Sunday, March 4, 2012

Recent News on the Farm~

1. Overwintering Crops- Towards the end of the growing season, we decided to plant some things to have an early crop come springtime.  Now that spring has (almost) sprung, our winter greens are looking pretty good!  We planted a mesclun mix, spinach and Asian Greens.  Unfortunately, the Asian greens did not fare too well...BUT, our spinach and mesclun look great!  Once the weather gets a bit warmer and the days a bit longer, we are going to have a nice early picking of greens!

 Mesclun Mix is coming up strong!

2. Invasive Control- In these winter days when there is not an excessive amount of work to do outside on the farm, we have decided to start taking control of the invasive problem nearby.  Invasive species can cause a whole mess of problems from taking over native vegetation, changing soil characteristics and local ecosystems to even aiding in harboring diseases!  That said, along our fences and throughout the surrounding are laden with invasive plants.  The prevalent species include Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), and Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii).  We have recently received two good pairs of loppers and several smaller hand clippers.  Thus, the invasives are slowly getting knocked down, one by one!
 Multiflora rose along our fence.....goodbye!

Japanese Barberry...may be a nice color in the fall, but it's also been linked with an increasing occurrence of Lyme disease.  Here's a link to a news article that talks about the research done by the CT Agricultural Experiment Station 
Autumn Olive...another CT invasive.

3. NOFA Conference- As Laura mentioned in the previous post, we at the farm just participated in the 2012 Winter NOFA Conference held at Manchester Community College.  Although a long and exhausting day, we sure did learn a lot, eat great food, and met some really inspiring people!  First, there was an awesome keynote!  Jeffrey Smith, a bestselling author and leading spokesperson on the health dangers of GMOs touched on the politics of Genetically Modified Foods and where we are in the United States with addressing this hot topic.  Smith talked about many different stories from around the world relating to the risks of consuming GMOs, and why in other countries, these crops are strictly banned.  Between the organic community/environmental advocates, politicians and the Biotech industry, this is a highly debated topic these days.  Without a doubt, GM crops do have many benefits like being disease resistant, especially resilient, and being able to grow outside of desirable environments, for example.  There is great potential to help millions of people gain access to food because of a crop that has been modified to grow in a not so suitable climate.  On the other hand, there is no saying whether being able to tweak the genes of plants to solve problems is better than disrupting the natural processes which have evolved over millions of years.  Consequently, the debate continues.
Jeffrey Smiths first book, a best seller on GMOs

Right now however, Connecticut is on the lines of passing a bill that would label products containing GM crops.  Many feel that we as consumers have a right to know what is in our food (I can't argue with that!).  If this topic is something you feel strongly about, now is the time to contact your representative and tell them how you feel about Genetically Modified Crops.  If the proposed bill does end up being passed, CT will be the first state to have a labeling law of this nature!

Back to the conference:  Each of us attended really great workshops relating to a whole variety of topics.  Personally, I went to three excellent workshops and met some great farmers from around the state.  I sat in on a talk/demonstration by Paul Trubey, owner of Beltane Farm in Lebanon, CT.  I learned about raising dairy goats and making cheese (very cool!).  The second workshop was called 'Mushroom Growing on a Small Scale' with Jim Peppin and Carol Brzozowy, two mushroom farmers out of Lebanon, CT (they mainly do shiitake and oyster mushrooms!).  Lastly, Brianne Casadei of Terra Firma Farm talked about raising pasture laying hens (her farm raises thousands of chickens for both meat and eggs).  All three of these farms are open to the public for educational purposes and hopefully (well I am hoping) to do some farm visits in the near future!  More detailed descriptions and pictures to go along with the workshops are coming.  Stay tuned!

All in all, the conference was a huge success, and we will all be taking what we learned there into future endeavors on the farm!
That's all for now folks!

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