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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Expanding Organic Seed Availability: Farmer Breeder Collaboration

Expanding Organic Seed Availability: Farmer Breeder Collaboration

Field Notes: NOFA-NY’s Summer Blog Series

This blog post is the second in our summer blog series highlighting NOFA-NY’s on-farm field days. We’ve got more field days coming up this fall – learn more here!

Host Farm: Norwich Meadows Farm
Location: Norwich, NY
Date: August 21, 2019

Field Day Summary:

Expanding Organic Seed Availability: Farmer Breeder Collaboration was held on Wednesday, August 21 at Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, New York. The Field Day was hosted by Zaid Kurdieh of Norwich Meadows and Michael Mazourek, vegetable breeder at Row 7 Seeds and professor at Cornell University. Presenters also included Kristen Loria (Cornell Plant Breeding and Genetics Masters student), Greg Inzinna (Vegetable Co-Breeder at Row 7 Seeds), and Paul Loomis (Farmer Marketing Coordinator with NOFA-NY).

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Food Safety in Stacked Enterprise Farming at Kingbird Farm

Food Safety in Stacked Enterprise Farming at Kingbird Farm

Field Notes: NOFA-NY’s Summer Blog Series

This blog post is the second in our summer blog series highlighting NOFA-NY’s on-farm field days. We’ve got more field days coming up in September and October – learn more here!

Host Farm: Kingbird Farm
Location: Richford, NY
Date: July 22, 2019

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Root Solutions to Crisis for Family-Scale Farms

Root Solutions to Crisis for Family-Scale Farms

By Elizabeth Henderson, Board Chair of the Agricultural Justice Project

“Agricultural choices must be made by these inescapable standards: the ecological health of the farm and the economic health of the farmer.’ Wendell Berry, Right Kind of Farming

For almost five decades (50th anniversary coming up in 2021!), the Northeast Organic Farming Association has been dedicated to supporting and expanding the community of farmers, homesteaders and conscious eaters who build their lives and livelihoods through agroecology – growing and consuming food, forage and other crops in as much harmony with natural processes and rhythms as we can muster. To enable shoppers to identify organically grown food, NOFA has put a lot of resources – time and energy – into developing and maintaining organic certification and the integrity of the organic label. But that label is not enough to keep family-scale farms viable.

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NOFA-NY Report on 2019 State Legislative Session

NOFA-NY Report on 2019 State Legislative Session

New York State’s 2019 legislative session closed in June with a flurry of last-minute actions on pending legislation. NOFA-NY staff and board, directed by our membership’s policy positions, worked to educate our state representatives and provide input on legislation. In this blog post, we summarize some key legislation that will affect New York’s agriculture industry.

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Peak Season at Sang Lee Farms

Peak Season at Sang Lee Farms

Field Notes: NOFA-NY’s Summer Blog Series

This blog post is the first in our summer blog series highlighting NOFA-NY’s on-farm field days. We’ve got many more field days coming up in July and August – learn more here!

Host Farm: Sang Lee Farms
Location: Peconic, New York
Date: May 22, 2019

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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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