GMO/GE News, Action Alerts and Encouraging Stories
This week HB 6519, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Food made it out of the Connecticut Legislature's Public Health Committee with a vote of 23 to 4. Congratulations to the co-sponsors and the committee. It took an awful lot of organizing to get the bill this far.
Our colleagues at GMOFree CT, including many CT NOFA members, were involved all along the way. Click here to learn more and see action alerts. Check out the busy GMO event calendar. Every week there are four or five panels, film showings or gatherings to spread the word about GMOs and the need for labeling. I've been on two panels in just the last week.
It is going to take even more effort to get the bill approved in the House and Senate and then signed by the Governor. Currently the coalition is requesting that you call Governor Malloy and ask him to be a leader on this issue, to proudly help our state make history by being the first, of the 37 states now working on labeling, to require it on genetically engineered food. Call Gov. Malloy at (860) 566-4840 and ask him to lead on HB 6519. See more on the gmofreect site.
You should also talk to your state Representative and Senator to let them know how you feel about the issue. Our friends in the legislature say that is the most productive and important thing you can do.
It is really wonderful that this is not a partisan issue. Labeling has strong supporters and co-sponsors in both parties.
HB 6527, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Baby Food, was previously passed out of the kids committee. They are both worth supporting, but the broader HB 6519 would likely render the Baby Food bill unnecessary.
If you live in Rosa DeLauro's Congressional District, largely New Haven County, please see the action alert here. You can work with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to encourage funding for conservation programs in 2014.
Lastly, there are big changes coming in food safety regulations. Please see this helpful post from our friends at PASA, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. It deserves the attention of all growers during this comment period.
Keep up to date on a bill's progress
If you want to keep up with these labeling bills as they move through the Connecticut process, click here. There you can search for bills by number and you can set up an alert for a bill so that you get an email when its status changes, a vote is taken or an amendment is added. You can also see all the testimony submitted for the public hearing. Note that the Department of Agriculture repeats the biotech promises of several decades ago about fewer pesticides, more yield and drought resistance. It shows just how out of touch the department is with the more pesticides, more serious problems and lower yields that are the reality with GMO use. Read more>
This workshop is designed for participants to share experiences and learn about practices aimed to promote optimal soil health. We will identify factors that contribute to soil nutrient problems, discuss the role of soil testing in promoting soil health, identify ways to address problems and promote practices that increase soil health, and identify next steps to achieve and maintain optimal soil health on participants' farms. Register here. (it is free, but we would like to know how many people are coming), or by email.
CT Food System Alliance Gathering
Tuesday, May 7th
9:30 - 3:30
Middlesex Community College
The day will include: time for networking with other food system leaders and stakeholders, time for task team updates and breakouts, full group discussion about direction of CFSA, and of course a delicious lunch. RSVP your name, org (if applicable), and email toThai Ha-Ngoc.
Garick is a leading manufacturer and distributor of sustainable natural resource products for the consumer, professional, commercial, and construction markets. Their product categories include: soils, soil amendments, mulches, playground surfacing and aggregates used in the production of cement and cement block. They also offer their experienced team of experts to help you with their many services! Garick is a Waste Management company and complements Waste Management's strategy to find alternative uses of green and food wastes that would otherwise find their way to a landfill. Garick and Waste Management are currently diverting organic materials and creating composts that provide a sustainable key ingredient to soils, thereby closing the loop to provide the nutrition needed to grow more healthy plants
Learn more about Garick by visiting their website here.
CT NOFA is actively recruiting volunteers to be part of a sustainable team committed to supporting the incredibly wide array of events and activities we sponsor and get involved with throughout the year. Only with your support can we continue to be a dynamic and growing organization able to participate in all of the state's events and programs committed to organic farming and organic food. That's why we need you to be part of our volunteer team!
Please plan on joining us at either one of our two upcoming volunteer training sessions:
April 7 - 3:00 - 6:00 PM at Auerfarm in Bloomfield CT
April 8 - 5:30 - 8:30 PM at New Morning Market in Woodbury CT
The agenda will be the same at both events and food and drinks will be served. Please join us at the date and time that suits your schedule by registering at ctnofa.org.
Your commitment to our volunteer team is essential to helping CT NOFA reach the entire state with our message. We will have opportunities for you to be active throughout the year to help strengthen and grow our membership base and support the CT NOFA vision. Our plan is to become a regular presence at various farmers markets, open farm days, conferences, fairs and to provide informational brochures to a targeted set of natural food stores and CSAs. We will support you with training and mentoring so that you are comfortable with your role and so that you look forward to your volunteer commitment.
Again, the volunteer training registration site can be found at ctnofa.org.
Thanks and we look forward to working with you!
Debra Sloane - CT NOFA Board Member Responsible for Volunteers
The goal of the New England Meat Conference is to enhance the production, processing, and marketing of sustainable, nutritious, humanely-raised, and delicious meat from New England farms by providing educational and networking opportunities for meat producers, processors and consumers. View the presentations here.
Have you noticed your favorite flower (or most despised weed) sprouting a little earlier than it used to? Heard frogs calling sooner in the spring over the past few years? These trends could be linked to climate change, and scientists want your help in tracking them. Learn more>
Joe Listro, farm manager of Sullivan Farm in New Milford, will show how easy it is to grow leafy greens, including kale, collards, spinach, arugula, mustard greens, Swiss chard and Asian greens, at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 6, in the Wykeham Room of the Gunn Memorial Library, 5 Wykeham Rd. More>
Come learn about the details of the program, including loan terms and application process, and have the opportunity to type questions to the FSA's Senior Loan Specialist, Carrie Novak via chat pod. Carrie will also present basic FSA loan eligibility criteria and review the application form. Sign up for the webinar here, or if you can't make it click here after the webinar to view a recording.
Want to live healthy, green, and sustainable but not sure where to start? Join now, see your score, get personalized suggestion for steps to take and products to use. Compare and share points earned with friends and family. Stay motivated. Have fun! Learn more here.
On Saturday, some 1000 farmers attended the CT Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) Conference at Wilton High school in Wilton, CT. Imagine one thousand farmers under one roof...what a thrill!! Well, at least for me it was. The exchange of knowledge and techniques, the contributing of information. Most important was the sharing of old world, tried and tested methods of farming, passed on from one generation to the next. Some of the topics included: lessons in business for farmers, sustainable living, food preservation, climate change, local home and school gardens, proper land use and care, small-scale agriculture, and basics in beekeeping. More>
Organic farmer launches new farm in Canton, offering organic, non-GMO foods Serafina Says Farm is a new farm offering organically grown, non-GMO, vegetables, sprouts, microgreens and wheatgrass as well as Farm to Table Wellness classes. Serafina Says Farm is farming the historical farmland of Bristol's Farm in Canton, and is part of the Incubator Farmer Program at the Community Farm of Simsbury in Simsbury. More>
At Hunts Brook Farm in Waterford, the green needles of garlic leaves awakened to the lengthening solar rays and poked through the snow at the end of February. By the time the first day of spring arrived, Rob Schacht, who runs the farm with his wife Teresa, had caught up to the garlic shoots leading the way into the new season, and mentally were ready for the digging, planting and harvesting ahead. The Schachts stay busy through the winter repairing equipment, planning for the next season and growing salad greens and spinach in their greenhouses for local restaurants, but the pace is decidedly slower. More>
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food On the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America's largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.'s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. More>
The Community Farm of Simsbury, another 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is an example of how partnerships can thrive during uneven economic times. This town-owned farm was home to an organic dairy business until 2008. A partnership was formed between the town of Simsbury, the Ethel Walker School, and Hartford's Billings Forge Community Works to create the Community Farm of Simsbury, which became responsible for management of the farm by leasing 77 acres, 38 of which are tillable. More>
CT NOFA's 31st Annual Winter Conference We had nearly 800 participants this year, including vendors and presenters. We also were delighted to be joined by State Senator Toni Boucher and State Representative Gail Lavielle! This year we had over 50 workshops - on everything from worm compost to GMO activism to growing garlic to making salsa. With over 60 vendors there was something for everyone! More>
You Can Take Control of the Food System Right Now Food corporations aren't in business to help us eat healthier - they're in business to make money, since they are ultimately accountable to their shareholders. So when big food reassures us that they care about what's in our best interests - namely reducing lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes that stem from over-consumption of their products - that's really only a partial truth. More>
Love our blog? Want a chance to get more involved?
For the first time ever, we are now accepting guest articles to feature on our blog. If you have expertise and passion for organic and sustainable food issues, and experience with writing either on a blog or in another journalistic outlet, you can become a guest blogger for CT NOFA! Interested? Send us an email detailing your relevant experience with writing and sustainable food and, if our needs match, we'll set you up as either a one-time blogger, or a scheduled guest writer.
Sign up for a NOFA credit card through Capital One to support NOFA's important policy work to build a strong, regional organic food system. It's easy! Just shop for things you buy every day and NOFA gets a $50 donation upon first use and at least 1% of all purchases.
If you have any stories, articles, notices, or suggestions for this newsletter, please send them along. Please also note that classifieds and community notices are maintained on our community board. If you have a notice you'd like to add, send it along to the office here.