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.

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

cropped-highlandxredanguscalves

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.

banner_sfp5

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.

Grain coming into Focus: Long-standing New York traditional foods get their spotlight at last!

The OREI Value-Added Grains Project is a multi-year collaboration between NOFA-NY, Cornell University, Greenmarket, GrowNYC, OGRIN and others to grow the potential of primarily ancient and heritage cereal grains in New York and the Northeast.  Robert Perry, NOFA-NY’s Grain and Field Crop Coordinator, and June Russell, Manager of Farm Inspections
& Strategic Development for Greenmarket/GrowNYC, share their thoughts about grains and the upcoming Grain Expo happening during the NOFA-NY Winter Conference.

Robert says,

“Who ever heard of spelt, einkorn, emmer, or farro until recent years? This, to many, was like another new food group being grown.  However, I grew up enjoying whole grain flours living near the New Hope water-powered flour mill. Leland Weed had resurrected the old mill and overshot water wheel and spent a lifetime providing bagged whole grain flours that my mother would bake into homemade bread and rolls every week. The mill was open for tours and photo opportunities and was famous for their Buckwheat pancake mixes. My Dad had a dairy farm and did custom harvesting of small grains with his various combines. Eventually we had three combines that my brothers and I operated as well. Riding on the old AC all crop bagging combine, sliding down the chute, and playing in the oat bin was all part of growing up. The coop was close by and everyone worked as a community to support the Grange and the GLF cooperative along with various milk coops. So when legendary music of the late 60’s came along (“Traffic” and Steve Winwood’s “John Barleycorn Must Die”; Jethro Tull with “Same Old Man Workin at the Mill”)l I was already hooked on grains. Over the years various flour mills and bakeries have indulged in stone mills, whole grain bakeries, and legends have lived on, made with a labor of love, by farmers, millers, and bakers. After a silent yet persistent journey by this passionate community the grain movement has once again come into the local regional spotlight.Spelt berries

So when the idea of a Grain Expo came about for the NOFA-NY Winter Conference, coupled with selection of grain farmers
Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens as our Farmers of the Year, it was my privilege to combine this into a celebration of the legends, the present, and the future of the incredible Northeast Value-Added Grains community.”

Same old man workin’ at the mill
Mill turns around of its own free will
Hand in the hopper and the other in a sack
Ladies step forward and the gents fall back.

June responds and reflects,

“I am afraid my first encounter with a mill or anything having to do with the production of grain was much less pastoral then Robert’s and most surely involved a rickety building with a lovely river view that either had been renovated into a Ye Olde Tavern of some sort or sold Christmas ornaments and fudge to tourists. Mills were relics of the past and flour was probably made by Keebler elves, as I saw it. Even as someone who had worked as a professional cook for 15 years, I had no idea how grain grew or flour was produced.

Early on in the quest to find flour for Greenmarket bakers, I saw Jack Lazor give a workshop on growing grain in Vermont at a NOFA-VT conference. Jack told the story of being a back-to-the-lander in the 1970s and how he grew wheat to make his own bread, but when he went to sell his crop he found that even the local Vermont co-op was buying grains and flour from the Midwest for half the price and he was laughed out the door. He said it was only now, decades later, that he was finally seeing interest in the market for his grain and he quipped, “I think we’re making progress”. (Editor’s note: Jack and his wife Anne will be presenting twice, and participating in a panel at the Grains Expo at the Conference)

This was circa 2007–a full thirty years or more after Jack and many of our elders were planting those first seeds. And it was true the market was finally catching up to the wisdom of farmers like Jack.  By 2008 the local foods movement kicked into full gear along with an explosion of artisanal food businesses guided by passionate and innovative entrepreneurs who embraced working with local ingredients with gusto.  We met essential allies and co-creators who were and are making incredible products for us to eat and drink from bread to beer, pasta to gin all using local grains …and supporting our farmers. By 2010, when Greenmarket implemented its 15% rule, the market was primed, the customer was ready and a few dozen farmers were willing to take the risk and begin the steep learning curve of growing, handling and marketing local grains.
Roggenvollkornbrot1The momentum is real, from Pennsylvania to the Finger Lakes, The Hudson Valley to Maine, mills have been built, or put back into production; malt houses and distilleries have come on line; and support for re-regionalizing our food system is coming from all directions including the state of New York, which has given us the farm brewery and farm distillery legislation that is helping to drive grain production and much needed research and development of infrastructure.

It has been an incredible time to be a part of this work; rewarding and profound in ways I never could have anticipated. Back in the early 90’s while working for Greenpeace, a good friend and mentor said to me, “there should be a still in every county”. I think he was getting at a message about sustainability on a fundamental level, about feeding the soil, the animals and our selves in ways that align with our values, bringing full circle the agriculture, the market and the food culture in a way that just might have a shot at sustaining us in the long run.

Now as another malting facility opens, another bakery incorporates local flour into production and another small batch distillery using local grains wins an award for excellence, I know what that mentor meant. And although I am pretty sure he would love the taste of the bourbons that our craft distillers are producing, he would be especially proud of what this community has accomplished, and the hope for the future that it signifies.

You can join in the fun and education on Friday January 23rd. 2015.  In the morning, there’s a Value-Added grain intensive with Klaas and Mary-Howell, followed by lunch with various grain-focused vendors, and a grain forum with legendary farmers, millers, bakers, brewers, distillers, researchers and you. Beyond the expo, there will be a total of 7 workshops for grain and field crop farmers, a homesteaders’ session on earthen oven cooking projects (Saturday afternoon), Klaas and Mary-Howell’s keynote address on Saturday afternoon, and an abundance of tasty treats made with New York’s grains.

Pre-registration ends on Friday, January 16th (walk-in registration starts at 7:00pm on Thursday, January 22nd).  Registration for Friday of the conference allows you entrance to the grain expo, plus all workshops and activities.  See www.nofanyconference.org for all the information!

A Collection of Farmers’ Passions and Projects

This time of year, I have the privilege to read about so many farmers’ hopes and dreams, and their thirst for education.  I read these testimonials as part of the NOFA-NY Winter Conference scholarship application decision-making process.  We read each application fully, multiple times with multiple criteria in mind.  We hear from people exploring the idea of farming to seasoned farmers who know how much farmer-to-farmer education means to their farm’s success.  In light of the approaching scholarship award deadline (Midnight on 12/1/14), I’d like to share a few quotes that remind me of the passion and projects that farmers share willingly, in hopes of receiving one of our scholarships.

When asked what you hoped to get out of attending the conference, you answers were along these lines:

“I have one season of farming under my belt. Most of what I have learned has been by trial and error. I hope to gain as much knowledge as I can from those with far more experience so I can make this upcoming season a success. I also hope to meet other farmers in my same situation to see what steps they have taken to get to where they are and the steps they plan to take to get them to where they want to be. Being a novice, my book is full of blank pages. I would like to start filling up those pages with useful information. There is so much I want to learn but do not know where to start. I thought this would be a good place!” -2013 applicant

“Being able to exchange ideas about different growing practices with other organic farmers. Specifically looking for a better cover crop rotation for my farm. Want to learn more about the expanded marketing venues available to us for local retail and wholesale sales. Want to learn more about saving our own seed. Want to learn more about how our farm can help new farmers become established.” -2014 applicant

It’s so interesting to find out what people identify as their short- and long-term goals in the moment they apply for a scholarship–these goals are in flux each year, so this really shows the mindset of a farmer.  These goals range from lifestyle aspirations to technical specifications:

“I would like to expand the farm to six acres and acquire another good market. Eventually I would like to install a commercial kitchen where my sister in law can make prepared meals for value added production. I am planning at least two more acres of fruit trees and small fruit to round out the farm stand. I am very curious about primocane raspberries in combination with movable high tunnels. Eventually, I would like to have a mixed marketing strategy with some direct sales and some wholesale accounts. I see no reason to have a vow of poverty with this life based on the farmers I have been exposed to.” -2013 applicant

“In the short term, I will continue to work on farms with vegetable CSAs, continue to gain machinery skills, attend workshops, CRAFTs, conferences, classes, etc. to learn and to meet other farmers. I am also looking for land to lease and potentially buy. On my future land, I will run a vegetable and herb farm that utilizes sustainable and organic agricultural practices while managing the space that is not cultivated for wildlife conservation.” -2014 applicant

“I want to raise Certified Organic pastured poultry including ducks, and Certified Organic berry crops. I want to work towards the absolute minimal use of fossil fuel inputs. On-farm composting of poultry manure, bedding and ecologically sound composting of poultry carcasses. I want to bring to the customer a healthy, earth-friendly, superior tasting product at a fair price. I want to maintain the natural aesthetic of my property, while moving towards farming as my full-time passion.” -2013 applicant

“[Our farm] is a small family operated fruit and vegetable farm. We sell our products at farmers markets and to farmers market vendors. This year we are leasing land across the road and expanding to offer a CSA harvest share. We are currently Certified Naturally Grown but hope to complete the organic certification process this year or next. We are still only field farming but hope to have infrastructure, such as a high tunnel or greenhouse, in a few years that will facilitate our desire to be year round farmers in upstate New York. We love farming and we love the farming life-growing healthy food for us and for others.” -2014 applicantLuke and Cara inspecting window

And while some things show up in almost every application (and are probably on every farmer’s mind), I love seeing the interesting combinations when we ask farmers what three topics they are most interested in learning about at the conference.  For the 2014 conference, that elicited these responses:

  • “farm business planning, soil science, compost”
  • “Food Safety, Cover Crops, Sustainable Financial Planning for the Farm”
  • “Small-scale farming, how to address food insecurity, and value-added production”
  • “grains, pigs, and business sense”

No, copying these answers won’t guarantee you a scholarship.  But I hope that reading these inspires any potential applicant and ALL our community to evaluate where they are, and where they’re going, and how farmer-to-farmer education can play a role in that.  Each attendee at our conference adds to its value, whether an eager learner, a presenter, a trade show participant, or someone involved behind the scenes with NOFA-NY.  You each contribute to the greatness of New York (and Northeast) organic agriculture when you open your ears and minds to information during workshops, when you fill pages of notebook paper with ideas and contact information, and when you bring your energy to the larger group for a few days each year.

YayForFarming_ErinBullock

No matter if you apply for a scholarship, I hope you participate in this year’s conference.  Here are a few things to remember:

Apply for a winter conference scholarship by 11:59pm EST on December 1st

You may contribute to our NOFA-NY scholarship funds when you register yourself for the conference!