Within the last several weeks two announcements of national consequence were made. Both National Beef and JBS, two of the world’s largest meat packers, and certainly two of the Big 4 here in the United States, announced they will launch branded beef programs marketing 100% Grass-fed Beef domestically sourced. In much the same way Organic has become fairly mainstream, 100% Grass-fed and Finished (NO Grain ever) is also becoming a major sector of growth in beef demand. The Big 4 are recognizing it and intend to capitalize on it.
Ben and Hannah Wolbach of Skinny Dip Farm in Westport, MA shared their experience growing and selling winter storage crops at a Twilight Event for the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP). In a recent workshop, Hannah and Ben Wolbach explained their fertility practices. Farm soils receive mineral supplements as recommended by soil tests. Hannah and Ben plant winter rye and vetch cover crops after harvest for winter cover to improve soil fertility and organic matter. Fields that will be planted in summer for fall harvest will have spring planted cover crop blends of either oats or barley with peas, clover and vetch. Oats and peas will cover fields destined for early spring plantings because oats are generally winterkilled in Westport making spring bed preparation easy. [Read more…]
The farm of Heifer International in Rutland, MA was the site for a presentation by Ridgway Shinn on establishing a grass fed beef operation under New England conditions. The Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) sponsored the seminar. The speaker of the day, Ridgway F. Shinn III, has a long and varied career encompassing a wide variety of areas, all related in some way to animal agriculture. He was a founding director of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy recently renamed The Livestock Conservancy. [Read more…]
In the middle of the village of Warwick, MA, beef cattle and sheep graze on green fields while geese peck the ground around them. The grazing occurs from April until it snows, which this year was early December. Framed by the town’s historic houses, its like stepping back in time. The livestock belong to Jennifer and Olivier Flagollet of Hettie Belle Farm, they raise grass-fed organic livestock, selling meat orders to Community in Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) members as far away as Boston and as close as three doors down. The Flagollets are restoring depleted land, with the added benefit of assisting, “a multitude of village farms with little fields going back to forest and reclaiming them. It very much speaks to our community’s value of keeping the land open.” [Read more…]
LOUISA, VA — At the recent Virginia Farm to Table Conference, Dr. Elizabeth Dyck suggested that there are opportunities for farmers in the mid-Atlantic to develop markets for locally grown grain.
The vision she illustrated was one in which entrepreneurial farmers realize higher prices for their crops than those found in the commodity grain markets. The premium would offset the production drags and higher costs associated with growing grain in areas outside of the nation’s traditional breadbasket regions. Dr. Dyck also suggested growing heirloom varieties as a way to bolster the possibility of success for such a strategy. [Read more…]
While many folks think “turkey” when planning a holiday feast, roast goose is a tradition for others. At Gozzard City, Wesley Bascom and Suzanne Podhaizer raise several hundred geese on pastures in the rolling hills of Cabot, VT.
Geese are larger, more curious and need more bedding and water than chickens. Processing the birds, as well as marketing them, is more complex and the initial investment in day-old goslings costs quite a bit more.
Day-old goslings are purchased from Metzer Farms. Birds arrive in May and are about $10 per bird, which is 10 times the cost of chicken poults. Gozzard City has successful raised 300 pastured geese this season and moving 300 geese at a time is not a chore for just one person. The geese are divided into four flocks, ranging from 65-100 birds each. “Geese go through so much more bedding due to their ability to drink so much and their desire to play with water,” Bascom says. “Geese are also much more curious and willing to experiment — or tinker — with things. They’ll go after any stray bits of electrical wire. If the fence is off, they’ll find out within the day and wreck havoc on the netting.” [Read more…]
Forest plants, native to the eastern United States, are in demand both domestically and internationally. While often wild-harvested, these medicinal plants can be readily cultivated in their natural environment. Whether it’s black cohash, goldenseal, or American ginseng, the potential for increasing forest cultivation of these crops is enormous.
“We’re talking about crops that have very exacting locations where they will grow,” Eric Burkhart, Program Director, Plant Science, at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University, said. “The way to approach it is to get to know your forest land. Don’t fight it. Work with that ecosystem.” [Read more…]
Those who raised beef cattle in the early 1900s were often on their own when it came to diagnosing and treating sick cattle. Many stockmen relied on recipes for concoctions passed down from generation to generation. But savvy stockmen sought more up-to-date resources. One widely-used resource was The Practical Stock Doctor, first published in 1904 by professor of veterinary medicine Dr. George Waterman of Michigan State Agricultural College. This book was written as a guide for farmers and ranchers who were interested in learning more about livestock diseases and how to recognize and treat those diseases on their own. [Read more…]