| Well, April is
here and it’s beginning to feel like spring has sprung.
We all know spring is time to put all those winter plans to
work. If you’re like me there are plenty of winter projects
still on the list to be completed that will inevitably end up
on next year’s list.
We’re all busy spreading
soil amendments, plowing, tilling, planting and transplanting.
The greenhouses are full. The cold frames are bursting at
the seams and there is more work around every corner. This
year is starting out very dry in the Northeast. This enabled
us to get our oats planted by March 15. They’re up about
two inches and looking good.
This year is starting out quite differently for me than most
spring seasons. Between the success of our biologically based
no-till system, my position on the National Organic Standards
Board, our research agenda, and all our standard farm work,
I’m busier than ever. In fact, like most of you, I don’t
which way to turn or which fire to put out first.
Organic regs: Next week the NOSB gets together
in Pennsylvania for its first meeting of 2006. Along with
a full agenda of very important items, we will be discussing
the issue of pasture. This is one of the hottest topics in
the organic industry, especially if you’re concerned
about dairy. There are several loopholes in the current language
of the USDA’s NOP (National Organic Program) describing
pasture and the pasturing of animals. What is a pasture? When
must animals be on pasture? How long should they be there?
And what percentage of their diet should come from pasture?
Lots of difficult questions with difficult answers that will
have large ramifications across the industry.
Research on beans and weeds: This year we
have a full plate of research geared towards addressing many
of the issues you’ve told us are important to you. Did
you know that some soybeans varieties might not only do better
in the presence of weeds than others but they might also suppress
the weeds themselves. That’s right! We have preliminary
evidence that some soybean varieties actually prevent certain
weeds from growing. If cultivation is part of your weed management
plan you know how revolutionary that information can be. We’re
also continuing our “groundbreaking” work on the
nutritional content of food crops grown conventionally and
organically side by side in our long term Farming Systems
Trial. While this information is not ready for publication,
I think you’ll be amazed at the results once we can
share them with you.
These experiments and many more can be seen this summer at
our annual field day July 21. See The Rodale Institute's website
for more information. We’ll be demonstrating weed management
tools—such as several cultivators, rotary hoes, tine
weeders—and even our cover crop roller for organic no-till.
I invite each and every one of you to join me and the rest
of the staff of the Institute that day. I suggest you look
around your own state for field day activities this summer.
Plan now to attend. I know you’re busy. But attending
a field day and seeing new technologies in person is worth
the time away from your farm.
CSA at TRI: Many of you have written to
tell me about new ventures you are planning for this season
or to ask questions about new enterprises you are considering
as part of your farm plan. I’m excited by your creativity
and I look forward to hearing how things turn out. At the
Institute, we’re also starting a new venture. Well,
not exactly new but renewed. And, not exactly the Institute,
although we are supporting the project. It’s a new CSA
(Community Supported Agriculture) enterprise. After three
years without a CSA on our farm, we’re back at it, this
time bigger and better than before. John and Amie Good are
our new farmers, and they bring with them years of experience
and tons of energy. We’re looking forward to an exciting
year of direct marketing through subscription sales.
It seems this time of year no matter where you look there
is work to be done. Don’t forget this year to spend
some time enjoying the farm….stop and smell the flowers—they’re
everywhere this time of the year.
From One Farm to Another