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Hello. Weeds are the number one problem
for all farmers
—and can be a special challenge for organic farmers. The good news is:

1. Dozens of farmers have told us that weed management on an organic farm gets better over time—and we’ve experienced it on our own farm. Dean McIlvaine, who has an 830-acre organic grain farm in Ohio, says that he has seen his weeds change over the years from tough, hard-to-manage weeds such as quack grass and thistle to less noxious weeds like foxtail and common ragweed.
2. Through a research partnership between the USDA-ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center's Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab, Pennsylvania State University's Weed and Agroecology Lab and The Rodale Institute, we’re launching a weed page today that will serve as a resource for all farmers who are trying to do a better job of managing their weeds more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The Weed Page features:

  • New Farm’s best articles on weed management in organic and sustainable systems
  • valuable resources from other organizations and websites
  • and regular updates on the weed research being done by The Rodale Institute, our grant partners, and other researchers and farmer-based research initiatives.

Soon we'll be adding a weed discussion forum. In the meantime, if you’re inspired, send your weed problems and/or strategies to me at We’re currently working on an organic weed management course, and welcome problems and strategies we can address or share with those who take it.

ALSO: Check below for information on two new articles featured on the Weed Page, or go straight to The Weed Page now!

Welcome to Buy Fresh Buy Local country: Here in Philadelphia, where I live, we’re in the thick of a buy local celebration. For senior editor Dan Sullivan and I, it started a little over a week ago when we attended a CD release party and performance by Adrienne Young and Little Sadie. Adrienne is an outspoken champion of local, sustainably produced food and family farmers and is an ambassador for Food Routes.

Philadelphia is home to a thriving local foods movement connecting farmers to wholesale and retail markets and educating consumers—eaters, as we like to call them—about why they should support local businesses that support local farmers. Our friends from the White Dog Café Foundation’s Fair Food Project and Sustainable Business Network were on hand to share this critical message. This artist, these organizations and the people at the heart of them offer shining examples of all that is possible when one is willing to walk the talk (and sing and dance it, too).

Then, at another buy local event this past weekend, I learned about something really exciting. Bob Pierson of Farm-to-City, an organization that sponsors farmers' markets and an online buying club for local food, told me that a planning grant he and other groups applied for had been accepted—a grant to develop a business plan for a distribution center for local foods.

The warehouse space—all 60,000 square feet of it—is sitting in Brewerytown, a poor section of Philadelphia not far from downtown, just waiting to serve as a much needed center for collecting and distributing local food to restaurants, retailers, food coops and others. Getting this kind of infrastructure up and running will make a huge difference in the ability of local businesses to buy local foods—and of farmers to enter these new markets. We’ll provide you with more details as soon as possible. It could be a great model for duplication elsewhere in the country.

SARE updates a classic: For those of you who don’t know, SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) provides research grants to farmers and publishes a lot of useful information on organic and sustainable farming. One of their classic titles, The New American Farmer, originally published in 2000,has just been updated with 14 new profiles of innovative sustainable and organic farmers. SARE has kindly agreed to let us feature three of those new profiles on The New Farm.

We kick it off with a profile of Claud Evans, who farms 240 acres in Okemah, Oklahoma, raising between 150 and 250 Spanish goats for cashmere and meat. Evans, who also runs a veterinary clinic, has been doing innovative research in selective breeding to improve the consistency, length and yield of cashmere fiber from his herd. He has also developed a grazing plan that limits supplemental feeding of his goats mostly to winter months. To read more about Claud Evans and his goat farm and research center, click here.

If you’re interested in browsing through the book online, or ordering a printed copy, click here.

Coming soon: A New Farm directory for sustainable ag degree and training programs. Thanks to connections and suggestions made within our Farming for Credit forums, New Farm is developing another exciting tool with major assistance from one of our readers. We got wind from another reader and forum participant that Andrew Marshall, current educational programs director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), had been working on a comprehensive directory of educational institutions offering organic and sustainable agriculture training and degree programs. Andrew had lost a little steam pondering to what end such a mammoth undertaking might lead when we called him up and asked if we could help give the project some legs. So now we're working in partnership and hope to have something up in time for the beginning of the fall semester (and drop/add week). Stay tuned.

Chris Hill, Executive Editor


The soil and soul of Senegal
An understanding of the soils in Senegal's Peanut Basin provides a window into the lives of its farmers.
See below for more.

Weddings ... NOT!
After losing money--and her marbles--providing flowers for several weddings, the only wedding event flower grower Mel Devault will take on is her new daughter-in-law's, above, or daughter's--coming soon!
See below for more.

The pepper preferred by barflies worldwide
Meet the peron pepper, a year-round variety from Mexico that may be the only chile pepper that can double as a shot-glass.
See below for more.

What a difference
organic makes

The top picture is of corn grown on our farm with conventional herbicide treatment. The bottom is of organic corn at the same time, raised under normal cultivation. Even though the organic corn was planted two weeks later, it's much larger and more vigorous. Weeds have not affected growth.
For more on this amazing story, see below.

For more on our new Weed Page, see at left.

SARE updates a classic!
Goat master Claud Evans is one of the new featured farmers in the updated version of SARE's The New American Farmer.
For more about the book, and about Evans, see at left.


Fresh today from The New Farm®

Sustainable in Senegal: 2nd in an ongoing series
Soft and red, hard and black:
A Senegalese understanding of the soil

Getting up close and personal with local soils in Senegal's Peanut Basin leads to an understanding of the lives, farming methods and challenges of the farmers who manage them sustainably. At right: The pale red color of the ground above indicates a sandy, drainable jóór soil that is low in organic matter.


Senegal part 2


Mexican pepper may attract bar flies
Andy Griffin is growing a year-round pepper tree whose peppers are prized by expatriate Michoacanos in CA. But he's envisioning other uses--such as turning the shot-glass-sized peppers into a living tequila shot glass for machismo drinkers. Talk about guerilla marketing!

  CSA Journal

For the beginning grower

Why we don't do weddings:
Think before you say "I do"

Wedding customers who go local tend to want out of season flowers ... and they want them cheap. Melanie Devault and her partner have never made a dime for their trouble.

At right: Melanie makes an exception for her daughter.


Weddings ... not!



Talking Shop: 3rd National Organic Tree Fruit Conference, Chelan, Washington

Not your mother's backyard orchard anymore
U.S. organic tree fruit producton comes of age--65,000 bins of organic fruit from Washington alone, sophisticated pest management practices ... and worries about price declines. Iowa organic specialist Kathleen Delate reports on the latest research, and on fruit farmers' concerns and perspectives.
At right: Organic cherries from Stimilt, the largest packer of organic fruit in the country. The cherry season in Washington runs from May 31 to September 1.


Tree Fruit Conference


Getting started with pastured chickens, Part II
Down to the details. From housing options to choosing a breed to organic certification to picking out a proud papa, Jean covers the decisions you'll need to make as you launch head-first into raising some feathered friends.

At right: Building an "eggmobile," a mobile parlor for moving chickens around in pasture. We feature a slideshow on constructing your own eggmobile. To check it out, click here.


Pastured poultry 2


Vine and fig tree:
Restoring agriculture in the Holy Land

Lessons learned, challenges remaining

In this final installment in his series on farming in Israel, Yigal Deutscher concludes that to care for Israel is to care for the land of Israel—its soil, its potential to sustain life and in turn its power to become a peaceable home for all its inhabitants.
At right: Unwilling to be forced into the communal mold, shepherds in Israel follow their own path, or rather that of their animals.


Vine and fig tree

Fake blood on the maize
The PR exploitation of drought and hunger in Zambia shows that for the GM lobby there are no limits, even when it involves rewriting history and manufacturing crimes against humanity.


The EU's trade commissioner says "Europe's policy is to provide food aid procured in the region, rather than as a means of disposing of domestic stocks"--unclike the US, which is trying to unload GMO grain stocks.



Comment on proposed rule changes by July 25

The Conservation Security Program (CSP) is a government farm program that rewards farmers for the work they're already doing to protect and improve environmental quality on their farms. There have been a lot of successes in the two years the program has been in effect, but proposed rule changes threaten to derail some of its benefits to farmers.

For more on these proposed changes, and to make your voice heard, click here.

ACTION 2: Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition
Program in trouble!

Act before July 25!

A population in need, local farmers who can help, and a program that works--the Senior Farmers' Market program brings healthy, local nutritious produce to seniors around the country. Unfortunately, proposed rule changes would severely limit and weaken its impact. What more do we need to say to get you to help this program? Read on ... and ACT!.

More on the Senior Farmers' Market program
Seniors’ market program in jeopardy
New rules may cost many in need access to farm fresh produce. Click here for more information.


Two new weed articles featured on our Weed Page

Can organic crops tolerate more weeds?
Ongoing research at The Rodale Institute examines the apparent ability of organic crops to maintain yields in the presence of substantial weed pressure.
Banking on BARC
Thanks in part to the work of weed ecologist John Teasdale, the USDA Agricultural Research Service's oldest experiment station--the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, just outside of Washington, DC--is doing some the agency's most forward-looking work.


Rodale research
BARC research


The New Farm Classifieds

WANTED: Chicken plucker, organic apples for Rosh Hashanah, expertise on grape growing in Argentina, eight certified organic cows in calf, software package for CSA/box-scheme management.
Organically managed orchard, MN; transition and organic hay, IA, WI, MD, Ottawa; Katahdin ewes, Ontario; 1956 Farmall 300, KS; organic farm, northeast IA.
Sustainable Food Program Coordinator, Portland, OR; organic farm manager, Glendale, AZ; Certification Director, Santa Cruz, CA; interim Executive Director for MOSA, Viroqua, WI.



Reader Mail

  • Dear New Farm: I'm interested in contacting Leo Whittle, a New Zealand kiwi farmer you wrote about a while back. I've got a few questions for him. (Leo himself answers!)
  • Dear New Farm: How do I take advantage of an opportunity to grow organic soybeans for a new market in New York?

Reader Commentary

  • Dear New Farm: It takes a global village to stop the pollution that hurts organic farmers and everyone, says this Tiawanese agronomy student. 
  • Dear New Farm: A reader reflects on George DeVault’s “Your first tractor” series and shares his own evolution toward finding the perfect machine for his particular farming needs. 

Ask (or tell) Jeff

  • Dear Jeff: Sign me up for one of those cover crop rollers ... and by the way, I've got a few questions.
  • Dear Jeff: Let me tell you all about my organic dairy and pastures.

New Farmer Journals

Fresh Harvest Farm, Mokena IL
Tool time
Rain has been scarce and some crops have less than thrived, but the right tools have helped these new farmers keep their heads above water (so to speak).

Loon Organics, Eagan MN
Despite golfball-sized hail and long days, this first-year farmer still finds the inspiration to get up at dawn and do it all again.

Stoney Lonesome Farm, Gainesville VA
A new farmer takes stock of successes and
failures mid-season…

…with two-thirds of a season to go on the big ball
he calls ‘farm’.

At right, top: Patty McPhillips of Fresh Haravest Farm in her fields, looking kind of Norman Rockwellish.

At right, bottom: Laura Frerichs of Loon Organics.


Fresh Harvest Farm
Loon Organics
Stoney Lonesome Farm



Been to our bookstore lately? Check out featured titles on large-scale land use patterns, blacksmithery, organic orcharding, pastured poultry production, and the New American Farmer. PLUS:

REVIEW: Micro Eco-Farming
Small is beautiful, and boundless
Barbara Berst Adams explores the infinite possibilities of home-scale farming. MORE >

REVIEW: Outgrowing the Earth
Feeding the world
The Earth Policy Institute tackles food scarcity and global warming. MORE >

Have a book recommendation for us? Let us know by emailing senior writer Laura Sayre at


Check out the Grassroots OPX

We have prices from 14 markets in 12 states this update (CA, MA, IN, SD, AR, IA, NH, OH, NV, TX, CT, NJ). Fewer than the week before--quite a few reporters were on vacation last weekend. Still, plenty to feast on.

Check The New Farm home page for the latest news. Enjoy.
T H E    N E W    F A R M – R E G E N E R A T I V E    A G R I C U L T U R E    W O R L D W I D E