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Michigan Organic
December 17, 2010

Upcoming Events of Interest

8th Annual Michigan Family Farms (MIFFS) Conference, Registration deadline is January 7, 2010

When: January 15, 2011

Where: Lakeview High School, Battle Creek, MI

Why: This year’s conference is entitled “Rising to the Challenges- Local Farms, Local Food, Local Pride". Come and discuss challenges and growth opportunities for family farms. Connect with other growers and great resources, network, and learn about organic certification, hoophouses, agritourism and local markets, urban school gardening, food safety, niche marketing, alternative energy, CSAs and much more.  Don Coe of Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, MI. is this year’s keynote speaker.  He will share how he transformed his vineyard into one of the most successful agritourism destinations in the state. Exhibits and displays will be set up for your enjoyment to connect you to government agencies, nonprofits and agricultural groups and organizations.

Possible Sessions of Interest Related to Organic:

*To be an exhibitor, contact MIFFS. You must be an exhibitor to sell any products or goods of any kind.

How: Registration deadline is January 7, 2010 (Registration includes keynote speaker, lunch featuring local foods, and sessions).  Cost: $30/each for members, Adults- $35/each non members, Children- $25/each (up to 16yrs old). Register online at the MIFFS website

For more information, visit or contact the MIFFS office at (517) 432-0712 or
[log in to unmask].

The 12th annual Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, Registration deadline is January 23, 2010

January 22, 2011

Where: Grayling High School, Grayling MI.

Why: The conference serves as a vehicle to promote and build a local vibrant agriculture community, to equip the small farm community with the tools to be successful, and to be a forum for the open exchange of ideas within the small farm community.

Possible Sessions of Interest:

How: Registration deadline is January 23, 2010 (Registration includes Saturday Keynote, sessions, lunch and breaks), Cost: $50 for 1st person, each additional person in the $35, and youth is $20. Sorry NO REFUNDS - Late or Walk in Registration will be charged additional $15 per person. Registration form can be found at the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference web site


32nd Annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association Conference 2011, Online Registration Open!


When: February 19-20, 2011


Where: Granville Middle and High Schools, Granville, OH

Why: This year’s event will feature keynote speakers Joan Dye Gussow and Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens. Plus over 70 informative, hands-on workshops; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals; a child care area; and Saturday evening entertainment.

Workshop topics including: season extension, growing brambles, dairy farming, pastured livestock and poultry, maple syruping, hiring and managing farm employees, cover crops, renewable energy, farm insurance, agriculture policy and activism, weed control, growing mushrooms, growing and marketing grains, school gardens, farm recordkeeping, growing garlic, meat goats, homemade dyes, farm to school, eating seasonally, green building, pest management, business branding, pricing for profitability, organic apple growing, beekeeping, ecological parenting, flower production, mob grazing, internet marketing, soil fertility, and food co-ops. Upcoming detailed descriptions of workshops are coming soon,

Pre-Conference: This year's event will also feature a one-day pre-conference titled The ABCs of CSAs. This workshop will provide guidance for farmers interested in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) including information on the challenges and benefits of CSAs, planning, record-keeping, membership recruitment and management, and more. The pre-conference will take place on Friday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Granville, Ohio.

Additional Features: The conference will also feature a kid’s conference offering a variety of exciting workshops for children ages 6-12; a playroom for children under 6; a book signing by Joan Dye Gussow and The Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon; an exhibit hall offering an interesting array of information, products, services and resources that relate to sustainable agriculture; a non-denominational Sunday service; and Saturday evening entertainment provided by the Back Porch Swing Band. 



How: To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshops, speakers, and a schedule, go to or contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or [log in to unmask]. Last year’s conference sold out, so early registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot.

OEFFA Conference Exhibitor Registration Open, Special Price Ends January 7, 2010

Cost: $385 (non-profits $325)


How: Register online, go to Special Price Ends January 7, 2010.



MOSES 22nd Annual 2011 Organic Farming Conference

When: February 24-26, 2011

Where: The La Crosse Center, Lacrosse, WI

Why: Come enjoy an educational weekend packed with 70+ workshops, 150+ exhibitors, terrific food, entertainment, acres of food and farming books, and plenty of time and space to network.

Organic Topics Include:

How: Register by Jan 15 to save $20. Cost: Full registration $175 before Jan 15 ($195 after Jan 15). Registration is also available for Friday and Saturday only.  Print off registration form and download conference brochure at the MOSES website,


Food Safety News


House Passes Senate Food Safety Bill with FY 11 Appropriations

On Wednesday, December 8, the House passed a combined Continuing Resolution-Food Safety bill by a vote of 212-206.  All Republicans and 35 Democrats voted no.


The Continuing Resolution (CR) would fund all government functions for the remainder of the current fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30, 2011.  The current short-term CR expires December 18.

The Food Safety bill is nearly identical to the bill the Senate passed last week, with the only differences relating to language about user fees.

To read the full press release, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website:


Child Nutrition Act Includes Organic Pilot Program

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 passed by Congress includes a $10 million Organic Pilot Program, reports the Organic Trade Association. Under the Organic Pilot Program, competitive grants favoring socially disadvantaged schools will be offered for schools to increase organic offerings in their meal programs. Because the Organic Pilot Program is not mandatory, the Appropriations Committee will decide on funding for the program. In addition to the Organic Pilot Program, the bill includes a $40 million Farm-to-School Program. This mandatory funding will provide a robust competitive grant and technical assistance program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase the use of local foods from small- and medium-sized farms in schools.


To read the full press release visit the Organic Trade Association website:


Fruit Production News

Organic Tree Fruit Growers Get Together, by Matt Milkovich, Fruit Growers News

Not only is it possible to grow organic tree fruit commercially in the humid Midwest, there’s actually a big demand for it. More organic growers are needed, though, and those that exist could always use more knowledge.

That’s where the Organic Tree Fruit Association (OTFA) comes in. A group of several dozen growers in the Midwest, the association focuses on education, research and advocacy for commercial organic tree fruit production, said Jackie Hoch, the association’s president.

With her husband, Harry Hoch, Jackie runs Hoch Orchard and Gardens, a certified organic fruit farm in the southeast corner of Minnesota. She gave a brief history of OTFA.

A few years ago, Deirdre Birmingham, an aspiring organic tree fruit grower from Wisconsin, posted a notice at the annual conference of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She was looking for others interested in growing organic tree fruit. The group that responded to her notice became the Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network, a listserv that now has more than 700 members worldwide, Jackie said.

Three years ago, a group of growers within the network decided to form an association with more specific goals, one focused on the needs of those who produce organic tree fruit as a business. That was the birth of OTFA.

The association now has more than 50 members, most of them either certified organic or in transition. Their farms and orchards range across the Midwest, from Missouri and Minnesota to Michigan. Such a vast geographic spread makes it difficult, but beneficial, for the members to get together, Jackie said.

As for OTFA’s three main focus areas – education, research and advocacy – the association has nailed down the first category pretty well, but has some work to do with the last two, she said.

OTFA works closely with MOSES, university and Extension personnel to meet its goals. It publishes a quarterly newsletter called Just Picked; it organizes educational events every year, where experienced growers and researchers share information on all aspects of organic tree fruit production – from growing techniques to dealing with paperwork (the association plans to host a seminar during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO this month). OTFA members are actively seeking university and Extension research projects to host on their farms, according to Jackie.

OTFA members meet every February during MOSES’ annual conference in La Crosse, Wis. They also organize at least two summer tours every year. Members have to pay annual dues, she said.

As the owners of an organic orchard, Jackie and her husband know firsthand that markets are hungry for organic tree fruit. Their entire operation became certified this year, from their 45 acres of fruit to their on-farm processing, packing and distributing facilities, which produce cider, juice, sauces, jellies and preserves for the wholesale market.

The Hochs grow berries, cherries, plums, apricots and grapes, but their main crop is apples. They grow more than 50 varieties, according to their orchard’s website.

Jackie thinks her orchard is healthier using certified organic growing techniques – but that’s just an observation. She can’t prove it scientifically, she said.

They decided to go fully organic three years ago, and became completely certified this year. It wasn’t just a philosophical decision. They were convinced the transition could work for them financially, and it has. They don’t need off-farm jobs anymore to support themselves (they even have a daughter in college), she said.

In fact, they’re not even close to fulfilling the demand for organic fruit that’s out there. Jackie isn’t sure how big organic tree fruit farming can be in the Midwest, but she said there’s plenty of room for growth.

Source: Fruit Growers News by Matt Milkovich,


Feedback Wanted

Feedback Wanted on eOrganic webinar “Assessing Nitrogen Contribution and Rhizobia Diversity Associated with Winter Legume Cover Crops in Organic Systems."


For those of you who participated in the eOrganic webinar “Assessing Nitrogen Contribution and Rhizobia Diversity Associated with Winter Legume Cover Crops in Organic Systems.” your feedback is crucial.  Your input will help eOrganic to continue sponsoring and improving these events. Please take 1-2 minutes to complete a short, anonymous survey about the webinar.

To begin, click on the URL below or paste it into your browser:

The recording of the presentation will be posted within the coming week on our website at under Archived Webinars.


Vegetable Production News


Judge Orders GM Sugar Beets Removed from Ground

A federal judge has halted an attempt to grow banned genetically modified sugar beets in the United States.

The herbicide-tolerant beets represent a whopping 95% of the sugar beets sold in the US and about half of the sugar. The were first brought to the market in 2007 but last August the DC-based Center for Food Safety and other advocacy organizations successfully sued to ban the beets, pointing out that an environmental impact statement has not yet been completed, as US law requires.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nevertheless allowed farmers to plant “stecklings” of Roundup Ready Beets, which include a gene conferring tolerance to glyphosate, a herbicide. Stecklings don’t grow up to be beets for sale themselves, but after a fall growing season, a winter spent in storage, and a spring growing season they produce plants that make seed. The USDA argued that the fall steckling planting was separate from the rest of the sugar beet production cycle, and that the decision about whether to allow the stecklings to be replanted in spring or whether to allow the seeds to be sold could be made later.

Federal District Judge Jeffrey S. White disagreed, and on 30 November ordered that the all the Roundup Ready beet stecklings be destroyed, citing “significant risk that the plantings pursuant to the permits will cause environmental harm.” In particular, the judge was worried about the “contamination” of other related species, including table beets and chard, with the glyphosphate tolerance gene through cross-pollination. Destroying the stecklings in question will affect the 2012 sugar beet crop.

“This is a groundbreaking victory—pun intended—for farmers and for the environment,” says George Kimbrell, senior staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety.

The stecklings don’t have to be dug up just yet, however. Judge White has put off the day of de-beeting until 6 December, in the expectation that defendants will file for a stay pending appeal of his verdict.

Indeed, Monsanto has already announced it will appeal the ruling, which it says “overlooked the factual evidence presented that no harm would be caused by these plantings.”

Meanwhile the USDA is accepting comments until 6 December on an environmental assessment examining whether the beets should be granted a "partial deregulation" pending a full environmental impact statement.

Source: blogs,

Grant Opportunities

Conservation Innovation Grants, Pre-proposal due Dec 28, 2010

Description: The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies.


Who can apply: Applications are accepted from all 50 States, Caribbean Area, and the Pacific Islands Area.


Award: NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2011 will be approximately $25 million. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between 1 and 3 years in duration. Funds will be awarded through a two-phase nationwide competitive grants process which will include a pre-proposal for all applications, and a full proposal package only for competitively selected pre-proposal applications.


Due Date: Applications for the pre-proposal phase must be received by December 28, 2010.  Notification of selected pre-proposal applications will be announced by January 17, 2011. Selected applicants will then be required to submit a full proposal package to the NRCS National Headquarters by 4 p.m. EST, on March 4, 2011.


For more information on this grant visit The National Conservation Service Website:



Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Deadline January 10, 2010

Description: The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities; and improving, maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.

Eligibility: A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices or online at

CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 States and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location.

How to apply: An application may be submitted at any time during the year. Applications received by January 7, 2011 will be ranked for 2011 funding.  Applications are funded for five year contracts,


Job Opportunities

Part-time Bookkeeper/Office Manager at Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)

Job Description: The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association has an opening for a part-time Bookkeeper who will also be responsible for office management in our Columbus office. The bookkeeper is supervised by our CPA Accountant.

Hours: 15 hours/week, with the understanding that at certain times of year additional hours may be needed to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Compensation: $12-$13.50/hr, depending on experience.

Specific Bookkeeping Responsibilities

General Office Responsibilities

Human Resources Responsibilities


To apply: Applications consist of cover letter, résumé, and names and contact information for three references (please indicate their relationship to you). Electronically submitted applications (preferred) should be sent to [log in to unmask], or mail your application to OEFFA Bookkeeper Position, 41 Croswell Rd, Columbus, OH 43214. We anticipate the successful candidate will begin in their new position immediately after the first of the year.



Southfield Farmer Market Manager, Deadline December 29, 2010.


Position Description: The Southfield Farmer’s Market (“SFM”), going into its 4th year of operation, is seeking an experienced market manager with excellent leadership skills.  This is a contractual paid position, depending on experience, and does not include any benefits.  The manager will be responsible for the daily operations of the market. The position will require approximately 25 hours a week. Hours of operation are Thursday’s between 10 am until 7 pm.   Ideal candidate will have farmer’s market experience and report to the Executive Director of the Southfield Downtown Development Authority (SDDA).


Responsibilities (will include but are not limited to the following):


To apply: Send qualifications and salary requirements to [log in to unmask] by December 29, 2010.





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