Gardeners on Alert as PA Targets Risks of Seed Libraries

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By: Kris Maher

A crackdown by Pennsylvania regulators on a seed exchange at a small library has put gardeners and advocates of locally grown organic food on alert across the country.

In June, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture told a public library in Mechanicsburg, Pa., that it couldn't distribute homegrown seeds. The agency said a planned seed-exchange program would run afoul of a 2004 state law requiring anyone who distributes seeds to conduct certain quality tests, adhere to labeling and storage rules and acquire a license.

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Press Release - Neighborhood Food Act passes out of the CA Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Bill Promotes Food Security and Access Through Urban Agriculture 

Sacramento, California – September 2, 2014 – On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, the California Legislature passed AB 2561, also known as the California Neighborhood Food Act. The Act guarantees tenants’ and members of homeowner’s associations’ rights to grow food for personal consumption by voiding contrary language in lease agreements or homeowner’s association agreements. Governor Jerry Brown must sign the bill in order for it to become law.

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Building Resilient Communities: Summer 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to the legal landscape of the new economy.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center has been hard at work this summer, and there's more coming! It's time to let the entire SELC community in on what we've been working on and the exciting projects, resources, and events we're planning. All the photos below are links to their relevant pages on SELC's website, so click away. Hope you enjoy what we're serving up, and keep on sharing!
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What is a food lawyer?

foodlaw1.jpgDo you know a food lawyer? Ever heard the term before? How would you define it?

If you're not sure, don't worry you're not alone. Food law is a relatively new, and rapidly growing, area of law that includes a wide range of activities. Mary Beth Albright over at National Geographic's The Plate recently shared her definition in an article that features some great photos of SELC Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, and clients from our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe.

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Setting the Record Straight on the Legality of Seed Libraries

planting-seeds.jpgAfter the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a seed bank in the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law.

There are seed laws in every state that regulate the sale and transport of seeds within state lines. Tt the federal level, seed laws govern interstate commerce in seeds. These laws exist to restrict the introduction of invasive species, protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses, and ensure fair competition in the seed industry. But should they apply to non-commercial, non-profit, community-based seed libraries? We don't think so, and we think that seed libraries have the laws on their side.

SELC, along with our friends at Shareable and the Center for a New American Dreampublished this article laying down the legal argument why seed libraries shouldn't be subjected to seed laws intended to regulate the commercial seed industry.

Read the full article on Shareable

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Setting the Record Straight on the Legality of Seed Libraries

planting-seeds.jpgAfter the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a seed bank in the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law.

There are seed laws in every state that regulate the sale and transport of seeds within state lines. At the federal level, seed laws govern interstate commerce in seeds. These laws exist to restrict the introduction of invasive species, protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses, and ensure fair competition in the seed industry. But should they apply to non-commercial, non-profit, community-based seed libraries? We don't think so, and we think that seed libraries have the laws on their side.

Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), along with our friends at Shareable and the Center for a New American Dream, published this article laying down the legal argument why seed libraries shouldn't be subjected to seed laws intended to regulate the commercial seed industry.

Read the full article on Shareable

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Cooperative Takeover Video

Democracy Please

Recently, SELC hosted Mike Leung of Abolish Human Rentals, to give a talk about how employees of a business with publicly traded securities can convert it to a worker cooperative. Unlike other conversions methods this only requires action on the part of the workers, and does not require the consent of the owners. Watch the video of that discussion below!

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Video: Strategies for Democratizing Urban Land Use

Video recording of a teach-in and community conversation hosted at Sustainable Economies Law Center's Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, July 02, 2014 at LOL Makerspace, including 350 years of American land enclosures in 5 minutes!

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Mandela Food Coop is Hiring!

Mandela Foods Cooperative, a worker-owned, cooperative grocery store in West Oakland, is hiring a cashier/floor clerk. Mandela Food Coop's mission is to build community health and wealth through business ownership, nutrition education, and increased access to affordable, locally grown food. Read more below. 

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The Lawyer's Apprentice in the NY Times

NY_Times_Logo.jpgSELC's efforts to promote legal apprenticeships were written about in the New York Times! 

"When Chris Tittle meets new people and the topic turns to his work, he sometimes fishes in his pockets and produces a business card that reads “Abraham Lincoln.” Below the 16th president’s name in smaller type the card reads, “Just kidding, but I hope to follow in some of his footsteps.”

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Worker Coop Academy Launches Bay Area Pilot Program

shareable-logo_0_0.jpgBy Cat Johnson, Shareable

Worker-owned cooperatives, far from being relics of 1960s counter-culture, are re-emerging as powerful tools for creating a new economy based on equity. But how does one help grow the cooperative movement when the vast majority of jobs are still built on the often undemocratic private ownership model? The Worker Coop Academy aims to answer that question.

Read the full article on Shareable

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Gov. Brown Approves CA Alternative Currencies Act

rsz_1altcurrencyact.jpgOn June 28th, California took a significant step toward further legitimizing the creation and circulation of community currencies and other innovative means of exchange. Signed into law by Gov. Brown, the California Alternative Currencies Act (AB 129) repeals the outdated and vague Section 107 of the California Corporations Code, thus removing a significant legal barrier to the continued growth of the community currencies movement.

Read the chaptered bill here.

 

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Community Currencies Program July Newsletter

CommonBound2014_w-Janelle.jpgSustainable Economies Law Center has been on the money lately! Below is the latest news from our Community Currencies Program, including links to upcoming webinars, our online legal resource library, and information about our recent legislative advocacy!
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Gov. Brown approves CA Alternative Currencies Act

rsz_1altcurrencyact.jpg

On June 28th, California took a significant step toward further legitimizing the creation and circulation of community currencies and other innovative means of exchange. Signed into law by Gov. Brown, the California Alternative Currencies Act (AB 129) repeals the outdated and vague Section 107 of the California Corporations Code, thus removing a significant legal barrier to the continued growth of the community currencies movement.

Read the chaptered bill here.

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California legislature considers bill that would make farm employers jointly responsible for farm worker conditions

Assemblymember Roger Hernández has proposed legislation (AB 1897) that would make farm employers who use farm labor contractors (FLCs) jointly responsible with the FLCs to ensure (1) that farmworkers are paid proper wages, (2) that all contributions and deductions are reported, and (3) that the FLC obtains valid workers compensation coverage. If passed, employees working on the premises of a farm operator, regardless of whether they were directly hired or hired through an FLC, would be entitled to recourse from either the FLC or the farm operator for a violation of applicable laws.

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