From the Executive Director
A Great Winter Conference
Many thanks to the 800 people who joined us last Saturday at Wilton High School for our biggest winter conference ever with 200 more participants than last year. What a wonderful gathering of people doing critical and exciting work, sharing skills and enthusiasm. We are creating a healthy and local food system.
The community at the conference brings to mind the quotes that Dr. Wolfe put on his last slide. (You can see his whole presentation here. )
From environmentalist and author Paul Hawkin: "If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse."
From author Terry Tempest Williams: "I do not believe we can look for leadership beyond ourselves."
Besides the great crowd, it was very exciting to be so warmly welcomed in Wilton by so many different organizations, businesses and people. Thanks to everyone who made it such a wonderful experience.
If you attended the conference, please go here to fill out the evaluation and help us plan an even better conference next year.
GMO Labeling Heats Up
There are two GMO Labeling bills before legislative committees in Connecticut. One, HB 6527, requires labels on baby food that contains GMOs. The other, HB 6519, requires labeling on most products that contain genetically modified ingredients. There is a public hearing on the second bill on Friday March 15 at 10:30 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
The Labeling Coalition is planning statewide events on March 20th at 7 PM.
Click here for more information on our GMO Labeling efforts and useful links for submitting testimony.
Now is the time to talk to your state senator and representative about your Right to Know what is in your food with labeling for GMOs. Read more>
A Triumph of the Industrial Food System
Most of the GM ingredients are Roundup Ready. They are sales tools for an herbicide. Roundup Ready wheat, tomato and lettuce are waiting in the wings. What does it say that we have a food system designed to increase sales of a chemical that kills all green plants except GMOs? Until the weeds become super weeds. I think taste, nutrition, health, a healthy environment are more appropriate to create a food system around. Gear up the industrial medical system for incoming disasters.
CT NOFA and Organic Land Care Events
- March 10, 2013: Fiddleheads Food Coop, New London, CT
Come to a CSA fair to talk to CSA farmers and ask about their produce, CSA-model, prices, and other details. Farmers with CSAs are asked to fill out this survey to help us track where CSAs are located, what seasons the CSAs are available and other information valuable for our targeted programming. Funding for CT NOFA's CSA Program has been provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA awarded by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.
Learn more about the CSA model and register here.
Want to sign up as a farmer with a CSA program? You can here
Thursday, March 21, 2013
9:00 am to 12:00 noon
New Haven, CT
Join us on the first full day of Spring! Jeremy Oldfield, Farm Manager, and Jacquie Lewin, Event and Outreach Coordinator from the Yale Sustainable Food Project, will provide a farm tour and a talk on their greenhouse/high tunnel work. John W. Bartok, Jr., UConn Extension Professor Emeritus and Agricultural Engineer will also be there to address greenhouse design and to talk about ways to improve greenhouse efficiency and function. Learn more here.
Organic Land Care Program Events
As consumer demand increases for organic lawn care services, now is the time to educate yourself! This one-day course will cover how pesticide and fertilizer runoff harms water quality, how to grow a beautiful lawn organically, and how to market organic services. Learn more here
Growing Herbs Organically
Wednesday March 13, 2013
6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
West Hartford Public Library
Carole Miller of the Topmost Herb Farm in Coventry, CT leads a show-and-tell lecture on growing herbs organically. This program will provide an overview of her experiences in growing both culinary and medicinal herbs; which varieties grow best in our zone, best planting and harvesting methods, and a few organic strategies in dealing with pests and diseases. Learn more here
.Public Hearing on HB 6519, An Act Concerning the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
Friday, March 15th, 10:30am
Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT
Our Legislators must see that their constituents want the right to know what is in our food. It is not necessary to testify in person, but please send in written testimony to PHC.Testimony@cga.ct.gov
. In addition, you can reach out to your legislators letting them know you will be in Hartford on the 15th and would like a brief meeting with them. Please write and call your legislators TODAY
and tell them to support HB 6519
, An Act Concerning the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods and HB 6527
, And Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Baby Food. Take action today by clicking HERE
. Learn more about the public hearing here
.Compost and Soils Workshop
Saturday, March 16, 2013
10am - 12:30pm
This workshop taught by Bettylou Sandy of CT NOFA and Shannon Raider and Jill Keating of Common Ground High School, has two parts: the morning session will cover basic background knowledge of soils and compost, and the afternoon session will be on teaching elementary students about compost and soils. You may attend one or both of these sessions. Please RSVP. Learn more here
.Food For Thought Expo
Saturday, March 16, 2013
10am to 4pm
Fairfield Warde High School
A wealth of educational opportunities centered on healthy eating, healthy food and lifestyle. Vendors, educators, chefs, coaches, farmers, gardeners, nutritionists, beekeepers, bread bakers and more. Learn more here
.CFBA Presents Profiting from Planning: The Business Side of Farming
March 23, 2013
8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT
Like all successful business owners, farmers use plans to guide and expand their businesses. This program will review the key components of a well-developed business plan along with proven strategies for measuring the steps along the way. Learn more here.
Our Largest Winter Conference Yet!
On Saturday, March 2, CT NOFA held its 31st annual Winter Conference, with over 55 workshops, around 60 exhibitors, a lunch with over a dozen of southwestern CT's most delicious restaurants, and a keynote presentation given by David W. Wolfe, Ph.D. Final attendee counts aren't in yet, but it's looking like this year's conference was our largest ever! Thanks so much to everyone who attended, sponsored, volunteered, exhibited, served lunch, and presented for helping to make this event spectacular! If you missed the keynote address, you can check out David Wolfe's presentation slides here. If you attended the conference but didn't get a chance to fill out the online evaluation yet, you can do so by clicking here. Please let us know what you thought of the day - we will use your input to help us plan an even better conference for next year!
The 2013 Winter Conference featured workshops for homeowners, farmers, cooks, students, environmentalists and activists. Beginners were able to learn the basics of how to start a garden or keep backyard chickens, and experts had the opportunity to attend technical workshops about growing fruit trees and soil biology. Connecticut's experienced organic farmers taught about growing a variety of crops from grain to garlic. Food lovers could explore adventurous foods (like wild edible plants and mushrooms), healthy foods (with workshops about GMO-free purchasing and intestinal health) and new recipes. This year's event represented the vast diversity in what Connecticut has to offer the organic and sustainably minded community.
Missed this year's conference? Don't worry - we're already starting to work on our 2014 Winter Conference! Check our website
as the year progresses to learn more about next year's event. Thanks so much for your support!
2013-14 Farm and Food Guide Farm/Business Listings
It's not too late to get your listing into the 2013-14 Farm and Food Guide! If you're a member, own a farm or supporting business, and don't have a listing or would like one, or if you have any questions about listings in the Farm and Food Guide, contact Debbie. Getting a listing in the Guide gives you exposure to thousands of sustainably-minded individuals in the region, and is a part of being a CT NOFA Business Member. Don't miss out on this opportunity to let your business be seen! You can view a PDF of the 2012-13 Farm and Food Guide here.
RoJo Farm is located on the historic Jerome Downs farm property in Bethany, CT. The farm uses sustainable growing practices to produce a wide variety of heirloom and commercial market vegetables for the greater New Haven area. RoJo Farm offers a CSA from June-September, and also creates customized growing plans to meet the needs of restaurants, markets, schools and caterers! They are developing educational programs that will provide sustainable farming and food production education to youth and adults locally and internationally.
Since the 1600's Bethany, Connecticut has been an area rich in agricultural development and commerce. Farming has been a way a life and a source of great pride. The Jerome Downs' property at 327 Litchfield Turnpike is featured in Alice Bice Bunson's book, Bethany's Old Houses and Community Buildings
Pictured on the right is the Jerome Downs house built in 1879. Sources estimate by 1900 the original RoJo Farm was in operation on the property which was over 58 acres. Run by Jerome Downs Jr., also known as 'Romie' and his wife Josephine, the farm focused on livestock, dairy and hay. The farm and original farm house stayed in the Down's family until 1955, two year's after Josephine passed away. The original farm logo was "Ro=Jo Farm" a true labor of love.
Learn more about RoJo Farm by visiting their website here
. You can check out their blog here
Want to Get More Involved with CT NOFA?
CT NOFA Board Members Sought!
CT NOFA is looking for board members with Fundraising, Legal and/or Volunteer Coordination Experience.
The Board member will:
- Attend in-person meetings approximately every other month
- Participate in conference call meetings on the alternate month
- Participate in or lead the appropriate committee of the Board, with separate committee meetings
- Attend CT NOFA events, have fun, eat great food and advocate for local, organic food and organic land care
Please contact John Turenne, Vice-President of the CT NOFA Board. You can learn more about the current CT NOFA board here.
Announcements & Alerts
NRCS Announces Special Seasonal High Tunnel Sign Up Period
Are you an agricultural producer who suffered a loss of a seasonal high tunnel during the blizzard, or just in need of one for your growing operation? The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced a special signup period for Seasonal High Tunnels with a batching date of March 15, 2013. Applications received after that date will be considered for funding for the next cycle. Learn more here
Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic Publishes State Food Policy Toolkit
The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic is excited to announce the release of Good Laws, Good Food: Putting State Food Policy to Work for Our Communities, the second toolkit in a two-part series for communities seeking to make change in their food and agriculture system. This state level toolkit focuses on the ways that states can change their policies to improve their food and agriculture systems. Download the toolkit here. Learn more here.
Organic Farming and Gardening 101 at the Hickories with Farmer Dina Brewster
Join Dina Brewster on her farm as she discusses a number of topics important to organic farmers and gardeners. Check out the videos here.
Nationwide Survey of Urban and Peri-Urban Farms
Attention farmers! This study being led by New York University, Pennsylvania State University, and NCAT-ATTRA seeks to examine the state of urban farming in the United States and gather information about the characteristics, opportunities, and risks of urban and peri-urban farming in the United States. The survey has several intended benefits for urban farmers. Learn more and take the survey here.
A Japanese/Brazilian Squash Finds Fertile Ground in Southern New England - Guest Article
By Bryan Connolly
Winter squash are traditional in New England for their ornamental and culinary uses. They are also a staple crop for vegetable growers in our region. Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) and buttercup, hubbards, and kabocha squash (Cucurbita maxima) are familiar to northeastern consumers and farmers. Butternuts are known for a high degree of insect resistance, especially to the squash vine borer and striped cucumber beetle, and are resistant to Plectorsporium blight. Though the traditional butternut cultivars are susceptible to powdery mildew, newer varieties have had resistance to this fungus bred into them from wild gourd species. The buttercup/hubbard/kabocha groups are prized for their culinary uses but are very prone to the squash vine borer and striped cucumber beetle. Little known in North America is a cross between these two squash groups (Cucurbita maxima X C. moschata) known as Abóbora híbrida or Abóbora Japonesa in Brazil, and will be referred to as hybrid pumpkin for the remainder of this article. These hybrids were developed in Japan, then around 1960 they migrated to Brazil where they have become quite popular. Several cultivars have been developed e.g. 'Tetsukabuto', 'Suprema', 'Greenstone' and 'Triunfo'. In addition to being grown for the squash themselves, this cross is also used as a rootstock in many parts of the world for melons and watermelons. The University of Massachusetts lists this as an ethnic crop for this region but I had not heard of anyone growing this crop in New England. So, I had to try it out. To get first hand knowledge I applied for a USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Resource Education (NE-SARE) producer grant to trial this hybrid. Luckily, I was successful in getting funding, see grant number FNE11-709. More>
In the News
Blizzard delivers crushing blow to Connecticut agriculture
Patti Popp of Sport Hill Farm in Easton was at least managing to laugh a bit as she described the collapsed hoop house. "It's mess," she said. "I went inside praying it didn't fall on me." The hoop house at Sport Hill Farm collapsed under the weight of snow. Popp is among Connecticut farmers who for about the half-dozenth time in less than three years are taking stock of major weather-induced damage. More>
GMO Labeling Bill Introduced in U.S. Congress
A battle in Congress over uniform labeling of genetic changes to food would be bigger and more costly than even last November's initiative campaign in California. Whether Rep. Polis (D-Boulder) can turn his bill into more than just a district press event with a big donor, remains to be seen. More>
Statewide Coalition Calls on CT Legislature to Support GMO Food Labeling
Supporters of the "Right to Know GMO CT" coalition gathered at the Legislative Office Building recently to call on the Connecticut General Assembly to stand up for consumers' right to know whether or not the food they eat and feed their families has been genetically engineered. Over the past year, the coalition has grown dramatically and in the past few weeks alone 109 businesses and organizations have joined the coalition, 180 residents have attended campaign action meetings, and grass roots leaders have scheduled over 20 GMO educational events around the state. More>
Please write and call your legislators TODAY and tell them to support HB 6519, An Act Concerning the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods and HB 6527, And Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Baby Food. Take action today by clicking HERE.
Connecticut Food Activists Skeptical of Wal-Mart's Apparent Switch on GMO Labeling
You'd think that having a food-industry monster like Wal-Mart talking to federal regulators about labeling products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would have anti-GMO types jumping for joy. The trouble is, say activists like Connecticut's Tara Cook-Littman, the history of the cozy relationship between the federal government and the giant corporations that control the American system of food doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. More> CitySeed market to move onto NH Green
Don't look now, but money will soon start changing hands on the New Haven Green-legally. Starting in June, a weekly 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. downtown farmers market run by the not-for-profit CitySeed organization will move from its sidewalk location in front of City Hall to an open space on the lower Green. That will mark the first time in three centuries that commerce will be permitted on New Haven's central two-block park. More> Curbside Food Waste Collection - A Growing Trend
Almost half of the nearly 250 million tons of garbage that winds up in landfills in the U.S. each year could be composted. An average single-family household throws away about 45 pounds of food scraps and food-soiled paper every month-around 25% of total trashed materials! Sierra Club Green Home explores a growing trend that creates a viable alternative to this: curbside food waste collection. More>Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds
Last year's drought took a big bite out of the two most prodigious US crops, corn and soy. But it apparently didn't slow down the spread of weeds that have developed resistance to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), used on crops engineered by Monsanto to resist it. More than 70 percent of all the the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the US is now genetically modified to withstand glyphosate. More>
From our Blog
Oceana Study Reveals Something Fishy About Seafood Labels Nationwide
From 2010 to 2012 Oceana, an international organization focused on ocean conservation, conducted one of the most comprehensive studies investigating "seafood fraud" or the mislabeling of seafood products in the United States. The organization collected more than 1,200 samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states. The study included DNA testing of all the samples finding that one third of the samples tested were mislabeled according to FDA guidelines. More>GMOs, Industry Involvement, and Preemption - A Word of Caution
It might be hard to believe that conventional food retailers would support a federal labeling initiative, but when you look at it from the perspective of money, ease, and stability, it makes more sense. After all, it's a lot easier for a multinational corporation like Walmart to have one labeling law to deal with in the United States rather than a host of different state laws, and putting an end to grassroots organizing helps their bottom line, reduces the possibility of PR trouble, and generally creates a more stable situation for their business to operate in. More>
Love our blog? Want a chance to get more involved?
For the first time ever, we are now accepting guest articles to feature on our blog. If you have expertise and passion for organic and sustainable food issues, and experience with writing either on a blog or in another journalistic outlet, you can become a guest blogger for CT NOFA! Interested? Send us an email detailing your relevant experience with writing and sustainable food and, if our needs match, we'll set you up as either a one-time blogger, or a scheduled guest writer.
|Go Organic when you Shop!
Sign up for a NOFA credit card through Capital One to support NOFA's important policy work to build a strong, regional organic food system. It's easy! Just shop for things you buy every day and NOFA gets a $50 donation upon first use and at least 1% of all purchases.
|If you have any stories, articles, notices, or suggestions for this newsletter, please send them along. Please also note that classifieds and community notices are maintained on our community board. If you have a notice you'd like to add, send it along to the office here.|