On Track with Veggies at the Winter Conference

FellenzFarmHighTunnelsIn 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.

Friday morning, January 22, the conference starts with ideas for reducing tillage from Four Winds Farm, Goranson Farm and researchers from Cornell University. Thanks to Fellenz Family Farm, Cornell Vegetable Program, and NCAT, high tunnels will be featured Friday afternoon and Saturday morning with High Tunnels: Maximize Your Profit and Productivity and High Tunnel Planning and Soil Management.

11755083_574825739322574_4740762265749699658_nSaturday’s three-hour intensive from 1:15-4:30 pm, High Tunnels: Maximize Your Profit and Productivity will share the results of a two-year, 20 farm study looking at long-term soil health and fertility in a high tunnel, coupled with techniques based on greenhouse practices for maximizing high tunnel productivity and profit. Saturday morning, High Tunnel Planning and Soil Management will outline the basics for starting up a high tunnel on your farm while addressing soil health and fertility concerns.

Right before lunch on Saturday, you’ll have an opportunity to learn the Swede Midgecurrent state of the art from Cornell’s Vegetable Program for organic controls for swede midge in Swede Midge: What Brassica Growers Should Know.

The Pack Shed will be the focus after lunch. If you’re interested in improving the efficiency of your pack shed, considering new equipment for the pack shed, or want to ensure that your post-harvest handling practices are sound, consider attending the Pack Shed Sanitation for Produce Safety and Pack Shed Design and Equipment for the Mixed Vegetable Farm workshops on Saturday afternoon. Presenters include Pleasant Valley Farm, Early Morning Farm, and Cornell University.

Sunday morning will start with soil health and disease management from the perspective of cover crops in Managing Soil Health and Crop Diseases with Brassica Cover Crops (Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County). This is followed by Incorporating Seed Production in a Small-Scale Vegetable Rotation with Erin Enouen and Sam Zurofsky from Long Season Farm and the Hudson Valley Seed Library on how to integrate seedimg_4549
production into a mixed vegetable operation. All in all, this year’s conference will offer a very diverse program that will provide lots of learning opportunities for vegetable growers.

 

 

 

Learn about Livestock at NOFA-NY’s Annual Winter Conference!

Whether you’re interested in horses, honeybees, small ruminants, meat marketing or biosecurity, NOFA-NY’s Annual Winter Conference (January 22-24 in Saratoga) has something for you. We’re excited to boast two exceptional half-day intensive workshops in this year’s Livestock Track. And registration is open online through January 15.

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Be sure not to miss Karma and Michael Glos of Kingbird Farm and Erika Frenay of Cornell’s Small Farms Program as they present on Organic Broiler Production. Karma and Michael Glos are long time organic farmers who own and operate Kingbird Farm in Berkshire, NY along with their daughter Rosemary. Kingbird Farm offers a diverse product list from herbs and vegetables to a variety of meats. Michael and Karma are sought out for their expertise in organic farming practices.Visit the farm’s website to learn more about their diversified operation.

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Erika Frenay is the Online Course Manager for Cornell’s Small Farms ShelterbeltFarmProgram; she and her husband also raise vegetables, mushrooms, berries and poultry on Shelterbelt Farm. Check out their Facebook page to see all that they do.

If you’re interested in learning more about recent research findings for managing parasites in small ruminants, our half-day intensive workshop with Dr. Tatiana Stanton from Cornell University’s Department of Animal Science and James Kotcon from West Virginia University will feature just that.

Join us to learn the latest findings in Copper Oxide Wire Particle and high tannin forage trials to combat worms in sheep and goats. You’ll also gain knowledge on how to develop heavy stands of Birdsfoot Trefoil.

kingbirdfarmhorsesOur Saturday and Sunday Livestock program includes interesting topics from Silvopasture to Poultry Feed and Draft Power. You can find the complete listings in our conference brochure. Please contact our office with any questions concerning the Winter Conference at (585) 271-1979 or email register@nofany.org

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you later this month!

2016 NOFA-NY WINTER CONFERENCE: AN ORCHARD OF APPLES

static1.squarespace-1Apple lovers, apple likers and even those who are on the fence about apples will find a lot to like and a lot to learn at the NOFA-NY Winter Conferencestatic1.squarespace in Saratoga Springs from January 22-24, 2016.

On Friday, January 22, the fruit workshop track begins at 9 am with Benign Neglect: Orcharding on the Horizon, a 3-hour workshop by Know Your Roots encompassing organic, biodynamic and holistic approaches in the orchard. After lunch from 1:15-4:30 pm, Cider Making from Fruit to Sale surveys the craft cider business with segments on orchard design, variety selection, equipment, licensing, and market opportunities. Thanks to South Hill Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider, and West Haven Farm.

feb9_13_0075Saturday afternoon from 3-4:15 pm features Cider: A Guided Tasting and Discussion of Cidermaking, a conversation with cider tasting on fruit selection, fermentation, blending & bottling and how these decisions affect flavor. Sunday from 9:30-10:45 am, Growing Good Fruit: Organic Insect and Disease Management is an opportunity to discuss apple pests and disease in New York. The highlight of this workshop will be an extended Q&A session to answer your questions on pest and disease management. You can send your questions to farmerhelp@nofany.org or bring them with you to the workshop.

Not an apple fan? Fear not, there will also be sessions on U-Pick Organic Strawberries (Saturday, 8-9:15 am), Fruit Tree Planting and Establishment (Saturday, 9:30-10:45 am), and Fruits for Small Gardens (Saturday, 3-4:15 pm). There are a lot of learning opportunities in fruit at the conference this year.

It’s not too late to register! Visit www.nofanyconference.org. We’re taking registrations through January 15.

WINTER CONFERENCE URBAN FARMING: Mushroom Cultivation Methods

Mushroom cultivation for food and medicine is a progressive and 10455698_779104102146445_223868833291702764_nexciting portion of the agricultural system. They can be an interesting niche and make for some added diversification in the ever-changing landscape of modern farming.

For the urban farmer with limited space, mushroom cultivation can be a profitable endeavor. From edible to medicinal, mushrooms can be cultivated in a number of ways and marketed from fresh to added-value products.

From 8 -9:15 am on Saturday’s Urban Farming Track, join Olga Tzogas from Rochester NY’s Smugtown Mushrooms and learn direct methods of mushroom cultivation. web-SMUGTOWN-master

Learn how to set up a fruiting room, lab, and the appropriate mediums for a growing substrate. Olga will review the benefits and challenges of indoor cultivation and how immersing yourself within the community not only lends itself to direct sales, but helps strengthen community ties. In her words, “cultures around cultivation.”

imgresMore and more studies are proving the positive symbiosis between mushrooms and human health. Many of these fungi have been cultured and administered for millennia. Olga will demonstrate how Smugtown Mushrooms not only provides Rochester chefs with high-demand fresh mushrooms, she will also examine the potential of growing for medicinal markets.

Whether considering fungi for profit or to enjoy cultivation for personal use, this presentation will certainly lead you in right direction.

“Grow” Your Grain & Field Crops Knowledge at Next Month’s Winter Conference

Wheat

Considering where you want to spend your time at our 2016 Winter Conference? The Grains and Field Crops track has eight wonderfully diverse workshops, all serving our conference theme of “Good Hard Work.”

In the “growing” category:

  • George Wright from Castor River Farm in Metcalfe, Ontario, explains how his FrankferdFarmshull-less oats have become a popular breakfast cereal
  • Lyle Ferderber from Frankferd Farms Food shares his nearly 40 year-old story of how his farm still grows and mills local grain, and
  • Michael Cohen from Community Sharecroppers leads a discussion with other Capital District gardeners on how you can grow wheat on a small and affordable scale

Find a market and get to market:

  • Frankferd Farms Food takes you through the process of finding a
    market by creating products for local and regional customers
  • Half the grains sold by Castor River Farm are gluten free; learn from this expert on getting the popular gluten-free grains to market

Sharpen your skills by sharpening your blade:scythe

  • Take part in an interactive demonstration of peening and sharpening the European scythe blade by Emily Guirl and Elizabeth Benjamin from Scythe Supply.

How’s Your Soil’s Health?:

  • Cornell University’s Soil Guru Robert Schindelbeck provides comprehensive soil health assessment tools to guide soil management.

Heritage Grain Renaissance in the 21st Century:

You still can register now by visiting our website. For questions or if you would like additional information, please feel free to call our office at 585-271-1979 ext. 1. Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you in Saratoga Spring next month, January 22-24.

Four Innovative Farmers Launch Friday Morning Conference Intensive

unnamed-3See how the power of community and individual ingenuity can be fused to make great tools for the farm and homestead. Kicking off the Gardening and Homesteading track at the upcoming Winter Conference, January 22-24, 2016 in Saratoga Springs is FarmHack, featuring four growers’ perspectives.

Beginning at 9:00 am at this First Friday intensive, you’ll hear from Michael Cohen, a backyard grain grower discussing how he has repurposed and modified commonly available tools and devices to process his backyard grain.

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Daniel Grover will discuss horse-powered market gardening equipment, updating the old and modifying new.

Erik Fellenz, certified organic market farmer with welder & shop experience will share time-saving tools he has built for the pack shed and field.

unnamed-2Andy Fellenz, NOFA’s Organic Fruit and Vegetable Coordinator and farmer with son Erik, will discuss a Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Farmer Grant project to build a high tunnel boom sprayer.  Chris Callahan—an Ag Engineer from the University of Vermont and FarmHack aficionado—will moderate and tie together the different strands.

Bring your questions and thoughts, and be prepared for a morning filled with new ideas and sharing!

 

Homeopathy and Nutrient Management Featured in Winter Conference Dairy and Grazing Track

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NOFA-NY’s Annual Winter Conference will be held this January 22-24th 2016 at the Hilton in Saratoga Springs, NY, and has great things to share in the Dairy and Grazing Track!  We have an awesome lineup this year on topics ranging from pastured rabbits to pastured turkeys, developing pasture-watering systems that can handle the extreme weather conditions of New York, and managing nutrients in your pastures featuring Organic Valley Agronomist Mark Kopecky.  Each workshop during the Saturday and Sunday program is 75-minutes in length and spaced throughout the day to allow you to learn about multiple topics in the area of grazing.

NOFA-NY is fortunate to be able to feature within the Dairy and Grazing Track a day-long intensive workshop on Taking Your Homeopathic Skills to the Next Level.  We are excited to have expert veterinarians Susan Beal of Laughing Oak Farm and Mary Ellen Finger of Horseman Trail Farm lead this workshop focused on improving overall livestock health and providing remedies using alternative treatments.  The day will be interactive and will include a discussion about the dynamics of disease, obstacles that impact vital health and treatment response patterns, and a look at case studies.  There will be hands-on work with both the repertory (dictionary of symptoms) and materia medica (dictionary of medicines).  Participants will receive materials with their registration for this intensive course.

Register now by visiting our website to be sure you don’t miss out.  If you have questions or would like additional information, please feel free to call our office at 585-271-1979 ext. 1.  Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you at the conference!

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The Positives of Grass-Based Animal Agriculture on Carbon Sequestration

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NOFA-NY is excited to share with you a guest blog post from expert organic farmer, Nathan Weaver.  Nathan and his wife  Kristine and family are Amish members of Organic Valley/ CROPP Cooperative and live in Canastota, NY.  Nathan is always willing to share his knowledge with other farmers and has often presented and participated on farmer discussion panels for NOFA-NY.  We thank Nathan for sharing his insights into raising dairy cows on grass and carbon sequestration.

Farmers, in our activities, share responsibility for the release of too much carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels in the air have risen beyond 390 parts per million.   This level is over 40 p.p.m. greater than what is thought to be safe and sustainable for life on earth.  Most of science agrees that this is altering our climates’ weather patterns in negative ways. Long existing eco-systems are threatened and we are losing species in both the plant and animal kingdom.

Agriculture has understandably been blamed as a major contributor to the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.  The use of energy intensive equipment, methane belching ruminants, synthetic fertilizers, degradation of soils and soil organic matter and the long distance between where food is produced and where it is consumed have all been cited as major causes of our environmental troubles – much of modern agriculture as we know it.  I am pleased to be part of a cooperative (Organic Valley/ CROPP Cooperative) which is conscious of this. This has led us to being proactive in reducing our carbon footprint.  We have initiated some first steps by working with the farms within our care and realize that the conversation is just starting and there are many more solutions to be discovered.

A bright spot in agriculture is grass-based farming that relies on the benefits of grazing – optimal nutrition, animals harvesting their own feed and depositing their own manure and enjoying increased benefits to soil, animal and human health through the products produced by animals on grass.  The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania has been doing a Farm Systems Trial since 1981 which conducted side by side research on organic and conventional agricultural management practices.  What they have found is that organically managed soils can accumulate about 1,000 pounds of carbon per acre foot of soil each year.  This reveals an incredible opportunity to positively impact carbon sequestration through an emphasis on organic management.

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Jack Kittredge took this idea further in an article in the Summer 2014 issue of the Natural Farmer called Conversion, Quantities, Calculations and Indulgences: A Primer.  He pointed out that if we as farmers can focus on increasing the organic matter in our soils it has an impressive impact on carbon sequestration.  For every 1% increase in organic matter there is the capacity to store over 18 tons of carbon per acre.  I’m part of a group of farms who produce 100% grassfed milk.  Our combined 2000 acres, with an average of 6% organic matter allows us to offset  the carbon emissions of 6,617 Americans or 608,171 Zambians for 1 year.  In comparison, farms who feed higher levels of grain average 3% organic matter in their soils.  If soils worldwide increased their organic matter by 1% we could sequester almost ¾ of the carbon needed to bring us back to the 350 p.p.m  needed for a healthy existence.

My faith as a Christian leads me to ask should we not humble ourselves and get back to some of the basics of nature as God created it for solutions to our problems?   “Speak to the earth and it shall teach thee.” (Job 12:8)  Farming systems that work in harmony with nature are a bright spot in how we can produce food that is not only nutritious and healthful, but also take us a step in the right direction in reducing the atmospheric carbon problem.

 

Organic Management of Diamondback Moth and Similar Insects

fresh cabbage

The diamondback moth is one of several species of moths and butterflies whose larvae feed on cabbage and related crucifers in New York. Plans to test a genetically engineered diamondback moth at the NY Agriculture Experiment Station in Geneva NY have been in the news recently. The genetically engineered diamondback moth was developed in England by Oxitec.

Researchers are studying if the introduction of the genetically engineered diamondback moths into fields where diamondback moths are naturally present is a way to reduce crop damage due to diamondback moth larvae. Caged trials of genetically engineered diamondback are being done and open field trials have been proposed. The proposed trials, especially the open field trials are controversial. There are many questions regarding the risks associated with releasing genetically engineered insects into the environment. Many people believe more needs to be learned about the potential impacts of releasing the genetically engineered moths before open field trials are conducted.

Organic growers – both small and commercial scale – have many tools in the toolbox to control these insects and limit the damage caused by the insect. In fact, organic and IPM methods when properly timed and used appropriately will do an excellent job in managing diamondback moth.

The most effective organic control methods rely on exclusion, like insect netting or row cover, or timely and regular treatment to ensure that populations do not increase. An IPM approach where sprays or other applications of materials are made once a threshold population level is observed is often effective. At low population levels, naturally occurring insects and parasitoids may be sufficient to control diamondback moth populations. Heavy rainfall has been observed to reduce larva and even well timed use of sprinklers simulating a heavy rainfall can reduce larval populations.

Where the crop is in its growth cycle also needs to be considered as the risk of significant crop damage changes as the crop grows. So, while it may make sense to treat a young crop if diamondback moth larvae are found in 10% of the crop or a certain number are found on a sticky trap placed in the field, later in the season, the threshold might be 30% or more before taking action.

Several varieties of parasitic wasps and flies have also been found to be effective. In addition, several OMRI approved materials have been found to work well if spraying is needed. Entrust and Dipel DF are both effective against diamondback moth and other larvae which could be present on the affected crop. These materials are also very specific and affect larvae feeding on the crop, but do not kill the beneficial insects which feed on the larvae. Pyganic is also labeled for diamondback larvae, imported cabbageworms and several other larvae which may feed on cabbage and related crops, but is a broad spectrum insecticide and will also kill many of the beneficials feeding upon the larvae.

Diamondback moth is not the only insect whose larvae feed on cabbage and related crucifers. In NY, cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms and cabbage moths also have similar life cycles and feeding preferences. Organic control methods for these pests are similar. The life cycle for these pests is short, with several generations occurring each season. Several species may be present at any time in the field and with early prevention and monitoring, they can be successfully controlled using organic methods.