Week of May 5-May 12
Here is a list of what is included: Scroll down to read full story.
WEED CONTROL INNOVATIONS IN MIXED VEGETABLE PRODUCTION
Lou Johns, Blue Heron Farms,
My name is Lou Johns. I
took up organic truck farming a few years after finishing school in 1981 with
my partner Robin Ostfeld, near Chehalis
Our farm operation
consists of 10 - 12 acres of permanently bedded fields on moderately sloping
land on the eastern side of
Our growing season starts in mid to late February (in the greenhouses) and runs through mid December. Our marketing season last year round, or very close to it. We have developed refrigerated facilities on the farm to handle the wide range of root crops and other storage crops we grow specifically for sales in the "off" season. In addition to our few wholesale accounts that we continue to supply throughout the winter we operate a winter time CSA offering customers a box of produce every two weeks during the months of January, February, and March (the months when the Ithaca Farmers Market is closed)
Weed Management through cultivation. Our current strategies include:
Cover cropping: fall planted rye vetch, over-wintered, mowed repeatedly in spring then tilled in as ground is needed for spring planting. Spring planted oat pea mix, mowed once then tilled in for main season and fall cropping. Late spring planted buckwheat, mowed once and tilled in for late summer and fall planting.
Transplanting: used instead of direct seeding and thinning. This allows for an additional full tillage before setting plants in the field
Tractor mounted cultivators:
we use a Farmall 350 with belly-mounted beet and bean knives for early (1st and 2nd cultivations), a Ford 1710
offset tractor with belly mounted wide sweeps is used for 3rd and
4th cultivations. This routine is used in our 4-row planting schemes (4 rows on
16-inch centers on a 6-foot wide permanent planting bed). The beet and bean knives are set to work
either side of the planted row (in both
direct seeded and transplanted crops) and the between row space. The sweeps on the 1710 are set to run only in
the space between the rows where they disturb some soil next to the crop row
and move soil toward the row. Some of
our cropping is done in a two-row scheme on the same 6 foot wide bed at 36 inch
spacing, with these crops we use rear mounted 3 point hitch cultivators,
Lilliston rolling spider gangs are used for early passes, these allow for
moving dirt into the planted row while uprooting weeds. Later weed control is done with older
Hand and hoe weeding: most crops are hand weeded at least once during their season; some crops mostly those set out as transplants will be hoed using long handled garden hoes. This work is done primarily for in-row weeding and is often incorporated into hand thinning of some crops (turnips and rutabaga)
Full width tillage: we use a 6 foot tractor- mounted rotovator as our primary tillage implement for compost and cover crop incorporating and use it as a secondary tillage tool for seed bed preparation. An attempt is made to create a somewhat stale seedbed by tilling in a weed germination just before planting a crop.
Comments on the practical application of these strategies: With our two-person management team (my partner, Robin and me), the size and diverse nature of our cropping, and the seasonal and generally inexperienced nature of our labor force, the time available for tractor work is limited. This often causes problems with timing of tillage and cultivation, which can lead to weed crops becoming more established in the planted crop than desired. Our growing seasons might be characterized as managed chaos with weekly routines of marketing giving it some balance. The weather always plays a heavy-handed role in our operation, delaying or advancing planting schedules, interrupting field preparation, slowing or accelerating crop maturity and harvest (true for planted crops and weeds), forcing time demands towards irrigation operations and away from other scheduled operations such as tilling, cultivation, or hand weeding work.
The growing seasons also have their regularities regardless of their individual nature; in reference to weeds, spring (mid March to early June) is relatively weed free, summer (June thru early September) is our weed season, and fall (September thru mid December) is weeding free and focused mainly on harvesting but includes cover cropping when time and weather allows. Weed management decisions can run the gamut, from total abandonment of a planted crop (only in newly emerged direct seeded crops) to well managed rows of crops cultivated timely and needing little hand work. The former decision, that of abandonment, can be just as important as the one that got you to the latter scenario, one has to constantly be evaluating many factors and some times starting over can be the best choice out the many options confronting you (though replanting is not really starting over, you still have all you seed bed preparations done and by tilling in a harsh flush of weeds you won't be trying to cultivate and/or hand weed them later). Lastly, weed management in a diverse vegetable operation is one of a host of management issues that the farmer must juggle throughout the season, as you may have gathered, some of your choices will play out in your favor and some will try your soul, weeds are to be lived with.
Farming ventures share risk, bounty
movement picks up in
Heather Ashare / Special to The
Thomas / The
Paul and Rose Titus plant leaf
lettuce on their
Going to market
Howell Farmers' Market
Open: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday, May 7-Oct. 29
Where: State Street, downtown Howell
Call: (517) 546-3920
Brighton Farmers' Market
Open: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, May 6-Oct.28
Where: Cedar Street, downtown Brighton
Call: (810) 227-5086
Hartland Farmers' Market
Open: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, May 6-Oct. 28
Where: Hartland Educational Support Service Center, 9525 Highland Road
Call: (810) 632-7498, Ext. 24
HOWELL -- Paul and Rose Titus are a
husband-and-wife team who own a 40-acre farm, where they grow the typical fare
of carrots, sweet corn, beans and other produce as well as dozens of varieties
of flowers. The couple earns a respectable living by selling their harvests at
local farmers' markets throughout
Farming can be risky business, and with the growing number of farms in the county and state shrinking, the Tituses have found a way to ensure a successful season. The couple has become members of Community Supported Agriculture, a national program that has been gaining momentum across the state. Without the support of the CSA program, the Tituses, who both grew up on farms, said they would struggle to make it in the farming business.
"With the rise in gas prices and as my husband and I are getting older, we needed to do something," said Rose Titus, 60. "CSA is a great solution for us and for our customers."
CSA allows customers or members to buy shares from a farmer's crop and in turn, receive weekly fresh produce from the farmer for the duration of the growing season. The initial cash investment allows the farmer to finance crops and in turn the shareholder enjoys locally grown and quality produce every week for about four months.
"CSA farms are growing so quickly. Both the farmer and shareholder share both the burden and bounty equitably," said Laura DeLind, a senior academic specialist for Michigan State University, who has been researching Michigan CSA farms for the past eight years.
DeLind said the number of CSA farms in the state tripled
from 1999 to 2002 and has since doubled again. CSA-Michigan, a consortium of
CSA farmers that tracks data on the number of
DeLind's research finds in all CSA farmers and members a shared value in the land, the food supply and the community.
Tom and Robin Leonard of Pinckney are small-time farmers
who own a farm which sells part CSA and part wholesale. Even though most CSA
farms grow their food according to organic principles, their 36-acre Garden
Patch Farm is certified organic. The designation allows the Leonards to sell
their organic products to grocery retailers like Whole Foods Market in
Their decision to become CSA farmers was driven by both economics and customer satisfaction.
"We wanted our customers to directly experience the operations of a farm and we needed the extra financial stability that CSA provides," said Robin Leonard, 39.
The Leonards will be selling produce as well as CSA shares at the Brighton Farmers' Market on Saturday. The Tituses will be bringing produce, flowers and CSA shares at the opening of the Howell Farmers' Market on Sunday.
The Tituses will offer their customers five to 10 pounds of fresh produce and some fruit for 19 weeks. Customers can either buy a produce or a flower share and can pick it up at a designated location each week. As a different supply of produce is received each week, "it allows the customer to experiment with new vegetables and dishes," said Rose Titus.
The Leonards started their farm in 1997 but it was not until 2004 that they decided to offer CSA shares to their customers. "Ever since we introduced CSA farming, our demand is so great. It's hard to keep up," Robin Leonard said.
With the addition of more vendors and CSA members to the Howell Farmers' Market, manager Chris Clausen-Brinker of the Howell Chamber of Commerce, anticipates another great season. But she hopes that the weakened economy does not negatively impact local farmers.
"They have such a tough life as it is, we would really like for this year's customer base to be as solid as it has been in previous years."
Heather Ashare is a
Interesting facts about organic food production (source-MOSES web site http://www.mosesorganic.org/update/march06.htm#mid )
Organic Food and Farming 2006 Background Statistics
Consumer Reports 2005 survey
– Nearly two thirds of
n Whole Foods Market national survey completed in August, 2005 found that 65% of Americans had tried organic foods and beverages, up from 54% in surveys conducted in 2003 and 2004
Business Journal projects
The supply of organic milk is only
meeting 85% of consumer demand, according to
On-Farm Financial Benefits
n The base pay for organic milk is $20 to $23 per hundredweight vs. $13-15 per hundredweight for non-organic milk or about 50% higher, as reported in Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin, 2005 Status Report
n Farmers raising organic corn and soybeans sell their product at two to three times the price of their conventional counterparts. On February 15, Cashton Farm Supply was paying $5/bushel for organic corn, three times more than they were paying for non-organic corn ($1.73). Organic soybeans were being sold there for $12 per bushel, more than twice the price of non-organic beans ($5.19).
The net income in 2004 for organic
Wisconsin Organic Agriculture Statistics
(Organic Agriculture in
On the national level,
On the national level,
Of the 6 Wisconsin counties with
the highest number of certified organic producers, 5 are in the southwest
quadrant of the state:
Dodge (17); Chippewa (15);
Compiled by Doug Nopar,
ALERT: STOP THE USDA’S LATEST SNEAK
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, no doubt hoping to limit public controversy, has announced a very short public comment period (ends May 12, 2006) on proposed new federal regulations that will weaken organic standards. USDA’s proposed amendments, supported by grocery store chains and large food corporations, will allow so-called organic dairy feedlots to continuously import calves from conventional farms—where the calves have been weaned on blood, dosed with antibiotics, and fed genetically engineered grains and slaughterhouse waste. USDA’s new rules will also allow over 500 artificial (synthetic) substances in organic processed foods without prior scrutiny and review by the National Organic Standards Board. USDA’s latest efforts are basically an attempt to codify last fall’s controversial “Sneak Attack” in Congress, when industry players and the Organic Trade Association convinced the Republican Party majority to attach a last minute rider to the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Bill. Take action now and tell the USDA to back off on lowering standards! http://www.organicconsumers.org/sos.cfm
Please send a donation to the OCA so we can continue to fight to preserve organic standards!
ALERT: FREE THOUSANDS OF
The USDA is also seeking public comments on revisions
it has made to the National Organic Program regarding pasture access for
organic dairy cattle. Two of the largest organic dairy companies in the nation,
Horizon Organic (a subsidiary of Dean Foods), a supplier to Wal-Mart and many
health food stores; and Aurora Organic, a supplier of private brand name
organic milk to Costco, Safeway, Giant, Wild Oats and others, are purchasing
the majority of their milk from so-called organic feedlot dairies where the
cows are kept in intensive confinement, with little or no access to pasture.
Together, Horizon and
One month ago, after a poll of our members, the
Organic Consumers Association called on consumers to boycott dairy companies
like Horizon and Aurora for their practice of raising "organic"
cattle on intensive confinement feedlots. A number of natural food stores and
co-ops across the
Organic Vegetable and Crop Specialist
C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
CARRS Departent of Community, Agriclture, Recreation and Resource Studies
303 Natural Resources Bldg
E-Mail: [log in to unmask]
Don’t forget! A carrot a day may keep the doctor away but an ORGANIC carrot a day, grown locally will taste good, support your farmer neighbor AND may keep the doctor away!!!