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Hello. Here's an update on our plans to develop transition-to-organic tools: Thanks to the over 50 well-qualified candidates who applied for the project manager position we advertised on the web site. As soon as we’ve interviewed candidates and made a decision, we’ll let you know who we’ve selected to shepherd our transition to organic course to completion and to manage the development of a simulation tool that will allow farmers to evaluate the economic benefits and risks of transitioning to organic.

Speaking of new hires, we have two new editor/writers on staff here at New Farm. Dan Sullivan joined us in December, moving from a senior editor position at Organic Gardening magazine. Dan is a longtime, passionate advocate of organic farming and an excellent writer and editor. Among other things, he’ll be handling our backlog of mail. We’ve received close to 5000 emails in the past 10 months, many of them with excellent questions and comments. Dan is organizing them, and will begin answering selected questions on the web site, starting in February. Also in February, he’ll begin reinvigorating our discussion forum area. More news about that later.

Laura Sayre has been writing for us for close to a year now. It started with a series of New Zealand farming--the impact of subsidies, plus profiles of down-under organic farmers--then shifted to excellent profiles of farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region. In the fall, she began a series on the results of our own on-farm research here at The Rodale Institute, including a description of the front-mounted no-till roller/planter we developed, and a review of the startling data we’ve collected on the impact of organic practices on a sharp reduction in greenhouse gasses.

Laura’s writing is clear and insightful. We’re going turn her loose to report on lots of great topics and farm operations in the months to come, including a piece on student farms, a series on women in organic farming, and perhaps a series on urban farming in the U.S.

Please give a big welcome, in your heart, to both these dedicated new staffers.

Conferences we have known. New Farm staff people will be at a number of conferences in the coming months. Stop by and say hi. This weekend we’ll be at the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) conference in Hagerstown, Maryland, with a booth. Next week (Jan 21 to 24) Dan and I will be at the Eco-Farm conference in Monterey, CA. We’ll be on a panel focused on helping non-profit organizations get their message out. Also next week, managing editor Greg Bowman will be at the Guelph Organic Conference in Ontario. Greg will also be at the NOFA-New Jersey conference on January 31, working with our farm manager Jeff Moyer to present a workshop on weed control. A large contingent of us will be at the PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) conference, February 5 to 7, with a booth. That same week, associate editors Amanda and Cara and writer Laura Sayre will be at the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association conference in Sacramento, again with a booth. Finally, several of us will be at the Upper Midwest Organic conference in LaCrosse, WI, Feb. 26 to 28. We hope you’ll stop by the booth and chat.

Speaking of conferences, we’re continuing to provide coverage of workshops at other conferences around the country through our Talking Shop feature. This week on the New Farm home page ( you’ll find reports on workshops in Vermont, Iowa, Delaware and Montana covering topics ranging from seed saving to green manures to successful direct marketing. We hope you enjoy these talking shops, which are our attempt to provide wider coverage of regional perspectives. We’d welcome your feedback on these stories. Just write me at, and put “Talking Shop” in the subject line.

Bookstore update: Check out four books related to stories posted this week on topics ranging from seedbanks to slaughterhouses. We've also added new titles offering perspectives on the mad cow scare. And, again, we encourage you to take advantage of our reader review feature at the bottom of each book entry and share your thoughts about a book with other readers. Go to the bookstore now.

In two weeks: A tale of two goat cheese farmers in California; a two-part series on the history of the CSA movement in the U.S., and its prospects for the future; year-end reflections by Julia Wiley and Andy Griffin of the Mariquita CSA; a profile of an organic cotton grower in New Mexico; a detailed analysis of a no-till cover crop system for vegetable production; an all-new, improved Farm Locator; a survey of student farms around the country that are roping in a whole new crop of beginning farmers; and much, much more. Until then,

--Chris Hill, Executive Editor

Don't forget to check out our latest Organic Price Index.


In Canada: Hemp
heaven ... and hell

(See below for more.)

Greenhouse 101:
Winter Survival Guide

(See below for more.)

Mountain farm in Costa Rica with visions of ag tourism (see below for more)


Fresh today from The New Farm®

Related news and resources on the Mad Cow scare

We were on holiday break when the BSE issue surfaced. But now, for those who want to explore the issues related to BSE and how we raise and process livestock in this country, we've put together a collection of stories, news items and other resources. They range from "Butchered," a gritty, inside look at a massive hog processing facility in Manitoba to a thoughtful essay by Prairie Writers Circle author Richard Manning on the culture of panic in America, and the real madness here--our feed lot system. By contrast with butchered, Dr. Don's research update focusses on a study of the humane pork production systems common in Europe. We also link you to books and resources on the topic, including a new resource page developed by ATTRA. And Jim Riddle's certification answer team devotes January's Q&As to certification issues related to BSE. Browse through these resources at your leisure. They're in their own box on the home page.


You can find our listing
of Mad Cow news and resources on our
home page.

Crossing Canada with Don Lotter
Hemp heaven… and hell: A story in two parts
Part 1: Industrial hemp’s benefits as fiber, oilseed and as food vs. barriers in U.S. production. Part 2: Conventional and organic hempseed growers make a go of it in Manitoba, Canada
Letter from NY
New Year's Reflection: How do you reduce risk
and improve farm income in 2004

100 ideas for improving yield and income through crop diversity, weed control, equipment repair, input avoidance, financial planning and value-added processing.
  Letter from New York

A beginner's guide to farming
Greenhouse 101: Winter Survival Guide
Once you know when to fold ‘em and when to hold ‘em, you, too, may say “let It snow!”

  Greenhouse 101

An Organic Regulation for Canada?
The U.S. organic community haggled for a decade about an organic standard, and we’re living with the results, for better and worse. Our Canadian counterparts are now in the thick of this same process. Paddy Doherty is one of those who has been pushing aggressively for uniform organic standards in Canada. Here he shares is perspective on the history, the issues, and the players.


Canadian organic


The secret life of cheese
At Lifeline Farm in Victor, Montana, the land tells its story in milk. Biodynamic farmer Ernie Harvey says you can taste the fields and the seasons unique to his corner of Montana in every bite of cheese … unlike the homogenized, mass-produced cheeses available in the supermarket.
  Montana Cheese

Susanna’s Costa Rican Sojourn:
Finca Pura Suerte
Searching for sustainability
on a 30-acre mountain farm

With the help of dedicated volunteers, a young American builds permaculture, community, and friendships in small Costa Rican village


Costa Rica


A conventional farmer rescued by
cover crops and a diverse rotation

The neighbors may not approve of his shaggy winter fields, but Rich Bennett says the cover crops and reduced inputs he adopted on his Northern Ohio farm in the mid-80s saved him economically. An old New Farm magazine favorite, Bennett will be speaking at the Innovative Farmers of Ohio conference this weekend.
  Rich Bennett
Planning for success on your farm
Rodale Institute farm manager Jeff Moyer knows one farmer whose planning is so refined that his workers can print out detailed work schedules each morning throughout the season. Most of us don’t need that kind of planning with a capital P, but we all need some … and winter is the time to do it.
  Jeff Moyer
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