May 2012
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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.]
 
From the Executive Director

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GMO labeling, Excess Nutrients, Gardens and Climate Change

 

GMO Labeling
The possibility of being the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically engineered food still exists.  We are giving it a last push to encourage a vote before the end of the legislative session next week. 

Join us for a Rally on the west steps of the Capitol, the side facing Bushnell Park, from 11 to 1:30 this Friday May 4 to show widespread support for GMO labeling.  
Please:

1. Let the CT NOFA office or our partner in this effort Analiese Paik know if you are attending and how many people will come with you.
2. Keep this rally about labeling GMOs, the Right to Know what is in our food and Just Label It.  This is not about GMO Free or Non GMO.
3. Call or email your legislators and ask them to attend.

Visit Right to Know CT for more details about the rally and to sign the petition to our leaders encouraging passage of the bill.  See more further down in this newsletter.

Phosphorus

Another bill that is causing much discussion is the bill to limit phosphorus fertilizers on lawns.  Once phosphorus is above optimum in a soil test, it may leak out of the soil and become a pollutant in fresh water, encouraging algae growth and eventual eutrophication of lakes, streams and rivers.

Since it is hard to formulate an organic fertilizer without phosphorus (it occurs in most living things), we are trying to walk a fine line which protects water health and doesn't exclude organic fertilizers.  

The take home message that I've learned in working with Dr. Tom Morris, a UConnn soil scientist, is that we need to be much more sparing in our applications of compost.  Base compost application on soil test results and avoid adding more once optimum levels of phosphorus are reached.  Better to start slowly with compost applications and be able to add more, than to overload your soil with phosphorus from lots of composted manure and come up against a problem with adding organic sources of nitrogen without phosphorus.

The bill in question specifically excludes agriculture and just refers to lawns, but as environmental stewards, it is good to be careful with phosphorus in all applications.

Gardens
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Open Hearth's Wood Yard

 

It was a pleasure to work with Knox Parks in Hartford on their Peoples Garden Project to create a garden at the Wood Yard near the regional market in Hartford. The Wood Yard is a project of Open Hearth, a pioneering organization which has been helping homeless men since 1884. The Wood Yard provides work for many men and a source of renewable fuel for the Hartford area.  Now they will provide some vegetables for the kitchen at Open Hearth.

 

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It was also good to see the gardens at Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet school in New Haven in connection with the community pot luck and a showing of the movie Farmageddon that we co-sponsored.  See this tour of the school gardens courtesy of our school garden eNewsletter, Growing and Learning.

 

Climate Change

The evidence for climate change having significant effects on the weather is becoming clearer to farmers and gardeners.  This draft plan for Connecticut that CT NOFA was a part of creating has lots of information to provide concern about climate change's effects on Connecticut agriculture and recommendations including the value of organic methods of caring for the soil and of a diverse, local food system. This is a draft plan and there is likely an opportunity to comment in the future.