Tiny Farm in Hellgate Canyon offers a bounty

Melanie Gardner scooped Chive the stubborn ram into her arms and carried him to the pasture.

“He’s not as heavy as he looks. He’s a lot of fluff,” Gardner said.

The other hoofed creatures trotted after her, but Chive opted for the ride. Gardner figured he was about as heavy as a bag of feed, some 50 pounds.

Taking the animals from their pen to pasture was one of the farmer’s first chores on the property she and her husband own in Hellgate Canyon.

In the background, the chickens clucked from their mansion, and they kicked up straw.

The peppers glowed in the walipini, an underground greenhouse.

“There’s Anaheim. White wax peppers. Hungarian yellow peppers. Jalapenos. Bell peppers. Cayenne peppers. Paprika peppers,” Gardner said.

When Melanie and Michael Gardner first moved to the property in 2010, weeds and scrap metal filled the garden, and garbage littered the yard. Now, bees buzz around tall sunflowers, oregano grows sturdy and a little cabin sits high above the Clark Fork River.

The Tiny Farm flourishes. Just as it does, the Gardners will pack up their animals and jelly jars, their bundles of hand-spun yarn, their curiosity and industry, and move them all to a larger piece of land in Arlee.

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This is paintedgoat‘s farm in the news!


The city of Kanpur lies on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India. It has become one of the most important cities in India as its leather industry has grown.

First established in the mid-19th century, Kanpur is now the country’s biggest producer of leather products. Its leather is exported across the world, with 95 percent of its output destined for Western markets including those in the US, UK and Germany.

The success comes at great environmental and social cost. Pollution from the tanneries is destroying the ecology of the local Ganges River and scarring residents in the form of life-threatening illnesses.

The city is now notorious for having some of the country’s worst water pollution problems yet the tannery industry continues to discharge waste water laced with toxic chemicals, such as chromium, freely into local waterways.

This water is channeled onto local farmland, poisoning the soil, entering the food chain and accumulating in local ecosystems. At greatest risk are the people who work in the tanneries and farmers who work daily with the toxic and highly acidic water.

Local residents suffer an array of health troubles, a result of the bioaccumulation of dangerous toxins over decades. Health problems include cancers, mental illness, child development issues and skin diseases.

View Pulitzer Center grantee Sean Gallagher’s full project: Toxic Development: The Cost of Pollution in India

Nigerian company develops solar-powered outdoor fridges to help farmers

In a bid to save foods and farm produce from going bad, a Nigerian based company founded by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu has developed an outdoor solar powered fridge called ColdHubs. The fridge is expected to help reduce post-harvest loss for small farmers by 80 percent.

ColdHubs is made of 120mm insulating cold room panels to retain cold with a solar panel mounted on the rooftop. The energy from the solar panels would be stored in high capacity batteries, which feeds the inverters that supplies current to the refrigerating unit. The farmer will have to place their produce in clean plastic creates which are stacked inside the cold room.

The company has also made it possible for farmers to have access to this facility with a flexible offer known as pay-as-you-store subscription model. These farmers pay a daily flat fee for each crate of food they store.

It is also worthy to note that last month ColdHubs was among the 14 innovators selected through an open, global application process by the United Nations, to help address the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Your Quinoa Habit Really Did Help Peru's Poor. But There's Trouble Ahead
Headlines once warned the global quinoa boom was putting the nutritious crop out of the reach of those who grow it. New studies put those fears to rest. But bad news may loom for Andean farmers.

The price of quinoa tripled from 2006 to 2013 as America and Europe discovered this new superfood. That led to scary media reports that the people who grew it in the high Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru could no longer afford to eat it. And while, as we reported, groups working on the ground tried to spread the word that your love of quinoa was actually helping Andean farmers, that was still anecdote rather than evidence.

The lack of evidence didn’t seem right to Marc Bellemare, an agricultural economist at the University of Minnesota, or Seth Gitter, another economist at Towson University in Maryland. They hadn’t met, but Gitter knew of a data source that could provide solid evidence, and the two teamed up. They recently published their results in a working paper.

The data source is ENAHO, the national survey of about 22,000 randomly selected households that the government of Peru carries out every year and that covers a huge range of information about what households grow, spend and eat.