SMALL FARM QUARTERLY Good Good Living Living and and Good Good Farming Farming –– Connecting Connecting People, People, Land, Land, and and Communities Communities
Feature Articles Got Energy Savings? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 8 High Tunnel Cut Flowers . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 11 Livestock CSAs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 12 Does Raising Sheep Pay? . . . . . . . . . .Page 15
Supplement to Country Folks
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY - WINTER 2009 TABLE OF CONTENTS SMALL FARM PROGRAM UPDATE Cornell Small Farms Program Update ........................................................Page 3
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Membership in a Chamber of Commerce Makes Business Cent$, by Amy Shaw ................................................................................................Page 10 Are Northeast Farms in a Financing Fix? by Dorothy Suput ...................Page 14
COWS AND CROPS Bugs in Your Beans by Brian Aldrich............................................................Page 4 Got Energy Savings? by Mary Wrege ..........................................................Page 8 Dear Vicki Vetch, by the Drinkwater Lab .....................................................Page 17 Industrial Crops, by Tom Kilcer ...................................................................Page 22
COMMUNITY/WORLD Youth and Adults Partner to Support Community Food Pantry, by Celeste Carmichael..................................................................................Page 13 Terra Madre, by Challey Corner...................................................................Page 18 The Center for an Agricultural Economy, by Martha Herbert Izzi ............Page 21
FOOD FOR THOUGHT What will President Obama do about food and agriculture? by Andrew M. Novakovic.................................................................................Page 9 Farming for Naps, by Bill Henning ..............................................................Page 22
GRAZING Guide to Pasture Forage Species, by Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens .....Page 5 The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, by Karen Hoffman ..............Page 16
HOME AND FAMILY The Return of the Meat Pie, by Shannon Hayes..........................................Page 5 Raising Rural Kids to be More Alert, Active & Happy, by Celeste Carmichael..................................................................................Page 19
HORTICULTURE Savor the Flavor of Fresh Fall Strawberries, by Cathy Heidenreich ..........Page 6
LOCAL FOODS & MARKETING Community Supported Livestock Farming, by Erica Frenay ...................Page 12 Hoop Houses Help Meet Demand for Locally Grown Food, by David S. Conner .......................................................................................Page 17 To Market, to Market, by Rebecca Schuelke Staehr...................................Page 19
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY Good Farming and Good Living — Connecting People, Land, and Communities
Small Farm Quarterly is for farmers and farm families — including spouses and children - who value the quality of life that smaller farms provide. OUR GOALS ARE TO: • Celebrate the Northeast region’s smaller farms; • Inspire and inform farm families and their supporters; • Help farmers share expertise and opinions with each other; • Increase awareness of the benefits that small farms contribute to society and the environment. • Share important research, extension, and other resources. Small Farm Quarterly is produced by Lee Publications, Inc., and is distributed four times a year as a special section of Country Folks. Volume 6 publication dates: July 7 and October 6, 2008; January 5 and April 6, 2009.
EDITORIAL TEAM: • Anu Rangarajan, Cornell Small Farms Program Editor in Chief • Joanna Green, Cornell Small Farms Program Managing Editor • Brian Aldrich, Cayuga County CCE Field Crops • Laura Biasillo, Broome County CCE New Farmers • Celeste Carmichael, NYS 4-H Youth Development Program Youth Pages; Home and Family • Mike Dennis, CCE Cortland County Grazing • Gary Goff, Cornell Natural Resources Department Forest and Woodlot • Martha Herbert Izzi, Vermont Farmer Vermont • Sarah Johnston, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Organic Agriculture • Betsy Lamb, CCE Integrated Pest Management Program Horticulture • Sue Neal, Farmer Women in Agriculture • Rebecca Schuelke Staehr, NY Farm Viability Institute Business Management • John Thurgood, Delaware County CCE-NYC Watershed Agriculture Program Stewardship and Nature
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FOR SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION CONTACT Tracy Crouse, Lee Publications, Inc., PO Box 121, Palatine Bridge, NY 13428 888-596-5329 firstname.lastname@example.org FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION CONTACT: Bruce Button, Lee Publications, Inc., 518-673-3237 email@example.com SEND YOUR LETTERS AND STORIES TO: Joanna Green Cornell Small Farms Program 135 Plant Science Building, Cornell University Ithaca, NY, 14853 607-255-9227 firstname.lastname@example.org About copyright: The material published in Small Farm Quarterly is not copyrighted unless otherwise noted. However, we ask that you please be sure to credit both the author and Small Farm Quarterly.
Hurdles for Beginning Farmers, by Laura Biasillo ....................................Page 20
NON-DAIRY LIVESTOCK Does Raising Sheep Pay? by Ulf Kintzel ...................................................Page 15 Reduce Your Feed Costs, by Betsy Hodge ................................................Page 16 High Welfare Farming, by Bill Henning .......................................................Page 18 Growing the Northeast Meat Goat Industry, by Abha Gupta ...................Page 24
SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS: NY Agricultural Environmental Management www.nys-soilandwater.org 518-457-3738
Cornell Small Farms Program www.smallfarms.cornell.edu 607-255-9227
NORTHEAST SARE SPOTLIGHT Beauty Under Cover, by Violet Stone .........................................................Page 11 www.cce.cornell.edu www.cals.cornell.edu
RESOURCE SPOTLIGHTS Day Neutral Strawberries .............................................................................Page 6 Membership Organizations for New/Beginning Farmers........................Page 20 Contact NRCS about Conservation Planning on Your Farm ..................Page 23 Meat Goat Farming .....................................................................................Page 24
Watershed Agricultural Council www.nycwatershed.org 607-865-7790
NYS 4-H Teen Program www.cce.cornell.edu/4h 607-255-0886
SMALL FARM SPOTLIGHTS Ovinshire Farm, by Jessica Hanson .............................................................Page 7
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Agricultural Environmental Management: Over the River and Through the Woods, by Barbara Silvestri ............................................Page 23 Visitor at Chestnut Farm, Hardwick, MA. Photo by Nicole Lewis, www.nicolelewisphotography.com
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January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Cornell Small Farms Program Update Happy New Year! We here at the Cornell Small Farms Program wish you and your families the best for the New Year. We're looking forward to another exciting year for the program and our partners. Here is an update on some of our current activities. STATEWIDE WORK TEAMS Way back at our 2006 NY Small Farm Summit, participants identified several key opportunities for sustaining small farms in NY (visit www.smallfarms.cornell.edu for more details). Over the past year, we have supported three new statewide work teams to move forward on some of these opportunities: The Livestock Processing Work Team, led by tatiana Stanton and Martha Goodsell, created a very active list serve which has significantly enhanced communication among livestock farmers, processors, and agency representatives . They have been working with NYS Ag and Markets to clarify regulations for small scale meat processing, and have also expanded the Farmers Guide to Direct Marketing Livestock and Poultry, consulted other states on processing barriers, prioritized and presented a plan of work to the NYS Council on Food Policy, a senator, and assemblyman, written grants for additional funding, and created a slaughter/processing facilities database. The Local Markets Work Team, led by Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman, Andy Turner and Martha Goodsell, identified local food stakeholders throughout the state and hosted a Statewide Local Foods Local Markets Summit. At this gathering, folks from local foods efforts around NY identified key opportunities, challenges and strategies for building local/regional food systems. They have begun sharing their findings with key groups around the state.
The Grasslands Utilization Work Team, led by Joanna Green and Fay Benson, convened a group of farmers, NGOs, Extension, and Cornell faculty to analyze barriers, identify opportunities and make recommendations for improving the livestock utilization of grasslands in New York State. The group will be finalizing its report in early 2009 and sharing it widely across the state. BEGINNING FARMERS The NY Beginning Farmer Project continues to offer Regional New Farmer Trainings across the state, and the next round of the Beginning Farmer 101 Online Course begins in Feb. We have also just completed a major print run of the Guide to Farming in NY, which won an award from the NYS Association of County Ag Agents for Best New Extension Publication. (Available online at www.smallfarms.cornell.edu.) We have also received a planning grant to explore a partnership with Heifer International in order to provide more hands-on training and farmer-to-farmer mentoring to new farmers. As a first step we held a meeting at Hawthorne Valley Farm in December, with Heifer and many other partners, to think about how we can best work together. The group is now developing a plan for a statewide coalition and will seek funding to realize its ideas. Stay tuned for more! ORGANIC DAIRYFORAGE BRASSICAS PROJECT While the use of brassicas as a component of the diet of dairy cows is a common practice throughout Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the world, such is not the case in NY. Recently, farmers have been experimenting with incorporating this high quality feed into pastures. As part of our NY Organic Dairy Initiative, Fay Benson and Sara Zglobicki conducted trials on two organic dairy farms, to explore whether fall grazing swards containing no-till drilled brassicas
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are viable pasture options for dairy farmers in New York. It is our hope that such improved fall pastures could reduce the proportion of grain in the ration of dairy cows, while maintaining healthy production in a financially sustainable manner. Trial results will be presented at the NY Certified Organic meetings this winter. NYCO is a farmerled discussion group that has been active for the past 14 years.
about SARE's funding opportunities, including grant opportunities, professional development scholarships and sponsorship opportunities. The newsletter also offers stories of how farmers, educators and communities use SARE grants to explore new ways to advance sustainable agriculture.
We also produced a resource CD, "Organic Crops for Organic Dairies," which is a compilation of business management tools and information on crop production, soil amendments, and weed management from ATTRA. CD's were distributed to 400 farms nationwide, including 150 NY organic farms. All of the resources are also available online at www.organic.cornell.edu/OrganicDairy/ FieldCrops.html. A break in the early autumn rain allowed farmers a chance to come out and hear well-respected holistic veterinarian Jerry Brunetti during four visits to sites around New York. Brunetti's talks emphasized the health benefits of a forage based diet on both animals and the environment, as well as soil health on organic farms. At each site, farmers and educators were treated to other perspectives from additional guest speakers including pioneer organic farmers Hank and John Stoker of Sto-Ridge Farm and Dr. Jerry Bertoldo, a veterinarian and the dairy specialist with the Northwest Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops team. The tour was organized in conjunction with NOFA NY's Organic Dairy Field Days and sponsored by the Cornell Small Farms Program, NY Organic Dairy Initiative, SARE, and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. FIRST "NY SUSTAINABLE AG QUARTERLY" RELEASED This fall, SFP communications coordinator Violet Stone kicked off a new sustainable agriculture outreach effort in New York with the first issue of the "NY Sustainable Ag Quarterly". This seasonal newsletter is sponsored by NY SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education), a division of Northeast SARE. The NY Sustainable Ag Quarterly offers information
The NY Sustainable Ag Quarterly will serve as a showcase for the growing number of organizations in New York addressing issues in food and agriculture system sustainability. A spotlight in every issue features a group offering a fresh approach to enhancing sustainable agriculture and community development. To view the Fall issue, visit: www.smallfarms.cornell.edu/pages/news/SARE.cfm. LOOKING AHEAD In 2009, we plan to initiate efforts focused on energy use on small farms and small dairies. There are numerous efforts around the state addressing energy use, but most are not focused on the unique needs of small farms. We will also host a 2009 NY Small Farm Summit next winter, to highlight the continuing efforts of our Work Teams and to reflect on new opportunities to support small farms. If you would like any additional information on or would like to participate in any of these efforts send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-255-9227.
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January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Bugs in Your Beans Adventures in soybean pest management By Brian Aldrich A NEW EDUCATOR Waist-deep in a soybean field on Skip's farm, my pants soaked with the morning's dew, I brushed back the deep, green leaves to view the undersides, and saw hundreds of small, light-green insects the color of Mountain Dew. They were soybean aphids, and they were sucking the juices out of the plants. I walked fifty yards, examined another plant, and found more of the same. Half an hour later, dripping with sweat under the hot August sun, I had checked 20 plants in different parts of the field, and it was clear the whole field was infested. Using a card in my pocket with photos of soybean leaves with different numbers of aphids on them, I estimated there was an average of approximately 800 aphids per plant. Aphid populations can grow rapidly during spells of hot weather, and clearly that was happening in this field. How much could the plants take? The threshold for applying insecticide is 250 aphids per plant on two separate dates, with higher counts on the second date, i.e. with an increasing trend in population.
A CALL FOR BACKUP I called Julie on the phone to tell her what I was seeing. She asked, "Did you see any ladybug beetles?" "Yes", I replied. Then she asked, "What about ladybug larvae?" to which I replied, "I have no idea what ladybug larvae look like." Julie fired back, "No problem, I'll e-mail a photo of one to you right now." I can remember a preInternet time when this would not have been possible. But a minute later I was looking at a photo identical to the little "crocodile" insects that I had seen. "O, yes, there were lots of those!" I told Julie excitedly. "Good" she replied. "That means there are more ladybugs on the way, because they are laying their own eggs in the field. The larvae emerge from the eggs and start to feed on the aphids. Let's wait a week and see if the ladybugs can bring the aphid population under control." My next call was to Skip, to relay what I had learned. Skip said he had seen ladybugs bring aphids under control on his farm in the past, and he'd much rather use Mother Nature than spray. In addition to the cost of the insecticide and the cost of applying it, the sprayer will knock down some plants as it moves through the field, reducing yield. He did not want to spray unless it was absolutely necessary. We agreed to wait a week, then I would return to count the aphids again. A week later, the aphids were still over threshold, but there were more ladybugs, too. Steve was still determined to let nature takes its course. The following week the aphid population started coming down. By then it was the end of August, the pods were well on their way to being filled, and the crop had passed through the period of greatest risk. Steve put the money he saved from not spraying in his pocket, and harvested a crop with a yield he was happy with.
Ladybugs to the rescue! Ladybug larva soon emerge from their eggs and start to feed on the aphids. Photo by: Scott Camazine web.mac.com/camazine Mother Nature does not like any one species to dominate indefinitely. As I walked through the field, I also saw a few brightly colored ladybugs crawling like tanks across the leaves. Like the cavalry coming to the rescue, I knew that ladybugs dine on aphids. There was a feast before them, and they were starting to show up for dinner. But could the ladybugs eat the aphids faster than the aphids could reproduce? There was also a third kind of insect on some of the leaves that I had not seen before. It was flat, moved more quickly, and was mostly black with bright orange markings. Somehow it reminded me of a crocodile. This happened two years ago, during my second month on the job as an agriculture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County in New York. As I wrote in the last issue of the Small Farm Quarterly, one of the beauties of the cooperative extension system is that we are backed up by a team of specialists. In this case, the "go-to" person was Julie Dennis, an area educator for field crops and livestock in the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program. Integrated Pest Management is an approach to crop management that uses a suite of control methods to keep pest populations below economically injurious levels, including but not limited to using pesticides. The goal is to only use pesticides when they are absolutely necessary, which minimizes the impact on the environment as well as reduces the likelihood that pests will develop resistance.
"Waist-deep in a soybean field on Skip's farm, my pants soaked with the morning's dew, I brushed back the deep, green leaves to view the undersides, and saw hundreds of small, light-green insects the color of Mountain Dew. They were soybean aphids, and they were sucking the juices out of the plants." Photo by: Purdue News The ladybugs multiplied rapidly, and on July 24, when we had a field meeting at Nate's farm with all the farmers, every kind of ladybug and his/her brother was there. Julie was identifying them left and right: the seven-spotted ladybug, the nine-spotted ladybug, the Asian ladybug. It was a veritable ladybug zoo. At one point I found myself standing next to Ron, who pointed to a flat insect that looked like a crocodile and asked, "What is that?" Trying not to show too much excitement, I replied, "That's the larval stage of a ladybug - it eats aphids!"
especially liked getting out onto the other growers' farms, and "actually going out in the field instead of sitting in a room watching slide shows."
By the end of July, Sarah's weekly estimate of the aphids in Nate's field rose to 1,400 per plant. With the combined stresses of drought and the aphids, the soybeans just weren't able to outgrow the insect attack, even with the help of the ladybugs. Yet still Nate would not spray, even though it was recommended at that point. The drought persisted.
I often think that one of the best things I can do as an educator is bring the growers together, than get out of the way so that they can learn from each other. Julie, Sarah and I did our best to turn their fields into living laboratories. Will Ron get out his sprayer again the next time he sees an aphid? I don't know. But at least now he knows what the larva of the ladybug looks like. As an educator, I can only arm growers with knowledge, then watch if and how they use it. I hope I have planted a seed.
A SCOUTING PROGRAM GROWS The next year, for the 2007 growing season, we were able to hire a part-time scout to monitor pest populations in soybean fields on six farms, thanks to funding from the Northeast Region Soybean Promotion Board. (The funds come from soybean growers via their "checkoff" dollars.) This was done as part of New York's IPM "Tactical Agriculture" or TAg program, in which educators work with a small group of farmers during the growing season to intensively monitor and learn about pest populations in their fields.
Finally, on the morning of August 2, he called his farm chemical dealer to arrange for spraying the field. The next day was the soonest the dealer could get there. The following morning Nate checked the field, and lo and behold, the aphid population had finally crashed! Then the spray rig rolled up. Being an honest and fair businessman, he did not think it fair to cancel his order at that point. But he did leave one part of the field unsprayed, for comparison. He later estimated his yields at 34 bushels/acre in the part of the field that was sprayed, and 30 bushels/acre in the unsprayed part.
Mind you, the scouting job was a position for which the interview started with the question, "What makes you want to spend two mornings a week walking through soybean fields to count insects during the hottest part of the summer?"(!). I was blessed to find Sarah, a natural historian who loves to observe flora and fauna in both field and forest.
EPILOGUE The evaluations we got back from the farmers at the end of the season indicated they liked the scouting program. They
In late June, Sarah started to find aphids on some farms but not on others. The farmers varied greatly in their feelings about using insecticide vs. relying on the "biological" control of ladybugs. One farmer, whom I'll call Ron, is an outstanding producer of soybeans and does not like to take chances. Having a crop in the field is like having part of your life savings in cash sitting in a box by the side of the road - until the crop is safely harvested, you're at risk of financial loss. When Sarah found just a few aphids in Ron's field, he sprayed the field immediately. The result was no more aphids, but also no more ladybugs. THE APHID POPULATION EXPLODES As we got into July it stopped raining, especially on Nate's farm, which didn't get even the few hitor-miss showers that came across the Finger Lakes. Aphids arrived in his field, and with the hot weather, the population exploded. Nate is a strong proponent of biological control, and especially does not like to spray the fields close to his house, where he and his wife Jill have put up lots of bluebird boxes. Sarah came back with estimates of over 1,000 aphids per plant, four times the threshold. Meanwhile, the soybeans stopped growing due to lack of moisture. But ladybugs also started to arrive, in droves, and the race was on!
In contrast to 2007, we saw relatively few aphids in New York during the 2008 growing season. Farmers who were familiar with soybean aphid scouting, ladybug larva and threshold guidelines would have been able to comfortably avoid spraying their fields with an insecticide. They would have reduced their production costs and increased their profit.
To learn more about soybean aphids see www.ncipmc.org/alerts/soybeanaphid_alert.pdf. To see a visual guide to estimating the number of aphids on a leaflet, visit www.plantpath.wisc.edu/soyhealth/pdf/sba_scou t.pdf. To learn more about the Tactical Ag Program visit http://nysipm.cornell.edu/fieldcrops/tag.
Author Info: Brian Aldrich is an Extension Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cayuga County.
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January 5, 2009
Guide to Pasture Forage Species By Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens
PERENNIAL PASTURE FORAGE SPECIES Editorâ€™s note: Perennial forages often do well when planted in mixtures, e.g. a legume and a grass, complementing each other well. Adjust the following seeding rates accordingly. If you would like guidance on this contact your seedsman or local Cooperative Extension agent for more information. Species Pounds per acre Birdsfoot Trefoil 4-8#/A Tolerates wet and dry soils, slow to establish, good midseason growth, needs fall rest, does not cause bloat, palatable even when mature. Pardee variety has improved disease resistance. Red Clover 8-15#/A Lasts 2-3 years, will tolerate wetter locations, good regrowth, will cause bloat, frost seeding works well Alsike Clover 6-10#/A Tolerates wet and acid soils, not good in drought, short lived, good regrowth, will cause bloat, can be toxic to horses Ladino Clover 4-10#/A High quality pasture, taller than other white clovers, prefers frequent rains to drought, good regrowth, will cause bloat Alfalfa 12-15#/A Drought tolerant, needs deep fertile soils, not suited to wet or acid soils, better for rotational grazing or hay than for continuous grazing, high yielding, choose disease resistant varieties, can have problems with winter heaving
Species Pounds per acre Reed Canarygrass 6-12#/A Tolerates dry & wet soils, needs frequent grazing or mowing to maintain quality, mature plant growth is much less palatable, choose low alkaloid varieties Timothy 2-8#/A Works well in mixtures, well-adapted and long lasting, lower in protein, little regrowth, tolerates wet and acid soils but not drought Smooth Bromegrass 4-12#/A Works best where one of the cuttings is grazed, does best on fertile soil, good regrowth, good spring and fall production Orchardgrass 8-12#/A Produces more summer regrowth than timothy & bromegrass, heads quickly - mature growth not very palatable, best in early pastures, reduces bloat in mixtures with alfalfa and clover, does not tolerate wet soil well KY Bluegrass 5-20#/A Low yield potential but most productive in spring and periods of cool, moist weather, not tolerant to drought, heat and wet soil Perennial ryegrass 10-25#/A Excellent palatability - finer stemmed than other forage grasses, stops growing in dry weather, short lived perennial, may not be fully winter hardy in northern locations, excellent regrowth, not tolerant to wet soils Tall Fescue 15-30#/A Long lived, high yielding, excellent regrowth, will produce during summer, be sure to get endoplyte free varieties Festulolium 15-20#/A Cross between fescue and perennial ryegrass, combines nutritional value and high yield of ryegrass with hardiness and summer regrowth of fescue, does well for rotational grazing, easy to establish, fast recovery, great in mixtures, may not be fully winter hardy in NY
HOME & FAMILY
The Return of the Meat Pie In these tough economic times, we need to bring back the art of thrifty home cooking. Meat pies are a great place to begin. By Shannon Hayes "Grassfed meats are too expensive!" "How are poor people supposed to buy your food?" "$42 for a pork roast? Forget it." Sound familiar? Grassfed and pastured meat farmers are forever defending our entitlement to a living wage in exchange for our labors. And there are a lot of issues out there making it a monumental battle for us: factory farms can produce meat cheaper and faster by taking advantage of farm bill subsidies, antibiotics, hormones, confinement and massive economies of scale; in exchange, they demand that our planet absorb the ecological costs, and that the livestock and our families suffer the health ramifications. In all fairness, however, Americans' pocketbooks are hurting. The average family shells out $8,000 per year per car (with those costs rising daily), we're in debt, and our healthcare costs are astronomical. The food, at least, should be cheap, right? Heck, no. Like many grassfarmers out there, I am raising my family on a very modest income. If we want to fix our economic woes, then we need to resolve our healthcare crisis, we need environmentally responsible transportation options, we need living wages, and we need to cut up the credit cards. When it comes to our food, we don't need to make it cheaper - that's already caused too much trouble. We need to learn to use it properly. In 2003, anthropologist Timothy Jones completed a several year study examining food flows and food losses in the United States, and revealed that 40% of the food grown in this country is lost or thrown away. Jones estimated that this waste cost our economy $100 billion dollars annually, and that households contribute nearly $43 billion dollars to this figure. (1) On average, 14% of our household garbage was perfectly good food, in its original packaging, not out-of-date. We are not making prudent use of our food. To enjoy more sustainable cuisine, to ensure that our farmers are fairly compensated for their
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
work, Americans need to stop asking farmers to work for less, and instead re-familiarize themselves with the kitchen, and with the principles of thrifty cooking. Some wonderful culinary traditions resurface in this vein, and in the coming months, we'll begin exploring them here. For today, this leads me to the subject of MEAT PIES. Read on to learn (and taste) more... MEAT PIES For us farmers, they are as pragmatic in the height of summer as they are in the depths of winter. But meat pies were regarded as high cuisine back in the Elizabethan era. Chefs in royal households made elaborate concoctions to dazzle their patrons (the nursery rhyme about four and twenty blackbirds springs to mind). The addition of crusts or mashed potatoes, however, helped to feed several mouths on relatively little meat; thus they were popular peasant fare as well. Meat pies appear in cultures around the world -- Argentineans feast on empanadas, the Italians have torta pasqualina, the Greeks make spanakopita.. but the most well-known, however, are pork pies from England. The famous pork pies from the English town of Melton Mowbray were even honored by an old poem by Richard La Gallienne: Strange pie that is almost a passion! O passion immoral for pie! Unknown are the ways that they fashion Unknown and unseen of the eye. The pie that is marbled and mottled, The pie that digests with a sigh: For all is not Bass that is bottled, And all is not pork that is pie. In our family, meat pies garner favor because they can be prepared with minimal fuss, they use up all kinds of food scraps (leftover gravy, pan drippings, myriad veggies, and of course...leftover meat), and they are made rich by good hearty meat stock, which contains a wealth of nutrients. I make extra dough and store it in the freezer so that I can whip up a pie whenever I've collected ample snippets. Once baked, they store
ANNUAL PASTURE FORAGE SPECIES BMR Sorghum/ Sudangrass 65-70#/A Does best in well-drained locations, good for pasture, balage and silage, but won't dry well for hay, needs good soil fertility for best yield, do not graze regrowth that develops after a frost, it is toxic, but it can be safely dried or ensiled. Pounds per acre Species Millets 15-20#/A Lower yielding than small grains & S/S. heat & drought tolerant , cut at boot stage or graze after 6-8 weeks when plants are 1824" Annual ryegrass= Italian ryegrass 25-35#/A alone, 4#/A as nurse crop Similar in feed quality to perennial ryegrass, not well adapted to extremely wet or dry soil, highly palatable Teff (Eragrostis tef) 4-5#/A Sow tiny seed no more than 1/4" deep when soil is warm, harvest before flowering in 50-55 days, heat & drought tolerant Spring Small Grains 60-70 #/A Includes oats, triticale, spelt, barley, wheat. Can be pastured 5-7 weeks after planting. For baleage, harvest at boot stage. Good source of NDF. Can be planted with forage peas for higher protein forage. Will grow well in cooler weather of spring or fall. Winter Small Grains 100-120#/A Includes wheat, spelt, triticale, barley for early-mid spring grazing. Can be planted with winter peas for higher protein forage. Forage Brassicas 1.5-3#/A Includes turnip, kale, rape, swede. Seed in mid-late summer for fall forage, with or without oats, high in protein, highly palatable.
Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens operate Lakeview Organic Grain in Penn Yan, NY. They can be reached at 315-531-1038 phone.
well in the refrigerator, last our young family for at least two meals, and re-warm beautifully in a 200 degree oven (or, better yet, in a solar oven if you have one). Most pie recipes typically call for ground pork, lamb or beef. Since the emphasis of this series is on prudent consumption, the recipe below actually calls for diced up leftovers - the remains of a Sunday pork roast, bits of chicken from last night's dinner, or tidbits from a leg of lamb are all delicious. In my opinion, the secret is in the crust. While ordinary pie crusts work fine (and are even more economical to prepare), the recipe below produces a super buttery-flaky-cheesy crust that is unforgettable. To keep things easy, the recipe only calls for a top crust. Note: If you want to try more meat pie recipes, be sure to check out The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook, as I've included several different ones in there! SHANNY'S FAVORITE MEAT PIE Note: for those of you averse to using flour, you can top the pie with potatoes smashed with liberal amounts of butter, then sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Parmesan-cheddar pie crust (see recipe, below) 6 tablespoons butter or lard 2 cups diced vegetables (onions, green peppers, carrots, peas, corn, or green beans...even lima beans will all work). Leftover vegetables are fine. 1/2 cup pan drippings and/or leftover gravy -use more if you've got it, up to a cup. If you don't, simply double the amount of butter. 2 tablespoons flour or arrowroot 2 cups meat stock 1/4 teaspoon mace 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 3/4 teaspoons fresh salt and pepper, to taste 2 cups diced leftover meat 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoons water Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons butter or lard in a skillet over a medium flame. SautĂŠ the fresh vegetables. Once they're crisp-tender, feel free to add in any leftover vegetables as well, and cook until they are warmed through. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the butter and pan drippings or leftover gravy. Heat, stirring constantly, until the butter
has melted and is no longer foaming. Sprinkle the flour or arrowroot on top and whisk thoroughly until a paste forms. Slowly pour in the meat stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame intensity and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 7 minutes. Mix in the mace, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir in the diced cooked meat and the vegetables, then pour into a deep-sided pie dish or 9X9 baking pan. Roll out the pie crust on a floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick, then carefully lay it over the top of the meat and vegetables. Don't fret if the crust crumbles. Just work it back together and slide it on top. Crimp the edges, then poke a few holes on the surface. Whisk the egg yolk with the water, then brush it over the crust of the pie. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. PARMESAN CHEDDAR PIE CRUST I often double this recipe, then store the extra crust in the freezer for another use. 1 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/8 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 pound (one stick) butter 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated 1/4 cup ground walnuts Combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Dice the butter, then use a pastry cutter or fork to blend it into the flour mixture. Using your hands, thoroughly mix in the cheese and nuts until the mixture forms a solid ball. Chill until ready to use, but allow it to soften at room temperature before rolling it out. Note: This dough will be quite crumbly when you roll it out. Don't panic. Nothing has gone wrong. Just push it back together and keep working it.
Shannon Hayes is the host of grassfedcooking.com and the author of The Farmer and the Grill and the Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook. She works with her family on Sap Bush Hollow Farm, raising pastured and grass-fed meats, in Upstate New York.
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
material for the high amounts of inoculum during rainy weather.
Savor the Flavor of Fresh Fall Strawberries
Warmer rainy summer days may also set the stage for anthracnose fruit rot which is spread by rain splash, a frequent occurrence on plastic. Sanitation is critical to fruit rot control; designate one or more harvesters to cull infected berries from plantings as they appear. Dispose of culled berries by burying them to avoid continued re-infection.
Pick day-neutral strawberries from late summer to early fall By Cathy Heidenreich Thoughts of sweet strawberry treats don't have to fade with the Fourth of July. Now you can top off your autumn harvest with a luscious sprinkling of fall strawberries. Plasticulture planting systems, day-neutral varieties, and floating row cover may be combined to bring you fresh strawberries from late-August through first frost and beyond. Here's how! DAY-NEUTRAL STRAWBERRIES These fall gems produce fruit in the planting year, 10 weeks after planting. Yields between 12,000 and 20,000 lb/acre are common comparable to those of 2nd year June-bearing strawberries. Fruit size is slightly smaller, but quality is high, and prices may be twice that of in-season fruit. Varieties used in the northeast include Tribute, Tristar, and Seascape. Albion is gaining popularity. Day-neutrals are most commonly raised as annuals in a plasticulture system to minimize weeds. First year plants are typically removed in the fall after killing frosts. But they may be carried over a second year, for a large June crop and slightly smaller August crop. Cropping beyond the second season is not usually economical due to buildup of pest and weed populations and reduction in berry size due to higher crown densities.
Two-week old day-neutral strawberry planting, Fulton Farms, Troy, Ohio Photos by: Cathy Heidenreich
Starch-based biodegradable mulches or biofilms are now available. Biofilms begin to break down immediately after planting and continue to degrade during the production period. Material may be incorporated for final decomposition. Prices for biodegradable mulches run about double that of conventional plastic. Use dormant runner plants to establish plantings, no later than mid-May. For highest yields, set plants in staggered double rows with 9 inch between-row spacing and 9 inch in-row spacing. You may need to hand plant.
Raised beds (minimum 8 inches high x 20 inches wide with 3 ft spacing between rows) are preferable for use under plastic to facilitate drying of foliage and fruit, and ease of harvest. Because day-neutral strawberries are shallow rooted and fruit during hot summer weather, irrigation is essential. Trickle (or drip) irrigation is the best method for delivering soil moisture and nutrients. Usually tape is applied under the plastic. Black plastic mulch is commonly used; white mulches are used where summer temperatures are warmer than 85oF for extended periods. Keep mulch uniformly tight against the soil surface. Conventional plastic must be removed either manually or by machine at the end of the production cycle.
Day-neutral strawberry planting on white plastic using staggered double row planting system. Tigshelaar's Farms, Vineland, Ontario, Canada days when light frosts or cooler nights are predicted in early autumn. Select light-weight, spun-bonded row cover with sewn seams. Cover plants in late afternoon to conserve day time heat. Firmly anchor row cover around the edges using large U-pins and/or sand or gravel-filled bags (do not attempt to apply these under windy conditions!). Remove covers the following day after temperatures rise above freezing and/or frost has dissipated.
For your first attempt at day-neutral strawberry production, start with a small planting that includes one or two varieties. Both you (and your customers) will have the opportunity to try out these luscious fall treats without major investment. After you are comfortable with day-neutral production and management, you may want to expand to meet the demand for these fall strawberries. Enjoy!
Cathy Heidenreich is Berry Extension Support Specialist for Western NY. She can be reached at 315-787-2367 or email@example.com.
IT'S NOT ALL BERRIES AND CREAM Day-neutral strawberries are not always compatible with diversified farming operations as they tend to be labor-intensive. Production costs average about $1.00 per pint, with 2/3 of that cost being labor.
Eight-week old day-neutral strawberry planting, Polter Berry Farm, Fremont, Ohio Apply straw mulch to alleyways to reduce weed seed germination and provide comfortable access for weeding, runner removal, and harvest. Alternatively, plant alleyways with short fescues or other cover crops, and mow them periodically. Shielded herbicide applications may also be used to control betweenrow weeds. Soil moisture should be monitored regularly; hand held tensiometers can provide a good indication of soil moisture status. Fertilize with 7 lb nitrogen/acre weekly with supplemental potassium applied through trickle system; apply boron and calcium as foliar nutrients. Some growers use trickle to provide soil moisture and nutrients with intermittent short bursts of overhead irrigation to cool plants during hot afternoons (> 85oF).
Another challenge is pest management. Dayneutrals continuously flower and fruit during peak summer months. Days-to-harvest (DTH) and re-entry intervals (REI) on pesticides limit management options and can complicate picking schedules.
Gray mold (upper right) and anthracnose fruit rot (lower left) of strawberry
We Want To Hear From You Day-neutral strawberry planting, carried over for 2nd year of production. Fulton Farms, Troy, Ohio Tarnished plant bug (TPB) is the most significant pest to deal with. Not only are their populations at high levels when day-neutrals are flowering and fruiting - strawberry flowers are one of their favorite foods. Late-evening applications (less bee activity) of short residual materials are the best choice for TPB management. One strategy to facilitate harvest is to divide the planting into sections - treating each section on a different time schedule to allow continuous harvest of portions of the field.
Larger-sized California varieties may be used in an annual production system. Northeastern day neutral varieties tend to have better flavor and shape and are less susceptible to soilborne diseases. PLASTICULTURE PLANTING SYSTEMS Site preparation for day-neutral strawberries is essentially the same as for standard Junebearing strawberries; preplant control of perennial weeds is essential. You should start the year before planting using one or more of the following techniques: cover cropping, stale seed bed technique, herbicides, and/or fumigation.
January 5, 2009
Eight-week old day-neutral strawberry with developing fruit, Polter Berry Farm, Fremont, Ohio Remove flowers for 2-6 weeks after planting to help with plant establishment. Remove runners on a regular basis to conserve energy reserves for fruit production. Day-neutrals are best harvested when completely red, when they have their most intense flavor. Two harvests per week may be needed in summer; one harvest per week is probably sufficient in late summer and early fall. Good postharvest handling is needed to keep berry quality high from field to market. Conventional production of day-neutral strawberries without plastic mulch is also possible if straw mulch is applied to the entire field immediately after planting. KEEP THEM COMING WITH FLOATING ROW COVERS Floating row covers may be used to help extend the season for another week to ten
Gray mold is usually less of a problem on raised beds as flowers and fruits dry more quickly after rain or overhead irrigation. However, continuous fruiting provides host
We welcome letters to the editor - Please write to us! Or send a question and weâ€™ll do our best to answer it. Weâ€™re also looking for beautiful, interesting and/or funny small farm photos to print. Write or email Joannna Green, Cornell Small Farms Program, 135C Plant Science Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 firstname.lastname@example.org
Resource Spotlight Day Neutral Strawberries "Day Neutral Strawberry Production Guide" by Marvin Pritts and Adam Dale. Available from Cornell University Library as a printable/downloadable pdf file at: http://hdl.handle.net/1813/3275. "Preplant Cover Crops for Strawberries" by Marvin Pritts. Available from the Cornell University Fruit Resources web site as a printable/downloadable pdf file at: www.fruit.cornell.edu/Berries/strawhtml/strcovercrop.htm. Cornell Fruit Resources Website - Berries Includes research-based information and publications on production, marketing, pest management, and growers organizations for strawberries and other berry crops. www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry.html.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM SPOTLIGHT
Ovinshire Farm This unusual dairy farm has been producing quality sheep's milk since 2002 By Jessica Hanson When you hear of a dairy operation, I bet that the typical black and white Holstein or maybe even a Jersey pops into your mind. In Fort Plain, NY, there is a dairy that is not so typical at all. In fact there are no cows at all. That farm is Ovinshire Farm, owned by Scott Burrington. The farm currently milks 140 ewes and is planning to expand to 2000 milking ewes by 2012 with the help of USDA's Farm Service Agency. A FALSE START In 1989 Scott decided to give milking sheep a try after reading some articles on it and discussing the idea with a professor from the University of Minnesota. But he soon found he had no market for his sheep milk and decided to get out of it.
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
In 2002 Scott decided to give it another shot. He started Ovinshire Farm on 150 acres with just 10 East Friesian ewes and an East Friesian ram. Six years later, Ovinshire is milking 140 ewes and has a total of 320 sheep. Scott has also introduced a French breed to his herd, called Locaune. Ovinshire Farm is located near Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, a local sheep's milk processing company. Old Chatham Sheepherding Company has won several awards for both its cheese and yogurt in competitions throughout the United States. Being close to this processor has been critical to Scott'ss operation. He transports the milk to Old Chatham and the fresh milk is then made into cheese and yogurt. FOCUS: MILKING, NOT PROCESSING According to the 2007 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United States is the largest importer of sheep milk cheese in the world. The United States imports over 70 millions pounds of sheep milk. In New York, Ovinshire is the only sheep milking facility that does not have its own processing plant. Scott feels that it is important for him to concentrate on producing quality milk and let someone else concentrate on quality processing.
Scott Burrington hopes to finish this sheep barn and milking parlor with a low interest loan from USDA's Farm Service Agency. Photo by Jessica Hanson The process of milking sheep starts long before a ewe is ever milked. The milk house has to be state inspected the same as any other dairy. The milk is shipped every 72 hours and has to be kept below 45 degrees. Scott has a 200 gallon bulk tank and a 350 gallon insulated cube tank on his truck for transporting to the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. Sheep's milk can also be frozen and stored for about 4 months for later processing. Unlike other types of milk, freezing does not damage the structure of sheep's milk and does not affect the quality of the cheese. However Scott does not currently freeze any of his milk because of the extra steps and equipment involved. MANAGING THE HERD The breeding season at Ovinshire Farm is August through January. In 2009 Scott has plans to be milking year round with the use of controlled lighting to bring the ewes into estrus. The amount of daylight affects the release of certain reproductive hormones in the brain. The ewes will start showing signs of estrus when the length daylight begins to decrease. Scott will keep the ewes and rams in a light controlled building and gradually decrease the amount of light. To check that the ewes are bred, Scott's wife, a veterinarian, does the ultrasounding on the ewes. The ewes need to be sheared around 30 days before lambing. At Ovinshire Farm, lambing starts in February and finishes in March. The ewes start going into the double-12 parlor to be milked within 48-72 hours after lambing. The parlor has a rapid exit and was designed and built by Scott. When the sheep are milked, each ewe receives 1-1.5 pounds of grain. The ewes take 15 seconds to 4 minutes to milk out depending on the ewe. Ovinshire farm has DHI approved meters to monitor each individual ewe's milk production. The herd has a rolling herd average of 3.3 pounds. The sheep at Ovinshire are milked for about 5 months out of the year, with peak production within the first 30 days of lambing. Scott's ewes average 7-8 lactations before being culled. Like most cow dairies the cull rate is around 20%. The sheep are pastured in the summer and fed dry hay in the winter. Ovinshire farm does not currently have any guardian dogs to oversee the sheep while on pasture, but Scott is hoping to get a couple of Maremmas soon. Maremmas are large white or cream colored dogs that originated in Italy. They are born with a strong instinct to guard livestock, which becomes even stronger as the dog matures. Scott enjoys having visitors at the farm and teaching people about the sheep milk industry/ He even hopes to make Ovinshire Farm a learning/visiting center at some point in the future. Scott has some advice for anyone interested in milking sheep. He said that it is very important to learn to become a shepard before you learn to milk. Sheep tend to get themselves into bad situations and make themselves very ill. Good management is critical to the survival of a farm and to keeping costs low. A sheep milk operation can start with meat sheep and breed to dairy sheep. LOOKING AHEAD Ovinshire Farm does have a few challenges. Scott would like to fix up the greenhouse so that he can bring the ewes into heat anytime of the year and AI them. He would like to improve part of the barn for feeding lambs and sheep to keep his farm labor efficient. And the milking parlor currently is not insulated or heated. Scott hopes to make these changes through a low interest direct operating loan from the Farm Service Agency. Scott says that FSA is good to work with, and vital to the farming community. When he first moved to New York from Massachusetts, one of the first letters he received in the mail was from FSA. The letter told him to come on down to the FSA office because they had farm programs to help him. Scott went to the local office and found that they were, indeed, very helpful. For more information about Ovinshire Farms feel free to contact Scott Burrington at (518) 332-4171. For more information on the Farm Service Agency's loans please contact your local USDA-FSA office.
Jessica Hanson is a Farm Loan Officer Trainee with Farm Service Agency in Cobleskill, NY. She can be reached at 518243-4377 or Jessica.email@example.com.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Got Energy Savings? An energy audit could help lower costs of production on your dairy farm By Mary Wrege Using energy on the farm costs big money, but using energy efficiently can save money. Making informed electrical energy decisions and implementing cost effective energy efficiency strategies could help reduce a farm's energy consumption and costs by 15, 20, 30, even 35 percent or more. A good place to start is with a full-scale farm energy audit. This serves as base-line analysis for the farm-operation to look at short-term and long-term approaches to energy conservation and efficiency, along with the expected return on investment. Sometimes, just following a few simple maintenance procedures will improve energy efficiency. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provides energy audits through its FlexTech Program, using pre-qualified consultants. A NYSERDA farm energy audit will help identify cost-effective, energy-efficient improvements that can lead to lower energy bills. NYSERDA will pay up to $1500 and most farm audits end up being free to the farmer. The final cost of a farm energy audit will depend on the size of the operation.
Assessing bulk tank agitator motor. MILK COOLING/ HEAT EXCHANGERS The use of plate or shell and tube heat exchangers to precool the milk before it enters a refrigerated milk tank or a final heat plate exchanger is common. Earlier, shell and tube or double tube heat exchangers were commonly used. More recently, plate type heat exchangers are dominant. There are two new types of compressors; the scroll and discus have been introduced for milk cooling on dairy farms. These new compressor types are both more efficient than the older types. A study that compared a scroll compressor with a 3 year old hermetically sealed compressor on a direct expansion cooling system showed a 20% reduction in energy use. The reduction in energy use was caused by a reduction in energy demand (6.7 to 5.7 kW) and hours of operation per day (7.2 to 6.1). These units are quieter and operate with less vibration.
Walk through energy evaluation in milk house. Photos by Mary Wrege A typical dairy farm's high-energy use equipment includes the milking parlor operation, refrigeration, ventilation and lighting. According to the Dairy Farm Energy Audit Summary, NYSERDA, July 2003, the following categories were identified for NY dairies in energy consumption: Vacuum Pumps Milk Cooling Lighting Ventilation Manure Handling Electric Water Heating Feeding Equipment Misc.
17% 25% 24% 22% 4% 4% 3% 1%
VACUUM PUMPS Vacuum Pumps are a primary energy user and the centerpiece to a milking system. The vacuum pump operates whenever the milking or washing the milking equipment takes place, and on some modern, large dairies, this can be 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are different types of vacuum pumps, but when considering switching out your old one to purchase a new one, consider
LIGHTING Lighting is a substantial energy input and represents 24% of the total electric usage on NY dairies. Farmers often don't realize just how much energy they are using across all their lighting systems. The most effective energy conservation measure for dairy lighting systems is to replace inefficient luminaries with higher efficiency types.
tance of providing a comfortable environment for the high-producing dairy cow is demonstrated by the expanding use of air circulation and other cooling methods. The effects of heat stress on dairy cows have been well documented and include: * Reduction in feed intake * Drop in milk production by 20-30% * Increased susceptibility to mastitis and other diseases * Reduced conception rates and other reproductive problems To reduce the effects of heat stress on dairy cows a variety of measures have been developed that include: * Natural ventilation * Shading * Circulation fans - basket, box, cyclone, highvolume low speed fans * Circulation fans with evaporative cooling - low pressure sprinkler and high pressure mister applications WATERING AND WATER HEATING An adequate and reliable supply of hot water is an essential element in the production of high quality milk on any dairy farm. Failure to have adequate supplies of hot water at required temperatures can lead to rapid increases of bacterial contamination and subsequent reduction in milk quality. Milk quality reductions can lead to a loss of quality premiums or, in the worst
LIGHTING SUGGESTIONS: Lighting Type
Energy Conservation Measure
Convert to halogen lamps Convert to compact fluorescent, if appropriate Convert to fluorescent tube luminaries Convert to fluorescent T-8 with energy Efficient ballasts Convert to Metal Halide, if appropriate Convert to High Pressure Sodium, if appropriate
Incandescent Fluorescent T-12 magnetic ballasts Mercury Vapor Mercury Vapor
Remember to think about the lighting usage not only in the milking parlor, but also in the parlor stalls and holding area, calf housing, equipment washing areas, as well as the outdoor grounds. VENTILATION Air circulation and ventilation systems on dairy farms provide fresh air to dairy cows and diminish heat stress. The value and impor-
1) Efficiency. Choose one that has the highest relative efficiency, and that can be driven by a variable frequency drive. Do not oversize the vacuum pump. 2) Use a variable frequency drive for the vacuum pump. Advantages include: * Save energy and dollars. The system can have a payback of less than two years. The savings depends on the number of hours the vacuum pump operates per day and the amount the vacuum pump is oversized * Noise is reduced. * Vacuum pump lasts longer. * Stable vacuum.
Evaluating barn cleaner motor. Note ventilation fans in the background.
% Energy Savings 20-38% 75% 80-85% 25% 43-54% 44-59%
case, or an outright refusal to accept the contaminated milk at the processing plant. Generally, a minimum hot water requirement is 4 gallons of 170 degree F (77 degree C) water per milking unit for each rinse/wash/rinse cycle. Water temperatures required for various milking equipment rinsing, washing, and sanitizing cycles are as follows: * Pre-rinse cycles 95-110 degree F * Wash cycle 155-170 degree F * Acid rinse cycle 95-110 degree F * Sanitize cycle 75 degree F (minimum depending on sanitizer directions) Water heating energy sources include: * Fuel oil * Propane or natural gas * Electricity Although there are similarities, every dairy farm presents and faces conditions that are unique to the farm. Whatever the circumstances, most are facing rising energy costs and can benefit from a comprehensive energy management plan that employs the latest, most reliable energy efficient milking, mild cooling, and water heating strategies, processes and technologies. Keep in mind too, that factors such as poor lighting, improper ventilation and inefficient vacuum pumps can affect cow comfort, behavior, and milk production. These costs may not appear on a utility bill, but they do affect production and profit margins. If you farm in New York State and would like to request a farm energy audit directly from NYSERDA or would like more information about the farm energy audit program, please call Mary Sauvie at (518) 862-1030 Ext. 3229 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Wrege is a Renewable Energy Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oneida County.
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Checking motor drive on barn cleaner.
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January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
What will President Obama do about food and agriculture? A noted Cornell agricultural economist shares his thoughts By Andrew M. Novakovic Most of the world is focused on other aspects of "what will President Obama do about....." than agriculture and food, but there are a few of us for whom this is on the short list of questions. With many huge and pressing issues, agriculture has not been anywhere near the top of the list since the election, but Obama has
identified key items on his agenda for USDA. The following is from his campaign website www.barackobama.com/issues/rural/. OBAMA'S PLAN TO SUPPORT RURAL COMMUNITIES Ensure Economic Opportunity for Family Farmers
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Tested. Proven. Unbeatable. www.woodsonline.com MAINE R.S. OSGOOD & SONS EAST DIXFIELD, ME 207-645-4934 800-287-4934 www.rsosgood.com NEW YORK M.J. WARD & SON, INC. BATH, NY 607-776-3351 GREENVILLE SAW SERVICE 5040 Rt. 81 GREENVILLE, NY 518-966-4346 HIMROD FARM SUPPLY 3141 Himrod Rd. HIMROD, NY 14842 315-531-9497 EMPIRE TRACTOR CORTLAND, NY 607-753-9656 CAZENOVIA, NY 315-655-8146 ATLANTA, NY 585-534-5935 BATAVIA, NY 585-343-1822 WATERLOO, NY 315-539-7000
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Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Obama and Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. They will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers not large corporate agribusiness. They will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations. Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Obama is a strong supporter of a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Obama and Biden will strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices. Regulate CAFOs: Obama's Environmental Protection Agency will strictly regulate pollution from large CAFOs, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Obama also supports meaningful local control. Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Obama supports immediate implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones. Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama and Biden will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He also will promote regional food systems. Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Obama and Biden will establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. They will also provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm. Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Obama and Biden will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests. Support Rural Economic Development Support Small Business Development: Obama and Biden will provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. They also will establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America. Connect Rural America: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure that rural Americans have access to a modern communications infrastructure. They will modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well. Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Obama and Biden will ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement. This will transform the economy, especially in rural America, which is poised to produce and refine more American biofuels and provide more wind power than ever before, and create millions of new jobs across the country. COMMENTARY It seems a virtual certainty that the 2008 Farm Bill will, to some degree, be reopened next Spring as part of the larger effort to tighten up the budget. Agriculture is likely to get a deeper cut than other areas. Moreover, keep in mind that the biggest share of USDA's budget (approaching 2/3) is Food and Nutrition Programs, the single largest of which is Food Stamps (now called SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). When the Farm Bill is reopened, it is likely that bigger changes will be explored, including the items on the President's agenda. As I look at these, it strikes me that these are a rather predictable set of objectives from a Democrat, and more so from a Chicago Democrat than a Peoria one. It tells me that his instinct is to favor the
Page 9 * disadvantaged over the advantaged * (small) farmers over (big) agribusiness * local over international * consumer/social/environmental concerns over the least cost methods of production President Bush proposed a $250,000 payment limit last year. Congress came close to agreeing to strict payment limits but the Agriculture Committees tightened up payment limits to a much smaller degree. Another possibility would be to resume discussion of income eligibility requirements. In this approach, high income farmers have a payment limit of $0 because they are deemed ineligible. I would not be surprised if both concepts are revived next spring. Both can be justified as being more favorable to smaller-scale farmers, which seems to be consistent with Obama's philosophy and values. Concerns about vertical integration in agriculture, or more specifically the ownership of agricultural production by the buyers of agricultural commodities have been around for decades. Although the vast, vast, majority of production agriculture is not owned by agribusiness, there is a growing concern that corporate ownership will grow and that even a small share will reduce competition and result in lower prices for farmers. The so-called Meat Packer Ban is the latest manifestation of this concern and may very well be addressed at some point. Inasmuch as it is not a budget issue, it may not be addressed soon. Enforcement of existing CAFO regulation has involved a number of debates. One is assuredly related to how vigorously the laws and regulations are enforced. Another is the extent to which state and local agencies can enforce federal guidelines or establish stricter guidelines. To a large degree, a new President Obama can exercise his executive power by instructing EPA, singly or in concert with other agencies, to enforce existing regulations more aggressively. Again, this is not a budget issue, but it may well be a fairly early priority. COOL went into effect in October, but it remains to be seen how vigorously it will be developed and enforced. President Obama will likely push for aggressive enforcement. The bigger issue here is trade. COOL in and of itself is not such a big issue, but President Obama's attitude toward multi-lateral trade negotiations and the WTO will be very closely watched in the US and around the world. My expectation is that he will be more protectionist that previous administrations. His agenda also clearly signals support for concepts of local agriculture, including organic production, farmstead processing, direct marketing and farmer's markets and the like. This may well mean that the new President will not seek cuts in the new and existing programs that support such activities. This is especially significant to fruit and vegetable growers who benefited from several new programs in the 2008 Farm Bill. Rural development, aside from agriculture, is likely to see increased attention from President Obama, but this has been the step-child of USDA for years. Especially given the weak budget, I think it is unlikely that there will be any new money or approaches for rural development in the early part of his administration, but I do think it will be in his playbook, and he will attempt to support programs in that area.
Andrew M. Novakovic is the E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics at Cornell University. This article is excerpted with permission from "Notes on the Agricultural Agenda of President-elect Barack Obama", Briefing Paper Number 08-2 by Andrew M. Novakovic, The E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics at Cornell University. November, 2008.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Membership in a Chamber of Commerce Makes Business Cent$ As a farm or rural landowner, belonging to your local Chamber of Commerce might not be at the top of your priority list. You might not consider membership in the Chamber is an investment in your business. I disagree. Let me prove to you that membership in a Chamber of Commerce makes business cent$. Being a member of your local Chamber supports an organization whose goal is to attract and retain jobs, enhance your quality of life, improve the business climate, and provide services that will help your business prosper. Thanks to the group of Chamber members, (which can number from 500 in a smaller Chamber up to thousands of members in a larger Chamber) the Chamber can provide your business with networking opportunities, referrals, advocacy, leadership, information and resources.
the Chamber for members to get involved and accomplish collectively what no one of them could do alone, thereby creating a pool of resources from which to draw ideas, energies and finance. Today, Chambers of Commerce have become community organizations which recognize all the factors that affect their community and adjust their programs accordingly. Chambers of Commerce are committed to providing members with a "good return on investment." While each Chamber has specific benefits associated with their organization, some of the more common advantages that your membership provides include:
Your membership in the Chamber makes you a partner with all its members and gives you access to valuable business information. The Chamber can help in business expansion, and offer hands-on assistance in important areas of business concerns. It is a partnership that is critical for your business' success.
Cost saving programs. We offer competitive health insurance group rates not otherwise accessible to individual business owners. Our Energy Alliance Program allows Chamber members to reduce their electricity and natural gas costs through the purchasing power of a large group. Not only is this program available to the business, but to their employees as well. The Member-to-Member Discount Program offers Chamber members and their employees discounts on products and services from other member businesses. This discount is typically better than any other advertised promotion or offer.
A Chamber of Commerce is a voluntary organization that unites businesses and professional people in an effort to expand the economy of an area. It must be understood that a Chamber of Commerce is PEOPLE. There is a place in
Business counseling. Free and confidential business counseling can be tailored to meet the needs of your small business and personal objectives through SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). Many Chambers partner
with their local SCORE Chapter, whose volunteers are real-world professionals with timetested knowledge and who donate thousands of hours to help small businesses succeed. Counselors are experts in such areas as accounting, engineering, finance, marketing, management and business plan preparation. Networks. Getting to know the right people can be just what your business needs. Chamber membership provides many opportunities at monthly networking mixers, luncheons and other events, to create important connections that enable individuals and businesses to do and achieve more. You may meet someone that can finance your next loan, print your next order of business cards or brochures, or design your new website. Think of the Chamber as a "one-stop-shop for your business needs." Political impact. The Chamber focuses the time and talents of its members on the important business and civic issues of the community -
helping to create a climate of growth and success for all. Through lobbying, testifying, developing key relationships, grassroots activities, and tracking bills and regulations, a Chamber promotes pro-business and fights anti-business legislation. A Chamber often gives their members direct access to legislators and elected officials through various programs and events on the local, state and national level - an important connection for any business. A Chamber is even willing to assist members with affecting a change in legislation that will have a tremendous impact on their business - as long as it is in the best interest of the local business community.
Amy Shaw is the Director of Community Relations for the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at (607) 772-8863 x313.
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The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce holds a mixer at Cornell Cooperative ExtensionBroome County Cutler Botanic Gardens
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By Amy Shaw
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Beauty Under Cover Jan Blomgren of Windflower Farm evaluated the performance of 10 high-value organic cut flower varieties grown in five kinds of high tunnels By Violet Stone
Welcome to our new Northeast SARE Spotlight! With each issue we will be sharing news and information from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, including examples of how farmers are using SARE's Farmer Grants program to developing production and marketing innovations that help them become more sustainable.
Spotlight on SARE Publications from SARE Outreach The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is a USDA competitive grants program supporting agriculture that is profitable, environmentally sound, and good for communities. SARE Outreach publishes free online bulletins on a huge range of topics-direct marketing, poultry and pork production, water conservation, pest management, cropping systems, and transitioning to organic, to name a few. To browse the selection of bulletins and other publications, go to www.sare.org/publications/index.htm. SARE also publishes books of interest to farmers and educators. Current offerings include: • How to Direct Market Your Beef $14.95 • Building Soils for Better Crops, second edition $19.95 • The New American Farmer, second edition $16.95 • How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee $ 9.95 • Managing Cover Crops Profitably, third edition $19.00 • Steel in the Field $18.00 • The New Farmers' Market $24.95 • Building a Sustainable Business $17.00 • Manage Insects on Your Farm $15.95 You can also order all these publications by calling 301-374-9696. Bulk rates are available for bookscall for more information on quantities and discounts. Shipping and handling costs will depend on the size and type of order.
Learn more about the Northeast SARE Program by visiting www.uvm.edu/nesare or by contacting: Northeast SARE 655 Spear St. University of Vermont Burlington, VT 05405-0107 Phone: (802) 656-0471 Fax: (802) 656-0500 E-mail: email@example.com
THE FARM Jan and Ted Blomgren have been growing organic vegetables and cut flowers on their 15 acre farm in the Taconic hills of Washington County, NY for over a decade. As experienced farmers, they are skilled in the cultural practices of ecological farming and have developed a substantial customer base at the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market and in NYC, where they ship weekly vegetable and bouquet deliveries to 350 CSA shareholders. But any farmer, no matter how practiced or popular, still struggles with the
Tunnel structures can be configured in as many different shapes and sizes as the imagination allows. The architecture of a tunnel is designed to trap heat and humidity inside to hasten the growth of a plant relative to outside conditions. Stagnant air and over-heating issues are often overcome with fans, vents, or roll up side flaps that allow heat to escape and fresh air to pass through. The types of tunnels that Jan and Ted used in the SARE experiment included variations on both the "high tunnel", a permanent structure of curved PVC or hollow metal piping covered in a polyethylene plastic, and the 'field tunnel', a structure erected quickly and seasonally by inserting hoops in to the ground over a designated series of beds. The field tunnels in the experiment were either "walk-in" or low to the ground, hovering just over the blossoms. The covers ranged from opaque, lightweight, permeable commercial fabrics such as Typar and Covertan to single layer plastic.
Stock flowering in the High Tunnel. Taking all factors into account, the high tunnels provided the best overall horticultural results. inevitable drought or flood, hot or cold, hail or wind that imperils the most vulnerable crops every growing season. Today, a myriad of technological innovations designed to shield crops from nature's volatility are available at low cost to the farmer. One of these, the hoop house, has been a critical tool for Windflower Farm, not just aiding in season extension, but allowing Jan to raise cut flowers under optimal growing conditions for most or all of their life cycle. Realizing the importance of the hoop structure to the economics of her flower operation, Jan planned an experiment to trial a selection of her highest value cut flowers in 5 different hoop structures, hoping to gather data on how the unique conditions each structure created enhanced or hindered the desired traits of the flower.
RESULTS While further trials are needed to clarify results, information emerged in the 2004 data that will help the Blomgren's determine how to match tunnel structures, covers and crops in the future. They concluded that plastic tunnels were generally superior to Typar and Covertan tunnels, regardless of the structure. In turn, Covertan and Typar were superior to growing plants in the out-of-doors.
Measuring Snap Dragons in the field tunnel. Each stem was measured for stem and inflorescence (flowering part) length, stem number per plant, and stem girth (circumference). ing which covers complimented cool or warm-loving crops. The experiment pointed to better and worse combinations of covers and structures. Low tunnels covered with plastic became too hot. Even the walkin tunnels covered with plastic overheated, indicating that the high tunnel with its larger airspace and roll-up walls was best suited for a plastic cover. Low tunnels covered with Covertan didn't' create enough warmth during the unusually cold and windy spring, but could perhaps offer more favorable conditions in more average temperatures. Taking all factors into account, the high tunnels provided the best overall horticultural results. Jan explains the likely reasons: "This may have had most to do with the high quality of the material used to cover them, but the slightly superior results of these units compared to plastic-covered walk-ins shows that the size of the structure is important". Another advantage of high tunnels over plastic-covered field tunnels is the capacity of the high tunnel to withstand significant snow loads in the winter. Covers from less permanent field structures are removed in the fall and reapplied before planting in the spring.
Jan and Ted were pleased with their initial observations, but as in any farming venture, they have a lot of learning and exploring ahead. They continTHE SARE GRANT ue to search for the most ecoIn 2004, Jan received a SARE Jan Blomgren harvests a healthy bunch of lisianthus nomical hoop-house strucgrant to fund the salary of a Photos by Ted Blomgren tures, taking expense and field employee to assist with labor into account, for the highCovertan was found to provide less planning, planting, data collection and est quality cut-flowers and vegetables. warming and wind protection than its photography, and to reimburse her counterpart, Typar. Some warm-loving efforts as the project's supervisor and Their next pursuit will be experimenting flowers, such as China aster, Lisianthus, facilitator. They drew upon the experiwith various walk-in and drive-in (or and Bells of Ireland, were better suited ence of Laura McDermott, a horticulture tractor-accessible) single and multi-bay to the warm Typar tunnel than cool-lovagent with Cornell Cooperative structures. To check with Jan and Ted ing crops such as stock, larkspur, and Extension (CCE) in Washington County, on their latest research, contact snapdragon. The date of seeding as an advisor to the project. Windflower Farm at 518-692-3188. added yet another variable in determinSpecifically, the goal was to deterFor more specific results on varimine how the temperature and relaety performance, download the tive humidity inside each hoop Blomgren's final report at: structure affected stem and infloreswww.sare.org/ cence (flowering part) length, stem reporting/report_viewer.asp?pn number per plant, and stem girth =FNE04-503. To obtain a copy of (circumference). Because Jan plants many of the varieties in sucthe Windflower Farm power-point cession to ensure a long, uninterphoto narration of the results, rupted flow of harvest, she recorded please contact the Small Farms data for the first, second and often Program at 607-255-9227. third sowing of a variety. The flowers selected for compreViolet Stone is the NY SARE hensive data measurement were: Outreach Coordinator and Stock, Godetia, Larkspur, Communications Specialist for the Snapdragon, and Bells of Ireland. Cornell Small Farms Program in Additionally, Jan made visual notes Ithaca, NY. She can be reached on the productivity of China aster, A wide array of high value cut flowers were used in the at 607-255-9227 or vws7@corAsiatic lily, Delphinium, Sunflower nell.edu trial. and Lisianthus.
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
January 5, 2009
LOCAL FOODS & MARKETING
Community Supported Livestock Farming Marketing Meats Through the CSA Model By Erica Frenay
happy to pay less for a share of lower-end cuts.
When the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) entered the US farm scene in 1985, it revolutionized direct marketing possibilities for small-scale farmers. A typical CSA provides vegetables to a group of customers who have paid a "subscription" fee to receive a share of the bounty-however abundant or scanty-each week throughout the season.
If this method doesn't appeal to you, you can still market your meat to CSA members. High Point Farms, in Trumansburg, NY has what amounts to their own private farmers' market. They have partnered with Sweet Land CSA just down the road from them.
A CSA member meets a piglet that will one day become dinner. CSA subscribers know exactly where their food comes from and often develop a loyalty to "their farmer". Vegetable farmers get an infusion of cash in the spring, when they most need it to purchase seeds and supplies, and they have the assurance of knowing that whatever surprises the growing season brings, their members shoulder some of the risk too.
On pick-up day at Sweet Land, Tina MacCheyne from High Point sets up a table with her USDA-certified meats and sells retail packaged cuts to CSA members. This gives her access to readymade customers without having to worry about the logistics of creating a "share". Tina can sweeten the deal by working with Sweet Land's farmers to offer recipes that pair her meat cuts with that week's vegetable share. One disadvantage of this arrangement is that meat must be USDA certified in order to sell as retail cuts. Also, if you work with a CSA that has multiple pick-up days and/or locations it may not be worth your time to staff each of these, and your access to the CSA members could be diluted. If your meat is processed at a custom plant, you can still use a CSA newsletter or bulletin board to sell live animals to CSA members and, as an additional service, arrange to deliver the animals to either a USDA or custom exempt slaughterhouse for the processing of their choice. But you cannot sell individual cuts of meat if they were processed in a custom plant. And according to the NY Department of Ag & Markets, individuals can get together and decide to "share" an animal that they purchase from you, but it is up to these individuals to ensure that the portions are "equal". Be sure to consider these restrictions as you plan how many live animals to market through a CSA.
Kim also points out that "Farming is one of the few professions that people practice on the side. With this hobby mentality, people don't take risk management as seriously." Kim works extensively with lawyers and the Food Safety Inspection Service to ensure that her farm is compliant with all regulations. She also carries umbrella liability insurance on all her farm's products.
Although many CSAs have expanded the menu of options to offer shares of berries, eggs, or flowers, there are relatively few that offer meat shares.
SEASONAL CHANGES Part of the appeal of a vegetable CSA is that subscribers experience the progress of the growing season gastronomically. As they eat the changing contents of their share throughout the season, they directly experience the transitions from Spring to Summer to Fall.
MEAT CSA BENEFITS But they're coming. With the rising interest in all foods local and grass-fed, new meat CSAs are born every season. Unlike a farmer's market, a meat CSA does not necessarily require meat to be USDA certified. This makes it a marketing option worth exploring for the multitude of producers without a USDA processing facility within a feasible distance.
It's more difficult for a meat producer to mimic this seasonality. But consider Summer and Winter share options, the same way you might if selling at a market. Include steaks and other grilling meats in a summer share, versus roasts and stew meats for the cold months. If your share includes multiple livestock species, you could combine this strategy by featuring each species when it's freshest, like chickens in the summer and beef in late fall and winter.
A farmer who secures subscriptions in the early spring can have the cash on hand to purchase feeder animals in time for the grass flush, and the peace of mind of knowing that the animals have already been sold. If you partner with a local vegetable CSA to offer a meat share-or if you have a veggie CSA and add a livestock enterprise--the results can benefit everyone involved. Vegetable farmers can offer more diversity to retain their members' interest, livestock producers get access to a pre-organized and very receptive market, and the CSA members can source more of their diet from trusted local sources all in one place. REGULATIONS Direct-market retailers are, by necessity, a creative bunch, so the possibilities to tailor a meat CSA to fit your farm and your community are limited only by your imagination...and, of course, applicable federal and state food safety regulations. If your meat is USDAcertified, you can market retail cuts directly to customers in any of the ways outlined below. But if you only have access to a custom processor, your marketing alternatives are more limited. Although the regulations are sometimes difficult to interpret, as a livestock producer it is your responsibility to be familiar with them. For a guide to New York State regulations (still in draft form) to assist your understanding, visit http://www.nyfarms.info/FAID paper.pdf. For clarification of meat regulations in your state and to keep abreast of recent changes, please contact your state agriculture department's meat and poultry inspection program. The supervisor for the New York program is Clarence Davis at (518) 457-8835. STRATEGIES: THE CSA PIGGYBACK A flexible way to market meat via a CSA is to partner with an existing veggie CSA to advertise a meat share to subscribers. Superficially this might appear similar to freezer trade, but it offers the added bonus that the customer base is already there and at least somewhat organized. You get new customers, the vegetable farmer adds value to their share, and the CSA members are happy to have expanded options. Eric Thompson of Belmond Farm in Montgomery, NY, produces USDA-certified pork. He says, "We had six members of a nearby veggie CSA who wanted a pork share from us. This first time we let them select their preferences from the cut sheet, but I think in the future it will be a lot easier if we just offer a pre-designed 4person or 6-person split from a single hog, with a description of approximately how much of which cuts will be in each box." Obviously not everyone can get a tenderloin, but with a little practice you can devise roughly equal-value shares. Alternatively, you could offer a range of shares from one animal along the lines of "high-end" to "hamburger helper." Some customers would be
Members of Chestnut Farm Meat CSA in Hardwick, MA are welcome to visit the cows, pat the pigs, hug a chicken or hold a lamb -- but only on the first Tuesday of the month during on-farm share distributions. The farm also hosts two open houses each year for members. Photos by Nicole Lewis
PICK-UP If your location requires you to meet customers at distribution points rather than on your farm, you may face challenges with inconsistent members. Kim Denney says, "It is a real problem for us if CSA members go on vacation and when we go to drop off meat people are not there to pick it up." They are not allowed to restock the product and instead must donate it to food kitchens or eat it themselves. Kim has learned from experience to combat this by emailing CSA members 24 to 36 hours before distribution to remind them about meat pickup.
Members of a meat CSA get to observe close-up how their food is raised. OR GO IT ALONE Kim Denney of Chestnut Farm in Hardwick, MA runs a 300-member stand-alone Meat CSA offering USDA-certified beef, chicken, lamb, and pork. Members choose the size of their share (from 1025lbs) and subscribe for 6 months at a time. Each month, members get a box that includes a range of meat, sometimes mostly beef and pork, other times more lamb and poultry. Each order contains about half ground meat, stew meat, and flank steaks and about half higher-end cuts such as center cut chops and steaks. Kim and her husband Rich offer nine distribution points in their region. They currently charge $7-8/lb depending on share size. RISK MANAGEMENT Realistically, none of the set-ups above embody the "community supported" part of CSA. "Kind of like pre-paying for a community meat locker," observed one livestock farmer who is considering the meat CSA model. Certainly these members don't share the risk burden of production with the farmer. Kim Denny's CSA members expect their 10-lb or 25-lb share every month regardless of what catastrophes her farm might have weathered.
UNWANTED CUTS Vegetable CSA producers have developed two primary strategies for dealing with underappreciated crops. Many of them allow members to substitute extra string beans for, say, rutabagas, while at the same time including appealing and simple recipes for crops they anticipate will be less popular. Meat CSAs can mimic this strategy. Because cuts vary in their inherent quality, and because people have varying preferences, CSA members at Essene Farm in northern NY are given freechoice access-within generous limits--to all the meat cuts offered on their weekly pick-up day. This is especially important for meat CSAs offering multiple types of animals in one share, as preferences will vary for beef or pork or chicken. CSAs offering their shares in a pre-filled box during established pick-up times could set out a "leave or trade" cooler maintained at proper temperature, allowing members to trade unwanted cuts with others. ONE-STOP SHOPPING If the concept of "community supported agriculture" is going to move beyond a niche to become a critical player in the relocalization of food economies, it will be essential for these farms to provide a larger portion of families' diets.
Yet the farmer-eater relationship is still there. Having a strong relationship with your customers can play a major role in your risk management. No matter how organized you are, mistakes are unavoidable.
It's only a matter of time before meat CSAs get all the kinks worked out, as the vegetable CSAs have forged the way. After extensive research on marketing models, Bob Comis from Stony Brook Farm concludes, "I think we're starting to witness the birth of the meat CSA movement."
"Don't underestimate the time it takes to maintain continued contact with your CSA customers," Kim emphasizes. "This is HUGE for us." Kim spends about 2 to 3 hours per day in emails with her 300-member base.
Erica Frenay is Project Manager for the NY Beginning Farmer Project, a project of Cornell's Small Farms Program.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Youth and Adults Partner to Support Community Food Pantry By Celeste Carmichael What started last Spring as a conversation about potential ways that youth could help at the local food pantry, ended in a team of members from Rotary, 4-H and FFA growing over $300 worth of produce for the Moravia food pantry. Moravia is a small town located in the Finger Lakes area of New York state, at the southern end of Owasco Lake, and 19 miles north of Cornell University. While farmland is prevalent, by no means does everyone grow their own food. And, at a time when everything is expensive, the fear was that some families would not be able to afford to put nutritious, locally grown, fresh vegetables on their dinner table.
Club was actively involved in gardening and service projects, and the Moravia FFA annually planned and planted six raised bed gardens behind the high school for the purpose of education. During the summer months, while school is out the gardens were typically not tended and any food produced was not harvested. The opportunity seemed obvious. Partnering to achieve the goals of providing families with local, fresh vegetables was a relatively simple process. FFA agreed to plan and plant the gardens, with the help of 4-H youth. Based on the needs expressed by the food pantry, the group grew
This effort went from conversation to planning stage quickly for a variety of reasons: the Rotary Club had an interest in community gardening to serve the local food pantry, the Millard Fillmore 4-H
Members of the Millard Fillmore 4-H Club plant vegetables that were eventually harvested for the Moravia Food Pantry and a notebook for recording observations as well as the quantity of produce harvested. Rotary also donated a rain barrel to ensure an easily accessible supply of water. A schedule for work throughout the summer was established and regularly distributed by e-mail as a reminder. With so many participants involved, no one group, family or member was required to put in an overwhelming amount of energy. And, during mid growing season, when the weeds were overtaking the beds, it was decided that mulching the gardens with grass would reduce the amount of weeding and watering necessary and add to the organic matter in the soil. Comments in the notebook documented the success and appreciation for this change.
FFA & 4-H members planned and planted six raised beds of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers. Rotary and 4H took care of the plants during the summer months, bringing harvested vegetables to the food pantry for distribution. And FFA members, as a part of their role with the demonstration gardens, put the beds to rest at the end of the growing season.
Along with the garden, community garden partners planted a mailbox to keep their garden journal and bags for harvesting veggies
In order to keep a few common supplies handy and dry, the youth also installed a mailbox in the garden. The mailbox contained plastic grocery bags for collecting harvested vegetables
The first year's experience was a good one for all of the partners. And, most importantly, recipients of the fresh foods were delighted. There is talk of expanding the raised bed gardens next year, installing a compost unit and increasing the height and weight capacity of the tomato stakes. There is also a plan to further increase awareness about hunger and further promote the effort so that the rest of the community contributes by "growing a row for the hungry".
Celeste Carmichael is the State 4-H Youth Development Program Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-227-2715.
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January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Are Northeast Farms in a Financing Fix? By Dorothy Suput In 2007, Lee Straw was struggling to find a bank that would lend him the money he needed to renovate the roof of his barn. Lee runs a diversified animal operation, Straw's Farm, in Maine's Midcoast region. It consists of an organic dairy herd, laying hens, island-raised lamb, hay, and wool. Although his business is well known in the region for the quality of its products, Lee was unable to find financing to repair and renovate the roof on his barn. And without an adequate roof, his business was unable to expand to meet growing markets, and his current business was threatened.
Lee Straw and his sheepdog Meg. For today's small, mid-sized, and limited-resource farmers, finding sufficient capital to finance their businesses can be a challenge. Tightening regulations, limited USDA-Farm Service Agency budgets, and consolidation of lending institutions have resulted in fewer lenders with agricultural expertise or mandates.
Table 1: Applied for financing by gross farm income.
Community development finance institutions (CDFI) finance many small businesses, but they typically have little or no agricultural expertise. The dominant agricultural lenders in the Northeast do offer credit, but do not adequately serve small and mid-sized farm operators who run start-ups, want to expand their operations, have unique business models, or lack adequate collateral. THE CARROT PROJECT STUDY The Carrot Project, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to making loans and guarantees available to small and mid-sized farmers, recently helped facilitate an alternative financing plan for Lee Straw. The organization facilitated a guarantee for a loan from a local bank (which had previously turned him down) with monies from a private investor. Lee was not only able to maintain his current business, but was able to increase his number of laying hens by 600 and increase his net monthly income. In order to better understand the financing obstacles facing small and mid-sized farms so that more farmers like Lee Straw can be served, The Carrot Project recently surveyed 700 farmers in New England and New York about their financing situations. We found that 25% of the farmers who applied for financing can't get the money they need.
Table 2: Applied for financing by years in business. Not surprisingly, the survey indicated that securing financing is difficult for farmers with limited capital, lack of credit history, and insufficient cash flow. When measured by stage of business, start-up operations were the most likely businesses in our survey to be denied financing, but they applied at lower rates than expanding or mature businesses. Farms with the highest gross farm income were the least likely to be denied financing. Eighty percent of the farms needing additional security had gross farm incomes of less than $117,000 per year.
We also found that short- and intermediate-termed loans at a median amount of nearly $30,000 are the kinds of loans most often being sought by farmers, along with flexible payment options, additional security, and farm real estate financing at a median amount of $165,000. Their answers make it clear that there is a need for new forms of financial assistance combined with business technical assistance to address the needs, particularly, of start-up farms and expanding farm businesses.
Table 4: Percent of farms denied financing by stage of business. ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS In general, insufficient cash flow and lack of a reasonable business plan may be addressed with technical assistance. For example, a farm's business can be examined to determine if expenses could be lowered or profits increased by adjusting certain aspects of the business and thereby increasing cash flow. Lack of credit history, lenders' unfamiliarity with a specific business enterprise, or lack of collateral might be addressed by alternative financing programs designed to respond to these situations.
At a time where established farmers in the Northeast are rapidly aging, and young, entry-level farmers are needed to replace them, it is not a good sign that between 20 and 25 percent of surveyed farmers who had requested financing were denied. And while The Carrot Project concedes that not every request for farm financing could or should be granted, our research indicates that farm start-ups and expanding businesses are particularly vulnerable.
WHO'S APPLYING, WHO'S BEING DENIED According to the Carrot Project survey, the farms most likely to apply for operating or capital financing were those run by managers with more than fours years of farming experience, higher gross farm incomes, and more mature businesses. This profile was strongest for operators with gross farm incomes of $117,000 or more who applied for operating and capital financing at 60 percent and 46 percent respectively (Table 1). This is at least double the application rate for all respondents. Yet, according to the 2002 Agricultural Census, New York and New England farms grossing more than $100,000 per year make up 15% of the farm population. Farms operating less than 10 years were most likely to apply for financing for farm real estate (Table 2).
In addition, start-up farms were the most likely to be denied financing (see Table 3.) However, because of their relatively low loan application rate, the number of start-ups denied financing is comparable to the number of expanding businesses (see Table 4). Expanding businesses are different from starts ups in that they share more characteristics of the average respondent-higher gross farm income and operating more than 5 years.
Table 3: Rates of denial by stage of business.
It is our intent to begin meeting the financing needs of this important but underserved population. Currently we are talking with different farm organizations and lenders about building upon or beginning targeted financing and technical assistance programs in New York and New England. If you would like to read the complete report on which this article is based or learn more about the work of The Carrot Project, please visit our website at www.thecarrotproject.org or contact Dorothy Suput at 617-666-9637.
Dorothy Suput is Executive Director of The Carrot Project.
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January 5, 2009
Does Raising Sheep Pay?
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY sheep to start with is about 20, if meant as a side income. For a full time operation, I believe, one person can handle 350 to 400 ewes and will still have some spare time here and there without needing additional labor.
Part 1: Costs of starting up a grass-fed sheep enterprise
Many farmers who raise animals in my area either have a dairy farm or they raise beef. Few raise sheep for a living or as a side income. Thus, the question I am often asked is "Can you make money with raising sheep?" Yes, you can make money raising sheep. How much really depends on many factors.
PASTURE SYSTEM BASICS There are various ways of raising sheep. The one I will be discussing is raising sheep on pasture in a rotational grazing system without feeding grain. I hear some of the readers saying, "This can't be done". I have heard that many times before. If you don't believe it, I invite you to come and see how sheep can thrive on grass.
Using a rubber pig feeder with high walls is a simple solution for a mineral feeder. PASTURE The next thing to consider is the pasture. If you need to put your farm, your land into pasture you will have a significant expense although a lot can be done with frost seeding and locally produced seeds (red clover, timothy) to keep costs down initially to about $15 per acre. I won't discuss various ways of seeding land into pasture further in this article since this would go beyond the purpose of this article.
The breed of sheep will be paramount for the success of grazing sheep. Too many sheep breeds in this country have lost the ability to thrive on pasture due to feed lot style grain feeding and the influence of sheep shows. In both cases these sheep breeds have lost rumen capacity and thus can't thrive on forage alone. Performance records for rams whose data was collected while these rams were consuming lots of grain are also not helpful for the grass farmer. All too often a farmer buys a ram whose production records look great on paper but then can't keep his condition on pasture, let alone breed 100 ewes during a breeding cycle. So, before you calculate what a sheep can net you, think first about what sheep you want to buy. There are still various breeds out there that do well on pasture. One breed is the White Dorper, Some breeders of this breed still favor raising them on pasture and for commercial purpose. But be aware that here are also already show lines that will not suit a commercial flock. I upgraded a flock of Texels (another breed most suitable for grazing) with White Dorper rams and I will use their performance to describe their economics. BREEDING STOCK The initial cost of a good commercial ewe or ewe lamb is about $125 to $175 per ewe, average being $150. A ram or ram lamb would cost about $200. A ram lamb would be able to safely breed 20 to 30 ewes. An adult ram is able to breed more but also will cost on average $400 to $500. I think a good number of
Along with the nettings you will need an energizer. There are very economically priced energizers on the market. Many I don't trust. I use almost exclusively Gallagher energizers. The cost for a good energizer for few nettings is about $200, for many nettings consider the cost of $500. Any energizer is only as good as the grounding. A ground rod can be bought at any hardware store. Its cost is very low. I also recommend a few electric fence signs at about $1.50 per sign. I pasture my sheep well into the winter on neighbors' fields such as harvested small grain fields after the fallen out seeds have germinated, Red clover fields, hay fields and the like. I use my electric nettings to do that. This allows me to prolong my grazing season enough to have a significant impact on my hay feeding days during the winter.
By Ulf Kintzel
I will outline in this article the economics (costs, productivity, and income) of raising sheep as I see it. In Part 1 I will discuss the major start-up costs, and in next Spring's issue of Small Farm Quarterly I will talk about ongoing expenses and about income. I will not make a complete calculation since no two farms are the same. I will, however, name the cost of all necessary equipment and expenses and you, dear reader, can calculate what applies to your farm.
Page 15 as many as 30 nettings for a larger flock. Rule of thumb is, you can never have too many nettings. I happen to have about 50.
This self-made hay feeder is quick to make and saves a substantial amount of money. Photos by Ulf Kintzel FENCING There are basically four suitable kinds of fence for sheep: woven wire, high tensile smooth wire, twine/polywire, and electric nettings. Woven wire is the most expensive (about $3 per foot) but also the safest. High tensile strands of wire are for many the fence of choice since many can set it up themselves. Twine and polywire is the cheapest version but also the least safe version and may be more an option as interior fence. I work mostly with electric nettings, used as perimeter and interior fence alike. The cost per roll varies between $104 and $120 per roll of 164 feet. Depending the size of flock, I recomHELP WANTED on mend a minimum of 6 nettings Area Sales Rep to servfor a small group of sheep and
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PENS, JUGS AND CHUTE Some moneys will need to be spent for panels to make pens and lambing jugs and possibly a chute. I use mainly rough cut Hemlock and medium duty metal posts. The last time I bought posts they were under three dollars each. But that is two years ago, they may cost more now. The lumber, if bought from a local lumber mill, will amount to a couple hundred dollars. Three inch wide and one inch thick boards are most suitable to make panels for sheep (see photo). WATER The cost for a watering system can vary greatly. For a small flock a hose may be enough to get water to the sheep. Some lay waterlines to each paddock. I don't have set paddocks and I oppose a pre-determined watering place for another reason. There is too much manure built up if you have the water trough always in the same place. Instead, I converted a trailer (cost $400) into a water trailer by mounting a 300 gallon water barrel (cost $300 including hose, coupler etc.) on it and pull the water to wherever I wish to water my sheep. Troughs are needed as well. The cost per trough is approximately $70. Buckets are needed for the lambing jugs. There are many places where one can get free buckets such as restaurants. HAY FEEDERS I feed hay in a self-made round bale feeder (see photo). I use 16 foot feeder panels (also known as feed lot, hog, or calf panel), hook the ends together, cut with a disc grinder additional two rows of staggered holes in the panels that the ewes can put their heads through and I have a round bale feeder for about $30 instead the $200+ that any commercial large or round bale feeder costs. Please note that I calculated no costs for additional feeders. Since I don't feed grain I only need my round bale feeders. TRACTOR AND EQUIPMENT I use a small, 40 horsepower tractor with front and rear spear attachments (cost $400 for both) to get big round bales of hay out into the field in the winter. I will abstain from pricing a tractor. You will be able to figure out yourself the cost of a used or new tractor or maybe a tractor is already on the farm. If no tractor is available to move large bales one can easily feed small square bales as well as I have done for many years. However, the cost per ton of hay would be higher. I also go through the pasture with a brush hog at least once per year in order to control weeds, cut seed stems and thus rejuvenate my pasture. The purchase of a bush hog is approximately $2,000. BARN The cost of a barn is the wild card in this calculation. Since the requirements for a sheep barn are very basic, an old and possibly a barn that is already written off will do. No heat or insulation is needed, just protection from the elements. You just need to know how much room you need. Calculate about ten square feet per ewe and her lambs for lambing season. Besides lambing I use a barn to shelter the sheep in extreme weather. Other than that the sheep spend their time outside in the pasture. So these are the major costs involved in getting started with sheep. In the next issue I will talk about ongoing expenses and income potential.
Ulf Kintzel owns and manages White Clover Sheep Farm (www.whitecloversheepfarm.com) in Rushville, NY where he breeds grass-fed White Dorper sheep.
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
January 5, 2009
The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative GLCI provides technical assistance and education for graziers across the Northeast By Karen Hoffman You've probably seen the acronym "GLCI" on meeting announcements as a sponsor, or maybe on a business card, or heard it mentioned somewhere at some point over the last several years. Do you know what GLCI is? Do you know who is involved? Did you know that you can get help with grazing from GLCI? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, read on! GLCI stands for Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, which is a national effort to improve conservation on grazing lands that are owned by private individuals. It is funded through USDANatural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) at the national level, and the funds are then allocated to each state and used in each state to help the private landowner. No two states use their GLCI funds in exactly the same way, as it is tailored to the needs in the individual state. In the Northeast, many of the states have either a GLCI Steering Committee or a Board of Directors. These groups are comprised of farmers, non-farming landowners, land grant university representatives, conservation and environmental interest groups, and others. At the national level, the GLCI Steering Committee has representatives of 9 different national agricultural organizations and industries, and many of the state groups are similar in their makeup. To see who is involved nationally, visit www.GLCI.org. The Steering Committee or Board members serve as volunteers with GLCI, and work with a State GLCI Coordinator from NRCS who serves as a liaison between the volunteers and the NRCS leadership for the state. The volunteers work together to identify priorities and needs for technical assistance from NRCS, and the Coordinator communicates those needs to NRCS so that funding is directed appropriately to the landowners, farmers, and graziers (who could all be the same!). Each state implements the GLCI program in a way that is tailored to the state. Please see the sidebar for information on how to learn about GLCI in your state, if you are not in New York. GRAZING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE Briefly, there are three main aspects of GLCI in New York that can be helpful to you. First and foremost, there is technical assistance to help you plan and design a grazing system for your farm, and to identify sources of cost-sharing assistance to help you implement a system with fencing, laneways, and watering systems.
Reduce Your Feed Costs Some ideas for coping with the high prices of grain, hay and fuel this winter
NRCS has contracted with several entities to provide the technical assistance, using GLCI funds. Those entities include the Adirondack North Country Association, Finger Lakes RC&D Council, Seneca Trail RC&D Council, and Hudson Mohawk RC&D Council. They each have one or more technicians who can visit your farm and help with many aspects of grazing, and can also bring other resource people to the farm to assist with more advanced issues. Contact information for the GLCI technical assistance providers in NYS is included in the second sidebar. If your county isn't listed, or if you prefer, you can always call your local USDANRCS or Soil and Water Conservation District office for assistance as well. GRAZING EDUCATION The second way that NY-GLCI can be helpful is through education on grazing management issues. There are funds specifically set aside to help cover the costs of providing education through pasture walks, workshops, and conferences. Thus, GLCI is often listed as a sponsor of these types of events that are organized by groups such as Cooperative Extension, nonprofits, and farmer organizations.
Feed grain only to those animals that need it to meet their requirements. In order to implement this strategy you need to have some idea what your forage has for nutrients. Animals also need to be grouped so that their nutrient requirements are the same. For example, growing lambs need more nutrients (and therefore probably grain) than ewes on maintenance so feeding them together is not efficient for either group. Don't keep any animals that are "asking to leave". You know... that ewe that always is outside the fence, or the one you always have to assist with lambing, or the one that has the one sided udder. Now is the time to part with them! If you can afford to keep livestock at all, keep the ones that are worth it! Don't scrimp on the animals that need grain. If your market is grain fed lamb, skimping on the grain will not help because the lambs will not be in the body condition your buyer expects and your prices will be much lower. Lactating ewes are another group that needs to be fed well because they are making the food for the lambs. All summer we had good quality forage in the pasture but the hay this winter may be another story. Direct market as many of the lambs/goats/cattle as you can. It is more work but you can retain more of the income and you have more control over the price. It is encouraging to hear of more local people looking for local food for their freezer and more restaurants willing to work with local farmers.
Committees/Boards for promoting the needs of grass-based agriculture. Take advantage of the opportunities to work with GLCI in your state, or volunteer to serve in an advisory capacity. We all know that government programs work best when decision-makers hear from those they serve - if they don't hear from you they won't know how best to serve you. There is always a need for more grassroots help from grass-based farmers and advocates!
Karen Hoffman is the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Coordinator and Animal Scientist with USDA-NRCS in Norwich, NY
Any group is eligible for sponsorship, including those who target consumers, health professionals, or environmental groups with information on the benefits of grazing. For more information on how to obtain funding, contact Karen Hoffman, GLCI Coordinator, at email@example.com or 607-334-4632 ext. 116.
GLCI in the Northeast
GRAZING NEWS Lastly, there is a monthly electronic newsletter called the "GLCI Grazette" that you can sign up for. The newsletter includes a listing of pasture related events, grazing resources, pasture management tips, and funding opportunities. To sign up, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "subscribe" in the subject line.
Maine - Alice Begin, USDA-NRCS, Bangor, ME - 207-9909568 or email@example.com or Gabe Clark, Maine Grass Farmers Network (www.umaine.edu/umext/mgfn/ ), 207-628-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The e-newsletter is not just for NY, so events and information from around the region are listed, and there are subscribers from all over the country. Also, to submit an event or other information to share, use the same email address and send the information before the last day of the month prior to your event. The next time you see the acronym "GLCI", you can thank your fellow farmers and others who serve on Steering Minimize feed waste. This might be the year that investing in good feeders will be worth the expense. Even hay is so valuable that feeding it on the ground should be reconsidered. Grain feeders can be purchased or improvised by using flower window boxes and picking them up after feeding. There are studies that show that decreasing the time the animals are exposed to the feed (forage) will cause them to eat more at once and waste less. Feed bunk space becomes important in this situation, too. Thinking through your feeding program and feeding methods is worthwhile.
By Betsy Hodge Livestock producers are facing some steep costs this winter...I have compiled some strategies to help minimize the impact. I had some on my list and Mike Baker, the beef specialist from Cornell, talked about some more at a recent beef meeting. Here they are:
Beef cattle graze contentedly at Endless Trails Farm and Guesthouse in Hubbardsville, NY. Photo by Joanna Green
Don't feed the parasites when you should be feeding the sheep or goats. Follow a good parasite management program by de-worming those animals that need it with a de-wormer that works. Sometimes this isn't as easy as it sounds. Control your lambing/kidding/calving period. By having your lambs in a close group you can do more logical grouping and therefore more efficient feeding. You control your lambing period by having enough ram (buck, bull) power and controlling when you use it. If you choose a 30 to 50 day lambing period you will be able to group the offspring for weaning, feeding and marketing. In the case of cattle you can pregnancy check and cull open animals or those that fall outside your calving period. Feed the correct minerals. Little things add up, like the right levels of selenium in your ration and having the minerals available all the time. Not sure what the correct minerals are? Talk to your Extension agent and feed store personnel, read the label on the bags Those were some ideas to try to cope with the high prices of grain and hay and fuel. It looks like corn will come down some but not to the levels we were used to in the past. Livestock prices will have to come up some in order for most farmers to survive. If we can cut back and keep our land in production and our core breeding stock intact we should be in good shape when the price of our products come up or our inputs go down.
Betsy Hodge is a Community Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in St. Lawrence County, NY. This article first appeared in Betsy's August 20, 2008 Sheep & Goat Newsletter.
Connecticut - Rebecca Elwood, USDA-NRCS, Wallingford, CT - 203-269-7509 ext. 200 or email@example.com
Massachusetts - Tom Akin, USDA-NRCS, Amherst, MA 413-253-4365 or firstname.lastname@example.org; moderated grazing discussion listserve for MA email@example.com New Hampshire - Kimberly McCracken, USDA-NRCS, Durham, NH - 603-868-9931 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org Pennsylvania - Jana Malot, USDA-NRCS, Harrisburg, PA 717-237-2247 or email@example.com Rhode Island - Eric Scherer, USDA-NRCS, Warwick, RI 401-822-8814 or firstname.lastname@example.org Vermont - Kevin Kaija, USDA-NRCS, White River Junction, VT - 802-295-7942 ext. 23 or email@example.com; Jenn Colby, Outreach Coordinator, Vermont Grass Farmers' Association - 802-656-0858, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.uvm.edu/~pasture/?Page=vgfa.html
NY GLCI Technical Assistance Adirondack North Country Association www.adirondack.org - covering Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Oswego, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington Counties - Martha Pickard - 518-891-6200 or email@example.com Finger Lakes RC&D Council - www.fingerlakesrcd.org - covering Chemung, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, and Yates Counties - Dick Winnett - 607-776-7398 ext. 5 or firstname.lastname@example.org Seneca Trail RC&D Council - www.senecatrailrcd.org - covering Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Livingston, Seneca Nation of Indians, and Wyoming Counties - JoAnn Kurtis 716-699-2375 ext. 5 or email@example.com Hudson Mohawk RC&D Council www.nyrcd.org/HudsonMohawk - covering Albany, Columbia, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, and Schenectady Counties - Elizabeth Marks - 518-828-4385 ext. 105 or firstname.lastname@example.org GRAZE NY - in partnership with GLCI - www.grazeny.com covering Broome, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Tioga, Tompkins, and Wayne Counties contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District
January 5, 2009
Dear Vicki Vetch New Varieties of Hairy Vetch Gentle Readers, This installment addresses a topic that is near and dear to Miss Vicki's heart. I am thrilled to see the progress that has been made with my namesake! Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist and breeder Thomas Devine and collaborators have released two new varieties of hairy vetch. 'Purple Bounty' and 'Purple Prosperity' are both winter-hardy, early-flowering vetches for the northern United States. Purple Bounty flowers two weeks earlier than common hairy vetch while Purple Prosperity flowers just one week earlier.
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY In the Northeast, vetch has had limited use because it flowers late, making it hard to fit into a rotation unless you resort to aggressive tillage. Another limitation is its poor winter hardinessif you lose the crop over the winter, then you've lost your investment in seed and time. Because these new varieties flower earlier, it expands their potential for use in annual rotations in our area with the possibility to use less tillage. Having the option to use reduced tillage is beneficial for many reasons, including improved soil moisture conservation and the reduction of soil erosion. Additional potential benefits include reduced fuel consumption, planting and harvesting flexibility, reduced labor requirements, and improved soil tilth. Because of their earlier flowering time, these new vetch varieties allow farmers more flexibility in what can be planted after the vetch while still reaping the benefits of growing a nitrogenfixing cover crop.
Because of its earlier maturity, Purple Bounty doesn't yield quite as much biomass as Purple Prosperity. However both produce a significant amount of nitrogen-rich biomass in early spring when they are making use of the long days and putting on abundant growth.
SEED TO SEED Tom Devine works with ARS's Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. He developed these varieties in conjunction with the Rodale Institute near Kutztown, Pennsylvania, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station at Ithaca, and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station at University Park.
BETTER FOR COVER CROPPING One of the major issues with any cover crop is how to fit it into your rotation while optimizing the benefits it offers such as weed suppression, nitrogen fixation, and improved soil quality. This can be especially challenging with overwintering annuals like the vetches.
Devine started with germplasm from different seed banks and then used traditional selection methods that are acceptable to organic farmers. The main traits he was selecting for were early flowering times and winter hardiness. After nine cycles of selection, 'Purple Bounty' and 'Purple Prosperity' emerged with the desired characteristics.
Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) is normally planted in fall and goes into dormancy over the winter. In spring, there is vigorous growth and a lot of nitrogen fixation. Then the vetch can be tilled into the soil, or rolled down or crimped and killed, leaving a thin layer of mulch behind. If vetch is to be killed before it has flowered, aggressive tillage such as mowing then plowing is necessary or the vetch will regrow and compete with the main crop. In order to use reduced tillage, mowing or rolling must wait until the vetch is in full flower. At this stage in its life cycle, it can be killed easily. (When vetch is rolled down successfully, crops can be planted directly into the killed mulch without further tilling.)
LOCAL FOODS & MARKETING
Hoop Houses Help Meet Demand for Locally Grown Food By David S. Conner The growing demand for local foods provides a niche marketing opportunity for farmers, as well as an array of potential benefits to society at large. But in northern states like New York and Michigan, the ability to supply locally grown produce is greatly limited by our short growing season. One potential solution is the use of passive solar greenhouses, also known as high tunnels or hoop houses, which can extend the season of almost any vegetable or small fruit crop and permit year round production of certain cold tolerant species. Hoop houses bring farmers greater opportunity for productive labor and income in cold months, and may keep consumers in the habit of buying local.
Seed for these new vetch varieties have just become available to commercial seed producers and will be commercially available to growers in 2010. The seed companies that are growing out Purple Bounty this year are King's AgriSeed in Pennsylvania (ph: 717-687-6224), Albert Lee Seed House in Minnesota (ph: 800-352-5247), and Allied Seed in Missouri (ph: 866-629-9638). The seed companies will release the seed pending results from additional field trials for winter hardiness and, of course, seed production. Availability will depend on the amount of seed produced over the next two years. King's AgriSeed may have a limited amount available in 2009 pending this year's production. Purple Prosperity will be grown out within a few years of 'Purple Bounty'. sumers' motivations and behaviors at the markets. Finally, experimental auctions provided another measure of willingness to pay which requires tradeoffs with real money. The results overwhelmingly show that consumers will attend both late and early season markets. While 23% actually attended markets in January-February, 68% indicted willingness to do so. Similarly, 61% last attended in November or December, but 91% would be willing to do so. Full results are presented in Table 1. Table 1. First and Last Month of Market Attendance, actual and willingness, measured by dot posters (number of shoppers giving each response)
Earliest Actual Earliest Willing
Latest Actual Latest Willing
January or February
March or April
May or Later
July or or Aug
September or October
November or December
With USDA funding, we are testing the potential economic contributions of hoop houses for small and medium sized farms here in Michigan. Each of nine farmers is collecting data to create enterprise budgets. Analysis of first year data shows farmers earning up to $7,900 gross ($5,400 net) from a single hoop house in their first year of production, implying a two year payoff of initial investment.
On the written surveys, consumers were presented with the choice of a $2.00 bag of organic salad greens which were not grown locally, and asked the most they would pay if local. More than 90% would pay some premium: the mean premium was 41%. Furthermore, 52% stated they would pay the stated premium for local on most or all their produce purchases.
Additionally, we are conducting market research at three farmers markets where these farmers sell their products. The key research questions are: will consumers patronize farmers markets early and late in the season if fresh local produce is available? Will they pay a premium for locally grown produce? What attributes are most important to consumers?
Focus group participants expressed great loyalty to these markets, many attending every week and buying most or all their produce, meats and other goods there. The market is the only place where they can buy the quality of foods they desire. One stated only extremely inclement weather (an "ice storm") would prevent her from coming to shop.
The research was conducted at three Michigan farmers markets using four complementary methods: dot poster surveys (where consumers place sticky dots on flip charts containing questions with simple categorical responses), written surveys, focus groups and experimental auctions. The dot posters asked consumers the earliest and latest months they actually attended the markets, and the earliest and latest months they would attend if fresh local produce was available. Written surveys asked about willingness to pay for local produce and desired attributes. Focus group participants discussed con-
Experimental auction subjects, bidding on bags of local and nonlocal organic salad greens, paid an average premium of 31% for local. On average, auction subjects would repeatedly pay their bid amount on 64% of produce purchases. Auction participants also filled out an exit survey which repeated questions from the earlier written survey. The participants of the written survey and auctions rated a set of attributes on a 1-10 scale (1 being not important, 10 being most important). For each group, grown in Michigan and with organic methods were the two most important attributes (Table 2).
USDA-ARS Geneticist Thomas Devine (left) and technician H. David Clark examine flowering and seed development in hairy vetch plants. Photo by Peggy Greb. You can learn more about these new vetch varieties at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420112906.htm, and www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/apr08/vetch0408.htm. Sincerely,
Vicki Vetch is a creation of the Drinkwater Lab at Cornell University. Vicki's column will continue to appear in upcoming issues of Small Farm Quarterly. She will tackle any question related to cover crop management or the role of cover crops in farming systems. Send your questions to: email@example.com, or to: Vicki Vetch, c/o the Drinkwater Laboratory, Cornell University, 134A Plant Science Bldg., Ithaca, NY 14853. Table 2. Consumers Rating of Selected Attributes (10 point scale:1 being not important, 10 being most important) Participant group
Attribute: Grown less than 20 miles away Mean 6.62
Farmers market shoppers Median Auction Mean participants Median
8 5.11 5
Grown Grown in less Michigan than 100 miles away 6.59 7.88
8 5.65 7
5 5.22 5
9 7.17 8
10 6.89 7
Knowing Organic the methods farmer grew it
The results of this research suggest a viable market, with potential for growth, for local, hoop house grown produce at farmers markets. Several participating farmers said having fresh produce drew consumers to their stands where they then bought other items (e.g., eggs and meat) at that time or continued to buy through the season. While our results are preliminary and only reflect the views and results of participating farmers and of consumers, we believe that hoop houses can enhance the profitability of many farmers. For more about this resarch, see: www.mottgroup.msu.edu/ProgramsActivities/HoopHousesforSeas onExtension/tabid/133/Default.aspx
David S. Conner is a researcher with the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University. You can reach him at 517-353-1914 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This research was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Terra Madre Northeast well represented at global food and farming gathering By Challey Comer Last October over 7,000 farmers, chefs, educators, students and advocates from five continents and 130 countries gathered for the third convening of Terra Madre in Turin, Italy. Slow Food International created this event in 2004 as a "meeting of the global food community." The organization generously sponsors small farmers from across the globe to gather on a biennial basis for five days to discuss common successes and challenges, share meals and taste traditional foods crafted by their peers.
were Carol Clement of Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, Peter Ferrante of Wallkill View Farm in New Paltz, Rosalie Glauser of the Slow Down Food Company in Andes, Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms in Delhi, Lisa Wujnovich of Mountain Dell Farm in Hancock and me from the Watershed Agricultural Council in Walton. Each nation attending organized a regional meeting for their delegates. The United States meeting featured many farmers from our region. Jen Montgomery and Greg Boulos of Blackberry Meadows CSA shared their success story of recently transferring ownership an organic farm in Pennsylvania. Ian Marvy, founder of Added Value in Brooklyn, highlighted Slow Food's core value of fair access
SLOW FOOD The 2008 gathering made history as the largest meeting of representatives from the global sustainable food system ever. This event is key in reflecting the work that Slow Food does to defend small farmers and traditional foods from across the world.
Catskills delegates Lisa Wujnovich, Peter Ferrante, Rosalie Glauser and Carol Clement gather at the opening ceremonies.
Vandana Shiva, the prominent Indian activist and author, passionately defended the rights of the farmer. Sam Levin, a 15-year old student from Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts highlighted the importance of youth in the sustainable food movement as he detailed his work organizing a school garden. The United States was represented by nearly 800 delegates hailing from urban and rural communities. Delegates from the northeast represented the whole food chain from chefs that champion local food to Extension Educators to fishermen from Maine. NORTHEAST DELEGATES PROMINENT The region I work in, the Catskill Mountains, was proud to sponsor a delegation representing Delaware, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster Counties in New York. Those included in the delegation
of healthy food for all by describing his work in urban gardening. Billie Best of Crazy Wife Farm in North Egremont, Mass encouraged us to increase our engagement in food policy. KayCee Wimbish of Awesome Farm in Tivoli, NY and Severine Fleming of the Greenhorns Project sent a clear message on what new farmers need to be successful. Dominic Palumbo of Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield, Mass inspired the crowd with an energetic welcome to Terra Madre. A MULTILINGUAL TOWN HALL Workshops, panel discussions and tasting events are the foundation of Terra Madre. All presentations at Terra Madre were translated into eight languages and audible through headphones given out each day. Workshops began with presentations from experts on topics of climate change, pricing farm products, school gardening, specific production styles and many more. Following the presentations, the floor was opened to all in the room in a town hall style format. Some of the most exciting experiences I had at Terra Madre happened during these discussions, which were translated between farmers from Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Terra Madre occurs concurrently with the Salone del Gusto, a large food show focused on sustainably produced foods. One section of the Salone is completely dedicated to Slow Food's Presidia
High Welfare Farming Managing for animal welfare can create more satisfying lifestyles for both animals and their human caretakers By Bill Henning Animal rights and animal welfare - what's the difference? Animal rights, by its very name would suggest we all become vegetarians. What follows will hopefully offer more insight into animal welfare. I recently spent a week in North Carolina studying aspects of animal welfare under the auspices of the University of Bristol, England. The class visited several farms during the week where some of the most profound lessons were taught by farmers. While visiting Mike Jones he observed, "Industrialized agriculture requires people to assume responsibility for everything that happens to animals. In high welfare farming the farmer lets the animal assume a great deal more of that responsibility." So what is 'high welfare farming'? Where animals are concerned we can basically achieve high welfare farming when we allow animals the ability to realize five basic necessities of low stress living. THE FIVE FREEDOMS OF HIGH WELFARE FARMING 1. Freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition. 2. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort.
project. The Presidia preserves traditional foods, mostly geographically-specific, in danger of extinction. Examples of Presidia foods are wild rice from Minnesota, rare breeds of livestock from around the world, heirloom vegetable crops and farmstead cheeses of every type. YOUTH MOVEMENT A new theme at this year's event was the Youth Movement in sustainable agriculture. Included in the larger audience were 1,300 delegates under the age of 30. This addition came after spontaneous gatherings that popped up in 2006 and that trend was continued. Each Youth Food event was planned collectively and informally. High school and college students involved in farm to school projects were invited to mingle with the more experienced delegates. New farmers and those working to support them shared ideas.
The event began with an opening ceremony that featured dignitaries, politicians and key figures from the Slow Food movement. Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, spoke about how Terra Madre has grown over the past four years. He also focused on the importance of small farmers in facing the current global economic (and food) crisis.
Farmers from around the world set up an informal bazaar selling handcrafted items.
A group of US delegates at Terra Madre from New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and California. Photos by: Challey Comer
3. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease (including parasitical infections). 4. Freedom to express normal behavior. 5. Freedom from fear and distress. Freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition can be accomplished by simply providing animals access to a variety of feeds with diverse nutritional characteristics. While the total mixed ration concept has been touted for providing a 'balanced meal in every bite' the reality is, given the variability in forages and animal requirements, every bite stands a greater chance of being out of balance. Years of research by Dr. Fred Provenza at Utah State University have established that animals actually have the ability to balance their own diets when simply provided an adequate amount of diverse feed stuffs. Of course, there are situations where we still need to provide rations balanced to our best abilities. In almost all cases animals will experience freedom from physical and thermal discomfort when they are given their choice of environment. This may be a man-made shelter, but in many cases it can just be a wind break or the protection of a wood lot. When necessary, proper bedding becomes a part of proper shelter. When it comes to pain, injury, and disease people
Sitting in the plane back to New York, the Catskills delegation brainstormed about how this event will change the work we do back home. We all learned vital lessons whether they happened in the lunch line or at a workshop: Get more involved with local food for kids in our area. Diversify our product lists. Champion the traditional foods of our region. As a local food advocate, I was reminded in new ways of the importance of sharing good food across an entire community. Everyone wants the safe and delicious food that our neighbors grow to be eaten by all but there is always more to be done in this time of tainted food and diet-related diseases. I was pleased at the immediate sense of community I felt around this issue. It was clear each morning as I entered a building filled with members of almost every race walking around in everything from Carharts to vibrant African head dresses. SLOW FOOD CONNECTIONS Get involved in Slow Food in your community. It is easy to find a local chapter, there are 13 in New York alone. These groups organize fun, education events that celebrate our food traditions. Our local chapter, Slow Food Catskills (www.slowfoodcats.com) and Slow Food Upper Delaware River Valley (www.slowfoodupderiva.org), have recently organized community events including potlucks and workshops on food preservation. You can find more details on local events and Terra Madre at www.slowfoodusa.org.
Challey Comer is the Farm to Market Manager at the Watershed Agricultural Council in Walton, NY. More information on farming in the Catskills can be found at purecatskills.com. She can be reached by email at email@example.com or by telephone at (607) 865-7090.
play a bigger part. Providing pastures and/or housing designed for proper animal care is the farmer's role. Vaccination to prevent disease along with prompt and adequate treatment of injury and disease remain important aspects of husbandry. Normal behavior is probably the necessity that is most limiting in industrial farming. Animals deprived of outdoor access, pasture, and the ability to experience inherent behaviors suffer stress. Technologies that manipulate physiological function resulting in unnaturally high production also induce stress. These man made stresses, while increasing production, have costs in higher feed requirements, increased health problems, and decreased longevity. Johne's disease in dairy cattle is just one example. This disease has been with us for centuries but has only become of significant importance since modern management has confined cows to buildings, deprived them of natural behaviors, and pushed milk production to levels nature never experienced in nature. The USDA actually predicted today's struggles with Johne's back in 1951. Coping with the problem is simplified greatly when we just reduce the man-made stresses. Fear and distress is another factor, often ignored or never even recognized. For example, stray voltage in a barn can cause animals to fear drinking, fear an area, or inhibit milk let down. Farmers can spend months or even years getting meat animals ready for market just to have the carcass quality significantly reduced by distress when the animal is not slaughtered correctly. LOWER COST FARMING The investment required for high welfare farming is often less than for industrial farming. Since animals spend more time out side and are
Livestock should be free to express normal behaviors, as this very expressive bovine demonstrates at Chestnut Farm in Hardwick, MA. Photo by Nicole Lewis www.nicolelewisphotography.com allowed more natural environs, building requirements are less costly. High welfare farming systems are pasture-based, thus reducing the cost of feed and manure handling. Health care is significantly reduced since stress is minimized and animals function in a manner more like that of their distant ancestors. FAMILY FRIENDLY FARMING High welfare farming is more than a business. It addresses the needs not just of animals, but of soil, plants, and humans. It's a way of life. In that regard it considers aspects outside the realm of a financial statement. This type of farming is best accomplished where family members work together in the daily routine of farm operations. It provides for nourishment of body, mind, and soul for mankind and for animals. And in a visit with another North Carolina farmer, Dr. Charles Sydnor recognized that high welfare farming not only provides for healthier animals, but also healthier environments, healthier people, and healthier communities.
Bill Henning operates a small diversified farm in the Finger Lakes of New York with his wife Kathy.
January 5, 2009
HOME & FAMILY
Raising Rural Kids to be More Alert, Active & Happy By Celeste Carmichael 9.25 hours. That is how much sleep our adolescents are supposed to get at night. Nine and a quarter hours of shut eye will supposedly keep the synapses throughout their body functioning better, help them stay on a more even keel emotionally, help them do better in school, be more physically able (not apt to stumble), and help them, of course, to be more alert. And whether it's on the farm, operating equipment, or in a car... we all know that alertness is important for safety as well as learning.
One teen commented, "If adults want us to get that much sleep, we need to work together so that we are not overscheduled." At this particular event youth activities are scheduled until an 11pm bedtime, and breakfast begins at 6:30am, with the program beginning at 8am. No wonder that the workshop coordinators, who teach the 8am sessions, almost always complain of sleepy kids. Hmmm. This comment hit home. There is already a plan in place for next year's event to begin later in the morning. WHAT CAN FAMILIES DO? Given all of the givens related to sleep, some of which are not easy to change - what can families do? The Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) offers a complete list of parent pointers, including the following: Be a good role model. Make sleep a high priority for yourself and your family and practice good sleep habits. Listen to your body. If you are often sleepy, get more sleep at night, take naps,
Compounding this problem is the fact that teens are usually required to wake early to go to school. Changing school hours is an extremely complicated process as it affects so many other schedules, but it is a way of engaging teens in learning when they are the most alert. A study done on Minnesota schools that adjusted their start time to an hour later found that grades went up, discipline problems went down, depression among students dropped, and the amount of sick days taken dropped. REALITY CHECK I'm not suggesting that we change world, simply that we understand the issue. My interest in this topic, aside from being a mom, is in planning for out-of-school activities for youth. At a teen conference that we hosted this summer, 4-H members were asked to track their healthy choices made throughout the day. These choices were listed in a Passport to Healthy Lifestyles where questions focused on food and nutrition, activity level, beverage choices...and sleep: Completed passports were collected and reviewed as a part of a fun competition. Over 95% of the participants reported that they almost never got 9.25 hours of sleep at night.
LOCAL FOODS & MARKETING
To market, to Market NY farmers turn to cooperation, baskets, internet and more to market products By Rebecca Schuelke Staehr New York farmers are using home delivery, regionally themed gift baskets, and the Internet to market produce and value-added products. A number of projects with grant funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute are working with farmers to improve marketing and increase sales of farm goods. COOPERATION PAYS Traditional sales calls to retailers are proving successful for some farmers, when they market products together. Farmers in Central New York State are working with CADE, the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship, to get produce and value-added dairy products into small retail stores. The idea is that instead of each farmer pitching his yogurt or her farmstead cheese to a storeowner, the farmers work together to offer stores, especially boutique-style natural food and gourmet retailers, a line of local, farm fresh items. “Bringing all the products together for marketing brings value to all the products,” said Steve Holzbaur, a marketing and distribution consultant with CADE. CADE, an Oneonta, NY-based nonprofit group, works with farmers on economic development projects. A recently concluded CADE project worked with six farms over one year to secure 30 new markets for value-added dairy products. The farmers increased their combined gross sales by 31.6 percent, or $1.2 million. The project also helped coordinate distribution routes for multiple farmers taking products to the same stores and cities. Some farms improved packaging quality to make products more attractive to retailers, and each farmer developed slicks for use in making sales calls. A recent grant to CADE will allow project work to continue, working with
Passport to Healthy Lifestyles How many of these healthy choices did you make today? * Got 9.25 hours of sleep last night * Wore a pedometer and took at least 10, 000 steps * Consumed 3 or more servings of low fat dairy foods (or calcium equivalent) * Ate at least 2 whole grain foods (ex. whole wheat bread, cereal, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole grain tortillas) * Drank only water, milk, and 100% fruit juice * Had breakfast * Had a good laugh * Made a new friend * Ate 2 or more fruits * Ate 3 or more vegetables Keep a sleep diary. Encourage your children to complete a sleep diary for 7 to 14 consecutive (and typical) days. The diary can provide immediate information on poor sleep habits, and it can be used to measure the effectiveness of efforts to change. Why not keep your own sleep diary as well?
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? Do you know any teenagers who regularly get 9.25 hours of sleep? Studies show that the average adolescent is getting between 6.5 - 7.5 hours of sleep. And research also shows that there is a correlation between lack of sleep and anxiety, depression, moodiness, decreased creativity, hyperactivity, and of course the ability to stay awake during class. What is to blame? There are, of course, other things to do at night - homework, jobs, afterschool activities, social time, catching up on e-mail and Facebook...etc. Although it is easy to point a finger at these activities as the cause for the sleep deprivation, there is physical evidence that the circadian rhythm in the bodies of teens cause them to be more alert late in the day...Their bodies are awake at bedtime.
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Consult a sleep expert if conservative measures to shift your child's circadian rhythm are ineffective, or if your child practices good sleep habits and still has difficulty staying awake at times throughout the day. Excessive daytime sleepiness can be a sign of narcolepsy, apnea, periodic limb movement disorder and other serious but treatable sleep disorders.
or sleep longer when possible. Consult a sleep expert if needed. Look for signs of sleep deprivation and sleepiness in your child - keeping in mind that they are not always obvious. Signs include difficulty waking in the morning, irritability late in the day, falling asleep spontaneously during quiet times of the day, and sleeping for extra long periods on the weekends. In addition, sleepiness can also look similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Above all, don't allow any family member to drive when sleep deprived or drowsy. Enforce regular sleep schedules for all children and maintain appropriate schedules as they grow older. To help induce sleepiness in adolescents, establish a quiet time in the evening when the lights are dimmed and loud music is not permitted. Talk with your children about their individual sleep/wake schedules and level of sleepiness. Assess the time spent in extracurricular and employment activities with regard to their sleep patterns and needs, and make adjustments if necessary.
Seek positive changes in your community by increasing public awareness about sleep and the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, and by supporting sleep-smart policies. Nap! Experts agree that the best way to fight fatigue is to get enough sleep every night. But for some people, especially those who work long hours, have caregiving responsibilities or work at night, this can be an ambitious goal. Even people who do get enough sleep regularly may feel the effects of the midday dip, especially after a heavy meal. Studies show that taking a nap is a great way to increase alertness and reaction times, improve mood, and reduce accidents. For many people, napping is also a highly pleasurable experience. Want to read more? There is good research and information at the following web sites: * Power Sleep: www.powersleep.org/powersleep.htm. Dr. James Maas from Cornell University runs this website to accompany his book Power Sleep. * Teens, sleep & moods and other studies: www.sleepfoundation.org. Search on teens.
Celeste Carmichael is Program Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension's State 4-H Youth Development program. If you have topics that you would like to see addressed in Raising Rural Kids, or if you would like to suggest an interview candidate for this column, please contact Celeste at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-227-2715.
dairy value-added and fresh market vegetable farmers. For more information about CADE, visit www.cadefarms.org, or call (607) 433-2545. MOBILE MARKETING What if buying local, farm-raised beef, tomatoes or yogurt were as easy as opening your front door? A local food delivery program, Chenango Bounty, hopes that eliminating shoppers’ need to hunt down local farm-raised foods will increase consumption of farm foods. Under Chenango Bounty, customers place weekly orders online for farm-grown and farmsteadprocessed food for delivery to homes in Chenango and Madison counties, in Central New York State. “Chenango Bounty is another way for us to expand our direct marketing,” said Eve Ann Shwartz, who raises beef at Maple Avenue Farm in Earlville, NY. “I do not want to have a diversified farm. I want to focus on my product and do a good job at that. By being part of Chenango Bounty, I can be a part of a diversified sale.” Chenango Bounty’s inventory includes produce, milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, meat, baked goods, coffee and more. Chenango Bounty tacks a 30 percent markup onto all food; that fee covers all the overhead and labor involved in tracking orders and delivering food. Project leaders hope to one-day purchase a refrigerator truck, or contract with a distributor. Right now, delivery is by car, with food packed in coolers. At 47 weeks into the first year of sales, Chenango Bounty had returned approximately $30,000 to farmers and another $20,000 to food processors, including bakers and a local coffee roaster. Project leaders anticipated doubling, or tripling, the numbers in the next year. For more information about Chenango Bounty, visit www.chenangobounty.com, or call (607) 334-5841. Visit Madison Bounty at www.madisonbounty.com, or call (315) 684-3001. REGIONAL TASTES Gift baskets stuffed with regionally themed goodies may help farmers to market value-added products. Starting this winter, NY Farms will sell baskets from the following regions: Leatherstocking, Finger Lakes, Adirondacks, Hudson Valley, and Long Island’s North Fork.
Central New York farmers are part of a project, Chenango Bounty, where customers can order farm grown or value-added food for home delivery. Photo by Rebecca Schuelke Staehr NY Farms is a coalition that promotes agriculture in the state and has offices in Watkins Glen. Regional coordinators will advertise the baskets through promotions, said project leader Mary Jeanne Packer. Each basket will include a catalog featuring Taste of NY’s full line of products. Project leaders think people will then seek out more from-the-farm goods. “We hope reorders will be strong,” Packer said. NY Farms will attract 200 farmers to the basket program, and farmers will save time and money in marketing by working through the program, Packer said. Plans include launching a dedicated website for basket sales, more themes for the baskets, and other regions participating in the project. For more information on the regional foods baskets, visit NY Farms at www.nyfarms.info, or call (607) 535-9790.
Rebecca Schuelke Staehr is the communication specialist for the New York Farm Viability Institute, based in Syracuse, NY. Contact her at email@example.com. The New York Farm Viability Institute is an independent, farmer-led nonprofit organization that awards grant funds to projects that help farmers increase profits. The Institute receives funds from the state legislature and Department of Agriculture and Markets. For more information, visit www.nyfvi.org.
Hurdles for Beginning Farmers A Question & Answer Session with Experienced Farmers By Laura Biasillo "What could be my biggest hurdles in getting started in farming?" That's a question that beginners should be asking themselves when contemplating a new agricultural enterprise. I posed this and other questions to several experienced farmers here in Broome County, NY, including producers of vegetables, poultry, maple syrup, and honey. They are all vendors at one of our farmers' markets, Their answers are telling and full of practical knowledge that any new or beginning farmer will greatly profit from reading. Question 1: What is the biggest hurdle you encountered in starting your enterprise? Answers from farmers: * Gathering information * Dealing with the state's Department of Agriculture & Markets to comply with industryspecific regulations * Finding funding * Government regulations which are unnecessary, confusing and overlapping. (Some feared that upcoming regulations relating to retail poultry sales could put them out of business.) When starting out, new farmers are often overwhelmed by all the decisions they must make. And perhaps the first one to answer is always, "What type of enterprise do I want to start." This is dependent upon, among other things, a site analysis, access to finances, time constraints, and goals for the business. While this was not explicitly stated by those surveyed, I still believe it is an all too important step that is more of an afterthought for many new or beginning farmers. During this critical information gathering stage, it is very important to speak with all the agricultural agencies in your county. These can include Cooperative Extension, Soil & Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, your state's land grant
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
university, local Farm Bureau, and many more. This can be daunting in and of itself, and is often the reason a new enterprise doesn't get off the ground. Another hurdle which was brought up by experienced farmers was the difficulty they had in understanding government regulations related to the enterprise they were trying to start, for example the rules on selling raw milk or poultry. Having someone who can walk you through the rules and regulations can really help new farmers make it through the morass of information and begin direct marketing their product. Question 2: Where did you get your information when you started your enterprise? Answers from farmers: * Working for another farmer with the same type of enterprise; * Speaking with other farmers and feed dealers * Speaking with state policy makers and agencies such as Cooperative Extension and Northeast Organic Farmers Association * Attending conferences; * Doing research in books, magazines and the internet When gathering information to make an important decision, going to the source is always the most helpful. This was demonstrated by the farmers I surveyed. One of the best approaches is to work at the type of enterprise you want to start. This will provide much needed practical knowledge and the ability to troubleshoot issues before they become too serious. It's also important to speak with other farmers, and with professionals such as veterinarians and feed dealers. They can help answer specific questions such as which feed mix will work best to match the weight gain you're looking for in your sheep, or which immunizations you'll need for your alpaca and why, or which breeds of Heritage pigs are likely to give me the best weight gain and proportion of meat to fat..
Conferences and farmer meetings provide a wealth of information from your farming peers and from leaders in the areas of research and implementation. Do as much research as you can, using as many sources as possible to find the best information and make informed decisions. Question 3: What is the best advice you ever got when you started? Answers from farmers: * "Go slowly, and research, research, research." * "Talk to your state regulatory agencies." * "Don't undervalue your product." * "Keep going -- you'll never know everything. Different years work at different items, something always fails, something always works out." These pieces of advice from experienced farmers could be a mantra for beginning farmers. They deal with all aspects of the process, from deciding what type of enterprise to start, to pricing your products. They stress flexibility and the ability to learn from your mistakes. And they illustrate the importance of speaking directly with those who make the rules and regulations governing your enterprise. But this is not to merely get information. Speaking with regulatory agencies is a two-way street. If the agency makes rules which create an unfair burden on you, call them up and tell them why. It may not be an instant change, but if no one comments, they are left to believe the rule or regulation is fair. Question 4: What is one piece of advice you can give someone getting started? Answers from farmers: * "Go slowly." * "Check as many sources of information as possible, then use common sense to find out what works best for you and your individual situation and resources." * "Start small, build a solid customer base and slowly grow." * "Visit your local Cooperative Extension office and online sites such as Local Harvest."
These pieces of advice are practical and can provide a check on the sometimes haphazard decision-making of new and beginning farmers. By going slowly and gathering as much information as possible a new farmer can make the most informed decision. We must always remember to apply whatever information we gather about a specific enterprise to our own particular situation. What works in Pennsylvania may not work in New Hampshire, and the prices for inputs will not be the same from New York City, NY to Burlington, Vermont. It is also important to remember that uncontrolled growth of a new enterprise can be dangerous. Give yourself plenty of time to work out all the kinks, whether that is scaling up from raising 100 chickens to 500 chickens, or producing 25 jars of jam to 125 jars. Identifying and building a solid customer base is very important, but uncontrolled growth can lead to chaos. I hope that you found this question and answer with farmers as enlightening and useful as I did. Remember that your local agricultural agencies and neighboring farmers will be your best resource no matter what stage your enterprise is at. And never believe that you know everything there is to know in your enterprise. There is always something to learn.
Laura Biasillo is an Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County. She can be reached via phone at (607) 584-5007 or via email at lw257@ cornell.edu.
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Resource Spotlight Membership Organizations for New/Beginning Farmers Local Farm Bureau - AFBF is the unified national voice of agriculture, working through our grassroots organization to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities. To find your local farm bureau chapter, visit www.fb.org/ or call (202) 406-3600. Local Cooperative Extension - Cooperative Extension is a public service/educational institution that connects the "land grant" university in every state to farmers and other members of the community. Depending on the resources available in your county, local Extension educators may be available to work with you on business planning and management, marketing, and production practices. To find your local Cooperative Extension office visit www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension. Local Chamber of Commerce - The Chamber of Commerce works to lobby for business interests in the areas of labor, energy costs, health insurance and much more. They provide a link to the traditional business community for networking and synergy of resources, skills and talents. To find your local chamber of commerce, visit the national Chamber of Commerce site at : www.uschamber.com/chambers/directory/default.htm?d=false. American Farmland Trust - American Farmland Trust (AFT) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting our nation's strategic agricultural resources. Working with farmers and ranchers, political leaders and community activists, AFT has helped to permanently protect more than a million acres of America's best farm and ranch land. To contact AFT or your local office, visit their website at: www.farmland.org. Farm Aid - Working to keep family farmers on their land, Farm Aid brings together family farmers and citizens to guarantee family farm food is available to you. Farm Aid's mission is to build a vibrant family-farm centered system of agriculture in America. To learn more, visit their website at: www.farmaid.org/site/c.qlI5IhNVJsE/b.2723595/k.EE67/Family_Farmers_Good _Food_A_Better_America.htm.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
The Center for an Agricultural Economy From Crumbling Granite to Seeds, Soy and Greens By Martha Herbert Izzi Gourmet Magazine calls Hardwick, Vermont, "one of the most important food towns in America." And if media attention is any indication of the electric energy that has engulfed Hardwick, then what is unfolding gives new power to the fresh, locally-grown food movement. In recent months, the New York Times, Gourmet, and Vermont Life magazines, among several others, have focused on the rising fortunes of the town. Hardwick was once the center of the granite industry, but had faded into a dusty oblivion. That is until the local farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs got together and realized that there are more organic farms per capita in the Hardwick region than any place in the nation.
Tom Stearns, one of the student's initial tasks will be a food mapping of the Hardwick community. The Center has plans to build an industrial park for agricultural businesses which includes a center for agricultural education, a year-round farmers' market and a community garden which is already up and running with a greenhouse, a paid garden specialist and twenty two plots.
installed a commercial kitchen that allows him to prepare and sell soup stocks, baked goods, sausages and prepared frozen foods. In addition Johnson has redefined the Community Supported Agriculture model which normally means one farm offering shares for sale to its customers who then gets a supply of fruits, vegetables or other food goods. Johnson's group CSA includes 30 additional farmers and food producers. Food producers, for example, the local pie producer, are encouraged to use local butter, eggs, flour, maple sugar and of course, local apples. Another local innovator and Center board member can be found at the giant cheese cave on Jasper Hill Farm, a 260 acre farm in
Enter the Center for An Agricultural Economy, a non-profit organization, founded in 2004 by Hardwick entrepreneur, Andrew Meyer. Meyer is the son of a local dairy farmer and himself owner of Vermont Natural Coatings, a whey-based varnish company, as well as Vermont Soy, an organic soy drink and tofu company. Meyer's tofu company, using locally grown beans, had five customers at the beginning of 2008. Today it has 350. Meyer is currently one of the Center's seven board members.
UVM will provide research on what is needed to create a healthy food-based economy, and then it will find the expertise to help create that system. Graduate student, Clint Jasperson, will facilitate the new relationship between UVM and the Center. According to
He sees these 'ag-businesses' as recession proof. He says that "some of us are doing more business or growing faster now than we were three months ago." He points to the "past two years in the United States, with each crisis, energy, food prices, food safety and now this economic collapse, another million people shifted their thinking from the old food system to the new food system." They are now looking to "join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program; they want to know where their food is coming from. They want to know that it is safe."
He asks, "Who's the biggest user of land? Agriculture! Who's the biggest user of water? Agriculture! Who's the biggest user of energy? Agriculture! Who's the biggest polluter? Agriculture! I want to provide the world with a model food system that serves the local population while enriching its producers in ways that range from the cold, hard tangibility of cash to the less precise metrics of social improvement and regional pride."
They also believed they could make some money, spend it locally and help create new and more diverse food sources. They did and they are. And in the process, those enterprises have recently generated about 100 new jobs in the area according to Hardwick town manager, Rob Lewis.
NEW UNIVERSITY PARTNERS In fact the University of Vermont (UVM) recently announced a formal partnership with the Center on September 24. Together with Dan Fogel, President of UVM, deans of the Colleges of Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, signed a memorandum of understanding officially linking the university with the Center. The announcement underscores the university's commitment to local food systems.
THE CAE VISION Tom Stearns, President of the Center for an Agricultural Economy, is a visionary who is passionate about the Center's potential to "attract the world to Hardwick in a few years to come." He points to the town's "topographical good fortune to be located in a region of ample, fertile farmland and a culture of the working soil." He says that "the only rational response to a global food system on the brink of crisis and a town desperately needing something on which to hang its future is to do what we are doing."
Agriculture, from Stearns' point of view must be reframed if we are to survive as a planet. He sees Hardwick and places like Hardwick as "the antidote to a collapsing food system and foods grown thousands of miles away arriving on their plates, preserved and polluted. They are foods that cause obesity, medical problems."
MISSION: A 21ST CENTURY HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEM Moreover, if they collaborated, the farmers believed they could be part of a new mission to rebuild the town's economic and ecological health through a community agricultural system that would meet their own needs as well as those of the broader region. After all, they have as a backdrop a state that is already widely respected for its innovative food production and marketing.
The Center's mission is to "build upon local tradition and bring together the community resources and programs needed to develop a locally-based 21st century healthy food system." Further, the Center will "engage agricultural leaders in the emerging food system to build capacity and inspire the public in supporting and implementing this system."
THE WORD IS OUT As he says that, he proudly announces that two books are in the works, one by Ben Hewitt, Gourmet writer and Cabot resident who is writing about the Hardwick Food Evolution. The other is still "under wraps" and cannot be discussed as yet.
Bonnieview Farm is part of the agricultural renaissance happening in and around Hardwick Vermont. HARDWICK'S FOOD SYSTEM PIONEERS Meyer was joined early on by Tom Stearns, president of High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott which currently employs thirty people and sells seeds nation wide. Stearns collected seeds as a hobby in his early years and in 2000 he put together a 2 page catalogue which generated $36,000 in sales. Today, company sales are approaching nearly $2 million a year, and growing. Stearns is also currently president of the Center for An Agricultural Economy. Another local entrepreneur and producer is Pete Johnson, a Center board member and owner of Pete's Greens. Johnson grows organic crops in Craftsbury on 50 acres, about ten miles north of Hardwick. With four moveable greenhouses, he has an extended growing season, up to nine months. As a value-added revenue source, he has
nearby Greensboro, VT. Jasper Hill Farm is owned by the brothers Kehler, who spent $3 million to make the cave which was blasted into the side of a hill. The cave comprises 22,000 square feet, divided into seven arched vaults. It is designed on the European model, in which a number of cheesemakers can share the cave, thereby reducing the cost of entry to new artisanal cheese producers. Then there is Claire's Restaurant in Hardwick, a magnet for local farmers. Local investors, fifty in all, contributed $1,000 a piece to get the restaurant started. Of course, the restaurant features local foods, breads, milk, vegetables, as much as possible. The investors will get discounted meals over four years as a return on their investments.
Hardwick will be the subject of a four-minute All Things Considered report on National Public Radio in the future, "on the economic perspective, how we are resilient in the midst of this economic crisis," says Stearns. Beyond that he reports that "PBS is doing a thirty minute documentary on its 1800 outlets, 95% of PBS affiliates nationwide, in February. According to Stearns three reporters spent three days in Hardwick in October in order to put a comprehensive program together. Stearns ends the interview by explaining, "I am president of the board and chief PR dude."
To find out more about the Center for an Agricultural Economy, contact Monty Fisher, Executive Director, at 802-472-5840 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.hardwickagriculture.org.
Martha Izzi writes from Bel Lana Farm in Shrewsbury, Vermont. She can be reached at 802-492-3346 or email@example.com. This article is adapted, with permission, from a piece published in the December 8, 2008 Rutland Business Journal entitled "Fresh Food Brings Fame to Hardwick: Ag Center Attracts National Attention."
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
COWS & CROPS
Industrial Crops New opportunities for Northeast farmers By Tom Kilcer While most media and farmers are focused on the 800-lb. gorillas of gasoline, heating oil, and tractor fuel, there is a quiet, growing effort to produce from plants the base ingredients to make a huge variety of items we use in everyday life. These products are now derived from imported petroleum at considerable expense, and with the use of additional imported petroleum to run the machines breaking the basic crude down to the exact components needed. The largest use of petroleum is for transportation, but industrial use, including the chemical industry, uses 25% of the total. There is high demand for new oil-producing crops that do not disrupt the food supply yet produce economical amounts of oils with characteristics to meet the vast range of needs in the chemical, manufacturing, medicinal, cosmetic, and energy industries. BETTER THAN PETRO Many of these crops produce oils that have characteristics far superior than those produced from petroleum base. For example, glycerol (a by product of bio-diesel) is used to make polymers with different characteristics to be made into biodegradable weed mats for use in horticulture. Saponaria (cow cockle) in Canada is used to produce specialty starches for processed food production and phytochemicals for use in industry and medicine. Cuphea is being developed in the Midwest for the high amounts of medium-chain fatty acids that are suitable for detergent/cleaner applications and have potential for cosmetics. Borage has seed-oil rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and nutritional industries. Camelina, with its high amounts of omega- 3 oil, has the potential to replace the dwindling fish stocks in dietary supplements for humans and livestock. Castor beans produce three times the oil of soybeans, and provide the economically competitive feedstocks needed for the production of premium quality biodiesel, heating oil, short-chain aviation fuels, fuel additives, and the very highly valued biopolymers.
Many of these crops have a history of use in ancient times that is now being rediscovered. And each has unique limits that researchers need to work around in order to make it viable on US farms. They need to be developed into crops that can be economically produced in a sustainable, environmentally sound cropping system. An example is the use of pennycress in rotation with a summer oil-producing crop to keep the ground covered year round while producing two oil-bearing crops from the same acre. OBSTACLES Most of these crops have significant problems such as seed shatter and loss before harvest. Others have allergen compounds producing adverse reactions in some people. Others contain toxins that need to be bred out or dealt with in a safe manner. Most have only rudimentary selection for improved varieties with the characteristics and yield needed for a profitable production system from farmer through final user. Because many of these crops grow on more marginal land, the potential exists to bring back into production the many acres of idle or minimally used farmland in New York. Many of these industrial oil crops are produced by a simple, heated screw press which is readily available for a modest cost. Thus, once the cropping system, varieties, and harvest methods are developed, production can begin on the many smaller farms and retired dairies in the region. By extracting the oil on the farm, farmers receives a higher return for their labor, plus the critical recycling of nutrients back to the land for long-term sustainability. The ability to store these crops allows several farms to pool their investment in oil extraction without having to worry about conflicts due to narrow harvest windows. Most of the oils can be held for extended marketing without the perishability issues found in products such as milk. ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF INDUSTRIAL CROPS Since 1988, the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC) has been a focal point for interaction, communication, and cooperation among researchers and industrial users. It has rapidly grown to a globally connected group, with an annual meeting that is a key collaboration opportunity. Participant returning to their own country or region from the annual meeting multiply the Association's informational impact all over the globe.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Farming for Naps There are many kinds of income on a small farm By Bill Henning In 1918 Professor G.F. Warren of Cornell University wrote, "It therefore becomes the task of a genius on the 80-acre farm to compete with the very ordinary mortal on the larger area." Given the level of technology we have today that statement seems more appropriate than ever. Interestingly, the bottom line on a small scale farm changes significantly as we change our perspective on defining and identifying "income."
These calculations can be expanded to the cost of feeding the family. The USDA estimated the moderate cost to feed a family of four in March, 2008 at $911 per month or $10,932 per year. Multiplying that times the factor of 1.4 we end up with $15,300 annual value of income for the family of four growing all of their own food.
Members of the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops meet yearly to discuss advances in research and commercialization of new crops. Photo by Tom Kilcer As an example, for years I have worked on a particular oilseed crop for New York farmers. In 2007 the AAIC interest group for that crop consisted of one researcher in Mississippi and one in Texas. Attending the 2008 AAIC meeting through the support of a Cornell Small Farm Program scholarship this year, I found the group for the same oil-producing plant now included 12 researchers from across the US and three other countries. Because of the communication at AAIC meetings, we found out that some of the research that we thought had to be started was already completed. The synergy and information weaved together to move the crop five years closer to being a viable alternative on New York small farms. Energy issues are here to stay. The potential for bioenergy is huge on New York's extensive marginal acres, many of which are on small farms. Without the intensity of 24/7 attendance needed in livestock production, bioenergy production could allow the gradual transition from a traditional off farm employment to self-employed, profitable small farms. The Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops will enable that to happen across the US.
Tom Kilcer is a Regional Crop & Soils Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Troy, NY.
the labor. When we don't like the labor we should be doing something else. By some accounts, the sum of all costs of working away from home can be as high as $10,000 per year. You might now be thinking that cost must be for an executive. It's not unusual for executives to hit $30,000 per year. That $10,000 is actually $14,000 before all the taxes are paid. Of course if we're going to farm, we do have to produce more than just what the family needs.
The typical paradigm we hold today is to measure income in dollars. If actual money is not received many people do not recognize a gain as income. For those accustomed to a paycheck, it's not always an easy concept to grasp. Income can come in many forms other than money and, in some respects; the value of some of the other forms of income can offer far greater rewards. If we just consider the value of home grown meat, many would put a livestock market value on that product, for example the reported price from the local stockyard. Actually, that product should be assigned an initial value of its retail cuts out of the meat case at the super market. However, that isn't all it's really worth to you, the person who raised it. Remember that the town folks buy their food with 'after tax' dollars. Before they make their purchase at the store they pay state and federal income tax and social security withholding along with whatever else the governments deem necessary. After all taxes are paid, perhaps 30% of the wages, the typical employee had to earn about $1.40 for every $1.00 spent at the meat counter. Therefore, home grown meat is actually worth about 40% more than the meat case price.
observe, first hand, the problems involved in providing a living and what it takes to overcome those challenges. This occurs naturally in a manner children can directly relate to. In the words of a good friend of mine who'd rather remain anonymous, "More is caught than is taught." Health costs these days are skyrocketing. A variety of home grown whole foods can affect family health considerably, especially when compared to the fast food phenomenon. Couple that good food with an abundance of exercise, optimum stress levels, and a sense of self worth; there's a recipe for good health. A neighbor, now passed retirement age, just had a stress test. The nurses and the doctor were in awe. They wondered if he worked out. He farms. Much is said about farming as a way of life. It is more than just a business. It is far too complex for the simplistic economic evaluations so often applied as if it were a business.
One little farmstead. Heating the house provides another example. A full cord (three face cords) of good hard wood can provide the heat equivalent to 130 gallons of home heating oil. When home heating oil is worth $3.00 per gallon a full cord of fire wood provides $390 worth of heat. If a house requires 5 full cords of fire wood per year that is $1,950 worth of home heating oil or $2,730 before taxes. By now you might be thinking the costs of home production have been overlooked. You're right. However, the biggest expense, if that's what you want to call it, is the cost of labor. You can put any value on that you want, but that is the reason we farm - because we like
Photo by: Bill Henning We do have to earn some money. There are three basic approaches; one is to produce a commodity. If that's the case it's important to keep costs below average since commodity prices tend to drift toward the average cost of production over time. Another approach is to produce to meet the needs of a niche market that offers premium prices. Perhaps the best way is to produce for the niche market while keeping costs below average. A great deal of emphasis is placed on a college education these days. Perhaps just as important is the practical education children can receive when they work side by side with their parents. When this happens children
By all accounts, if it were just a business using applied business principals, the farmer would stop farming and go do something else. The opportunity costs are too great to remain in farming. More money can be made with lower investment and less work elsewhere. But farming is a way of life. Take from it what you will; be it nature, independence, the challenge, improved health, family values... When the hay mow is full, the fire wood is all stacked in the shed, the pantry over flows, when the stock is all fed and bedded, the barn doors all secured and the winter winds howl outdoors there's not much that's more satisfying than a cozy nap after lunch - knowing all is well. My wife and I started farming close to eighty acres over thirty years ago. I am not a genius. I just farm for the naps.
Bill Henning and his wife Kathleen tend beef, sheep, hogs, and horses in the watershed of New York's Hemlock Lake.
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
STEWARDSHIP & NATURE
Resource Spotlight Contact NRCS about Conservation Planning on Your Farm
Agricultural Environmental Management:
New conservation provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill build on the conservation gains made by landowners over the past decade. They simplify existing programs and create new programs to address high priority environmental protection goals. Rules for these programs are still being written, and once finalized competitive cost share assistance will be available.
Over the River and Through the Woods
By Barbara Silvestri
As winter blankets the region, it's a perfect time to consider the gifts that nature provides to our families. The forest land on many farms is one of nature's gifts, providing wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and income opportunities from forest products. Farm families across the Northeast care for the forest land on their farms by managing these resources responsibly.
In recent issues we have talked about New York's Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Program and the tools AEM offers to help farmers protect water quality. This time we turn our attention to AEM's Forest Management Worksheet, which guides farmers in a quick evaluation of the ways their forest management practices are benefiting the environment and identifies potential pollution risks.
Proper forest management can boost a farm's bottom line while protecting forest health and water quality. Timber harvesting and other forest management activities can have minimal impacts on water quality if properly planned and carried out.
However, problems can arise from improperly designed and constructed logging roads, skid trails, log landings and stream crossings, which can cause excessive soil and stream bank erosion. The resulting sediment deposition in streams and other water bodies can damage fish habitat and spawning areas, and result in flooding downstream. In addition, removal of trees in streamside riparian zones can raise water temperatures, negatively affecting fish and other aquatic life.
Whether you are actively harvesting forest products or just thinking about ways to care for the forests on your farm, the AEM Forest Management Worksheet can help you assess how forest management practices affect water quality. A conservation professional from your County Soil and Water Conservation District or another local AEM partner will come
to your farm to complete this free, confidential assessment with you. Soil and Water Conservation Districts have many helpful resources that can assist with forest management. Soil maps, topographic maps, wetland inventories and classified stream maps can all help identify high risk areas before logging begins, thus preventing most water quality problems. Districts can also assist landowners in ensuring that a forested buffer zone is maintained along streams to protect stream banks from erosion, filter pollutants, and provide shade to keep the water cooler during the summer months for aquatic life. The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) also provides assistance and resources for forest managers. Many forest owners are particularly excited to find out about New York's Forest Tax Law that provides tax relief for forests that are sustainably managed. To be eligible you must own fifty contiguous acres of forest land and have a management plan prepared by a forester and approved by your NYSDEC Regional Forester. More information on the forest stewardship assistance available through NYSDEC can be found at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4972.html. Your Conservation District representative can also fill you in on the opportunities provided in New York and put you in touch with your regional contacts. AEM Risk Assessments, including the Forest Management Worksheet, are confidential and free of charge. Simply call your County Soil and Water Conservation District to schedule an appointment!
Now is the time to start thinking about conservation needs you have on your farm. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to begin the planning process. Conservation professionals will discuss your conservation objectives, help you identify resource concerns and provide alternatives for treatment. Planning also helps identify conservation programs administered by NRCS that may be available to provide you with cost share assistance for implementation of certain practices. Obtaining cost share assistance is extremely competitive, so it is important to begin the planning process prior to applying for funds to ensure that your needs and conservation objectives are adequately addressed. Please contact your local NRCS office if you are interested in evaluating your conservation needs or in finding out more about NRCS conservation programs.
To learn more about AEM, view the Worksheets, including the Forest Management Worksheet, or to locate your District office, visit: www.nys-soilandwater.org. In the next issue, we'll look at the ways AEM is helping New York farm families take stock of the multiple benefits they provide to the environment and their local community, and how AEM supports farmers in spreading the word about their good work!
Barbara Silvestri is the Information & Education Program Coordinator with the NYS Soil & Water Conservation Committee in Albany, NY. She can be reached at 518-4573738 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beyond this field of white wheat lies another important 'crop,' a carefully managed forest. Proper forest management can boost a farm's bottom line while protecting water quality and enhancing wildlife habitat. Photo by: Barbara Silvestri
Hay and grass seed, water bars and portable bridges are three practices that meet forest management goals to protect stream crossing sites, stabilize exposed or disturbed soils and manage water flow on forest trails. Photos by: Watershed Agricultural Council Forestry Program
January 5, 2009
SMALL FARM QUARTERLY
Growing the Northeast Meat Goat Industry SARE-funded project focused on increasing the viability of meat goat farms By Abha Gupta WE WANT GOATS Since 1991, the United States' demand for goat meat has more than tripled. However, U.S. production of goat meat lags behind demand. More than half our consumer demand for goat is met through overseas suppliers, primarily imported feral goat meat from Australia.
Many goat farms are relatively small and need to pool their animals together in order to provide the quantity of goats needed to bypass local auctions and sell directly to wholesale buyers or butcher shops. However, pooling animals together requires that farmers can self grade their animals to insure animal quality. In addition, like other farmers, goat farmers face the daily challenge of balancing the costs of inputs against expected increases in revenues. SUPPORTING THE FLEDGLING MEAT GOAT INDUSTRY In May of 2004, a group of enthusiastic and concerned members of the Marketing Committee of the Empire State Meat Goat Producers Association met with Dr. tatiana Stanton, from the Cornell University Animal Science Department to draft a proposal for a Northeast SARE grant. The grant was approved, and a 3 year project on "Increasing the Viability of Meat Goat Farms" was launched. Led by Dr. Stanton, the project team established a Kidding Season Mentoring Program to help new meat goat farmers prepare for their critical first kidding season. A major component of the mentoring program was the creation of a comprehensive guide called, "Kidding with Confidence." The guide discusses a full kidding plan, kidding in cold weather, and a number of other birthing issues. The team also organized a series of workshops on marketing goats, and another on Integrated Pest Management. Attendees learned how to evaluate goats for market readiness, and to grade slaughter goats to determine which market they are best suited for. With this knowledge, farmers are better trained to serve as graders at graded auctions or act as middlemen in the goat meat market. They're also better prepared to self-grade their own animals for "pooled marketing" projects and to serve as market coordinators to supervise these projects.
Jim Bailey checking out his does that were due to kid out of season.
FACT SHEETS AVAILABE The project also studied various herd management practices and developed a series of fact sheets on: * Pros and cons of feeding supplemental feed to kids while they are still nursing * "Flushing" does prior to breeding by increasing their plane of nutrition suddenly in the hope of increasing ovulation rate and litter size.
* How to successfully breed out of season * The prevalence of dewormer resistance in goat herds * Comparisons of expense and income spreadsheets * Effective pasture management practices to reduce internal parasite populations. The individuals who were mentored in the mentoring program really sung its praises. And while there were high numbers of attendees at the workshops and definite interest in the fact sheets, it is still too early to discern the impact of the project. Hopefully local goat meat will soon become more common and the industry will continue to grow here in the Northeast region.
Abha Gupta is a recent graduate of Cornell University and an employee at Blue Heron Farm in Lodi, NY.
Get Connected! Find your local Cooperative Extension office CT: UConn Cooperative Extension 1-860-486-9228 ME: UME Cooperative Extension 1-800-287-0274 (in Maine)
While more and more U.S. farmers tap into the goat meat market each year, new farmers especially suffer from a dearth of information to help them make wise management choices. And they face the challenge of providing a sufficient volume of product year round to attract both wholesale and retail buyers.
MA: UMass Cooperative Extension (413) 545-4800
In order to provide a steady supply of goat meat, at least some farmers have to be able to breed their goats out of season. Goats are sensitive to day length and breed when the days become shorter in late summer and fall. They kid 5 months later in winter and spring. To be able to breed when the days are lengthening in order to kid in the fall would be promising for many goat farmers as it would enable them to supply the market on a year round basis and help keep buyers committed to buying locally.
Marketing workshop attendees learn how to evaluate goats for market readiness, and to grade slaughter goats to determine which market they are best suited for. Photos by tatiana Stanton
NH: UNH Cooperative Extension 603-862-1520 A Savannah buck in a marking harness getting ready to breed some does out of season.
Moving your meat goats to graze hay field regrowth in the late summer and fall can help cut down on internal parasite contamination.
NY: Cornell Cooperative Extension 607-255-2237 PA: Penn State Cooperative Extension 814-865-4028 RI: URI Cooperative Extension (401) 874-2900 VT: UVM Cooperative Extension 1-866-622-2990 (toll-free in VT)
Resource Spotlight Meat Goat Farming Meat Goat Farming Fact Sheets. Go to www.ansci.cornell.edu/goats/ and click on "Research." Kidding Season Mentoring Guide. "Kidding with Confidence" is available online at to www.ansci.cornell.edu/goats/ and click on "Research." Or you may purchase a print copy for $12 including shipping through Cornell's Animal Science Department. To order contact Vicki Badalamenti at 607-255-7712 or VB65@cornell.edu. If you are interested in participating in the mentoring program either as a mentor or mentee, contact tatiana Stanton at 607-254-6024 or TLS7@cornell.edu. SARE Final Project Report including results and future recommendations for study and is at THIS NEEDS A NEW LINK: www.sare.org/reporting/report_viewer.asp?pn=LNE05230&ry=2008&rf=1