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Hello, [name]. California dreamin': Senior editor Dan Sullivan and I were compelled to attend the Eco-farm conference in Monterey, CA earlier this month. Arriving back in Pennsylvania was a frozen nightmare: endless wind, and sub-freezing days, and drifting snow. Take me back to California, where you can farm year-round and net as much an acre as some farmers back East make on a hundred acres. (I know, it's not all roses and profits, but it sure is nice.)

While out there, we reconnected with Julia Wiley and Andy Griffin of Mariquita CSA. (You'll find their reflections on the 2003 season in this edition of The New Farm.) We chatted with Andy and Julia while out there, and they've agreed to do short journal entries twice a month, starting two weeks from now. We got the first journal entry yesterday, and it's both hilarious and helpful. We think you'll enjoy this new format, which will include stunning pictures from their farm and insights into managing a CSA.

We collected dozens of ideas for new features on the web site while at Eco-Farm. Among them: a series of stories that take a personal look at the next generation of farmers and how they're dealing with their parents as they begin to take over the farm; a story on apprenticeship opportunities for both farmers looking for apprentices, and apprentices looking for farmers; a farm-link service that will begin to help put farmers in touch with landowners, and vice-versa; and a California page, developed in partnership with organizations in California, that will feature resources, stories, events and other region-specific services.

In fact, we're looking for regional partners around the country who can work with us to develop resource pages for a given region. If you think your organization would be interested in such a partnership, please contact me. We're also looking for expert columnists who can provide engaging, practical articles on a giving topic. For example, we'd like an organic veterinary medicine column, and a commercial scale compost column. Don't hesitate to contact us with ideas and resources.

It's tool time! In December, Don Lotter's coverage of a hand tool workshop at the Washington Tilth conference was our biggest hit. There was a virtual traffic jam to get to it and check out the tools farmers loved and modified. In fact, it seems like every farm tour or field day I've gone to, tools and tractors are lined up for inspection, and often hold pride of place, whether it's a five acre CSA or a 1500 acre grain farm. So that got us thinking: Why not invite our readers to send us pictures of their favorite tools and equipment, and tell us what they use them for, how they modified them, and whether they built them themselves. If you've got a tool to share, send pictures and descriptions to me at info@newfarm.org. Only have snapshots? Send them with a letter to my attention at The Rodale Institute, 611 Siegfriedale Road, Kutztown, PA 19530. Speaking of tools, famed California peach grower and book author Mas Masumoto spoke at the Eco-Farm conference in Monterey, CA earlier this month, and he brought with him a cherished shovel that has done hard time shallow-spading weeds in his orchard. The point of the spade is entirely gone, and looks more like two camel humps with a deep dip in middle, abraded away by grit and effort and time.

Bookstore update: Check out a number of books related to stories posted this week on topics ranging from organic cotton production to managing CSAs. 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.

--Chris Hill, Executive Editor

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

 

Dairy goat heaven
(See below for more.)

Mariquita CSA:
Reflections on 2003

(See below for more.)

Cut flowers: Anticipating spring harvest
(see below for more)

     

Fresh today from The New Farm®

FARMING FOR CREDIT

At colleges and universities across the country, students are finding--and founding--opportunities to make sustainable agriculture part of a well-rounded education. Many go on to farm organically in real life.

 

Student farms

     

Organic no-till for vegetable production?

It can be done--Virginia Tech professor Ron Morse has been trialing a wide range of cover crop species for no-till planting of organic brassicas, cucurbits, solanaceae and more

FEATURING: A slide show detailing no-till cover crop options for vegetable growers AND a detailed chart providing seeding rates, planting dates, expected benefits and when to mow or roll ... for 29 different species of cover crops!

 

No-till covers for veggies

     
Community Farms in the 21st Century:
Poised for Another Wave of Growth?


This is the first in a two-part series exploring the birth of the CSA movement in the United States as well as the potentials for this growing and successful model of community agriculture.
 

CSA History

     
Converted to organic cotton, for health and profit

A third-generation New Mexico farmer finds environmental benefits and eager markets with certified organic Pima cotton.
 

Organic cotton in NM

     
Respecting the individual ... goat, that is
California goat dairy Redwood Hill proves you can increase herd size without sacrificing management standards. The first of two parts on this successful goat cheese operation.
  Goat dairy
     

CSA NOTEBOOK: Mariquita Farm, Watsonville, CA

Reflections on the 2003 CSA season

Giving thanks for a season with no disasters, good partners, a great new staff member, and—overall—more sanity.

 

CSA Notebook

 

 

     

TALKING SHOP: Slow Food Awards, Naples, Italy

Slow Food - Honoring quality and diversity

From wild rice to Ethiopian cereals to Tuvan sheep this year’s winners were themselves a demonstration in biodiversity. Featuring a slide-show visit to the hillside dairies of Agerola, Italy.
  Slow Food Awards
     

TALKING SHOP 2:

Restoring Our Seed Conference, Brattleboro, VT
Getting started in commercial seed growing
Although big companies dominate the seed business, there's room for small producers who can identify niche markets


Iowa Organic Conference, Iowa State University
Building on past success
Iowa's organic farmers enjoy growing acceptance, booming markets—but leaders caution against complacency

 

Seed conference

Iowa Organic

 

 

     

SPECIALTY CUT FLOWER CORNER:
For the beginning grower

Spring Harvest: Planning now
for next year's early bloomers


Most northern growers are chomping at the bit to get back out in the dirt (yes, we are all certifiably nuts). But if you take this lull in the schedule to do some planning for next spring, you can satisfy everyone's cabin fever with extra early bouquets and baskets.

  Cut flowers
     
 
   
   
     
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