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Hello [name]. I hope the harvest is going well wherever you are. An early frost nipped some of the fall veg crops of Rodale Institute CSA farmers John and Aimee Good, so they’re pulling up stakes and putting their wide rows to bed. You’ll hear from them next month about their first year with us.

Our staff has been working for months to put into words the core of what it means to become an organic farmer. We’re building a “transition to organic” online course to help many more farmers explore making the switch. (Sometime next year we’ll have it up and running.) I hope users pick up that “going organic” really begins only when your first response to any production challenge starts with the resources you can tap within the farm and its natural systems, rather than resources, technology or products brought in from somewhere else.

One test is when you respond to the phrase “predator-friendly farming” with curiosity rather than derision. Learning to live with more life—everywhere, from soil microbes to birds to hedgerows to crop rotations—is a mark of a farm moving toward biological balance through greater complexity and interaction. It’s the paradox of greater system stability through greater overall biodiversity.

In this issue, we look at thoughtful examples of “wild farming” in Montana, New York and California…farming on a wooded farmstead in Minnesota where sustainability is the bedrock value….an “edge-of-your seat” weed management video from Oregon…a strong pitch for organic farmers to use organic seeds …and a round-up of new books that reflect the rise of food as a leading cultural and political topic.

Take some time this month to take stock, give thanks and identify what you have to figure out before planting season rolls around. We’re here to help, as are the active members of our New Farm Forums. Ask away to get a head start on your questions during this winter’s “information season.”

Greg Bowman
Online Editor

     

Fresh today from The New Farm®
   
The Wild Farm Alliance
Reconnecting food systems with ecosystems.
 
   
A garden of sustainability
Wildrose Farm is bursting with a diversity of flora and fauna, thanks to the careful planting locations and management of a couple dedicated to keeping the land healthy.
   
   

Weed 'Em and Reap
Start thinking now about next season's weeds
New video set from Oregon State University illustrates effective weed management strategies for organic vegetable producers.

 
   

book review
Rattling the food chain
A cornucopia of new books tells us where our food comes from.

book review
Grandma knows best
Nina Planck's latest exposes bad advice about “bad food” and delivers the skinny on fatty fare.

   
   
Reader Mail
You ask, we answer. Questions from all of you answered by all our expert contacts; from Jeff Moyer (our farm manager) to worm gurus, to other farmers.
   
   

News & Views
Loss of pollinators warning issued to US farmers...New livestock label verifies humane treatment....Farmer groups agree on pasture, replacement standards...Audio available from IFOAM's International Livestock Conference...Organic farmer wins Montana senate seat.

ag policy perspectives
Fitting the remedy to real rural economy problem
Systemic ills that discourage crop production limits make farm income variability too much for farm program to handle.

   
   

at the rodale institute®
   
   
Institute seeks CEO candidates
The board of The Rodale Institute is conducting a global search for a Chief Executive Officer. Submissions in response to the position announcement are due at the address indicated by December 15.
   
   
No-Till FAQs
Five more answers to frequently asked questions about the No-Till Plus project.
   
   

one farm to another
Let’s get real, and all commit to using organic seed
Narrow variety focus that makes it impossible to “find” the seed organically is not a way to strengthen the organic seed sector, which is a vital part the future of organics.

   
   
intern journal
Sustainability comes full circle
TRI intern learns some valuable lessons from one of society’s most undervalued craftsmen: a farmer.
   
   
     
 
   
   
     
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