4-Hers wow the judges…again!

CN-RP-1-4HERS WOWby Kristina Vaughan

It had been a long day at work, preparing for the 4-H Food Show and Public Speaking events. Before turning in for the night I took a few minutes to check my social media page. As I scrolled down through the posts I found myself laughing loudly when I read the discussion between two 4-H moms comparing notes about supper plans. Their plans were not uncommon for a Friday night; one was headed out to a restaurant with her husband, and the other had just returned home with take out. The humor came from their motives. One stated: “my children have taken over my kitchen to prep for Food Show”. The other wrote: “Mine just finished… time for takeout.” I couldn’t help but be amused that an event to showcase culinary skills could result in families needing to seek nourishment elsewhere.

As I drove to the event the next morning, I pondered how the 4-H kids were doing as they packed up their supplies for the show. From what I had read the night before, plans were in full swing, now I just wondered how well their nerves were holding up. [Read more…]

Cultivating forest land for non-timber products

CN-MR-3-Cultivating forest1by Tamara Scully

Forest plants, native to the eastern United States, are in demand both domestically and internationally. While often wild-harvested, these medicinal plants can be readily cultivated in their natural environment. Whether it’s black cohash, goldenseal, or American ginseng, the potential for increasing forest cultivation of these crops is enormous.

“We’re talking about crops that have very exacting locations where they will grow,” Eric Burkhart, Program Director, Plant Science, at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University, said. “The way to approach it is to get to know your forest land. Don’t fight it. Work with that ecosystem.” [Read more…]

Dwarfing rootstock for new PYO business

CN-MR-2-ORCHARD RIDGE_1734by Sally Colby

The owners of a Gorham, Maine farm are hoping to become a hub for good, local food. “The general trend is moving toward becoming a suburb of Portland,” said Steven Bibula. “That’s good for us, because it’s an area that is densely populated by people who are very interested in local and artisan.” Bibula and his wife started Plowshares Farm with the intention of picking up where Bibula left off. His original farm enterprise was raising organic vegetables for a CSA, but it became apparent that their location was far enough inland that local customers weren’t willing to pay for CSA shares. Although Bibula was trained in organic growing, he has since abandoned that model in favor of carefully planned IPM that emphasizes appropriate rootstock, resistant varieties and minimal chemical applications. “I began moving away from the CSA model in 2012 by establishing fruit trees,” said Bibula, adding that he received significant help from state pomologist Renae Moran. “I found that I loved growing apples and the site was good for apples. The first planting was a modified tall spindle — it was modified to fit my equipment, with 15’ spacing between rows and 3’ to 6’ between trees depending on variety.” [Read more…]

Get ready for credit – prepare for your first farm loan Part 1

by Sanne Kure-Jensen

How does a beginning farmer secure their first farm loan? A farmer may wish to purchase equipment using a loan instead of taking on expensive credit card debt for cash flow until harvest brings cash. Most lenders seek similar business information to analyze when considering beginning farmer credit worthiness.

Short-term loans are used to finance seeds, fertilizers and/or other annual inputs. This can include cash to help farmers pay their farm and/or personal bills between harvests. Short-term loans are under a year and are repaid after harvest. Intermediate-term loans help farmers purchase capital equipment like tillers, tractors, coolers and have repayment terms up to seven years. Long-term loans for farmland may extend to 30 years.

Gary Matteson of the Farm Credit Council and Benneth Phelps of the Carrot Project shared their recommendations on planning for obtaining credit in a workshop for beginning farmer educators at the Beginning Farmer Learning Network Conference in late 2014. [Read more…]

Grass-fed has only just begun

CEW-MR-3-Winter greenup2by Troy Bishopp

LATHAM, NY — “Grass-Fed has only just begun,” said yogurt craftsman, Tim Joseph, the passionate owner of Maple Hill Creamery in Stuyvesant, NY. A theme that would echo throughout the 7th annual Winter Green-up Grass-fed Grazing Conference at the Century House in Latham, NY.

The dynamic duo of Albany County Cooperative Extension Educator, Tom Gallagher and grass-fed aficionado Morgan Hartman continue to draw capacity crowds in an effort to inspire, educate and create a family of would-be profitable grass farmers throughout the Northeast. This year was no exception. [Read more…]