Organic farming

by Jane Primerano

The term “organic farming” was coined by J. I. Rodale back in the 1940s. The institute he founded and the farms he started continue, now under the direction of Mark Smallwood.

The institute is housed at Kutztown University, not far from the Emmaus, PA, publishing company (think Organic Gardening) operated by members of the family, but a separate entity.

Smallwood was invited to be the keynote speaker for the 25th annual Winter Conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association — New Jersey held at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft. His address was a call to good stewardship and a delineation of the work being done at Rodale. [Read more…]

Land for Good

CN-MR-1-LAND FOR GOOD-field-staffby George Looby, DVM

Since the beginning of this century there has been a modest resurgence in the number of organizations whose mission is to encourage the preservation of farms and farmland and assist new farmers in acquiring land and gaining the knowledge to manage it successfully. Many young people are finding a career in farming satisfying in ways that cannot be achieved in other career fields. The pitfalls and obstacles this group faces are many and varied but help is available for those who know where to look. Land for Good will assist those who are searching for new resources to explore. [Read more…]

Is it organic or is it natural?

by George Looby, DVM

As the designated shopper makes his/her way through the aisles of the supermarket with the square wheel of the shopping cart not quite in sync with the other three one cannot help but be somewhat confused by the array of designations given to even the the most basic of foodstuffs. Not that long ago eggs were Grade A Jumbo, Extra Large, Large etc. Now one of the more basic of our dietary needs has been given additional designations and making sense of it all becomes a bit confusing. Free range, natural, organic, GMO free … just what do all of these designations mean or do they mean anything at all? [Read more…]

Gabe Brown: Writing on the back of the check is better

CEW-MR-3-Gabe Brown1by Troy Bishopp

TOWANDA, PA — When North Dakota’s soil health evangelist Gabe Brown speaks: Farmers listen. They also fill fire halls and fields to visit with him about the finer points of regenerating soil, improving profit and actually having fun on the farm again.

The candid rancher spoke in front of over 150 farmers from three states at the Wysox Volunteer Fire Company as part of a 3-day soil health roadshow in Pennsylvania with Dr. Bernard Sweeney, Director of the Stroud Water Research Center and Norm Conrad from the Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). [Read more…]

Rotational grazing for maximum fertility and soil health

CN-MR-2-ROTATIONAL-GRAZING-4101by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Farmers have understood for centuries that animal manure helps return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields, but at Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley advocates rotational grazing; they blend livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests.

Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to their fresh “salad bar” each morning. The cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more…]