Let’s not educate the consumer

C4-MR-1-Educate Consumer1by Sally Colby

Farmers hear it all the time: “We have to educate the consumer.”

But what if the consumer doesn’t want to be educated? What if the consumer is simply looking for clear answers to honest questions?

The generation currently making the most noise about food production is millennials. They’re the children of baby boomers, ranging in age from 18 to 34. [Read more…]

William Hale derives added value by growing organic grain for seed and for sale to local markets

CM-MR-3-William Hale 4aby Karl H. Kazaks

LOUISA, VA — At the recent Virginia Farm to Table Conference, Dr. Elizabeth Dyck suggested that there are opportunities for farmers in the mid-Atlantic to develop markets for locally grown grain.

The vision she illustrated was one in which entrepreneurial farmers realize higher prices for their crops than those found in the commodity grain markets. The premium would offset the production drags and higher costs associated with growing grain in areas outside of the nation’s traditional breadbasket regions. Dr. Dyck also suggested growing heirloom varieties as a way to bolster the possibility of success for such a strategy. [Read more…]

Cultivating forest land for non-timber products

CEW-MR-3-Cultivating forest3by 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…]

A long way in a short time

CEW-MR-1-Along way9050by Sally Colby

Those who raised beef cattle in the early 1900s were often on their own when it came to diagnosing and treating sick cattle. Many stockmen relied on recipes for concoctions passed down from generation to generation. But savvy stockmen sought more up-to-date resources. One widely-used resource was The Practical Stock Doctor, first published in 1904 by professor of veterinary medicine Dr. George Waterman of Michigan State Agricultural College. This book was written as a guide for farmers and ranchers who were interested in learning more about livestock diseases and how to recognize and treat those diseases on their own. [Read more…]