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.

We encourage you to follow our blog and leave a comment or follow-up question if you wish. To subscribe to the blog and receive notifications about new posts, click the envelope on the black bar below and enter your e-mail address.
Amy Blum is the communications consultant for NOFA-NY.

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. 

Continue reading
4834 Hits
0 Comments

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.

Continue reading
3444 Hits
0 Comments

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.             

draft_horses_B_w.JPG

Continue reading
3513 Hits
0 Comments

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.

Continue reading
2618 Hits
0 Comments

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. 

Continue reading
3088 Hits
0 Comments

At our Winter Conference: American Charcuterie & Artisan Cheese - On the World's Stage

At our Winter Conference: American Charcuterie & Artisan Cheese -
On the World's Stage

Americans today are enjoying a renaissance of extraordinary fermented foods from bread to craft beer, and from artisan cheese to pickled vegetables, charcuterie and salami. From local to regional and national markets, a sophisticated demand exists for quality value-added products.

JeffreyRobertsOn Saturday, January 20 from 2:30-3:45 pm at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference, Chelsea Green author Jeffrey Roberts Salted & Cured describes and explains the millennia-long history of fermented foods and, through a tasting, highlights the diversity of New York-made cured meats, artisan cheeses and craft beers. Since we eat with our eyes and often make assumptions about labels, the tasting will be conducted blind. Participants will learn about the history and culture of preserved products and contemporary producers, while enjoying a pairing of meat, cheese and beer. Only 40 spaces are available for this unique opportunity, so don't wait to register at: https://nofany-winterconference.squarespace.com/preregistered-events/

Want to whet your appetite even more? Listen to Vermont Public Radio's interview this past April with Jeffrey Roberts talking about Salted and Cured, which will be available for purchase at our Winter Conference bookstore. http://digital.vpr.net/post/cutting-board-salted-and-cured-meats#stream/0

SaltedAndCured

Jeff Roberts develops solutions in the areas of agriculture and food policy, conservation, the environment, and community economic development. He was co-founder and principal consultant at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont. His book, The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese (2007), was the first comprehensive survey of small-scale producers. A member of Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, he teaches the history and culture of food at the New England Culinary Institute, is a visiting professor at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Science, provides consulting services to small-scale food producers, and is a frequent speaker in Europe and the United States on artisan food, sustainable agriculture, and the working landscape. His latest book, Salted & Cured: Savoring the Culture, Heritage, and Flavor of America’s Preserved Meats (2017), is a history of dry-curing from 1600 to the present. During his career, Jeff was a meteorologist, museum curator and historian, and associate dean at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. For more than a decade, Jeff was active in Slow Food International and USA, including service as a director and treasurer of the national board. 

Continue reading
2795 Hits
0 Comments

Kids Get Their Own 2018 Children's Winter Conference

Kids Get Their Own 2018 Children's Winter Conference

For anyone thinking about coming to our Winter Conference in January with your children, we wanted to give you an advanced "heads up" on the parallel Children's Conference so you can make your registration plans!

We caught up with Rebekah Rice who runs the Children's Conference to answer some questions you might find helpful.

Q. What kind of activities will there be at this year’s Children’s Conference?

A. Activities include Latin dancing and drumming, social permaculture, skill building for farmers, lots of outdoor time, raw foods preparation, and daily Yoga. Our schedule (which stays a bit flexible) includes plans for lots of fun, games, exercise, and music & arts.  We have a quiet corner for kids who prefer to read or sew or do other solo activities (not including electronic devices)— since not everyone wants to go full tilt all day. What we’ll do out-of-doors will depend on the weather— if there’s snow we’ll take advantage of it.  There are some great nearby hikes for bird and tree identification and more.  Everyone should come prepared for outdoor walks, outdoor play, and outdoor celebration.

Continue reading
2624 Hits

Healthy People, Healthy Planet: NOFA-NY’s 36th Annual Winter Conference

Healthy People, Healthy Planet: NOFA-NY’s 36th Annual Winter Conference

We’re so excited that our 36th annual Winter Conference —January 19-21, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, NY—is already up on our website and ready for you to reserve your spot, more than a month earlier than last year! This year’s theme, “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” focuses on the critical relationship between our agricultural health and the health of our planet. 

static1.squarespace.jpg

 

Continue reading
3357 Hits
0 Comments

Decreasing Erosion Through Innovative No-till Organic Farming at Lakeview Organic Grain with Jan-Hendrik Cropp

Decreasing Erosion Through Innovative No-till Organic Farming at Lakeview Organic Grain with Jan-Hendrik Cropp

JanNeu.jpg

Jan-Hendrik Cropp is an innovative German organic vegetable farmer working on organic no-till and minimal tillage systems. He is also a consultant on soil fertility, and a freelance journalist. He studied organic agricultural science, and has conducted extensive on-farm research, applying his research on a 12-acre organic vegetable farm in Germany.   

unkrautunterdrueckung.jpg

On Monday Sept 11, Jan-Hendrik Cropp will give a field day presentation at Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens’ farm -- Lakeview Organic Grain -- in Penn Yan, NY.  NOFA-NY is happy to be involved in this field day. A morning session on using crimped cover crops for "no-till organic" will be held from 10 am-noon in a field where the Martens rolled rye in May, planting soybeans directly into it.

Continue reading
3673 Hits
0 Comments

Field Day at Fruition Seeds

Field Day at Fruition Seeds

It was a beautiful Saturday to make the drive to Fruition Seeds in scenic Naples, NY for the August 26 field day, FINDING YOUR TRIBE: Growing Your Food, Your Seeds and Your Team.

b2ap3 large purple beansFruition Seeds cultivates over 300 varieties of certified organic vegetables, herbs & flowers, a number of which were on view at the field day. Rows of various and beautifully colored beans, cucumbers, marigolds, and dahlias were soaking up the sun, while busy bees were visiting and doing their pollination job.

Continue reading
3433 Hits
0 Comments

Little Free Farmstand: #GiveTakeSwap

Little Free Farmstand: #GiveTakeSwap

Thanks to Sarah Meyer, Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program Manager, for this blog.

b2ap3 icon running chicken smGeneva Peeps is a local egg coop located on State Street in Geneva, NY in which communitymembers tend to a flock of chickens in return for a weekly egg share. Sarah Meyer, Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program Manager, is a member of Geneva Peeps and avid gardener. In 2015, her home garden tomato yield was plentiful and saw Peeps as a centralized location to give away excess garden harvest, especially given its proximity within Geneva’s USDA defined ‘food desert’. 

In early fall of 2016, FLI Food Systems Program intern Lara Johnson constructed a more formal structure and together Sarah and Lara named it the ‘Little Free Farmstand’ with the intent of having it placed on State Street to act as a place for fresh food exchange, especially for farm gleaners and gardeners. Because the LFF is seasonal, in June 2017 the stand was placed and implemented as a landmark for Genevans to give, take, and swap fresh food under the protection of liability provided by the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996. Meyer and Natalia St. Lawrence have worked together to manage the Little Free Farmstand (LFF), with the understanding that upkeep and attention needs to be given to promote the stand, its purpose, and efficacy.

“We really believe in the stand’s simple message and impact – Give what you can. Take what you need. Swap what you have. There is no stigma with taking from the stand, and there is no glorification of giving to the stand. We want the stand to be everyone’s and nobody’s. We’ve really tried to keep it autonomous by using social media (Facebook and Instagram) as our main outlet for updates and status”, says Sarah Meyer.

Continue reading
4038 Hits
0 Comments

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

We know that farmers and consumers as well sometimes have a lot of questions when it comes to different farming and farm management topics.

So, before you start scratching your head for answers, have a look at our Fact Sheets right on our website. Topics include:

  • Business of Farming - links to our On-Farm Skills Development Guide and the Price Index
  • Organic Certification - includes what is organic agriculture, transitioning to organic beef production, transitioning to organic sheep or goat dairy production, organic agriculture consumer fact sheet
  • Animal Agriculture - categories in dairy, meat, and eggs
Continue reading
3157 Hits
0 Comments

What is "Agricultural Mediation?” Straight Talk; Fair Solutions"

What is "Agricultural Mediation?” Straight Talk; Fair Solutions"

More and more producers and agri-business owners are using mediation services to resolve disagreements or disputes that might escalate into more serious problems. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential way for people to handle conflict themselves without involving outside authorities.  Mediators help people communicate and develop workable options. The folks directly involved make the decisions.  Most importantly mediation offers the opportunity to improve communication and trust—which is crucial when conflict arises in business or family relationships.

The NYS Agricultural Mediation Program (NYSAMP) offers mediation services across the state for all kinds of personal and business situations. For example:

  • Unpaid bills or other debts
  • Neighbor complaints
  • Separation or divorce
  • Business planning
  • Succession planning
Continue reading
3408 Hits
0 Comments

Feb. 25 CSA Fair at NY Wine & Culinary Center

Feb. 25 CSA Fair at NY Wine & Culinary Center

Thanks to Meg Lindsay from the NY Wine & Culinary Center for this blog:

Are you seeking ways to incorporate fresh, local foods into your daily meals? Investing in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) allows you to receive fresh produce weekly - all season long. By becoming a CSA member, you’re investing in a “share” of locally grown fruit, veggies, meat, and more! There are different levels you can take part in that vary in the amount of food you receive to best fit your life style.

Not sure if investing in a CSA share is right for you? Stop by the CSA Fair at the New York Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC) at 800 South Main St, Canandaigua, NY, Saturday, February 25 from 10am – 2pm. NOFA-NY will be there as well to help answer questions about organic farming and food.

 

 

Throughout the morning, the NYWCC Chefs will host cooking demonstrations in their Educational Theatre to show you how to best utilize some of the more unique items you may see in your share.

Don't miss Chef samplings at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, and 1:30.

 

There will be 16 different farms showcasing what they do best! Participating farms include:

This special event is made possible through partnerships with MVP Health Care and Cornell University Cooperative Extension – Ontario County.

Continue reading
4102 Hits
0 Comments

The National Young Farmers Coalition at the NOFA-NY Winter Conference: Guest Blog by Sophie Ackoff

According to the last USDA Census of Agriculture, farmers over the age of 65 outnumber farmers under the age of 35 by a ratio of 6-to-1. But at the annual NOFA-NY conference, the future certainly looks brighter, and we see many enthusiastic young farmers who are anxious to learn more.

The local and organic food movements are inspiring a new generation to farm in New York, as well as across the country, but there are a host of barriers standing in the way of our success. Barriers like skyrocketing land prices and student loan debt keep young people from starting their own farm businesses or taking over the family farm. 

Continue reading
4049 Hits

Hope is Action: Seed Swap guest blog from Lisa Bloodnick

I let Purple Stardust bean seeds slip through my fingers into the pail. Pods split open revealing dusky purple beans with a speckled overlay. These seeds are symbolic of friendship to me. They have a story to be told of gardens and trades, one hand to another's... seed memories of sustenance and relationships. People have shared varieties of seeds with each other since the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years.

With a handful of seeds in the palm of my hand, I reflect I am holding the history of a people. They tell a story of how at some point in time, someone identified this plant as having an intrinsic value that set it apart. Perhaps the flavor was more appealing, maybe it was a workhorse of a producer or the color patterns were pleasing to the eye. Maybe the plant was more resistant to fungus or insects. Whatever the reason, someone deemed it special and worthy of being saved. 
 
It appears that climate change is accelerating faster than scientists have predicted. Homogenized, chemical based, synthetic fertilizer-dependent industrial agriculture assaults biodiversity: soil health, overall ecosystem health and the number of plant varieties used in agriculture.
 
So, yes, the situation is bleak, even soul-trying. But as my favorite journalist once wrote, hope is action. If there is a way it is through strategic organizing and community building around these issues. We at the Experimental Farm Network are addressing these topics with a network of talented growers. 
 
A tangible way to be involved is to take part in the Seed Swap at the NOFA Winter Conference on Saturday night, January 21 from 6-9 pm. There are still some reserved tables available to present the seeds you have. If you have a special tomato or bean you have been saving, please bring them. The more the merrier! Contact Lisa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

Bring your open pollinated seeds and your stories. Let's carry on a 10,000 year tradition. We will "seed" you there!
Continue reading
4066 Hits
0 Comments

Q&A with Tradd Cotter from Mushroom Mountain

We're so excited that Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain will be presenting three workshops at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference, Jan. 20-22. He was generous enough to do a Q&A with us, so read on...

NOFA-NY: What first drew you to mushrooms and what kept you on the mushroom path?

TC: Mushrooms are mysterious mythical entities that have a long history of cultural and ritual use, it's interesting to me how civilization has evolved to embrace the fungal kingdom and the amazing benefits of understanding how yeasts, molds and mushrooms can provide us with bread, beer and wine, and medicines. I was hired on a tour of a mushroom farm at 20 and have been hooked ever since. Everyday I wake up excited about what we are working on, anxious to see what new things I can learn from our research so I can find ways to develop beneficial uses or products that people really need.

Continue reading
5149 Hits
0 Comments

What is biodiversity?

What is biodiversity?

Wikipedia begins its definition of biodiversity by identifying it as a contraction of “biological diversity.” It refers to the variety and variability of life, the amount of variability within a species as well as between species and ecosystems. On the farm, biodiversity can be a measure of the number of organisms present in the soil, or the number of different species present or genetic variation – the hundreds of varieties of lettuce or tomatoes or cabbage that the farmer can choose from.  

A teaspoon of healthy soil may contain 20-50,000 different species and several billion creatures. This biodiversity is the heart, soul, and strength of organic agriculture. It underlies everything that makes organic agriculture work. Biodiversity in agriculture is both a blessing and a curse, sometimes both in the same breath. A blessing, because it leads to resilience, to redundancy, to the ability to recover and persevere. A curse, because at times it seems that disease and insects are relentless and unstoppable.

Continue reading
4245 Hits
0 Comments

Announcing our Contest Winners!

We're excited to announce all the winners of our Eye on Ag Photo Contest and T-Shirt Design Contest!

The EYE ON AG OVERALL WINNER is Ruth Blackwell for her photo, "August" in the "At the Market" category. Ruth will receive a FREE conference registration and her photo will be featured in next year's promotional material.

EyeonAg photo winner 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading
4171 Hits
0 Comments

Hands-on Horse-Powered Demonstration Field Day

Hands-on Horse-Powered Demonstration Field Day

This year’s NOFA-NY Winter Conference is thrilled to offer a full day, hands-on Field Day at Tim Biello’s Featherbed Farm, just a short drive from our conference location in Saratoga Springs. The workshop takes place on Friday, January 20, from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm.

b2ap3 medium Biello Draft Horses

A defining feature of the farm is the use of draft horses. Experienced teamsters Biello, Donn Hewes, Chad Vogel, Nathan Henderson and Matt Volz will describe and demonstrate the basics of caring for and farming with draft horses. There will be plenty of opportunity for participants to work with and handle horses, harness and equipment, plus time for questions and lively discussions. Online pre-registration is required, as the workshop is limited to 25 participants. Cost is $20/person, including lunch. Registration for this is featured as an additional option on the registration page: https://www.cvent.com/events/2017-winter-conference/registration-56cd31842d14480a922c386dbf5f2b9d.aspx

Continue reading
3823 Hits
0 Comments