NOFA-NY Field Notes

NOFA-NY Field Notes Blog

Our blog “Field Notes” is a great way to stay current on organic farming, gardening, certification, policy, and community information and issues that we regularly share here. 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.

We encourage you to follow our blog and leave a comment or follow-up question if you wish. To subscribe to the blog and receive notifications about new posts, click the envelope on the black bar below and enter your e-mail address.

Universal comprehensive health coverage "improved Medicare for all" in New York State

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New York Farmers! Have you ever struggled to afford healthcare for yourself, your family, or your employees?

You are not alone. Over a million New Yorkers lack healthcare coverage, and even those with insurance struggle to access care because of unpredictable and high out-of-pocket costs.

The New York Health Act (A4738/S4840) is a bill that is in the New York State legislature right now that would guarantee coverage to all New Yorkers by establishing a universal public health care system for New York State.

The New York Health Act would:

  • Provide quality care to every New Yorker regardless of income, employment, or immigration status;
    Eliminate all financial barriers to care: no more out-of-pocket costs such as copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges;
  • Cover all medically necessary care including dental, vision care, mental health care and reproductive care;
    Allow for health care decisions to be made between doctors, nurses, and patients rather than by insurance company bureaucrats;
  • Be funded fairly through a combination of funds that come to New York via Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and other federal programs and progressive assessment on income and payroll.

According to a 2015 economic analysis of the New York Health Act, 98% of New Yorkers would pay less for health care, with the greatest savings going to those making $75,000 or less.

As business owners, farmers understand the challenges of providing health benefits for our families and employees. The Campaign for New York Health is committed to winning universal health care for all New Yorkers; making sure there are no financial barriers to medical care. The campaign is built around the belief that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege for those who can afford to pay.

3 Ways to Take Action:

  1. Call Your NYS Senator
    Sample message: Hi, My name is ______. I live in _______ and am an organic farmer and member of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New York. I am calling to urge Senator _____ to support the New York Health Act (S4840). The current healthcare system is too complicated and unaffordable. Guaranteeing healthcare through a fair, equitable system would remove a substantial financial obstacle for farm businesses like mine. 

    Senate Switchboard Number: (518) 455-2800
    Locate your legislator here.
  2. Share Your Health Care Story
    The Campaign for New York Health is documenting how New Yorkers experience the healthcare system through a statewide Health Access Survey. Everyone has a health care story. Please share yours today by clicking here.
  3. Join the Business for New York Health Campaign
    Farmers are a powerful voice for the concerns of working people. If you agree that New York needs a health care system that is funded fairly, where everyone is covered, and everyone receives the same level of quality care regardless where they work or how much wealth they have, please add your name to the Business for New York Health sign-on letter here.

Learn more at www.nyhcampaign.org

Thank you to our friends at Campaign for New York Health for this blog post! Learn more, and get involved here.

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Meet the 2018 Josh Levine Scholarship winners

Meet the 2018 Josh Levine Scholarship winners

We are so pleased to announce this year’s Josh Levine Scholarship winners: Mayda Pozantides and Anders Gunnersen.

Read about their urban farm and what they hope to experience at this weekend's Winter Conference. 

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Meet the Authors & Have Your Book Signed at our Winter Conference!

b2ap3 medium bookstore One of the popular elements at our annual Winter Conference is the bookstore and all the wonderful books available for purchase. With tempting titles and beautiful covers, these books call to us to open their pages and see the delights inside. Each one has been chosen specifically for the information and education they can provide to you, our conference goers.

We are thrilled to have authors on hand for their five wonderful and varied books. Bring your own copy, or purchase one at the conference and have it signed for you or as a meaningful gift for a friend or colleague.

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Training Draft Horses for Farm Work

Training Draft Horses for Farm Work

Love the idea of training draft horses for farm work? Read this guest blog by Donn Hewes of Northland Sheep Dairy and www.teamsterschool.com in advance of his NOFA-NY Winter Conference workshop, "Training Draft Horses for Work," on Friday, Jan 19. Register for the conference and get your Early Bird discount by Friday, December 15!

"In the early morning mist you find your horses out on pasture. You are struck by how beautiful they are, but also surprised at how natural they are. Some are grazing, some are taking in the first rays of the sun, and still others stand on guard, watching for any threat; they are working like a wild band. It’s time for you to bring them into the barn to be harnessed for farming and forestry.             

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The HOW, and More Importantly, the WHY of Kitchen Incubators

The HOW, and More Importantly, the WHY of Kitchen Incubators

We recently caught up with Kathrine Gregory, who will be presenting the workshop “The Art of Running a Healthy Incubator” at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference on Friday, January 19 from 9:30-10:45 am.  Kathrine created her first incubator in 1997. This 800-square ft. facility was self-sustaining in 18 months, proving you don’t need to be big to be successful. She is the founder and director of Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen.

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Four Ways to Give

Four Ways to Give

While you’re probably hearing a lot about online deals, coupons and discounts today, you are likely also considering all the ways you plan to give back this holiday season. As Thanksgiving passes, many of us shift our focus to the people and causes we care about. Did you know there are many ways you can support NOFA-NY this holiday season? When you make a gift to NOFA-NY, you’re supporting programs and services that assist farmers, inform consumers, and advocate for policies that promote an organic, sustainable food and farm system. Read on to learn more about the ways you can support NOFA-NY and thenpick the ones that work for you!

1. Participate in our Holiday Gift Auction

Our new Holiday Gift Auction features many wonderful, local, holiday gifts from businesses that support the organic movement in New York State. Browse our offerings and select one or more items for your gift giving needs. Don’t miss out, bidding will close at midnight on December 10th and items will be shipped shortly thereafter. Give the gift of local and help support NOFA-NY at the same time!

2. Join us on #GivingTuesday 

Giving Tuesday

You may have recently received a letter or email from our Executive Director asking for your help stewarding New York soils now and into the future. Help us kick off our year-end campaign by making your gift tomorrow, on #GivingTuesday. By now, you’ve probably heard that #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving—celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving—after the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday demonstrates your support for the causes you care about.

Every dollar you give directly supports our ability to offer year-round education to help growers build and maintain healthy soil. Plus, you can magnify your impact! Thanks to the combined efforts of leaders in our organic community, we have $7,000 in matching funds to double your impact. Donate to NOFA-NY and it will go twice as far! 

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The National Organic Standards Board Key to Organic Integrity

The National Organic Standards Board Key to Organic Integrity

Thanks to Abby Youngblood, executive director, National Organic Coalition, for this guest blog. On Sunday, January 21 at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference, don't miss Abby and Kevin Engelbert's presentation: State of the Organic Program. Register here for the conference!

The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance devoted to protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal and to building bridges across the many stakeholders within the organic community. NOC is a leading voice on the hill with Members of Congress, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and with the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the independent stakeholder board that advises the USDA on organic standards. NOFA is a long-standing member of our coalition through the NOFA Interstate Council, and helps provide grassroots input from farmers and consumers into the policy process. 

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At our Winter Conference: American Charcuterie & Artisan Cheese - On the World's Stage

At our Winter Conference: American Charcuterie & Artisan Cheese -
On the World's Stage

Americans today are enjoying a renaissance of extraordinary fermented foods from bread to craft beer, and from artisan cheese to pickled vegetables, charcuterie and salami. From local to regional and national markets, a sophisticated demand exists for quality value-added products.

JeffreyRobertsOn Saturday, January 20 from 2:30-3:45 pm at our NOFA-NY Winter Conference, Chelsea Green author Jeffrey Roberts Salted & Cured describes and explains the millennia-long history of fermented foods and, through a tasting, highlights the diversity of New York-made cured meats, artisan cheeses and craft beers. Since we eat with our eyes and often make assumptions about labels, the tasting will be conducted blind. Participants will learn about the history and culture of preserved products and contemporary producers, while enjoying a pairing of meat, cheese and beer. Only 40 spaces are available for this unique opportunity, so don't wait to register at: https://nofany-winterconference.squarespace.com/preregistered-events/

Want to whet your appetite even more? Listen to Vermont Public Radio's interview this past April with Jeffrey Roberts talking about Salted and Cured, which will be available for purchase at our Winter Conference bookstore. http://digital.vpr.net/post/cutting-board-salted-and-cured-meats#stream/0

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Jeff Roberts develops solutions in the areas of agriculture and food policy, conservation, the environment, and community economic development. He was co-founder and principal consultant at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont. His book, The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese (2007), was the first comprehensive survey of small-scale producers. A member of Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, he teaches the history and culture of food at the New England Culinary Institute, is a visiting professor at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Science, provides consulting services to small-scale food producers, and is a frequent speaker in Europe and the United States on artisan food, sustainable agriculture, and the working landscape. His latest book, Salted & Cured: Savoring the Culture, Heritage, and Flavor of America’s Preserved Meats (2017), is a history of dry-curing from 1600 to the present. During his career, Jeff was a meteorologist, museum curator and historian, and associate dean at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. For more than a decade, Jeff was active in Slow Food International and USA, including service as a director and treasurer of the national board. 

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Kids Get Their Own 2018 Children's Winter Conference

Kids Get Their Own 2018 Children's Winter Conference

For anyone thinking about coming to our Winter Conference in January with your children, we wanted to give you an advanced "heads up" on the parallel Children's Conference so you can make your registration plans!

We caught up with Rebekah Rice who runs the Children's Conference to answer some questions you might find helpful.

Q. What kind of activities will there be at this year’s Children’s Conference?

A. Activities include Latin dancing and drumming, social permaculture, skill building for farmers, lots of outdoor time, raw foods preparation, and daily Yoga. Our schedule (which stays a bit flexible) includes plans for lots of fun, games, exercise, and music & arts.  We have a quiet corner for kids who prefer to read or sew or do other solo activities (not including electronic devices)— since not everyone wants to go full tilt all day. What we’ll do out-of-doors will depend on the weather— if there’s snow we’ll take advantage of it.  There are some great nearby hikes for bird and tree identification and more.  Everyone should come prepared for outdoor walks, outdoor play, and outdoor celebration.

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2018 Winter Conference Special Events

2018 Winter Conference Special Events

Now that registration is open for the Winter Conference, we wanted to share a couple of the exciting special events that will be coming your way!

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Cover Crops: Pro Tips for Best Results

Cover Crops: Pro Tips for Best Results
Thank you to Vail Dixon & our friends at Simple Soil Solutions for this awesome post! Make sure to see Vail present some great information at our upcoming Winter Conference! Make sure to check out the special offer below.

Your soil does NOT want to be bare through the winter! If there are spaces between your plants, think of them as holes in your sweater and rain jacket! Any system is only as good as its weakest link, so anywhere that the cold air, rain drops and wind can get to your soil without a carbon blanket (a cover of dead or living plant material) are areas where your system will shut down and cause you problems next year.

In my experience, the better-quality cover you grow, the better-quality feed for soil microbes, and also the better-quality cash crop you will have next season. And yet, all too often, despite best intentions, I see cover crops struggle and fail to provide the benefits they could, because they were not cared for like a cash crop.

 

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Healthy People, Healthy Planet: NOFA-NY’s 36th Annual Winter Conference

Healthy People, Healthy Planet: NOFA-NY’s 36th Annual Winter Conference

We’re so excited that our 36th annual Winter Conference —January 19-21, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, NY—is already up on our website and ready for you to reserve your spot, more than a month earlier than last year! This year’s theme, “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” focuses on the critical relationship between our agricultural health and the health of our planet. 

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Decreasing Erosion Through Innovative No-till Organic Farming at Lakeview Organic Grain with Jan-Hendrik Cropp

Decreasing Erosion Through Innovative No-till Organic Farming at Lakeview Organic Grain with Jan-Hendrik Cropp

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Jan-Hendrik Cropp is an innovative German organic vegetable farmer working on organic no-till and minimal tillage systems. He is also a consultant on soil fertility, and a freelance journalist. He studied organic agricultural science, and has conducted extensive on-farm research, applying his research on a 12-acre organic vegetable farm in Germany.   

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On Monday Sept 11, Jan-Hendrik Cropp will give a field day presentation at Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens’ farm -- Lakeview Organic Grain -- in Penn Yan, NY.  NOFA-NY is happy to be involved in this field day. A morning session on using crimped cover crops for "no-till organic" will be held from 10 am-noon in a field where the Martens rolled rye in May, planting soybeans directly into it.

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Field Day at Fruition Seeds

Field Day at Fruition Seeds

It was a beautiful Saturday to make the drive to Fruition Seeds in scenic Naples, NY for the August 26 field day, FINDING YOUR TRIBE: Growing Your Food, Your Seeds and Your Team.

b2ap3 large purple beansFruition Seeds cultivates over 300 varieties of certified organic vegetables, herbs & flowers, a number of which were on view at the field day. Rows of various and beautifully colored beans, cucumbers, marigolds, and dahlias were soaking up the sun, while busy bees were visiting and doing their pollination job.

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NOFA-NY Member Spotlight: John Ingle

NOFA-NY Member Spotlight: John Ingle

NOFA-NY is lucky to have members from all walks of life: farmers, gardeners, activists, consumers, and business owners who care about where food comes from, and how it’s grown. Our NOFA-NY Member Spotlight aims to tell some of the stories of our community of members. We are so grateful to thousands of people who drive this membership organization, and the organic movement in the state of New York and beyond. I recently had the opportunity to speak with John Ingle, owner of Heron Hill Winery. Read about his farming journey below, and then learn more about how you can join us here

How long have you been a member of NOFA-NY?

I have been a NOFA-NY member for 10 years. 

What first drew you to our organization?

I became interested in NOFA-NY after being involved with the MOFGA program up in Maine. Having been an organic grower for over 45 years, I was dedicated to exploring more avenues of information and education. There is so much to learn, and so many effective ways to learn more. 

What's your personal number one priority in our work?

I am fascinated by your beginning farmer program. I was an English/Education graduate from college, so I had a lot to learn. When we planted our first vineyard in 1972, I like to joke that we “didn’t know dirt from soil.” I did a lot of reading, talking, visiting and making mistakes. That’s how to learn. Having a first rate advisor that you can count on, like NOFA-NY, is a great opportunity to fast track the learning process. 

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High Tunnel Tomatoes Field Day - Early & Mid-season Management for Optimal Health and Productivity

High Tunnel Tomatoes Field Day - Early & Mid-season Management for Optimal Health and Productivity

On July 12, NOFA-NY presented an on-farm field day at Slack Hollow Farm in Argyle, NY. After a short introduction to the farm, farm history and farming philosophy by Slack Hollow Farm host farmer Seth Jacobs, Jud Reid and Amy Ivy (both CCE) moved to the Tomato high tunnels and provided an excellent primer on long term soil health and fertility management in high tunnels. Emphasis was on the importance of soil and foliar testing in making nutrient mgmt decisions, the importance of understanding crop dynamics and variable nutrient needs through the season, and the impact of working in a controlled environment vs. the field.  

Jacobs spoke about management decisions he makes to enable a good crop, the importance of taking labor out of the equation to imb2ap3 medium Slack Hollow Farm1prove profitability, especially as applied to weed control, and the tools he is using, especially flaming and a Williams toolbar set up on a cultivating tractor equipped with belly mount basket weeders to keep beds weed free. He utilizes a standard bed design and row spacing across the farm to minimize the need for tooling adjustments. He demonstrated a custom made 3-row flame weeder in garlic and explained how he utilizes it in combination with flaming.  Seth also spoke about trellised high tunnel cucumber production, doing a succession of cukes in the high tunnel, balancing high tunnel cuke production with field production, succession planting in the field and using succession planting as a disease management strategy - pick each planting for two weeks and move to the next planting.  Jaimin Patel Ph.D, and Leora Radetsky from the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institure, RPI, spoke briefly about research they are conducting using UV-B light to control Basil Downy Mildew.  "Using light to control Downy Mildew, especially in Controlled Environment (Greenhouse or High Tunnel) culture of Basil has a lot of potential. “ 

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NOFA-NY’s Action on the Genetically Engineered Diamondback Moth

Last week, NOFA-NY put out an Action Alert asking Governor Cuomo to stop an experiment that would release thousands of genetically modified diamondback moths in Geneva, NY. In the action alert, we raised the issue that consumers could eat GMO larvae with their broccoli. (By the way, we could eat non-GMO larvae in organic broccoli, too.)

Some NOFA-NY members felt we were extreme in our alert and tone, so I wanted to take this opportunity to explain. 

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Little Free Farmstand: #GiveTakeSwap

Little Free Farmstand: #GiveTakeSwap

Thanks to Sarah Meyer, Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program Manager, for this blog.

b2ap3 icon running chicken smGeneva Peeps is a local egg coop located on State Street in Geneva, NY in which communitymembers tend to a flock of chickens in return for a weekly egg share. Sarah Meyer, Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program Manager, is a member of Geneva Peeps and avid gardener. In 2015, her home garden tomato yield was plentiful and saw Peeps as a centralized location to give away excess garden harvest, especially given its proximity within Geneva’s USDA defined ‘food desert’. 

In early fall of 2016, FLI Food Systems Program intern Lara Johnson constructed a more formal structure and together Sarah and Lara named it the ‘Little Free Farmstand’ with the intent of having it placed on State Street to act as a place for fresh food exchange, especially for farm gleaners and gardeners. Because the LFF is seasonal, in June 2017 the stand was placed and implemented as a landmark for Genevans to give, take, and swap fresh food under the protection of liability provided by the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996. Meyer and Natalia St. Lawrence have worked together to manage the Little Free Farmstand (LFF), with the understanding that upkeep and attention needs to be given to promote the stand, its purpose, and efficacy.

“We really believe in the stand’s simple message and impact – Give what you can. Take what you need. Swap what you have. There is no stigma with taking from the stand, and there is no glorification of giving to the stand. We want the stand to be everyone’s and nobody’s. We’ve really tried to keep it autonomous by using social media (Facebook and Instagram) as our main outlet for updates and status”, says Sarah Meyer.

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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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Did You Know?

Did You Know?

We know that farmers and consumers as well sometimes have a lot of questions when it comes to different farming and farm management topics.

So, before you start scratching your head for answers, have a look at our Fact Sheets right on our website. Topics include:

  • Business of Farming - links to our On-Farm Skills Development Guide and the Price Index
  • Organic Certification - includes what is organic agriculture, transitioning to organic beef production, transitioning to organic sheep or goat dairy production, organic agriculture consumer fact sheet
  • Animal Agriculture - categories in dairy, meat, and eggs
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