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Hello. Well, the Internet just got smarter about organics, and so can you.

“Transition to Organic” is the name for a expanding toolkit of online resources from The Rodale Institute. These farmer-centered tools:

  • Highlight the benefits of organic farming.
  • Assist with decision-making to assess economic risk and potential.
  • Show how to convert a farm to meet organic certification standards.

Jeff Moyer, farm manger at the Institute, is your guide as you learn about the principles and practices of organics in the Transition to Organics course. You can work at your convenience, in any order, through modules on soils, crops, livestock, marketing and certification. Moyer shares his 30 years of experience in pioneering organic grain systems at the Institute, and invites many other farmers from across the United States to share the details of their organic successes and challenges.

We’ve put the Organic System Plan worksheets (developed by our friends at ATTRA) online, allowing you to apply the principles in the course to your own farm. This plan is the first step toward certification, and helps you organize an orderly consideration of all aspects of farm conversion.

Livestock wisdom: We are privileged to present two of the Midwest’s top livestock writers this issue… Gearld Fry of Rose Bud, Arkansas, is a veteran livestock breeding specialist, honing in on basic nutrition and selective breeding for success on pasture. He shouts a wake-up call for cattle producers to turn away from several generations of wrong-headed trends to claim what knowledge remains on how to breed healthy, resilient animals… No one has spent more time in small-town sale barns, at poultry swaps or on out-back hog farms than eastern Missouri’s Kelly Klober. He’s tickled to document the resurgence of tightly-crafted hog enterprises that fit snugly among other parts of mixed-type farms, focusing on thrifty traditional breeds for direct sale as top-quality meat or coveted market hogs destined for the show ring.

Debt to Scotland: Besides a photo of a winsome Scottish Berkshire barrow in Klober’s story, farmer Chuck Smith of Kentucky reports success with a traditional Scottish breed of sheep, Border Cheviots. They tend his vineyard and charm visitors to his on-farm meals and wine cellar.

Yes, we face a pile of uncertainties in 2008. But learning new ways (and re-discovering old ways) to grow healthier, tougher, smarter animals for caring, well-informed customers is a great way to improve coping skills and resilience of farmers and the communities who depend on—and support—them.

Farm on.
Greg Bowman
Managing Editor


Fresh today from The New Farm®
Kentucky vintner’s diverse enterprise
hosts unlikely farmhands

Old-world sheep weed, fertilize and prove to be a big draw for cash customers.
Customers seeking taste, type, integrity and terroir drive traditional pork revival
For heritage breeds—and the small farmers who cherish their genes—the resurgence in show hogs and premium pork demand comes not a decade too soon.

Reader Mail
This month features questions and answers about transitioning to organic, the Organic Price Report, requesting reprints and more.


News & Views
• Proposed rBST label ban scrapped in PA
• Food giants increase rBST-free dairy lines
• Sweeter edamames sought for organics
• Report shows NAFTA’s farmworker impact
• Michigan State to launch grazing center
• Organic seed group announces new efforts
• Brochure: farmer success in direct-selling

Intelligent husbandry of primary heritage breeds could be our key to more-sustainable farming and food
Instead, the perversions of industrial Big Food thinking are consigning priceless agricultural knowledge to be lost with the generations.


at the rodale institute®
one farm to another
Soil-saving and input-cutting practices
are good additions to any farm

Whether or not you choose to become certified organic, developing more skills improves your management options in responding to changing weather and markets.
Cold-tolerant hairy vetch and late planting can be key factors for successful organic no-till corn in the Northeast
Managing for optimum weed-fighting and fertility contributions from cover crops pushes back plantings into peak risk times from voracious cutworms, but improved stands prove worth the wait at 153 bu/ac.
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