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April 2010 - part 2

GLEANINGS: n. 1. That which has been acquired by gleaning. 2. The monthly eNewsletter of CT NOFA. [Glean:v. 1. to gather relevant information or material by patient effort, bit by bit; to find out. 2. to gather grain or other produce (often: left by reapers); to harvest.]
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From the Executive Director (cont.)

One hundred and forty people, including Richard Roy the co-chair of the legislature’s environment committee, attended the Connecticut premiere of the movie A Chemical Reaction that we sponsored the day after our conference.  It is clear that our state is in the forefront of the movement to limit exposure and use of pesticides and to use organic methods. 

We’ve sponsored workshops on organic lawn and land care in a dozen venues so far this year and have reached hundreds of people with information about the importance of using organic land care methods and materials. There are now over 500 NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals in 20 states as a result of the five-day courses the Organic Land Care Program sponsored this winter in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island.  See the notice about the new version of the web site, www.organiclandcare.net below.

We were notified that our proposal “Winter Food: Storing, Marketing and Cooking Specialty Crops for the Cold Season” was accepted by the CT Department of Agriculture to submit as part of its Specialty Crop funding proposal to USDA.  (Specialty Crops is the USDA term for the foods we eat as differentiated from commodity crops like corn and soybeans.)  We’ll know definitely about the funding later this year, but the Department was very excited by our proposal.  It will provide two years of educational activities and promotion for farmers and consumers to encourage more growth and sales of winter foods.  The project will start with a conference for farmers, cosponsored with Yale University’s Sustainable Food Project and Dining Services, on November 19, with Eliot Coleman as keynote speaker.

Six of the NOFA chapters, including Connecticut, and MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association just submitted a proposal to the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher program to fund three years of work to spread the best apprenticeship and mentorship practices from Vermont and Maine to the other states and to provide other workshops and activities to support beginning farmers and mentor farmers in this region.  The aim is to make the Northeast THE place for new farmers to learn to farm organically.  Based on the calls to the office from beginning farmers, this project will be very important. 

We’ll be at the State Capitol with a display and on a panel for Earth Day and will be represented at a number of other Earth Day events in April.  See the notice in the upcoming events section about our sponsorship of a showing of Two Angry Moms, about school food, on April 23rd at Ansonia Nature Center. 

Watch this eNewsletter and our web site for notice of our on-farm workshops later this year and for news of Taste! Organic Connecticut and other events.

Thank you for your participation in the wonderful and important work of “Cultivating an Organic Connecticut.”


Guest Columnist (cont.)

This is the time of year gardeners have the most energy and enthusiasm.  After being denied working in the soil all winter, we anxiously wait for the soil to be workable.  My cue is to see the earthworms emerge from the soil.  When I see the little eruptions of that black gold of “worm poop” on any bare soil, I know the worms are up; the soil has thawed and drying from the winter!  As the earthworms emerge, they draw air and water deeper into the soil and bring valuable nutrients to the surface of the soil to feed the plants.  Earthworm castings, or “worm poop”, are very rich in minerals and nitrogen to feed our lawns, plants and trees. 

“Vermaculture” is becoming a large industry to mass produce this black gold to sell in bags at your local garden center.  Earthworm boxes are handy for the home gardener, even for the apartment and condo dweller!  If they are managed right, there is no smell, no mess and much better than an electric garbage disposal.  I have known people to have them in the corner of the kitchen, work room, study or basement.  But the best was in a woman’s closet.  She had it there for four months before telling her husband about it.  He was so impressed that there was no smell and it was working so well, he let it stay, when previously he did not want to have one in the house.  The castings are great fertilizer for indoor plants, as well as outdoor plants.

April is the best time to clean up the edging of the gardens, or establish new ones.  This is a great time to plant perennials, plant cold weather crops of peas, leaf lettuce, broccoli, onions, and spinach.   This is also a great time to clean the shed and garage for the season to be sure of what you have from last year and know where to find things this year.

April is a wonderful month of energy and color.  I hope you enjoy the season by looking at the beauty around you, listen to the bird songs and breathe deeply of the fresh air of spring.

Happy gardening!

Bettylou Sandy
Bettylou’s Gardening
Email:  bettylous.gardening@snet.net

Bettylou Sandy is a CT NOFA Board member, garden coach and educator and one of the most enthusiatic gardeners you'll ever meet.

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Deb Legge
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