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Hello. Check out our "new farmers" forum. When we put out a call for beginning farmers who would record their thoughts, observations and insights for our New Farmer Journals project, the response was overwhelming. As we sifted through nearly 70 requests to participate, it became clear that we had to create a forum for all of these worthy applicants—and for all of you—to swap stories, advice and tales of adventure. And that’s just what we’ve done.

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve asked all the beginning farmers who answered our call to visit our new forum section and warm up the couches of our online livingroom. So far, we’ve been graced with visits by farmers like Matt Cheselka from Arizona with his “Cosmic Lettuce Journal” and Bea Kunz at Sage Hill (mostly culinary herb) Farms in middle Tennessee. The forums have also sparked discussions ranging from alternative methods of CSA marketing to insights on how best to organize this forum. Linda Halley, who runs a very successful CSA operation with her husband Richard, in Wisconsin, responded to the marketing question--and we'd welcome the insights of other experienced CSA farmers.

So kick off your shoes (or wipe your boots on the rug), come on into one of the New Farmer Journal forums, and sit a spell. We're all eager to hear what you have to say.

Speaking of Linda Halley: Check out Linda's piece on how shared work, mutual respect and a good meal built bridges between organic transplants and two old-time locals, Vern and Ole. I'm willing to bet most of you have come to depend on the kindness and respect of neighbors like Vern and Ole, whatever their orientation to organic--or where they fall on the red state-blue state spectrum, for that matter.

Speaking of interdependence: NewFarm.Org sponsored the farmer of the year award at the Upper Midwest Organic Conference, held in late February in LaCrosse, WI. Imagine our surprise when an old friend from the days when New Farm was still a magazine emerged as the winner. Carmen Fernholz has been a champion of sustainable and organic farming for two decades, and was involved in the magazine's initiative to create a network of innovative Midwestern farmers back in the '80s. The Farmers' Own Network for Extension (FONE) engaged pioneering organic farmers like Carmen and Dick Thompson to do on-farm research, host field days--and generally serve as resources for other farmers.

In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, Carmen insisted that it was interdependence, not independence, that would assure us security and quality of life--and that by honoring him the organic community was really honoring its own commitment to a future of interdependence, both social and economic. For the full text of Carmen's speech, click here.

Battling the subsidy beast: Organic and sustainable farmers from the Midwest invited senior writer Laura Sayre to tag along as they traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate farm policy reform. High on their agenda? To broaden the debate over federal farm payments--especially subsidies. President Bush has proposed lowering the cap for a single farm to $250,000 a year from the current $360,000. But many farmers in the Midwest think it should be much lower--$50,000, or less.

Of course, subsidies are not just a political issue. They are a tragedy, and a travesty of justice, rewarding farmers for continuous cropping that degrades the land, and penalizing farmers for good stewardship. For more on Laura's trip, click here.

The organic no-till revolution continues: In early March, in the midst of a blizzard, a group of farmers, researchers and extension folk from around the country met here at The Institute's farm to make plans for testing our organic no-till roller/planter system in different climates with a wide variety of crops and cover crops. It was a great start. There was lots of energy and excitement about rolling up our sleeves and figuring out how to make no-till work without herbicides. For more on the event, click here.

For the 150 or so of you who wrote us earlier, hoping to be part of this experiment--and for all the rest of you who've followed our no-till roller work with interest--don't despair. In two weeks we'll unveil a no-till page on the web site that will keep you abreast of our activities and findings. It will also house all of the material we collect, including design plans for the roller, experimental results, profiles of participating farmers and researchers, and more.

Finally, the web page will host a no-till forum--an online space were folks can ask and answer questions, or share thoughts, innovations and suggestions.

Wisdom of the elders: We've learned about a new online tool that provides access to pre-1942 USDA research relevant to organic and sustainable farming--and we'll be summarizing some of that amazingly relevant research in the months to come. For more on this new resource, click here.

Calling all market reporters: Farmers' markets across the country are just beginning to stir after a long winter's nap. And that means it's time to get the Grassroots OPX —a weekly update featuring prices for local, sustainably raised, heirloom and organic products—back in shape. We're looking for a few good volunteers to dust off their notebooks, visit their local producer-only farmers' market once a week during the market season and report back to us on what they see. We already have reporters signed up for 41 markets, but we're looking for at least 60 more. (We want information on at least two markets in every state.) Interested? Click here for more information on becoming a Grassroots OPX Reporter.

Chris Hill, Executive Editor


New farmer journalists
Patty and Jeanne talk about the tribulations of deciding to expand their CSA operation in Illinois. AND NOW, you can join Patty, Jeanne and the other new farmer journalists on our new farmer forums!
See at left and below
for more.

The space that Sven
and Ole wrought

Organic transplants and oldtime locals develop mutual respect when they work together on a building project and break bread together.
See at left for more.

Organics in Turkey
No, that's not organic turkeys. Turns out there are 20,000 certified organic growers in the EU's newest member state--and they're not finding it an easy transition.
See below for more.

Jeff Klinge's decision
He went organic to save his family farm in Iowa, but discovered a whole host of other rewards he didn't anticipate.
See below for more.

The face that launched a thousand organic hopefuls
Carmen Fernholz gets the Upper Midwest organic farmer of the year award.
See at left for more.

Greenhouse U.
Belt yourself in for a four-part series on greenhouse siting, management and maintenance. Your guide: John Biernbaum of Michigan State University.
See below for more.


Fresh today from The New Farm®
Look, Ma! No Weeds: Early Season Weed Control

Part 3 of 3: In-row cultivation
It’s as much about the technique—and being able to adapt to fickle weather—as it is about the tools.

Weed Control

For the beginning grower

Flowers and insects: a manageable combination
Sure, insects cause flower growers some noticeable heartaches, but they can be controlled organically—with beneficials, diversity, selecting the right flowers for your region, and even with guinea hens.

Cut flowers



Stoney Lonesome Farm, Gainesville VA
Pablo’s brown revolution--compost revolution, that is
Rethinking their approach to compost has not only gotten Pablo and Esther out of their perpetual fertility debt. It has freed them up from “crisis” farming and given them time to think and plan … and have a little fun on the land.

Sol-e-Terre Farm, Suffield CT
Is it Groundhog Day? Must be time to farm
There’s still snow on the ground, but Daniel and Bethany get the urge to plant. They’re also dealing with producing a manageable farm plan, finessing organic red tape and setting up a firm deal for tractor work from their neighbor. At right: Daniel with kids.

Fresh Harvest Farm, Mokena IL
Expanding their CSA has given partners Patty and Jeanne a whole new set of issues to deal with
Battling urban sprawl, working two different parcels, arranging storage, electricity and water, dealing with clay soil: It’s a challenge! But they’ve created a great crop planning worksheet, and have developed a supportive network of fellow farmers.



Stoney Lonesome

Fresh Harvest


4th annual Texas Conference on Organic Production

Texas organic conference hosts tea party
The ‘King of Compost’ and the ‘Queen of Compost Tea’ share their soil secrets as the conference focuses on two things Texas lacks—water and soil organic matter

Organic research slowly gaining funds,
practitioners and publicity

At the TOFGA conference in January 2005, USDA scientists shared the fruits of a growing organic research agenda


Texas organic conference

Organic research

Holding on to the family farm
As a fifth-generation Iowa farmer, Jeff Klinge’s primary motivation for going organic was to find a way to boost profitability without expanding the acreage of his mixed grain and livestock farm. But he’s found there are other rewards as well--like gaining a large measure of independence from the federal subsidy system.
  Jeff Klinge

And the moral of the story is...
Andy is telling his CSA members bedtime stories. No, he hasn't gone completely nuts. It's the first newsletter of the season, and there's a moral to his story--keep the boxes neat, clean and folded, kids; don't forget to tell us when you're away; and, last but not least, enjoy the connection between country and city.

  CSA Journal


Stop bio-rice now before we're forced to solve another genetic riddle
Comments due: March 25, 2005

What do you get when you cross rice with human genes? Missouri’s next commodity crop—unless we stop it now. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently accepting comments on two separate petitions submitted by Ventria Bioscience, a biopharmaceutical company based in Sacramento, California. The petitions ask for permission to grow 200 acres of pharmaceutical rice with humanized genes in southern Missouri this year. Ventria has already tried to grow this crop in California and Canada and was denied both times. It now has its sights set on what it hopes will be a more docile Midwestern populace. Let's show them they're mistaken.

  Action Alert
Organic University:
Greenhouses for year-round food and farming

Part 1 of 4: Greenhouse site selection
Before you build, you need to know the best place for growing. Author Katie Olender participated in a day-long Organic University workshop on setting up and managing a greenhouse operation—part of the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, held in late February in LaCrosse, Wisconsin--and shares her lessons with us.
  Greenhouse site selection
Something old. Something new.
Something organic. Something blue.

Turkey’s organic farmers—20,000 certified and 600,000 by default—are trying to survive their European honeymoon.
  Organics in Turkey


LLamas in Lake Placid and a return to Ecuador
One intern journalist gears up for spring, while another says goodbye to California and prepares to take her new knowledge home to Ecuador.


Intern journals




For Sale: 154-acre organic farm in Adams County, Illinois. 5-acre farm in Missouri. 35-acre farm in South Carolina. Extended 1 ton van. Vegetable and herb transplants. Day-old meat and layer chicks. Boer goats. Alfalfa hay….
Wanted: 10 horsepower tiller. My lost horse: Have you seen her? Full-time farm work in eastern PA. Farm management position in Vermont …
Opportunities: Farm managers needed in PA, MA, KS. Free horse manure in eastern PA. Farm internships and apprenticeships all over the country ….
Events: Spring on-farm courses in New Mexico, Risk Management Conference in Massachusetts


Bookstore Updates and Reviews

Been to our bookstore lately?

Check out featured titles on organic vegetable growing in Texas, perennial plants for permaculture, season extension, cover crops, and the hazards of agri-business meat. Don't miss a special offer on three classic Rodale titles--Save Three Lives, An Agricultural Testament, and Farmers of Forty Centuries. Plus, new book reviews:

Talking to farmers: In Good Growing, a sociologist interviews organic growers around the country
Neoliberalism and the farm: Ploughing Up the Farm examines the effects of global trade on agricultural profitability

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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