Michigan Organic Listserv
Oct 1, 2011
For your info, to share, learn and experience.
This info is not indorsed by Michigan State University or the listserv authors.
Action Needed to support organic farmers on USDA 2012 Farm Bill
Working together, we have achieved important successes for sustainable agriculture through our advocacy on past food and farm bills.
Much could be lost, or gained, now that Congress has established the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the “Super Committee.” The Super Committee is tasked with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade. Budget cuts could reinforce the status quo in agriculture and deepen negative trends while starving out positive programs. Or, they could be could be fashioned to make our nation’s agriculture policy better.
Your Senator sits on the Agriculture Committee that will advise the Super Committee on farm bill spending. That’s why we need your voice.
The Super Committee’s decisions on agricultural funding may preempt funding decisions normally left to the food and farm bill. The budget cuts could determine the future of food, farming, and the environment for a decade or more! Your Senator's influence on those decisions as a member of the Agriculture Committee is critical.
Thank you for taking action. So much is at stake, and it’s crucial your voice is heard now.
Campaign seeks more help for small farms
LAINGSBURG - Alex Bryan can trace the land
he co-owns with his mother, Pam Aarup, all the way back to 1900.That's when his ancestors started a dairy farm, which eventually became a cash crop operation
and apple orchard.
But in the 1990s, the farm went bankrupt. The family managed to hang on to only
130 acres, and now operate under the name Apollo Farms.
It's not easy, said Bryan, 26, who also co-owns an urban farm project called Food
Field in Detroit.
Agriculture and farming policies favor major corporations, not small, independent
farmers, he said.
"I think funding is one of the biggest struggles I have encountered," said Bryan.
"To get funding to play in the game, to purchase equipment or to build
infrastructure that follows guidelines that may be more appropriate for a large-scale
producer, may be prohibitive to the small producer. We're following a lot of the same
Bryan is part of a growing campaign pushing for small farms like his to get a
piece of the nation's agricultural pie.
Last week, a group called the Food and Water Watch launched a campaign urging
Congress to finalize a set of rules that were adopted in 2008 that would make it easier
for small farms to compete against larger, corporate-owned operations.
The rules, which are not yet implemented, address livestock - not produce growers,
such as Bryan - and would prevent meatpackers from giving "undue preference" to large, factory farms, said Katie Barzee of Food and Water Watch of Michigan.
But she said the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)
campaign is part of a bigger movement to promote local farming in the upcoming
renewal of the federal Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill is the primary legislative package that sets regulations for farming
safety and subsidies, agri-business exports and nearly all other services under
the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It's renewed every five years - the next renewal in 2012.
"It affects us drastically in Michigan," said Jennifer Fike, executive director of the Food
System Economic Partnership, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit. "Michigan is the
second most agriculturally diverse state outside of California."
The Fair Farm campaign kicked off last week around the country. In Michigan,
organizers asked supporters to flood U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow's office with calls,
emails and postcards.
Stabenow, D-Lansing, is chairwoman of the Senate's agriculture committee and is
spearheading the Farm Bill renewal effort.
St. Johns mint farmer Jim Crosby said the next Farm Bill needs to recognize what he
calls a growing national call for local food and green farming.
Though his family has been in the business since the late 1800s, he recently made the
drastic decision to launch an innovative zero-waste farming start-up in Arizona.
"There's so much red tape," Crosby said. "The people who want to simply produce
eggs and sell them or have raw milk, these people are not out to make millions of dollars. They are out to make a living and provide something quality, nutritious and
good to their neighbors."
The Fair Farm campaign is not the only effort
aimed at solidifying support for small
farms ahead of the farm bill renewal.
Fike said small-farm activists have introduced legislation called the Beginning
Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act to assist and encourage farming start-ups.
"Some of the major barriers of going into farming is financing, access to land and
access to capital," said Fike, who also is nearing the end of a term on the Michigan
Agriculture and Rural Development Commission. "These programs help to
remove some of the barriers to entry. Sen. Stabenow has said she views the farm bill
as a jobs bill, something we sorely need in Michigan right now. Let's capitalize on the
resources that we have here to provide opportunities for those who want to go into
Stabenow wasn't available for an interview but issued a statement through spokesman
Cullen Schwarz in response to a press inquiry.
"Family farms are critically important to Michigan's economy,"
he said. "That's why
Sen. Stabenow has led efforts to help small farms succeed throughout her time as a
member and now as chairwoman of the agriculture committee. Sen. Stabenow
appreciates the efforts of all those throughout our state who work to support
our family farmers."
Supporting Labeling of GMO Foods
Dear Organic Valley Farm Friends (they are seeking your support),
Why should GE Foods be labeled?
A recent poll showed that 93% of Americans believe GE foods should be labeled.* Yet in the U.S., a country that labels everything from cosmetics to cleaning agents to plastic bags--even coffee, because it might be hot--there are no laws requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.
A legal petition has been filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on them to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. Now is our opportunity to be heard.
Learn more at JustLabelIt.org.
Thanks, from the farmers and staff of Organic Valley!
*According to a 2010 Thomson Reuters PULSE™ Healthcare Survey, "National Survey of Healthcare Consumers: Genetically Engineered Food," 93% of Americans believe that genetically engineered foods should be labeled.
News Supporting Michigan’s Farmers
MSU cafeterias feature Michigan-grown apples
By Alyssa Girardi | Originally Published: 10/03/11 8:58pm |Modified: 10/03/11 9:00pm |
Matt Hallowell | The State News
Agribusiness management junior Mike Raterik enjoys an after-lunch apple Monday afternoon at The Gallery. This week dining halls are featuring Michigan apples to highlight the fruit’s importance to the state economy.
Claire Gaut and Jamie Crist were sharing a casual lunch in Shaw Hall on Monday, unaware that a part of their meal was grown just a few miles down the road.
The international relations junior and humanities-pre-law sophomore were both eating apples grown on farms in the Lansing area. Shaw Hall cafeteria served the apples as part of a celebration of Michigan Apple Week.
MSU Culinary Services is participating in the week by featuring various recipes made from Michigan apples at dining halls and Sparty’s Convenience Stores across campus.
“I think it’s kind of fun,” Gaut said. “It gets everyone in the spirit for fall.”
Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the U.S., and apples are Michigan’s largest fruit crop, which MSU wants to draw attention to, Director of MSU Culinary Services Guy Procopio said.
“We want to bring awareness to varieties in the sense that Michigan is in the top three in the nation as far as growing apples,” Procopio said.
“Michigan is a very diverse state in agriculture, and apples (are) a very large part of the Michigan economy.”
Select dining halls will be featuring the fresh fruit in various forms, including applesauce, cider, pies and everything in between. Today’s apple specialties include hot applesauce, Michigan apple cheddar dip and Michigan apple smoothies.
“What we’re highlighting every day of the week is different recipes. … We pretty much highlight a whole bunch of (apples): Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala,” Campus Services Brand Manager Sojo Alex said.
The different apple-based meals this week are available for viewing at eatatstate.com.
Sparty’s Convenience Stores also are participating in Michigan Apple Week, selling apples and apple products at most locations.
“Michigan not only produces (apples), but in my opinion, we produce the best apples in the nation,” Procopio said.
The Mitten’s apple industry stretches across the entire state, but a large portion of farmers are in the Lansing area. Eighteen cider mills and orchards are located in the south central region of Michigan and many of those farms are family-owned and run.
“Being local is one big thing that we want to push out there on campus and let everyone know that we are supporting Michigan,” Alex said.
Gaut and Crist both support the university’s attempt to create local food awareness.
“I think it’s great that they’re putting local products in food here,” Gaut said. “It’s great for the environment and Michigan’s economy.”
University of Michigan Commits $100 Million to Sustainability
The University of Michigan will add 37 hybrid vehicles to its fleet of buses and install solar panels on its North Campus as part of an additional $14 million commitment to greening the campus.
The plan, announced yesterday by President Mary Sue Coleman, brings the University's expenditures on behalf of sustainability to almost $100 million.
The University has already devoted $64 million for green buildings and $20 million to support the Office of Campus Sustainability and M-ride, a free campus transportation system that aims to lower emissions and noise pollution by reducing vehicular traffic.
The expenditures announced yesterday followed a two-year study, known as the Campus Sustainability Integration Assessment, to which more than 500 students, faculty, and staff contributed.
The 37 vehicles - the first of which will be delivered in December - will result in one of six University buses being a hybrid. And in addition to the solar panels, a new golf course on the South Campus will be powered by geothermal energy, a first for the University.
"I want the message to be clear: sustainability defines the University of Michigan," Coleman says.
Coleman also says that by 2025, the University will reduce carbon emissions 25%, and reduce waste sent to landfills 40%. UM will also reduce reliance on landscaping chemicals by 40% and adopt state-of-the-art storm runoff strategies
to protect the Huron River.
A cogeneration facility supplies half of the energy for its Ann Arbor campus, and UM has pledged to meet LEED Silver standards for major new construction projects of $10 million or more. Its Dana Building is rated LEED-Gold and Ross School, LEED-Silver.
Planet Blue Operations, its energy efficiency program, has retrofitted 70 campus buildings so far, saving $4 million annually. Up to 120 buildings will be completed by FY 2012.
Another priority is to promote sustainable agriculture and support local Michigan farmers. From the residence halls to the unions and hospitals, the university is introducing purchasing guidelines to ensure at least 20% of its food comes from local, sustainable sources.
UM is also proud of its recycling program, now in its third decade. 30 tons of recyclable waste are collected each season at Michigan Stadium, and nearly five times that amount is gathered when students move out of the residence halls.
However, Coleman says UM can't sign the American Colleges and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, an agreement to eliminate emissions on college campuses nationwide.
"We have concluded we cannot set a date by which we will achieve carbon neutrality," she explains.
It will join STARS, she says, which measures sustainability on college campuses worldwide. And, in a further effort at transparency and to track effectiveness, the university will turn to its Institute for Social Research. ISR, the world's largest survey research organization, to measure the sustainability attitudes and behaviors of students, faculty and staff, as well as identify where improvements can occur.
In addition to meeting the requirements of its campus operations through green energy, the University is intent upon sending a new generation of sustainability experts out into the world. It offers 640 courses that feature content
about sustainability, and 670 faculty members have expertise in the subject. The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts offers a minor in sustainability.
It launched Planet Blue Ambassadors, which trains students and staff to teach the 80,000 members of the Michigan community to save energy, reuse and recycle, and reduce waste.
"The goal commitments are certainly important, but more impressive to me is the emerging culture shift on campus," says Donald Scavia, director of the Graham Institute and Special Counsel to the President on Sustainability.
"I believe the high levels of focus, energy, and collaboration now in place throughout the university are the most significant steps in driving progress toward all of our sustainability goals-in education, research, and operations," he says.
Coleman also emphasizes the role UM students play in moving the university toward sustainability. She cites the Student Sustainability Initiative, in particular, for pulling together dozens of student groups together to address the issues.
"But of equal importance is the collaborative manner in which our students, faculty and staff come together to work on this difficult challenge," says Terry Alexander, executive director of UM's Office of Campus Sustainability. "That's something you just don't see in other large, diverse institutions like UM, and it is what sets us apart as a world-class leader."
UM got an "A" grade for its work on climate change and energy in the latest College Sustainability Scorecard.
In the recently published Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey of green MBA programs, the University's MBA program ranked among the top programs in the US.
Breakfast on the Farm Organizers looking for 2012 host farms
Eight Breakfasts on the Farm (BOTF) events were held throughout Michigan from June to September, 2011. It’s now time to start planning for 2012.
Published September 29, 2011
Nancy Thelen, Mary Dunckel, Michigan State University Extension
Since the inaugural Michigan “Breakfast on the Farm” event was held in 2009 at Dutch Meadows Dairy, near the mid-Michigan town of St. Johns, interest in replicating this event led to the formation of four events in 2010 and eight in 2011. More than 13,400 people attended the eight events in 2011, and all totaled, more than 22,500 people have attended MSU Extension Breakfast on the Farm programs.
Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) gives consumers and farm neighbors a first-hand look at modern food production, and the farm families who work hard to produce a safe, wholesome food supply for Michigan communities and the world. BOTF is an MSU Extension program that is guided by a statewide advisory council and events are made possible through generous statewide and local sponsors and many local volunteers. County Farm Bureaus have been an important partner in many of these educational events.
Host farms are selected by the state council through an application process. We are striving to have events in diverse geographic areas so we can reach consumers throughout Michigan. Information on past events is available at the BOTF website at www.breakfastonthefarm.com. The application and a checklist of host farm expectations are located under “Contact Us!” or by going directly to that page at http://www.breakfastonthefarm.com/breakfastonthefarm/contact_us. If you would like MSU Extension to consider your farm for a 2012 Breakfast on the Farm event, please complete the application and submit it to your local MSU Extension Educator for approval and submission to the Extension Agriculture Literacy Educators, Nancy Thelen or Mary Dunckel, by December 1, 2011. The statewide BOTF advisory council will review all applications and notify applicants in December of farms selected for a 2012 event.
Breakfast on the Farm showcases a selection of Michigan’s outstanding farms and introduces the non-farm public to the life and business of modern agriculture through a fun and educational event that emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship, food safety and good animal care practices. A limited number of farms will be selected as host farms for 2012 events. Completed host farm applications are due December 1, 2011. For more information visit www.breakfastonthefarm.com or contact MSU Extension Agriculture Literacy Educators and Breakfast on the Farm organizers, Mary Dunckel at 989-354-9870 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 989-354-9870 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or [log in to unmask] or Nancy Thelen at 734-222-3825 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 734-222-3825 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or [log in to unmask] .
Get the jump on spring greens by planting in the fall or protect what is in the ground now.
Note this is a good article, I just received it late so I have modified to be useful now or file away for next fall.(Vicki Morrone)
By Willi Evans Galloway
After a winter spent eating store-bought salad greens, there is almost nothing more delightful than stepping out into the kitchen garden in March and uncovering a bed of ready-to-eat spinach. Overwintering this cold-hardy green is simple—the key is planning, and these easy-to-follow steps will yield a bountiful harvest of spinach come spring.
Cold-tolerant spinach varieties, such as 'Giant Winter' and 'Tyee', overwinter best if the plants are 3 to 4 inches wide by the time night temperatures start to dip toward freezing. If they have yet to get this size you can put a low tunnel (wire hoops covered in plastic) over the existing spinach. Just be sure to vent or remove me when on the days when the temperature is above 40 F. Next year, plant to give the plants time to reach this size by sowing the seed 6 weeks before the average first-frost date. Spinach seed often suffers from spotty germination when planted in late summer and fall due to warm, dry soil conditions. Boost germination rates by cooling the soil the week before sowing; just water the bed well and then place a burlap sack over the soil to shade it.
Published October 5, 2011
Amy Irish-Brown, Phil Schwallier, Bill Shane and Bob Tritten, Michigan State University Extension
Unexpected apple drop just prior to harvest is a serious threat for some varieties grown in Michigan. There are some tools to help prevent premature apple drop (NAA and Retain), but this article will go over some of the reasons for premature drop. All apple cultivars have some fruit drop as they move through the ripening process. Some varieties, such as McIntosh, are very prone to pre-harvest fruit drop. This problem is exasperated when fruits are left to hang for better red color to meet market demands and fruit drop often occurs when waiting for red color to develop.
As apples begin to ripen, they produce large amounts of ethylene, the ripening hormone. Ethylene stimulates softening of fruits and the formation of an abscission layer in the stem. Ethylene enhances the production of enzymes that break down the cell walls and the complex sugars that hold cell walls together in the abscission zone of the stem. As these glue-like substances break down, they leave the fruit connected only by the vascular strands, which are easily broken.
The role of ethylene is well-understood by commercial apple growers. There are other stress factors that might come into play with pre-harvest apple drop and can be related to the severity of drop from one year to the next. These include orchard and climatic factors such as fruit load, nutrition imbalance, summer pruning, insect or disease issues, and water and weather extremes during the growing season.
A large crop of a short-stemmed apple variety, particularly those that set in clusters, will “push off” each other close to harvest. Good, early season thinning, especially reducing clustered fruits, will help prevent this type of drop. When fruit are pushed off, it stimulates ethylene, which can cause even more pre-mature drop in fruits remaining on the tree.
Drop is often worse in orchards where soils have incorrect nutrient levels – in particular, low magnesium (Mg), high potassium (K) and high boron (B). Also, the variations in soil type can play a part, for instance, sandy areas will ripen early and drop ahead of heavier soil types.
Pre-harvest drop can be more severe in orchards that are heavily summer pruned. It is thought that this problem is likely associated with a limitation or deficit of carbohydrate supply from too many leaves being removed, especially younger, more functional leaves. Drop will be increased if pruning reduces the leaf to fruit ratio below 20:1.
When leaf-infecting insects are high in numbers, they can reduce the photosynthate produced by leaves. This limits carbohydrate availability and can lead to pre-mature fruit drop.
Pre-harvest drop is more severe in dry seasons, where irrigation is not available.
Some apple varieties are affected by hot temperatures more than others, particularly in the early formation of ethylene that promotes early drop.
Windy weather close to harvest also impacts fruit drop and can be worse in some varieties, especially those naturally prone to drop. Table 1 is a summary of some varietal characteristic when it comes to drop.
Akane, Empire, Gala, Gingergold, Goldrush, Fuji, Idared, Jonathan, Jonamac, Paulared, Pinova, Sabina
Blondee, Braeburn, Cameo, Cortland, Jonagold
Arlet (Swiss Gourmet), Autumn Gold, Early Golden, Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Jerseymac, Lodi, Golden Delicious, Golden Supreme, Gravenstein, Hampshire, Liberty, Lodi, McIntosh, Princess, Pristine, Spartan, Red Delicious, Stayman, Zestar
Alone, each of these factors can influence pre-mature drop to some degree. However, when they occur in combinations, severe drop can be the result. This is especially true in very drop-prone varieties such as McIntosh.
Every grower knows their own blocks best, including those that tend to have a history with early drop. Perhaps looking a little more closely at some of the other factors mentioned above can also help prevent early apple drop from occurring.
For more detailed reading, please consider these sources which were used for this article:
Farmer accounts of transitioning from confinement to pastures for dairy cows
Shared by: Kathy L. Koch
“The film compiles first hand accounts from farmers who have personally and successfully transitioned their dairy operations from confinement to pasture based dairy systems. They describe both the challenges and benefits of the transitional process as well as the pasture-system itself. An objective collection of interviews, Pasture-Based Dairies: Why and How to Switch serves as an introduction to this topic and provides a more accessible and enjoyable resource to encourage dairy farmers interested in switching their operations.”
Kathy L. Koch
Spartan Village Community Garden - Volunteer Coordinator
Graduate of MSU Student Organic Farming Certificate Program
B.S. Horticulture / Specialization: Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems
1538 Spartan Village, Apt H
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
Cell Phone: 517-505-3384
Educational and Fun Events
Organic Farm Open House-Oct 15
Including Hot Air Balloon Rides!
The Clarks of Roseland Organics in Dowagiac MI have made arrangements for the offering of tethered hot air balloon rides from 4-7:30pm on Saturday, October 15th. Unlike all our other
activities we cannot offer this for free so expect to pay a per person of $20/person or $75 for families or groups up to 5. This should be an
awesome way to experience the fall colors. If possible let us know if you would like to take a balloon ride and how many may be included in your group.
Tickets will need to purchased at the store - the balloon will lift off in our front field.
We will be offering hayrides (which we hope to be horse drawn, still working on that), bounce houses and mini train rides for the kids, Live music, free samples,
pumpkins and gourds, Paw Paws, Hedge Apples, Specials in the store, and more.
Friday we will also be offering many of our activities and specials for those who cannot make it on Saturday.
We are still interested in offering space for anyone who has a craft or artwork they would like to display or offer
See you Saturday!
Roseland Organic Farms, 60200 Dailey Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047
Advanced Workshop Takes Sustainable Tomato Growers to the Next Level
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 [log in to unmask].
Announcing the Fall-Winter eOrganic Webinar Season
Attend an eOrganic webinar and learn about the latest developments in organic farming and research. This year, we're excited to bring you many new webinars on topics such as flooding and organic certification, plant breeding, growing transplants, food safety, dairy production and more. We'll be adding many new webinars throughout the fall and winter, but you can view the first ones in our current schedule, register for webinars, and view all our recorded presentations at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242
Registration is open on the following webinars: Note that 3 of these are being offered by Michigan Educators and Farmers.
How to Breed for Organic Production Systems (vegetables)
By: Heather L. Merk, The Ohio State University and Jim Myers, Oregon State University
By Dr. Susan Smalley, retiree of MSU with the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems and MIFMA
Root Media and Fertility Management for Organic
By Dr. John Biernbaum, Dept of Horticulture at MSU and Student Organic Farm Team
By Colleen Bess, retired from Michigan Dept of Agriculture-Pesticide and Safety-USDA GAP and NOP Cost Share programs
By Rob Sirrine, MSUE and Brian Tennis Mi Hops Assoc.
C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
Outreach Specialist for Organic Vegetable and Field Crops
303 Natural Resources
East Lansing, MI 48824
If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html