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Hello. The power of PASA: The PASA conference this year was like a big tent revival for progressives--all the energy without all the baggage. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s, where it seemed you were never more than a mile away from somebody's revival meeting, where the business was the slamb-bang saving souls. Well, the over 1400 folks attending the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agricultural annual conference were going about the business of saving, too: saving a way of life, one acre at a time. The conference was a unique blend: Conference organizers and attendees were politically engaged in the struggle to define and create a better future for farming in the region, keeping the dialogue with the state department of agriculture open and active. The conference workshops represented detailed examples of the best farming practices and practitioners in the region. And the keynote speakers helped us connect our parochial efforts with broader movements on the planet. Paul Hawken made all of us feel a deep connection with the countless other organizations in the world working, each in their own corners, to create a better way of life. He said there are two super powers in the world: The United States, and civil society. All of us who constitute the second super power, he said, share a remarkable commonality of vision and dreams about what the world should be. And I felt it. Oh, yes, I felt the power of that connection. I bet you've felt it, too

Concerning Mr. Yoshino: Since we're in an emotional vein here, let me tell you briefly about Oshamu Yoshino, a farmer in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. His farm is profiled in this edition of New Farm. (See below for more.) Managing editor Greg Bowman and I met Mr. Yoshino in December of 2002. The first two days of our trip, Mr. Yoshino was that lean, smiling presence at every farm tour and every meeting, radiating joy and peace ... which made it all the more stunning to hear the story of his life. At a community center near his farm, we feasted on local produce of endless variety, then sat at a table while community members knelt on pillows before us, sharing Mr. Yoshino's story. It was the most remarkable, and emotionally demanding, set of confessions I've every experienced. Mr. Yoshino, we learned from his mother, daughter, other community members--and himself--was a very angry man for over 5 years. One year, he'd made an abrupt commitment to start farming naturally. This product of over 300 years of farming in one place suddenly gave up the chemical path that was standard in his region, and it was not without its cost, emotionally. His mother snuck out in the middle of the night to pull unsightly weeds before the neighbors could see. He brought his vegetables to the community center to sell, and people didn't buy them, turned off by blemishes and irregularities. His family and his neighbors loved him, but were afraid to approach him. Finally, his sister confronted him and demanded that he change or quit. With the help of Ms. Domai, mentioned in the story, he came up with a CSA solution that allowed the community to support and honor his efforts as a natural farmer. His wife, suffering from cancer at the time of our visit, has since died. We grieve for him, but honor his courage in sharing his life with us, and rejoice that he has reconnected with his community. A CSA in the U.S. is mostly a financial commitment, which makes lots of sense. It's hard to convey the level of spiritual and emotional commitment we saw in Chiba. There's really no corresponding experience in the U.S.

Thanks, partners. Thanks to all those organizations who contacted me to express an interest in working with us to develop resource pages for a given region of the country. If you think your organization would be interested in such a partnership, please contact me. And we're still 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.

Still looking for tools: Thanks to those of you who sent us tool ideas, and places to look for interesting tools. We're still hoping for more pictures and/or descriptions of the favorite tools you love. For some tool innovators in this issue of the web site, check out Steve Groff and Elliot Coleman, from the CASA conference story described below. Both cherish tools in different ways, on different scales.

Farm Locator upgrade: We've just upgraded the Farm Locator with new categories and subcategories that will allow farmers to more accurately describe the products they grow and sell, including new categories that will allow you to look for -- and advertise --- products and services such as: a good source of hay or seed, a welding service, seed cleaning or milling, feeder stock, compost tea, stud services, custom harvesting and more.

Then, in about three weeks, we'll be offering a "zip code radius search." What that means is that people can put in a zip code and tell the search engine to look for farms within a specified number of miles from that zip code ... 25 or 50 miles, for example. What that means for farmers is that people are more likely to find your farm when they do a search, even if you're just over the border in another state. What it means for seekers is a more successful and targetted search.

--Chris Hill, Executive Editor

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


Mr. Yoshino's Farm: commitment in the face
of hardship and pain

(See below for more, and also at right.)

A CSA Journal
(See below for more.)

Capricious Cheese
(see Goat Cheese,below, for more)


Fresh today from The New Farm®

Shumei Natural Agriculture:
Farming to create heaven on earth
Yamada town: Osamu Yoshino

Natural Agriculture farmer finds locating a market more challenging than letting go of chemicals

Osamu Yoshino of Chiba prefecture survived a “cold turkey” switch to no-chemical, no-input farming thanks to supporters who were willing to pull his weeds. There was only one problem: nobody would buy the food. Now he's turning his eye on neighboring organic farmers to see what they can teach each other about success and spirit.


Mr. Yoshino


California Goat Cheese, PART 2
Endless experimentation and a restless search
for new and better cheeses

Redwood Hill goat dairy made a name for itself in the 80s. Despite warnings from the Milk Advisory Board that the niche was filled, newcomer Capricious Cheese established its own unique reputation. This is the story of two very different goat dairies who found direct-marketing success with meticulous management and distinctive products.


Goat Cheese, Part 2

Part II: CSA’s World of Possibilities
When Steven McFadden first wrote about CSAs back in 1990, there were about 60 CSAs in the country. Now in 2004, he says, there are around 1,700 ... and he sees a strong potential for another wave of CSA development, a wave that could not only triple or quadruple the number of CSAs over the next few years, but also raise in importance the role these farms play in their communities.

CSA History, Part 2




Faye Jones grows with MOSES
UMOFC organizer charts the history of the Upper Midwest’s largest sustainable ag conference—a history inextricably intertwined with her own.


Faye Jones


The Agriculture of the Middle

A consortium of partners seeks to stem the flow of the “disappearing middle” from family farming
Creating and expanding markets that value intrinsic qualities such as “locally produced” hold keys to saving this disappearing segment of mid-sized family farms, says Leopold Center Director Fred Kirschenmann.

  Ag of the Middle


New riders of the purple goosefoot
In Watsonville, California, the founders of Mariquita CSA discover the value of this antique cousin to spinach. The CSA journal is a new idea cooked up by New Farm editors and Andy and Julia of Mariquita: short, twice monthly journal entries reflecting on the latest issues or ideas on the minds of these exceptional CSA farmers.



CSA Journal





The CASA Conference, Maryland
1. Nothing middling about the Mid-Atlantic
Inspiring keynotes, inventive farmer members, local & organic foods make Future Harvest-CASA conference a big success.
2. Stars of the Chesapeake
A few of the many inspiring farmers whose presentations enlivened the Future Harvest-CASA conference.

The Eco-Farm Conference, California
1. Magic bus ride to sustainable farms of many scales
From a modest hillside of kiwifruit, to hundreds of acres of organic and IPM raspberries, a sprawling ranch where holistically managed grass-fed beef cattle are raised, to a 20-acre valley of intensively cultivated vegetables, each farm—and farmer—has a unique story.
Getting small
Three farmers tell how they scaled back their operations to maintain their sanity, recapture their love for farming, and improve their bottom line.

The Montana Organic Conference
New connections are the focus
of Montana’s first organic conference

Farmers, organic experts, and vendors converge in Great Falls to share ideas.


CASA, Part 1

Stars of the Chesapeake

Magic farm tour, CA

Getting small

Montana Organic



Act before MARCH 2: CSP in danger
Fight for an effective conservation program

We have worked all year to restore the Conservation Security Program. First Congress put a cap on the amount of funding the program could receive and we fought and got the cap removed. Then the President slashed the program’s budget and we fought and got full funding restored. But the government seems determined to kill this program—now the USDA has set proposed rules for the program that are so restrictive it will be nearly impossible for any farmer to qualify. Back into the fray ...


Help save CSP





Check the home page for the latest news, a new Dr. Don research update and two new Final Words from ag curmudgeon Alan Guebert. Enjoy.

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