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Organic Broadcaster Online Issue 19.3 May/June 2011
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Table of Contents
- State of the Industry Report: Organic Dairy and Feed
- MOSES Poetry Slam Winners: Organic Word Art
- News From MOSES
- MOSES Project Update MOSES Organic Farming Conference a Huge Success
- Inside Organics Synthetics, Antibiotics & USDA Organic
- Cultivating Collaboration: MOSES Champions Women in Sustainable Agriculture
- Book Review The Hoophouse Handbook
- Consider Wholesaling Your Vegetables
- Proof Positive Weeding Through Flaming: Nebraska Research
- 101 Nutritionists
- The Coming Global Food Fight
- Small-Grain Resources
- News Briefs
State of the Industry Report: Organic Dairy and Feed
By Joe Pedretti
From the year 2000 through 2008, the organic food industry enjoyed some of the most significant growth of any involved in the production of food- an impressive 19% average growth compared to 4% in the conventional industry (Organic Trade Association 2010 Organic Industry Survey).
Even though everything changed with the “Great Recession,” beginning in late 2008, the organic industry as a whole still managed 16% growth in 2008, and 5% during the tough year of 2009. Organic dairy did not do quite as well, with an overall 1% decrease in sales for 2009. Although the numbers are not all in yet, 2010 was a rebound year for the organic industry as a whole, with strong gains, maybe even into the double digits again. All three of the major organic dairy buyers in the Midwest reported that they added farms in 2010 and did solid increases in business. The big question on everyone’s minds, though, is “what is in store for 2011 and beyond?”
After two years of milk quotas, declining grain prices, and lost markets, it is a welcome relief to see things turn around, but just what is the current status of two of the biggest drivers of the organic marketplace in the Midwest?
Organic dairy and the organic feed that sustains it account for the majority of organic acres in the Midwest. The economic activity generated by organic livestock production is the driver that sustains hundreds of farms in the upper Midwest. When organic livestock producers do well, then one would expect that organic feed producers would do well too. In some cases that is true, but when you look closely at the situation, things get much more complicated, and unfortunately, much less sustainable.
The Organic Grain Price Dilemma
The heavy demand for organic dairy products and the mostly successful supply management policies of the organic milk marketers have kept organic dairy prices relatively stable, even through the worst of the recession. There were some casualties, however, as a number of businesses did not survive the decline in demand and markets, including Organic Choice in Wisconsin. During this tough period organic grain prices dropped to historical lows, with organic wheat actually selling for less than conventional prices and organic corn selling for a minimal premium (organic soy was the exception, keeping a stable premium). This price nadir was mostly due to reduced demand. The milk quota coupled with a big drop off in consumer demand meant that livestock producers were buying much less grain, with lower prices as the result. Then several interesting things happened that changed the situation completely around.
The Great Conventional Egg Recall
In the summer of 2010 the FDA recalled 380 million conventional shell eggs from various conventional egg farms in Iowa due to Salmonella contamination. This well publicized recall focused a bright light on the dirty side of battery egg production and consumers reacted by purchasing organic eggs in record amounts. This was great news for organic egg producers, who had also been suffering decreased demand in the recession. Organic egg marketers immediately ramped up production, and suddenly demand for organic grains increased.
The Organic Dairy Turnaround
After a year and a half of milk quotas, Organic Valley rescinded the quota in the summer of 2010 due to the stabilization and rebound of the market. Things had turned around to a point where they were able to bring on new producers, primarily those that had lost their markets during the recession. “We have added 150 farms since July 2010. This was after we allowed our members to grow first,” said Tim Griffin, National Procurement Manager for Organic Valley. Tim also noted that there “is good reason to be optimistic if you are a small to medium sized producer. The industry has stabilized and we could be short of milk again by the end of the year.”
Pete Kondrup, General Manager for Westby Co-op Creamery reported similarly; “We have been bringing on new producers for the last year and we still need more. There is definitely a need for more milk.”
Chad Anderson, Director of Milk Supply from Horizon Organic, echoed the need for more milk, “Horizon Organic is currently seeking more milk in the Eastern and central U.S., as demand for our products continues to grow. This includes bringing on new organic dairy farms as well as helping our existing farmers grow their capacity. In fact, just last year we added 100 new family farmers to our truck.”
If demand goes up then prices go up. We all learned that rule early on in school, but there are more forces acting upon the price of organic grain than just demand from organic livestock producers.
Conventional Prices Soar
Those who can accurately predict the conventional grain market probably not reading this paper, but probably enjoying their spoils somewhere warm and sunny. The increasingly volatile market has been driven by everything from bio-fuel expansion to foreign exports, and increasingly is being influenced by market speculators who benefit from large fluctuations in price. These wild swings in prices are somewhat buffered by subsidies for conventional producers, but what effect do they have on organic grain producers? Quite a bit, thinks John Bobbe, Executive Director of OFARM (Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing). “Speculation in the conventional world is hurting organic prices. Organic corn prices are driven by the price of conventional corn underneath it. High conventional prices drive cash rent prices up.” Luke Zigovits, Organic Feed Program Manager for CROPP Cooperative agrees; “the price is pegged to conventional corn. Ethanol, foreign exports, and demand for corn are all up.”
Add the increasing demand to the equation and you have a recipe for rapid increases in grain prices which is exactly what we have seen in the past 6 months. In the summer of 2010 organic corn was selling for between $4.50 and $5.50 a bushel. Now, prices are $9.50 in the Midwest with prices over $12.00 a bushel reported out east, says Luke Zigovits who buys and sells for the members of CROPP. “A year ago everyone wanted to sign up for our grower pool (which was paying $7.25 bu.) but now it is hard to line up crop growers. I am getting a lot of calls from livestock farmers looking to buy at that price, but they missed the boat by six months. All of our contracted acres are spoken for; the only alternative is the spot market.”
Mike Schulist, Marketing Director of WOMA (Wisconsin Organic Marketing Alliance) makes this point, “Conventional prices are the driver. If there is anything that organic producers have got to have, it is a premium over conventional prices.”
Organic Grain Acres Down, Some Organic Crop Producers Go Conventional
It is difficult to calculate total numbers, but John Bobbe (OFARM), estimates that “we’ve seen 35-50,000 acres leave organic production, not necessarily in Wisconsin, but in the Midwest. These are often the later adopters, not the original farms that went organic.”
Bonnie Wideman, Executive Director for MOSA, supports the idea that organic grain producers can be much more transitory. “We always have higher attrition rates from organic grain producers. Some of them don’t even stay certified as long as one rotation. The grain market just does not have the stability.” The numbers from 2010 bear this out. Twenty nie point four percent of MOSA producers produce grain or hay, and they accounted for 57.4% of 2010 surrenders. The number one reason cited for surrendering certification at MOSA was “not enough market for crops, or lost market.”
John Bobbe describes this as the “Hassle Factor.” “All the paperwork is tough. All a conventional farmer has to do is run over the scale. An organic crop producer has to keep cleaning logs, sales logs, and all the other paperwork. When the price gets too close, some organic producers will choose not to do the paperwork.” John continues; “A lot of organic wheat producers dumped their wheat on the conventional market because there was no premium for organic. With no market, some give up their certification.”
Cash Rent and Land Prices Take a Big Jump
When conventional prices are high and other investments are paying low dividends, landowners tend to increase their rental prices. “Cash rent prices are up. Landowners are asking for more and more rent. They see the increased conventional prices and want some of that increase. Rents are becoming unreasonable,” points out John Bobbe. Per acre prices for prime farmland have also dramatically increased in response to these same factors. These price increases will slow the ability of existing producers to grow their acreage and make it much more difficult to make a profit.
Sustainability- How to Bring Stability to Grain Prices
Mike Schulist from WOMA puts it very succinctly, “an organic grain farmer deserves that premium.” Even when you don’t consider the recession in the equation, organic grain producers have watched their prices fluctuate widely a number of times over the past decade. Organic dairy and egg producers, on the other hand, have had relative price stability over the same time period. So the question on everyone’s mind is “how do we make organic farming sustainable for both livestock and crop producers?”
Many are trying, including OFARM; “We need to talk with producers and industry to stabilize the market. High prices are not in the best interests of anyone. Buyers and sellers are worried about excessive prices,” said John Bobbe. “I took a call from a major retailer and their #1 concern is market volatility.”
Everyone is in agreement; it benefits all sides to have a profitable and sustainable pay price in place for organic grain producers. How to get there is more difficult to get agreement on, but there are some recurring ideas:
“Contracting feed is a smart move,” said Tim Griffin of Organic Valley. It helps livestock producers by fixing their input costs at a manageable level and crop producers by locking up their production at a set price. However, “buyers and farmers are adverse to forward contracting when prices are low,” notes John Bobbe. Sellers are holding out for better prices and buyers have no incentive to lock in when everyone is selling low. The opposite happens when prices are high. So how then do both sides reach an agreement on “what” the right price is to encourage forward contracting?
“Going alone to the marketplace is not what you want to be doing. Time has shown that marketing collectively has better returns than going it alone,” states John Bobbe. OFARM’s main goal is to act as a marketing agency for crop producers. WOMA’s Mike Schulist agrees; “We all benefit from farmers working together for the best interest of the industry.”
CROPP Cooperative’s Grower Pool was formed for the same goal; to stabilize prices for growers and livestock producers. “New farmers can take our contract to the bank and get a loan a lot easier,” notes Luke Zigovits, the Manager of CROPP’s Feed Program. “I think we have raised awareness of stability with our model.”
CROPP’s model contracts feed for three years at prices that are agreed to by both their crop and livestock producers. “Our grain price is tied to the dairy pay price. If the dairy pay price increases, so will the prices paid to our crop producers,” said Luke.
Buyers and sellers need to become partners to create stability. Organic dairy and egg producers have weathered tough times by working with their buyers to create a mutually beneficial pricing system that is built on sustainability for both sides. Wild fluctuations in price benefit no one in the long term. A dairy farmer that signed a contract for $5.50 organic corn last year is probably grinning this year, but that comes at a cost. The farmer on the other side of the contract is now debating whether organic is worth the hassle in the long run. Until feed mills, grain buyers and livestock producers are willing to sit down with organic grain producers and do the hard work of developing a fair pricing system, we will continue to deal with price volatility.
The Organic Dairy Market Outlook
All three major dairy marketers in the upper Midwest are looking for new producers. Organic Valley, Westby Cooperative Creamery, and Horizon reported increasing sales, the addition of new producers over the past year, and the need for more in the near future.
Prices have remained stable; only Westby Cooperative Creamery reported an increase to their members beginning on April 1st. Utilization is high going into the flush months (the flush is the increase in milk production due to new grass and large numbers of freshening animals) which is a good sign that the demand will remain strong. All in all, everyone is optimistic about the future of organic dairy.
Before committing to a transition to organic, it is critical that a farmer line up a market. Transitioning your herd without a market guarantee is not recommended. Contact one or all of the organic milk marketers to determine your options. It is common for the milk buyers to take on new farms only during the fall or winter months. Most will avoid adding new milk during the flush months.
The Organic Crop Market Outlook
With the continued growth in organic dairy, some areas of organic livestock (eggs, hogs) and the growth in demand for food quality grains, the future looks solid for organic grain producers. Prices are likely to stay high for the foreseeable future. A strong market helps, but “going organic” and “staying organic” take hard work and preparation.
“It takes time for you to get your system down,” advises Mike Schulist. “It takes time to see the benefits. You need to be in it for the longer haul.”
This seems to be the area of greatest concern for everyone involved- how do we help new organic farmers transition and succeed? The loss of organic acreage and organic producers is troubling. Part of the answer is education and support. Experienced organic producers know that raising organic field crops is difficult even when the weather cooperates. Weed control and fertility management take great skill. The need to incorporate lower value solid-seeded crops into the rotation is also a barrier. That learning curve is something the entire industry needs to address if sustainable growth is the goal.
All of the organic grain marketing agencies can assist producers with their options. They are also a wealth of information for beginning organic farmers. Transitioning is a lot easier with support from fellow experienced organic farmers. MOSES is also here to help with your organic farming questions.
Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative
Westby Cooperative Creamery
Organic Farming Agency for Relationship Marketing
(920) 825-1369 email@example.com
Wisconsin Organic Marketing Alliance
Joe Pedretti is the MOSES organic outreach specialist. firstname.lastname@example.org
Organic Word Art: MOSES Poetry Slam Winners
MOSES featured its first Poetry Slam on Thursday evening, February 24th at the 2011 Organic Farming Conference. Styled after slams emcee Kristen Underwood (actor and director at ArtHaus, hosts in Decorah, IA, the event showcased original poems with themes on farming and food.
Twelve poets read original poems during the open mike portion of the event. Nine competed in the slam, a good natured competition which allowed the audience to vote for their favorite poems. An “applause-o-meter” was used to gauge the strength of the audience’s appreciation of each poem. The poets ranged in age from 9 year old Liam, performing an original piece he and his mom, Lisa, wrote together, to a 69-year old confessing to reading his poems aloud for the first time, even though he’d been regularly writing poetry since the 1960s. Kristine Jepsen’s “An All Purpose Livestock Sorting Oath,” and Molly Phemister’s “The Pigs and the Wolves” tied for first place at the slam. We have printed their poems for your enjoyment on page eleven.
The crowd was very enthusiastic about the artistry, passion, and gumption of all the poets who performed. MOSES plans to continue the Poetry Slam in 2012, so start planning your own poetic contribution!
Thanks to everyone who participated and attended this dynamic event.
Please read this year’s winning poems below.
The Pigs and the Wolves
What if the Pigs and the Wolves are the same people?
What if, as fast as they are building the houses,
they are blowing them down?
Or taking them apart brick by brick, chipping off
the mortar, stashing the pieces in a bag
apologizing for leaving you homeless.
“I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry.
It’s not safe. We can’t build a home here.”
Then Childhood grows up wild-eyed
and you stash it in a box to keep it
safe from the Pigs and the Wolves.
It doesn’t matter if you build a house
out of straw or sticks or plasterboard or stone,
if they are taking it down even as
you build it up, they are nipping at your safety
they are threatening to leave you alone.
But be Grateful. They are making you
Ferocious. Be Grateful. They are making you
Strong. If you can raise your self up
in the wild, if you can throw your heart
off a cliff and watch it fly away and trust
that one day your body will grow to catch back up
then you know that you can outlive this
and someday step past the furor to calm.
So go ahead and rip up the floor planks
go ahead and walk out the door
go ahead and leave me standing
bare feet on this cold earth floor.
This dirt that I stand on is cooling.
My sweat dries in the windowless breeze.
I know which soil is fertile
and how to grow the food that I need.
So go ahead and take off with the doorframe
go ahead and walk off the lot
I’m brave enough to unbox my Childhood
I’m strong enough to recapture my heart.
I will learn how to build things and leave them
I will learn not to flinch every fall
I am teaching my Pigs to work together
I am training my Wolves to stand guard.
An All-Purpose Livestock Sorting Oath*
* Legally enforceable in a court of law.
By Kristine Jepsen
Any gentleman who shall endeavor to sort cows, pigs, chickens, goats, or any other species of livestock with his spouse, shall at this time raise his right hand and nod in agreement of the following.
I hereby solemnly do swear that:
1. I shall state my objectives clearly, noting which animals are to go where and in what order. Such objectives shall be more precise than “the big ones,” “the little ones,” and “that one over there.”
2. I shall ensure that my wife and any other sorting help fully understand my objectives and can operate proficiently any gates, trailer doors, sorting sticks, chutes and other necessary equipment. It is understood that said equipment will be in good working order and not require an operator to throw her bodyweight against it to perform the above specified objectives.
3. I shall specify both Best Case and Plan B scenarios for the handling of stock so that my wife and sorting help understand my actions, should I change my course. “Because that’s what you do” is not sufficient grounds for departure from plan.
4. I shall recognize that my wife differs from me in stature, volume and bullheadedness and may have a different or lesser physical effect on ornery cows, bulls, sows and other troublesome creatures. Therefore, I shall not consider the placement of my wife in the path of a charging animal to be sufficient deterrent to said animal.
5. I shall not assume that my physical or verbal cues have been acknowledged by my wife unless I am looking at and speaking directly to her and receive confirmation via thumbs-up. Use of any other finger may constitute acknowledgment but is not legally binding on her part.
6. I shall recognize that livestock are not bilingual and are in fact about as likely as my wife to respond in the affirmative to the invocation of expletives, whether as verbs, nouns or adjectives.
7. I shall call my wife only by her given name and not make comparison of my wife, her judgment or any of her body parts to any class or attribute of livestock, in jest or otherwise.
8. I shall recognize by the narrowing of my wife’s eyes when I am in jeopardy of forfeiting my sorting help and adjust my demeanor accordingly.
9. I shall recognize that my method of sorting is not ordained by God or any other Higher Powers and shall openly discuss and adopt variances in procedure as they fit personnel involved, with particular reference to clauses 2, 3 and 4.
10. I understand that violation of any of the above may result in the revocation of marital civility until such time that I make sincere apology and agree in writing to find alternate help in any and all future sorting activities.
Thank you, sincerely, in best regards, hats off, hallelujah and amen.
News from MOSES
by Jody Padgham
It is easy to feel inspired this time of year, as we head outside and relish the voices of the spring peepers and meadow larks, the robins and the sandhill cranes. Watching the fields green up slowly, sporadically getting covered by the late April snows. Hoping the strong winds dry things out enough that the fields can be prepared and spring crops in the ground. I love the tension of deciding on “just the right day” for each chore, as each farmer makes his or her best guess on what the weather will do. This is when we see the real art of farming at play.
At MOSES we’ve been busy planning for our summer crop- a long list of field days and workshops for your learning pleasure! As noted above, successful farming is based on having enough knowledge and experience to make good decisions. The best way to gain this knowledge, we’ve found, is from other farmers- and what better way to do so than on their own farms! Field days are a fantastic way to learn new “tricks”, understand best practices, meet other farmers, and have a venue for asking questions about your own operation. We encourage you to look at the lists on page 4 and 20, hopefully you can make one of the many events out team has planned for you this summer.
As always, there has been a lot happening in the organic industry. Joe enjoyed talking to several experts to bring you his very up-to-date report on the organic dairy and grain industries. Harriet is on her way to the NOSB meeting next week, and shares her concern with how decision making is proceeding there. Flame weeding research, info for those considering growing for wholesale, an international view of organic sustainability, tips for customizing dairy nutrition, and updates on a few MOSES projects complete our issue. Enjoy!
Successful planting everyone,
Jody Padgham Organic Broadcaster Editor
MOSES Organic Farming Conference a Huge Success
Almost 3,000 people, from 40 states and 11 additional countries, 310 of whom received scholarships, attended 71 workshops put on by 116 presenters, assisted by 63 volunteers. There was dancing to wild accordion music and learning about carbon sequestration and elderberries, corn borers and mycorrhizae, poultry diets and crossbreeding cows. Everyone was noshing on fabulous organic food, enjoying home-spun organic poetry, and talking, talking, talking.
Ah, one more successful year at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference. Each year it seems a bit of a miracle that this unique event comes together, the fruit of the labors of eight full time staff, two part time staff, several key contractors, and all the volunteers. Significant donations of food, money, time and labor are key to the event’s success. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the great time it is without all the farmers and supporters who come to learn, share, and celebrate.
Additional highlights of our three days together:
MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year Award was presented to the Vetter Family of The Grain Place, in Marquette, Neb. The Vetter Family runs a diversified grain farm and related grain processing business. The Vetters were pioneers of organic production in Nebraska and have a deep, spiritual relationship to the land.
Two dynamic keynote speakers shared their passion. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy for Consumers Union, highlighted the increased public awareness of how food is grown and how consumers can decipher food labels. Tom Stearns, founder of Vermont-based High Mowing Seeds, shared his experience and ideas on the need to build healthier, regional food systems through collaboration among farmers, businesses, and their communities.
471 people attended nine full-day Organic University courses on Thursday, learning about everything from Growing Small Grains to Enhancing Organic Herd Health.
1,520 pounds of food and other compostable items from the conference were hauled away by White Oak Farm Premium Organics/Purple Cow Organics to be composted.
Be sure to visit the Conference webpage to view the photo gallery and video clips. You can also download the conference program, filled with lots of useful contacts and exhibitor information.
Please plan to join in the fun and learning at next year’s conference: February 23-25, 2012 in La Crosse, Wisconsin
Inside Organics: Synthetics, Antibiotics, and USDA Organic
By Harriet Behar
The US Organic Foods Production Act has a very clear bias against synthetic substances in organic agricultural production and organic prepared foods. Synthetics are mandated to go through a very rigorous review process before being allowed for use in organic systems. They are only to be allowed when they clearly meet strict criteria for an exemption to the prohibition of synthetic chemicals. The criteria include review of the substance’s possible potential detrimental chemical interaction with other materials used in organic farming. The material’s toxicity and mode of action as well as breakdown products’ potential to contaminate, concentrate, or persist in the environment are also criteria for review. The possibility of environmental contamination during the manufacture, use, misuse, or disposal of the substance is another consideration. The effect the substance would have on human health, on biological or chemical interactions in the environment, crops, and livestock are also to be reviewed. Lastly, synthetics can only be allowed in an organic system if there are no natural materials or methods that could be used instead.
These are the detailed and clear criteria for determining if a synthetic might be allowed within the OFPA. Many organic producers are unaware of these strict criteria. Unfortunately, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been slowly drifting away from the rigorous and scientific review in determining the allowance of synthetics that many believe is required of them by law.
Granted, it is a tall order for the NOSB to consider all of the above criteria for every substance that is petitioned for inclusion on the National List of approved synthetics allowed in crops and livestock. The NOSB are also required to review every currently listed substance for relisting every 5 years. If not re-approved, the materials “sunset,” and are removed from the list.
The NOSB is a volunteer board, not made up of scientists, but of stakeholders including consumers, farmers, environmentalists, and others who are faced with understanding the complex interactions of chemicals both in the laboratory and in our environment. They must answer complex questions such as: Where does chemical change occur? Where is the line between an agriculture material being processed in a way that would maintain the “natural” character in the finished material, or that which makes it a “synthetic,” and thus mandated to meet the above strict criteria?
The law provides for Technical Advisory Panels (TAPs) made up of experts to provide “scientific evaluation” to aid the volunteer NOSB in their decision making. Unfortunately, the previous National Organic Program administrator gutted this provision and declared the NOSB could do their own evaluations, even though it was clear that they did not have the expertise to perform this function. The problems were compounded, as the NOSB was asked to not only do the technical advisory reviews, but also were responsible for approving the work.
The organic community fought hard in congress to obtain sufficient funding for the NOP, so as to provide for well trained TAPs. This has not occurred, and we are suffering from either lack of TAP reviews, or poorly written ones. It is frustrating to have lost ground, rather than progressed, in all these years. We could have been developing a variety of crops, livestock, and processing technical advisory panel entities, made up of experts in their fields who both understood our criteria for organic production as well as their own disciplines.
Synthetic Antibiotics in Question
Here we stand today, with the imminent sunset of Streptomycin and Tetracycline from the National List. These items are on our National List? Aren’t they antibiotics? The answer to both questions is “yes”. These antibiotics are only allowed to control fire blight, a serious problem for apple and pear growers. These items are not approved in organic production in the European Union or Canada, or to my knowledge any other country with organic regulations. (I could be wrong, there are many countries with organic regulations, but most follow the NOP along with the EU regulations, with the strictest rule usually enforced to ease exports to both entities). The prohibition for the use of antibiotics in the production of USDA organically labeled foods is limited only to livestock production.
Let us go back to the criteria for the allowance of synthetics in agricultural production and how it could apply to these antibiotics. Is there a detrimental chemical interaction with other materials? Is there toxicity, environmental contamination and persistence in the environment? There has been a strong argument that there is no reason to disqualify these antibiotics from fruit tree use for these two criteria. However, the criteria relating to detrimental effects on human health and biological processes in the environment, as well as compatibility with organic systems, put a large question mark next to the use of these materials. An additional issue is the concern of whether there are natural materials or methods available to make these antibiotics unnecessary in an organic orchard system.
Here is the conundrum. The NOSB has voted to let these items sunset, and therefore remove them from allowance in organic apple and pear production. There has not been a recent TAP review to help the NOSB evaluate the materials to these exacting criteria. Organic tree fruit producers have organized and are presenting detailed comments, such as that the antibiotic quickly breaks down in the environment, to defend the products’ use. The materials are used sparingly, not every year, and there has never been a case of these antibiotics causing resistance in humans or livestock (although the heavy use of streptomycin over the years has caused fire blight in the Pacific Northwest to become resistant to it). There is also no natural material or method that can prevent, control, manage, or mitigate the complete destruction of an orchard by fireblight when the climatic conditions are favorable for infection and subsequent tree mortality. One organic orchardist stated that he has planned, planted, and nurtured his orchard like his children, and would leave behind the organic label rather than seeing acres and acres of his fruit trees die due to lack of access to antibiotics.
Orchardists are also hampered by lack of research for alternatives to these treatments. U.S. apple and pear growers, the majority of whom are nonorganic, are not demanding new controls. Consumers have no idea how extensively these products are used in nonorganic orchards (organic orchards represent a very small percentage antibiotic use in the US). Fire blight resistant tree varieties are in development, but that solution may also narrow the pool of apple genetics. This may result in less availability of heirloom varieties, which are favored by our “niche market” of organic consumers.
If these antibiotics disappear from the National List, there are dire concerns that we will lose most of our organic apples and pears in the marketplace. Without the organic label, apple and pear growers have no incentive to continue with the difficult organic practices of soil building, pest management, and enhancement of biodiversity. This would be a loss for both the environment and the consumer.
Many hours will be taken up during the April NOSB meeting hearing pros and cons of the use of these antibiotics on tree fruit. The lack of objective scientific evaluation leads both sides to approach the issue from an emotional viewpoint. Rather than speculate about what is true, the NOSB must come to a decision that meets both the letter and spirit of our organic law. I personally have sympathy for both sides of this discussion, and am still waiting to hear more. It is a shame that NOSB decision making is hampered by the lack of objective research that should be provided by a credible TAP review. There currently is no unbiased referee to keep the discussion honest and focused on the approval criteria. In this time of budget cutting, political polarization, and feeling that compromise is a dirty word, I hope that the organic community can remain true to our core principles while at the same time find practical solutions that provide necessary producer tools as well as healthy food for consumers. The National Organic Standards Board meets in Seattle from April 26-29th, 2011.
Harriet Behar is the MOSES organic specialist. She lives with her husband on an organic farm near Gays Mills, WI. She can be reached at email@example.com.
MOSES Champions Women in Sustainable Agriculture
By Lisa Kivirist
What’s the key ingredient to stimulating the health of our environment, food system, communities and economy? More women passionate about sustainable agriculture taking on a leadership role in implementing policy, political, and community change. While there’s a healthy growth of women launching new farms (nearly thirty percent according to the last USDA agriculture census), there’s still work to be done to both champion the success of organic and sustainable operations and increase the voice and leadership of women transforming our food system.
The MOSES Rural Women’s Project aims to do exactly that by both providing educational outreach, resources, and networking opportunities specific to women farmers and food-based entrepreneurs as well as supporting the role of women’s leadership in arenas that affect what’s on our plate. From serving on local boards to running for office, increasing the voice of women in shaping our policies and priorities will help increase the diversity and perspectives of our food system.
Now in it’s fourth year, the MOSES Rural Women’s Project offers new initiatives to support women in sustainable agriculture:
Web Resources & Workshops
A new section of the MOSES website is dedicated to women farmer issues:
On this site you’ll find various resources specific to women farmers and food-based business owners, including grants and resource lists and free workshop webinars, including “Planting Fresh Seeds: Resources, Opportunities & Inspiration for Women Farmers and ECOpreneurs,” an inspiring introductory overview for women interested in launching a food-related venture.
Given the strong response to the “Planting Fresh Seeds” workshop last year, the MOSES Rural Women’s Project will be taking things up a notch this growing season by facilitating day-long, on-farm sessions specifically for women. This workshop series, entitled “In Her Boots: Sustainable Farming For Women, by Women,” will be held on women-owned operations and cover hands-on farm tours and workshops ranging from launching value-added enterprises to permaculture, grass-fed meats and organic dairy from a woman-farmer perspective. These longer sessions will increase opportunity for networking and resource sharing as well as provide the opportunity for leadership training for women in sustainable agriculture. Look to the ad below for detail on dates and locations for the “In Her Boots” series.
“Cultivate 2012” Leadership Summit
While women still remain under represented nationally in elected positions of influence, this gap is particularly noticeable in regards to women in agriculture. Of the women currently in Congress, none came to elected office from an active farming background. A few were raised on farms or ranches, but, unfortunately, no one brings a current, hands-on understanding of the current face of women in agriculture, much less organic agriculture.
That said, women are increasingly taking on senior leadership roles within the political structure that can potentially support women in agriculture. Former Arkansas Senator Blanche Lampert Lincoln served as the first woman chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and is now proceeded by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, setting policy and funding direction for America’s farms. Kathleen Merrigan, a champion of sustainable and organic agriculture, serves as the USDA Deputy Secretary, second in command at the largest federal agency.
The MOSES Rural Women’s Project supports this movement by spearheading a unique summit this May at the Wingspread facility in Racine, Wisconsin, of visionary women farmers and food activists entitled “Cultivate 2012: Creating Collaborative Opportunities for Women in Sustainable Agriculture to Transform our Food System.” A collaborative partnership between MOSES, the White House Project, and the Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN), “Cultivate 2012” will stimulate big-picture thinking and change by envisioning new solutions and strategies to support and strengthen this national leadership role of women transforming our nation’s food system, from the federal agriculture policy agenda to what’s on our family’s supper plate.
Thanks to support from the Johnson Foundation and leadership from the MOSES Rural Women’s Project, WFAN, and The White House Project, Cultivate 2012 will include women from various sustainable agriculture groups, representing both rural and urban agendas.
Stay tuned for updates and outcomes of Cultivate 2012 in future issues of the Organic Broadcaster.
Lisa Kivirist directs the Rural Women’s Project for the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). Co-author of Farmstead Chef, a new cookbook coming out in September 2011, she and her family run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Browntown, WI, completely powered by the wind and the sun.
Book Review: The Hoophouse Handbook - Growing Produce and Flowers in Hoophouses and High Tunnels
Edited by Lynn Byczynski
Utilization of hoophouses and high tunnels has been the biggest development for market gardeners in the last several years. Many farmers are exploring ways to extend growing time on both edges of the season. Even I put up a ten by eight foot hoop for early spinach production a few years ago. Being able to come back from the Organic Farming Conference at the end of February and get my hands into the dirt is one of the things that I look forward to the most in my gardening season. The joy of eating fresh spinach in April gives me a comparable thrill. Those who utilize the idea more seriously than I are finding they can grow greens year round, protect fragile crops in harsh weather conditions, and manage water-dependent crops through the use of controlled drip irrigation with a hoophouse.
Lynn Byczynski, the editor of the very popular and useful periodical, “Growing for Market,” put together “The Hoophouse Handbook“ in 2006, before the idea of season extension was very deep in producers’ minds, and it is still a very useful resource today. “After a decade of growing vegetables and cut flowers in the field, we added hoophouses to our farm, and we are now convinced that they are an essential tool for the market gardener,” Lynn outlines in the introduction.
At only 56 pages, this booklet isn’t an encyclopedia on the topic, but contains enough key information to be really useful. The first half of the publication offers several articles, written by Lynn and others, that highlight successful practices for hoophouse management all over the U.S. From Pennsylvania to Kansas and Texas, the articles offer very specific information that can be tried and adapted for your particular climactic conditions.
Types of structures, bed layout, timing of planting, and successful varieties are talked about for various regions. One article by Lynn identifies specific crops, their planting and harvesting dates in Kansas and revenue per square foot. Although the revenue data is from 2001, it will still be useful as you can see the relative income of one hoophouse crop versus another. This chart is accompanied by detailed notes in the text on prices charged, markets utilized, and specific issues that made crops successful or not. This very personalized look at a production year includes tips on specific crops that will be very useful to the vegetable of flower producer who is just starting with a hoophouse.
Being a big fan of numbers, I found the several charts in the booklet very interesting. A “Hoophouse Tomato Budget” looks at operating input costs and itemized fixed costs, and estimates net income for various yields and prices per pound of tomatoes sold. This will be a great reference for those wanting to understand expenses that go into hoophouse production and what a budget looks like. If you are deciding on whether or not to invest in a hoophouse, this budget will be a useful tool. Even those not planning on producing tomatoes can use the budget as a model of the types of numbers that need to be collected or estimated to assess net profit and pay-back time on the infrastructure.
Another chart lists flower species recommended for hoophouse production. Obviously, not all species will thrive in this controlled environment. Lynn’s experience and recommendations will save a lot of trial and error.
I also like that this booklet contains information about what NOT to do. For instance, one article describes a Massachusetts farmer’s experience with matted-row strawberries. He explains that he was not able to charge enough for the fruit to cover his expenses. The conclusion is that yield would have to improve in order for this venture to succeed.
The second half of the booklet shares information on hoophouse construction considerations. Siting, site layout and prep, building, and covering are briefly explained. Step-by-step photos help us visualize the process. A nice set of resources leaves you with websites and phone numbers of several hoophouse manufacturers and places to go for new information. An index helps those who are seeking specific information.
Although a few years old, this book is a good quick read and reference, offering key bits of information shared by experienced producers. It may not be the be-all and end-all of hoophouse production in your library, but will help anyone get a good sense of the basic considerations, some species you may want to consider, and numerous basic tips that will help you succeed. As a companion to this book, I’d recommend the Midwest Season Extension website.
The Hoophouse Handbook is available from the MOSES bookstore for $28.00.
Review by Jody Padgham, Organic Broadcaster editor.
Consider Wholesaling Your Vegetables
By Harriet Behar
The energy of the local food movement is strengthening marketing options for vegetable producers. Direct markets may look like an easy choice, but there are other viable markets worth considering, including wholesale. Consumers who are enthusiastic about local foods not only shop at farmers markets or their local roadside stand, but also at supermarkets. Many restaurants seek locally grown seasonal vegetables. Numerous schools, hospitals, and other institutions want to expand their purchases of locally produced foods. While wholesaling may not be for everyone, having some wholesale sales mixed in with direct market sales can help you become a better grower, add a reliable income, and support your farm’s financial stability.
Wholesale markets lead to several production advantages. When you sell to a wholesale market you pick only what has been sold, and a cold and rainy day will not diminish sales, like it will at an outdoor market. Harvest labor and post-harvest handling are reduced when you only package what is sold. Succession plantings throughout the season are easier to plan when a steady customer buys predictable volumes. The high quality and volume demands of the wholesale market can lead you to develop efficient planting, harvest, and post harvest handling for one or many crops.
However, there are significant differences between preparing products for direct marketing and wholesaling. Quality is extremely important for wholesale markets, and can be more critical than that required by direct markets. The shelf life of wholesaled produce must be much longer than that for direct markets. Wholesalers and retail stores will likely have produce in storage or on display for a few days before the consumer buys it. At a direct market, you could have picked in the morning for your customer to buy and consume within hours, or a few days, of harvest. Many direct markets allow storage time flexibility that wholesale markets won’t tolerate.
Uniform size, shape, and color of specific types of produce may be demanded for wholesale, such as only six-inch dark green zucchinis or eight-inch grey zucchinis in each box. This is quite different than the variety of colors and sizes that bring people to your farm market table. Wholesale produce must be packed in new cardboard boxes, (organically acceptable, with no fungicides), of industry standard sizes. For instance, cucumbers are packed in 20 pound-5/9 bushel boxes, not 45 pounds in a 1-1/9 bushel box like winter squash. You must recover packaging expense by including these costs in your price to the buyer. In contrast, direct markets allow you to bring your produce to market in reusable containers, with your only packaging expense bags for customers to take their produce home.
Serving Various Wholesale Markets
There are a variety of buyers in the wholesale market, from large distributors, servicing retail stores and food service accounts (restaurants, schools etc.), to local grocery stores. Some supermarket chains have regional consolidation warehouses servicing their stores, allowing you to deliver to one location, as they distribute the produce to individual stores. Some distributors work only with organic vegetables, others handle both organic and nonorganic. You might work with one restaurant or with a chain of restaurants through their distribution network. Hospitals, schools, residential living facilities, technical colleges, and universities can also provide strong wholesale markets. Basically, anywhere people eat could be a market for your produce!
Good communication is the one uniform requirement for all types of buyers of wholesale produce. You must discuss what they want, how often they want it, the quantity they want, and how they want to receive it. You must communicate regularly, usually on a weekly basis, so they know what you have to offer for any specific delivery. Ask how they prefer you communicate: via phone, fax or email, once or twice a week, with an updated availability of what you have for sale. Don’t assume that because you dropped off two bins of something last week, that they will take two bins again this week. If for some reason you can’t fulfill an order, let the buyer know as soon as possible so they can try to replace the missing items. You want to be remembered as someone who helps keep product on the shelves, not as someone who is unreliable and causes lost sales. If you agree to deliver at 10 AM, you can’t show up at 4 PM. Wholesalers have specific schedules and personnel to handle your produce, you must be as punctual as possible. Call if you can’t make the agreed upon time. You may be asked to deliver the next day rather than later that same day.
Enjoy the Partnership
You and your wholesale buyers are partners in the marketing of your produce. If you have an overabundance of a product, you might discuss running a sale. This may be especially successful if you are in direct contact with the retail buyer. Consider providing laminated photos of your farm, your family, and your farm crew. Putting a face on the food helps retailers with their local food marketing strategy and encourages their customers to have loyalty to your produce. Retailers will have a harder time buying from someone else if their customers are requesting your products. Give them interesting stories about your farm or history that they can publicize to highlight your product. Offer to sample out products such as melons or heirloom tomatoes on a Saturday morning or a special occasion, like a summer festival when the store is promoting foods for picnics or BBQs. Remember that they are depending on you for a consistent supply of high quality vegetables and you are relying on them to sell as much as they can of your product.
Getting Started in Wholesale
To get started in wholesale crops think about what you like to grow, what you are good at growing, and what infrastructure you either have or would need to put in place to grow a high quality crop efficiently. Research the market by talking to retail store buyers, restaurants, or institutions to see what crops they would like to purchase locally, what quantities they would like to receive, and what prices they typically pay for these crops.
Start your wholesale production slowly, with perhaps only one, two, or three wholesale crops. Visit a diversity of stores and look at what they currently sell. Can you meet or surpass the quality they display? Is there something missing from their shelves that you could produce? Be careful to not make assumptions about what buyers might be looking for.
You may be able to charge a better price for your crop than they are paying for a non-local alternative, accounting for the freshness and quality you will be providing. If you can, try to figure your costs of production and marketing so you can be sure to price your products above what you put in to producing them, with a profit built in. Don’t forget that perishable produce like tomatoes or peppers are not your only options. Storage crops such as cabbage, leeks, potatoes, onions, winter radishes, and carrots are nice wholesale crops.
Consider the harvest, washing, and packaging requirements of each item you produce, and how you can take advantage of efficiencies of case sizes and storage temperatures. Think about the efficiencies you can build into your system. For instance, it would be better to grow bunched parsley, bunched cilantro, and kale rather than choosing broccoli and tomatoes as your wholesale crops. You can use the same boxes and buy twist ties in bulk for the bunched crops, while the broccoli needs crushed ice and very cold storage, which would be useless for tomatoes.
Consider Packing Requirements
Harvest temperature sensitive crops as early in the day as possible. Take them from the field as quickly as you can, cool down to remove field heat, and move them into a cooler. Large tanks of water out in the field for initial cooling followed by a second rinse in the packing shed goes a long way to preserve self life. Be careful to not bruise the produce while handling, as this will greatly lessen shelf life. Consider putting a cover on your harvest wagon, or planting heat sensitive crops near a wooded field edge where trees may offer some shade until you can get them to the packing shed. Think ahead and have all of your picking crates clean, and gloves and harvest tools ready to go the night before so you can begin work at first light.
Storage temperature considerations are very important to maintain quality. Peppers will shrivel if they are in a 33 degree F cooler, while broccoli will get limp in a 50 degree cooler. A quick search on the internet can give you information on the packing requirements of various vegetables. An excellent book entitled Wholesale Success, shares the details of packing requirements, including storage temperatures.
Food safety concerns are another consideration for wholesale production. While we wait to see what regulatory requirements are put in place from the newly passed Food Safety Modernization Act, you should still consider implementing Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Your buyer may require a GAP audit to verify your food safety plan. You might convince them that you do not need an audit if you clearly spell out in a document what you are doing on your farm that meets the GAP requirements. Certain crops, such as ready-to-eat salad mixes or spinach, have a much higher need for safe food handling protocols than others, such as sweet corn in the husk. The publication Food Safety Begins on the Farm can guide you in developing a practical and useful food safety plan. MOSES also offers a fact sheet titled GAPs: Bringing Good Agricultural Practices to Your Farm.
A few large volume wholesale crops as part of your marketing strategy can build an important relationship with a high volume buyer, and provide your farm with a steady income. In some ways, producing a few high volume wholesale crops is easier than producing 50 different crops in smaller volumes. As the markets for local foods continue to grow, there will be no shortage of large volume buyers looking for producers who are willing to supply them. Those wishing to concentrate on growing produce and not spending a lot of time interacting with the public may find wholesaling crops a great alternative to direct marketing. While it seems that direct marketing can put more dollars in your pocket, farmers often neglect to consider the extra time and expenses involved in direct marketing, such as that needed to pack mixed CSA boxes, or sitting at a farmer’s market for six hours twice a week. With careful planning and consideration you may find that wholesale markets for your products are worth your while.
Later this summer MOSES will be hosting a “Scaling up for wholesale vegetable production” field day in North Eastern Illinois.
ATTRA offers a useful bulletin on post harvest handling.
Harriet Behar is the MOSES organic outreach specialist. firstname.lastname@example.org
Proof Positive: Weeding Through Flaming: Nebraska Research
Several great research projects were featured at the 2011 MOSES Organic Farming Conference Research Forum. The following four project summaries outline results of flame weeding research done by Dr. Stevan Z. Knezevic, Associate Professor, Integrated Weed Management, Haskell Agricultural Laboratory. University of Nebraska, Concord, NE. For more information, contact Dr. Knezevic. You can read more about UNL organic research online. For more information about the MOSES Organic Research Forum or organic research, visit the MOSES website.
Response of Pigweed and Foxtail Species to Broadcast Flaming
Stevan Z. Knezevic, Avishek Datta, and Santiago M. Ulloa.
Propane flaming could be an effective tool for weed control in organic cropping systems. However, susceptibility of major weeds to broadcast flaming must be determined in order to optimize its proper use. Therefore, field experiments were conducted during summer of 2008 at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory, Concord, NE utilizing six doses of propane and four weed species, including green and yellow foxtail, waterhemp, and redroot pigweed with the objective to determine their tolerance to flaming. Propane flaming and plant responses were evaluated at three growth stages for each weed species. The propane doses applied were 0, 12, 31, 50, 68 and 87 kg/ha corresponding to 0, 2.5, 6.5, 10.5, 14.4 and 18.4 gal/acre. Flaming treatments were applied utilizing an ATV mounted flamer moving at a constant speed of 6.5 km/h (4 m/h). The response of the weed species to propane doses was based on visual injury rating and percent biomass loss recorded at 14 days after treatment (DAT). In general, foxtail species were more tolerant than pigweed species. Waterhemp and redroot pigweed did not differ in their response to broadcast flaming, and were easily controlled (90% control) with propane dose of about 60 kg/ha when flamed at early growth stages (3-5 leaf stage), however they needed higher propane dose of about 90 kg/ha at later growth stages (9 leaf stage to flowering). Green foxtail was more tolerant than yellow foxtail regardless of the growth stage. Propane dose of 110 kg/ha was needed to provide 90% control of green foxtail regardless of the growth stage. In contrast, 90% control of yellow foxtail was achieved with propane dose of 80 kg/ha for any growth stage. It is important to point out that foxtail species started re-growing at about 14 DAT regardless of the growth stage flamed, whereas pigweed species did not re-grow, especially when flamed with doses above 60 kg/ha.
Growth Stage Influenced Sorghum Response to Broadcast Flaming
S.M. Ulloa*, A. Datta, and S.Z. Knezevic.
The objective of this study was to investigate the response of sorghum to broadcast flaming as influenced by propane dose and crop growth stage. Field experiments were conducted at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory of the University of Nebraska, Concord, NE in 2008 and 2009. Sorghum plants were intentionally flamed positioning the burners over the crop rows using five propane doses applied at three growth stages that included 3-leaf (V3), 5-leaf (V5), and 7-leaf (V7). The propane doses evaluated were 0, 13, 24, 44, and 85 kg ha–1 and were applied using a custom-built flamer driven at a constant speed of 6.4 km h–1. Sorghum response was described utilizing visual estimates of crop injury, various yield components (plants m–2, heads plant–1, kernels head–1, and 1000-kernel weight), and grain yield. Sorghum response to flaming varied among crop growth stages and propane doses. Based on the evaluated parameters, sorghum flamed at V5 and V7stages showed higher tolerance compare to V3 stage. The maximum yield reductions with the highest propane dose of 85 kg ha–1 were 11, 6, and 9% for V3, V5, and V7 stages, respectively. Additionally, propane doses that resulted in a 5% yield loss were 13, 72, and 46 kg ha–1 for V3, V5, and V7 stages, respectively, indicating that plants flamed at V5 or V7 stage can tolerate higher dose of propane for the same yield reduction compared to V3 stage. These results suggest that flaming has a potential to be used effectively in organic sorghum production if properly used.
Effects of Flaming and Cultivation on Weed Control and Crop Injury in Soybean
C. Bruening*, B.D. Neilson, G. Gogos, S.M. Ulloa, S.Z. Knezevic, and S.V. Stepanovic.
Propane flaming in combination with cultivation could be a potential alternative tool for weed control in organic soybean production. Field studies were initiated in 2010 at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory (Concord, NE) to determine the level of weed control and crop response to flaming and cultivation utilizing flaming equipment developed at the University of Nebraska. The core treatments included different combinations of banded and broadcast flaming, mechanical cultivation and weed free control. Treatments were applied at the VC (cotyledon) and/or V4 (4th trifoliate) growth stages of soybean. Propane doses were 20 and 45 kg/ha for the banded and broadcast flaming treatments, respectively. The operating speed for all treatments was 4.8 km/h (3 miles/hour). Crop response was evaluated visually at 1 and 7 days after treatment (DAT), and effects on yield components and total yield were evaluated at harvest. Weed control was evaluated as visual injury at 1, 7, 14, and 28 DAT, and weed dry matter was recorded at crop physiological maturity. The combination of mechanical cultivation and banded flaming applied at both VC and V4 stages provided good weed control (75%) and one of the lowest crop injury levels (5%). Weed dry matter for the combination treatment was about 20 g/m2 compared to 250-350 g/m2 for the other treatments. The broadcast flaming treatment applied at the VC stage only, presented one of the lowest crop injuries; however, it showed the lowest yield due to weed competition from subsequent weed emerging flushes. Other treatments had similar yields compared with the weed free control of 2.9 t/ha. Combination of intra-row flaming and inter-row cultivation conducted twice (at VC and V4 stages of soybean) seems to be the best treatment for both weed control and crop safety. Studies will be repeated during the 2011 season.
Tolerance of Sweet Corn to Broadcast Flaming at Different Growth Stages
Santiago M. Ulloa, Avishek Datta, Stevan Z. Knezevic.
Propane flaming could be a potential alternative tool for weed control in organic sweet corn production. However, sweet corn tolerance to broadcast flaming must be determined first in order to optimize the use of propane. Therefore, field studies were initiated at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory, Concord, NE in 2008 and 2009 to determine sweet corn response to five propane doses applied at three different growth stages, including: V2 (2 leaves), V5, and V7. The propane doses included were 0, 12, 24, 42, and 75 kg/ha (0, 2.5, 5, 8.5, and 15 gal/acre). Flaming treatments were applied utilizing an ATV mounted flamer moving at a constant speed of 6.5 km/h (4 m/h). The response of sweet corn to propane flaming was evaluated in terms of visual injury ratings (1, 7, 14, and 28 DAT), plant height reduction, effects on yield components (plants/m2, tillers/plant, cob/plant, cob length, and numbers of seeds/cob), and fresh marketable yield. Based on yield reduction, V7 was the most tolerant and V2 was the least tolerant stage for broadcast flaming. For example, a 5% yield reduction was evident with 23, 25, and 36 kg/ha doses of propane for V2, V5, and V7 growth stages, respectively. These results suggest that flaming has a great potential to be used effectively in organic sweet corn production.
A Hundred and One Nutritionists?
By Dr. Richard Holliday, DVM
A TMR (Total Mixed Ration) a standard feeding strategy for most large and many small dairies has many advantages for dairy farmers. Grouping cows according to common characteristics allows formulation of a daily diet based on the average needs of the group. With a TMR you can quickly and easily reformulate the ration to use different commodities or ingredients as price and availability change. A TMR is easy to feed, as everything is rolled up into a neat ‘one-bag-fits-all’ package. Dairiers and nutritionists like the precision of a computer printout of nutritional factors, and the control it gives them over the animal’s diet.
All of the above advantages enhance the convenience and control of the managers, but is it really the best way to feed dairy cows?
Remembering that you don’t get something for nothing, what are the negative paybacks for the convenience of using a TMR? Unfortunately, a TMR may push way more protein than is healthy for ruminants, and not allow the opportunity to adjust their need for fiber in the diet. Bad feet, reproductive problems and lowered longevity seem to go hand-in-hand with the push for high production.
Perhaps the most meaningful word in the above list of TMR benefits is AVERAGE. TMRs are designed to fit the average cow. If a cow does not exactly match the average, she will either have specific nutrient excesses or deficiencies to deal with. There is so much variation in individual nutritional needs that it is doubtful that we could adjust a TMR to accommodate most of the group. Although some variation is acceptable, in a large group it is theoretically possible that no animal will receive its exact needs. Reducing the size of the group helps, as it tightens up the spread of individual variation. If we carry the ‘smaller group is better’ idea to its extreme, we would need a ration for each individual cow. To go even further over the edge we might need one nutritionist for each cow. How cool would that be?
Obviously, an individual ration for each cow is impractical, if not impossible, but it does raise an interesting question. What if we could provide a basic feeding strategy that addressed the needs of each individual cow for a balance of all nutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water?
All animals have the intrinsic ability to balance their nutritional needs if appropriate choices are provided. Below are some steps to build on our nutritional knowledge by taking advantage of the animal’s nutritional wisdom.
• Use a TMR or a modified TMR to provide basic nutrition. Remember that a cow is a ruminant, so keep the grain to roughage ratio as low as possible
• Provide a separate free-choice source of fiber.
• Provide a free choice source of individual minerals.
• Feed a high quality prebotic or probiotic.
There are several advantages to this kind of feeding strategy:
• The animals are healthier and stay in the herd longer.
• Providing a free-choice source of minerals insures that each animal has the chance to balance their mineral needs. Trace minerals are the basis for enzymes which are the spark-plugs that enable all metabolic processes. Balance is important – excess can be as damaging as deficiencies.
• Feeding probiotics increases the digestibility and utilization of all feedstuffs. You get more nutrition from your home-grown feeds and need to buy less off-the-farm commodities. This equals more profit.
The bottom line is: You don’t need a hundred and one nutritionists if you allow your cows to be part of your nutritional management team.
Doc Holliday has been actively involved in promoting organic agriculture and holistic veterinary medicine for over 45 years and is currently the Senior Veterinary Consultant for Helfter Feeds, Inc, of Osco, Illinois.
The Coming Global Food Fight
By John Cavanagh and Robin Broad
As aggression mounts with the rise of food prices worldwide, small-scale farms rooted in local markets could avert international disaster—and lead the way to “food democracy.”
Food prices around the world are surging. Between July of last year and this January alone, the price of wheat has doubled. Indeed, the cost of food has now passed the record levels of 2008, when angry citizens staged huge protests in dozens of countries. Currently, protesters across the Middle East include lowering food prices among their demands. When prices go up even a bit, millions more people starve.
The local organic farmers with whom we have been spending time in the Philippines and elsewhere are less affected by these price swings precisely because they consume much of what they harvest, and they sell the rest to local markets. These farmers have achieved at the household level what Frances Moore Lappé terms “food democracy,” and what the small farmer coalition, Via Campesina calls “food sovereignty” at a national level.
A country has “food sovereignty” when its people consume safe and nutritious food largely grown by their own small farmers. Significantly fewer countries sustain this sovereignty today than a generation ago. The reigning development model pushed by World Bank and other experts has left many countries exporting more cash crops like flowers and gourmet vegetables, and importing more of their staple foods.
But there is more to food sovereignty than freedom from imports. In richer countries, food purchases make up a relatively small percent of household budgets. Here in the United States, we spend an average of only seven percent of our budgets on food, although that number rises in poor urban neighborhoods.
In Tunisia and Egypt, however, the average person spends more than a third of their household budget on food, and thus more people feel food price hikes daily in the pits of their stomachs.
As in most countries, Egyptians used to grow what they ate domestically. Today, Egypt is one of the world’s largest wheat importers— bringing in over half the wheat it consumes from elsewhere. As a result, ordinary Egyptians are now extremely vulnerable to catastrophic global weather events and manipulative trading by speculators on commodity futures markets. Wheat prices are spiking in part because of recent droughts in China and flooding in Australia. The food markets in poorer nations feel the consequences of these price hikes immediately.
A Snapshot of Global Grain Dependence
Worldwide, the majority of people get the bulk of their calories from basic grains. In almost all countries, this means wheat, rice, or corn. We decided to look at the degree to which countries have become dependent on importing these critical foods. We were stunned by the results.
Haiti imports more than 80 percent of its number one grain: rice. Tunisia and Morocco both import about three-quarters of the wheat their people consume. In Mexico, the birthplace of corn, the North American Free Trade Agreement ripped open the market. Mexicans now buy most of their corn from the United States.
Rice-eating nations are usually more resilient. They tend to grow the vast majority of this staple, making import dependence low. But in the Philippines, where we have spent considerable time on local farms imports account for as much as a sixth of rice consumption. In 2008, rising rice prices set the entire nation on edge. Responding to citizen concerns about such intense vulnerability to global markets, the new government has set ambitious goals on eliminating rice imports within three years. They project much lower rice imports this year.
Big-Picture Solutions From Small-Scale Farming
There are food sovereignty lessons to be learned from sub-Saharan Africa, made up of those countries that lie south of the protest belt in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Most of these nations are less import-dependent when it comes to food than nations in Latin America and Asia, and so are less affected by spiraling prices. In addition, there is evidence that, as food costs have risen in several of these sub-Saharan countries, people are returning to native-grown cassava and sorghum in place of expensive imported food.
But mainstream pundits are now counseling these countries to further enmesh themselves in the global economy. While the World Bank continues to push trade-dependent agriculture, hundreds of groups from ActionAid to the Oakland Institute and Food First are promoting alternatives.
The UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food has been gathering evidence from 57 poorer nations where innovative non-chemical techniques have been used to boost food production. Special Rapporteur Olivier de Schutter sums up the findings: “We won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.”
There is a ray of hope that penetrates the crisis for import-dependent countries: While millions are suffering as the result of volatile development models, the food emergency of 2011 can convince more countries to reject conventional “wisdom” that says exporting and importing more is the right path to food security.
In many countries like the Philippines, local farmers growing healthy and chemical-free foods are on the rise and are taking over increasing shares of local and national markets.
There is a great deal that governments can do to boost such rooted, sustainable farms, from investing in irrigation and retraining agricultural extension workers, to rejecting trade agreements that pry open food markets.
Today, thousands of people in the streets of Morocco and other Middle Eastern nations are demanding lower food prices as well as democracy. It is time to say “no” to food vulnerability and to reinvigorate rooted farms all over the world.
John Cavanagh and Robin Broad wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Robin is a Professor of International Development at American University. John is on leave from directing the Institute for Policy Studies and is co-chair of the New Economy Working Group. This story has been published under a Creative Commons license and made available by Foodforethought.
The February-March 2011 ATTRA news focuses on growing organic small grains. It is chock-full of great information. We are reprinting a few great sections here.
Reasons to Consider Organic Grain Production:
1. Farmers must innovate and experiment on their own farms. This can be a rewarding challenge.
2. Organic production means less pesticide exposure for farmers and their families.
3. Organic production requires increased crop diversity, which adds income sources and helps break pest cycles.
4. When done correctly, organic production can improve the health of the soil. With the increase in organic matter, there is increased nutrient availability, less soil crusting, and better water infiltration.
5. Fewer annual purchases of synthetic fertilizer and herbicide mean greater returns per acre and less need for a large annual operating loan. Per-acre returns can be the same or better than in conventional farming.
6. Cash-crop yields can compare to 90 to 100% of conventional-system yields once the rotation is established.
7. Demand for organic grains is strong. Prices paid to organic producers have historically been greater than those paid to conventional producers.
8. NRCS-EQIP funds may be available to help offset any costs of conversion, such as seed costs for cover crops.
9. Programs may be available to offset costs of certification.
10. Most farmers in the organic community are friendly and willing to share advice. Linking with other farmers in the region is critical for success.
Top 10 Tips for Growing Organic Small Grains:
1. Maintain or increase soil organic matter by reducing tillage and using cover crops and green manures.
2. Test soils for nutrient availability on a regular basis. Harvesting grain removes nutrients from the system. These nutrients must eventually be replaced.
3. Provide nitrogen by growing green manure legume . Provide all other essential nutrients from organic fertilizer sources.
4. Provide as many nutrients as possible from biological sources, such as animal manure, green manure legumes, compost, and cover crops. Mined organic fertilizer sources such as rock phosphate are often expensive and have low nutrient availability.
5. Consider livestock as part of the crop system. Manure is a good source of phosphorus and organic matter.
6. Reduce soil water loss in arid regions by terminating green manures before they use too much water. Maximize catchment of snow in the winter by cutting straw higher at harvest, leaving taller stubble.
7. Minimize fallow periods. When possible, provide ground cover, minimize erosion, and add biomass.
8. Use multiple techniques for weed suppression, including tillage, variety selection, increased plant spacing and density, and crop rotation. Farmers with serious perennial weed problems, such as Canada thistle or field bindweed, should not consider organic production until these weeds are under control.
9. Be aware that pest and disease pressure will increase with increased humidity and temperature.
10. Diversify the crop rotation as much as possible. A diverse rotation is essential to break pest cycles, spread out financial risk and maintain soil health.
Resources for Organic Small-Grain Producers:
ATTRA’s Organic Small Grains webinar is free online.
From Conventional to Organic Cropping: What to expect during the transition years. From Montana State University Extension.
Iowa State University’s Long Term Agroecology Research Site compares conventional and organic grain and bean rotations.
Ohio State University’s Organic Food and Farm Educational Research.
Organic Field Crop Handbook is available from the Canadian Organic Association.
Montana State University’s Soil Nutrient Management on Organic Grain Farms in Montana.
Small-Scale Grain Raising. An organic guide to growing, processing, and using nutritious whole grains for home gardeners and local farmers. By Gene Logdson, Chelsea Green, 2009.
University of Manitoba’s website on various crop rotations in no-till and organic systems.
University of Minnesota’s Farm Financial Database: 2009 Organic Farm Performance in Minnesota
University of Nebraska’s Organic Working Group conducts organic grain variety trials at various locations.
News Briefs: State of Organic Seed Report Released
Organic Seed Alliance recently released an extensive report, “State of Organic Seed: Advancing the Viability and Integrity of Organic Seed Systems,” analyzing the challenges and opportunities in building the organic seed sector.
Alfalfa and the GE Battle Continues
March 18, 2011: Attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency’s recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE) “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa was unlawful. There continues to be universal condemnation of the USDA decision and many organizations are working together to develop strategies and tactics to turn back the GE tide that will deny consumers and farmers the choice of what to eat and how to farm. More news, facts and resources can be found at the following websites:
Second EQIP Organic Initiative - Sign-up for 2011 - Deadline May 20th
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced there is a second opportunity to apply for the EQIP Organic Initiative. There are funds available that have been set aside specifically for organic producers, and this is an excellent opportunity to work on conservation issues with cost share from the NRCS. Farmers also benefit from the extensive expertise that the NRCS can offer on conservation activities, engineering to prevent soil erosion and grazing systems to increase production while protecting our natural resources. Get in touch with your local NRCS office soon to learn more.
Simply Organic 1% Fund
The Simply Organic 1% fund is available to support research into organic production methods and crop improvement; educating farmers on organic growing techniques, certification standards and documentation; educating the public on the value of organic agriculture; developing projects that help organic farmers to be more efficient, produce better products, and add value to their products. Electronic applications may be submitted. No proposal deadline is specified.
Updated NOP Program Handbook Released
The National Organic Program (NOP) recently released an updated version of the Program Handbook, a resource to clarify existing Federal organic requirements and offer best practices to help the regulated industry comply. The latest edition of the handbook includes policy memos, or formal communications addressed to the public concerning a specific regulatory requirement.
High Tunnel Production Manual Online
A revised version of the Minnesota High Tunnel Production Manual for Commercial Growers is now available online. The manual, developed by the University of Minnesota, contains sections on risk management, high tunnel structures, crop production, cultural practices and marketing. Hard copies of the publication are not yet available, but individual chapters can be downloaded as PDF files.
Guide to State Poultry Processing Regulations
The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network has introduced a Guide to State Poultry Processing Regulations that provides a summary of state laws and regulations related to poultry processing, links to useful state-specific resources, and contact information for the relevant agencies.
USDA Seeks Nominations for National Organic Advisory Board
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations to fill five imminent vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Vacancies for the 15-member organic advisory board need to be filled for an organic producer, organic handler, consumer/public interest representative, scientist, and environmentalist. Appointed persons will serve a 5-year term of office beginning Jan. 24, 2012. Written nominations, with cover letters and resumes, include endorsements or letters of recommendations, must be postmarked on or before July 17, 2011. Send entire application to Katherine E. Benham, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 2646-S, Ag Stop 0268, Washington, D.C. 20250. For more information, contact Katherine Benham at (202) 205-7806; e-mail: Katherine.email@example.com
Cover Crop Decision Tool Available Online
The Midwest Cover Crop Council has released the Cover Crop Decision Tool, a web-based system to assist farmers in selecting cover crops to include in row crop rotations. The current version, for Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, identifies appropriate cover crops by attribute at the county level.
Updated Pesticide Database
Pesticide Action Network North America has updated their pesticide residue database, “What’s On My Food?” with the latest chemical and toxicology data –including a new dimension that tracks bee-toxic pesticides.
Are We Drinking the Pesticides Sprayed on Wisconsin’s Crops?
A Special Report: Pesticides in Wisconsin Food and Water outlining the danger of pesticides in drinking water focuses on a 2007 study that estimated that one out of every three private wells in Wisconsin contains detectable levels of agricultural pesticides and their metabolites. The article by Lynn Markham, highlights organic potato farmers.
Organic Industry Loses Leaders
The organic industry lost two great pioneers recently. Bill Welsh, of Lansing, Iowa, died on Feb 24th at the age of 81. Bill certified his family’s farm organic in 1980, back “before orgranic was cool.” Early innovators with soil building and conservation, humane animal treatment, and diversified organic livestock production, Welsh Family Farms were founding members of CROPP’s first meat pool, which grew into Organic Prairie in 2003.
Dick Zinniker died on Sunday, April 3rd from complications of a heart condition. He was the owner of the oldest biodynamic farm in the US, the Zinniker Farm in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, which has been a beacon for biodynamics for nearly 70 years. Taking the farm over from his father in 1962, Dick and his wife Ruth were renowned for their stellar farming methods and commitment to educating others.
We honor both Bill and Dick and thank them for their work and inspiration.
House Organic Caucus Reactivated
Freshman representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) joined long-time caucus co-chairs, representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Ron Kind (D-WI) to re-form the U.S. House of Representatives Organic Caucus. The caucus will provide pertinent information to members and their staffs about organic farming and the organic industry.
For Sale: John Deere 400 rotary hoe, 20’ wide, folding wings, very good condition. $1600.00 OBO. Vinton, Iowa. 319-474-2279.
For Sale: Howard Rotavator M-100, 1000 PTO, new knives plus spares; fair shape. $2900.00 firm. Dave. 608-397-4979.
For Sale: John Deere 725 4 or 6 row front mount cultivator on John Deere 4010 LP. Will sell separately. New Albin, Iowa. 563-544-4391.
For Sale: Red Dragon 12 row 30” flamer, hydraulic fold, 500 gallon tank, stored inside. Located in central Illinois, transport available. $4900.00. 217-229-3013.
For Sale: White 6100 8 row wide planter, v-fold, double liquid fertilizer application. $9000.00 OBO. 641-751-2225.
For Sale: John Deere 230 28' disc, anchor roller mill, Kovar 60' weeder, International 4186 tractor 4wd, International Truck 700 manure spreader, Dynamin (2-pallets). Bloomer, Wisconsin. Contact: Culver Farms. 715-568-3758.
For Sale: Like new GA 3200 Kuhn rotary rake; MF 5-14 steerable; IHC 4-14 steerable; JD 494 4rw, 290, 999 planters; pull type 4 section rotary hoe; JD 4rw cultivator; JD 55 combine, cab, cornhead; Case 2-14 pull plow. All very good. 641-751-8382.
For Sale: Sukup 9400 6RN, high speed cultivator. Used on organic row crops with excellent results. Reason for selling: going to 8-row Sukup. Juneau, Wisconsin. 920-887-7491.
For Sale: Kovar 30’ coil tine harrow. Hagie high clearance tractor with 16’ sickle. $2500 each. 920-228-0056
For Sale: Buffalo Cultivator 6300, 12/30, cutaway discs, ridging wings, Acura Trak guidance system, located in NE Iowa, 414 687 4536
For Sale: White row crop cultivator 16 row, 22” $2500, OBO; flamer 16 row, 22” $5000, OBO; 2-self-propelled Massey swathers: 775 – 21’ $2800, OBO; 665 – 18’ $2300, OBO; Buffalo 3 point row finder $750, OBO. All equipment in good shape. Bob Henneman. 320-834-4049 or 320-491-9337.
For Sale: Buffalo cultivator, 4 row, 6 row, 8 row & 12 row. 320-221-2266 or 612-290-8436.
FREE: Two Rochester Stave silos, for taking them down. 16x60, 18x60. 715-452-5817.
For Sale: Howard Rotavator, Model HR41, 120”, have both C and L blades. Excellent condition. $12,500.00. Harlan, Iowa. 712-744-3241 or 712-579-0169.
For Sale: Rest your hoe. Small tractor, single low, person controlled, rotating tine weeder. Works great. $2700 OBO. 712-830-5245.
For Sale: 3pt hitch; 2 man operated seeder or pumpkin planter $325.00. Don
For Sale: 20 head black/white face 2010 calves. 11 months old. Grass-fed. Storm Lake, Iowa. David Williams. 712-732-7405.
For Sale: 14 breeding age, Holstein/Swiss cross heifers. Dave Eggen, Westby, WI. 608-632-1869.
For Sale: Alfalfa grass hay; Indiana certified organic. Sparta, Michigan. Jay. 616-260-9838.
For Sale: Organic MOSA certified hay, 50 bales, RFQ 144; 126 bales RFQ 93; 20 bales straw rot-cut 800#, net wrapped. Ogema, Wisconsin. 715-767-5388.
For Sale: Organic certified dairy quality dry hay. Baleage & round bales. All lots tested. Low potassium available. NE Iowa, Lansing. 563-586-2231.
For Sale: MOSA-certified organic hay. Wrapped big squares or round bales. Special price if paid for in 2010. Can deliver or will store for future delivery. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Tim at Damar Farms. 715-797-3914.
For Sale: Certified organic alfalfa and alfalfa/grass hay. 3x3x8 bales. Several lots available. 1st-4th cuttings. RFQ 120-273. Lynn Brakke, Moorhead, MN. 701-491-0207.
For Sale: Organic alfalfa hay and oat straw. 2010 3rd crop, large 7’ square bales, stored inside. 31 bales of hay; 47 bales of straw. Westby, Wisconsin. We load, you haul. Charley 608-634-3860 or Tom 608-634-2118.
For Sale: MOSA certified organic hay 3x3x7 bales, stored inside. Various quality and prices. Also 200 small square bales of alfalfa with grass, RFV 147. Alma, Wisconsin. Marv. 608-685-3345.
For Sale: Grass/Alfalfa Mix and Grass Hay For Sale. Analysis Available. Certified Organic. Call Randy. 612-669-6892.
For Sale: Certified organic alfalfa and alfalfa/grass hay. 3x3x8 bales. Good test results. Located in Linton, North Dakota. Dave Silbernagel. 208-867-9939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Sale: Organic hay, straw and oats. Dry & silage bales. Sno-Pac Farms – delivery available. 507-725-5281.
For Sale: Certified organic corn, ear corn or shelled, $10/bushel up to 1600 bushels available. Certified organic hay, 1st crop, 300 small squares, $1.75/bale. Ray Borntreger. N2955 State Road 54, Melrose, Wisconsin. 54642-8133.
For Sale: Certified organic oats. 39# test weight. Dave Silbernagel. Linton, North Dakota. 208-867-9939 or email@example.com.
For sale: MOSA certified organic oats. Igl Farms, Antigo, WI. 715-627-7888.
For sale: Organic feed, wrapped and dry hay big bales, corn, oats, barley, roasted and regular soybeans. Can deliver 608-574-2160 Lorraine Johnson
For Sale: Productive 202 acres intelligently designed sustainable ready for organic certification. OM @ 6-7 inch depth up to 6.86% tested by Brookside Labs. 20 paddocks/water & hi-tensile ele fence 30x30 shop, barn, drive-thru barn/granary. 2 story solar envelope home. Steve Carmichael. REMAX Priority One. 660.254.1612. 800-752-5461.
For Sale: 35 acres, 23 field, 2 organic, developed, 21 fallow, protected, 12 acres woods. Never rented, no chemicals in 11 years. Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Paul. 920-206-0045.
For Sale: 22 acres. Certifiable. Close to Mt. Tabor. Ranch house, attached garage, walk-in basement, insulated shed. Two story barn, insulated shop, well. $125,000. 608-489-3201.
For Sale: Edgar WI. +/- 115 acre organic dairy and horticultural farm. 60 Acres are cropland and the remaining acres are wooded. The dairy is a grazing dairy with established paddocks and a parlor set up. The horticultural farm consists amongst others of a new 2010 greenhouse. In addition mature raspberries, blue and black berries and asparagus. With older comfortable 5 bedroom home. Additional organic acres at close proximity are available for rent. 608-231-1514.
For Sale: Central WI. +/- 240 acre organic farm with good soils. This freestall/parlor dairy has a high producing herd of cows and comfortable home. Dairy will sell with cows, feed and full line of equipment. Opportunity to certify the dairy herd still remains. 608-231-1514.
For Sale: 39 organic acres in the Coulee region, 16 tillable and 23 woods. Magnificent views on top of ridge, perfect air, water and soil. 608-625-2741.
For Rent: Country home and farm with organic acreage bordering Kickapoo River. We wish to rent our 3-bedroom home with outbuildings and several acres in rural Steuben, Crawford County Wisconsin. The home features a large kitchen-family room (with stove and refrigerator), living room with stone
fireplace, 3 small bedrooms, bath and full basement. Rent $490 per month. Also available adjacent to the home is a large 2-story barn, chicken coop, silo and corncrib with approx. 3 - 5 acres of fallow farmland suitable for organic production. Please call: John Rosenheim 847-826-1629 or email.
For Sale: beautiful 150 acre farm in Mt. Pleasant Township, Green County, WI. 103A tillable (84 certified organic), 40A woods, 4BR house on 3A, $800,000. 38 mi. south of Madison; 128 mi. from Chicago.
Want to Rent: 1-20 acres of land in southern Wisconsin for diversified CSA farming - primarily veggies, with potential for small-scale livestock and perennials. Email Dennis Fiser.
For Sale: Garlic tincture, 1 quart $70.00, 16 oz $40.00, 8 oz $25.00, while supply lasts. Send check with order for 10% discount. Free shipping.
Wanted: Buyer who would buy 5000-10,000 broilers annually. Organically raised. Call Brian 920-206-9725.
For Sale: Weeds are a product of poor soil environments. The book “Weeds and Why They Grow” lists over 800 weeds and factors encouraging their growth. Other control tips included. 116 pgs, $25 postpaid. Contact: McCaman Farms, PO Box 22, Dept OG, Sand Lake, MI, 49343-9554. 800-611-2923.
For Sale: Organic transplants –commercial/home garden. Onions, peppers, tomatoes, brassicas, herbs, flowers and more. Call, email or write for a list of varieties with prices, quantities available and delivery options. Harriet Behar, 42399 Patton Road, Gays Mills, WI. 54631. 608-872-2487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Return to TOP