again to all of you who have helped us save the OPX.
63 of you have given almost $3,000 in the past three weeks to save
the Organic Price Index. (Dozens of you have also printed out mailable
donation forms. We hope the check's in the mail.) Haven't given
Here’s what your giving means in practical terms:
Starting May 26, we’ll begin updating the OPX on
a weekly basis for at least three weeks. (It costs us $1,000 a week
to simply gather, enter and post prices from our existing markets.)
And here’s what it means in broader terms: As
Jim Riddle, chair of the National Organic Standards Board and longtime
supporter of New Farm and the OPX told us recently, “The OPX
is a crucial resource for all sectors of the organic community,
especially for farmers. Prices for organic products are not published
on the Chicago Board of Trade or other standardized indexes. NewFarm.Org’s
OPX publicizes actual prices being paid for a wide range of organic
crops. Having such information publicly available improves the economic
competitiveness of organic farmers, empowers them in the marketplace,
and lays the groundwork for a host of practical steps—from
business plans and bank loans to establishing actuarial tables for
crop insurance—that are essential to the next level of growth
for the organic sector. Organic farmers need reliable price information.”
$3,000 is a drop in the bucket, given the $120,000 we need each
year to maintain, promote and expand the OPX, but we’re really
very pleased by the generous support of so many of you. We know
it’s new for us to come to you with requests for financial
support. We’re not entirely comfortable with it, and you probably
aren’t either. But you need the services--like the OPX--that
we provide, and we need your support. Them’s the facts, Ma’am.
click here to help out. Let’s raise funds for
another three to five weeks of price gathering by the end of May.
It’s not a pin-up calendar,
but it’s close … You’ve just got
to check out our “Rollers on Parade” photo gallery.
It features many of the no-till rollers that have been multiplying
like bunnies since we first described our own roller. They've been
built by eager individual farmers, universities and research stations.
(We haven’t yet built the ones to be used in the regional
field trials that are part of our federal conservation grant.) You’ll
find single-row rollers, 8-row rollers, rollers in black, and rollers
festooned with stars. Catch the roller fever. Hang these babies
on your shop wall. Click
here to check out these labors of love.
Announcing a new student farm page!
We’ve had so much interest in our “Farming
for Credit” story— featuring a directory of student
farms around the country—that we decided to build a “Farming
for Credit” page, designed to house not just information on
student farms, but also profiles and listings of the best sustainable
and organic ag programs at community colleges, universities, and
even high schools. And best of all, there’s a discussion
forum for students and faculty—a place where
they can share stories, ask questions, discuss challenges and successes,
and network with other student farmers and faculty advisors.
John Biernbaum, faculty advisor to the Student Organic Farm at
Michigan State University, is really excited about this opportunity
(check out his welcome message on the Farming
for Credit page). He has agreed to announce the page
and forum to colleagues around the country, and urge them to get
students to participate. He and MSU’s farm manager will also
be contributing their own stories and insights. Let’s turn
this page into a dynamic center for helping shape and motivate the
growing student-farm movement! Check
out the page now.
Speaking of discussion forums …
As many of you have pointed out to us, we now have two “talk”
sections—and it’s a little confusing. Sorry for the
confusion. Evolution is a messy, glorious thing. But now we have
a solution: The TALK page that appears in the green navigation bar
at the top of each page now features the new, more active forums
we’ve been creating—the new farmer forums, the no-till
forums, and now the farming for credit forum and a general topics
forum for anyone who wants to chat about any other topic of relevance
to New Farm readers. The old talk section will still be available
for those who use it, but will eventually be phased out, so we urge
you to use the other forums that are now available—and suggest
other forums you think are needed. The new forums are easier to
use, and don’t require a cumbersome login. Click
here to check out the forums on the new TALK page.
There are some pretty amazing new entries now on these forums.
As an example, check out the conversation called “Film/TV
writer seeks info from new farmer” in the Daily
Journal section of the New Farmer Forum. Further down
in the conversation, you’ll find Eric Deci’s incredible
story of his long, long journey home to farming in Western New York,
and his eloquent defense of rural life.
And the Grassroots OPX is off! It's
still early for a lot of markets, but we have prices this week from
12 of our intrepid grassroots reporters in 11 states: CA, WI, OR,
AR, DC, OK, OH, WA, ME, NY, NJ. It's our biggest launch to date!
Amanda, our Grassroots OPX coordinator, has heard back from many
other reporters with June opening dates for their markets, so we
should see quite a bit of building starting early next month. Check
them out now.
The vagaries of the melting pot.
America is a big, diverse place, but apparently
not big enough to make room for Andy Griffin's beloved hot chili
peppers in his weekly CSA baskets. Apparently the customers just
don't like them. As Andy writes, "Subscription farming is a
balancing act between the expectations of a heterogeneous community
of subscribers and the limitations the local environment puts on
crops and farming practices." Sounds like Andy's biggest limits
still come from his customers' tastes. And the antipathy to chili
peppers just shocks me. Like Andy, I have a passion for hot peppers,
and I'm lucky enough to live near a short, energetic plain Mennonite
farmer with an even greater passion for chili peppers. He raises
over 200 varieties from around the world, and each variety has its
story, which he'll be happy to tell you if you've got the time.
here to read more about Andy's balancing act over the
Chris Hill, Executive Editor
Ain't she a beauty!
And there's more of 'em where she came from.
See at left for more on our "Rollers
I'd like that with mustard ...
When Washington potato farmer Dale Gies went looking for a cover
crop that would not only improve soil quality but also reduce disease,
he settled on mustard.
See below for more.
Thinking outside the pot
Andy Griffin's biggest challenge is meeting the diverse needs of
his 900 CSA families. And the greatest sorrow? No one seems to care
for his beloved chili peppers.
See at left for more.
Incubator farm hatches
In the heart of the heavily monocropped Salinas Valley, where dirt
is worth its weight in gold, one of the country's most successful
incubator farms gives farm workers access to land, resources, knowledge
See below for more.