Sugaring season begins at Williams Farm Sugarhouse

CN-MR-2-Sugarhouse013by Laura Rodley

After a savage winter beset by Nor’easters and valiant storms, sugaring is underway. The Williams Farm family in Deerfield, MA has been sugaring since 1853. They started tapping in early March, with their first boiling on March 14.

“The season’s off to a slow start so far; we’re hoping to have a good month of March, maybe beginning of April. You never can tell,” said Kenneth Williams IV, best known as Chip, 5th generation, speaking at their Williams Farm Sugarhouse restaurant. It is two to three weeks later than usual, as traditionally, they start sugaring Feb. 20, if the weather allows. What they waited for was 40-degree days with 20-degree nights for the sap to run. [Read more…]

Veterans: Beginning farmer education

CN-MR-1-VETERANS_1849by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Agricultural training programs designed for veterans should include plenty of hands-on experiences for this high-energy group. Norm Conrad, Northeast Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) strongly suggests having extra materials on-hand as well as an extra group exercise or activity in the curriculum. Veterans are often more focused, productive and efficient than other workshop attendees. [Read more…]

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…]