NOFA-NY Field Notes

NOFA-NY Blog

Our blog is a great way to stay current on organic farming, gardening, certification, policy, and community information and issues that we regularly share. We help you stay on top of everything that relates to technical and practical organic farming and gardening, timely and important legislative policies, field days, conferences, consumer issues, and more.

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Our 37th Winter Conference

Our 37th Winter Conference
 

Thank you to all who attended NOFA-NY’s 37th Annual Organic Farming & Gardening Conference! In spite of the weather, you came together to share stories, celebrate seeds, exchange ideas, dance and play trivia. I have heard some wonderful feedback about the quality of the workshops, the keynote speakers, the children’s conference, and the sense of community.

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2018 Farm Bill Moves Forward

2018 Farm Bill Moves Forward

Good work, all! The Farm Bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13, and passed on Wednesday by a vote of 369-47 in the House of Representatives. The bill has big wins for organic! Our thanks to the “Big Four” in the House and Senate, as well as the many organic and other congressional champions who were instrumental in advancing organic and preventing various environmental and food access poison pills. 

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Free Health Screenings through NYCAMH at NOFA-NY Winter Conference

Free Health Screenings through NYCAMH at NOFA-NY Winter Conference

Editor’s note: this blog is a guest post written by Pauline Boyer at New York Center for Agriculture Medicine and Health, one of the organizations participating in NOFA-NY’s 2019 Winter Conference.

Farmers are a very busy group of people, and too often they put their own health on the back burner. New York Center for Agriculture Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) and Healthworks would like to remind us all to keep our health and safety at the front of our minds, no matter how hectic life can get.  

NYCAMH’s mission is to enhance agricultural and rural health by preventing and treating occupational injury and illness. NYCAMH promotes safe and healthy farming through workshops, on-farm trainings, tradeshows, and free and confidential surveys.

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Guest Post: Alternative Fuels for the Future

Guest Post: Alternative Fuels for the Future

Editor’s note: this blog is a guest post written by Kathryn Patterson at Ally Charter Bus, one of the sponsors of NOFA-NY’s 2019 Winter Conference.

If you take a bus down the U.S. northeastern countryside to visit local organic farms, there's a high probability you'll see a variety of new-wave farming techniques, practices, and environmentally-friendly farming equipment. But have you ever wondered how the farming industry could be altering the future of modern transportation? Organic farms are opening up a channel of more eco-friendly biofuel options to harness energy and power in new and exciting ways.

 

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USDA Does the Right Thing – Listens to the NOSB!

USDA Does the Right Thing – Listens to the NOSB!

A story of Paper Pots and Origin of Livestock

Last month, the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met in St. Paul for their semi-annual meeting. The NOSB is a 15 member volunteer Advisory Board to the National Organic Program (NOP) which has legal authority for organic standards and the materials allowed to be used in the USDA Organic Label.1

NOSB meets twice per year in a public forum to discuss issues relevant to the organic industry and vote on final recommendations. As always, there was a huge agenda, lots of controversy, and many discussions about all things organic standards.2

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On-farm Education at Fledging Crow Vegetables

On-farm Education at Fledging Crow Vegetables


On August 15, Fledging Crow Vegetables hosted a NOFA-NY field day at their Keeseville farm on “Quick and Clean: Planning for Efficient Harvest.” In this wide ranging field day, Fledging Crow farmer Ian Ater covered the history and development of their farm, how they manage their fields and cultivation to bring in large scale harvests, and how they are working to create washing and processing facilities that both meet their buyers’ food safety requirements while helping them efficiently handle produce.

Here are just a few highlights of the afternoon. Many thanks to Ian and all those at Fledging Crow Vegetables, as well as Dylan and Dan Badger of Ausable Brewing Company for your generous field day hosting.

 

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Diversifying NOFA-NY

Diversifying NOFA-NY

By Elizabeth Henderson, Member of NOFA-NY Board of Directors

In our newly completed Strategic Plan, NOFA-NY sets out this fine vision: A just and resilient farming system grounded in a diverse community now and for future generations. Yet NOFA-NY is a largely white organization - not too surprising since farm ownership in the US is predominately white. As millions of family scale farmers have gone out of business over the past 50 years, farmers of color have been five times as likely as white farmers to lose their land due to multiple forms of discrimination. So how do we change the complexion of NOFA-NY? How can our organization, and the organic farming community it represents, better reflect the diverse population of our state? How can we navigate the delicate balance needed to support our present membership, while avoiding tokenism, condescension and do-goodism?

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Smart Farm Infrastructure with Poughkeepsie Farm Project

In June, NOFA-NY kicked off its 2018 summer field day season at the beautiful Poughkeepsie Farm Project. Host farmer, Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s Leon Vehaba, led the inaugural full-day field day of the year “Building Success through Smart Farm Infrastructure,” along with Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program’s Ethan Grundberg. The day mixed classroom and field sessions, focusing on both the key farm infrastructure of irrigation and high tunnels, as well as managing for safe water quality.

6.18.18 Irrigation Field Walk Wide View

The steamy day kicked off in the (air-conditioned) classroom with a great workshop by Leon that hit on essential irrigation practices and principles. In addition to decoding irrigation terminology, Leon stressed the importance of learning your soil’s physical properties, knowing how water interacts with nutrient movement and availability, and how building up organic matter can boost water retention. He also detailed a range of methods to monitor your irrigation needs, including an in-depth introduction to the concept of water budgeting, and the impact of evapotranspiration on plant water needs.

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NOFA-NY Stories: Dairy Month

June Dairy Month Image Midwest DairyAs I sit here next to my husband in the early morning light, listening to him snore from the exhaustive work of dairy farming I ponder the thought: June is Dairy Month. What does that mean to our community, our family and our consumers?

June was designated National Dairy Month in 1939. Since that time is has been used as a way to promote dairy products. It is an opportunity for the dairy industry to showcase our products to consumers and share our stories with the intention of increasing sales during the summer flush. How do we do that? 

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Farmers Support Drivers’ Licenses for Undocumented People

By Liz Henderson, Member of NOFA-NY Board of Directors

NOFA-NY supports the passage of Assembly Bill A10273. This bill would create a limited-purpose state driver’s license accessible to residents regardless of their immigration status. The driver’s license would be marked “Not for Federal Purposes” (disallowing, for example, use in boarding a plane).

At the 2018 Annual Meeting, members of NOFA-NY voted overwhelmingly in favor of supporting legislation to allow undocumented residents of NYS to qualify for drivers’ licenses.
RESOLUTION: The members of NOFA-NY resolve that we support Green Light NY: Driving Together! to ensure equal access to driver’s licenses for all residents of New York State, regardless of immigration status, and urge New York lawmakers to give a green light to driver's licenses for immigrants in our state.

 

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A New Legal Resource for Small New York Farms: Pace Law School’s Food and Beverage Law Clinic

By Jonathan Brown, Director, Food and Beverage Law Clinic & Member of NOFA-NY Board of Directors

Small farms must navigate a variety of legal matters in building successful, resilient operations. Some of these are typical for any small business: formalizing business structures, negotiating contracts, and properly hiring employees, for example. But farms also operate in a complex regulatory space and face unique legal issues relating to food safety, labeling, land use, land access, and more. This list only gets longer when CSA operations, agritourism, farm-to-institution sales, value-added processing, and other new business models come into play. Unfortunately, farms are far less likely to use legal services than other small businesses. According to Farm Commons, only about 10% of surveyed small farmers used legal services, as compared to 70% of small business generally, a gap that was attributed both to lack of available services and to a perception that most lawyers do not understand the issues that farmers face.

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Better Manage Your High Tunnel Soils

Better Manage Your High Tunnel Soils

If you grow with high tunnels, have you noticed that for the first few years your tunnel crops have amazing yields with healthy plants, but after four or five years the crops just don’t seem to do as well? Maybe you keep watering, adding compost or fertigating with fish emulsion, but it’s never quite as awesome as the first years. There’s a story about soils in this dynamic that has come from NOFA-NY’s collaboration with the Cornell Vegetable Program’s Judson Reid and Cordelia Machanoff on a two-year NYFVI-funded high tunnel project. Judson Reid designed the research project to investigate what goes on in the high tunnel soils that ends this fertility honeymoon period, before a collaborative effort with participating growers determined the best strategies to maintain high tunnel soil quality for the long haul.

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3 Questions in 3 Minutes

Share your message with organic milk consumers at NODPA’s Farmers’ Storytelling Booth

By late winter, when cabin fever is beginning to set in, the best thing I can do is head to a farmer meeting or organic dairy conference. It’s a terrific opportunity to network, learn from, and build relationships with other farmers. If there’s only one take-away I have from all the conversations I’ve been having this winter, it’s this: We need to tell our own story.5a2211422ea30 fullsizeoutput 31ae small

Frustration and anxiety abounds, it seems, under the burden of record-low organic milk prices, a spineless NOP, and fake organic mega-farms flooding the market with cheap commodities (and yes- I do mean actually fake), not to mention plant-based beverages marketed like real milk.

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Universal comprehensive health coverage "improved Medicare for all" in New York State

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New York Farmers! Have you ever struggled to afford healthcare for yourself, your family, or your employees?

You are not alone. Over a million New Yorkers lack healthcare coverage, and even those with insurance struggle to access care because of unpredictable and high out-of-pocket costs.

The New York Health Act (A4738/S4840) is a bill that is in the New York State legislature right now that would guarantee coverage to all New Yorkers by establishing a universal public health care system for New York State.

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Meet the 2018 Josh Levine Scholarship winners

Meet the 2018 Josh Levine Scholarship winners

We are so pleased to announce this year’s Josh Levine Scholarship winners: Mayda Pozantides and Anders Gunnersen.

Read about their urban farm and what they hope to experience at this weekend's Winter Conference. 

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Meet the Authors & Have Your Book Signed at our Winter Conference!

b2ap3 medium bookstore One of the popular elements at our annual Winter Conference is the bookstore and all the wonderful books available for purchase. With tempting titles and beautiful covers, these books call to us to open their pages and see the delights inside. Each one has been chosen specifically for the information and education they can provide to you, our conference goers.

We are thrilled to have authors on hand for their five wonderful and varied books. Bring your own copy, or purchase one at the conference and have it signed for you or as a meaningful gift for a friend or colleague.

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Training Draft Horses for Farm Work

Training Draft Horses for Farm Work

Love the idea of training draft horses for farm work? Read this guest blog by Donn Hewes of Northland Sheep Dairy and www.teamsterschool.com in advance of his NOFA-NY Winter Conference workshop, "Training Draft Horses for Work," on Friday, Jan 19. Register for the conference and get your Early Bird discount by Friday, December 15!

"In the early morning mist you find your horses out on pasture. You are struck by how beautiful they are, but also surprised at how natural they are. Some are grazing, some are taking in the first rays of the sun, and still others stand on guard, watching for any threat; they are working like a wild band. It’s time for you to bring them into the barn to be harnessed for farming and forestry.             

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The HOW, and More Importantly, the WHY of Kitchen Incubators

The HOW, and More Importantly, the WHY of Kitchen Incubators

We recently caught up with Kathrine Gregory, who will be presenting the workshop “The Art of Running a Healthy Incubator” at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference on Friday, January 19 from 9:30-10:45 am.  Kathrine created her first incubator in 1997. This 800-square ft. facility was self-sustaining in 18 months, proving you don’t need to be big to be successful. She is the founder and director of Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen.

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Four Ways to Give

Four Ways to Give

While you’re probably hearing a lot about online deals, coupons and discounts today, you are likely also considering all the ways you plan to give back this holiday season. As Thanksgiving passes, many of us shift our focus to the people and causes we care about. Did you know there are many ways you can support NOFA-NY this holiday season? When you make a gift to NOFA-NY, you’re supporting programs and services that assist farmers, inform consumers, and advocate for policies that promote an organic, sustainable food and farm system. Read on to learn more about the ways you can support NOFA-NY and thenpick the ones that work for you!

1. Participate in our Holiday Gift Auction

Our new Holiday Gift Auction features many wonderful, local, holiday gifts from businesses that support the organic movement in New York State. Browse our offerings and select one or more items for your gift giving needs. Don’t miss out, bidding will close at midnight on December 10th and items will be shipped shortly thereafter. Give the gift of local and help support NOFA-NY at the same time!

2. Join us on #GivingTuesday 

Giving Tuesday

You may have recently received a letter or email from our Executive Director asking for your help stewarding New York soils now and into the future. Help us kick off our year-end campaign by making your gift tomorrow, on #GivingTuesday. By now, you’ve probably heard that #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving—celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving—after the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday demonstrates your support for the causes you care about.

Every dollar you give directly supports our ability to offer year-round education to help growers build and maintain healthy soil. Plus, you can magnify your impact! Thanks to the combined efforts of leaders in our organic community, we have $7,000 in matching funds to double your impact. Donate to NOFA-NY and it will go twice as far! 

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The National Organic Standards Board Key to Organic Integrity

The National Organic Standards Board Key to Organic Integrity

Thanks to Abby Youngblood, executive director, National Organic Coalition, for this guest blog. On Sunday, January 21 at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference, don't miss Abby and Kevin Engelbert's presentation: State of the Organic Program. Register here for the conference!

The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance devoted to protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal and to building bridges across the many stakeholders within the organic community. NOC is a leading voice on the hill with Members of Congress, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and with the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the independent stakeholder board that advises the USDA on organic standards. NOFA is a long-standing member of our coalition through the NOFA Interstate Council, and helps provide grassroots input from farmers and consumers into the policy process. 

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