Gleanings Newsletter
September 2016

In This Issue
The Famous CT NOFA
Farm & Food Guide 

Join, renew, or donate online today and be a part of our community of farmers, gardeners, land care professionals, educators, chefs and consumers committed to growing Connecticut organically.

Your donations and up-to-date membership fuels our work growing an organic Connecticut with organic edge education, advocacy and special events that celebrate local foods, farmers and heroes.
 
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To Play or Not to Play 

Jeff Cordulack, CT NOFA
Executive Director 

When I was growing up in Connecticut in the '70s, we had grass, not fake turf. We played on grass playgrounds, we competed on grass athletic fields, and when we were old enough, we were sent out to cut the grass. We were even proud of our grass-stained jeans, knee patches and all.
 
Today, many of our children play sports on synthetic turf fields which are filled with old tires that have been shredded into tiny pieces called "crumb rubber." Crumb rubber is made from the same car tires that we pay to dispose of so they can be re-routed to 'hazardous material' landfills.
 
These are fields that can take your breath away - literally.  Not for their clean lines and beauty but for their VOC-filled fumes and the very high surface temperatures.  The crumb rubber infill used on synthetic turf athletic fields contain carcinogens and this is worrisome since some athletes, who once played on artificial turf, now have cancer.
 
Scores of scientists have published peer-reviewed studies (for example, www.ehhi.org/turf) that demonstrate the hazards these artificial fields pose, along with their excessive costs relative to real grass playing fields.  Yet many towns across Connecticut and the nation continue looking at these replacement fields as a solution for their sports programs. Sadly, some towns even opt for these multi-million dollar products as they cut school teachers, music programs, and other investments in educating the next generation.

For me, this all hits too close to home. I have three children who are great soccer players. This year, after playing in local leagues for years, we hoped to move them up to the travel teams to hone their skills. Well, not so fast. It turns out that our primary choice for travel soccer happens to practice and play all home games on the town's synthetic turf fields. Ugggh. Of all the fields in town, why do the travel team's young players have to play on terrible, toxic fields?

As a loving parent and someone with knowledge about this industry, the decision to ask my kids to skip travel soccer this year was easy. Explaining that decision to my children and my wife - not so easy. Fortunately, they understood my concerns and simply believe that soccer is more fun on real grass.
 
As I lead CT NOFA in the ongoing battle for ecological farming and organic land care, I pause to consider how desperate I'd feel without the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care and the organically-oriented NOFA accredited professionals (AOLCPs). Instead, I am comforted to know that we are connected to hundreds of experts who are out there on the front lines, providing non-toxic solutions and state of the art grass fields, at just half the cost of artificial turf fields.

Facing a similar issue? CT NOFA's Organic Land Care programs and its affiliated experts just may be able to help you as you fight off the next fake turf proposal, locate a non-toxic turf professional, or simply help you get the facts straight about how athletic fields can have real grass without synthetic toxins.

United we stand (on real grass fields) and divided we fall (on ground up car tires). Life is short - let us play on grass!

Please contact me anytime to discuss fake turf, organic agriculture or any other issues related to CT NOFA's mission to ensure the growth of organic agriculture, organic foods, and organic land care in Connecticut - and beyond!
 
Sincerely,
Jeff Cordulack,
Executive Director, CT NOFA
jeff@ctnofa.org | 203-613-8813 
 
 
Whole Farm Planning Certificate Course ~ Applications Open Soon!  
CT NOFA's Whole Farm Planning Certificate Course is a multi-week, intensive training course for farmers who aspire to improve their business and farm management practices.

farm_sign_vegetables.jpgAlong with passion, drive and very hard work, creating and growing a sustainable farm business requires expert training and planning. CT NOFA's Whole Farm Planning Certificate Course is designed to help you realize the farm of your dreams by teaching the business and planning skills needed to run farms sustainable and profitably. Farmer and lead instructor Sherry Simpson has trained farmers to run successful businesses for seven years through intensive classroom and hands-on training.  This year's 10-week course starts October 29, 2016 and occurs approx. every three  weeks on Saturdays through May 13, 2017.

Applications open in September so now is the time to let us know you are interested in more info! To be the first to know when applications are open, please email: ctnofa@ctnofa.org or leave a message at the office: 203-308-2584. See y'all soon!

Agricultural Justice Project Offers 'Food Justice' Certification

To bring attention to the importance of fair pricing for farm products that fully covers the cost of production and the need for respect and living wages for all jobs in the organic supply chain, Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) has developed a market-based food label for social justice and economic equity that is starting to appear on products in NY and throughout the country. NOFA is a founding partner of the AJP, a collaborative, non-profit initiative to create fairness and equity in our food system through social justice standards for organic and sustainable agriculture. Visit: www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org to learn more about this important topic or click here for the NOFA MASS article about it.
Multiple Purpose Cover Cropping
By Bill Duesing, CT NOFA Founder & Organic Advocate

Bill Duesing with a seven-foot-tall white sweet clover plant in its second year when it is good for honeybees. Its deep roots break up compacted soil while fixing nitrogen, controlling erosion, and suppressing weeds.
There are numerous good reasons to plant cover crops in your garden or on your farm. And fall is the ideal time to plant cover crops. These crops, also called green manures, grains, legumes or forage crops, provide a wide range of benefits including:
  • Great beauty
  • A good way to get more carbon into the soil
  • Beneficial soil covering to control erosion
  • Better understanding of the two-way relationship between plants and soil organisms
  • Weed suppression
  • Healthy habitat for pollinators and other beneficial organisms
  • Nitrogen production
  • Compaction control, breaking up hard pan
  • Pest management
  • Green manure for added soil nutrients
  • Food for insects, animals and people
  • Biomass (organic matter)
  • Seeds for subsequent cover crops
Here are some of my favorite cover crops used on our Old Solar Farm over the years.
Winter rye is the best known cover crop. It is an annual grain crop that can be planted most anytime in the next several months. It grows quickly, stays green all winter and starts growing again in the late winter. Throughout the winter, winter rye protects the soil against erosion, and when it photosynthesizes, it sends nutrients to feed soil organisms. (Plants feed soil organisms. Soil organisms feed plants.) Winter rye also has an allopathic effect which helps control weeds.
 
Winter rye and hairy vetch are often in late summer. They survive the winter to produce lots of biomass in the spring. Using a roller-crimper, farmers can turn these vigorous crops into a thick weed suppressing mulch.
In mid-to-late spring, rye will be a thick stand of grass about a foot or so tall. Rye is most often turned into the soil, after mowing, at this time to prepare for planting the next crop. However, its extensive root system (a benefit for soil organisms and organic matter) makes this difficult without serious tillage equipment or a good back and shovel. I've had success mowing it and then digging a furrow through it for planting a crop such as potatoes, while leaving the rest as a ground covering between the rows.
 
In late May or June, rye starts to go to seed. If it is cut after that, it will stop growing taller but remain green. It is then easy to place larger plants into it (tomatoes or squash for example). If rye is cut after it is between five or six feet tall and left in place, the straw provides a great ground covering mulch for pumpkins or squash.
 
By July the rye is six to seven feet tall, a golden color with heads full of rye seeds. The seed can be harvested for baking or eating (if you are so inclined and careful to avoid the ergot fungus that rye is susceptible to) or for planting several months later. That leaves a lot of wonderful straw, those six foot tall dried stems made of slow-to-break-down, carbon-rich fiber that is perfect for mulching, animal bedding or making compost. (John Jeavons, author of the classic How to Grow More Vegetables, recommends planting about three quarters of your growing area to compost crops that can provide grains for food and stems for compost.) 

It is advisable to use other cover crops (besides winter rye) throughout the year. This helpful chart  can get you started. It lists 28 farm seed crops with information about planting times, requisite soil temperatures, hardiness, growth rate, planting depth and the amount to plant per 1,000 square feet or acre. The chart also indicates the benefits of each crop.
 
Here are some of my favorite cover crops used on our Old Solar Farm over the years.

Clovers
Mammoth Red Clover 
Mammoth red is the best clover for poor soils. It is very cold tolerant and can fix up to 70 to 110 pounds of nitrogen per  acre. It also is deep rooted so it loosens soils and bringsnutrients to the surface. Like all of the nitrogen-fixing legumes, it does best if it is inoculated with the appropriate species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria before planting. Red clover attracts bees and hummingbirds. Its flowers make a healthy tea. I frequently leave a few of these plants in the beds or rows. For several years I've been experimenting with red clover mixed in the strawberry patch. We'll see how that works.
 
There is also a medium red clover that is lower growing and can be cut for hay or silage. It also can be grown between rows of vegetables if it is mowed. This clover can fix up to 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre, or over three pounds per 1,000 square feet!
 
Crimson clover has beautiful dark flowers. A winter annual, it is treated like winter rye-planted in late summer. It starts flowering the following May before dying back. (Continue reading Bill's article on the CT NOFA blog ).  

Upcoming CT NOFA Events ~ Sign Up Today! 

Gilbertie's Organic Fall Gardening Workshop - Free for CT NOFA members
 
This hands on workshop - free for CT NOFA members - teaches you to grow organic microgreens on your tabletop or windowsill and easy-to-grow crops including garlic, outdoors. Start the morning with a farm tour led by Sal Gilbertie, then head into the glass greenhouse where he and his team will empower you to grow delicious and nutritious organic vegetables for your family this fall and winter. Guests will enjoy light farm fare featuring Gilbertie's Petite Edibles paired with local foods at noon while choosing seeds, soil, and supplies to get your fall growing started! Learn more and register here.

Organic land care practioner, Bob Ceccolini, Dir. of Cheshire Parks & Recreation Dept.
Organic Turf and Athletic Fields: 
An Advanced AOLCP Workshop presented by NOFA's Organic Land Care Program ~ Open to the Public 
Thursday, September 22, 2016 ~ 8:30am-4:00pm in Cheshire, CT.
$80 per person / $70 for municipal and nonprofit employees.

The NOFA Organic Land Care Program is pleased to organize this Advanced Workshop featuring experts in organic lawns and landscapes, discussion of organic products and fertility, hands-on demonstrations and informative presentations.Frank Crandall and Chip Osborne will present on creating organic management plans and budgeting for the expense of equipment and organic inputs. Staff from the Cheshire Parks and Recreation Department, will outline their process to manage organic athletic fields and parks in Cheshire. Field demonstrations will include turf aeration with Tom Corradino from Schmidt's and Serafines and compost tea spraying with Peter Schmidt from Compostwerks.
Organic fertility will be discussed with industry experts like Fred Newcomb from PJC Organics, Peter Schmidt from Compostwerks and others to be confirmed. Learn more and RSVP

Farm-To-Table Grilling Class & Luncheon:
F
eaturing Executive Chef Geoff Lazlo from Mill Street

Come treat yourself while helping ensure the future of CT NOFA. Join us at Mill Street Bar & Table in Greenwich, CT  for a late morning grilling class led by Executive Chef Geoff Lazlo, followed by lunch. Early fall produce from Back 40 Farm and other local farms will be featured on the menu. Geoff will demonstrate grilling techniques while teaching guests how to cook an entire meal on the grill -- including meat, fish, vegetables and pizza. Learn more and register here.

Taste the Terroir of Connecticut Honey:
Featuring honey connoisseur extraordinaire, Marina Marchese  

CT NOFA is pleased to present a guided tasting of Connecticut honeys with Connecticut beekeeper, author of The Honey Connoisseur, and honey sommelier C. Marina Marchese. Marchese will take guests on a tasting journey they discover the unique sensory qualities (terroir!) of hyper-regional Connecticut honeys. Featured selections, many of which are available at New Morning Market, will include honeys from Honey Oak Farm (Woodbury), Hannan Honey (Southbury),  Autumn Harvest Orchard (Norfolk), and Marina's very her Red Bee Honey from her apiary Weston, CT. Guests will also taste a rare sour wood honey from the southeast US, Manuka honeys and other very special treats. Guests can expect to learn how to taste and pair each honey with a variety of foods by savoring small bites of locals foods. Don't miss this sweet opportunity to take your taste buds to a new level. Learn more and register here.  

Other Events by CT NOFA Members & Partners 

City Mouse to Country House: A Barn Dinner at The Hickories!
Saturday, October 15th ~ 4pm at The Hickories in Ridgefield. Featuring Chef Phoebe Cole-Smith and benefiting Bridgeport's Green Village Initiative
The evening will open with a short cocktail half hour mixed with an open discussion of GVI and their inspirational urban farm in Bridgeport, CT. A farm dinner will be served in the Main Barn (pictured). Green Village Initiative is a non-profit in whose mission is to create social, economic and environmental change through a unified network of urban farms, community gardens, and school gardens. The Hickories has had a long-standing connection to this organization since its founding, and we will salute our common mission with a meal to remember!  Purchase tickets here.


Feast From the Fields at Common Ground 
Saturday, September 17 ~ 5:30 at Common Ground High School
in New Haven 

Common Ground High School invites you to join their our annual celebration of community, sustainability, and the harvest season - and to support Common Ground's vital mission and vibrant work.
Visit commongroundct.org to learn more and RSVP.


CT Farm-to-Chef Week:September 18-24
The CT Dept. of Agriculture's annual CT Growncelebration!

Restaurants, cafes, caterers, cafeterias, food trucks, bakeries, farmers' markets, wineries and other dining establishments are invited to register to participate in this event and partner with Connecticut farms to showcase Connecticut Grown foods on their menus. Visit
ctfarmtochef.com to learn more.
  

People Over Pipeline Walk: In Mass. with The CT Chapter of the Sierra Club & 350 CT
Saturday, September 24th ~ 12:00 Noon at the Agawam Compressor Station, 1615 Suffield Avenue, Agawam, MA

A legal and peaceful walk along the segment of Kinder Morgan's Connecticut Expansion that passes through CT to call attention to this interstate fracked gas project that they believe is unnecessary and will profit Eversource and Iberdrola at the expense of our clean and safe environment. For more details click here
Community Board
CTNOFA's Community Board is a member benefit allowing you to post your classified ads and other announcements (jobs, equipment, land for sale) and is among the most visited pages on our website. 
Featured CT NOFA Business Members

Riverbank Farm LLC
David Blyn and Laura McKinney
33 River Rd
Roxbury CT 06783
(860) 350-3276
 
  Before the USDA assumed responsibility for accrediting organic certifying agents nearly 15 years ago, CT NOFA, and other NOFAs, had their own certifying bodies run by volunteer farmers and advocates. Farmers seeking to become a NOFA Certified Organic Farm would fill out an application and submit it to the NOFA organic certification committee for consideration.

David Blyn was a member of the committee that would meet in the Hartford area to review applications, send inspectors to visit farms that made the cut, then review and certify organic farms. "The certifications didn't cost very much" says Laura McKinney, who served along with David Blyn as a certifying agent until federal government took over.

"The big difference was there wasn't a big audit trail back then. Now there's a much bigger audit trail, so it's more onerous for the farmer" says McKinney. "For Riverbank Farm, it's not a big deal, but a lot of small farms decided it wasn't fun anymore." Organic certification is important to Dave and Laura and the farm is Certified Organic by Baystate Organic Certifiers in Mass. "A lot of people get confused. If you don't have it; you have to explain a lot more" says Laura.

Dave started Riverbank Farm on a lark in 1991. He was a carpenter at the time and bought the place thinking he was going to use the barn, the only functional building on the property. After reading an Eliot Coleman book and working on a neighbor's farm for a season, he started farming an acre. "Once you start, it's hard to look back" says Dave.

Meanwhile, Laura decided to head our East after graduating from UC Santa Cruz and working with women in agriculture in India. A relative knew Dave, and she went to help him at the farm, but soon decided to return to UC Santa Cruz to do their 6 month apprenticeship program to learn how to run a farm. Laura felt they needed to develop some systems on the farm and become diversified because so many things can go wrong. A greenhouse was added, they did more plant propagation, and added cut flowers to the mix. "Every year you're kind of tweaking the system to make it more efficient and meet market demand" says Laura. (continue reading on the CT NOFA blog)

Indigo Health and Wellness
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
Joanne Witmyer 
914.208.1022
indigohw.com 

Joanne Witmyer is a certified nutritional health coach and cooking teacher who works with individuals, community groups, farmers' markets, farmers, schools, and corporations to help make simple, delicious, whole-foods based, fresh meals an integral part of our lifestyles. Joanne is active in the community, giving talks at libraries, educating students at schools about the importance of nutrition through establishing school-based gardens, and teaching seasonal cooking demonstrations at local farmers markets.

At a recent gardening and cooking workshop series, she teamed up with a local farmer to teach how aligning the ways we nourish ourselves with nature's cycles helps us feel more balanced and fulfilled. The farmer provided guidance for starting a simple backyard garden while she demonstrated how to make a quick, fresh, seasonal kale salad.

Whether working one-on-one or in group settings, Joanne offers practical guidance on how to design a nourishing lifestyle clients can feel good about. Based on individual goals, Joanne suggests simple changes and provides inspiration that leads to significant lifestyle changes that produce real and lasting results.

KNOX, Inc. Headquarters
75 Laurel Street
Hartford, CT 06106
P: (860) 951-7694
F: (860) 951-7244
knoxhartford.org 
 
 Using horticulture as a catalyst for community engagement, KNOX forges partnerships between residents, businesses, and government, providing leadership to build stronger, greener, healthier and more beautiful neighborhoods in Hartford. KNOX coordinates a variety of greening programs, including workforce training, Community Gardening Program, Blooms Planters, Trees for Hartford Neighborhoods, Green Team, and Hartford Cleans Up. KNOX is an ever-growing coalition of residents, volunteers, corporate partners, and community organizations that support Hartford's people and environment.

Launched in 2005 to reverse urban deforestation in Hartford, KNOX's Trees for Hartford Neighborhoods (TFHN) engages residents and volunteers in tree plantings city block by city block. TFHN provides unlimited environmental, economic, and health benefits to the Hartford community while increasing the public's knowledge and appreciation of trees.TFHN is a collaborative partnership between KNOX, the City of Hartford, volunteers, residents, corporations, and schools. This unique public-private partnership affords KNOX the opportunity to restore the tree canopy and protect Hartford's urban forest, strengthen and enhance communities through the strategic planting of trees and foster environmental stewardship in Hartford's neighborhoods.

The Vision of KNOX is a Capital City revitalized by horticulture and urban reforestation through the individual and collective efforts of its residents, businesses and government; a city where every neighborhood has an active community garden and where all residents feel the impact of these gardens on their own individual lives; a city where residents share a strong sense of pride, place, and connection to each other.

John Hancock Charles River Walk
by Trevor Smith

The rising sun peeks over the Charles River, golden rays explode through the towering oaken canopy. The heavy sweet scent of Clethra perfumes the air with undertones of fresh water and earth. A heron is fishing for breakfast just off shore, a deer walks up the bank from the water as turkeys root around in the leaf litter. The high pitched squeak of a startled chipmunk pierces the air alerting the wood of my presence. A mother duck ushers her ducklings into the water, the white tail of the deer is all I see crashing into the brush while the turkeys just keep foraging. All of this and I haven't walked more than 60 feet down the newly constructed permeable Wellesley Office Park Walking Path.

  The half mile path was recently constructed in back of the Wellesley Office Park on William Street with two boardwalk bridges and multiple vista points overlooking the water. The land is owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), however the walkway was funded by John Hancock Real Estate USA. The walkway was installed using Porous Pave™ a durable pervious paving material and was designed to have little to no effect on the delicate hydrology of the area. Porous Pave is made from recycled truck tires that are ground up and combined with a fine aggregate and a urethane binder. The mix is then spread like concrete and hardens into an extremely durable, highly permeable surface strong enough for low speed auto traffic and comfortable to walk on.

The Wellesley Office Park Walking Path diverted 6000 tires from the landfill and can absorb 5,800 gallons of water per hour per square foot. In addition to the recycled content and high permeability, the surface is freeze and frost-heave resistant and provides significant traction. Normally such a permeable surface is used to reduce flooding and the impact of storm water. It is great for driveways and walkways because if resists freezing and cracking in winter and allows maximum return of water back into the ground. In this case however, the pervious surface is designed to provide a safe comfortable walking path through the woods without disrupting the normal water flow to the river and its inhabitants.
Continue reading on the NOFA OLC blog.

Politician Calls for Repeal of The Ineffective New GMO Labeling Law  

We are pleased that US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), someone who has continually supported our demands for GMO labeling, is now calling for a repeal of the new federal GMO labeling law passed last month. CT NOFA feels this law is ineffective and not what food advocates asked for over many years of trying to get labels on foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Blumenthal says the bill is unfair to consumers and told the Hartford Courant, "As a consumer and a dad, I want to know what my family is eating." Read the full article here.
 
CT NOFA is proud of our member farmers and businesses who grow and sell non-GMO foods. We encourage you to support their hard work by buying their products and encouraging your friends and family to go organic & GMO free.

Share our website (ctnofa.org) with them so they have the resources they needed to shop at organic farms, find nearby farmers' markets, join an organic farm's CSA, or to find new businesses who support our mission. It's all listed in the 2016 Farm & Food Guide - always available on our homepage!
In the News
 
CT NOFA member, Pound Ridge Organics, First Local To Receive The "Animal Welfare Certification" via Animal Welfare Approved.com
 
CT NOFA is very proud of Donna Simons who raises Certified AWA laying hens and laying ducks at Pound Ridge Organics, just over the line in Westchester County, New York. The ducks and chickens roam the 2-acre property, while 16 acres of wooded wetlands lies just beyond the farm. Pound Ridge Organics sits on an original homestead property dating back to 1792. Learn more about her farm online and stop by her business, just a few miles over the border.  www.facebook.com/PoundRidgeOrganics

How the GE Food Venture Has Been Chronically Dependent on Deception, by Stephen J. Drucker, JD, Independent Science News, August 21, 2016 

Steven Drucker, author of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, has a new article about the fraudulent foundation of GE food safety published by Independent Science News (ISN). It demonstrates that the GE food safety evaluations have routinely relied on twisting the truth to ensure its growth and survival. Read the article here.


farmOS Workshop at 2016 NOFA Summer Conference on YouTube
What is farmOS? farmOS is a web-based application for farm management, planning, and record keeping. Mike Stenta presented a workshop on farmOS at the 2016 NOFA Summer Conference at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on Sunday, August 14th. The full presentation was recorded and is available on YouTube for anyone who wasn't able to attend.Watch on YouTube  
NOFA Organic Land Care Program Releases Its 2nd Edition of

Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards
by Sarah Little, Ph.D. 

NOFA OLC has published this beautiful, 52-page booklet especially for people new to organic landscaping. Printed on 80 lb glossy paper, and saddle stitched into a nice 8.5"x8.5", a booklet for the keeping. 

"This is a fantastic primer for organic lawn and garden care that provides the inspiration and scientific guidance to carefully look at our landscaping practices in a wider environmental context." - Cormac Collier, Exec. Dir., Nantucket Land Council

Perfect for homeowners, land care professionals, garden centers, garden clubs, environmentalists, educators, and advocates.


NOW AVAILABLE IN BULK. Price: $6 each or bulk order of five or more $3.25-4.25 per copy. Click here for the Bulk Order Price Sheet. To order this new book and/or the new Organic Lawns and Yards Brochure, click here.    
Take NOFA's Carbon Practices Survey  
 
NOFA/MASS is compiling a database about the growing practices of anyone who manages land -- farmers, gardeners, homeowners, professionals, etc. -- in the northeast.

Answer our nine questions about your practices, learning interests, and willingness to be
part of research trials measuring carbon building results.

Thank You to Our Sponsors & Advertisers  
        
CT NOFA - Northeast Organic Farming Association of CT, 126 Derby Ave., Derby, CT 06418