Organic with the Seasons    
MARCH 2012
Spring is fast approaching! And if you're using the weather as your calendar, then it seems like it has already arrived.  Spring is the time for planting in your garden or throughout your yard, there are workshops, forums, conferences and festivals scheduled throughout New England to guide you! 
 
The CT NOFA and NOFA Organic Land Care office has had a very busy few months:
The Organic Land Care Program just finished up three Accreditation Courses and welcome our new Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals.  We also just hosted organic-apple guru, Michael Phillips, at a workshop about fruit-growing (for edible landscapes!).  We are looking forward to the Beyond Pesticides Forum coming up in New Haven, and have been working hard to defend Connecticut's current pesticide ban for K-8 schools.  CT NOFA has had two of our four gardening workshops at Common Ground High School in New Haven, we are starting up a few new programs, working to get a state GMO-Labeling bill passed and had a wonderful Winter Conference on March 3! Hopefully you were able to make it to the NOFA Winter Conference in your state or a neighboring one.  
 
We'll see you at one of our workshops or maybe an Earth Day Celebration in April! As always, visit ctnofa.org or organiclandcare.net for workshop listings and resources and more information on all you see here.
 
All the Best,
Kristiane
 
Upcoming Homeowner (and Farmer) Workshops

Connecticut Workshops
Call (203) 888-5146 or visit ctnofa.org for registration and further information!


March 17
: Starting Seedlings
10:00am - 12:00pm
Common Ground High School
358 Springside Avenue, New Haven
CT NOFA invites you to learn about starting your own vegetables and flowers from seed.  Demonstrations for both planting andtransplanting, plus a list of which plants are set out by seedlings and which ones are directly sown by seed into the ground. This workshop will be taught by CT NOFA's Vice President and veteran workshop teacher Bettylou Sandy of Bettylou's Gardening and Shannon Raider, Common Ground's Farm Manager (who also did a seed-starting presentation at the Getting Started in Organic Conference)! The workshop is $10 per person.

Tuesday March 20: Greenhouse & High Tunnel Winter Growing
9:00am to 12:00pm

Star Light Gardens | 54 Fowler Ave Durham 

Join us again on the first full day of Spring! David Zemelsky will lead a tour of his greenhouses and high tunnels.  David is a certified organic grower of many types of greens for both farmers' markets and wholesale.  John W. Bartok, Jr., UConn Extension Professor Emeritus and Agricultural Engineer will be there to address greenhouse design and to talk about ways to improve greenhouse efficiency and function. The workshop is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about greenhouse growing.  We are planning to also have a Beginning Farmer Lunch Meet and Greet after this workshop, either on the farm or a nearby restaurant, if you're interested in coming to lunch please let me know (kristiane@ctnofa.org).  The workshop cost is $20 for members and $30 for non-members.    

 

Saturday May 5: Organic Garden Workshop

10:00am - 12:00pm

CT NOFA offers instruction and seasonal tips on what can be planted in your garden now and what must wait for warmer weather. Learn how to prep your garden beds, plan your plantings, deal with early garden pests, and improve soil fertility using organic methods.  $10 per person.

  

MASSACHUSETTS Workshops

For a full listing visit nofamass.org or read the NOFA/Mass Newsletter:   

 

Soils Building Workshop: Transplants and Seed Starting
Saturday, May 12 9:00am-12:00pm

Brix Bounty Farm | 858 Tucker Road | Dartmouth, MA
Registration: $25 NOFA members / $30 non-members
To register: http://www.nofamass.org/programs/extensionevents/nutrientdensity.php
For info: Ben Grosscup, 413-658-5374.
By email, ben.grosscup@nofamass.org; put "Soils Building" in subject.

 

Raising Chickens in the Backyard

Saturday, April 21 9:00am-12:00pm

 28 High Street | 28 High Street | Hubbardston, MA
 ***followed by optional pot-luck lunch
Registration: $30

 

The Art of Gardening
Saturday, May 5 9:00am-12:00pm ***followed by optional pot-luck lunch

Instructor: Beth Ingham

Noonday Farm |96 Windsor Road | Winchendon Springs, MA
Registration: $30  

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With NOFA OLC
 
What a lovely winter we've had!
CT NOFA Winter Conferencewinterconference
PotluckJeffrey Smith
Our Winter Conference last Saturday, March 3rd had nearly 600 attendees, our biggest turnout yet!  It was a wonderful event, packed with workshops, vendors, an amazing potluck (left photo) and a great keynote speech by Jeffrey M. Smith (right photo).  This week we've been reviewing incoming evaluations from the event, and have had overwhelmingly positive feedback.  If you attended the conference we'd like to give you our most heartfelt thanks for being a part of our largest event of the year and helping to make it really special and momentous. And if you volunteered with us, we want you to know that this event could not have run so smoothly without you!  Thanks to everyone for your continued commitment to local sustainable food and to our mission to provide reliable access to that food for our communities.
For a longer recap please read Melissa's blog post:
Also check out the pictures on our Flikr account
 

Welcome to over 90 Newly Accredited Professionals!accreditation  

The Accreditation Courses in Organic Land Care have finished up in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and in Connecticut.  We have 92 newly accredited professionals from New England and states as far away as Ohio and Pennsylvania who work as landscapers, community gardeners, non-profit professionals, school groundskeepers, municipal groundskeepers, arborists, farmers . . . we can go on and on! If you're looking for some professional help in your yard this year, visit our AOLCP search database to find the right professional for your needs in  your area!   

 

Our First Advanced Organic Land Care Workshop of the Yearapples

Growing Fruit in a Health Orchard Ecosystem with Michael Phillips

 Michael PhillipsOrchard workshop Michael Phillips, author of "The Apple Grower" discussed fruit growing at NOFA Organic Land Care's most recent advanced workshop.  The audience was partially AOLCPs looking to add edibles to their landscape, commercial orchardists, fruit-growing enthusiasts, and community gardeners.  Phillips discussed creating healthy soil and making soil fungi and organisms work for you.  He also emphasized the importance of growing a diverse variety of fruits together citing especially the benefits of growing blueberries near apple trees.  Phillips focused on the value of soil fungi in a cultivated fruit growing system.

    Phillips explained that a hand-full of soil from a forest floor is full of mycorrhizae (strands of fungal fibers that can fix nutrients in the soil and transfer them to roots).  If you lined up all these strands of mycorrhizae found in a single handful of soil, they would extend for 26 miles.  This natural system is far superior to anything we can create with the aid (or impediment) of pesticides and fertilizers.  These growing choices don't just affect the environment, they affect the quality of your food! Apple trees treated with fungicide produce apples with as little as one-third of the healthy properties of an organic apple.

In the afternoon we all went to High Hill Orchard in Meriden, CT where Wayne Young showed us his grounds and co-taught with Michael Phillips.  

Photos: Michael Phillips demonstrating how to direct the growth of fruit tree limbs, Wayne Young showing the group his orchard (you can see one of his older apple trees behind him), a photo of about half our group.

 

CT NOFA Soils and Compost Workshopcommonground

Bill Duesing and Scientist Emeritis at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Thomas Rathier presented to a full room at Common Ground High School about building healthy soil, which many of you are probably doing now in your own yards!   

This spring try getting a soil test (they can be done at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station or the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab) to determine if you need to add any nutrients or have any contaminants in your soil, like lead.  See the top five land care tips below for more ideas on how to build and protect soil! 

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Five Land Care Tips for Organic Successgardentips
1.  Test your soil. Google "UConn soil test" or CAES (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station) for information.  Ask for organic suggestions.  Adjust the pH with ground limestone as recommended, if needed for the plants you want to grow.  Use compost or other organic fertilizers if nutrients are needed. A good mulch on perennials should provide most of the nutrients needed.  The soil wants to be left alone, to be undisturbed.

2. Use native plants as much as possible, including plants such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that produce fruit.

3. Turn the sunniest part of your yard/lawn into a vegetable/herb/flower garden to turn sunlight into food energy.
4.  Appreciate the unique natural features and plants in your yard.  Trees are solar powered air conditioners. Wildflowers encourage beneficial insects.

5. Understand that leaves are the ideal food for soil organisms here.  A healthy soil ecosystem is full of life.  Soil life is nurtured by being left alone with plants growing in it.  Let the leaves lie where they fall or use them for mulch and compost.

 

The 30th National Beyond Pesticides Forum
Healthy Communities: Green solutions for safe environmentsbeyondpesticides
March 30-31, 2012
Yale University, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Although organic farming and land management continue to grow, policies to protect people from pesticides are threatened in the Northeast and around the country. At the same time, cutting-edge science links pesticide exposure to health problems, honey bee colony collapse, and other environmental issues. Join researchers, authors, beekeepers, organic business leaders, elected officials, activists, and others to discuss the latest science, policy solutions, and grassroots action. Keynote Speakers include Sandra Steingraber, author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, Gary Hirschberg the CEO of Stoneyfield Farm, Jonathan P. Wargo, a Professor of Risk Analysis, Environmental Policy and Political Science and Chair of the Yale College Environmental Studies Major and Program, David Hackenberg, the beekeeper featured in Vanishing of the Bees and Curt Spalding, the head of the EPA's New England Region.   

CT NOFA Members will get a $10 discount at registration! For a full speaker list and registration, visit Beyond Pesticides' page!  

Action Required: Proposed Bill to Reverse Pesticide Banpesticideban
The Connecticut law that made history in 2005 when it banned pesticide use on school grounds (grades K-8) is now under attack by chemical company interests in the state legislature. Opponents are pushing a weak IPM bill (Bill 5155 - "AN ACT MODIFYING THE BAN ON PESTICIDE APPLICATIONS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS") to overturn the landmark legislation.  The growing body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicates that pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child's neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at low levels. Long-term exposure to pesticides has also been linked to cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  To reverse this legislation is moving backwards in terms of child's health legislation. 
Beyond Pesticides, the National Organization, is helping Connecticut environmentalists, children's health advocates and parents protest this bill.  Visit their website to e-mail your member of the General Assembly.

Read more about the proposed legislation you can follow it on the Connecticut State Government's website, check out the CT NOFA Blog Article,   

In the News

 

 Healthy Soil for Healthy Trees - Article about NOFA Standards in Tree Care Industry Magazine by Bill Duesing

 Sustainable Landscape Management in "Buildings Magazine" by Jennie Morten with a quotation from Jenna Messier, our program director

 Landscaper is Accredited in Organic Land Care by Donna Christopher featuring our very own, Camilla Worden of Camilla Landscape Design

Bill Would Require Labels On Genetically Modified Food by Daniele Altimari.  Bill Duesing is interviewed in this article about GMO-Labeling Legislation in Connecticut

I Stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto  
I Stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto
Bill Duesing and other leaders in a lawsuit against Monsanto are interviewed in this video 
 
Looking for more organic guidance?
Try the Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards available online!
Meet our Featured AOLCPs

Paula Kovesces
Weare, NH


Bernadette Giblin
Northampton, MA


Priscilla Williams
Townsend, MA

 
CT NOFA / PO Box 164 / Stevenson, Connecticut 06491 /