Nomination deadline is January 15, 2020

This award is for a recipient who has demonstrated the advancement of organic living on our earth with a project, innovation, action or lifestyle that supports the continuation of the life work of Bill Duesing – for all to live on this earth in a society in harmony with nature. The accomplishment must contribute to the advancement of organic living in Connecticut in a demonstrable way and be a current or recent accomplishment that reflects Bill’s devotion to organic living and his wish that this critically important work be continued by his friends and colleagues. Award recipients can be one of the following:

• Organic farmer/farm (example: added new revenue sources to secure the farm’s future; expanded availability of organic food in the community)

• Organic land care professional /business (example: transitioned from conventional to organic land care)

• Organic advocate (example: spearheaded a change in their local school system, or worked to promote organic legislation)

• Organization (example: farmers market became 100% organic; the advancement of farmworkers’ rights; created organic-based social media group)

• Educator (example: developed new ways to add organic food and agriculture to school curriculum)

• Mentor (example: developed process for passing along organic knowledge and skills to new farmers or land care professionals)

Award recipient(s) will be recognized during the Keynote Session at CT NOFA’s 2020 Winter Conference on Saturday, March 7th at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

Click here to nominate

Click here to print mail-in form

CT NOFA’s 38th annual conference will be held on March 7th, 2020 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.  This new location will allow easier access to this event for people from all over our state as well as guests from Massachusetts and Rhode Island and New York. Our keynote speaker is Niaz Dorry of the National Farm Family Coalition and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance who will be bringing her innovative perspective on movement-building to her keynote speech. To round out this wonderful day we are requesting proposals for workshop sessions, each will be 1.5 hours in length. CT NOFA is looking for inventive, inclusive, and diverse topics, as always.

 

We welcome all submissions for workshops that capture CT NOFA’s mission of fostering the organic movement in Connecticut.  This year our conference priorities are: 

  • Climate Change, and Resilience, and Conservation Agriculture
  • Regional Economics and New Farming Economies
  • Land Access
  • Beginning Farmers 
  • Equity, Ag Justice, and Food
  • Emerging Markets (ie; kelp, hemp, cannabis)

 

The deadline for workshop submissions is  January 15th. Applications will be subject to review and presenters will be notified of their acceptance by January 24th.  

 

At the Summer Conference workshop on Fermenting Social Justice Values in the NOFA Culture,  the guidelines that the NOFA Domestic Fair Trade sub-committee holds were reviewed and it was agreed upon that information about dismantling racism in farming be included with our RFP.  This gives our presenters the chance to consider these ideas when they design their presentation. Please see ‘Dismantling Racism and Integrating Race and Equity for NOFA Presenters at Conferences‘ document.

 

Please follow this link to our online workshop submission form.  

We look forward to seeing you at OrganiConn 2020!

 

From NOFA’s technical consultant and “embedded” reporter, Monique Bosch

Under the Microscope at Assawaga Farm


We visited Assawaga Farm in late September to take a peak at how microbes are handling the ‘no-till’ environment up there. For the past 2

years Yoko and Alex have worked tirelessly on their 2 acre intensive farm to ‘push the envelope’ on no-till farming techniques. They are growing a wide assortment of vegetables, incorporating no-till with succession planting, cover crops and holistic farming practices to grow the healthiest food possible.

We took a look at their soil under the microscope and discovered excellent microbial life and soil structure. Below is a movie showing microscopy from one of their beds, growing a cover crop of field peas and oats in a bed that has not been tilled for the past 2 years…

Notice the amount of aggregates, large dark bundles of bacteria, resulting in excellent soil structure.

 

Yoko and Alex both felt that the microscopy gave them a much better understanding of what is going on inside their soil. They now have a

new set of eyes for soil, and have a greater appreciation for the life therein. Yoko explained how this will change the way they farm:  “This will certainly make us think harder about how to treat the microbes, like keeping the soil covered at all times and have as much growing through the year as possible. We’re going to interplant around our main crops, to add diversity and cover as much soil as possible with living plants.”

No-till allows the soil to establish communities of fungal networks, aggregates of bacteria, and a constant stream of nutrient cycling between

plants and microbes. Alex talked about some of the challenges they face with no-till:

“We have a  paperpot transplanter that does a great job planting seedlings. When we have residue of, tomatoes and peppers it’s difficult to get the planter through there. It’s much easier to have a newly tilled bed, but the rewards of leaving the roots to slowly decompose and add organic matter and food for the microbes gives us a much healthier next crop, so its worth the extra effort.”

We took another look at soil that was probably the least disturbed over the past two years, the garden bed growing ginger. Amazing how many fungal hyphae have developed in that short amount of time. See this for yourself below:

 

Fungal hyphae dominate this sample, and  fungal dominant soil is preferred by ginger so it’s a perfect pairing of “right crop, right soil biology”.

 

Alex and Yoko shared with me a photo of one their success stories that came from no-till farming. These basil plants were planted at the same time. The right bed had been bare for about a year, the left bed had residue of celery with basil interplanted between the harvested crop:

The takeaway from our visit to Assawaga is that no-till is working in ways that the microscope can show:

  • better soil structure
  • more diverse life in the soil
  • balance of fungi to bacteria

 

Our deepest thanks and appreciation for innovations in organic agriculture go to our partners at Assawaga Farm, as we at NOFA continue to explore ways to grow the healthiest food possible.

CT NOFA Invites Beginning Farmers and Land Care Professionals to Apply for the Journeyperson Program. Applications Due on October 15th. APPLY HERE

The Journeyperson Program strives to provide committed beginning farmers and land care professionals with the opportunity to learn skills and gain the experience they will need to succeed as farmers and business owners. 

 

The Journeyperson program strives to support land stewards in the education gap between apprentice and independent business owner and to provide resources and opportunities for prospective new farmers/land care professionals who have completed an apprenticeship to further develop skills they need to operate independently.  The program is shaped by the interests and goals of individual participants. New land stewards are able to gain advanced experience, skills, and perspective in a supportive environment while also becoming part of a sustainable professional network.

 

Each Journeyperson, once selected, is matched with a mentor.  These arrangements are flexible and are shaped collaboratively by the journeyperson and the mentor.  Some mentors also offer access to land, equipment, and support so a journeyperson can operate independently.

 

Additional resources/requirements for journey people include:

  • attendance at an Organic Land Care accreditation course (full scholarship included)
  • educational/capital stipends up to $2,000
  • attendance at 2 NOFA Winter Conferences – CT and one other (full scholarship included)
  • if applicable, organic certification assistance (4 hours of consulting with a USDA inspector)
  • completing a full business plan
  • attending regular mentor meetings
  • check-ins with CT NOFA staff about progress

Timeline for 2019-2020 program:

Sept 13, 2019: Application open

October 15, 2019: Application closed

October 25, 2019: Decisions published

November 11-15, 2019: OLC Course Attendance

March 7, 2020: CT Winter Conference Attendance

Spring 2020: Entrance interview and mentorship pairing

Spring/Summer/Fall:

  • Mentor meetings
  • NOFA check-ins
  • Stipend disbursements

November 1, 2020:

  • Full business plan submitted
  • Exit interview

 

Learn more here

Landscaping professionals transitioning to organic practices and those already using chemical-free options and want to learn more are invited to attend the NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care, a 30-hour professional training and accreditation course to be held at Common Ground High School in New Haven on August 19, 20, 21, & 22 2019. This is the first of two Accreditation Courses being offered in Connecticut in 2019. The second one will be held between November 11-14, location TBD and will run concurrently in English and Spanish. With grant funding from The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Connecticut-based land care professionals can attend the course tuition-free.

 

For the first time, the Organic Land Care Program’s November course will be held concurrently in English and Spanish. According to the National Hispanic Landscaping Alliance, 35% of the landscape and lawn care professionals in the U.S. are Spanish speakers. Connecticut’s Spanish speaking community alone stands at 540,000. With little organic landscaping resources for Spanish speaking landscapers, NOFA has translated our Standards for Organic Land Care into Spanish and is aspiring to translate all of our educational materials in 2019 and 2020. Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund provides these materials, along with the organic land care training in November, free of charge, thus eliminating a barrier to entry for many landscapers.

 

The curriculum includes soil health and soil testing, site analysis, green stormwater infrastructure, plant care, disease control, organic turf, and more.

 

Those who pass the accreditation exam on the final day of the course become Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals (AOLCPs), the only professional organic landscaping credential in the country.  The course content is based on the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care (accepted under the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM).

 

Demand for organic land care professionals is increasing due to a growing concern about the hazards of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and the adoption of ordinances banning or restricting the use of chemical pesticides on town and/or private land around Connecticut, New England, and the rest of the country. Notably, the City of Portland, Maine passed a pesticide ordinance that restricts the use of synthetic pesticides on all public and private property in 2018. In Connecticut, there are already laws in place that ban the use of pesticides on the grounds of schools and day care centers and, more recently, a ban on automatic pesticide misters.

 

Landscaping professionals in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and other New England states increasingly consider this course a crucial investment in distinguishing themselves as highly trained experts, meeting demand in the growing market for non-toxic and organic landscaping services. Since 2002, The NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care has been the definitive professional training course for landscapers, lawn care specialists, municipal groundskeepers, landscape architects, and environmental educators to learn best practices for organic land stewardship.

 

While organic landscaping practices are increasing in popularity and there continues to be more demand for organic services in the landscaping industry, there remains a glaring lack of trained landscaping professionals who can offer such services. Landscapers keen on offering organic services to clients, transitioning land in their care to an organic program, and wanting to use non-toxic landscaping practices will benefit from the curriculum of this training.

 

The course runs from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. each day and can accommodate up to 60 students. Those who don’t qualify for a free space can register for $600; however, current AOLCPs and their employees can attend for $500. Group discounts and payment plans are available. For more details, to request a free space, or for general information about upcoming courses, contact The Northeast Organic Farming Association (CT NOFA) office at 203-408-6819, email jeremy@ctnofa.org, or visit www.organiclandcare.net.

From the Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation
Press Contact: Lilian Ruiz, Executive Director
33 Mead Ave., Cos Cob, CT 06807
203-424-8469
ctcoucilswc@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

 

 

Time to Celebrate Our Butterflies and Bees!

The Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation is pleased to announce that Governor Ned Lamont has proclaimed June 17-23, 2019 as POLLINATOR WEEK in the State of Connecticut. Twelve years ago the U.S. designated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” to bring attention to the issue of declining pollinator populations. “With the proclamation, Connecticut joins
what has grown into an international celebration of bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, and other pollinators” states Lilian Ruiz, Executive Director for the CT Council on Soil and Water Conservation. “We were thrilled to receive the Governor’s proclamation and acknowledgment of this important issue.”

Pollinators are estimated to be responsible for the pollination of 75% to 95% of flowering plant species on earth. The plants provide not only much of the food we eat, but healthy forests for clean air and clean water. Unfortunately, pollinator populations are threatened mostly due to loss of habitat. Additionally, pollution, misuse of chemicals, disease, and climate change are all contributing to the decline. In Connecticut, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private citizens across
the state are working hard to protect pollinators and the valuable ecosystem services they provide.

The five Conservation Districts in Connecticut provide technical assistance to municipalities and landowners related to soil health, water quality, and habitat protection. “Supporting pollinator health is a big part of the CT Conservation District annual spring plant sales” explains Jane Brawerman, Executive Director for the CT River Coastal Conservation District. “One of the criteria we use in selecting plants to sell, almost all of which are native to CT, is their value to a variety of pollinators–including bees, flies, butterflies and hummingbirds-from early in the season through the fall.”

The CT Dept. of Transportation has been working on pollinator habitat in road right of ways beginning in 2017 with eight sites. They have expanded the program to 50 sites this year as designated “Conservation Areas”, as explained in a press release earlier this year. “We’re very proud of this program and excited to get it off the ground” stated Kimberly Lesay, Connecticut DOT Transportation Assistant Planning Director.

According to Mary Ellen Lemay, Facilitator, Hudson to Housatonic Regional Conservation Partnership and member of the Pollinator Pathway team, Connecticut has become a leader in pollinator awareness starting with the approval of the Pollinator Protection Act (2016) and the subsequent launch of the Pollinator Pathway in Fairfield County in 2017. The Pathway has grown to over 40 towns in CT and over the border into NY in the last 2 years. The Pollinator Pathway teams have encouraged the planting of native plants and the avoidance of pesticides and herbicides. “Transforming our backyards into pollinator habitats has the ability to help reverse the decline in biodiversity that pesticides and exotic plants have created,” explains Lemay. “By connecting people across town lines and across our landscape, the Pollinator Pathway is an effective strategy for restoring the natural world around us.”

For more information on Pollinators in Connecticut and the efforts to protect them, go to the following links:
Connecticut’s Conservation Districts – for technical information and annual plant sale contact your local district. https://www.conservect.org/
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) https://portal.ct.gov/CAES/Publications/Publications/Pollinator-Information
Pollinator Pathways https://www.pollinator-pathway.org/
Connecticut Department of Transportation Pollinator Program https://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?A=1373&Q=608658

 

Click here for a pdf copy

CT NOFA’s Farm and Food Guide is about our nourishment, body and spirit, from Connecticut’s abundant and diverse farmland. Each spring, we pour over the entries, discovering new farms and revisiting the happy memories of old friends, barns, and fields we have fallen in love with over the years. The Farm and Food Guide is a reference, but it is also the story of our state, the story of our food, and the story of countless boots on the ground making daily contributions to the betterment of our communities. Enjoy getting to know our CT NOFA family of farmers, landscapers, members, and advocates. Cultivate your own commitment to an organic Connecticut by choosing locally grown food, visiting organic restaurants, supporting artisan food and beverage makers, and practicing organic land care. Your membership makes you a vital part of the protecting our local food-shed for future generations.

How to Use This Guide: Refer to the County listings and Business Member section to discover the rich food landscape in Connecticut. We recommend you also use this guide to:

1. Plan your food shopping by scanning for nearby farms, grocers, bakers, artisan producers, co-ops, delivery services and more.
2. Support those who support the farmers: visit restaurants serving locally sourced and organic foods.
3. Switch to a NOFA accredited landscape professional (AOLCP) for your home or commercial property landscape
4. Plan your spring and fall gardens with seed companies, nurseries, garden centers, farmers selling transplants, and businesses that will plant and maintain your organic garden.

Tips:

• Consider a CSA share from a farm near you.
• Plan your next agri-tourism adventure to a new farm, winery, brewery or distillery.
• Keep this guide and your reusable shopping bags in your car so you have them when you shop in new towns.
• If you lose CT NOFA’s Farm & Food Guide, check out our digital version online.

To request a copy, or box for your business, please email ctnofa@ctnofa.org with your order. The magazines are free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated to help with the cost of printing.

 

Connecticut NOFA is proud to participate in a partnership with Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont NOFAs in launching a three-year study of no-till organic farming across 12 organic farms in the Northeast.  Here in Connecticut, our research partners are:

Assawaga Farm,

Massaro Community Farm

SubEdge Farm

We chose our partner farmers (Alex Carpenter and Yoko Takemura of Assawaga, Steve Munno of Massaro Farm, and Rodger Philips of Sub Edge Farm) because they are each engaged in certified organic no-till and low-till work on their farms, and we wanted to represent a small, midsize, and larger scale farm working on the same challenge through differing approaches.  Visit our Carbon Farming Initiatives Page to follow the research as it unfolds and learn more about soil health and the power of organic agriculture in climate change resilience.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live-time coverage of this crucial work.