This victory is the culmination of a vision that CT NOFA has had since 2006, and a cause we have actively worked on with our coalition partners for the past 2 years. Besides CT NOFA, the coalition includes GMO Free CT, the Sierra Club of CT, Food and Water Watch, Food Democracy Now and many other Connecticut organizations and farms.
In addition to the whirlwind of activity surrounding the passing of the GMO labeling legislation, we have been hard at work planning our summer and fall educational programs. Please be sure to scroll down and take a look at our full list of upcoming workshops and courses. If you are a landscaper, gardener, farmer or just plain interested, there is something on the schedule for you.
New this month in Gleanings is a separate section on School Garden News. We want all our readers to have a chance to read about all the great things happening in the school garden movement in Connecticut.
And please save the date for CT NOFA's Winter Conference on March 8, 2014 at Wilton High School. We are extremely fortunate that Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, will be the keynote speaker. He is a longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture and also continues to manage his family's 2,600-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota. Our 2013 conference was an unprecedented success and our 2014 conference promises to be even bigger and better.
Your support enables us to carry on our work and we thank you. If you have not already done so, please consider donating to our Spring Appeal, which is continuing through June 21. All donors of $100 or more will be entered into a drawing to win a women's or men's Patagonia jacket in your choice of size. Please read more about our Spring Appeal here.
For Father's Day, wedding showers, or high school graduations, please consider the gift of CT NOFA membership. All gift memberships in June will be acknowledged with a letter to the recipient and include a CT NOFA cookbook or t-shirt.
Our 31 years promoting local and organic food, farms, gardens and land care will help ensure a healthier future for us, our children and our planet - the highest priority for so many.
Thank you for being part of the CT NOFA family and spreading the organic message,
"Garden," was Michael Pollan's short answer to the NYTimes' blogger's question: "Aside from eating fermented foods, and not going nuts with the Purell, is there anything else that you recommend to improve your microbiome?" Read the full article here.
He added, "The exposure to soil is probably a good thing and, unless you live in a Superfund site, gardening is a good way to safely increase your "microbial pressure" on a daily basis. Having a dog may be a good thing too ."
This interview was a follow-up to his NY Times Magazine cover story "Some of My Best Friends are Germs," in which he describes the microbiome which makes up most of our bodies. In round numbers, 90 percent of the cells in our bodies are microbial, that is, are not human. We could not live without them. They inhabit all parts of our bodies. They are especially important in our guts.
The human microbiome. Photo: rationaldiscoveryblog.com
In general, the microbiome, that is the bacteria, fungi and other organisms which live on and in us, on all the surfaces of the planet, indeed, EVERYWHERE on Earth,  doesn't get enough respect or consideration. See more on the human biome in this very interesting book .
Understanding the importance of the microbiome helps us connect such seemingly disparate things as why organic methods work and why so many people report getting better from a range of symptoms when they stop eating foods that contain GMOs, foods derived from genetic engineering.
That understanding reinforces the importance of local, organic food and organic methods of growing food. (This recent NYTimes article provides validation of the theory and practice of organic growing .) More>
CT NOFA's Organic Advocate, Bill Duesing, is available to share his expert opinion as a long time organic farmer, founder of CT NOFA, and president of the NOFA Interstate Council. He can come to speak at your event for $300 plus mileage from Oxford, CT. To book Bill Duesing as a speaker, call us at 203.888.5146 or email email@example.com
Learn from the organic apple expert, Michael Phillips about fruit tree health in orchards and edible landscapes! This is an Organic Land Care Advanced Workshop for professionals and advanced gardeners. Learn more and register here. Read our blog post about the workshop here!
Greg Hazelton is the owner/farmer at Copper Hill Farm in West Suffield, CT and a CT NOFA Board Member. Greg will teach about raising organic pasture-raised pigs. He will also offer perspective on managing a diversified organic farm producing heirloom vegetables as well as livestock, and working as a "one man team."
Joan Allen is a Diagnostician at UConn's Home and Garden Education Center out of the UConn cooperative extension system. Joan will be teaching about pest and disease identification in the late summer months.
Eero Ruutilla, the Technical Assistance and Incubator Farm Site Coordinator at New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Masschussetts and one of CT NOFA's Journeyperson mentors, will teach about cover cropping and rotation to promote soil fertility.
Presenter: Erin Pirro a Farm Credit East Business Consultant (Full description coming soon!) Stick around for a CSA Roundtable / Lite Potluck. If you have a CSA, or are considering starting a CSA, bring a light dish and come with questions, stories from experience and advice. If you are interested in leading the roundtable or being a facilitator, please let us know!
Save the date! Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care
Yard to Table Landscape designs and installs edible and sustainable gardens that are beautiful too. Whether you are interested in planting vegetables, herbs, fruit and nut trees to seamlessly blend into your landscape OR you want traditional garden beds, we can work with you to make your ideas grow. We have the goal of promoting ecological stewardship by planting native species, sharing local knowledge and fostering organic land care practices.
Learn more about Yard to Table Landscape and their products and services here.
To our regular readers of Growing and Learning, we're glad you're here! And to those of you who are new to CT NOFA's School Garden Network, welcome!
CT NOFA and those in our School Garden Network have long known the benefits of having a garden on school grounds. Not only is a garden a great educational tool, encompassing many subject areas and letting students apply what they are learning in a practical manner, but gardens immerse children in the natural environment, and in the case of vegetable gardens, they connect children to the food they eat.
Just in time to introduce our new readers to - and reaffirm our regular readers' belief in - the concept of school gardens, this article arrived in my inbox from Organic Gardening. Take a look, and see Why School Gardens Matter.
3rd Annual Lettuce Challenge Last month, the Stamford Garden Club sponsored their 3rd Annual Lettuce Challenge for the Stamford schools in conjunction with G.I.V.E. Entries were judged and were displayed in the lobby of the Stamford Government Center. In addition, a recognition ceremony was held. You can view the results of the students' hard work here.
Urban Oaks Growing Green School Program
With the help of Urban Oaks Growing Green School Program, New Britain now has three burgeoningelementary school gardens that follow CTNOFA Organic Land Care (OLC) standards. In addition to
Lincoln School in its third year, Chamberlain School and Smalley School also have school gardens that
were quite successful this year in raising abundant spinach planted in early November, and lately salad greens, mosty lettuce varieties. Visit their Facebook page to see the students learning and having fun in their gardens.
Also, Urban Oaks is currently seeking 2 head teachers and at least 2 assistant teachers for their summer education program. Click here for more details.
Hart Seed Donation Program Could your school use free vegetable and flower seed packets for science lessons, classroom projects or your school garden?
The Chas. C. Hart Seed Company would like to help! Located in Old Wethersfield, CT since 1892, the Hart Seed Company is owned and operated by members of the fourth and fifth generations of the Hart family. They have recently developed a Donations Department in order to distribute surplus inventory from their previous season to agencies and schools.
If you are interested in the program, fill out the form and return to Hart Seed. Shipping costs do apply. And the people at Hart Seed would love to hear back from you with the results of your school projects!
We'd love to share your school garden with our readers! Feel free to send me any articles, news, photos or any questions you may have. And don't forget to check out the SGN Facebook page and our School Garden Resource Page for help with your school garden!
It's the growing season, and CT NOFA is growing too! We have outgrown our current office and are looking for a new location within a 10 mile radius of Oxford, CT with a minimum of 700 square feet of office space. Kitchen and meeting space is a plus. If you know of a property that we might be interested in, let us know by emailing Deb or calling 203.888.5146.
CT NOFA would love to hear your suggestions for farmer workshops during this and next growing season! Our on-farm workshops help educate small groups of farmers and gardeners on in-depth topics related to small scale sustainable agriculture. Workshops can be hands-on, lecture-based, or a combination. If you have a suggestion, you can let us know here.
CT NOFA is in the second year of a CSA Support Program for CSA farmers throughout the state. CT NOFA works to promote connections between individual CSA farmers, facilitate farmer-to-farmer education and educate consumers about CSAs and how to join. This CSA support is a program we hope to grow in the future and in order to do so we'd like to know which of our present activities are most important to you, and what activities you think are valuable to add. Please let us know online by clicking here!
Love our blog? Want a chance to get more involved?
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.
The Glastonbury Farmers Market opens in its brand new location on the Hubbard Green in Glastonbury on June29th- 10am to 1pm. The 2013 Market, open every Saturday through October 26th, has tripled in size to include organic local produce and micro greens, Connecticut raised meats and poultry, prize winning Connecticut goat cheese, dairy products, locally made pasta, Connecticut maple syrup and honey, artisanal gifts, flowers and plants, fresh baked goods and gluten free baked goods, fresh roasted and brewed coffees, and live local music to entertain you as you stroll the green. More>
A bill that would mandate labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients passed the House Monday, making Connecticut the first state in the nation to pass this type of legislation. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are crops that have been manually altered using modern technology in order to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides or take on other characteristics such as a longer shelf-life. Connecticut's legislation came in response to a national campaign to mandate labels on foods that contain GMOs. More>
How I Got Hooked on Weeds-and Why You Should, Too When I moved to a small organic farm in 2004, I quickly got hooked on weeds (note plural). First, there would be salads of chickweed-a grassy-tasting plant that popped up just after the ground thawed in spring. Next, from the marshy banks of a creek, tender, peppery watercress would sprout. Soon after, dandelion greens would proliferate, adding a bitter note to those spring weed salads. More>
Doug Grabowski hates Brussels sprouts. He's not alone in that, but one week last summer he had to eat a lot of them. Grabowski buys a share of the crop at the nearby River Crest Farm every year, which ensures he gets vegetables that are fresh from the ground and as local as possible. It also means that if Brussels sprouts are the week's harvest, he gets a lot of them. "It forced me to be creative,'' the Milford man said. "I found a way to make them delicious. They also grow garlic, and I love garlic." More>
Antonio St. Lorenzo and Sean Richardson looked out at a tangled urban jungle. The vacant, contaminated land at Central Avenue and Trowel Street is overgrown with weeds and grass, and features the occasional stray mattress -- an unproductive, 3-acre-plus industrial brownfield in the East End. "You can't build. It's nothing," shouted a man from a passing pickup truck, who seemed to have pegged the nicely dressed businessmen as developers eyeing property. St. Lorenzo and Richardson, however, may be on their way to proving such skeptics wrong. More>
Vilsack announced a number of changes and new initiatives to support the continued growth of organic agriculture, including that the USDA's Risk Management Agency's (RMA) federal crop insurance program will increase coverage options for organic producers this year and provide even more options in 2014, including a contract price addendum as well as new premium price elections for organic crops. Additionally, RMA will remove the current five-percent organic rate surcharge on all future crop insurance policies beginning in 2014. More>
At Danbury Hospital, the push is for fresh food -- the fresher the better. "We want 80 percent of the food we serve to be freshly prepared," said Executive Chef Adam Strauss, of Morrison Healthcare, which has run the hospital's food service for a year. "We'd like to purchase it from suppliers within a 100-mile radius." Increasingly, hospitals, schools and other large institutions are preparing fresh foods. Now, the state Department of Agriculture is seeing the potential for revenue in fresh foods. More>
One of most remarkable things about the GMO-free groups is that up until about a year ago none of them existed. They all started to emerge around the same time as Prop 37, according to Tara Cook-Littman, organizer of GMO-Free Connecticut. "We all had an awakening around the same time," she says. A few years ago Cook-Littman, who is an attorney, would never have imagined getting involved in the GMO fight. "I was a very unlikely candidate and never got involved in politics." Now she says it is the right thing to do. "The universe plopped me here and everything fell into place." More>
Heavy use of the world's most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson's, infertility and cancers, according to a new study. The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of "glyphosate," the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food. More>
Get Ready for Spring Crops! Although you can grow or buy a bounty of foods year-round in Connecticut, now is the time that the season for a wide array of spring and summer crops really starts to pick up. This week as you're contemplating your grocery list, check out the Connecticut Grown calendar available online here to see what's growing in the area right now. More>
Food Traceability: Another Reason to Buy Local Foodborne illness can happen in any environment, whether on a small farm, in your kitchen, or in a huge industrial food supply chain. In industrial ag, however, complications arise because it's often hard to locate the source of a foodborne pathogen. Food Safety News recently featured an article about farm-to-fork traceability - how well recorded the processes are that foods go through during the time between harvest and consumption. More>
Greetings from Pond Hill Farm! As promised, I am here to update you on my adventures at Pond Hill Farm. It has been about three weeks since I have arrived but it has felt like longer. Every day presents countless opportunities to learn something new and appreciate a day of hard work. Before I began my journey to Harbor Springs, MI I was living downstate in the small town of Brooklyn, MI. It was there that I wrote my last post and if you recall, as I wrote I was watching snow flurries fall to the ground. I remember feeling exasperated, ready for spring and slightly worried about what the weather would be like when I arrived four hours north of Brooklyn in Harbor Springs. More>
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.