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Hello. OK. So it’s a cold April most places north of Dallas, but be of good cheer because spring has always come—except for the year of the big volcano, when it snowed in unusual places in July.

Yes, a fund-drive. Maybe we caught you off-guard by sending you our first fund-raiser appeal between our monthly updates. So here’s a fresh take. We’re approaching 8 percent of the way to our $20,000 goal, but our May 1 deadline is only 18 days away. Thanks to those who’ve sent in the first $1,500 and change. Now we need the rest of you to start investing in We just need 370 more readers to send $50 to make this first effort a success—and to know we have readers we can depend on.

Current big events. Agriculture is riding new waves of change and challenge. Ethanol-torqued demand for corn is pushing prices toward $4 per bushel and running up other grains as well. Fertilizer costs are higher due to lower supply and lots more corn going in. Bees are dying in droves coast to coast, but why? We can’t predict the impacts of lower crop pollination from fewer bees on 2007 food costs or of high corn costs on all livestock producers—organic dairies, in particular.

Yet within the agricultural community, farmers who are walking the path toward sustainability in production and marketing have some protection from these commodity-rocking dynamics. On-farm fertility from healthy soil and cover crops diminishes fertilizer sticker-shock. Relying significantly on pasture and forages for feed reduces the financial hit from corn shifting to a higher-cost input for the foreseeable future. Networking between the organic grain and livestock sectors with farmers who want to even out highs and lows for each other may produce some new models of risk management. Maximizing long-flowering cover crops will support alternative pollinators. New research is expanding cover-crop benefits.

We also need to remember what we used to know. Retrieving disregarded knowledge—in areas as diverse as Asian Soybean Rust research of 30 years ago and cover-crop experience in Texas from before World War II—is essential to creating the resilient natural systems that can survive the brittleness of industrial agriculture’s challenges.

Greg Bowman
Managing Editor

PS: We’re serious about the money thing. The Rodale Institute, our publisher and home, is a nonprofit that needs durable, two-way connections with people who care. We want you to show that you value this part of its mission. Your fully tax-deductible donation will directly support One reader wrote: “I can’t afford to give, but I can’t afford even more not to give.” So he gave. Right choice.


Fresh today from The New Farm®
Farmers and chefs connect through great food
Well-structured days of eating, talking and “speed dating” give producers abundant opportunities to create new deals with people who need great food to thrive and succeed.
Harvesting a sense of place from Italy's agriculture
The life of a campanilismo farmer teaches the author a lesson in the interconnectedness of land, food and family, and the true art of sustainability.
Vermont rallies for 2007 Farm Bill input
Sets grassroots-up example for other states.

Reader Mail
This month features questions and answers about certified naturally grown, buffering capacity and more. Readers ask jeff about the recordkeeping software, equipment purchases and more.


News & Views
Organic kiwis have advantages... EU documents organic food pluses ... Arsenic residue taints US rice ... Organic dairy giant ups commitments ... Group deconstructs anti-organic report... Cause of honeybee die-off still unknown... Co-op launches regional food effort...Comment extended on clone issue.

letter from ontario
Everyone has an opinion on farm size
Group’s discussion guide considers factors that create community resistance.


at the rodale institute®
Earlier-flowering hairy vetch a great advance, but northern farmers need more
Winter survivability is the first consideration, and ‘Purple Bounty’ shows vulnerability.
one farm to another
Legumes buffer organic farms from
this year’s high N costs

Ethanol-fueled high corn prices create ripple effect that touches organic grain outlook.
dr. paul's research perspectives
“Old” Asian Soybean Rust research from many places holds valuable natural defense clues
South Asian experience and classical plant pathology findings hold promise for non-chemical ASR protection.
intern journal
Take cover
Let’s not lose our grip on nature’s genetic tools to help heal the earth.
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