The Ecotype Project is delighted to be included in the May/June 2021 publication of Connecticut Gardener magazine whose tagline is “because gardeners never stop learning.” Throughout our journey on this seed literacy project, we have consistently gained new insight into how we can efficiently support the amplification of native seed in our ecoregion of the northeast. What we do know, is the more gardeners, farmers and citizen scientists who are aware of this vital initiative to safeguard our “living seed banks” the more successful we will collectively be in reducing fragmentation across our shared landscapes and providing habitat for our friends the pollinators.
Organizing for Soil Health: A Project of the Northeast Organic Farming Association
This White Paper is a report on the regional “Organizing for Soil Health” project supported by Farm Aid and Clif Bar and carried out by the seven-state Chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in 2019 – 2020. Based on two years of project engagement with regional organic and conventional farmers thru conference workshops, educational events, field days, roundtable discussions, and a final survey, this paper presents a timely grassroots-up perspective for policymakers on what farmers need to support climate mitigation practices.
Faced with the existential threat of the Climate Emergency, as government entities try to craft policies that will make real reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases, it is time to listen to the voices of family farmers. Practitioners who are dedicated to soil health can guide policymakers to the most effective mechanisms to incentivize and sustain the shifts in agricultural practices that can mitigate climate change through soil carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
At long last, science has been catching up with farmers, validating as climate-friendly numerous longtime organic, sustainable and indigenous agriculture practices that maintain and increase soil carbon levels including cover cropping, crop rotations, composting, rotational grazing, promoting biodiversity, minimizing soil disturbance, proven techniques that foster soil health. Farmers value these practices that build farmland resilience to the increasing climate change effects of drought, flooding, wind, heat, freezing, and other weather extremes. It is to the national and worldwide good to provide public support and compensation to farmers to help bear the costs of these additional farming practices.
Regrettably, some of the current federal legislative and policy initiatives are focusing instead on privately run carbon market approaches where businesses can offset their continuing negative environmental impacts by purchasing carbon credits. Most of these carbon market schemes, structured to attract larger-scale farmers who agree to modify their agricultural practices, offer payments based on measuring the annual increases of soil carbon sequestered from the atmosphere. Because accurate soil carbon measurement is still an unrealized scientific goal, this approach is problematic with the potential for businesses to greenwash their touted net-zero reduction effects. Meanwhile, their polluting externalities continue unabated, often severely impacting the communities of color living near their industrial sites. Further, the proffered current carbon market schemes only reward new adaptors, leaving tried and true soil health practitioners to finance their own beneficial practices.
Instead of carbon markets and carbon banks, NOFA urges Congress to improve and increase funding to existing USDA conservation programs including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) that support and reward all farmers who are performing and/or transitioning to bona fide soil carbon sequestration practices that provide further eco-system services such as enhancing water quality and reducing erosion. NOFA supports the Agricultural Resilience Act in the House and the Climate Stewardship Act in the Senate, 2021 grassroots-up legislation that will speed adoption of soil health and other practices that contribute to mitigating climate change.
This award is given to an individual or organization who has worked to advance organic living on our earth and supports the continuation of the life work of Bill Duesing. We continue to cherish the legacy of our founder through this annual celebration of his many contribution.
Thank you, Dr. Stoner – for being a constant source of inspiration, grounded science, and sage wisdom to so many farmers. CT NOFA is forever in your debt and we honor you, as Bill did.
To view the citations created by the CT NOFA board and staff, please visit The Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth site.
As a longtime member and former board president of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Karen has fought for justice and fostered resilience in her borough and beyond through the power of organized community. And she brings her fierce, compassionate leadership—as well as her commitment to develop others—everywhere she goes.
As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, she works with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As an advocate and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, she stands up and speaks out for garden protection and preservation. And as a co-founder of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launch a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to the Bronx community.
In 2010, she co-founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an organization supporting Black growers in both urban and rural settings. she is a board member of Why Hunger, a grassroots support organization, and Farm School NYC, which leads workshops on growing food and food justice across the country. she is also board president of Greenworker Cooperatives, which builds and sustains worker-owned green businesses to create a strong, local, and democratic economy rooted in racial and gender equity. Additionally, she is on the Board of Directors of Soul Fire Farm.
In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African-Americans in the country. And in 2014, she was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award.
Since retiring from physical therapy in 2014, she has been a co-owner and organic grower at Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York. She stands on the shoulders of her ancestors and sows seeds of love, healing, and liberation for future generations.
The Natural Farmer (TNF) “covers news of the organic movement nationally and internationally, as well as featuring stories about farmers from New England, New York, and New Jersey. Each issue contains a 16 to 24 page pull out supplement on a particular crop or topic. The paper also contains how-to-do-it articles suitable for gardeners and homesteaders.” For years, our NOFA membership has included a subscription to this quarterly newspaper.
The most recent issue of TNF, Winter 2020-2021, features a pullout section titled “Special Supplement on Who Owns Science?”. This section includes articles regarding the agrochemical industry, genetically modified crops, new research methods, and data on testing for nutrients in fruits and vegetables; all of which you might expect to find within the pages of TNF. In addition to these, there are a few articles in this section with censorship and vaccine-related content. These articles do not directly address connections to organic farming or food, or perspectives of farmers, gardeners, landcare or food professionals. With this in mind, the NOFA Interstate Council released a statement (see below) in response to this latest publication.
No doubt growers, eaters, and readers have all been impacted by COVID-19, and there are likely more challenges ahead. For us at CT NOFA, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of our commitment to supporting and advocating for the essential work of our community of organic growers, producers, and stewards. We are proud to work with you all, and we are inspired to see how so many of you have responded to this crisis over the past year.
Steve Munno, CT NOFA Board President
A Message from the NOFA Interstate Council Regarding the Latest Issue of The Natural Farmer:
Greetings during this holiday season, and happy Winter Solstice!
Many of you will have already received the Winter 2020-2021 issue of The Natural Farmer; for those who have not, it should soon arrive in your mailboxes. After discussion, we, the members of the NOFA Interstate Council, are writing to the NOFA membership to provide some context and response regarding the content of Section B, titled “Special Supplement on Who Owns Science?”.
As background, The Interstate Council provides coordination between the chapters and acts as an umbrella organization for projects of collective interest to NOFA chapters. In addition, it is the publisher of The Natural Farmer. The longtime editor of TNF, Jack Kittredge, has given much effort and many years of service to the NOFA community, and this Winter issue is his last as he has been planning to retire. We wish him well in his retirement and thank him for 32 years of service as editor for the paper.
Our concerns about the supplement are that the vaccine-related content does not provide enough context or a sufficiently broad spectrum of viewpoints to inform our readership on what is clearly a topic of immediate and national concern. That some of the information derives from sources that stand against some of our most deeply held values is additionally problematic.
Independent of whether the topic of vaccines even belongs in our farming-centered publication (a decision made for this issue, as for every previous one, independently by the editor), we feel that the only responsible way to have included such a topic would be to include vigorous comments from voices in mainstream public health to offer an alternative point of view. We deeply regret that was not done.
Going forward, we will develop a more thorough process for editorial review which will advise and support the incoming editor. Interviews for the new editor are happening now, and we will keep our community informed of this process.
Thank you for your understanding. Please stay safe.
The NOFA Interstate Council
MA, RI, NJ, NH, NY, VT, CT
CT NOFA is teaming up with the New CT Farmers Alliance (NCTFA) and Solid Ground 2 (UCONN Extension) to announce a new learning opportunity for beginner and advanced beginner farmers beginning in January, 2021.
Farmer Circles are peer-to-peer learning communities for farmers interested in sharing obstacles and strategies in a small, semi-structured, supportive environment. Each project year, farmers will join a circle focused on a topic or issue that interests them and explore this topic together. In addition to digging into a particular topic together, these circles will provide CT farmers with a social network that they can rely on to counter the stresses and risks of farming. The facilitator of each group will receive a stipend and have the chance to develop their skills as a group leader as they work with NCTFA and NOFA to create a successful learning environment.
Potential topics include:
- Cooperative farming
- Getting clear on farm financials
- Farm equipment problem solving/management
- Food sovereignty reading group
- Accessing new markets
- Finding and maintaining a strong farm crew
- Self care for farmers
- Crop planning
- Regional affinity groups
- BIPOC affinity groups
- Queer affinity groups
Each circle will have about 5-8 members, and will choose their own preferred meeting style, whether in-person in a living room, barn, through field walks, or via video calls.
Farmer Circles are self governed groups, meaning that members will determine their time commitment and frequency of meetings. They will meet for at least 12 hours total over the year.
Each circle will choose one of their members as facilitator. This person will be point person to communicate with the Farmer Circle planning crew and will receive a stipend of $800.
Each circle will also have some funds to hire an expert advisor to join in on one of their meetings and provide practical expertise.
At the end of the year, all the circles will come together at the Build Your Network, Grow Our Future, an annual gathering, to share lessons learned and continue building an even broader network for all farmers involved. Though circles will formally meet for one year with support, they may choose to continue meeting on their own outside of defined year-long commitment.
Farmer Circles Planning Team:
- NCTFA – coordinator & steering committee members
- CT NOFA – co-coordinator
- UConn Extension representatives
- Representative of Young Farmer Committee
- Advisory and Outreach team
Please reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments regarding this project.
This program is supported by the generosity of our members, donors and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2020-70017-32733
The Virtual Tour of Massaro Community Farm is now available on CT NOFA’s YouTube Channel.
Here’s the LINK
The 1 hour video includes visits to Assawaga Farm and Sub Edge Farm, also participating as No-Till Research Farm Sites across Connecticut.
There is also a Rain Simulator presentation by Emily Cole, Climate and Agriculture Program Manager at American Farmland Trust. To view Emily’s entire presentation here’s the LINK
This event was funded by an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant exploring best practices for tillage reduction on organic farms, managed in partnership between CT NOFA, NOFA/Mass, and NOFA-NJ.”
Phone: (203) 408-6819