New stories: Audubon Societies in Missouri and SARE grants

We have two new stories out in magazines this month, both of which may be of interest to readers of this site.

In the June/July issue of Missouri Life magazine, Eric writes about the diverse activities of local and state Audubon Societies in Missouri. As avid birders, we welcomed the chance to learn more about what birding groups are doing throughout the state, and hopefully inspire readers to get involved in bird-watching and conservation. Interviewing representative from eleven different organizations was a time-consuming but fascinating process, and we hope readers enjoy the result. While you can read the story online, we’re sure a physical copy will do the accompanying photography more justice.

The map below is a draft Joanna developed to accompany the story, though the magazine chose not to purchase it. So we’re sharing it here:


In the June-July issue of Growing for Market magazine (only available through a paywall), we write about the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program, which funds research supporting sustainable agriculture. SARE is a really neat program that draws heavily on farmer expertise to ensure that its research is relevant and practical, and in the story we explain how farmers can get involved by proposing a research project, serving as a grant reviewer, or exploring the decades of useful research contained in SARE’s database. If you’re not a GFM subscriber, why not become one and gain access to all its useful articles?

When habitat and harvest collide

This post also appeared in the October 2015 issue of the Columbia Audubon Society’s newsletter, The Chat, which Eric edits. 

Red-bellied Woodpeckers used to be one of our favorite local birds. Colorful and flamboyant, they enliven our feeder in winter and patrol our woods in summer. We love how they chase Blue Jays away from the birdseed yet leave smaller birds alone, how they sidle along our porch railing with heads cocked, how they stash food in the woods through a conveyor belt of looping flights. Their brash and distinctive calls enrich our soundscape year-round. While conducting timber stand improvements in our woods, we’ve left abundant dead snags to support the woodpecker population. Then came the great fruit massacre of 2015.woodpecker_fruit_1

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Sorghum syrup, part of Missouri’s agricultural and culinary heritage

The September issue of Feast Magazine includes a feature story by Eric, which begins

What would you do without sugar?

This was a very real question for Missourians and their neighbors in the late 1850s. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Northerners became increasingly concerned with finding a source of domestic sweetener that wasn’t linked to the South, where sugar was produced and shipped up the Mississippi River. The answer was found in a new use for an old crop: sorghum syrup. You can still taste this piece of regional history today through the work of sorghum syrup producers across the Midwest, including Sandhill Farm, a certified organic producer in northeastern Missouri.

You can read the full story online in two formats, either as straight web text or the full magazine layout (with photography). This was a fun story to work on, highlighting a common ingredient in our kitchen and a farm we like and respect.

This story was born from a conversation with Stan Hildebrand of Sandhill Farm, who told us that they produced 500-800 gallons of sorghum syrup per year, and sold it as far away as Asia. On one hand, that’s a victory for international trade, but on the other, it struck us as odd that a local producer would NEED to market their product that far away. After all, our own two-person household uses a gallon of sorghum per year, and if even a fraction of Columbia residents (much less St Louis or Missouri residents) matched even a fraction of our consumption, Sandhill would sell out locally in no time. Sorghum syrup could, should, be a bigger part of the local-foods picture than it is. So we set out to learn more, and tell the story of this unique product and its Missouri roots. Continue reading