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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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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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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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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Our 2016 Neighborhood Farm Share program

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

NFS

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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