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Hello. While the farmer's away, the chickens will play. Chris Hill, Executive Editor and newsletter composer is away on another agricultural adventure (this time it's Senegal). So, the chickens are filling in. As usual, our latest update is chock full of profiles, reflections, news and research from across the country and around the globe.

We've got a brand new column for all you new farmers (or old farmers who feel like new farmers) to sink your hoes into. After putting the call out to our readers, we received over 70 letters of interest from beginning farmers eager to write about the trials and tribulations of their first few years in the field. Part sounding board, part diary, part complaint line, the New Farmer Journal lets six new farmers share their humble beginnings, humbling mistakes and not-so-humble determination as they unfold each month. Three farmers launch the New Farmer Journal this week:
Patty McPhillips of Fresh Harvest Farm, Mokena IL
Daniel Duesing of Sol-e-Terre, Suffield CT
Pablo Elliot of Stoney Lonesome Farm, Gainesville VA

High-tech grassroots: Whoever said creating a truly local food system means shunning the technological advances of our time has not only got his head in the sand, he obviously hasn't heard about Winter Harvest or Locally Grown. New Farm's senior editor, Dan Sullivan, takes a look at two internet buying clubs linking local eaters to local farmers and making grassroots high-tech.

Keep your politics off my food? American farmers might have the luxury of choosing whether or not to mix their farming with their politics, but in northern Israel's Sachnin, some farmers have suffered loss of their olive trees, ancient fields and homes thanks to Israeli military activity carried out in the name of security. Others have lost water rights, crippling production in many areas. From the mouth of one farmer: "Everything is politics in this land. When you eat, you eat politics. When you drink, you drink politics. You can't even breathe the air without suffocating on politics." Yigal Deutscher profiles the area's Israeli Arab farmers in this installment of Vine and Fig Tree.

Our fearless leader will back for our next newsletter and, I'm sure, will fill you in on all his adventures then.

In the meantime, enjoy!
-- NF


That big one is the new farmer; the others, we'll see! See left and below for more information on our new column featuring Daniel (above) and more.


Virtual peaches: The world-wide-web makes ultra-local possible. See left and below for more.


Microfarm manager: Laithi and his NGO, Arrasid, are bringing back microfarming in order to bring the community back to the land. See left and below for more.


Fresh today from The New Farm®

Pan-American Adventure
Sizing up organic farming in Mexico
Although domestic demand is still small, land area under organic management and total value of organic production in Mexico is expanding at 45 percent a year—twice the rate of expansion in the U.S. Coffee is by far the country's most important organic crop.


Look, Ma! No Weeds: Early Season Weed Control
Part 2: Blind cultivation
In the second part of this three-part series, Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens show you how to get the weeds before they become established.

Kovar coil tine harrow, folded for transport: An essential piece of early weed-control equipment.
Internet buying clubs combine emerging technologies and community values
Two entrepreneurs committed to the local food movement are about to make their marketing models available to the public.

Just kidding around
Andy's goats might look like an expensive hobby on paper, but they keep the poison oak under control, entertain the human CSA kids and prevent Andy from pummeling the occasional penny-pinching market customer.

Vine and fig tree: Restoring agriculture in the Holy Land
Israeli Arab farmer builds future hope where politics permeates land and water
Laithi combines donated fields, heirloom seeds, traditional wisdom and farmer networking throughout Israel to build an agriculture that fits the place and the time to come.

Organics in the News

The crucial question: What is pasture?
National Organic Standards Board will debate pasture guidance at its upcoming meeting in Washington, D.C. (Includes details on how to submit comments to the NOSB on the definition of "pasture")


Where you’ll meet young (and young at heart) farmers just getting started. To begin, we asked three farmers to talk about the challenges faced and lessons learned in their first year of farming. Next time, we’ll meet three more farmers sharing their first-year experiences. From there on out, each group will take turns talking about what new lessons they are learning in the field throughout the 2005 season.

Trial and error
Two friends new to farming learn many lessons growing veggies in the ’burbs.
New beginnings
With help from the Connecticut Farmland Trust, a family realizes its dream.
Coming home
On taking the leap; reflections of a first-year farmer.


Dr. Paul's Research Perspectives
Transitioning to organic farming
The biological keys to success

RESEARCH UPDATE: A non-chemical strategy for getting rid of Canada thistle
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin investigate a bacterial 'herbicide' to control thistle in pastures

The Inspector’s Notebook #10
Planning the perfect rotation: Three part series on creating crop rotations
Part 3: Nine simple steps to your own rather complicated looking field-specific map of future planting
Intern Journal: ENTRY 13
Weather report
Winter conditions have our interns experiencing vastly different challenges on opposite coasts.

Classified information

Wanted: Sleepless in Saskatchewan, looking to reconnect...

For sale: Freeman 200 hay baler...

Opportunities: Big Sky Internship...




Dear New Farm: How can I reduce joint infections in my Cornish rock broilers?

Dear New Farm: What is the cause of watery poultry droppings?

Reader commentary: Farrowing crates save lives. This pig farmer says that when it comes to animal welfare, experience is the best guide.

Reader commentary: A nice place to shop. Local food activists partner with architecture school to create attractive farmers’ market site.


Dear Jeff: My hay field is unusable due to the thistle and other problem weeds. Any suggestions on how to proceed this spring?

Dear Jeff: Interested in getting universities in Illinois on the no-till plus project?


Bookstore Updates and Reviews

Check out four great field guides to weeds, the latest from David Mas Masumoto, and a comprehensive guide to profitable organic farming in the United Kingdom. Plus, new book reviews:

Have a book recommendation for us? Let us know by emailing senior writer Laura Sayre at

Check The New Farm home page for the latest news. Enjoy.
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