There’s an effort underway to get people to stop burning their trash. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports that experts have found that toxins from backyard burning can get into food:
There’s an effort underway to get people to stop burning their trash. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports that experts have found that toxins from backyard burning
can get into food:
Often, garbage truck routes don’t include rural areas, so many people there just burn their trash.
But that can lead to toxins getting into food. John Giesy is with the National Food Safety and
Toxicology Center at Michigan State University.
“Well, when we burn waste in a barrel, the dioxins will be in the gas and in the particulates. And,
so, they go downwind, but those particulates ultimately fall out.”
And they end up on the grass that livestock eat. We end up taking in the dioxins in the meat and
milk products that we eat. Because backyard burning is the largest human-caused source of
dioxins, the Environmental Protection Agency is working with states and communities to try to
get people to get rid of their trash some other way.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Almost forty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam in northwestern Pennsylvania. Hundreds of Seneca Indians lost their land, homes and traditions to the dam’s reservoir. Now a new generation of Senecas is trying to preserve a way of life that many believe was nearly inundated by this federal project. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ann Murray has this story:
Almost forty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam in northwestern
Pennsylvania. Hundreds of Seneca Indians lost their land, homes and traditions to the dam’s
reservoir. Now a new generation of Senecas is trying to preserve a way of life that many believe
was nearly inundated by this federal project. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ann Murray
has this story:
(students playing outside school)
It’s a sunny day in Salamanca, New York. Young Seneca students lurch and lunge in a game of
(students playing game: “Let go! Let go!”)
Although they look like any group of kids
at recess, they share a big responsibility.
(kids playing ball outside)
“My Indian name is Gayanose. My English name is Brooke Crouse- Kennedy. I’m here because
I’m trying to be one of the ones to preserve our culture and just learn.”
Brooke and 12 other students are here at the Faithkeepers School to learn the Seneca language
and the teachings of the Longhouse religion. The health of these cultural benchmarks declined
after the Kinzua Reservoir flooded one-third of the Alleghany Reservation and scattered tribal
families. The cedar wood school now rests on the upper reaches of the reservation – a narrow strip
of land that follows the Allegheny River from Pennsylvania to New York.
(Dowdy and kids in classroom)
“What kinds of things do you need that’s growing on earth?”
This morning, longtime teacher Sandy Dowdy, works with very young students. In 1998, she and
her husband Dar rallied the community and started the school. They’re two of only 200 Senecas
who can still speak their language.
“Now do you see why Yoedzade is so important? Everything we need is on Yoedzade.”
Thanking Yoedzade, the earth, and its creator for the bounty of nature is the building block for
learning the Seneca language and ceremonies. Today, this handful of students learns a shorter
version of the thanksgiving speech. The speech stresses the interconnection between the natural
world and the well being of individual people.
(Dowdy and kids recite thanksgiving speech in Seneca)
“We cover just the ceremonial part and the giving thanks part in the morning and then in the
afternoon, we study things. We look into erosion and pollution and all of those things
that we can do to protect those things we just gave thanks for.”
These lessons have a real life application in the school’s small gardens. The early Senecas
depended on gardens to survive. Fruits and vegetables were so important to the tribe’s existence
that they appear in many of their stories and ceremonies. Senecas continued to farm until their
fertile bottom land was flooded by the Kinzua reservoir.
Following the traditional cycles of their
ancestors, Landon Sequoyah and the other kids now help with planting and harvesting.
“The corn’s right there. A long time ago they used to have big things of corn and beans and squash. That’s the Three
Sisters. That’s the Three Sisters. Guindioth and the Three Sisters. He was going back
up to the Skyworld and they grabbed onto his legs and they told him not to go or
they could go with them but he was like,’No, you have to stay down
here to feed our people.'”
Murray: “If you hadn’t been in school would you ever had a garden?”
“I don’t think so cause I was going to a public school and I didn’t know hardly anything about our
Many Senecas on the Alleghany Reservation believe their culture was nearly lost when the
Kinzua Dam was built. The Senecas and others strongly protested this project. But their
arguments were turned down in the courts and the U.S. Congress. Tyler Heron is an elder and
Seneca historian. He says that the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794 guaranteed that Seneca land
would remain untouched by the United States government.
“But the politics change over 200 years. We weren’t the threat. We weren’t the political power
any more. The threat, I guess, was the river itself to Pittsburgh …the flooding. It was the
threat to the economy.”
Major floods along the lower Allegheny prompted the federal government to act. To make way
for the dam, 600 Senecas were moved from their homes along the riverbanks. In 1964,
contractors burned and bulldozed Seneca houses, trees and public buildings. Churches and
cemeteries were moved. Heron, who was 17 at the time, says life as he knew it has changed.
“Even the ecology of the river itself has changed. My wife, for instance, used to make her extra
money as a teenager by catching soft-shelled crabs and selling them to the bait companies
but I don’t think there’s a soft-shelled crab in the river anymore.”
Aquatic plants were lost as well. The reservoir also inundated hardwoods used for carving
ceremonial masks and many medicinal plants. Heron, whose grandchildren attend the
Faithkeepers School, says these children are learning to identify the remaining plants. They’re
learning to speak the language and lead the ceremonies and carry on for a community that lost its
ancestral home along the Allegheny.
“Our existence is dependent on us …dependent on us only. And we have to keep our identifiers.
How do we keep our identity? Well,language. It starts right here.”
(Kids playing in front of Faithkeepers school. One child speaks in seneca. Fades into traditional
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Ann Murray.
A report from an environmental group says peaches, strawberries, nectarines, and apples are more likely to be contaminated by pesticides than other produce. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Celeste Headlee reports, the non-profit group says washing produce doesn’t eliminate pesticide residues:
A report from an environmental group says peaches, strawberries, nectarines, and apples are more
likely to be contaminated by pesticides than other produce. As the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Celeste Headlee reports, the non-profit group says washing produce doesn’ t
eliminate pesticide residues:
The Environmental Working Group tracked results from pesticide tests done by the U.S.
Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration between 1997 and 2001. Those
tests track almost 200 pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
The EWG has issued a shopping guide with a list of the twelve most contaminated foods,
including bell peppers, celery, and potatoes. Also listed are the twelve safest foods, including
asparagus, avocados, and mangoes.
EWG President Ken Cook says he doesn’t want to discourage people from eating fresh produce.
“There is a way to look at the pesticide residues on these crops and make a decision about how
often you eat them or, when you have a chance, whether you can shop instead for organic choices
or select fruits and vegetables that have lower residue levels.”
The FDA says the consumption of pesticide residues is not dangerous, but Cook points out that
the government is constantly updating food regulations.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Celeste Headlee.
People who come to the United States to escape persecution in their home country often face two major adjustments: Life in a new country, and life—for the first time—in a major city. A farm in Illinois takes part in a program designed to ease that transition. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
People who come to the United States to escape persecution in their
often face two major adjustments: Life in a new country, and life—for
time—in a major city. A farm in Illinois takes part in a program
designed to ease
that transition. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman
The demons of torture were threatening to rob Thaddee Essomba of his
Essomba was a political activist in the West African nation of
Someone evidently didn’t share Essomba’s views, and they wanted to make
Essomba fled Cameroon, leaving behind his home, his family, and
knew. He didn’t stop running until he arrived in Chicago.
Chicago was unlike anything Essomba had ever seen. Skyscrapers,
complexes and elevated trains were all new to him. Miles and miles of
and asphalt surrounded him. Adjusting to life in the city was almost
as difficult as
adjusting to life in a new country. All this, while trying to recover
physical and psychological scars of torture.
Then, Thaddee Essomba discovered the farm.
(sound of farm fades in)
“For me to come here is really to go back to the source. Because when
you live in
the city, you know you get a little bit, you like to be in touch with
the nature. And
really I was missing that.”
(sound of goats)
The farm is called Angelic Organics. For the past decade it’s been
from the Marjorie Kovler Center for Survivors of Torture in Chicago.
helps people fleeing persecution to recover and re-settle in the United
People come to the center from all over the world. Many of them are
areas and aren’t used to living in a city.
Tom Spaulding is a former volunteer at the Kovler Center. He now works
Angelic Organics Farm. He says a visit to the farm can be a key stop
on the road
to recovery for torture victims.
“They’re living now in Chicago in a huge metropolitan area, and they’re
backgrounds, and some of them are farmers. And to be on a farm that’s
like what they were used to back home—because it’s a small farm, it’s
vegetables and livestock. And so it’s, maybe it’s just because it
touches a lot of
things from peoples’…what was familiar from back home. And maybe that
For many of the people here, it’s a familiar setting. John Fallah
fled a civil war in
Liberia two years ago. He had to leave his family behind when he
While he says he enjoys life in Chicago because he doesn’t feel
anymore, Fallah says the farm reminds him of home…
“I’m very much impressed of what I am seeing on this farm. There is no
difference from how we do the farming in Africa and here.”
(sound of chickens, goats)
This was Fallah’s first visit to the farm. Some of the Kovler Center’s
made the 80-mile trip from Chicago many times. Thaddee Essomba says
has become an important part of his life.
“When I came here you know I feel myself very relaxed. I enjoy myself,
know, my soul was really in touch with the nature, and I feel very
know and why sometime every year I try to come back to be, to feel that
For Essomba and the other survivors of torture, that sensation can be
part of the healing process.
Essomba has even found a way to give back to the community surrounding
farm. He’s been teaching area kids about life in his native country.
It’s a land far
away, a place the kids have probably even never heard of. But as
learned, the nation of Cameroon has some very important things in
the rural Midwest.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.
Children who grow up in the inner-city often don’t know how the food on their tables is grown and harvested. A program at a farm has helped hundreds of kids in the Midwest learn about agriculture. Organizers hope the kids also learn a little about themselves in the process. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman has this story:
Children who grow up in the inner-city often don’t know how the food on their tables is grown
and harvested. A program at a farm has helped hundreds of kids in the Great Lakes region learn
about agriculture. Organizers hope the kids also learn a little about themselves in the process.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
Rockford, Illinois is a sprawling industrial center of 150-thousand. The aging rust belt city
battled a weak manufacturing economy. Its crime rate is higher than Chicago’s. And it’s where
11-year-old Astarte Goodwin spends most of his time.
“It’s not a bad neighborhood. It’s a pretty good neighborhood. As long as I don’t start trouble
nothing with the neighbors”
Astarte is part of a program called “Roots and Wings”.
It’s a joint project between a Rockford community center and the Angelic Organics Farm in
nearby Boone County. The kids visited the farm once a week this summer to learn the basics of
growing vegetables and working with animals.
The kids in the “Roots and Wings” program are all considered “at-risk”. They’re from low-
income families. Many of their parents are having problems with drugs and alcohol. Some of
their parents are in jail.
Barb Verni-Lau is a child and family advocate at the Northwest Community Center in Rockford.
“They have a harder time in life. They don’t usually come from two-parent families. And I think
the single-parent families that I have, the mothers are struggling hard.”
Under Barb’s leadership, the kids have been growing a vegetable garden on the grounds of the
community center. They’re using techniques they learned out at the farm.
Tadrick Tate is ten years old.
“Worms are good for plants because they, like, soften the soil and stuff. And they help the
But Tadrick and the other kids are learning about more than just worms and plants. The “Roots
and Wings” program is helping the kids’ social, emotional and educational growth. That’s
according to Mary Solan-Goers, a social worker at a nearby middle school. She says grades and
attendance are up.
“A lot of the skills that they learn in school come alive when they’re gardening. And I think
there’s a lot of pride in seeing something that they planted and watch it grow and develop. And
sometimes you have to deal with some things live and some things die and then seeing the beauty
of this and how they all work together to create this lovely garden. So I think there’s a lot of pride
goes with that.”
“To The Pumpkins!”
Out at the farm, Tom Spaulding has been showing the kids the finer points of growing vegetables.
The Angelic Organics Farm holds educational programs for children and adults. Spaulding says
the programs help people connect with nature, the earth, and the things that sustain life.
“The soils and the plants and the animals that are around us, the ecosystem that we live with.
so fundamental and so basic sometimes we overlook it. You know, there’s so many kids that
come here who they just don’t want to leave. They get so enthused and awestruck while they’re
here. So I see it everyday when there’s a group here, how separated we’ve become from what our
own sustenance is a lot of times. The closest many of us get anymore to food is just the
More than 12-hundred kids from Rockford, Chicago and Milwaukee have visited the farm over
the past few years. Spaulding says he hopes the kids’ experience on the farm will have lasting
“Hopefully on a basic level it connects them to life, to what it means to be alive and to what it
means to be a healthy person, to have positive relationships with those around you, that we’re
embedded in systems of relationships with people and the earth. And they learn a lot while
they’re here about what creates a healthy ecosystem, about what creates a healthy farm, what
creates healthy relationships between people. So hopefully they carry those into other
At the Northwest Community Center, it’s time to harvest the vegetables. Astarte Goodwin’s
hands are covered with dirt as he works in the garden the kids have tended all summer long.
“We’re trying to make the community better. Because before, all this used to be was a pile of
junk. I mean, I shouldn’t say that, but, but you know people used to throw chip
bags, pop cans, pop bottles, dirt. This just used to be a dirt yard.”
But the children in the Roots and Wings program have done more than simply clean up a plot of
land in a Rockford neighborhood. Because of their hard work, they’re taking home fresh
vegetables for their dinner table. They’re also taking home a feeling of accomplishment. The
kind of accomplishment that comes with knowledge and responsibility.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.
For years, scientists have been studying what will happen to our environment in the age of global warming. A recently released report draws some conclusions about what may happen in the farm fields. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Cohen reports:
For years, scientists have been studying what will happen to
our environment in the age of global warming. A recently
released report draws some conclusions about what may
happen in the farm fields. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Bill Cohen reports:
More carbon dioxide in the air will bring larger crop yields, says
plant ecologist Peter Curtis of Ohio State University. He and other
OSU scientists have just finished reviewing 159 studies from the past
20 years on global warming. Their conclusion – by the end of this
century, some plants will produce more grain.
“Corn, for example, about 5%, wheat we’re lookin’ at about 15%, barley
a little bit more – maybe 18%, soybeans at around 20%, and then rice
all the way up around 40%.”
More food, says Curtis, but it might be less nutritious. That’s the
downside his study is predicting if global warming continues – the
crops will contain less nitrogen and that may mean less protein for the
humans, cows, and pigs that eat it.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bill Cohen in Columbus.
There’s a new kind of farmer being trained… city farmers. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ben Calhoun has the story of someone who has dedicated his life to training them:
There’s a new kind of farmer being trained…city farmers. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ben Calhoun has
the story of someone who has dedicated his life to training them.
Will Allen has been farming all his life. But ten years ago, he decided he wanted to do
something different. So he started ‘Growing Power.’
You’ll find Growing Power’s Farm on a busy street on the northside of Milwaukee. It’s in
the middle of a row of houses and for a farm its pretty small.
Most days you’ll also find Will Allen there. Today, Allen’s giving a tour of the place. He
leads the group through Growing Power’s four green houses. There are rows of herbs,
eggplants, compost heaps, and boxes filled with worms.
“And where do you set the worms?”
“The worms, we started out with 35 pounds of worms some five years ago. Now we
have millions of worms.”
There’s a lot to see here.
Allen pulls together a lot of pieces to make his organization work.
Growing Power has been finding people to start urban farms for more than ten years –
something Allen says is actually harder than most people think, because he says farming
is harder than most people think.
“And when I sit down with kids’ groups I tell ’em, I say, ‘ Look at my hands. If you guys
are gonna do this work, your hands are gonna look like mine, if you’re truly gonna do it.’
I’m not talking about going into a class and growing a bean in a cup. I say, ‘You’re
gonna get hot, you’re gonna get sweaty, you’re gonna get dirty, you’re going to get
frustrated sometimes.’ But I say when you grow something, it’s gonna take all that pain
Allen’s found a lot of people who want to do that type of work.
Farming projects launched by Growing Power are scattered across the Midwest.
About 80 miles southwest of Chicago is the kind of place that Allen builds – it’s called
‘Growing Home.’ Growing Home is a farming project started by Chicago’s Coalition for
the Homeless. The Coalition buses homeless people here to grow corn, beans, and
Here Milton Marks sweats as he pulls black-eyed pea plants out of the dirt. Marks used
to be an auto mechanic. And he came to the project through a city job program. Marks
says it took a while to get used to working here on a farm.
“You know, at first it put me in mind of that picture, ‘Children of the Corn.’ (laughs)
So uh, I was kinda careful when I went up in the corn field – you know what I’m saying?
Yeah, I was kinda careful. But it was interesting and I liked the concept.”
Marks isn’t working alone, and just a few bean rows over, Ron Carter is stomping a
pitchfork into the ground.
Ron became involved through a homeless shelter in Chicago. He says he’s found a new
niche for himself working here on the farm.
“I love it, I love this type of work. You know, but at first, not in my wildest dreams.
Thought that I would be interested in this type of work. It’s been an overwhelming
feeling. It’s been really, really overwhelming.”
Carter’s spent his whole life in Chicago. He says the people he knows in the city, they
just don’t farm.
But in Chicago’s Southside Woodlawn neighborhood there’s another project actually
bringing farming into the city. Right in the middle of the residential neighborhood is
what looks like a home garden – maybe 50 feet by 60 feet. It’s filled with vegetables.
Carol Hughes started this space. As we walk around the plot of plants, she describes
what she thinks is already making her project a success.
“There’s a certain serenity about being in this space. Can’t you feel it? You know, even
though you’re here and there are cars swishing by on either side of us, and other elements
of the community are out (laughs), it’s just, there’s a serenity here, there’s a quiet here,
there’s the greenery. And I love seeing that light, I love seeing things grow.”
Hughes says right now most of the people working on her project are kids. But she says
the farm is getting lots of interest from all parts of her community.
Will Allen says that’s the kind of excitement that makes a project a success. He also
says it’s something that keeps him going.
“I see it happen, every year, year after year. But to see somebody else’s face . . . ‘ I can’t
believe I grew these peppers, or tomatoes, or corn.’ You know, that’s a beautiful thing.
That’s another one of the things that keeps me doing this.”
Allen says Carol Hughes’ project will be four times bigger next year than it is this year.
He says they’ll work to purify the soil so they can use all their land. All together,
Growing Power will continue working with about 35 projects starting up throughout the
Midwest. And they say they expect five more to be up and running by next season.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Ben Calhoun.
Many farmers in the Midwest are bracing for huge crop losses. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jo Ingles has details:
Many farmers in the Midwest are bracing for huge crop losses. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jo Ingles has details:
Just three months ago, some Midwest farmers were struggling to get their
crops planted because the weather was so wet and cold. But now, many
farmers are finding it’s too dry and hot for their crops to grow. Joe
Cornealy, a spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, says new
statistics show, in Ohio, more than half of the corn and soybean crops are
considered to be in very poor to poor condition. And he says Ohio is not
“The latest USDA statistics say this drought has impacted a lot of the country and we’re looking for substantial reductions in corn and soybeans….perhaps the smallest corn crop we’ve seen on both of those….since 1995 on corn and 1996 on soybeans.”
Cornealy says consumers are already paying more for sweet corn and other
vegetables because of crop loss. And he thinks some farm related jobs could
be eliminated if this agricultural downturn continues.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jo Ingles.
For the past few years, environmentalists have been warning consumers that pesticides applied to fruits and vegetables could be extremely dangerous to children. Soon, the Environmental Protection Agency will tackle the issue. Armed with a new federal law, the EPA is taking a fresh look to see if pesticides applied to produce carry health hazards. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Edelson Halpert has more:
As we prepare our gardens for the growing season, we contribute to the31 million tons of yard waste produced annually. Great Lakes RadioConsortium Commentator Bob Lilienfeld offers suggestions on how toreduce some of that waste: