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Hello. An African Odyssey: I first met Nathan McClintock on a viciously hot and humid day in early October, two years ago, in Thies, Senegal, at The Rodale Institute’s office. I was there to learn more about the 17 years of work we’d done in Senegal, to meet some of the farmers we’d worked with over the years, and to figure out how to write about farming in West Africa, both for a U.S. audience and for ag educators in Senegal. Nathan was there on a three month internship with us after a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in neighboring Mali.

Watching Nathan engage with farmers and extension folk in a combination of French, Wolof and English, I knew almost instantly that we’d be working with him. With a Master's degree in sustainable agriculture, he had a deep knowledge of farming. As a human being, he had the ability to become instant friends with even strangers on the street. People trusted and enjoyed him. And I soon learned that he also wrote like he spoke—with passion, wit, honesty and insight.

Last year we arranged for Nathan to make two visits to Senegal to gather information, interview farmers and learn from agricultural professionals. The result is a series of 13 articles on farming and farmers in Senegal—with more to come if we can scare up the cash. We’ll be running one article a month for the next year, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Senegal can be a very harsh place for farmers, with almost no water eight months of the year. Many men leave their villages during the dry season to try and make money in Dakar, Thies or some of the other larger cities—which is, of course, disruptive to marriages and family life. But even in the poorest communities and most remote villages, you can find extraordinary innovation, persistence, courage and joy. On my first visit to Senegal, we spent time with young adults in the village of Touba Peykouk, a former leper colony no longer supported by the government after independence. The villagers we met, children of the last generation of lepers in Senegal, made a collective decision to generate income so that their parents would not have to beg on the street.

With small micro-credit loans, they engaged in a series of entrepreneurial activities—starting with the purchase of a canvas cloth rented out as a sun shade for wedding parties. Soon followed a phone center for their rural town; a boutique carrying necessities like toilet paper that had formerly required a two-hour roundtrip by horse cart to Thies; a wood-fired bread oven for baking the essential French daily bread--formerly brought in by horse cart or truck from Thies; a collection of lush market gardens; and a cattle-fattening operation that involved artificial insemination to improve the breed and the profitability of the enterprise. All-in-all, an amazing set of innovations in the midst of real poverty—and all of it done with great joy within a stable, supportive community. I think we have much to learn from the farmers you’ll be seeing profiled by Nathan in the coming months. Click here for an introduction to the series, with a link to the first installment, or go directly to Nathan's first article.

Food Culture USA: Let me tell you about a much maligned but enduring food culture in the U.S. Its major ingredients are Jello, Campbell’s soups, Cool Whip and other name-branded goods. Its primary means of dissemination and propagation are church cookbooks. It is usually found in small towns throughout the country, but perhaps most commonly in the Midwest. Some featured dishes: Tuna noodle casserole with crumbled potato chips on top. Jello laced with canned mandarin orange slices and shredded carrots. Pigs in a blanket, ready-made with Velveeta cheese, pastry dough and Oscar Meyer hotdogs …. How do I know it’s enduring? Well, I grew up in the 1950s in Oklahoma, and my associate editor, Cara, grew up on the very same cuisine 27 years later in small town Indiana. Talk about enduring CULTURE!

And why am I riffing on retro foods? Because
The Smithsonian Institution’s Food Culture USA
celebration—part of the annual Folklife Festival—starts on June 23, and they’ve invited the staff of The Rodale Institute, which publishes NewFarm.Org, to participate as speakers and presenters—and most of the New Farm staff will be there during portions of the festival.

Food Culture USA is designed to celebrate the American food revolution of the last 30 years—the rise of organic and sustainable farming, the influence of new immigrant cuisines, and the growth of local and regional food systems. And best of all, for New Farm readers, it will be Sustainable Ag Central for the two weeks of the event—an incredible convocation of organic, sustainable and traditional farmers from around the country and the globe, as well as dozens of chefs who source food locally. To learn more about the event, and our role in it, click here.

Coming soon for would-be no-till roller builders: Students and faculty from the nearby Berks Technical Institute here in eastern PA worked with us to complete Auto-CAD drawings of our no-till roller--which will make it possible for fabricators and talented backyard builders to recreate the roller. Farm manager Jeff Moyer told me the process of creating the drawings also generated some refinements and simplifications in the roller's design--small but important steps toward streamlining production of the tool. In July, we'll make digital versions of the drawings available on the web site.

The New Farm forums: The new discussion forums are cranking with activity and cool tidbits, including a conversation on managing seasonal help, a cool link where you can download plans for vintage farm projects, and a lively discussion about different approaches to teaching sustainable agriculture.

New Farmer journals: It's easy to just overlook the new farmer journals as an ongoing feature. But if you do that, you'll be missing some wonderful insights and observations from new farmers struggling to juggle all the tasks required to make a farm work. I especially enjoyed Kristin Kimball's reflection on hard work and the down time she and her husband never seem to find. A farmer neighbor told them more farms fail from burnout and divorce than finances. So, now, when things get rough, they yell at each other "Burnout and divorce!" And then they get back to work. See below for more on the five journals posted this issue.

Chris Hill, Executive Editor


Sustainable in Senegal
Nathan McClintock, above right, spent four months in Senegal talking to farmers and ag professionals to develop a series of stories on farmers and farming in the region.
See at left for more.

Sustainable ag takes over National Mall in DC
It didn't look like much a month ago when we took this picture, but the Smithsonian's Food Culture USA festival will bring farmers and foodies from all over the world to celebrate the renaissance in local, sustainable, organic and multicultural foods ... and New Farm will be there.
See at left for more.

Magical Mycorrhizae Tour:
A field day that could boost your vegetable yields by 50 percent

As many of you know, NewFarm.Org is brought to you by The Rodale Institute, a well-known research and training organization for organic and sustainable agriculture. One of the things we do each year is sponsor field days, and there's one coming up on July 22, on our farm here in eastern PA. Presentations will feature research and practical advice on promoting mycorrhizal fungi populations to improve crop health and yields, and how beneficial soil fauna (from microarthropods to ground beetles) can help manage weeds. The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

July 22, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
To register (and learn more about the event) click here.

The tech team
A local technical school supplies us with Auto-CAD drawings of our no-till roller.
See at left for more.




Fresh today from The New Farm®

Tales of two chicken operations--a layer business in PA and a meat operation in TX.

Getting started with organic
pastured chickens, Part I
... or how 6 chickens became 300 in just a year, and launched an organic egg business for two novices. Chock full of resources, links, hard-earned lessons and practical advice for novice poultry people.

Do-it-yourself poultry processing made easy--sort of
A Texas couple negotiates the permitting requirements for on-farm, small-scale slaughtering--including a commercial kitchen.


Layer business

Meat operation


Turning desolate, abandoned sugar plantation
land into a diversified organic paradise on
Hawaii's Big Island

Slowly, carefully,patiently. Those three words best describe the approach Lou Russo and Bari Green have taken to developing their 17-acre Laughing Pig farm, a mix of high-value forestry products and fruits and veggies for direct market.

At right: Lou and Bari have planted approximately 6,500 hardwoods and more than 1,000 windbreak trees on their once barren, ocean view property. The hard work and hardwoods haven't killed the affection.


Laughing Pig


A farmer's guide to multi-tasking
Andy Griffin is multi-task impaired, doomed to plod from one task to another. But, he manages his crops so THEY do the multi-tasking for him. In their younger phases, for example, weeds--and plants that need thinning--do double duty and become another profitable product for adventurous eaters.

At right: Young weeds, like lambsquarters, find their way onto the restaurant delivery truck.


Multi-tasking plants


The more the merrier
By rotating crops, cover crops and tillage practices, says Rodale Institute farm manager Jeff Moyer, you can improve your soils, improve your yields and keep the weeds and the pests guessing.

Email Jeff with your own rotations or rotation ideas. All of us here at the Institute would like to learn more about how you’ve designed your system so that we can share those ideas with others. If you send Jeff your rotation, be sure to mention some of the specific benefits you get from it, and a little bit about how it evolved for you.

  One farm to another

OPX Update
Thanks for your patience with our Organic Price Index tribulations. We ran into some technical problems in upgrading prices, but we are now UP TO DATE! Check out this week's prices right now.


Grassroots OPX: 24 Markets This Week!

Our intrepid volunteer price reporters are bringing home the basil. We now have prices from 24 markets. Enjoy browsing by product across all markets, or look at the prices for all products from a single market. You can even compare prices at two different markets.

I especially like browsing the weekly specials--unique or seasonal products on sale that don't fit into our basic categories. There are 117 specials this week, including baby bok choi, chutneys and curries, ground elk, lupine bundles, nopales cactus, line-caught king salmon and tot soi. At right: It's in the bag at the Port Townsend, WA market.


Grassroots OPX



Judge issues order in Harvey v. Veneman
Once diverging parties seem to be in agreement on the need to implement changes in the Organic Rule.

  Harvey v. Veneman

New Farmer Journals

Essex Farm, Essex NY
The toughest job she'll ever love

Now fully entrenched in farming and ranching, this newcomer discovers that the struggle and the beauty of this chosen way of life are inextricably tied.

North Country School, Lake Placid NY
Invisible changes
The day-to-day miracles that take place on a farm are fostered by a lot of hard work.

Easy Growin' Farm, Buena Vista CO
What's in a name?
Juggling off-farm jobs to make ends meet leaves some farm chores lagging and one farmer frazzled (but still smiling).

Fresh Harvest Farm, Mokena IL
The long list
With growing season in full gear, farm projects continue to pile up.

Your Farm, Hilmar CA
A fresh start northward
With her eye on a new farm, a farmer wrestles with old memories.


Essex Farm

North Country School

Easy Growin' Farm

Fresh Harvest Farm

Your Farm

The Inspector’s Notebook #14
Good buffer zones make good neighbors

Unless you can show that adjacent fields are managed without the use of prohibited materials, Jim reminds readers, buffer zones are required.
  Inspector's Notebook
Welcome to The New Farm Classifieds!

WANTED: Artsian cheesemaker for hire, life outside the box, pig farming partner in the Bahamas.
FOR SALE: Gourmet garlic products; food, agriculture and health subscriptions (and free sample copies); diatomaceous earth.
OPPORTUNITIES: Organic farming partners in South America, assistant farm manager, organic farm apprentices.




Reader Q & A:

  • Dear New Farm, I have inherited 26 acres that hasn't been worked in 40 years, and I want to run cattle and raise Tifton 85 Bermuda grass for my livestock and horses. Can you help me?
  • Dear New Farm, How can I assess whether wind power is right for my farm?

Reader commentary:

Ask Jeff:

  • Dear Jeff, where can I find a readily available seed starting mix that's approved for organic production?
  • Dear Jeff, what is your opinion of using treated sewage sludge for garden fertilizer?

Camphill Village Slideshow

Last update we featured a story on Camphill Village at Kimberton Hills, a biodynamic farm in southeastern Pennsylvania that couples holistic farming practices with a supportive community for special needs residents. Since then, we received pictures of many of the residents at work on the farm, and created a slideshow for those who are interested. You'll also find a link, at right, to the original article.

At right: Resident Mary Bright weeding in the community garden.



Original article

"Show me the numbers": A guide to research publications based on work done at The Rodale Institute.
We often get requests for hard data based on our research trials here at The Institute. Research manager Paul Hepperly agreed to put together a list of peer reviewed articles and other books and material that are based on our work here.
  Institute publications list

Ag Policy Perspectives
Checkoff program lawsuits: It ain’t over ’till its over
Supreme Court ruling on Beef Checkoff doesn't resolve
First Amendment issue.


Ag Policy

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