What’s new in Michigan Organic Ag?
July 30 – August 14
Compiled by Vicki Morrone and Kate Leitch 

1. New Ag Network Newsletter (In part 1 of 2)
2. Vegetable CAT Alert, MSU (In part 1 of 2)
3. Vegetable CAT Alert, MSU (In part 1 of 2)
4. Vegetable CAT Alert, MSU (In part 1 of 2)
5. Field Crop CAT Alert, MSU (In part 1 of 2)
6. Fruit CAT Alert, MSU (In part 1 of 2)
7. Farm Service Agency announces conservation reserve program- state acres 
for wildlife enhancement (In part 1 of 2)
8. The Zen of Certified Organic Indiana Raised Lamb (In part 1 of 2)
9. Can you generate energy on your farm? The answer is blowing in the wind 
(In part 2 of 2)
10. Keep Antibiotics Working! House passes animal drug bill after drug 
industry blocks efforts to preserve effectiveness of antibiotics; help KAW 
urge the Senate to include provisions to protect public health (In part 2 of 

11. MSU Student Organic Farm seeks farm crew members (In part 2 of 2)
12. Cornell University seeks a full-time Senior Project Associate in Ag Sci, 
Crop and Soil Sci (In part 2 of 2) 

13. Farmers’ Market at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market- Aug 16 and 17 (In 
part 2 of 2)
14. Annual Soil Building Workshop’s early-bird deadline extended- Aug 20 
and 21 (In part 2 of 2)
15. Mid-Michigan Pasture Walk at Straub Dairy - Aug 21 (In part 2 of 2)
16. Hoophouse Building Workshop with Growing Hope - Aug 22 and 23 (In part 2 
of 2)
17. University of Wisconsin-Madison organic workshop and field tour- Sep 4 
(In part 2 of 2)
18. Entrepreneurial Farm Tour- Sep 9 10 and 11 (In part 2 of 2)
19. Intro to Permaculture: Ecological Edible Landscapes- Sep 20 (In part 2 
of 2)


1. New Ag Network Newsletter
Vol. 4, No. 8 August 13, 2008 

In this issue:
Hoop houses for season extension: Are they right for you?
Mulch your tomatoes to fight weeds, retain soil moisture and save money
Reports from organic growers

2. Vegetable CAT Alert, MSU
Vol. 23, No. 14, July 30, 2008 

In this issue
Vegetable insect update
Onion disease alert
Regional reports
Weather news 

Vegetable insect update
Beth Bishop
Corn “worms”
Numbers of European corn borer moths captured in pheromone traps from July 
22 to 29 have increased slightly, as the second flight has begun. No 
significant migration of corn earworm into the state has occurred during the 
past month and trap counts are low. 

Squash bugs
Squash bug adults, nymphs and eggs have been observed in cucurbit plantings. 
Now is the time to control them. If you wait until the nymphs grow large and 
the row fills in, they are extremely difficult to control.
Squash bugs are primarily pests of squash and pumpkins, but can sometimes 
occur on melons. Squash bugs suck juices from the plants and may cause 
leaves to die and vines to wilt. Later in the season squash bugs feed on 
fruit, causing collapse. 

Adults are three-quarters of an inch long and dark grayish brown with wings 
held flat over the abdomen. Eggs are laid in clusters on the underside of 
leaves and are orange when laid, but soon turn metallic bronze. Young nymphs 
are pale-green to white and older nymphs are grayish-white. Nymphs are 

Small nymphs feed in groups on the underside of leaves. Larger nymphs feed 
individually and both large nymphs and adults are very mobile. Insecticides 
applications must target the small nymphs. An insecticide application is 
warranted when one or more eggs masses per plant are present. Consult 
bulletin E312: 2008 Insect, Disease, and Nematode Control for Commercial 
Vegetables for insecticides registered to control squash bugs on your crop.
Onion disease alert
Mary Hausbeck
Plant Pathology 

Downy mildew
Downy mildew was verified by my lab yesterday afternoon from a field in the 
mid-Michigan area.  This disease is not unexpected given the rains and 
cooler, moist weather that we’ve experienced this year.  Unfortunately, 
downy mildew is an especially devastating disease because it spreads rapidly 
and is not readily controlled.  Downy mildew of onion is caused by the 
pathogen, Peronospora destructor, and first infects older leaves, occurring 
as pale, elongated patches that may have a grayish-violet fuzzy growth.  
Symptoms of the disease are best recognized when dew is present in the 
morning.  Infected leaves become pale green, then yellow and can fold over 
and collapse.  Premature death of onion leaves reduces bulb size.  The downy 
mildew pathogen initiates infection during cool temperatures (less than 
72°F) and wet conditions.  Multiple infection cycles can occur in a season. 
Spores are produced at night and are easily blown long distances in moist 
air.  They can germinate on onion tissue in one and a half to seven hours 
when temperatures are 50°F to 54°F.  High daytime temperatures and short 
or interrupted periods of humidity at night can prevent sporulation.  
Overwintering spores, called oospores, can form in dying plant tissue and 
can be found in volunteer onions, onion cull piles, and in stored infected 
bulbs.  Oospores have thick walls and a built-in food supply so they can 
withstand unfavorable winter temperatures and survive in the soil for up to 
five years. 

Research studies have shown that weekly applications of mancozeb (available 
as Dithane, Manzate, or Penncozeb) protect against downy mildew when spray 
coverage is good and sprays are begun before disease appears.  Some growers 
choose to include Ridomil Gold MZ in alternation with mancozeb although this 
program is more costly.  We have tested Pristine 38WG in rotation with 
Ridomil Gold MZ for downy mildew control.  The program with Pristine and 
Ridomil Gold MZ in alternation was effective for downy mildew, but is very 
costly.  It is likely that Pristine alternated with mancozeb would also be 
effective, but needs to be tested.  In addition to downy mildew, Pristine 
38WG has activity against the leaf blights including purple blotch, 
Stemphylium, and Botrytis.  In a field test for purple blotch and 
Stemphylium leaf blight, Pristine alternated with Bravo Weather Stik was a 
stand-out treatment.  Newer products for downy mildew control include 
Acrobat and Reason.  While I do not have Michigan field data for these 
products, I would expect them to perform well in a rotation for downy 
mildew.  However, Acrobat and Reason have action only against downy mildew 
and will not control botrytis or purple blotch. 

Purple blotch and stemphylium leaf blight
Many Michigan onion fields are showing symptoms of purple blotch.  This 
disease got an earlier start than usual with the wet weather and warm night 
temperatures that we experienced a few weeks ago.  Purple blotch first 
appears as small water-soaked lesions that quickly develop white centers.  
As they age, the lesions turn brown to purple, surrounded by a zone of 
yellow.  Lesions can coalesce, girdle the leaf, and cause tip dieback.  
Occasionally, bulbs are infected through the neck or wounds on the scales.  
Spores of Alternaria porri can form repeatedly on lesions with cycles of low 
and high relative humidity.  When free water is available, spores can 
germinate in 45 - 60 minutes at 82°F - 97°F.  Spores can form after 15 
hours of high relative humidity (greater than 90 percent) and can be spread 
by wind, rainfall and irrigation.  Fungal growth is favored by temperatures 
of 43°F - 93°F, with an optimum temperature of 77°F.  Old and young 
leaves injured by onion thrips are more susceptible to infection.  Symptoms 
can appear one to four days after infection, and new spores can appear by 
the fifth day.  The pathogen can overwinter in onion debris. 

Stemphylium leaf blight is an occasional foliar problem in Michigan and has 
not yet been detected this year.  Symptoms begin as small, light yellow to 
brown, water-soaked lesions that develop into elongated spots that turn dark 
olive brown to black with spore development.  Coalescing spots can blight 
leaves, but rarely affect the bulb.  The pathogen normally invades dead and 
dying tissue.  Disease development is favored by long warm periods of leaf 
wetness.  Fungicides effective against purple blotch are also effective 
against Stemphylium leaf blight. 

The following products are recommended for purple blotch:  Pristine, a 
strobilurin (Quadris or Cabrio), and Rovral tank-mixed with Bravo. 

Botrytis leaf blight
Botrytis has been detected this year in onions.  It is caused by a fungus 
(Botrytis squamosa) that survives in onion trash or in soil by means of 
sclerotia (hard, black survival structures) which germinate in the spring, 
forming ascospores that begin the disease cycle. 

Germinating sclerotia are small and very difficult to find, but they have 
been reported onion leaf trash.  Once the initial infections occur, spread 
is controlled by weather conditions.  This fungus forms its conidia (the 
spore stage that spreads the disease) only on dead or dying tissue, and only 
after 60 to 72 hours of continuous high humidities (75 to 100 percent) at 
temperatures averaging between 54°F and 75°F. 

Conidia formed under these conditions are spread by wind currents, land on 
healthy tissue, and infect after a minimum of six hours of leaf wetness.  
The longer the leaves remain wet, the more infection that occurs.  The 
fungus forms rather small, white lesions about the size of a pinhead 
surrounded by a light green halo.  Most of these lesions do not enlarge, but 
a small proportion will enlarge, girdle the leaf, and cause blighting. 

The higher the humidity and the longer the periods last, the more leaf 
blighting that will occur.  Bravo has always been excellent for leaf blight 
control, but mancozeb and Rovral also give good control.  In previous years, 
tank mixes of Rovral with either mancozeb or Bravo have been especially 
effective where botrytis leaf blight and purple blotch are both present.  
Pristine will also do a good job when both botrytis leaf blight and purple 
blotch are a problem. 

Bacterial diseases
Bacterial diseases are showing in many onion fields, especially those that 
experienced heavy rains earlier this summer.  It is likely that 
naturally-occurring soil bacteria were washed into the bulb and leaf whorls 
where they have multiplied and now causing a rot.  It will be difficult, if 
not impossible, to reach those inner onion tissues that are infected with 
the bacteria.  The only product that is proven and recommended for bacterial 
diseases is copper.  I’ve heard a lot of talk about spraying bleach and I 
do not recommend that growers do that.  Bleach will become inactivated as 
soon as it comes in contact with leaf tissue or soil.  It has no residual 
and will not protect the leaf tissue.  Copper is a proven bactericide with a 
residual action which is a fact that is supported by years of studies on 
onions and other crops that are affected by bacteria.  To lessen the 
concerns of phytotoxicity on onion leaf tissue, spray copper at a time of 
day when the solution can dry readily.  The longer that copper stays in 
solution, the more likely that it may cause some plant tissue burning.  When 
using copper sprays to combat bacterial disease, the spray interval should 
be at least every seven days.

3. Vegetable CAT Alert, MSU
Vol. 23, No. 15, August 6 2008 

In this issue
Vegetable insect update
Regional reports
Weather news

4. Vegetable CAT Alert, MSU
Vol. 23, No.16, August 13, 2008 

In this issue
Vegetable insect update
Dont miss the sowing window for your brassica cover crops
Regional Reports

Vegetable insect update
Beth Bishop

Several insect pests have been making a comeback in recent weeks.  Corn 
earworm moth numbers increased, especially in southern and western Michigan, 
although they don’t come close to the hundreds of earworm moths caught 
during previous years. Weather conditions were conducive for migration of 
moths into the area and that is reflected in an increase in trap numbers. 

European corn borer
The numbers of European corn borer moths caught in pheromone traps for the 
week of August 5 - 12 decreased slightly in most locations from those of the 
previous week (see chart), but this is most likely due to cooler weather 
reducing the activity. According to degree-day totals (base 50), we are in 
the midst of the second flight.  We don’t yet know, however, how large 
this flight will be, but it will likely last for several more weeks. 

Western bean cutworm
Western bean cutworm flight is winding down, according to field crops 
entomologist, Chris DiFonzo, (see article in the August 7, 2008 Field CAT 
Alert) some eggs have been found in sweet corn.  We now have a resident 
population of western bean cutworm in the state and we can expect this pest 
to be a problem in future years.
Aster leafhopper
The percentage of aster leafhoppers infected with aster yellows has 
increased dramatically throughout the state.  This is typical for this time 
of year.  The number of infected aster leafhoppers depends on the number of 
infected plants, which depends on the number of infected leafhoppers, and 
this cycle causes an increase in infection in both plants and insects as the 
season progresses.  The latest infectivity rate for aster leafhoppers from 
Mason and Oceana counties is very high, over 20 percent. Carrot fields in 
the area have many plants with aster yellows symptoms.  The treatment 
threshold for this area is very low, one to two aster leafhoppers per 100 
sweeps.  Infectivity rates for aster leafhoppers collected from celery 
fields in southwest Michigan range from zero percent to six percent.  There 
is no dependable regional pattern to the variation in infectivity rates.  In 
general, the threshold in this area ranges from five to 25 aster leafhoppers 
per 100 sweeps.  If growers are noticing aster yellows symptoms in their 
fields, they should use the lower numbers as their threshold.  For the rest 
of the state, growers can use thresholds of five to 25 aster leafhoppers per 
100 sweeps for celery, 10 to 40 aster leafhoppers per 100 sweeps for 
carrots, and three to 18 aster leafhoppers per 100 sweeps for lettuce.  
Again, if aster yellows symptoms are seen in the field, growers should go 
with the lower threshold.  Remember, it takes about three weeks for aster 
yellows symptoms to develop, so growers should discontinue leafhopper sprays 
three weeks before harvest. 

Aphids are showing up in celery.  The recent hotter, drier weather is 
conducive to aphid build-up.  Aphid populations can increase suddenly, and 
often appear close to harvest.  There are a number of insecticides 
registered for control of aphids on celery (See Bulletin E312).  It is 
important to apply insecticides only when necessary, since aphids can 
quickly develop resistance.  Two selective insecticides, Fulfill ® and 
Beleaf ® act to stop aphids from feeding.  Because they are selective 
insecticides, they do not affect natural enemies.  Although it may take 
several days for the aphids to die, they will not damage plants. Fulfill has 
a seven-day preharvest interval and Beleaf has a zero-day phi.

5. Field Crop CAT Alert, MSU
Vol. 23, No. 15, August 7, 2008 

In this issue:
Update: Western bean cutworm
Soybean aphid - I’m not kidding!
Spider mites showing
Update on Michigan 2008 corn grain yield potential
Common rust on corn
Soybean disease update-soybean rust, white mold and root rots
Soybean sentinel plot update
Regional reports
Weather news 

Soybean aphid - I’m not kidding!
Christina DiFonzo

You all know I love aphids, and that I can talk endlessly about them. But I 
really wasn’t kidding the last few weeks when I reminded you to watch 
fields for my favorite pest. Populations per plant in most of my field plots 
remained low throughout July, but the percent of infested plants was high, 
and has increased steadily - nearly 100 percent in some trials last week. 

Within the last several weeks, aphid populations increased in southern 
Minnesota, producing winged migrants that have been caught in the Midwest 
aphid suction trap network. We definitely had an aphid flight into Michigan 
last week, perhaps from the infestation in Minnesota. On July 31, I found 
winged aphids with babies on plants on campus. By the following day, Friday, 
August 1, we were finding tiny aphid babies on most of the plants in an MSU 
efficacy trial. This means even if you didn’t have aphids, you probably 
have them now. Furthermore,Bruce MacKellar in southwest Michigan, reports a 
few fields over threshold in southwest Michigan, with a high enough 
population to produce winged migrants. These fields are in the infamous 
“K-deficient” belt that in the stretches across several counties. 
Potassium deficiency is a well-documented soybean aphid risk factor. Target 
such fields for scouting immediately to catch any infestations heading over 

The soybean aphid threshold remains at 250 per plant, until plants are in 
the later R-stages (R5 and beyond). 

Should you spray at a lower threshold because of high crop prices? 

No. The aphid threshold was developed taking into consideration a range of 
crop prices and input costs. Even given higher returns, lowering the 
threshold doesn’t make good biological sense. We have never detected yield 
differences in treated and untreated plots when fewer aphids are present. 
And at lower aphid numbers, there still appears to be a battle going on 
between the aphids and predators. Pulling the trigger early wipes out the 
predators, so the aphids certainly win. 

Should you spray at a lower threshold because of the additional impact of 
defoliators, such as bean leaf beetles and Japanese beetles? 

No. The threshold was developed using data from plots in eight states over 
three years, including plots in Michigan. We did not keep bean leaf beetles 
or Japanese beetles out of these plots during the studies, they were there 
right along side the aphids. The yield from untreated plots in the study 
included the impact of both aphid sucking and beetle defoliation. The yields 
in treated plots included the impact of killing both aphids and beetles. 
Thus the soybean aphid threshold already includes the impact of defoliating 
pests, because we didn’t exclude them. 

What about ignoring the threshold altogether and spraying an insurance 

Bad idea. Killing beneficial insects can actually flare, or increase, an 
aphid population that was otherwise under control. Insurance applications 
may also flare spider mite (see accompanying article), which are making an 
appearance this week. Insurance applications also smoke honey bees, which 
have taken a beating in the last several years. See the August 4 edition of 
the Ohio State CORN newsletter for a cautionary article by my colleague Ron 
Hammond, “Spraying Insecticides on Soybeans and Honey Bees”.

6. Fruit CAT Alert, MSU
Vol. 23, No. 15, August 5, 2008 

In this issue:
Tree fruit news
Starane Ultra labeled for pome fruits
Small fruit news
Botrytis gray mold control in fall raspberries
JMS Stylet Oil can be used to knock down powdery mildew on grapevines
Other news
Time to collect leaf samples for nutrient analysis
Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station Open House
Regional reports
Weather news 

Botrytis gray mold control in fall raspberries
Annemiek Schilder
Plant Pathology 

Gray mold, caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, is one of the most 
important diseases affecting fall raspberries. Fall raspberries are usually 
at greater risk of infection than summer raspberries because of the 
prevailing weather conditions, such as lower temperatures, heavy dews and 
frequent precipitation. Cool, wet weather and heavy rains in the late summer 
and fall that keep the plants wet for extended periods are conducive to 
development of the fungus and infection of the fruit. The rainy weather this 
summer has already resulted in increased Botrytis gray mold pressure in 

Typical symptoms include a brown discoloration of the fruit and the presence 
of a gray fuzzy mold, which can rapidly develop and spread to neighboring 
healthy berries. Symptoms tend to be more severe inside the canopy and on 
clusters that are closer to the ground. Even if berries look perfectly 
healthy at harvest, they can change to a moldy mass within 24 to 48 hours. 

Botrytis cinerea is a ubiquitous fungus, which is able to grow and sporulate 
profusely on dead organic matter. It overwinters in old infected canes and 
plant debris. The spores are airborne and can travel long distances on the 
wind. When the spores land on plant surfaces, they germinate and can invade 
the plant tissues directly or through wounds. Overripe berries and bruised 
berries are particularly susceptible to infection. Latent flower infections, 
even though they do occur, are not as important in raspberries as they are 
in strawberries. 

Cultural methods are very important for control of Botrytis gray mold. 
Choosing a site with good air flow can reduce humidity in the canopy 
considerably. Low-density plantings, narrow rows and trellising can also 
reduce a buildup of humidity. Good weed control and moderate fertilizer use 
to avoid lush growth are also important. Selecting a resistant cultivar or, 
at the minimum, avoiding highly susceptible cultivars will help to reduce 
the need for control measures. During picking, avoid handling infected 
berries, since spores can be transferred on hands to healthy berries. Timely 
harvesting and rapid post-harvest cooling can also help to reduce losses to 
Botrytis gray mold. 

Several fungicides are labeled for control of Botrytis in raspberries. 
Fungicide sprays during bloom are important to prevent pre-harvest 
infections, while post-harvest infections can be reduced by sprays close to 
harvest (e.g., the day before harvest). Switch (cyprodinil + fludioxonil) is 
a reduced-risk fungicide with excellent systemic and protectant activity 
against gray mold. It has a zero-day pre-harvest interval (PHI). Another 
good option is Elevate (fenhexamid), which is a reduced-risk, locally 
systemic fungicide with a zero-day PHI. Since these fungicides are in 
different chemical classes, they can be alternated for fungicide resistance 
management. My recommendation is to save Switch and Elevate for critical 
sprays, e.g., during wet periods and for sprays closer to harvest. Other 
fungicides that may be used in the spray program are Captevate (captan + 
fenhexamid) (three-day PHI), Pristine (pyraclostrobin + boscalid) (zero-day 
PHI), Captan (captan) (three-day PHI), Rovral (iprodione) (zero-day PHI) and 
Nova (myclobutanil) (zero-day PHI). To improve the efficacy of Rovral, an 
adjuvant should be added. Pristine and Nova also provide excellent control 
of late leaf rust, which sometimes infects the leaves and fruit of fall 
7. Farm Service Agency announces conservation reserve program- state acres 
for wildlife enhancement 

East Lansing, MI, July 29, 2008 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 
(USDA) Farm Service Agency is offering financial incentives in the hope of 
getting landowners to convert cropland into valuable wildlife habitat 
through the popular Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The initiative aims 
to increase the acres of grasslands in southern Michigan and habitat for 
native pollinators in the western Lower Peninsula along Lake Michigan. 

The program, which was the result of an agreement between USDA Farm Service 
Agency, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, wildlife management 
agencies, conservation and commodity groups -- such as the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, the Michigan 
Department of Agriculture, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and 
the Michigan Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association -- was announced in 
Sign-up to enroll land in the new Conservation Reserve Program practice, 
called State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (CRP-SAFE), began in Michigan on 
July 1. The goal of SAFE is to create 7,500 acres of diverse grasslands in 
18 southern Michigan counties (Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, 
Genesee, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Lenawee, 
Livingston, Monroe, Shiawassee, St. Joseph and Washtenaw) and 2,500 acres of 
pollinator habitat in 22 counties in the western Lower Peninsula (Allegan, 
Antrim, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Cass, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, 
Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Muskegon, 
Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, Van Buren, and Wexford). 

Landowners who choose to participate in the new practice may receive 90 
percent of the cost of converting cropland into wildlife habitat, and in 
some cases 100 percent. In addition, they will receive rental payments for a 
minimum of 10 years and have the option for enrolling for up to 15 years. 
Participants will also receive a signing incentive payment equal to $100.00 
or $150.00 per acre, depending on contract length, upon enrollment into the 

“Native grasslands are one of the most threatened habitats in Michigan,” 
said Dale Allen, Conservation Chief for the USDA Farm Service Agency which 
administers the program. “A variety of non-game species, ranging from 
songbirds to butterflies, depend on grassland habitat for their survival.”
The 18 south Michigan counties eligible for SAFE were chosen because they 
once contained most of the state’s native grasslands, said Allen. The 
western counties were selected for creating pollinator habitat because of 
the importance of pollinators to the region’s fruit and vegetable 

“SAFE is intended to provide habitat for native pollinators. There has 
been a documented decline in many native pollinators such as bumblebees,” 
said Lynn Sampson, State Biologist for the USDA Natural Resources 
Conservation Service. “The decline of eastern honeybees due to colony 
collapse disorder has been a wakeup call to the importance of pollinators to 
our food supply. In addition, native pollinators also pollinate 
non-agricultural plants that provide food for wildlife.”
Land enrolled for either practice must be recently cropped, or be capable of 
growing an annual agricultural commodity. Land enrolled for the pollinator 
habitat practice can include land that is part of an orchard or vineyard. To 
participate in the pollinator habitat sign-up, landowners must convert a 
minimum of 2 acres to habitat with the plot being at least 100-feet wide. 
Pollinator habitat will be planted with a variety of grasses, flowers and 
flowering shrubs. There is no maximum limit of acres that can be enrolled 
and the land can be either in a block, along a field border, or in an 
orchard/vineyard/perennial fruit producing area (i.e. blueberries, 
strawberries, raspberries, etc). Landowners do not have to be fruit or 
vegetable growers to participate.
To enroll for the diverse grassland practice landowners must convert at 
least 30 acres of land to grassland habitat in most cases. A smaller number 
of acres can be enrolled if the land serves as a corridor between two larger 
areas of wildlife habitat. Enrolled land will be planted in a variety of 
native grasses and wildflowers with a small portion of the land planted with 
oak trees. The Michigan Nature Conservancy will provide an additional 10 
percent cost share to landowners located in an area the organization has 
identified as a high priority area for habitat creation.
Sign-up for the SAFE practices are on a first-come first-served basis until 
the acreage targets are reached, said Allen. The USDA hopes to enroll all 
its acreage allowance within five years. The diverse grassland and 
pollinator habitat initiatives have different enrollment requirements. 

Michigan Farm Service Agency, 3001 Coolidge Rd, Suite 350, East Lansing, Mi. 
Phone: 517-324-5110    FAX: 517-324-5168

8. The Zen of Certified Organic Indiana Raised Lamb
July 31, 2008
It's no secret that I love to visit farmers' markets. The only problem is 
that it takes me forever to walk through one. It's never enough for me to 
simply stop and buy something. I want to chat and learn more about the 
product and producer. I always leave these conversations educated and 

A few weeks ago at the Trader's Point Farmers Market, I struck up a 
conversation with Tom Zennie, co-owner  with his wife, Nancy, of Zen Sheep 
Farm in Cloverdale, Indiana. We got on the topic of how to make kibbe. 
Several years ago, I was introduced to a kibbe by a friend of mine whose 
father was Syrian. It's unusual to find anyone who can talk in-depth about 
kibbe. But Tom delighted me with his knowledge and enthusiasm for both the 
dish and his certified organic raised lamb. 

I spoke with Nancy this week who told me that their journey into raising 
certified organic lambs started in 1982 when they moved from Boston to 
Indiana for Tom's post-doctoral work. They rented a farm house in New 
Richmond. One day, a neighbor told Nancy that she was going to a livestock 
auction and asked if she wanted anything. Nancy jokingly told her to bring 
her back some lambs. That afternoon, the neighbor called Nancy to come over 
and pick up her lambs. Nancy felt she had no alternative but to take the 
lambs and raise them. When people came over for dinner, they raved about the 
lamb and told Nancy and Tom they should sell the meat. So, they bought a 
flock, began to raise the meat commercially, and were certified organic in 
1996. Their commitment to raise certified organic meat was fueled, in part, 
by their growing family and a desire to feed their children healthful food. 

After Tom's post-doctoral work was completed, the couple moved to Michigan 
and continued to organically raise and market lamb, pork, ducks, and 
chicken. But in 2003, a job change for Tom challenged the couple with a move 
to Indiana. Their biggest concern was their ability to retain their 
certified organic status when they moved the flock. After a long search, 
they found land that had been a wildlife habitat in Cloverdale where nothing 
had been done to the ground for 17 years. There they've established Zen 
Sheep Farm where they raise certified organic lamb and certified organic 
rocambole garlic. 

The flock is fed a 100% plant based feed formula which was developed by Tom 
whose credentials in organic farming are extremely impressive. Zen Sheep 
Farm's certified organic lamb is USDA inspected, GMO free, and is raised 
without hormones or antibiotics. The lamb is sold by the cut as well as 
whole or half lambs. You'll find their lamb at several Indiana retail 
outlets and the Traders Point Farmers' Market.
I used their ground lamb to make ground lamb pita sandwiches. The lamb 
cooked up beautifully and was deliciously sweet. You'll find that recipe in 
the Summer Recipe section of this site. Additional recipes, including one 
for Tom's favorite way to make a grilled leg of lamb, can be found on the 
Zen Sheep Farm site. 

Tom and Nancy are delighted with the customer response to their lamb and 
plan to increase the size of their flock in the coming year. They love 
having visitors to the farm and welcome everyone to come out and visit. 

Zen Sheep Farm
Tom and Nancy Zennie
4963 E CR 900 S
Cloverdale, Indiana 46120
Phone: 765-795-5526
[log in to unmask]

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