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Hello. Thanks 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 yet? Donate NOW.

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.

So, click here to help out. Let’s raise funds for another three to five weeks of price gathering by the end of May. Thanks.

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. Click here to read more about Andy's balancing act over the melting pot.

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 on Parade"

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
new farmers

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 ...
and power.
See below for more.


Fresh today from The New Farm®

Amaranth: The ideal crop to add to a small
farmer’s polyculture in developing nations?

While traveling in Guatemala, New Farm’s roving reporter, Don Lotter, revives the case for an all-but-lost grain that was literally once the food of the gods. Amaranth, he says, is rich in protein, calcium, iron, vitamin E and lysine--nutrients sorely lacking in the diets of the rural poor in countries like Guatemala.

At right: Roberto Miranda, an amaranth agronomist, with an amaranth seed head.



The yellow revolution
In eastern Washington, potato farmer Dale Gies has pioneered the use of mustards to build soil organic matter and eliminate the need for chemical soil fumigants.
Saving our seeds, southern-style
A network of organizations sets out to grow organic, regionally-adapted crop seeds for the southeastern United States. It's not easy in the South, but seed companies, nonprofits and universities are working together to develop organic seeds suitable for use in the southern states, focussing first on beans of all kinds, tomatoes and cover crops.They're also training organic farmers in the intricacies of saving viable seed.

Saving our seeds


From One Farm to Another
Green on Green

Farm manager Jeff Moyer counts the many virtues of small grains, from the soil to the balance sheet. Take oats, for example: Jeff grossed around $350 an acre when he sold them last August--and that didn't count the oat straw, which he got $100 a ton for, right out of the field. Small grain, maybe, but big profits.

  Small grains
It's planting time. Do you know where
your earthworms are?

Pennsylvania no-till farmer Steve Groff counts the many, wriggling benefits of no-till

Organic University:
Greenhouses for year-round food and farming

Part 4 of 4: Get growing
You've chosen your location, assembled your greenhouse, and fine-tuned your climate control skills—now it’s time to plant something!

At right: Mei Qing Choi and other Asian greens are a great choice for winter production.




From the ground up
In the heart of California's Salinas Valley, former farmworkers are getting a chance to start farms of their own--with access not only to land and leanring, but also to innovative marketing efforts directed at local hospitals, university food services and public schools.

Three farmers, many lives
Graduates of the ALBA incubator farm program--now independent farmers--say what they value most is growing food without chemicals, working with family members and being their own bosses.


Incubator farm

Graduates of ALBA

New pesticide relies on bacterium
to fight root-damaging fungi

Microbiological research at the University of Idaho lays the groundwork for development of bio-fungicides
The Inspector’s Notebook #13
Stopping the landslide

Jim Riddle shares his secrets for dealing with erosion problems--and what your inspector will expect from you in terms of erosion control plans.
  Erosion control

For the beginning grower

Flower diseases
Don't worry, be observant.

  Cut flowers
Welcome to The New Farm Classifieds!

Wanted: Organic farm work in Oregon; organic produce for Florida coop; crimper-roller; laying hens; organic farms in TN and WA.
For sale: 1998 Kenworth T 800; Red Polled Beefmaster bulls, GA; certified organic cattle pairs, northern CA; organic hay, CA; two pickle harvesters; OCIA-certified organic hulless oats, IL; small farm in Green County, WI; 1951 Farmall Super A, NC.
Opportunities: Watershed Outreach Coordinator, fluent in Spanish, CA; 4-stall milk parlor to rent; organic ag apprenticeship in Ecuador; farm helper needed in AL; production manager for salad production garden, PA; two apprenticeships at organic farm in central NY.
Services: Auction services available in Texas or Oklahoma.



New Farmer Forum and Journals

As I mentioned above, the New Farmer Forums are busy and full of heartwarming stories and great insights. Check out the latest journals, below:

Essex Farm, Essex NY
The greatest job on earth
Between balancing the books, juggling spring chores, and making sure paying customers are satisfied, these year ‘round CSA farmers find themselves running a three (at least)-ring circus.
Easy Growin' Farm, Buena Vista CO
Right neighborly
Our new farmer with an altitude discovers his community abounds with treasures there for the asking.
Your Farm, Hilmar CA
Family ties
A new farmer questions whether her emotional attachment to family land is rooted in practicality--or whether there's a better, more affordable place somewhere else.
North Country School, Lake Placid NY
The sap also rises
Sugaring season brings with it a flood of memories and the pitter patter of sticky footprints.


Essex Farm

Easy Growin' Farm

Your Farm

North Country School

Ag Policy Perspectives
Traditional farm interests aren’t the only ones with something to say about the 2007 farm bill
Fast food companies, environmental organizations and New Deal-haters are among those looking to eliminate farm subsidies, says Daryll E. Ray, Director of the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center
  Ag Policy




Been to our bookstore lately?

Check out featured titles on farming methods to benefit earthworm populations, ranching and cooking in Colorado, seed saving, the value of whole foods, and the history of community gardening in America. 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:

  • Girl power: Women and Sustainable Agriculture presents conversations with key figures in the movement
  • A poor deal: Disputed Ground explains why many farm groups opposed New Deal agricultural policies

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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