| 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 at
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