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Hello [name]. So winter weather found most us this year after all, later than usual in its extremes, and at times exacting a painful price on agriculture, as in California citrus country.

News—from farm conferences, organic milk debates, energy analysts and those global warming scientists—is that we are on the edge of something big. Actually, the edges. Without an identifiable single leader or leading organization, the local/organic movement has evolved into an economically significant force in the US. When The Packer—the leading trade publication for the North American fresh produce industry—lists local and organic food as the top interests of US restaurants, lots of food-industry people take note.

Already this year, we’re feeling the beginnings of a groundswell demand for sanity in food and fuel policies. Rising numbers of farmers and consumers want the USDA to shift from its “command-and-control” style of regulation that increasingly focuses on minimizing risk by delivering safe, dead food from industrial systems. The insurgent demand is rather to maximize health—of farms, consumers, livestock and communities—through fresh, vital and potent foods in local economies that factor in sustainability with every bite.

Even more scientific support for taking action—however belatedly—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has given new prominence to innovations that will change our fuel use in significant ways. Even the best biofuel scenario—decentralized processing of sustainably grown crops with integrated systems to produce an honest, net-energy, whole-cycle return—will require a simultaneous reduction in energy consumption to matter at all, global-warming wise. Sounds like local, organic food to us.

As you think about how these challenges and possibilities can guide your future, read in this issue about the rising yield strength of organic plots in The Rodale Institute research compared with conventional production… a reader’s frustration with poor-quality certified-organic seed…Joel Salatin’s mysterious, romantic and alluring marketing scheme….and a re-born CSA that’s welcoming the next generation back to a hard-working family farm.

Former New Farm forum users, it’s OK to come back and talk. We’ve blocked out the spam and the trash, and we want the dialogue to resume. Midwest readers, check out the new suite of OPX prices from Chicago sources on grains, vegetables and fruits.

As you plow through your winter office work and set your sites on spring, read us, then write us to stay connected as you explore the edges you face to stay fresh, sustainable, useful and profitable.

Greg Bowman
Online Editor

     

Fresh today from The New Farm®
   
The end was the beginning: Things are much better five years into a re-started CSA
Taking a break to streamline its whole structure—and persevering through drought and disappointment—is bringing the next generation back to the farm.
 
   
featured reader mail
Organic farmers left holding the bag
for substandard seed

Rules that require the purchase of organic seed—but don’t guarantee seed quality as represented—create inequities in building the new organic infrastructure.
   
   
Snow as snow
These words about weather are really words about caring, communicating and community.
   
   
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
Hessian fly back on top...Boiler could make switchgrass biofuel a boon for farmers...No more airborne organic for UK consumers?...You have to know your (vegetable) colors to eat them...Berry good news.

Can you clone an organic cow?
Introduction of unlabeled, cloned food products could boost demand for genetically unmanipulated organic dairy and meat products.

   
   

at the rodale institute®
   
   
intern journal
Salatin keynote gets the wheels turning
TRI research intern ponders the changing landscape of food production…and savors the possibilities.
 
   
dr paul's research perspectives
Organic challenges conventional for yield potential in current Rodale tests
Decades of soil improvements produce better soil quality and allow organic corn production to move beyond yield parity, while providing better resilience in drought and wet years.
   
   
one farm to another
On our farm or yours, face-to-face or online, people and their questions make my work a delight
Sharing a quest—or just a question—creates a bond that helps build sustainable community.
   
   
     
 
   
   
     
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