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…]

Microgreens production at ‘Farming Turtles’

CN-MR-2-FARMING TURTLE_36by Sanne Kure-Jensen

How many foods can be grown and sold in under a week? Microgreens are ready to sell 5 to 10 days after germination. Baby greens are harvested less than 2 weeks after germination.

Super Babies® “are tiny living pieces of art!” says CEO Lauri Roberts who produces microgreens under the Super Babies name. Chefs love using microgreens as tasty, colorful garnishes. They know that a just a few tiny greens sprinkled over an appetizer or dish will make a big visual impact. A little goes a long way, helping chefs justify the cost of these greens.

Owner Lauri Roberts uses a large sprouting room and two greenhouses to produce certified organic microgreens and baby greens year-round at Farming Turtles in Exeter, RI. The farm also grows wheatgrass for people and pets and shitake mushrooms. [Read more…]

Chocolate milk anyone?

CN-MR-2-CHOC-MILK-141by Laura Rodley

Savoring many different types of chocolate doesn’t just happen at Valentine’s Day. For the past two years Margie Parsons and her daughter Kate have been cooking up chocolate in Mayval Farm’s kitchen. They’re trying out cocoa flavorings for their new chocolate milk, milk that will be processed in the farm’s own processing creamery. They also process cheese and milk and an Icelandic dairy product called skyr, (pronounced skier) which is similar in texture to Greek yogurt.

They will use a portion of the 660 gallons of milk produced daily from their 100 milkers, registered Holsteins with a few Jerseys and Brown Swiss, out of a herd of 200 on the 350 acre Westhampton, MA farm. To withstand the recent -10 degrees temperatures, the cows’ diet of farm-produced haylage and corn silage was increased and they have responded well, actually performing better in colder weather. [Read more…]

Freeman Farm

CN-MR-3-freeman farm 002by Laura Rodley

David Freeman has worked with cattle most of his life. Since age 12, he raised his own calves at his grandfather Oswald Freeman’s Sunnyside Dairy, in northern New York where he grew up. He worked on neighboring farms through school. He helped his brother Dale Freeman during summers after his grandfather passed away and Dale bought the family farm from his grandmother and the one next to it. From there, David moved to Hartford, CT to teach special education and later to Heath, MA to raise beef cattle on his own Freeman Farm, with his wife Christine. Right now he’s rebuilding his herd for next year, with thirty head, mostly Herefords and Murray Grays. His grandfather and brother raised dairy cows, but he chose to raise beef cattle, “Mostly because I hate morning chores, don’t like getting up at 3 o’clock in winter, never did, never will.” He commuted to his job in Connecticut for years until he “got the farm going well enough,” and retired early from teaching in 1996.   [Read more…]

The NOFA/MASS Winter Conference

CN-MR-2-NOFAMASS1by George Looby, DVM

On Saturday morning Jan. 10, 2015 there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that winter had descended on the Campus of Worcester State University. With the temperature hovering around the zero mark, the pace of pedestrian traffic was brisk with little time elapsed as attendees moved from building to building in search of their next session. On the up side it was a perfect day to attend this meeting where everyone was anxious to share information in the warmth of the campus classrooms and other meeting venues.

This was the 28th Annual Winter Conference presented by the NOFA/MASS, this year held on the campus of the Worcester State University where over 1000 members and others with an interest in organic agriculture came together to be updated on the that which is at the cutting edge of things organic. As always there was an extensive menu of workshops available offering a wide range of subject matter ranging from tips on growing and storing onions to a legislative update and preview for Massachusetts agriculture. [Read more…]