Permaculture: strategies for diversification

by Katie Navarra

A lot of people are talking about permaculture, a system that relies on designing planting configurations to work more like an ecosystem. Until recently, the practice has largely been associated with the landscape industry. However, farms nationwide ranging from less than five acres in production to more than 100 acres in production are beginning to incorporate the principles of permaculture on their farms.

During the e-Organic webinar, Permaculture on Organic Farms, Rafter Ferguson along with Ron Revord and Kevin Wolz, all graduate students at the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign campus, explained the basics of permaculture, offered information on how to incorporate the concept on farms and discussed opportunities and challenges associated with a permaculture design system. [Read more…]

NAFDMA 2015 “Setting the Stage”

CM-CN-MR-3-NAFDMA_IMG_7673 copyby Branden Jaquays

This year’s get-together for the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association took place in Nashville and Knoxville, TN. The week-long event was part trade show, part tour and also featured two days of in-depth marketing specific demonstrations and discussions by experts and peers on how members can best grow their business. With several hundred in attendance, extra transportation was need to bus groups to various tour stops around the areas of both cities. [Read more…]

Managing bad stink bugs with good stink bugs

CN-MR-2-Stink bugs71by Katie Navarra

It’s easy to classify stink bugs as “bad” bugs because of the severe crop damage they cause. But, not all stink bugs are “bad” stink bugs. In Indonesia specific species of stink bugs are used to draw astringent out of tea leaves before harvesting. In other parts of the world, stink bugs are even edible.

However, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) have caused significant damage to crops in the Mid-Atlantic. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs originated in Asia and were first identified in apple orchards in Allentown, PA.

“They were first recorded as household or ornamental pests because they go into the house to overwinter,” said Dr. Yong-Lak Park Ph.D., an associate professor in the entomology department at West Virginia University. By 2000 BMSB invaded Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia and Virginia. “It is the most severe agricultural problem in the Mid-Atlantic,” he added. [Read more…]

Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference

CN-MR-2-NOFAby Laura Rodley

While the soil on their New England area farms lay buried under several feet of snow, over 140 people filled the pews of First Churches in Northampton, MA to learn more about soil and mineral balancing at the Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference.

Mark Fulford of Teltane Farm, Monroe, Maine gave a talk entitled “Beyond Chemistry: Soil Biology and Soil Cycles”, the conference was sponsored by Northeast Organic Farming Association/(NOFA)/Mass and Bionutrient Food Associations. [Read more…]

Preparing for peeps

CN-MR-1-PREPARING FOR PEEPS2522by Sally Colby

Open the door to the local hardware or feed store at this time of year and you’re likely to be greeted by the peeping of newly hatched chicks. Whether you’ve raised poultry in the past or are thinking about it for the first time, there are some considerations for successful, small-scale poultry production.

“Raising chickens can be fun,” said Chicken Whisperer® Andy Schneider, USDA/APHIS national spokesperson for biosecurity for birds. “But it’s a major commitment not to be entered into without careful research and a clear understanding of the downside. Like other animals, chickens can create an odor if not properly taken care of. Chickens and their coops must be kept clean, and chickens must be kept safe from predators. Daily attention includes providing fresh food and water and regular egg collection. Coops must be cleaned regularly, including basic cleaning several times a month and a good overall cleaning with disinfectant once or twice a year. Nesting and bedding materials must be provided and changed. And chickens can be noisy.” [Read more…]