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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2017 Farmers of the Year!

Mike and Gayle ThorpeCongratulations to our NOFA-NY 2017 Farmers of the Year, Mike & Gayle Thorpe of Thorpes Organic Family Farm! Our Farmer of the Year process goes through three phases. First, members and NOFA-NY staff send in nominations. Second, the Education Team reviews the nominations and forwards its top three recommendations to the NOFA-NY Board. Third, the board votes, and the winner is named Farmer of the Year.

We spoke with Gayle about the recognition, and wanted to share her response: "We are greatly surprised and humbled by our being chosen as 'Farmer of the Year.'  It seems like Mike and I are still young farmers, starting out, attempting to learn and do all we can to be good  stewards so we and our family can have the joy of being organic farmers.  All of a sudden, here we are, and all of our six children are grown and work with us, bringing their own separate interests, talents, and new ideas to make our family farm what it is today."

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A Q&A with CR Lawn

CR Lawn Photo Credit Jo JosephsonIn advance of our Winter Conference in January with Fedco Seeds Founder CR Lawn as our keynote speaker, we thought it would be enlightening to make this into a Q&A blog. He answered with his usual fascinating, insightful, and practical--answers. We hope you find them interesting and helpful.

Question 1: How did you discover your passion for seeds?

My parents did not wish to raise their children-to-come in New York City so in 1940 they put down a $20 deposit and purchased a 25-acre farm in Vermont complete with an 1820s cape and a large barn, for the princely sum of $1,000, and made their big rural move shortly after my birth in 1946. As a 3-year-old I enjoyed foraging peas in their market garden. That memory must have resonated because in 1972, not long out of law school, I eschewed the law, choosing instead to buy the back forty on a discontinued town road in very rural Maine for a mere $4,000, one of the last great Maine homesteading deals. I grew my first over-sized garden there in 1973. Very active in the new wave food co-op movement, and tired of long isolated Maine winters in a home-built cabin with no amenities, I made the Maine Federation of Co-operatives an offer they could not refuse. For $90 per month and a warehouse bunk during December, January and February, I would come work on special projects. One of the first was organizing a statewide co-operative garden seed order. I had thumbed through my 1979 Harris Seed catalog and discovered we could purchase 5 lb. of beet seeds for $3.15 per lb. I did the math and learned we could break down each lb. into 90 good-sized packets costing us less than 4¢ apiece, resell them for 15¢, and still have a profit after paying ourselves. The seed order took off like wildfire, crossing state boundaries with impunity, and Fedco Seeds was born. My adventure with seeds had begun; I had found my life work.

Question 2: In your many years in the seed industry, how have things changed since you first started?

In my 39 years in the seed business many regional seed companies folded, bought out by giant national or multinational corporations, with an accompanying loss of geographically adapted regional varieties. Simultaneously, classical public breeding programs in the land-grant universities declined or disappeared, replaced by genetic engineering research. Most public research no
longer focuses on benefiting growers, instead aiming to maximize profits for the participating institutions and their corporate partners. Seed, no longer seen as a commons accessible to all, increasingly is regarded as proprietary intellectual property protected by a tangled skein of licenses, patents and other restrictions. The entire seed system is less collegial, more competitive; less
public, more private, much more secretive. Especially in the large agronomic crops such as feed corn and soybeans, farmers' choices and available varietal diversity have declined. Utility patenting threatens to extend the same trends into vegetable crops such as lettuce. Seed prices have increased faster than the consumer price index, more like the cost increases in our out-of-control health care system. In reaction, a legion of small and medium-sized alternative seed companies arose, often with regional and ethical focus, mostly tied to or part of the burgeoning organic seed network, with an emphasis on diverse crops and regional trials.

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The Story of Our Conference Food: The Tradition Continues

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Amazing food is the underlying pillar of NOFA-NY’s annual conferences. The theme for the 2017 Annual Winter Conference, January 20-22, 2017, is Long Live the Farmer: Diversity & Biodiversity. We are excited to expand this year’s programming to include the Northeast Organic Seed Conference, "Owning our Seed," along with many other new items! Within this ever-changing and evolving conference, new research is shared, farming techniques emerge, friendships begin, collaborations foster, and families grow.

One thing that has remained constant for all of these years is the reason we all come together: to support the cause for delicious, wholesome food grown to support the environment and bring it to consumers. The unique and amazing part of NOFA-NY’s Winter Conference that truly sets us apart is that the food provided for all of the meals, breaks and social gatherings is sourced organically and locally and donated by our farmers and business supporters. Each conference meal is a tribute to the diversity and bounty of New York State’s organic agriculture.

WC food

The generosity with which people are willing to donate is unbelievable; they wholeheartedly want to share the products they know are the healthiest available with their colleagues. They care deeply that the food they grow and produce can be enjoyed while at the same time, participating in an event to strengthen the organic community.

I first came to NOFA-NY as a volunteer to assist in procuring the food for the winter conference when it was still held in Syracuse and boasted an attendance of over 300 farmers. It was honestly the best way to be introduced to New York State’s greater organic community.

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TPP – Bad for Farmers, the Environment and Just About Everyone Else

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Wednesday, September 14 is the National Call-In Day to Say NO to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – known as the TPP! Despite being in a lame duck session, the White House will be pushing for a vote on this enormous trade agreement. Contact your Members of Congress and tell them that the TPP is bad for farmers, the environment and anyone who cares about their food!

What is the TPP? Simply, it is a multi-national trade agreement that would extend restrictions on global intellectual property laws, rewriting international enforcement rules and raising significant concern about citizens’ privacy and freedom of expression, spanning the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Free trade agreements have a track record of displacing people, compromising environment health and jeopardizing the sovereign rights of nations, states and communities. Free trade agreements endorsed and forced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) facilitate agri-businesses monopolies on markets and the commodification of food. Ten years after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed, over two million farmers across Mexico, the U.S. and Canada were displaced.

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Toward a More Diverse NOFA-NY

Thank you to Pam Coleman, organic certification specialist at NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC for this blog, and to the Groundswell Center and Soul Fire Farm for the photos.

The NOFA-NY conference, annual meeting, and field days are wonderful opportunities to learn about farming, meet new people, and become inspired, but there may be something missing.  This came to light during a visioning session at the 2016 annual meeting.  A woman stood up and suggested that NOFA-NY actively work to promote diversity – a suggestion that was met with loud applause and smiles of approval. In my inner-city high school, I didn’t know any “farm kids,” but I did know that the U.S. is a diverse country, and wondered why that diversity was not represented in images of farmers.KarenWashington4.jpg

There are valid reasons why some groups are under-represented in agriculture, much of it related to limited access to land and capital. The USDA discriminated against black farmers who applied for loans from the 1960s through the 1990s (read more here, from YES magazine).  Women may have limited capital due to wage inequality, or farms may be passed down to sons instead of daughters. Recent immigrants have language barriers plus the stress of living in a new country. 

While NOFA-NY can’t right historical wrongs, provide land to farmers, or even teach English to new Americans, we can take some actions to foster diversity within the sustainable agriculture community.  For example:

  • Acknowledge the work of minority farmers, particularly those that support diversity as part of their mission, such as Soul Fire Farm in Rensselaer County, NY.
  • Organize field days hosted by minority farmers to address issues specific to minority farmers.
  • At the NOFA-NY Winter conference, get stakeholder input to design future programs.
  • Publicize the work of organizations that support minority farmers. Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming in Tompkins County, NY provides affordable access to land, equipment, and training for aspiring farmers, with a particular emphasis on marginalized communities.

Soul_Fire_farm_copy_copy.jpgWe, as individuals can take action as well. We know that starting a farm can be challenging for anyone; can we also acknowledge the additional hurdles that some aspiring farmers will face?  Can we consider ways to support women, minorities, recent immigrants, and veterans who consider a career in agriculture? In short, let’s work toward a world where farmers and NOFA-NY members mirror the diversity of our country, and “farm kids” come in all colors.

Interested? Read more from Groundswell Director Elizabeth Gabriel, and from Leah Penniman published in YES! Magazine.

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From Field to Film to You!

From Field to Film to You!

In our effort to provide up-to-date, practical assistance to farmers and gardeners without demanding too much of their valuable time, NOFA-NY is once again adding to its offerings of online technical assistance, field days, workshops and conferences.

Thanks to Patricia Gately, our event coordinator, who wrote this blog about our three new two-minute videos created to be shared on our Technical Assistance page. These videos—developed with the support of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency—will offer practice tips and information on topics of common interest and emphasize best practices to secure successful outcomes.

The topics for these videos, similar in format to last year’s “Healthy Beekeeping Tips” video by Pat Bono of NY Bee Wellness, are:

  • “Benefits of Trellising” for farmers and gardeners raising or considering raising trellised greenhouse tomatoes for greater yield
  • “High Tunnel Soil Health” for farmers using high tunnels to extend their season, and
  • “Seed Quality Standards for Success” for farmers and consumers concerned about seed quality
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The Organic Dairy Transition Dream

Thank you to Robert Perry, our education team grain and field crops coordinator for writing this excellent blog.

The conventional milk prices’ diminishing return on the cost of production has been cause for a recent trend that sent dairy farmers who are on the fence about organic production scrambling for information and an organic transition plan for their farm. NOFA-NY has a technical assistance program that provides answers to some of the challenges confronting farmers today, and the dairy questions have been primarily, “I want to transition my dairy to organic.” While no quick fix exists for an average conventional farm, the one-to-three year timeline for transition creates a path for those serious in their goal. However, my first question to the caller is, “do you have a market?”

The certification process and the tools to develop an organic farm plan and tackle the application forms are what NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC staff and the NOFA-NY INC technical assistance program do best. certification process

But finding the organic market for the individual farmers’ milk is a personal journey. There are numerous players with various incentives and regional determinations for pick-up and contracts to sign.  When the milk tank is full, the waiting list begins.

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NE Organic Seed Conference Preview

Petra Page-Mann from Fruition Seeds in Naples, NY has written this guest blog on the Northeast Organic Seed Conference. Enjoy!

We are thrilled to announce the first annual Northeast Organic Seed Conference, Friday-Sunday, January 20-22, 2017 at the Hilton City Center, Saratoga Springs, in tandem with the NOFA-NY Winter Conference! The theme “Owning Our Seed” expresses our passion to become better seed stewards in the field and in our policies. Our hope also is to strengthen the rich network of seed savers, breeders, growers, and distributors here in the Northeast U.S. and Canada. It’s a great fit with NOFA-NY’s conference theme of “Long Live the Farmer: Diversity & Biodiversity.”  We own our seed as we own our future; join us in celebrating and cultivating this “ownership” this January!

Much information and inspiration will be shared in the 20+ sessions exploring subjects from Hand Pollination: Variety Improvement and Development to Northeast Native American Seeds: Respectful Stewardship, and from Biennials in the Northeast to Owning Our Seed: Perspectives on Intellectual Property. Dozens of presenters include Northeast legends (CR Lawn, Rowen White, John Navazio, Michael Mazourek, Brent Loy, Tom Stearns) plus up-and-coming faces (Ken Greene, Dan Brisbois, Adrienne Shelton, Lisa Bloodnick,) of organic seed in the Northeast.  

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We’re planning some unique and unforgettable events. Friday night, a nationally renowned special guest—stay tuned!—is joined by Michael Mazourek (organic plant breeder, Cornell University), sharing their passion for seeds, plant breeding, collaboration and food inspired by the process.  Saturday’s dinner includes a Three-Sisters showcase & tasting, celebrating the significance (and deliciousness) of traditional Native American corn, beans and squash.  Saturday evening’s Seed Swap will be an extraordinary expression of the diversity, abundance and generosity at the heart of Owning Our Seed. 

There will also be time for learning and connecting.  Although our focus is on the Northeast, we welcome anyone interested in seed to join us.  We are especially excited to reach beyond our borders and learn with our fellow seed-lovers in eastern Canada!  Cross-pollination is important for plants to adapt; it’s also important for human communities to grow increasingly resilient.

CR Lawn (Founder of Fedco) will deliver NOFA-NY’s keynote speech, addressing attendees of both conferences simultaneously. There is tremendous overlap and inter-connectedness in these two conferences. Excluding only very recent history, seed and crop improvement has always been the realm of the gardener and farmer. Indigenous and peasant farmers were the first seed “owners.” As seed has moved from commons to commodity, “farmer” and “seed saver” are no longer synonymous. Re-integrating and re-imagining these relationships is at the heart of this conference. CR’s address will speak directly to creating an ethical, sustainable seed system in the Northeast, sharing strategies for overcoming obstacles along the way.  

Registration for the seed conference is included in the NOFA-NY Winter Conference registration. Brochures will be in mailboxes by the end of October, along with an online version. Registration opens soon after.  For more details, go to www.nofany.org/events-news/events/winter-conference. See you there!

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In Gratitude to Farmers

Sondra Gjersoe, our trusty Administrative Assistant shares her love and respect for farmers as a backyard gardener...

I’ve always had a passion for gardening, from the days of growing herbs in pots on the windowsill of my cramped apartment to planting flowers along the front walkway of my house. I never really felt at home without a bit of greenery around to liven up the place. This year I decided (on a bit of a whim, I must confess) to go beyond growing tomatoes and peppers on the patio and begin to dabble a bit more in growing my own fruits and vegetables.

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Grass Fed Certification

This week's blog comes from Lisa Engelbert, NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC Certification Program Administrator and is about grass fed meat and dairy! 

What’s all the buzz about Grass Fed meat and milk products?  You mean cows and other ruminant animals should eat grass?  Really?  Yes, really!  Grass is a ruminant animals’ natural diet- it’s what they would eat in the wild, and it produces much healthier meat and dairy products than those produced in confinement operations.  Ruminant animals raised on grass harvest their own feed and spread their own manure – a very efficient system, just the way nature intended.  Ruminant animals have four stomachs, which allows them to process grass efficiently into the energy and protein they need to survive and thrive.  

Well, that must be pretty easy, right?  Not really - Grass Fed production is much more than just feeding grass.  There is a great deal of management required to maintain pastures and hay fields to produce the high-quality grass and forages necessary to maintain animal health and production.   There is a lot of management involved with grass fed animals, too.  Not just any animal will do well on grass.  Many of today’s dairy and beef animals have been bred to do well in confinement systems, but not necessarily to be good grazers.  It’s important to have the right genetics in your herd as you move to a 100% grass-based operation. 

So who’s monitoring grass fed farms?  NOFA-NY is!  We started offering a Grass Fed certification program to our organic producers in 2015, and we’re currently working with 38 grass fed certified  producers.  

It’s pretty cut and dry for grass fed meat animals.  They must be managed on 100% grass (and mother’s milk) from birth to qualify as grass fed meat.  There is no transition allowance for meat animals.  Dairy animals can transition to grass fed milk production by consuming only grass and grass-based feed for at least 90 days before producing grass fed milk.  Once the transition process starts, no more grain is allowed to be fed.

NOFA-NY is one of the organizations working with the American Grassfed Association to develop national grassfed standards.  The draft standards have been sent out for comment, and the goal is to have them finalized by the end of 2016.  If you’re interested in seeing the draft standards, please contact the certification office.

If you’re interested in learning more about Grass Fed dairy production, there are three fantastic Organic On Farm Field Days coming up:

August 31 –Join NOFA NY and Organic Valley in Madison County for Grass Based Milk Production:

 Yoder Farm

4841 Nelson Road

Cazenovia NY 13035

 

September 1 – Join NOFA NY and Organic Valley in Tioga County for Our Cows are on Grass!:

Moore Farm 2083

Moore Hill Road

Nichols, NY  13812

 

September 12 – Join NOFA NY and Fay Benson in Allegany County for Diversify Your Marketing: Managing a Grass Dairy & Meeting Consumer Needs:

Sunny Cove Farm

1444 Randolph Road

Alfred Station, NY  14803

 

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Re-Engineering an Engineer at a CSA

This post comes from our Operations Director, Nancy Apolito, as she shares her experience of a CSA newbie. 

Having been raised during the ‘70s in a traditional household, vegetables were considered a necessary part of the trifecta of meat, potatoes and a vegetable for every evening meal.  That being said – my distinct recollection of “vegetables” included many varieties in color and shape. But, they all had the same consistency, having been boiled on the stove until mushy. My other recollection deals with the “clean your plate” requirement. This resulted in many long dinners, some tears and the masterful negotiations of my brother in dealing with the number of said vegetables that were required for him to consume, the amount of milk that he could use to eat said vegetables, and the length of time the rest of the family had to wait until this process was successful and Eric ate his negotiated allotment. 

 

With this background and many years of adult living, I signed my family up for a CSA share at Mud Creek Farm. My background with folks at work as well as my true love of properly prepared vegetables had me excited yet a little nervous for this experience. My husband and I are trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diet and we agreed that this would require us to do so.  So as information regarding proper protocols, and what and where to pick started hitting my inbox, my level of anticipation increased for my first time at the farm with my husband.  Did I mention that my husband is an engineer?

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Set your Sights on a Blue Ribbon!

Set your Sights on a Blue Ribbon!

 Thanks to Nancy Weber for writing this blog about the New York State Fair's Certified Organic Divisions:

Since 2011, the Hearts Hill Farm of Rome, NY has been bringing home blue ribbons for their organic produce at the Great New York State Fair. That’s when the Fair introduced new divisions specifically for Certified Organic fruits, vegetables, forage and hay.  

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Owners Kent and Michele Roberts had considered entering their produce in the New York State Fair Commercial Vegetable competition for many years. When the Department of Ag & Markets and NOFA-NY sent them email flyers announcing that the State Fair was going to have a special organic division they thought, “Why not!” The Roberts’ entered their garlic braid (Czech variety) in 2011 and won First Prize and Organic Grand Champion. They made a clean sweep in  2012 when they entered their garlic braid and it won Organic Reserve Champion. They also entered their cherry tomatoes which won First Prize and Organic Grand Champion. According to Michele, they use their awards not only as marketing tools to increase sales but to also increase awareness of organic growing.  

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Conservation Buffers

Conservation Buffers

Thanks, Adrianne Traub, NOFA-NY Certification Specialist, for this helpful information on conservation buffers:

Borders around the edges of crop fields, also known as buffers, are an essential practice in many organic farming systems. As many farmers know, the exact requirements of the buffers are notoriously tricky to pin down. The National Organic Program, Section 205.2 defines a buffer zone as “an area located between a certified production operation or portion of a production operation and an adjacent land area that is not maintained under organic management. A buffer zone must be sufficient in size or other features (e.g., windbreaks or a diversion ditch) to prevent the possibility of unintended contact by prohibited substances applied to adjacent land areas with an area that is part of a certified operation.” Now this can mean different things depending on the geography of the specific site. Wind direction, topography, buffer vegetation type, and crop varieties all play a role in determining what is needed. The organic inspectors are well trained to help determine what is needed in each circumstance.

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Cultivate the Grassroots Organic Movement this Summer with NOFA

Cultivate the Grassroots Organic Movement this Summer with NOFA

NOFASummerConferenceLOGOvertical 300dpiThanks to Nicole Beranger from NOFA-Mass for this guest blog about the upcoming NOFA Summer Conference, August 12-14. And don't forget, the “Early Bird” discount is available until July 15 for 20% off registration! 

We’ve secured the location, gathered the experts all in one place, and for one weekend in August, you will be at the epicenter of the organic movement in the Northeast. NOFA MA learningoutdoors

Over 1200 organic farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, dieticians, herbalists and activists will come together to recharge and further the organic movement, deepening our knowledge, connections and impact at this important moment. Prepare to learn and teach and join others to discuss solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us. Solutions to pests. Solutions to weeds. Solutions to inequity. Solutions to profitability. Solutions to wellness.

Now is the perfect moment in the summer season to take in a revitalizing and refreshing dose of your community and recharge your connection to the organic movement. The season is long. The pests are eating readily. And your community is experiencing the same challenges you are. We are all trying to make things better on our land, and with our bodies.

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Good Pasture Techniques = Good Milk Production

Thank you to Anna Williams, an Organic Valley farmer, for this blog on good pasture techniques. Anna's farm is 3 Sisters' Farm in Truxton, NY.

Shade, water, paddock size, traveling time, pest control, pasture quality, etc. These are all factors to making your cow’s summer either pleasant or painful. The ideal temperature for a dairy cow is between 60 to 70 degrees. Let face it, our summers get much higher than 70F, and a cow can’t strip down into a bikini and jump in the pool to keep cool and happy. The top three techniques to help your cows keep up with their good milk production are: paddock size, water, and pest control.

The size of a paddock depends on many variables: number of animals, grass height, weather conditions, paddock rest period. The paddock has to support every animal that is on it with feed (Dry Matter), space for them to lay down, and leave enough grass behind for it to grow back. Many pasture techniques are tied into the paddock size. The best rule of thumb? The taller the grass the less space, and the shorter the grass the more space is required for the animals.

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Our 2016 Neighborhood Farm Share program

NOFA-NY's Sondra Gjersoe reports on the 2016 Neighborhood Farm Share:

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As we celebrate the beginning of summer, the sun is shining and the CSA shares have begun to make their way to homes across our beautiful state. This year I am happy to announce that NOFA-NY was honored to help bring fresh organic fruits and vegetables to 30 families in the Rochester and Buffalo region through our Neighborhood Farm Share program.

NOFA-NY developed the Neighborhood Farm Share program as a way to increase access to healthy, fresh and local produce for low-income urban and rural communities in Western New York by providing a subsidy for qualifying families to participate in a local CSA. These communities are rich in food culture and tradition but often bereft in healthy food access due to transportation issues, lack of grocery stores and income.

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Will New York Become the Location of the First Worldwide Open-air Trials of a Genetically-engineered Diamondback Moth?

Will New York Become the Location of the First Worldwide Open-air Trials of a Genetically-engineered Diamondback Moth?

Thank you to Liana Hoodes, NOFA-NY's Policy and Advocacy consultant for this blog:

In 2014, Dr. Anthony Shelton of Cornell University was granted a USDA/APHIS permit for the world’s first open trials of a Genetically Engineered Diamondback moth (GDM)1 at the Geneva, NY Experiment Station. In 2015 the experiments were done outdoors in netted cages.

We don’t know the results of these trials, but in March 2016, following a request by USDA/APHIS, Cornell withdrew their permit. Within days a new permit application was re-submitted, and it is now working its way through USDA. After this, they will need NYS approval.  While it is unlikely that there will be any trials in 2016, open-air trials are scheduled to take place during the 2017 growing season. It is essential that we all understand the details of these trials – risks or rewards.

And it is essential that New Yorkers get a voice in the process.

During most of the past year, NOFA-NY, Food and Water Watch, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, and GeneWatchUK – have been requesting more detailed information from both USDA and Cornell about impacts as well as process. It has been slow in coming and many questions remain.

Whatever the pros and cons of the technology, it is high time for New Yorkers to have all the information in hand before the moths are let out into the environment.

Very little health and environmental review has been completed about this moth. Oxitec2, the developer of the GDM, neglected to complete the Health and Environmental studies required by the EU or the Cartegena Protocol, leaving many health and environmental questions unanswered. When pressed, they claim that this technology is similar to others that were already assessed. That’s just not true – this is the first open trial of the female lethality trait.

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Did you ever consider why it took 50 years....

Thanks to our NOFA-NY Grain & Field Crop Coordinator Robert Perry for submitting this blog in advance of Friday's first Field Day, "Sowing the Future of Organic Wheat Research in the Northeast" at Cornell University.

Did you ever consider why it took 50 years for people to wonder what’s wrong with “Wonder Bread?” Each slice is a mirror image of the slice before, and the loaf before and after.

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Fortunately for all of us, there have always been a few precious seeds of ancient grains in our heritage that have inspired farmers, millers, bakers, researchers, writers, and the next generation of providers and consumers to grow the true flavor of wheat and whole grains.

The cereal world has been quietly resurrecting itself locally on farms and universities throughout the Northeast for many years. A community network has developed around taste and resilience associated with grains like Einkorn, Emmer, Warthog, and Red Fife. With the shared vision of researchers, farmers, millers, bakeries, brewers, and educators, the best is yet to come as we continue to grow the future with the seeds of the past.

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Our first Field Day event of 2016 on Friday, June 10 from 12:30-6 pm is the culmination of a recent Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiative (OREI) Value Added Grains project at Cornell, and will feature some of the pioneers of this incredible Grain Renaissance. I have had the opportunity to share some of their expertise and resources while demonstrating a mobile grain cleaner for the project and growing heritage grains on my farm. 

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Taking advantage of the Residential Agricultural Discount Program

Thanks to NOFA-NY's Fruit & Vegetable Coordinator Andy Fellenz from Fellenz Family Farm in Phelps, for writing this blog:

With funding from ReCharge NY, the Residential Agricultural Discount Program is a New York Power Authority (NYPA) program which provides discounted electricity to farms supplied by Niagara Mohawk/National Grid, NYSEG and RG&E billed under a residential electric service account. 

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You can go here for more program details:  http://www.nypa.gov/rechargeny/Residential-Agricultural_Discount_Program.pdf 

 

And here for applications:

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The Lost Ladybug Project

The Lost Ladybug Project

Ever wondered what’s up with all the ladybugs hanging out in your house during the winter?Read this fascinating labybug blog from Rebecca Heller-Steinberg at NOFA-NY's Certification Office

At a recent meeting, I met Leslie Allee from The Lost Ladybug Project (LLP) and she told me that most ladybugs that overwinter indoors are the non-native Multicolored Asian ladybug, Harmonia axyridis, which was originally introduced from Japan for biological control of other insects. (The rare native two-spotted ladybug, Adalia bipunctata, also overwinters indoors but it's pretty easy to tell apart.) Leslie also said that numbers of native ladybugs have drastically declined in the last 20 years while populations of their non-native counterparts have boomed. The LLP is focused on figuring out why this is happening and what impacts it may have.

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One really neat thing about the Lost Ladybug Project is that it is a citizen science project. Dr. Rebecca Rice Smyth from the LLP told me that before the project was started, entomologists were aware of the changes in ladybug populations but were having trouble locating some native species, including the NY state insect, the nine-spotted ladybug, Coccinella novemnotata. By asking citizens to find and photograph ladybugs, the LLP has gathered a larger pool of data about where rare native ladybugs are present and in what quantities. Anyone can participate by going to the Lost Ladybug Project website (www.lostladybug.org), learning about the different types, and submitting ladybug photos and information through the website or the free LLP app. Organic farms and gardens are especially great places to gather data because they are likely to have more ladybugs present.

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