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Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York


VOL. 30, NO.4 • WINTER 2012


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Director’s Outlook KATE MENDENHALL Executive Director, NOFA-NY


On the Cover: Livestock understand the importance of resilience as they await the turning of winter to spring. Photo by Stacey Grabski

Executive Director Kate Mendenhall and her husband, Zach Borus, welcomed their son, Elias, into the world on November 8. Mom, Dad, and baby are all doing well, and the staff of NOFA-NY wishes them much happiness.

In This Issue Kate Mendenhall

Robert Hadad Sue Smith-Heavenrich Marilee Williams Catherine Lea Elizabeth Henderson Maria Grimaldi Marilee Williams Jill Slater


Director’s Outlook Important Deadlines and Upcoming Events New Faces at NOFA-NY Resilience: NOFA-NY’s 2013 Winter Conference NOFA-NY Policy Resolutions NOFA-NY Board Members Retiring Organic Seeds and Annual Reminders Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference Preview Regional Roundup Ethnic Greens Trial and Tribulations Fracking the Farm Part 3 Wonderful Willow Challenges in the H-2A Guest Worker Program The Two Sides of Food Justice The Edible Garden Barbeque Ode to Beau Lou Lego Battles the Downy Mildew Spore and Wins!


3 5 6 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 18 21 24 27 29 30 31


The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc., is a nonprofit educational organization supported by membership dues and contributions. NOFA-NY is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Charitable contributions are welcome and tax deductible.

inter has come! Take a breath and tie on your snowshoes. (Hopefully this winter brings more precipitation than last!) After all the excitement of the growing season, winter is always a welcome time for me to slow down and reflect on the past year. It was a rough growing season for many of you, and I hope you were able to find support from NOFA-NY and your organic farming and gardening colleagues throughout the season. As we enter into NOFA-NY’s winter programming, we will focus on the theme of our organic community’s resilience at the winter conference on January 25 through 27, 2013. With all the changes in weather we have been experiencing, resilience is a key attribute that you continue to demonstrate as a community. We hope to see you at the conference in January to talk and learn more about this together. Check out more information on the conference on page 8. As you begin to reflect on the past growing season, please jot down a few ideas for our 2013 educational on-farm programming. We will be asking for feedback from our farmer-members on issues they found challenging this year that would be helpful to focus on in the context of an on-farm Field Day next year. We would also like to highlight those of you who have perfected a new on-farm innovation or technique (or one you have been developing for a while) that others could benefit from. We consider our farmers to be the experts in helping to advance the organic agricultural movement, and we would like to hear about what has excited you, and what you would like to share with others! Look for an electronic survey in the coming weeks or e-mail Keep tabs on NOFA-NY announcements this winter, because lots of great events will be happening throughout this season. Look for a CSA Fair near you; we will be offering eight fairs throughout the state in 2013. Our second annual Organic Dairy & Field Crop Conference will be held in Auburn on March 1, 2013 with keynote speaker Jerry Brunetti. Field Days and intensive workshops continue throughout the winter and early spring, so check our e-news to take advantage of these great opportunities. I look forward to seeing you in January in Saratoga. Happy holidays and blessings to you all!


New York ORGANIC News

Vol.30, No.4 Winter 2012

NOFA-NY Board of Directors Jamie Edelstein, President

THE LOCAL FOOD AND FARM CONNECTION Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc.


249 Highland Ave • Rochester,-NY 14620 585-271-1979 • Fax: 585-271-7166 • Technical Assistance Hotline: 1-855-2NOFANY

Maryrose Livingston, Vice President Marathon,-NY

Karen Livingston, Treasurer Camillus,-NY

Karen Meara, Secretary Brooklyn,-NY

Scott Chaskey Amagansett,-NY

Karma Glos Berkshire,-NY

Robert Hadad Spencerport,-NY

Elizabeth Henderson Newark,-NY

Laura O’Donohue North Salem,-NY

Anu Rangarajan Freeville,-NY

Niechelle Wade

Kate Mendenhall

Bethany Wallis

Charlene Burke

Executive Director

Organic Dairy & Livestock Coordinator

Registration & Sponsorship Coordinator

Communications & Development Director

Robert Perry

Stephanie Backer-Bertsch

Organic Field Crops Coordinator

Nancy Apolito

Rachel Schell-Lambert

Registration & Administrative Assistant

Finance & Human Resources Manager

Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator

Nicky Dennis

Maryellen Sheehan

CSA Outreach & Food Justice Coordinator

Organic Fruit & Vegetable Coordinator

Fern Marshall Bradley

Elizabeth Henderson

Sarah Raymond

Kate Marsiglio

Food Justice Project Consultant

Membership Coordinator

Farm to Restaurant Conference Consultant

Tanya Smolinsky

Whitney Point,-NY

Kristeen Goering Communications & Outreach Assistant Newsmagazine Editor

Millicent Cavanaugh

Dick Andrus

Liana Hoodes


Pine Bush,-NY

Kimberly Davidson Sharon Nagle Cambridge,-NY


Dick Riseling






Advertise! Display Ads:

Full page b&w - $300 Three-quarter page b&w - $225 One-third page b&w - $100 Two-thirds page b&w - $200 One-quarter page b&w - $75 One-half page b&w - $150 One-sixth page b&w - $50 4-color available for all ad sizes for a 20 percent surcharge

All rates based on electronic print-ready copy. For ad rates, sizes, and deadlines, visit or contact us at or 585-271-1979 ext. 504. Classified Ads (Opportunities): Farmers can post ads up to 80 words in length on the NOFA-NY Web site: Send Display and Classified advertising to: Member Services, NEW YORK ORGANIC NEWS is a publication of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NOFA-NY Board of Directors or the membership. Articles from this newsmagazine may not be reproduced without permission. Publication Schedule: Please submit articles, display advertising, and classified ads by the deadlines listed below. Issues are distributed approximately 6 weeks following these dates.  Spring 2013: articles, Jan. 15; ads, Jan. 22  Fall 2013: articles, July 15; ads, July 22  Summer 2013: articles, April 20; ads, April 22  Winter 2013: articles, Oct. 15; ads, Oct. 22 Send letters, suggestions, article queries, photos, and press releases to: Fern Marshall Bradley, Newsmagazine Editor –

Food Coordinator

NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC. 840 Upper Front St Binghamton,-NY 13905 607-724-9851 • Fax: 607-724-9853 Sherrie Hastings Certification Director

Lisa Engelbert Dairy Program Administrator

Erika Worden Dairy Certification Coordinator

Heather Orr Dairy Certification Specialist

Jillian Zeigler Crop Certification Coordinator

Lauren Lawrence Kate Miller Jessica Terry Certification Specialists

Nancy Sandstrom Handling Certification Coordinator (607) 218-6188

Bethany Bull Financial Coordinator

Keri Wayman Administrative Assistant

Production design by David Ford, Artist MediaEye

NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC Management Committee

Important Dates & Upcoming Events Donation forms for the Winter Conference silent auction due. (E-mail Melissa at for information.)

 December 17

Beginning Farmer Winter Conference scholarship decisions announced via e-mail.

 December 19

Journeyperson Program application available online at and from NOFA-NY office.

 January 3, 12 p.m. (noon)

Beginning Farmer Winter Conference scholarship winners must confirm their intention to attend.

 January 4

Beginning Farmer Winter Conference scholarship wait-list winners announced.

 January 18

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications due (information available at ny.nrcs.usda. gov).

 January 25–27

NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs.

 January 31, 12 p.m. (noon)

Journeyperson Program applications due.

 February 1

Cutoff date for $50 early-bird discount (with complete application and payment) for update farm certification applications.

 February 7

Journeyperson Program first-round decisions announced.

 February 15

Cutoff date for $25 early-bird discount (with complete application and payment) for farm update certification applications.

 February 22

Mentorship and Technical Consultancy program application due for winter matching period (see for more information).

 February 25

Journeyperson Program final decisions announced.

 February 28

Update farm certification applications due to NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC.

 After February 28

$150 late fee applies for update farm certification applications.

 March 1

NOFA-NY Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference in Auburn.

 March 15

New farm applications for certification through NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC, due.

 March 16– May 1

$75 late fee applies for new-farm certification applications submitted to NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC during this period.

 March 26

End of Mentorship matching period.

 After May 1

$150 late fee applies for new-farm certification applications submitted to NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC.

NOFA-NY Mission Statement

Photo by Fern Marshall Bradley

More than 25 books on organic farming, gardening and living. Plus… tote bags, t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats. Shop today at!


Pleasant Valley Field Day

Visit the NOFA-NY Online Store!


The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York is an organization of consumers, gardeners, and farmers creating a sustainable regional food system which is ecologically sound and economically viable. Through demonstration and education, we promote land stewardship, organic food production, and local marketing. NOFA-NY brings consumer and farmer closer together to make highquality food available to all people.


 December 14


NOFA-NY News New Faces at NOFA-NY Four new members joined the NOFA-NY team this fall. Charlene Burke

CSA Outreach and Food Justice Coordinator Nicky Dennis graduated from Colgate University in 2011 with a degree in environmental geography. At Colgate, she conducted a research internship with Shapna Tea and Coffee company, whose mission is to fight poverty and environmental injustice using sustainable practices in growing and selling tea and coffee. She helped lead Colgate’s Compost Club and worked to permanently integrate composting at Colgate. Nicky spent a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain, and has also traveled to Ecuador. After graduating, she continued to pursue her passion for sustainable agriculture and completed Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener training program. This summer, Nicky worked at the Wegman’s Organic Farm in Canandaigua. She loves spending time on the lake, eating, and being with her family.

Field Day at Hudson Valley Seed Library Photo by Maria Grimaldi

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Registration and Sponsorship Coordinator Charlene Burke is originally from Rochester. Her childhood in upstate New York included life on a small family farm homestead and as a Conesus “Lake Girl.” Her formative childhood experiences were spent camping, hiking, and paddling in awe of New York’s bountiful natural resources. In the past year, she returned from Florida where she most recently worked on implementing sustainability best management practices at a regional planning organization. She is a lifelong conservationist who has enjoyed working on global and local conservation initiatives for flora and fauna. She has led field studies in the Florida Everglades, worked for tribes in wildlife management, and volunteered in wildlife rehabilitation. Like organics, she uses an ecosystems approach in her own garden, in providing environmental education as a National Wildlife Federation habitat steward, and as a partner in an award-winning native plant business. Prior to joining the NOFA-NY staff, Charlene volunteered to help with outreach events and the Winter Conference silent auction.

Nicky Dennis


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| WINTER 2012

Photo by Rachel Louise Lodder

Communications and Development Director Tanya Smolinsky has worked at small grassroots organizations for most of her career. As Program Director at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, she developed and implemented a wide range of programs that served youth and adults, and she coordinated the organization’s fund-raising events, led membership development, and administered grants. As Operations and Development Director at Metro Justice, a member-led organization working for social and economic justice, she coordinated membership development and fundraising events and oversaw general operations and finances. Tanya and her partner, Julie, successfully led a community effort to raise enough shares to enable Rochester’s first and only food co-op—Abundance Co-operative Market—to open its doors in 2001. Before creating a bountiful urban organic garden on their driveway, she and her family had been members of the Genesee Valley Organic CSA for nearly a decade and enjoyed their member workdays out in the fields on Peacework Organic Farm in Newark. When she isn’t working, Tanya spends every possible moment outdoors gardening, hiking, biking, kayaking, trail running, or cross-country skiing. She is thrilled to bring her 20 years of experience in fund-raising, communications, and organizational development and her passion for fostering a sustainable, organic food system to her new position at NOFA-NY.


Membership Coordinator Sarah Raymond grew up in the Rochester area. She began her career as a Youth Apprentice at Eastman Kodak Company in the Skilled Trades Division. She continued to work as a welder and scientific glassblower in the Rochester area after graduating high school. Her experiences working with various materials within the trades sparked her interest in our connection to the environment and use of natural resources. Her interests led her to SUNY Plattsburgh, where she worked under a New York state research grant to reconstruct paleogeologic events in the New England region. After receiving her BS in geology, she moved to New Orleans to teach in its Recovering School District, post Hurricane Katrina. While in New Orleans, she migrated back to her professional roots, working as a Geotechnical Consultant and a Materials Testing Quality Assurance Manager on the reconstruction of the hurricane protection system in Mississippi and Louisiana. Working at the Army Corps of Engineers on this project inspired her to return to school for a master’s degree in Public Administration. Shortly after graduating Marist College with her MPA, she started a successful general contracting construction business with her husband. Sarah looks forward to using her experiences for a cause that speaks to her personal commitments.

Tanya Smolinsky


NOFA-NY Events




Resilience: NOFA-NY’s 2013 Winter Conference to Inspire and Inform (and after a few weeks of good OFA-NY’s Annual Winter N sleep), one thing was clear: our Conference gathers New York’s


organic and sustainable farmers, gardeners, consumers, and advocates for several days of workshops, networking, and oneof-a-kind fun. However, anyone who has attended a NOFA-NY Conference will attest to the magic in the air that builds over the three days of teaching, learning, talking, connecting, eating, singing (yes, it happens!), and dancing. The quiet moments shared between longtime friends teach us the value in regularly connecting with our peers, year after year. The sparkling eyes of someone bursting with new ideas they can’t wait to try out once the ground thaws reminds us that we can always have our minds opened just a bit more. NOFA-NY was inspired by these moments in a specific way at our 2012 Conference, which followed a tumultuous growing season that brought us Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. After the postconference excitement abated

community is resilient. From the farmers who remained steadfast to their commitment to feed and clothe their neighbors despite their losses of crops, animals, and equipment to the outspoken advocates who marched on the Capital with loaves of New York bread; from the children who dressed up like their farmer heroes to the loyal companies that engaged with us at the conference trade show, the NOFA-NY staff and Board were inspired by all of YOU to celebrate this resilient community with carefully selected topics, presenters, and keynote speakers. Join us at the 2013 conference on January 25 through 27 as we gather and spread the practical and innovative information that equips us to prevent problems, lessen the effects of setbacks, and bounce back from challenges. Once again, we are eagerly anticipating our roster of presenters and lineup of fi lms and fun activities. Every activity has been carefully chosen so

Tasting heritage grains at the 2011 conference

the conference will represent a range of experiences, with many opportunities to explore our conference theme of resilience: springing forth and growing from difficult situations and often devastating losses. You are all an inspiration!

Keynote: Shinji Hashimoto This year, our two keynote speakers will share with us

Conference trade show in action.

Since 2002!

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Learn all about The Farmer’s Pledge by visiting:

Tool-sharpening workshop at the 2010 conference

their motivational farming experiences that demonstrate the kind of resilience that keeps organic food and farming moving forward. Shinji Hashimoto will join us from Ichijima Tanba City in Japan, where he has been an organic farmer since 1989. During that time, he has helped lead and grow the Japanese Teiki, or CSA, farmers’ association. He also has survived and helped other farmers to continue farming through the massive Kobe earthquake of 1995, typhoons, development pressure, avian flu, and the catastrophic tsunami and resulting Fukushima nuclear catastrophe of 2011. It is an honor to have him join our conference this winter, and we are looking forward to hearing about his experiences, message of resilience, and good spirit!

Keynote: Scott Chasky Our 2013 Farmer of the Year is Scott Chaskey, whom many of you know from years of attending NOFA-NY conferences. Scott first learned the act of springing back while gardening on the cliff meadows of Cornwall, England during the 1980s. As a poet, an educator, a conservationist, and a community farmer, he has directed one of the original CSAs in this country, Quail Hill Farm, for the past 23 years and been a leader in helping grow NOFA-NY

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over the years. In 2012, the Quail Hill Farm seed inventory listed over 500 varieties. Since 1983 his employer, the Peconic Land Trust, has protected over 10,000 acres of land on the east end of Long Island. His experiences as a farmer on the tip of Long Island, faced with a changing agricultural landscape, development pressure, and weather changes have helped shape him as a resilient farmer with a spirit of hope and message of lasting inspiration. We are proud to share this exciting program with you. If you haven’t received your Winter Conference Brochure in the mail, it should be arriving soon. Please check for an online version of the brochure, updates, and exciting additions to the program. We can’t wait to see you in January!


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NOFA-NY News NOFA-NY 2013 Annual Membership Meeting Saturday, January 26, 2013, 12 p.m. The Saratoga Hilton and City Center, Saratoga Springs


he meeting will take place during the NOFA-NY Winter Conference, beginning at noon. Admission to the Annual Meeting is open to and FREE for all current NOFA-NY members. If you are not currently a NOFA-NY member, you may join now to participate. During the Annual Meeting, NOFA-NY members will vote on a series of annual policy resolutions and changes to the organization’s bylaws and will elect board members. We hope that you can join us for the inperson discussion and vote at the Annual Meeting on January 26, 2013.

Proposed Policy Resolutions




1. Glyphosate Ban


 Whereas glyphosate (commonly marketed under Monsanto’s brand name Roundup) is already used heavily in agriculture, and scientifically has been shown to be a powerful soil biocide, resulting in the increase of microbial plant pathogens, some of which form mycotoxins. Through natural selection, widespread use of glyphosate is creating the rapid development of herbicide-resistant weeds, limiting the longevity of this chemical as a weed-control tool. Glyphosate is being implicated as a possible threat to animal health and ecological diversity, both through its direct effects and through the effects of mycotoxins in our food. Given the real and documented risk of these toxic effects, there is no valid justification to increase the use of glyphosate in the environment by growing or developing new glyphosate-resistant plants, or by any other means.  And whereas the discovery of glyphosate in the bloodstream of unborn babies suggests that everyone in North America may have glyphosate in their systems due to the enormous agricultural, suburban, and urban acreage around the country doused with this herbicide. This presence, persistence and the consequent problems from glyphosate use are inconsistent with industry-funded research and claims resulting in U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of this herbicide and the patented crops genetically engineered to tolerate it.

 And whereas there are much better ways to control weeds, improve soil health, grow healthy nutrient-dense crops, and make for productive, profitable farms than increasing the use of glyphosate, 2,4-D, dicamba, and other synthetic herbicides. Rather than increasing the volume of these chemicals used by perpetuating unwise farming practices and the continuing development of herbicideresistant genetically modified organisms (GMOs), it is much more important for government to encourage farmers to adopt alternative practices that improve soil health, soil microbial diversity and competition, natural weed control, and crop health and that produce healthy, reasonably priced food and feed. Resolution: The members of NOFA-NY resolve that in view of the many troubling questions about livestock and human infertility, health and environmental impacts linked to the production and consumption of Roundup-ready GMOs, the precautionary principle requires us to ban glyphosate until it is proven safe. We support mandatory disclosure of all glyphosate-related research findings, including any industry-funded research that may reveal threats to public wellbeing. We support government mandates allowing independent research of genetically engineered crops, including any patented chemicals these GMOs have been engineered to work with. We urge testing for glyphosate be made a regular procedure that doctors can prescribe for their patients.

2. Manufacturer Responsibility for Consequences of 2,4-D and Dicamba ď ˇ Whereas there is a likely increase in the use of 2,-D and dicamba as Roundup’s effectiveness as an herbicide decreases and GMO varieties resistant to 2,4-D and dicamba are commercialized. ď ˇ Whereas organic and conventional farms that choose to grow non-GMO crops should not suffer crop losses or contamination due to the actions of these herbicides and should be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer. ď ˇ Whereas 2,4-D and dicamba must be used much more carefully than Roundup and have a significant risk of volatilizing, causing problems well beyond the buffer zone. For example, a sprayer could be some distance from the damaged crop and it may not be possible to identify which farm actually did the spraying that impacted the crop on a nearby organic or non-GMO farm. Resolution: The members of NOFA-NY reaffi rm our position that the manufacturers of 2,4-D and dicamba herbicides must be held responsible and liable for the consequences of the spraying of these herbicides. The farm that suffers damage should be able to claim compensation that reflects the farm’s actual losses; i.e., if the farm is 100% retail, the loss in retail sales, not an arbitrary wholesale value.

3. State Minimum Wage for Farmworkers

4. Liquid Natural Gas Exportation

Resolution: The members of NOFA-NY call for an extension of the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to all currently exempted groups and for the expansion of unemployment insurance coverage to all workers with a change in the funding mechanism to make the expense more affordable to small-scale employers.

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Resolution: The members of NOFA-NY resolve that we oppose the export of natural gas and the development of liquid natural gas export facilities.

6. Extension of the National Labor Relations Act & Fair Labor Standards Act


ď ˇ Whereas the extraction and production of natural gas puts our soil and water at risk, adding greenhouse gases to the air. ď ˇ And whereas developing a nonrenewable resource that will be exported does not increase U.S. energy independence while it harms all farmers, both organic and conventional, endangering the purity of locally produced food.

Resolution: The members of NOFA-NY oppose federal ethanol purchasing mandates because these mandates raise the price of feed and food.


Resolution: The members of NOFA-NY support permanent linkage of states’ minimum wage to federal minimum wage as a floor for farm workers’ hourly wage.

5. Federal Ethanol Purchasing Mandates


NOFA-NY News NOFA-NY Board Members Retiring —Maryrose Livingston NOFA-NY would like to thank three remarkable individuals who will retire from their positions on the Board of Directors this January. Serving on the Board of Directors requires dedication; Board members

Scott Chaskey has been on the Board of Directors of NOFA-NY since 1998, including a stint as Vice-President and several years as Board President. Scott has inspired us not only with his poet’s sensibility and eloquence, but with his huge heart. NOFA-NY has endured some growing pains since its founding in 1983, and Scott always brought a healthy measure of humanity and kindness to all of his interactions with NOFA-NY members, staff, and the Board. He has been the farm manager of Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett since 1990. He is author of This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm. His newest book, Seedtime: The History, Husbandry, Politics, and Promise of Seeds is scheduled to be published by Rodale in 2014.

Karma Glos has served on the Board of NOFA-NY for three years, and she and her husband, Michael Glos, have been active members of the organization since founding Kingbird Farm in Berkshire 15 years ago. Karma always brought her trademark irreverence to Board meetings, but we also relied on her sharp intellect and working knowledge of diverse farm practices to inform the organization’s policy direction. Karma is the author of Remedies for Health Problems of the Organic Laying Flock and Humane and Healthy Poultry Production: A Manual for Organic Growers. She will devote more time to her newest passion, roller derby. You can see her skating as her alter ego, Fanny Farmer, in the Ithaca League of Women Rollers Bluestockings roller derby team.




are unpaid, and must fulfi ll their Board responsibilities while trying to keep their farms and businesses running. These Board members brought passion, integrity, and commitment to bear in their work on NOFA-NY’s behalf.


Remembering Richard B. Colledge Richard B. Colledge, 48, passed away Thursday, September 27. Richard was born in Ridgewood,-NY, and lived in New York until six years ago, when he moved to Montclair, NJ. There he, with his wife Natalie Colledge owned the restaurant Plum on Park. Richard enjoyed the outdoors and frequenting his home in Pitcher,-NY. We were touched to hear that during such a trying time, Natalie requested donations be made to NOFA-NY in lieu of flowers or other offerings. Please keep the Colledge family and friends in your thoughts, as we will here at NOFA-NY.

Elizabeth Henderson has been on the Board of Directors of NOFA-NY since 1989. She has served not only as the institutional memory of the organization, but often as its conscience. Through her continued activism on behalf of farmers, low-income consumers, and the environment, she has challenged all of us to remember that farming is a political act. Elizabeth is one of the founders of Peacework Farm in Wayne County, and a pioneer in the Community Supported Agriculture movement. She is one of the authors of The Real Dirt: Farmers Tell about Organic and Low-Input Practices in the Northeast. She is also lead author of Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture and wrote A Manual of Whole Farm Planning with Karl North. Elizabeth will continue her work on behalf of organic farmers worldwide though her involvement with the Agricultural Justice Project and the Domestic Fair Trade Association. Maryrose Livingston farms at Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon and serves as Vice-President of the NOFA-NY Board of Directors.

Photo above by Joshua Levine

Update from Certification Organic Seeds and Annual Reminders Ah, winter. Cold air, perhaps a bit of snow, a crackling fire, and … seed catalogs! Indeed, it’s that time of year once again; time to peruse our seed catalogs in anticipation of another spring and another growing season. If your operation is certified organic, take heed before placing your orders! The National Organic Program (NOP) Seeds and Planting Stock Standard requires that certified operations use organic seed, annual seedlings, and planting stock, with only a few exceptions.  Use of non-organic seeds and planting stock is an option only if organic equivalents are not available in the quality, quantity, or form needed (aka not “commercially available”), and only with supporting documentation to verify they were not genetically modified or treated with prohibited materials. Organic seed is required without exception if producing edible sprouts.  Organic annual seedlings are required unless an official temporary variance has been granted by the NOP Administrator.  Planting stock to be used for perennial crops may be non-organic but must be managed organically for a minimum of one year before crops may be represented as organic.  Treatment of seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock with prohibited materials is allowed only if required by Federal or State phytosanitary regulations.

We recommend that certified operations annually notify local utility companies, health departments, highway departments, etc., of the operation’s organic status and request that the companies refrain from spraying pesticides or herbicides on their property. After notification letters are submitted, you may receive a request for additional information required to properly identify the property. Please be sure to reply to any requests received to enable the utility, highway, or health department to locate your property and honor your request. The staff of NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC wishes you all abundant warmth and good health throughout the holidays and winter season.


Be sure to seek out organic seed and planting stock from a minimum of three viable sources. If your search is unsuccessful, then you may choose untreated, non-GMO seed. But be sure to document your seed search!

Important Reminders

Just one of over 650 varieties including high-yielding hybrid, unique heirloom and open-pollinated varieties.


Photo above by Maria Grimaldi

Rhonda F1 beet


NOFA-NY certified operations will receive their update applications in late December with a February 28, 2013 due date. For those interested in getting the paperwork out of the way, we’re offering additional incentive this year with two earlybird discounts. To be eligible for one of the earlybird discounts, applications must be complete (all paperwork completed, full payment of certification fee required). Submit your complete application postmarked by February 15, 2013 and receive a $25 discount, postmark by February 1 to receive a $50 discount.

To request a free catalog, visit or call 802.472.6174


NOFA-NY Events






oin NOFA-NY on March 1, 2013 for our second Annual Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference at the Holiday Inn in Auburn featuring experienced organic keynote speaker Jerry Brunetti, founder of Agri-Dynamics. In 1979, Jerry Brunetti founded Agri-Dynamics with a vision of providing a line The day’s program will of holistic animal remedies highlight workshop topics for farm livestock, equine, including: Soil Sampling and and pets. After witnessing Test Reading with CROPP soil firsthand the devastating results Agronomist Mark of conventional, Kopecky; Herd Health chemically dependent, with founder of Agrigrain-based rationed Dynamics Jerry farming practices, Brunetti; Growing Jerry embarked on a Small Grains with crusade to educate and Mary-Howell and consult for farmers Klaas Martens, who made the wise owners of Lakeview choice to transition to Organic Grain; ecologically responsible Keynote speaker Sprouting Fodder and sustainable Jerry Brunett i with dairyman John farming. Jerry works Stoltzfus; and more. towards improving soil and crop Th e conference will include quality and livestock performance a half-day intensive session on and health on certified organic transitioning to organic dairy farms. Hear Jerry Brunetti management; new farmers speak on the benefits of organic and farmers interested in soil management as it relates transitioning are encouraged to to improved crop quantity and attend. quality and on how to build soil NOFA-NY Certified LLC to be more sustainable in extreme staff will be available again weather conditions.

this year throughout the day to answer questions on organic certification. Be sure to take time to visit our expanded trade show and speak with company representatives. Partake in a delicious organic lunch made with products donated by local farmers and business members and prepared by Holiday Inn Executive Chef Todd Field. There will be programming for both new and veteran farmers alike, so bring your family, friends, and neighbors. Enjoy a day of learning, networking, and information exchange. We look forward to seeing you there! Space remains available for those interested in sponsoring the event or participating in the trade show; find more information at For more program details visit the NOFA-NY Web site or contact Bethany Wallis at 585-2711979 ext.513 or

Regional Roundup To learn more about what’s happening in your NOFA-NY region, visit

Capital Region  Denison Farm in Schaghticoke hosted a Brazilian Raw Food Demo and Farm Tour in September. The event was organized by Capital District Community Gardens and the Agricultural Stewardship Association, which recently conserved the farm’s land.  Kilpatrick Family Farm leader Michael Kilpatrick returned to his farm in Middle Granville in October from a four-month internship at Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia. While there, Michael joined a team of interns to learn everything he could at Polyface, which raises pastured beef, pigs, turkeys, broilers, layers and rabbits on more than 1,200 acres.  Speaking of Joel Salatin, NOFA-NY member Tracy Frisch interviewed Salatin for an extensive piece in the October 2012 issue of The Sun magazine. Their wide-ranging discussion touched on topics including the humane treatment of animals, food, and agriculture regulations, and the valuable lessons children can learn by growing or raising something that is alive.

Catskills/Hudson Valley  Indoor farmers markets and growing “undercover” look to extend the region’s growing season. More producers are adding value to their products through processing and diversification of products.

 Many members in this region are dealing with damage to homes and farms as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  The Regional Committee is organizing, working to set up a Google groups account, training people on how to add names to the regional e-mail list, planning how to grow their presence on Twitter and Facebook, and contemplating a holiday party for members in the region.  An article about Quail Hill Farm, “After Graduating From College, It’s Time to Plow, Plant and Harvest” appeared in the September 24 edition of the New York Times.  Regional representative Melissa Danielle appeared as a member of a speakers’ panel at Harvesting Opportunities, American Farmland Trust’s Conference in Albany in November.

North Country


 The second annual StewFest in downtown Glens Falls in October offered local eateries and brave regional contestants a chance to showcase their skills with their unique varieties of stew.  The Garlic Festival at the Riverfront Farmers Market in the Warrensburg Mills Historic District Park in early October featured locally grown garlic, horticulture, folklore, recipe contests, crafts, and more.  Castorland Thunder Lane Dairy hosted an afternoon field tour on the benefits and challenges of growing no-till, green manure cover crops in Northern New York.


The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities opened in Richmondville (Schoharie County) in October. In her comments at the opening ceremony, Board of Directors member Dr. Amy Freeth said that the “opening of the doors of the Center was symbolic of the doors that have been opened by this grassroots movement in support of a more sustainable future for upstate New York.” She indicated that the Center was an effort to “respond to challenges faced by the region including how we can expand local economies while maintaining the rural character of our communities.” The nonprofit center will provide programs and initiatives in support of environmentally-compatible economic development, sustainable agriculture, open space and historic preservation, increased access to technology and more. For additional information about the Center visit:

New York City/Long Island


Center for Sustainable Rural Communities Opens

 A second meeting to discuss Ben Hewitt’s book, The Town that Food Saved, and how its message might be applied in the region took place at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor.  See page 29 for a story about a recent fundraiser for the Catskill Edible Garden Project.  Capital Region NOFA-NY member Amy Halloran wrote a story about Hudson Valley farmermember David Rowley of Monkshood Nursery in Stuyvesant, “No Farmer is an Island,” for


Research Report Ethnic Greens Trial and Tribulations

—Robert Hadad

Potential new specialty crops for vegetable growers show promise in an ongoing research trial.






hat makes a crop an ethnic vegetable? Simply put, it’s a crop associated with a particular cultural community. The range of ethnic crops includes vegetables as familiar as tomatoes, peppers, and squash, but called by different names. Other types of ethnic vegetables are unique and exotic. As new ethnic groups move into the regions across New York state, the marketplace opens up wider to new and exciting vegetables to grow and sell. In December 2011, Jim Ochterski of Ontario County Cooperative Extension and I held an ethnic vegetable workshop in Canandaigua. More than 40 farmers attended this daylong workshop on the production and marketing of various types of vegetables representing a broad ethnic background. The interest from the attendees in exploring growing ethnic vegetables was quite high. In response, with a little funding from the Western NY Cornell Cooperative Extension Association group, I launched a two-year ethnic vegetable variety and marketing trial. The focus is to see how well an assortment of ethnic vegetables perform here in Western New York under our wildly fluctuating weather conditions. We’ll also explore how growers can market these new crops, how customers respond to them at the market, and what is needed to reach targeted communities. The first trial was held on Firefly Farm in Canandaigua, with crops planted and maintained by our gracious farmer cooperator Sharon Nagle. Sharon is an organic grower who sells fresh produce to chefs in the Finger Lakes area (and also a member of the Volunteer Management Committee of NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC). In the 2012 growing season, the trial focused on Asian and Italian greens that might have appeal as restaurant menu ingredients. Plants were grown as transplants set out on August 8. We spaced the Asian greens tightly at about 3 to 4 inches within rows and 6 to 8 inches between rows. The Italian chicories and radicchio were spaced about 12 inches apart.

Asian Greens Even in the tightly spaced conditions of our trial, yield and plant quality were good. Flea beetle pressure was less in the latter half of the season but still a nuisance. Some varieties stood up the pest pressure better than the others. The Pung Pop greens had the best flea beetle tolerance rating (1

out of 5); Toraziroh had the worst (2.5 out of 5). Germination rates were high, there were no disease issues, and no problems with other pests. Due to the weather, water stress may have been a problem but the plants seem to have withstood the dryness despite some afternoon wilting episodes. Pung Pop is a group of mustards selected from an open genetic population of mustards by FEDCO seeds. The crosses made behind the selections came primarily from Indian mustard varieties. The plants grew quickly with dark green leaves and red-veined stems. The flavor was very strong and hot. Due to this flavor component, it was felt that Pung Pop did not lend itself well to use in entrée dishes, but if picked small, as “baby” leaves, it would add nice fl air for salads. Fair to good tolerance to flea beetle; 40+ days to maturity. Toraziroh from FEDCO had large leaves and strong stems and grew quickly. It was slow to bolt even in extreme heat. The flavor was distinctively zesty and more of the atypical Asian flavor, not as pungent as other mustards. 45 days to maturity. Maruba Santoh from FEDCO grew quickly and was easily harvestable after 35 days. The shape and texture of the plant was reminiscent of Michilli cabbage, with tall, wide leaves with thick midribs. Leaves could be picked for salads or leaves with stems for stir-fry, and even bolting stems with flower buds are good for cooking. This variety preferred cooler temperatures for longer leaf production and did not stand up to heat as well as the others. Yokatta Na is in the Brassica rapa family. It matures in 45 days and can be picked young for salad mix. Best grown in cooler temperatures early in the spring or later in the year, Yokatta Na is an ideal candidate for extended season production. In our trial, this variety performed quite well. The plants grew quickly, producing nicely formed, uniform stems and leaves with a spoon-like shape. The texture is crunchy and flavor is mildly zesty. Pink Lettucy Mix is another B. rapa relative from FEDCO. The leaves are light green and oval on long petioles with hints of pink in the veins. Lighter pigmentation might be due to the heat. It was quick growing, maturing between 40 and 45 days. The flavor and texture of the leaves was tasty and sweet, making it a favorite with the chefs.

Mei Qing is a well-known pac choi from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (JSS) with an overall smaller size than the standard choi varieties. This vase-shaped plant grows 8 to 10 inches tall with wide dark green leaves and white thick petioles. It matures in 45 days and can tolerate heat but prefers cooler temperatures. This variety can be picked young or grown to full size; it has good bolt tolerance and is somewhat tolerant of flea beetles. Shiro is another JSS entry. It is a small pac choi with a bright white midrib, excellent for baby pickings. It does not stand up well to heat and cannot be held long in the field. Once it matures there is little time to waste in picking it before it bolts. Red Choi from JSS is a mid-sized choi with purplish tinges; it reaches 9 to 12 inches tall and matures at 40 to 45 days. This choi would probably work best for fall harvest, because cooler weather accentuates the color. Quick to bolt under stress and doesn’t have much holding time in the field. Semposai is from FEDCO and is a cross between a Japanese mustard spinach and cabbage. This F1 hybrid is a fantastic grower with large grayishgreen leaves and thick midribs. It totally resembles collards or the Portuguese Tronchuda kales. It has a mild collard taste, but the leaves are softer yet crisp. This crop needs space and room to grow. Each plant produces a large harvest of greens.

Chicory and Radicchio

Red Orchid chicory is one of several types of Italian greens included in the 2012 ethnic greens trials. Photo by Elizabeth Buck

General Observations


Robert Hadad is Cornell Vegetable Program Fresh Market Specialist and serves on the board of NOFA-NY. Look for additional photos and the final report of this trial at the Cornell Vegetable Team’s Web site at


Sharon commented that she really was pleased with most of the varieties trialed and her chefs found that several fit nicely into their menus. When asked, Sharon stated that she would continue to grow at least three of the Asian greens and a couple of the chicories and radicchio. These would be a welcome addition to her offerings to chefs in the area. Next season we plan to expand our trial to more types of greens, including some from several other cultures. We will also look at peppers, vine crops, and beans. I would like to thank Sharon Nagle for her participation, careful attention to detail, and organizational skills, which helped make this trial a success despite a crazy growing season. And thanks to our Cornell Vegetable Team’s technician, Elizabeth Buck, for taking great pictures and keeping track of the field notes.


We trialed several of these gourmet greens native to Italy; seeds of most varieties were supplied by Seeds From Italy. Cicoria pan di Zucchero is a tall sugarloaf-type heading chicory. The heads look like tight Romaine lettuce with light green leaves and thick white petioles. The tight heads really firm up in the cooler weather. Chicory has a bitterer flavor than radicchio and is used in traditional Italian recipes and as a bitter herb in salad mixes. The flavor does mellow a bit as the temperatures drop in the fall. Maturity runs 80 to 90 days. Sharon seeded the chicories in flats and then transplanted them out.

This ensures less variability in germination than direct seeding and also more consistent maturity at harvest. Chicory and radicchio have few pests. Slugs can cause some damage in the fall, but the biggest problem is deer. Keep deer out at all costs. Once they get a taste for these greens, they will go after them big time. Cicoria Orchidea Rosea, also known as Red Orchid is a beautifully colored round-headed chicory. At 75 days, it is earlier than most other varieties. The red intensifies with cool temperatures. Easy to germinate and grow. Heads reach 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Fiero is a tall radicchio with that characteristic sugarloaf shape. It has bright red coloration and matures quickly at 65 to 68 days. Radicchio di Chioggia is another easier-togrow variety. It works well in the fall but can be grown from transplants in the spring before the hot weather forces bolting. Red-and-white-striped heads mature at 75 to 80 days and 4 to 5 inches in size. Virtus is a radicchio from JSS that matures in 65 to 70 days and is a tall heading type. It can tolerate heat but prefers cooler temperatures. The leaves are light green with whitish-green markings. In our trial, Virtus was the quickest to head up. The spacing for the radicchio and chicories is usually 1 foot within and between rows. Virtus can be grown a little tighter. The wide outer leaves of these varieties can act as shade to deter weeds from getting too bad after a few cultivations.


Agricultural Issues Fracking the Farm Part 3: Impacts on Marketing and Food Safety

—Sue Smith-Heavenrich

This is the third of a three-part series of articles concerning the possible impacts of industrialized shale gas drilling on New York’s foodshed.





n an August Sunday in 2009, Angel and Wayne Smith were relaxing on their porch after finishing the farm chores. Suddenly they heard an explosion. “It sounded like a jet engine blew up,” said Angel. “And then we heard something like rain hitting the tin roof. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.” The explosion was Spectra Energy’s Steckman Ridge gas compressor station, located half a mile from the Smith’s farm. The pattering droplets they heard was 1,629 pounds of used gear-lubricating oil turned into an aerosol mist by the explosion. Oil wasn’t the only thing released that day; more than 6,400 pounds of methane and volatile organic compounds were also sprayed into the air. The oily mist settled on gardens, cars, and hayfields up to one and a half miles from the compressor plant. The Smiths and their neighbors were told to not eat any vegetables or fruit from their gardens and to throw away toys that had been exposed. “But the oil covered everything,” said Angel Smith, “our house, garage, the hay wagons … we lost all our tomatoes and our berry crop.” The gear oil mist landed on the Smiths’ beef cattle. It coated the tarp covering their winter hay supply and contaminated the exposed parts of bales. The oil landed on the corn, the pastures, and the hayfields. “We ended up cutting it and leaving it in the field,” says Angel Smith. She estimates they lost well over $25,000 in crops and hay; Wayne pegs the figure closer to $40,000. Then there are the additional expenses they’ve incurred to protect their livestock and harvest: a new shed to store hay ($22,000) and more than $4,000 in water tests. The problem, she says, is that they don’t know what they should be testing for. But nothing they do has been able to save their once-thriving U-pick blueberry operation. Before the compressor accident, they could count on a steady flow of ten families a day, each hauling out five gallons or more of berries. But now, even after three years, only a handful of people drop by.

“We’ve got 550 plants and no one wants to pick berries,” says Angel Smith. She can’t fault people for being worried about contamination from the compressor and the surrounding gas wells. “At least the beef go to auction,” she says, noting that no one has ever questioned the safety of her beef.

What’s the Beef? While some buyers bid for beef raised in gas country, others have made no bones about boycotting food grown near wells. Two years ago the Park Slope Food Co-op publicly stated that if hydrofracking were allowed in New York, they would “research alternatives to New York state products.” The 15,800-member retail food cooperative purchases more than $1.5 million in New York state

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Research for this series is supported with a grant from the Fund for Environmental Journalism.

fruits and vegetables and another $1 million in poultry, beef, lamb, and pork. They also purchase NY-made yogurt, cheese, eggs, cider, and milk and take their responsibility to “buy local” seriously. Fracking—even if it weren’t on the producer’s farm—would be a deal-breaker. One that, says NOFA-NY member Ken Jaffe, would have a dramatic effect on his farm. Jaffe raises grass-fed beef on hilly pastures in the Western Catskills. Slope Farm is situated on 100 acres in Delaware County, located near the headwaters of the Susquehanna River and just outside the “no fracking” buffer zone protecting the New York City watershed. He leases another 300 acres of pastures and hayfields and contracts grazing with other farmers. Some of his beef ends up at the Park Slope Co-op and other NYC markets, so Jaffe takes extra care to ensure his cattle are raised well away from drilling areas. But what happens when drilling moves into an area? That’s not a rhetorical question for Jaffe. Just a few months ago he began negotiating a two-year grazing contract with a Tioga County farmer. But at the end of September, Houston-based Carrizo Oil and Gas started drilling an exploratory Marcellus well in Owego. Now Jaffe’s rethinking that contract, especially since Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated he’d allow horizontal hydrofracking in Tioga and other Southern Tier counties.

There’s a lack of knowledge about what kinds of toxic substances concentrate in the various organs and body parts after exposure. “There is no effort to do that kind of investigation,” Jaffe says, “and it’s exactly the sort of study we need.” Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald agree. The research team has spent the past two years collecting case studies of drilling impacts on animals. Out of ten herds exposed to drilling chemical and wastewater spills, only one was quarantined— that dairy herd in PA. And that, says Bamberger, is because state investigators found strontium in their tests. “Farmers are continuing to produce food products (milk and meat) without testing.” The proximity of gas drilling chemicals and waste fluids to food production raises questions about the safety of grain and vegetables as well as the meat, eggs, and dairy products. Bamberger also questions the safety of producing poultry feed from rendered flesh of animals exposed to drilling fluids. “The biggest problem is that we don’t know enough,” she says. Not only is there no federal funding for research on the impacts of chemical contamination on food, there are also no required tests for contaminants. There are no mandatory “hold times” or quarantines for animals exposed to drilling chemicals either, says Bamberger.

Break Bread, Not Shale Testing won’t make much difference, though, if there’s a perception that food comes from a contaminated place. And place is important, says Stefan Senders. The number of organic farms in New York State is growing, he notes, and that trend is helping to spur the growth of local economies. Almost two years ago he started Wide Awake Bakery, a tiny bakery located in Mecklenburg, just


The primary concern for Jaffe’s buyers is what’s in the meat. “No one at the regulatory level is investigating this,” he says, disbelief in his voice. He cites the Pennsylvania case where 28 cows were quarantined after exposure to drilling fluids. “And then what?” he asks. No one, to his knowledge, has looked for any chemical residues in those animals.


Testing, Testing…


On this Butler County, PA, farm, organically grown corn surrounds newly “planted” storage tanks for drilling fluids. Photo courtesy of Michelle Bamberger

Two new drilling sites disrupt the rural landscape in this scene of Bradford County, PA. Photo by Sue Smith-Heavenrich



From the air, the industrial nature of gas drilling is easy to see. Photo by Sue Smith-Heavenrich

Clouds hang over the Lathrop compressor station in Susquehanna County, PA, after the compressor exploded in March 2012. Photo by Frank Finan




west of Ithaca. Production is small—between 500 to 700 loaves a week—but the focus, Senders says, is to nurture a local economy. One neighbor grows the organic grains, another neighbor mills them, and Senders bakes them into wholesome loaves. “The wheat, the flour, and the bread are wholesome,” says Senders. “They bring our communities together, give us work, nourish us, and make our bodies and our land healthier.” Fracking threatens that. “Because bread needs water,” Senders explains, “lots of water.” Bread works because of gluten, and gluten works because you wet the flour. His rye


flour requires nearly equal proportions of water and flour, and the purity of that water is critical. “What happens if you put your second ingredient at risk?” Should drilling contaminate local wells, Senders could truck in water. But no farmer can afford to truck in irrigation water, he says. And without local grain, what’s a miller to grind? The illusion, says Senders is that you only need to fi x one thing— such as bringing in water. “But when you frack, eventually everything fractures.” Agriculture and environmental journalist Sue Smith-Heavenrich has written about the potential impacts of gas drilling on livestock and crops.

Crop Production Wonderful Willow

—Marilee William

Willows are handsome, hardy, adaptable plants with many uses—and they’re easy to grow, too.


Living willow structures like this willow tunnel designed by Bonnie Gale add an imaginative flair to the landscape. You can size a tunnel for children to play in or adults to stroll through. Photo by Bonnie Gale

to the ground and then stick the cuttings through the sod, but that may make weed control more challenging. A more successful strategy is to prepare the planting site by plowing or tilling first and applying any needed amendments.

Creating Cuttings

| WINTER 2012

You can buy willow cuttings from nurseries or take your own. Simply explore your property, and you’ll probably find willows growing there already. Willows are some of the first trees to show signs of spring growth; look for a soft yellowish-green coloring from the tiny flowers. Willow leaves are long, narrow, and finely toothed, turning yellow in autumn. Consult a tree field guide to identify individual species of willows, but tracking down the identity to species level is not critical unless you will be growing willows on a commercial scale for

use in specific products. The best varieties for weaving have long, flexible shoots. Cuttings can be taken at any time during the dormant season (usually November through March in New York). Cut a shoot and look at its interior structure. Varieties with the smallest core, or pith, will create the most durable end products because they contain the greatest percentage of wood. If you can bend the rod 90 degrees without snapping it, it will be usable for weaving. The best cuttings are from the lower two-thirds of one- to twoyear-old wood. Using a very sharp knife, cut sections of willow into 10- to 12-inch lengths. A smooth cut surface with little injury to the bark will ensure the greatest chance of success. Cuttings need to be planted with their buds pointing up. An easy way to ensure this is to always follow the


illow is in the news these days as a material for biomass energy production, but willow also has many other traditional uses: baskets and furniture known as wickerwork; trellises, arbors, and plant supports; and woven fencing called wattle. Certain species of willow (the genus Salix) are particularly well suited for weaving because they develop long pliant shoots in summer. Willow is known as a pioneer plant—the first to begin growing in a barren environment. As farmers and gardeners, we can take advantage of this characteristic and grow willow on marginal land that may be too wet for crops or pasture. Its quick growth makes willow perfect for erosion control, yet we can still harvest a crop of useful cuttings each season, leaving the roots in place to protect and stabilize the soil. Willow cultivation is straightforward and requires little input. Any spot that is sunny and moist with moderate fertility is suitable. As with any crop, weed control is essential, and planning in advance is very helpful for long-term weed suppression. Options include cover cropping for a season or two before planting, carefully planning plant spacing to accommodate the equipment you use for cultivation, and mulching after planting. Planting willow is simple: stick a cutting in the soil and stand back! Seriously, it is nearly that simple. An easy method is to mow existing vegetation close




same technique in the field when you’re taking cuttings: cut the top end straight across, and cut the lower end at an angle. Then when it’s time to plant, you know that the angled end is the end to insert into the prepared ground. If you have identified plants as particular species of willow, bundle your cuttings according to species with growth direction aligned. Label each bundle! Store the cuttings in moist sand or sawdust v a cool spot or even outside in the shade of a building, covered with straw. It’s important to not let them dry out: a thick layer of straw provides better protection, but may also lead to invasion by unwanted rodents. If you prefer to purchase your willows, try a quick search on the Internet; you’ll find many sources. One advantage to purchased cuttings is the vast choice of bark colors available, which can add interest to your woven products. You’ll also find the characteristics of each species carefully described. Some varieties produce longer, more flexible rods, which bend more easily into tight curves; others grow into larger, stronger rods that can be woven into sturdy furniture and arbors. Whatever you wish to produce, there is a willow that will fulfi ll your needs.

Proper Planting It’s best to plant willow cuttings as soon as the soil is frost-free in the spring. If the planting bed is soft and friable, simply push the twigs into the prepared soil. In a firmer soil, push or pound in a metal rod to create planting holes. Either way, plant the cuttings deeply enough so that only one or two buds remain above ground on each cutting. Firm the soil around the cuttings to prevent them from drying out.

Once the willows are planted, moderate irrigation is beneficial if rains are sparse. Keeping the weeds shorter than the willows will help your crop to get off to a good start. Mulching, of course, helps with both.

Harvest Time One of the best aspects of growing willows is that harvest doesn’t take place until the dormant season, Students from the Chenango Bridge Elementary School in Binghamton when many of the work together to weave a living fence. Photo by Bonnie Gale other demands of farming and plants are not uprooted by the gardening have slackened a bit. tugging of other methods. If the Cut willow rods for weaving first year’s rods are too short for any time after the leaves have your desired products, use them fallen from your willow stand to make more cuttings to expand and before growth begins in your plantation. By the second the spring. Traditionally, the year, though, with adequate waning moon of December was moisture and weed control, you considered optimal harvest time. can expect rods 4 to 9 feet long, In New York, that can present depending on the variety and the the grower with widely varying season. No matter the length, conditions, from pawing through willow intended for weaving must snow several inches deep to be harvested every year, so rods harvesting on a warm snowless remain pliant, with no branching. day wearing a T-shirt. I do feel Cut willow rods as close to the that timing the harvest for the ground as possible and gather waning moon is best for the them in bundles right in the plant, because the vitality will field. Tie the gathered rods in be strongest in the root system several places to help keep them then, ensuring future harvests. straight. Store the bundled rods And cutting when temperatures in a dry place, either upright, are above freezing will prevent leaning against a wall, or lying the willow from splintering and flat. Spanning the trusses or improve the harvester’s mood as rafters of a barn or garage will well! keep the rods out of the way but Use clippers to harvest the still provide good air circulation first two seasons, so that young

MORE ABOUT WILLOWS  Willow Basketry by Bernard and Regula Verdt-Fierz (Interweave Press, 1993) for even drying. Be aware of unwanted critters that may nibble or leave droppings on your carefully harvested crop, and take measures to keep them away.

Weave Away After the harvest comes the fun. Sort your rods by length, so that when you are ready to weave, the proper size rod will be ready for your nimble fingers. To do this, place a bundle cut end down in a wide, deep container, such as a barrel. Pull the longest rods from the barrel first and set them aside, then the next longest and so on. You’ll end up with separate piles of equal lengths, ready for your weaving project. Willow can be woven “green” directly after cutting, but as it dries it will shrink, losing nearly half its thickness. Green weaving should be done tightly

and beaten well, but it will still loosen considerably when dried, so the basket or fence will be less sturdy. It is not recommended for furniture. For the strongest, most durable product, it’s best to first dry the rods and then soak them right before weaving. There are several methods of preparing willow for weaving. Bark may be stripped off or left on and rods may be split or dyed, but that requires investing in a few more tools. The simplest technique is just to soak the rods, generally one day for each foot of length. While the rods are soaking, you can plan your project and gather your tools. Books abound on weaving baskets and trellises or building willow furniture. Working with an experienced basket weaver can shorten the learning curve and help you develop proper

 Making Rustic Furniture by Daniel Mack (Lark Books, 1992)  Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates and Fences by Jim Long (Storey Publishing, 1998)  Basket Willow Culture in New York State by John Wallace Stephen M.S.F.  Basket maker Bonnie Gale ( offers willow weaving materials, makes exquisite baskets and living willow structures, gives presentation, and individual and group classes.

techniques, but a teacher is not essential. Let your creative juices flow, your imagination soar, and weave away. You, too, can discover the wonders of willow. Marilee Williams grows and weaves willows and more in the Finger Lakes region.

Willow Water


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The genus Salix has many medicinal uses. One constituent, salicylic acid, is the basis for the aspirin we reach for to quell a headache. As a soak or spray, this property can be put to good use on new plantings to promote Systemic Acquired Resistance, or SAR, which acts to prevent injury from microbial attack. A simple mixture can be made by dissolving 3 aspirins in 4 gallons of water and spraying liberally. One hormone in willow, indolebutyric acid (IBA), promotes rapid rooting in new plants and cuttings. A synthetic form of this is used in the commercially produced rooting hormones that are widely available. This property of willow was understood by Native Americans, and the recipe for their willow water was shared with early settlers. It’s easy to make willow water. For the greatest potency, collect willow branches during the growing season. Strip off the leaves from pencil-thin branches and chop the branches into 1- to 3-inch-long pieces. Steep 2 cups of the chopped twigs in 2 quarts of boiling water and let sit overnight; or, use warm water and soak the twigs for 24 to 48 hours. Strain the brew before using or storing it. Soak cuttings in the willow water overnight before planting; you can also use the brew to water the soil around new plantings. Two applications are usually sufficient. Refrigerate any leftover willow water and use it up within two months.

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Agricultural Issues Challenges in the H-2A Guest Worker Program —Catherine M. Lea

Exploring why the H-2A program is a second-rate and second-class solution to the farm labor shortage in New York and beyond






cross the country, farms large and small face a common challenge: there just aren’t enough Americans interested in agricultural jobs. Despite high unemployment and a renewed public awareness of food and farming issues, the demanding day-today work of growing and harvesting food is a hard sell to many U.S. workers. Experts estimate that undocumented workers from abroad comprise just over half of our country’s agricultural workforce. The H-2A program for temporary guest workers jointly administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Justice provides an alternative: it lets employers apply for permission to hire foreign farm workers for temporary or seasonal positions. The program, which was authorized under the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, applies to workers in almost every agricultural sector, in every state. The number of H-2A workers has been increasing over the past several years; a 2011 paper by Farmworker Justice reported around 80 thousand certified H-2A guest workers in the country. As of 2010, New York accounted for 3,858 of those workers. Though it accounts for only a small percent of farm labor in the United States, the H-2A program is an established, widely used way to legally employ foreign workers in an industry heavily dependent on undocumented immigrant labor. But the program has been controversial, criticized both by farmers who find its procedure unmanageable and by farm-worker advocates who call it exploitative. To use the H-2A program, employers must prove a shortage of workers in their region who are “able, willing, qualified or available” for farm work. They must actively recruit U.S. workers before applying for H-2A and certify that hiring a guest worker will not “adversely affect” the wages or conditions of American workers. Once they hire guest workers, farmers must offer an “adverse effect wage rate” (AEWR): a minimum wage rate tied to the annual hourly wage rate for similar work nearby. Work conditions under H-2A are regulated by the Department of Labor and include housing standards and fair compensation. However, H-2A workers are excluded from any protections offered under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker

Protection Act. Only non-immigrants are eligible to be H-2A workers; they must have no intention of staying in the United States once their work is done. They are not offered the chance to become a legal resident alien or a U.S. citizen, and their visa is tied to their employment; once it expires, they must return to their country of origin (Mexico, in the majority of cases).

H-2A at Norwich Meadows NOFA-NY farmer member Zaid Kurdieh has been employing H-2A guest workers at his operation, Norwich Meadows Farm, for over a decade. Every year, he advertises in the local paper for workers and A recent report by sees the same results. “We get nobody with experience,” Farmworker Justice he says. He does have a few found employers longtime local employees across the country who work year-round; apart from that crew, he hires engaging in wage guest workers. He knows theft, exploitative farmers have been criticized productivity for hiring from abroad during a time of high U.S. standards, and unemployment. “They use discrimination the term ‘taking our jobs against H-2A away’,” Kurdieh says. “Well, you don’t even want those workers. jobs.” He has tried many times to hire locals, but “some of them don’t even last half a day on the job.” Farming, Kurdieh says, is “very hard work, and only people who have been doing this a long time, who are trained in it, can do it.” Most of the 15 or so workers he’s hired through H-2A are experienced farmers, and all have what he calls an “incredible” work ethic—something he says his community notices and appreciates. Since he started using the program, he has hired back the same workers, taking on a few more as his farm has expanded. While he praises the workers, Kurdieh has mixed feelings about the H-2A program itself, which he calls “extremely cumbersome” and “almost out of control” in its inefficiencies. He must go through four separate government agencies to prove a need

Getting Involved If you want to do more to help effect change in the farm labor system, contact Elizabeth Henderson, cochair of the NOFA-NY Policy committee and member of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) Labor and Trade Working Group. Or you can join the NESAWG Labor and Trade Working Group. To join, go to, scroll down to the list of groups on the right hand side of the page and click on the Labor and Trade Working Group.

for workers every year, even when he’s rehiring the same workers. “If we’ve been doing this program successfully and we haven’t violated any of the rules… and we show that there’s a perpetual lack of [local] employees, then we would hope that they could not certify us every year but every two, three, or five years.” Meanwhile, Kurdieh says, the paperwork is so convoluted that for the past two years he’s had to hire attorneys to oversee the process. Despite specifying a “date of need” for the guest workers’ arrival, he may have to wait months to hear back from the agencies. A delay of up to six months is significant when it comes to seasonal work. “At the embassy level,” he says, “somebody within government has to recognize that we don’t have six months… Every year our business is at the

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Nelson Carrasquillo is the general coordinator of the farmworker support organization Comité de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA). He agrees that there is a disconnect between farms and the policies that govern their workforce— but he believes the problems with guest worker programs run much deeper than inefficiency. He sees fundamental flaws in a food system dependent on imported labor, documented or not. Carrasquillo points to damaging trade policies that have undermined local economies in places like rural Mexico, “bringing about the downfall of many farmers.” Displaced workers turned to the U.S. in desperation, and when foreign workers are “willing to do whatever it takes to work, they often tolerate unfair working conditions [and] abuse by employers.” Even with work visas, Carrasquillo says, temporary guest workers are very vulnerable, and they are subject to mistreatment by employers less conscientious than Zaid Kurdieh. A recent report by Farmworker Justice found employers across the country engaging in wage theft, exploitative productivity standards, and discrimination against H-2A workers. Because workers’ visas are dependent on a single employer who can send them home at will, they are often “fearful of retaliation”—they worry that “if they demand the wages owed to them they will be fired and deported or refused rehire next year.” This vulnerability and inadequate protection, says Carrasquillo, puts workers “in a subservience level that gives the employer full control.” A Southern Poverty Law Center report


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describes worker abuses as “the foreseeable outcome of a system that treats foreign workers as commodities to be imported as needed without affording them adequate legal safeguards or the protections of the free market.” When it comes to the H-2A program, Carrasquillo doesn’t mince words: “Yesterday’s slaves are today’s guest workers,” he says. While he praises Even if many farmers the workers, farmer want to ensure a decent Zaid Kurdieh has living and good conditions for their workers, mixed feelings about systemic problems like the H-2A program the vulnerability of H-2A itself, which he workers are often out of their hands. “The national calls “extremely discussion about the cumbersome” and guest worker program “almost out of control” goes hand in hand with ensuring a stable work in its inefficiencies. force” in agriculture, says Carrasquillo, but “small farmers are mostly out of the discussion because they lack the leverage.” Groups like CATA and Farmworker Justice advocate major policy and hiring changes to address this problem. One such proposal is the adoption of fair labor standards put forth by the Agricultural Justice Project. Another is granting farm workers certain rights, including the ability to change employers and the option to apply for citizenship. Many simply call for stricter government oversight and enforcement of labor standards. Meanwhile, farmers like Kurdieh continue to struggle with a disinterested and inexperienced local workforce. Mexican workers continue to turn to U.S. farm for jobs that sometimes support—but more often exploit—them. And small farmers and foreign farm workers alike continue to struggle with a flawed food system, one that doesn’t always seem to have their best interests at heart. Catherine Lea is a Farm Labor Intern at Just Food, a nonprofit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible to all New Yorkers.

Circles of Caring The Two Sides of Food Justice: Food Access and Job Fairness

Access for inner-city and lowincome people to healthy, clean,

Healthy Rebates for CSA Members

| WINTER 2012

To further strengthen the CSA network in New York, the NOFA-NY staff is trying to persuade health insurance companies in New York state to give their healthy rebate for membership in organic CSAs. (Some insurance programs offer a rebate of $50 to $200 to customers to cover the cost of undertaking a healthy activity, like joining a gym.) In the Madison, Wisconsin area, where the Fair Share Coalition (aka MACSAC) has been successful in partnering with insurance companies, the number of CSA members has increased steadily. NOFA-NY staff is contacting insurance companies and will be meeting with their policy makers. CSA farmers can help with this project by asking CSA members to push from below by requesting

this rebate from their insurance providers. The NOFA-NY Food Justice staff has drafted a letter that farmers can provide to their CSA members in their farm newsletter or blog or forward in an e-mail. Please contact the NOFA-NY office for a copy. While the CSA model gives farmers the chance to have a stronger voice in setting the terms of trade with their customers, all kinds of organic farms need to receive prices that cover their full costs of production. It is NOFA’s mission to support farms with every possible marketing strategy. Over the past few years, NOFA involvement in the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) has provided some of the resources to help farmers to better calculate their costs. You will find a listing of resources along with the high standards for this domestic fairtrade label on the AJP Web site, The resources are part of the Farmer Tool-kit, which also provides templates for labor policies to enable a farm to qualify to use this label. In addition, NOFA-NY Board member and Extension Specialist Robert Hadad is giving regular workshops on production costs and two farms are piloting the AJP Food Justice Pledge. In the next year or so, the NOFA-NY Certification program will begin offering Food Justice Certification. By displaying the Food Justice label, the farms and other food businesses that qualify attract customers who believe that farmers and all food workers deserve fair wages with safe, respectful working conditions.


nutritious food is what you hear about most in news reports about food justice. But there is another side that is every bit as crucial— fair treatment and living wages for the people who grow, wash, cook, transport, and sell our food. Over 17 percent of the jobs in the United States are food related. If everyone who touches food as part of their work (including farm workers and farmers) were paid enough that they could afford to purchase high-quality food for themselves and their families, our food system would be on its way to greater fairness and longterm economic viability. The job of Food Justice Coordinator for NOFA-NY is to make some progress in both parts of this struggle. Under a USDA grant from the Farmers Market Promotion Program, NOFA-NY has begun the Neighborhood Farm Share program, providing a partial subsidy for limitedincome residents of Buffalo and Rochester who join an organic CSA (one offered by a certified organic or Farmer’s Pledge farm). This financial support is made possible by the grant and a generous donation from a New York state family foundation. This project launched too late to include many CSAs during the 2012 season, but we hope that all CSAs in the Buffalo and Rochester areas will consider reaching out to local low-income people as new members for their CSAs for the 2013 season. Our goal is 80 new members in Rochester and 40 in Buffalo. Households in “food desert” zip codes in rural areas

could also qualify for the subsidy. NOFA-NY is ready to assist you with training in processing food stamps and various other mechanisms for making CSA membership financially possible for low-income people. These topics were covered in the two CSA schools that took place in Batavia on October 27 (for CSAs that have some experience) and November 3 (for new or not yet started CSAs). We are revising the Neighborhood Farm Share program for 2013 based on our experience in piloting it with a few CSAs in 2012. Please let us know if you would like to participate by sending an e-mail to!

—Elizabeth Henderson, NOFA-NY Food Justice Project Consultant



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The Edible Garden Barbeque Hills Country Inn in Callicoon Center was packed with locavores, kids, and the organizers of the Catskill Edible Garden Project on October 14 for a day of music, local food, and education. The event was hosted by Slow Food UpDeRiva, one of NOFA-NY’s partners in the Catskills Region, and sponsored by local farm/food advocates including Jeff Bank, Farmhearts, Hills Country Inn, The Lazy Beagle Pub & Grill, and several NOFA-NY members, including Channery Hill Farm, River Rats Rubs, Root ’n Roost Farm, and Willow Wisp Farm. Besides being a Slow Food event, the barbeque was a “slow money� style event as well: all of the food

—Maria Grimaldi, Catskill/Hudson Regional Representative

was purchased from local farms and producers and included baked goods from Brandenburg Pastry Bakery in Jeffersonville (Brandenburg uses organic flour milled in the Finger Lakes from Cayuga Pure Organics), grass-fed beef from Wahl Farms in Callicoon, hot dogs from Snowdance Farm in Livingston Manor, milk from Tonjes Farm Dairy in Jeffersonville, and apple cider frotm Maynard Farms in Ulster Park. Lively fiddle music was provided by the Brinkerhoffs of Milanville, PA. Catskill Mountainkeeper, along with local groups and leaders, have formed the Catskill Edible Garden Project to help schools create and sustain gardens, provide students with a

learning experience about the local food system, and encourage them to develop an increased understanding of the importance of agriculture in our region. The program participates in garden design and construction, contributes toward the materials needed to build each garden, and consults with schools on garden-based education programs. The next phase of the project is to bring education about wholesome organic food into the schools and perhaps even into the school cafeteria. Some of the students honored at the barbeque took part in a school lunch boycott to call attention to the poor nutritional value of the food being served at their schools.

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Ode to Beau I sit on the sofa my bare feet on the spot where you breathed your last breath. The warmth from your body feels precious beneath my feet my soles touching the lingering presence of your soul. My Little Man My Lovey there will never be another BeauBeau. I feel so blessed to have had these years to offer you comfort in your retirement. Rest well, rest deeply my farm hand, my friend. Herd the heavenly flock until I can smooth your wavy red coat again. The earthly pain you leave behind has found another home in my heart. —Marilee Williams Photo by Julie Louisa Hagenbuch





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Research Report Lou Lego Battles the Downy Mildew Spore and Wins! —Jill Slater, Northeast Organic Research Symposium Coordinator

A creative farmer finds an ingenious solution to a difficult disease problem.


Tomato plants in Lou Lego’s experimental spore exclusion hoophouse are disease free. Photo by Merby Lego

Outsmarting a Dreaded Disease

| WINTER 2012

Lou and Merby sought their present SARE grant in response to an unfortunate trend Lou recognized a couple of years ago. Many of his fellow farmers’ entire cucurbit crops were dead by midsummer! Spores of the fungus that causes downy mildew were bouncing up out of fields of winter squash and summer squash in Maryland and the Carolinas and traveling north on wind currents. In rainy or foggy conditions, the spores then rained down on fields, and the resulting explosion of disease killed cucurbits through the Northeast. “These Southern farms used to be fine,” explains Lou. But now the high volume of pesticides used have resulted in widespread pesticide resistance in the downy mildew fungus, and thus greater spore production. A useful but bittersweet outcome of this spore invasion are the computer models and weather models developed by North Carolina State University (NCSU) to carefully document, quantify, and locate the spores’ whereabouts. Farmers on the spores’ path receive daily e-mails from the university as to the status, impact, and travel patterns of the downy mildew spores. However, also these e-mails keep a farmer informed, there is little recourse once the spores arrive. Lou didn’t want to just sit by and watch as his cucurbits were decimated. He wanted to be able to take advantage of this incredibly precise warning from NCSU and arm himself and his fellow farmers with a proactive tool. Thus began Lou’s exploration for a solution. The first step was to find out the actual size of a downy mildew spore. How does it compare to pollen or other airborne particles, for example? Well, it turns out that, at 2 microns, the spores are relatively large—larger than cigarette smoke and pollen. Lou thought the common fi lters sold at Home Depot for the purpose of trapping cigarette smoke might be adapted to his purpose as a spore barrier. A couple of summers ago, Lou built a little plastic hoophouse with a fi lter installed in one end wall and a small exhaust fan at the other end. Success! There were no spores in the tunnel and his small sample of cucumbers planted inside was unharmed. Once he witnessed how successful the offthe-shelf fi lter was at sparing a lucky batch of


he NOFA-NY Organic Research Symposium in January 2012 brought together a great group of academic researchers, farmers, and on-farm researchers as well as gardeners, journalists, and students. One of the on-farm researchers who presented is Louis Lego, owner and farmer of Elderberry Pond. Elderberry Pond is a 100-acre farm replete with 100 varieties of apples, vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers, as well as heritage pigs and chickens. Lou, who also served on the Symposium’s Advisory Board, presented a poster on growing scabfree apples without fungicides and participated in a couple of round-table sessions highlighting the ups and downs of on-farm research. In March of this year, Lou was awarded a SARE grant to test a downy mildew spore-resistant hoophouse. This was the tenth grant award that Lou and his wife, Merby, have received over the past 20 years. In fact, the Legos have never had a grant request rejected! They take the application process very seriously and enjoy the financial and outreach opportunities these grants afford. A few of Lou’s favorite past grants supported his efforts to build a small-scale cider pasteurizer, to innovate fungicidefree growing practices for apples, to perfect a mulching technique that would preclude bringing straw into the field, and to start a restaurant on his property that would serve the sustainably grown vegetables, fruit, and meat harvested onsite.


This computer-controlled apple cider pasteurizer is another of Lou’s inventions developed through a SARE research grant. Photo by Merby Lego

cucumbers, Lou wanted to expand the scope of the experiment. The SARE grant supplied funding to build a large (30 feet by 100 feet) hoophouse— complete with fi lters—over outdoor raised beds. Cucumbers grown in that hoophouse would be compared to a control crop grown in a regular hoophouse without fi lters. Both houses were equipped with roll-up sides, so that the houses could remain connected to the outside environment until such time as the downy mildew spore warnings were issued. Unlike the majority of the cucumbers grown in greenhouses throughout the United States and Canada, Lou’s cucumbers were exposed to the elements. The flexibility inherent to a hoophouse design means that for the majority of the season, Lou’s crops are essentially outside—surrounded by just the metal skeleton of a hoophouse. The fans in the end wall of the experimental hoophouse worked to pull air through the fi lters on the other end, thus establishing slightly pressurized conditions. This allowed Lou to freely open the door to the hoophouse and enter the space without worrying about unfi ltered air infi ltrating the house and contaminating the protected cucurbits.




Lou’s Design Saves the Crop


Lou completed construction of the two hoophouses by early summer of this year—ready for an early onset of spores. In fact, the first warnings from NCSU didn’t occur until late August. While his cucumbers had enjoyed fresh air and direct natural sunlight all summer long, it was time to roll down the plastic and batten down the hatches on both hoophouses. As soon as the fog lifted or the rain subsided, and North Carolina State’s models declared the air to be spore-free, Lou lifted up the sides of the hoophouse, and as he likes to say, took his crops out of “spore exclusion mode.” Like Lou’s initial trial, this grant-funded largescale experiment was a great success. The cucumbers inside the fi ltered hoophouse were delicious— completely unmarked and spared of any and all signs of downy mildew. Those inside the fi lter-free hoophouse were ravaged by downy mildew. Lou is delighted that his relatively low-tech solution frees farmers from the limitation of

focusing solely on disease-resistant varieties of cucurbits. They can choose to grow heirloom varieties, or any variety they prefer. Widespread adoption of fi ltered hoophouses would also preclude the need for extensive efforts on the part of universities to breed downy-spore resistant plant varieties. Most grants require an outreach component. In this way, the grantee ensures that as many people as possible learn about the farmer’s discovery, new product, or innovative growing practices. Some on-farm researchers dread this part of the grant process, but lucky for Lou, he loves sharing what he’s learned. For this grant, Lou held on-farm workshops to demonstrate how to build a downy-mildewresistant hoophouse; he and Merby hosted tours of their farm; and Lou plans to deliver a paper on the experiment at upcoming conferences. Lou knows that, as a farmer, he’s got firsthand knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Luckily, there are many grants available that support onfarm research, and there are farmers like Lou who are challenged and driven to find solutions. His curiosity and creativity benefit many farmers, and in the end, make our food taste that much better!

Making Connections Taking NOFA’s 2012 Theme to Heart(h)

—Jenn Baumstein

Session on Northeast grains at NOFA-NY Conference led to a local grains connections for a college in Saratoga.

What piques your memory when you think about the 2012 NOFA-NY conference? Perhaps it’s the snow that finally started falling on eastern New York, just in time for the Young Farmers Mixer that dark Thursday night. Maybe it’s the vibrant hum of over 1,400 farmers, producers, educators, and advocates from around the country sharing conversations between sessions and during meals. It was a record crowd! The Northeast Organic Research Symposium, a first in conjunction with the conference, was a wonderful way to diversify NOFA-NY’s member base. And the conference theme—the Cooperative Economy—still resonates as a worthy goal. For the folks at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, the 2012 theme could not have been more on point. Skidmore, much like many liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States, has begun to

re-evaluate its food purchasing as part of a push for stronger sustainability efforts. The school has committed to calculating the percentage of its total food purchasing that can be categorized as “real

Skidmore College baker Matt Litt rell shows off braided breads made with flour from North Country Farms. Photo courtesy of Skidmore College


food” (food that is “local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and/or humane”) as part of a national campaign called the Real Food Challenge. Dining Services has hired five interns over the last two years to help calculate the Real Food percentage and assess areas of improvement. In conjunctions with the Real Food effort, the school has sent both students and staff to the last two NOFA-NY winter conferences. Skidmore Campus Sustainability Coordinator Riley Neugebauer supported members of the Skidmore dining and operations staff who attended the 2012 conference with tips and strong suggestions of what workshops would best benefit Skidmore. Matt Littrell, Skidmore’s lead baker, attended the full-day session on Scaling-Up the Northeast Grains System, where he met Kevin Richardson of North Country Farms. That initial meeting blossomed into a business connection and more.





Forging the Farm-to-Campus Link


When speaking to Kevin and Mark Miller, the Director of Dining at Skidmore College, you can tell they love sharing their stories. “Kevin was a school teacher who wanted to go back into farming, so he did,” Mark related. “Shortly after starting his business, he was banging on doors in Manhattan, giving samples of his flour away, and two weeks later, the phone was ringing off the wall.” After Kevin and Matt met in January, the two hatched a plan to get flour from North Country, which is north of Syracuse, to Saratoga. The trip from farm to bread is less than 200 miles—includes the processing, which takes place right on the farm. Luckily one of the distributors that supplies Skidmore’s dining system agreed to pick up and deliver the flour. After receiving the initial pallet of potential, the school experimented with various breads, from rolls to pizza dough. Given the gluten content of the flour, they focused on artisanal breads and some desserts. The school uses 50 pounds of the flour a day—enough to keep Kevin and the bread bakers, who make fresh bread every morning, busy. Skidmore is only one of the many schools and businesses that North Country Farm works with. Kevin laughs when he talks about keeping up with demand. “The mill is running twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, the farms around us are producing grain again to keep up with the demand.” The year has been such a success that Kevin has put up a few greenhouses and is growing spinach for the school, too (Skidmore goes through eight 10-pound cases of spinach a day). “This is a first for us. The greens are just coming up. We have herbs for them, too.” This is not to say that Skidmore is a perfect model of local and sustainable food purchasing. The college’s good relationship with one local (nonorganic) farm was born through a connection that happened by chance at the NOFA-NY conference, along with pressure from the institution’s Sustainability Office to localize some of its food purchasing. If we think about it, students, who are the true drivers of change in large institutions, are also the clients of these colleges, demanding what needs to be supplied. I, for one, am happy to oblige and help them demand more of our product, since we are providing them both the inspiration for being change-makers and the food to fuel their passion. Jenn Baumstein is the Business Manager of The Guest House at Lant Hill Farm, a farm-to-table bed-and-breakfast mere miles from Saratoga Springs.

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1450 Western Ave, Ste 101 Albany,-NY 12203 (607) 687-2240 NYSAMP offers agricultural mediation services and also provides training opportunities in communication skills, negotiation, conflict management, mediation, and facilitation.


Remembering Sally Brown






This rigorous course for serious farming entrepreneurs will run for ten weeks from January 10 through March 14, 2013. Instructors are Monika Roth, Agriculture Program Leader, and Matt LeRoux, Agriculture Marketing Specialist, with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and Leslie Ackerman, Director of the Business CENTS Program of Alternatives Federal Credit Union, along with area farmers and business owners whose stories illustrate the benefits of business planning and financial management skills. Groundswell is committed to supporting a new generation of farmers that reflects the diversity of culture, color, and class in our community. Tuition for the class is on a sliding scale, from $120 to $400 depending on household income. This course will examine opportunities to lease land for farming in the Tompkins County area, and to secure financing through agricultural and commercial lenders or local “Slow Money” investors. To express your interest, contact us at or call (607) 319-5095. Field Day at Hudson Valley Seed Library Photo by Maria Grimaldi



® , 0 years ago ® began over 2 n zo ri o cess. Ever since H rt of our suc a e h e th t a been cholarship farmers have the HOPE S d e h lis b a st ee ople to That’s why w ge young pe ra u o c n e to Fund griculture. of organic a ld e . fi e th r te en ip recipients 12 scholarsh 0 2 r u o to s on Congratulati

Callie Brodt Fer ndale, CA

Mieke DeJong Bonanza, OR

Ashlie Hardy Farmington, ME

Sier ra Knight Lisbon, NY

WANTED: Organic Dairy Farmers Horizon® is seeking new farmer partners to provide milk to the #1 organic dairy brand.* *Source: IRI data ending 7/22/12.

Contact Sarah Batterson 303-635-4560

Find us on

©2012 Horizon

It is with great sorrow that NOFA-NY says good-bye to a longtime member. Sally Brown passed away on September 25. Sally has been influential in the organic dairy farming community. She was always encouraging others even through times of personal struggle. Our thoughts go out to the family and friends as they deal with this great loss.


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edible HUDSON VALLE Y Celebrating Local Foods of the Hudson Valley & Catskills, Season by Season

Number 2 Summer 2009

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Celebrating the Borough’s Food Culture, Season by Season

No. 15 Fall 2009


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m a n h at ta n Telling the Story of How Gotham Eats


No. 6 July/August 2009


Premiere Issue Fall 2009





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NYON Winter 2012  

Quarterly news magazine about local, organic food and farming.