Archive for August, 2011

Advanced Workshop Takes Sustainable Tomato Growers to the Next Level

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 23, 2011

Contact:
Laura Wies, Special Projects Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206, laura@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

Press Release

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is pleased to offer a workshop, “Advanced Sustainable Tomato Production,” featuring researchers and veteran growers from across Ohio. Scheduled for Friday, October 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Wooster, Ohio (Wayne County), this session is designed for experienced growers looking for the most up to date and innovative strategies to improve their tomato management techniques from seed to harvest.

“This interactive workshop will give experienced tomato producers a variety of tools to improve efficiency and increase the quality of their product,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s Program Director.  “Growers can expect higher yields and lower production costs as a result, while using the sustainable and organic methods that already allow them to demand a premium price for their tomatoes.”

Held at Shisler Conference Center, the workshop will provide information on field and high tunnel systems. Topics include variety selection, grafting, and management of nutrients, diseases, and pests. An all-star speaker line-up will include grafting and high tunnel expert Matt Kleinhenz, entomologist Celeste Welty, vegetable pathologist Sally Miller, Pat Licciardelli of Seedway, and Mike Laughlin of Northridge Organic Farm.

“We are delighted to be able to bring together so many experts to benefit Ohio’s tomato growers,” said Laura Wies, OEFFA’s Special Projects Coordinator.  “The collective knowledge of the presenters and the audience in the room is sure to boost any producer’s bottom line.”

The cost for the workshop, which includes lunch, is $85 for OEFFA members and $100 for nonmembers. Registrations, which should include name, address, phone, email, and a check, can be mailed to OEFFA Tomato Workshop, 41 Croswell Rd., Columbus OH 43214. For more information, please contact Laura at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206 or laura@oeffa.org.

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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association was founded in 1979 and is a grassroots coalition of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers, and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system. For more than 30 years, OEFFA has used education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems, helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at a time. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Lessons for locavores: Ohio cooking expert explains how to make the most of local products

Friday, August 19th, 2011
Robin Davis
The Columbus Dispatch
August 17, 2011

Signs of the popularity of the local-food movement are everywhere. The word locavore — one who tries to eat locally produced food — was added to the New Oxford American Dictionary in 2007. The use of locally sourced food was named one of the hot trends at restaurants for 2011, according to the National Restaurant Association. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a 17 percent increase in farmers markets from 2010 to this year. Major grocery chains — including Giant Eagle, Kroger and Meijer — proudly stock their produce sections these days with fruits and vegetables grown close to home.

With the increasing access to local food, consumers need ideas for selecting, storing and cooking the fare. “People want to eat well, but they need direction on how to use it,” said Lynne Genter, founder of the Clintonville Farmers’ Market. Michael Jones — executive director of Local Matters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making locally grown food available to everyone — agrees. “The No. 1 barrier we see with more people participating in the local-food movement,” he said, “ is lack of cooking skills, from what times of the year they should expect to find things to actually what to do with it.”

To the rescue: Marilou K. Suszko, a cookbook author and cooking instructor considered a guru of eating locally. Her book — The Locavore’s Kitchen: A Cook’s Guide to Seasonal Eating and Preserving, due in bookstores today from Ohio University Press — promises to answer many questions. “Since I travel a lot and teach at a local cooking school, I recognized that people had a lot of basic questions about the food they eat,” said Suszko, who lives in Vermilion, Ohio, along Lake Erie. “Maybe we had to start relearning the way we were eating.”

The book divides food into seasons: asparagus in the spring; green beans and cucumbers in the summer; pears, apples and tomatoes in the fall. Suszko includes how to choose the best produce and store it as well as how to prepare it, with more than 150 recipes — from Cucumber Salad With Cilantro and Peanuts to Chilled Cantaloupe Soup. She lists items other than produce to be found nearby: eggs, maple syrup, specialty grains. And, finally, she tells how to preserve foods in season — through freezing or canning — to be consumed later.

New locavores, Jones said, should consider such a strategy. “More people have an interest in cooking for right now, getting dinner on the table,” he said. “ But we’re just starting to see them ask themselves, ‘How do I extend the seasons?’  ” Doing so, Suszko said, is crucial to eating locally. “Make that part of your repertoire during the growing season,” she said: “putting away some of the food we enjoy now so we can enjoy it in the middle of winter — when we miss the flavors of homegrown.”

The Locavore’s Kitchen represents a labor of love for Suszko, also the author of Farms & Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate. Instead of talking to farmers and food producers, as she did for her first book, she relied on her experience as a home cook specializing in locally grown foods. The challenge for her, she said, involved the writing. “The hardest part was trying to keep it concise,” she said. “I only had so many pages to work with.” What did she enjoy most?“My favorite part was testing the recipes,” she said of the 18 months she spent on the book. “I ate strictly with the seasons. I couldn’t miss a beat. My job at the time kept me very connected to the growing season.” Still, as she reminds other cooks, the local-food movement isn’t all or nothing. “It’s a matter of degrees,” she said. “If you don’t jump in headfirst, even if you’re only buying one thing, only buying corn, you’re still doing something.”

To read the original text of this article, visit the Food section at The Columbus Dispatch.

Advanced Season Extension Workshops Bring National Experts Eliot Coleman and Josh Volk: Registration Deadline September 6

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

OEFFA logo CVCC logo

Contact:
Rebecca Cole, (330) 657-2542, rcole@cvcountryside.org
Michelle Gregg, (614) 421-2022, michelle@oeffa.org

Press Release

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy are offering a four day, two session workshop, “Raising the Salad Bar: Advanced Techniques and Season Extension for the Established Specialty Crop Grower,” featuring nationally recognized experts Eliot Coleman and Josh Volk. To attend either workshop, growers must submit their application no later than Tuesday, September 6.

“This workshop is designed especially for experienced crop producers and will give them the tools needed to improve efficiency, utilize season extension, engage in sophisticated planning, and improve growing practices,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director.

“We have a number of growers currently doing an excellent job and producing at a high level.  These workshops are to help them take their skills to the next level,” said Beth Knorr of the Countryside Conservancy.

Session 1 (“Advanced Growing Techniques”) will take place on Saturday, November 5 and Sunday, November 6, and feature Josh Volk, a vegetable production expert, lecturer, and regular contributor to Growing for Market. Volk’s Slow Hand Farm in Oregon is home to his CSA, where he implements strategies for consistent yields of specialty crops.

Volk and additional presenters will address season-long planning, seed starting and transplanting, weed management, harvest and post-harvest handling, marketing outlets, and food safety. OSU Extension Entomologist Celeste Welty will also discuss pest and disease control.

Session 2 (“Season Extension”) will take place on Monday, November 7 and Tuesday, November 8 and feature author, commercial market gardener, teacher, and lecturer Eliot Coleman. Coleman’s production techniques, including season extension and rotational grazing, have influenced organic and ecological gardeners for more than four decades. He is the author of The New Organic Grower, Four Seasons Harvest, and The Winter Harvest Handbook. Other presenters include Phil and Mindy Bartholomae of Breezy Hill Farm and OSU Vegetable Pathologist Sally Miller.

This session will address advanced techniques for season extension including high tunnels, low tunnels, cold frames, and greenhouses; utilizing season extension structures during the main season; crop selection; planting schedules and succession planting; harvest and post-harvest handling; soil management, and pest and disease control.

Both sessions will be held at Procter Camp and Conference Center in London, Ohio (Madison County).

Farmers can attend one or both sessions. Each session is limited to 25 farmers. Due to limited slots and to ensure discussion and information presented remain at an advanced level, interested farmers are required to fill out an application, which can be found at can be found at http://www.cvcountryside.org/farmers/RaisingtheSaladBar.php. The application deadline is Tuesday, September 6.

The cost for Session 1, including the two day workshop, lodging, and all meals is $175-$225. The cost is $45 with lunch only and no lodging. The cost for Session 2, including the two day workshop, lodging, and all meals is $275-$325. The cost is $145 with lunch only and no lodging.

For more information or to fill out the registration application, go to http://www.cvcountryside.org/farmers/RaisingtheSaladBar.php. For questions, please contact Countryside Conservancy at (330) 657-2542 or farmersmarket@cvcountryside.org or OEFFA at (614) 421-2022 or michelle@oeffa.org.

This workshop is sponsored by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

About the Countryside Conservancy

Since 1999, the Countryside Conservancy has supported community-based food systems throughout Northeast Ohio.  This unique non-profit organization helps re-establish farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and runs farmers markets in the greater Akron area.  Other programs help up and coming farmers find land, connect local growers to chefs and consumers, educate citizens about the importance of local food systems and provide technical assistance to communities with incorporating agriculture in their land use plan. For more information, go to www.cvcountryside.org.

About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association was founded in 1979 and is a grassroots coalition of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers, and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system. For more than 30 years, OEFFA has used education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems, helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at a time. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Farmers and Seed Distributors Defend Right to Protect Themselves From Monsanto Patents

Monday, August 15th, 2011

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2011

Press Release

New York—The eighty-three family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations, including the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed filed papers in federal court on Thursday, August 11 defending their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) represents the plaintiffs in the suit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto pending in the Southern District of New York. Last week’s filings are in response to a motion filed by Monsanto in mid-July to have the case dismissed.

“On behalf of plaintiffs in Ohio and elsewhere who fear being sued for patent infringement if their fields are contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed, our attorney gave Monsanto the opportunity to state unequivocally that they would not sue,” said Carol Goland, OEFFA’s Executive Director. “Instead, Monsanto’s response was to try to deny our right to receive legal protection from the courts.”

Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director added, “Our filings include sworn statements by several of the plaintiffs themselves explaining to the court how the risk of contamination by transgenic seed is real and why they cannot trust Monsanto to not use an occurrence of contamination as a basis to accuse them of patent infringement.”

Plaintiffs Bryce Stephens, who farms in Kansas, Frederick Kirschenmann, who farms in North Dakota, C.R. Lawn, who is founder and co-owner of Fedco Seeds in Maine, Don Patterson of Virginia, and Chuck Noble, who farms in South Dakota, each submitted declarations to the court describing their personal experiences with the risk of contamination by genetically modified seed and why those experiences have forced them to bring the current suit asking the court.

As summarized by the accompanying brief filed by PUBPAT on the plaintiffs’ behalf, “Monsanto’s acts of widespread patent assertion and plaintiffs’ ever growing risk of contamination create a real, immediate, and substantial dispute between them.”

Twelve agricultural organizations also filed a friend-of-the-court amici brief supporting the right of the plaintiffs to bring the case. In their brief, the amici describe some of the harmful effects of genetically modified seed and how easily GMOs can contaminate an organic or conventional farmer’s land.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Ravicher, PUBPAT, ravicher@pubpat.org or 212-461-1902
Carol Goland, OEFFA, cgoland@oeffa.org or 614-421-2022

Farming food, reaping knowledge

Friday, August 12th, 2011
Diane Chiddister
August 11,2011
The Yellow Springs News

Preparing the ground for incoming students took on new meaning last week at Antioch College, as the revived college launched the Antioch College Farm, its first major sustainability project. Located steps from the classroom, the farm is envisioned by organizers as a significant aspect of campus life, where students not only produce food and compost scraps, but also incorporate their learning about environmental sustainability into classes ranging from chemistry to philosophy.

On Friday the college announced that Glen Helen Director Nick Boutis will also serve as the coordinator of the college’s sustainability projects, including the farm. In an interview Friday, Boutis said that the college’s unique position as newly regenerated after having been closed actually offers an advantage over other schools that have incorporated farms into their operation.

“Most colleges can’t integrate the farm into their campus from the get-go, but we can,” said Boutis. “If we do this wisely, we can figure out how the farm interacts with the facilities, the curriculum and the community. I think it’s incredibly exciting and one of the things that Antioch intends to do moving forward.”

The college took a significant step toward getting the farm up and running with the recent hiring of local organic farmer Kat Christen, who will help to design and implement the first phase of the farm project. As well as running Smaller Footprint Farms with her husband, Christen brings to the job five years experience with environmental education. She worked as an urban naturalist for the Five Rivers MetroParks in Dayton, and also has a bachelors in life science education and a minor in plant biology from Ohio University.

“It’s an exciting project, an opportunity to make something great happen for the college and the community,” Christen said in an interview this week.

Because “growing food is one of the most basic ways we connect with the earth,” growing healthy food with sustainable practices is one of the most meaningful ways that people learn the value of environmental sustainability, she believes.

Sustainability was identified as a major focus of the revived college in President Mark Roosevelt’s June State of the College address. In an interview this week, Roosevelt said that focus has evolved from a variety of factors, including the interest of the college board, and specifically board member David Goodman, and Roosevelt’s own experience in the college’s admissions process last spring, as he learned about prospective students.

“I was affected hugely by seeing how the students are already driven by this issue, and how they see its connection to social justice,” he said.

Identifying himself as still learning about the topic, Roosevelt said he’s become increasingly passionate about sustainability concerns in the six months since he began his presidency.

“I’ve had my own education. It’s been dramatic,” Roosevelt said.

Other colleges, such as Middlebury and Sewanee, offer a sustainability focus, and college leaders are still determining what Antioch’s specific niche will be, Roosevelt said, stating that because Antioch is located in the Midwest, that niche will likely be food production.

Along with Boutis and Christen, a new farm committee composed of faculty and staff has begun meeting regularly to identify ways to incorporate the farm into campus operations.

“Students should be able to pull a vegetable out of the ground, cook with it, take the compost back to the garden and then study the results in chemistry class,” Boutis said of some of the ways the college will integrate the farm experience into campus life.

The farm committee is composed of assistant professors David Kammler (chemistry) and Lewis Trelawny-Cassity (philosophy); Dean of Community Life Louise Smith; facilities representative Ronnie Hampton; adminstrative representative Joyce Morrisey; and Boutis, Brooke Bryan and Ann Simonson of Glen Helen.

Located on the 35-acre former “golf course” on campus, the farm will be a “working laboratory that provides the opportunity for active participation in learning, experimenting and applying best management practices in organic and ecological agriculture methods,” according to a college press release. Lessons learned in the fields will likely become fodder for the college’s new Global Seminars that offer students interdisciplinary approaches to the study of issues around food, water, governance, health and energy.

While the first quarter Global Seminar will focus on water, food will likely be emphasized in winter or spring, according to Trelawny-Cassity. Questions regarding how citizens should spend their time, how food should be produced and distributed are “inherently philosophical” and go back to Plato, he said.

“The farm is an interesting experiment in community and local food production. These are issues of political economy,” he said.

Along with its ability to incorporate the farm into many segments of campus life, Antioch has other advantages compared to some colleges regarding integration of the farm as an educational experience, according to Boutis. First, it will be located on campus, rather than several miles away. And while some schools struggle with aligning their students’ calendar years with a farm’s growing season, Antioch’s first class of students will have a spring campus-based co-op, when farm needs are high, and will also be on campus during their first summer.

“We have some options other schools don’t have regarding the growing season,” Boutis said.

In the first weeks of her job designing the new farm project, Christen is focusing on tilling areas in the former golf course where fall crops — including swiss chard, onions, carrots and beets — will be planted, and planting those areas with the cover crops of buckwheat and red clover that will enrich the soil when they break down.

She’s also building no-till beds in the former Antioch College garden area that, because it’s been untended for several years, is very overgrown. That area will be part of a “food forest” of food-producing trees and shrubs, including wild plums, pecans and pawpaws, Christen said.

Other steps getting the farm up and running include the building of “chicken tractors” for containing the chickens that will be used for eggs, meat and manure, along with fences built from the locust trees that have grown in the area.

The farm will likely include animals other than chickens eventually, and the second species may well be bees, Boutis said. Toward that end, Gunter Hauk of Virginia, a leading biodynamic farmer and beekeeper, will visit campus the end of August for two days of residency with faculty and staff. His visit will also include the screening of a film shown at the Little Art on Aug. 30 and a public talk on Aug. 31.

Go to the online edition of the Yellow Springs News for the original text of this article.

Organic Poultry Farms Have Fewer Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Study Finds

Friday, August 12th, 2011
Eliza Barclay
August 10, 2011
National Public Radio’s Health Blog

Proponents of organic meat often make the case that it’s inherently better for people’s health and the environment than meat raised by conventional farming methods. But the actual impacts of organic production can be tough for scientists to prove.

A study out today in Environmental Health Perspectives adds some weight to the argument that organic poultry, at least, may reduce one type of health risk. A team of scientists from the University of Maryland and other universities found that large-scale organic poultry farms — which are not allowed to use antibiotics to prevent disease in the animals — had significantly lower levels of one group of drug-resistant bacteria than their conventional counterparts.

The study comes at a time when antibiotic use in industrial livestock production is under heavy fire from the public health community. Farmers who raise food-producing animals use about 29 million pounds of antibiotics each year, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and the latest Salmonella outbreak in ground turkey turned out to be caused by a strain resistant to several antibiotics.

Bacteria resistant to antibiotics can make their way to humans through the meat itself and the environment — like waterways contaminated with runoff. If humans ingest those bacteria or are exposed to them other ways and get sick, there aren’t many options for treating them.

Several European countries have already banned the prophylactic or preventative use of antibiotics for exactly this reason, and some studies there have shown that once farmers reduce antibiotic use, those resistant microbes mostly go away.

But that’s been difficult to study in the U.S., since the majority of farmers still use antibiotics pretty indiscriminately. So Amy Sapkota, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Maryland and lead author of the study, decided to look at 10 mid-Atlantic farms that had just adopted organic practices. She measured the change in levels of enterococci bacteria against 10 mid-Atlantic conventional farms. Enterococci can show up in poultry litter, feed, and water. The researchers tested their resistance to 17 different types of antibiotic drugs.

“We were surprised to see such dramatic differences in the levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the very first flock at these organic farms,” Sapkota tells Shots.

For one common antibiotic, erythromycin, 67 percent of an Enterococcus bacterium from conventional poultry farms were found to be resistant, while 18 percent were resistant at the organic farms. But Sapkota notes that organic farms usually still have “reservoirs” of resistant bacteria that can linger in the soil or the packed dirt floor of the poultry houses, so they may never be completely free of the bugs.

But Sapkota’s work does not mean organic poultry eaters get a free pass when it comes to food safety. No chicken is completely free of pathogens, and consumers still need to take all the precautions they normally would when preparing poultry: Cook it well and beware of cross-contamination on the cutting board.

Go to NPR’s Health Blog for the original text of this article.

Farmers markets strengthen economy and community

Friday, August 12th, 2011
Carol Goland & Laura Zimmerman
August 3, 2011
This Week Clintonville

A good dinner can satisfy more than just your appetite.

Farmers markets are a critical part of creating sustainable food systems which nourish our bodies, our communities, our local economy and our environment.

On any given Saturday, if you visit the Clintonville Farmers Market in Columbus, you’ll see streams of families with wagons, baskets and reusable bags brimming with meats and cheese, local produce and fresh baked goods; farmers under shade tents, chatting with customers; bouquets of flowers in every color of the rainbow; and chef demonstrations and workshops showcasing how to enjoy and preserve the tastes of the season.

National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 7-13, gives us an opportunity to celebrate this important and rapidly growing segment of the agricultural economy in Ohio.

Since the nonprofit Clintonville Farmers Market opened in 2003, the number of producers, customers and space has quadrupled. An estimated 40,000 or more customers visit the market each year, generating close to $750,000 for the local economy. A record 67 producers are part of the market’s 2011 season, bringing fruit, vegetables, cheese, honey, grains, grass-fed, pasture-raised and free-range meat of all kinds, eggs, maple syrup, mushrooms, sprouts, artisan breads and baked goods, jams, flowers, plants and more to area residents.

According to the USDA, the Clintonville Farmers Market is just one of at least 288 farmers markets in Ohio, up from 213 just one year ago. Since 1994, the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has grown from 1,755 to 7,902 in 2010 – a 350-percent increase. Nationally, these markets generate more than $1 billion in sales.

The boom in farmers markets parallels a larger trend in consumer demand and growth in the organic foods and products. The organic industry has grown from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $29 billion in 2010. While the rest of the economy is in a slow-down, the organic industry continues to grow, supporting 14,540 organic farms and ranches in the U.S., many of which continue to expand and add employees to keep pace with growing demand.

Although Ohio has lost more than 6.9 million acres of farmland to development over the past five decades, or about 15 acres an hour for the last 50 years, Ohio’s farmers markets are helping to preserve Ohio’s farmland and rural heritage by providing low-cost entry points for small, mid-size and beginning farmers to incubate their businesses. With the help of farmers markets, more farmers are choosing to stay in agriculture, and by selling direct to consumers, these farmers keep more of their profits and are able to make a better living from farming.

At the Clintonville Farmers Market, one-quarter of the farmers are under 40 years old and approximately 90 percent of the market’s producers are start-up and small farming operations.

Farmers markets are about connection. At farmers markets, customers can meet and talk with the farmers who grow their food. Customers tell the farmers what they want, what they enjoy eating, and how they prepare food; farmers tell the customer what grows in Ohio, how it was grown and when it was harvested. The community of farmers, customers, neighboring shops and residents, cooks, and musicians join together in the timeless celebration of the harvest that comes from our surrounding land.

Farmers markets also deliver some of the freshest, most delicious ingredients available for food lovers of all stripes. Locally grown organic fruits and vegetables found at farmers markets are usually harvested within 24 hours of being purchased by the consumer. Produce from California can’t be that fresh and it doesn’t taste as good, either.

At the height of the season, now is a great time to experience one of Ohio’s farmers markets, which are helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system one meal at a time.

To find a farmers market in your area, go to the USDA  Farmers Market Directory or  Ohio Proud.

Go to This Week Clintonville to see the original text of this article.