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…]

Grazing dairy strategies

CM-CN-MR-1-Grazing strategiesby Tamara Scully

There’s a lot of talk these days about different grazing systems. Mob grazing, management intensive grazing (MIG), ultra-high stock density (UHSD) grazing and tall grass grazing systems. Most concentrate on beef cattle production. But can these systems translate to dairy cows? In a system where dairy profitability and milk production is dependent upon excellent forage quality and dry matter intake, can these type of grazing strategies make sense?

Mena Hautau, field and forage crop educator with Berks County Extension, recently decided to take a look at what type of “mob grazing” was already happening on southeast Pennsylvania grazing dairies. A Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant allowed her to observe grazing systems on four dairies which have already incorporated some type of intensive, managed grazing system, and are grazing tall grass, using frequent rotations, and grazing in higher densities. They were also all certified organic, although this was not intentional, and all were being managed by dairymen with more than two decades of experience. The dairies are grazing-based dairies with little grain or total mixed rations being fed. [Read more…]

UNH Bee Hotel Featured at 2015 NH Farm and Forest Expo

beehotel_hrDURHAM, N.H. – Visitors to this year’s NH Farm and Forest Expo in Manchester will have a chance to see what the accommodations are like for bees buzzing around Woodman Farm at the University of New Hampshire. A rendition of UNH’s Bee Hotel, which is part of a research project at the NH Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES), will be on display.

The bee hotel, which won’t have any guests, will be part of the UNH booth featuring information about the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, and the experiment station. The expo runs Friday, Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. [Read more…]

At the junction of livestock and the environment

CN-MR-3-VT grazing conf3by Troy Bishopp

FAIRLEE, VT — The frozen surface of Lake Morey and the majestic mountain ranges provide many hours of relaxation, skating, hockey games and ice-fishing while adding the scenic backdrop for the 19th annual Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference. All is quiet under the frozen lakes and soil of the Green Mountain State, but water quality opportunities and challenges coming down the pike for residents and farmers will no doubt heat things up.

Over the years, The Vermont Grass Farmers Association, The Vermont Beef Producers Association and The UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Pasture Program have explored conference themes in building community and ecological resilience, integrating natural systems and growing the local food movement. This year’s theme, and perhaps the most telling, “At the Junction of Livestock and the Environment” added to the decision-making discussion as the immense Lake Champlain watershed comes under pollution diet restrictions. [Read more…]