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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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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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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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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Guest Blog: Innovation & Inspiration at the 2017 NOFA Summer Conference

Guest Blog: Innovation & Inspiration at the 2017 NOFA Summer Conference

The organic movement has been a constant force for innovation and progress in food production models that are environmentally and biologically friendly. Advances in methods of cover-cropping, composting, crop rotation, reduced tillage, biodiversity and soil carbon restoration are just a few examples of the techniques preserved and refined by the organic movement and disseminated at gatherings like the annual NOFA conferences. While many of these techniques continue to be “adopted” by mega-scale commercial agriculture, the grassroots organic movement maintains the true essence of conscientious food production and land care. It is wit this innovative spirit and in celebration of the web of life that this year’s NOFA Summer Conference calls together allies across the region.

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The Next Green Revolution for Farmers?

Is industrial hemp the next Green Revolution for New York farmers, or just another pipe dream about crop diversification? Find out the real dirt at our NOFA-NY Dairy and Field Crop Conference, at our Friday morning, March 17th workshop. 

Join Chris Logue from NYS Department of Ag & Mkts and Susie Cody from NY Hemp Industries Association to hear the real story about the first field trials in New York State developed by SUNY Morrisville Agronomist and Assistant Professor of Agricultural Science, Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins.

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Jack Lazor Guest Blog: A Farmer’s Thoughts on 100% Grass Fed Dairying

Jack Lazor Guest Blog: A Farmer’s Thoughts on 100% Grass Fed Dairying

Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm, keynote speaker at next month's Organic Dairy & Field Crop Conference generously shared his thoughts for this fascinating guest blog. Thanks, Jack!

One hundred per cent grass fed dairy products (aka “grass milk”) has been a relatively recent arrival to the dairy section of most natural foods outlets. The health benefits of 100% grass fed dairy have long been espoused by The Weston A. Price Foundation and others. When cows live on a diet from which grain has been eliminated, the omega 3 fatty acid profile increases in their milk. Grass fed beef has become quite popular because of the presence of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA’s) in the meat. Higher CLA’s reduce one’s risk of cancer and other diseases. These same nutritional advantages hold true for 100% grass fed milk products. 

We here at Butterworks Farm have long been interested in no grain dairy farming. For the past 40 years we have been grain growers as well as hay producers. Cereals (oats, wheat and barley) and row crops like corn and soy have fit neatly into our crop rotation with grasses and legumes. The straw byproduct of the grain is just as important to us for bedding our animals as the grain is for feeding them. We ground the grain into a dairy ration and fed our cows grains from our own farm as opposed to buying it from the “mill.” Over the years, as our soil health and fertility has increased, we have improved the quality of our forages (grass and legumes) to the point where we have been able to reduce the amount of grain fed to our cows to 4 ½ pounds at each milking. Standard fare on most high production dairy farms is one pound of grain for every three pounds of milk produced. Our ratio was closer to 1:5. 

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The Josh Levine Memorial Scholarship

We are honored to share this blog by Scott Chaskey, farmer, poet, educator, and director of the Peconic Land Trust’s farm at Quail Hill. 

The wood waits, as if its most precious sap were stillness... (John Fowles)

Our first meeting is etched in my memory—that autumn when Josh Levine arrived at our farmshop in the beech woods, he was full of curiosity and passion for our community farm. Josh had an inherent tendency to dive into things: “How can I help…Can I volunteer today?”

 His enthusiasm, combined with an attention to detail, was  welcome, like a strong, fresh breeze off the Atlantic (a mile away  from Quail Hill Farm). He joined our team the following Spring, and those who met Josh on the farm and at the farmers’ market were  full of praise: he was energetic, committed, and he loved to  communicate about seedlings, plants, preparing food, caring for  the soil, and community agriculture.

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New York: The Next Beverage Empire?

Conference Workshops: Field to Flask: Farmers, Maltsters, Brewers, and You...

beerRegional drinking here to stay? A local revolution going on? Or a NOFA-NY Conference in Saratoga, NY? Well, as it’s not likely we’ll be seeing prohibition returning to NYS, so it's time to get out later this month and meet some of the folks who have led the way in making NYS the next Beverage Empire.

"The craft beverage industry has taken this state by storm, and more and more New Yorkers want to try their hand at making the next great Empire State beer, wine, or cider," Governor Cuomo has said. "The new law to help New York's craft beverage industry thrive “builds upon this increased interest, supports local agriculture, and breaks down artificial barriers to allow innovation and creativity to flow."

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Three-Part Guest Blog by Sarah Flack

Consultant/author Sarah Flack, who specializes in grass-based and organic livestock production, has generously supplied this three-part blog in advance of her Jan. 20 and 21 workshops at our Winter Conference:

1. Pasture Systems Guidelines:

All successful pasture systems are based on some basic and essential guidelines. These guidelines aren’t new, they’ve been known for at least 200 years, and during that time farmers and researchers have used them to develop different types of grazing methods, and given those grazing systems and methods a bunch of different names.        

Regardless of the name of the grazing system, the successful ones use relatively short periods of occupation so the dairy cows aren’t left in the same paddock for too many days. They also provide enough time to let the plants fully regrow after each grazing (variable recovery periods). By studying grazing systems currently in use, which are working well on a variety of farms, we can learn more about these grazing principals and how to apply them so that we are caring for the pasture plants, livestock, soils, farmers and our ecosystem. Along the way, we can be better informed and inspired by the many creative ways that these basic grazing guidelines are in use different farms.

Grazing adapted plants and our livestock, each have requirements, which complement each other synergistically. Plants respond best to short periods of grazing followed by long regrowth periods. Livestock do best in pastures that are managed so each paddock is grazed quickly and which are full of high-quality forage, given sufficient time to regrow. Good grazing management is a win–win system for plants and livestock.  It is also good for our soils and the larger ecosystem we all live in and share. Good management supports the development of healthier soils, sequesters carbon, and prevents erosion.

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Churchville-Chili Art Students Collaborate with NOFA-NY for Conference Posters and Banners

Andrew Lockwood 9When do art and organic food and farming intersect for the benefit of both? It happens through a unique collaboration between the art department at Churchville-Chili High School and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) in Farmington.

For five years, art students at Churchville-Chili High School have been designing posters and banners for NOFA-NY’s Organic Dairy & Field Crop Conference held each March in Syracuse (March 16 this year). The partnership originated with science teacher Linda Judd and art teacher Jane Betrus. It is now overseen by Betrus with art teacher Jonathan Woodard. Approximately 100 freshmen through seniors in their four Media Arts classes are getting a hands-on, professional design experience. Students have the option of signing up to receive dual credit through Monroe Community College.

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Learn about Dairy Pasture Nutrition at our Organic Dairy & Field Crop Conference, March 16


happylines_Photocredit_Amanda_GervaisUVMextension.jpgA pillar of organic dairy farm management is pasturing cows. In 2010, The US Department of agriculture passed regulation requiring that organic dairy cows receive 30% DMI from pasture for at least 120 days or the duration of the grazing season. Getting the most out of pasture can be a challenge for farmers balancing rations for milk production but is a huge asset to reducing feed costs on farms.

If you're interested in improving your pasture management or transitioning your farm to grazing, here's your chance to learn from two of the best! Join NOFA-NY at our 5th annual Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference March 16th at the Holiday Inn Liverpool Syracuse.

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Send in Your Proposals for our 2016 Field Days & 2017 Winter Conference by March 18

Green ideal energy copySeven questions is all it takes to submit your fabulous ideas for this year’s Field Days and the 2017 Winter Conference.

Our popular Winter Conference and On-Farm Field Days are known for their value, and the depth and breadth of what they provide.  As many of you already know, some of our best ideas for these events come from you. YOU know what you want to learn, see, and try; you know what’s important for the future of your farm.

 

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Dairy Conference Preview: A Comfortable Cow is a Productive Cow

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For decades, farmers have been focused on improving cow comfort on their farms as a way to improve milk production, reduce injury and maintain a healthier herd.  Farmers are now meeting the new regulation of animal welfare audits specifically to address cow comfort on individual farms. We're excited to highlight cow comfort as one of the workshops in our upcoming 5th Annual Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Syracuse, NY.  

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New York Organic Action Plan

Guest Blogger Tracy Frisch attended our Winter Conference and sent in this report.

You know the old adage– If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to figure out how to get there.Liz Henderson and group WC2016

Since 1983 when NOFA-NY was founded, organic farming, food access and research have grown impressively. Yet you’d probably agree that there’s still a tremendous amount more to accomplish to realize the dream of organic agriculture.

So where’s our organic movement going? What are the most important things to achieve, and what do we need to do to get there? Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll come up with lots of ideas but no clear answer. So what’s next? 

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Think Differently: Dairy & Field Crop Conference Keynote John Kempf Speaks from Experience

Extraordinarily successful farmers think differently.  John Kempf is one of those farmers. You can tell just by looking at his title on his company website, Advancing  Eco Agriculture: FOUNDER AND VISION BUILDER. 

We are thrilled to have John share his inspiration at our Dairy & Field Crop Conference on Wednesday, March 16 from 8:30 am – 5 pm.  John’s keynote at 1:15 pm—"A Different Perspective on Agriculture”—is for the entrepreneurs, the farmers on the cutting edge, the calculated risk takers, and those who love achieving the impossible.

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Winter Conference Thank-You!

Winter Conference Thank-You!

To everyone who attended, presented, sponsored, worked, exhibited, volunteered, and donated food for our 2016 NOFA-NY Winter Conference (our 34th annual), we want to give you a huge thanks!! As you know, our Winter Conference is a huge event, with close to 1000 people, and everyone plays a part in its success.

Local_Economies_Project_copy_copy_copy_copy.jpgA special thank you to Patron, Local Economies Project, and to Winter Conference Sponsors Johnny's Selected Seeds, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, Country Folks, NYSSFPA, and Brandt.

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Additional thanks goes to sponsors Albert Lea Seed Organics, Bejo, Fertrell, Stonyfield Organic, ValentKreher's, Agri-Dynamics, Farm Credit East, Wild for Salmon, Hudson Valley Seed Library, USDA, Agriculture Counts, Vermont Compost, Watershed Agricultural Council, and Wegmans

If you were at the conference and haven't had the opportunity to submit your evaluation, please take a few minutes to do so. We have an overall conference evaluation here and specific workshop evaluations here. We count on your feedback to continue improving, so please fill these out.

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As farmers, gardeners and eaters, how do we help make big changes in our food supply and agriculture systems?

As farmers, gardeners and eaters, how do we help make big changes in our food supply and agriculture systems?

Come to an array of Policy And Community Track Workshops at this weekend's Winter Conference to see! If you're not already registered, walk-ins are welcome.

transbanner 083New York and GMOs – Did you know that New York State has a bill (Assembly: A617 and Senate: S485) to require the labeling of Genetically Engineered Seeds and Foods? We need your help in pushing your state senator and assemblyperson to pass this bill. Come to the workshop with Alex Beauchamp of Food & Water Watch and Stacie Orell of GMO Free NY on Sunday, January 24 at 8am and learn how to Get Local And Get Active.  

GEDMOn Saturday afternoon at 3:00, we have special guests from Great Britain (GeneWatch UK), Helen Wallace and Anthony Jackson to talk about Genetically Engineered Diamondback Moths scheduled to be released in Geneva, NY this spring. Hear about the health and environmental issues for New York brassica farmers – both organic and conventional, as well as NY eaters – around letting these new organisms into the New York environment.

Organic and Sustainable systems also include the people and Social Justice – on Saturday morning at 9:30, hear Keynote  Speaker Rosalinda Guillen of Community to Community  talk about her work with farmworkers after Liz Henderson’s 8 am workshop on 5 Steps to a Food Justice Farm. Strengthen your farm team and join the movement of family-scale farms who add Food Justice to their organic and sustainable practices.

And Sunday morning at 9:30, learn how to incorporate renewable energy on your farm with solarpanelsKrys Cail and Dick Riesling.

Finally, what is NOFA-NY doing about all of this?  Help Grow NOFA’s New York Organic Action PlanSaturday at 1:30. Tell us what big steps YOU want NOFA-NY to take in the coming years, and learn how we intend to get there!

The conference location is the Saratoga Hilton & City Center, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. To see all programs and activities, view the brochure here

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On Track with Veggies at the Winter Conference

On Track with Veggies at the Winter Conference

In less than two weeks, our NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs begins!

From reduced tillage options, pack shed design, and food safety to high tunnel planning, equipment selection and safety…the conference offers a diverse program with something for ALL vegetable growers. Whether you’re just starting or have grown produce for years, whether you have a micro farm or a larger farm, no matter what type of vegetable operation you have or are contemplating, you’ll find intriguing and hopefully enlightening workshops at this year’s conference.

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