley Professor Miguel Altieri. Urban farming was also explored at West Oakland’s City Slicker Farm and Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard.


MESA Host Visits
Stewards in Ecuador
Diana Loachamin
Introducing SPRIG
New Global Partnerships
Exit Seminar

FDA Legislation
Strawberries and Methyl

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Thanks to our generous Exit Seminar donors:

ACME bread
Blossom Bluff
Catalán Farms
El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company
Frey Vineyards
Gather Restaurant
Hidden Villa Hostel
Planting Justice
Preston Vineyards
Redwood Hill Cheese
Soil Born Farm
Spring Hill Cheese
Trader Joe’s
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There are many more MESA updates on our website. Check it out!
Eco-Ag in the News

FDA Legislation and Small Farms

Care about how The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) and the Tester-Hagan amendment may regulate food production and exemptions for small farms? The bill was one of the select few from this Congress with bi-partisan support, passing in the Senate on November 30th with an amendment by Yea-Nay Vote 73 - 25. As it moves on to the House of Representatives, everyone who is concerned about food safety and the US agricultural system should read on!

Take a look at a short overview at Eatocracy,
or a more in-depth exploration at Grist.

Strawberries and Methyl Iodide

In an 11th-hour move, Governor Schwarzenegger’s Department of Pesticide Regulation has approved methyl iodide for use in strawberry fields in California. This chemical is a potent carcinogen and neurotoxin. The decision flies in the face of overwhelming public and scientific opposition. Prior to the decision, the DPR saw its largest public comment period ever, with 53,000 comments, most of them urging the state to ban the pesticide. But in the end, lobbying and media campaign by Arysta LifeScience -- the company that manufactures methyl iodide -- persuaded the DPR to put corporate interests ahead of public health.


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