Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Conference Teaser: Improving Food Access, Raised Bed Gardens and Seed Saving!

The Winter Conference is 3 1/2 months away!

We will begin counting down to CT NOFA's largest celebration of local and organic food, farming and community with a glimpse into to line-up each week showcasing a few workshops we have recently announced.  







Improving Food Access Through Farmers Markets, CSAs, and Mobile MarketsDan Gregory & Pauline Zaldonis
"In this workshop, we will give an overview of Hartford Food System's efforts to improve food access in the City of Hartford. We will also go over various low-income inclusive CSA models and how to increase market revenue by accessing state and federal initiatives such as SNAP, WIC, and FMNP."


Dan Gregory is the farm manager for the urban farm, Grow Hartford. The farm offers subsidized low-income CSA shares and sells at local farmers markets in Hartford. Pauline Zaldonis is the program coordinator of the Hartford Mobile Market and policy analyst for Hartford Food System.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Food Safety Modernization Act, Round 2; Your comments are critical, again!

By Bill Duesing 

Both organic and conventional foods can be a source of food poisoning outbreaks. However, in an organic system, theres a much higher level of microbial biodiversity, so there are more naturally beneficial microbes in the system and soil.

Studies show that when you introduce pathogens into an organic system, they often dont survive very long because the biologically rich community of organisms thats naturally there either competes effectively with them or uses them for lunch.
 -Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State Universitys Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources in Pullman.

We all want our food to be "safe."  We expect those mixed greens we buy for our salads to be free of microbes that could make us sick.  That's the case whether we pick up a plastic package of conventional mesclun which comes from the other side of the country or our organic CSA share, freshly mixed from produce of several neighboring farms. *(See #2 below.)

In September, as part of its implementation of the Food SafetyModernization Act (FSMA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the second versions of the two Rules which apply to fresh fruits and vegetables which are normally eaten raw.  The Produce Rule applies to farms.  The Preventative Controls Rule applies to facilities which process food.  In the rules there are many references to RACs.  Those are raw agricultural commodities. The extensive Table 1 in the appendix lists all the different things that are done to RACs and whether they are classified as harvest activities or processing activities.

FDA will accept comments from farmers, eaters, handlers and researchers on these new versions until December 15, 2014. Your comments are critically important.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Journeyperson Check-in: Allyson Angelini at Full Heart Farm *WinterShare*

Full Heart Farm is excited to be wrapping up our third growing season and begin planning for 2015!

The 2014 growing season produced our best harvest yet -  an abundance of vegetables, pasture-raised chicken + eggs, and pork.  We continued to provide dinner ingredients for the  50+ families that support our farm through our MemberShare Program, and are incredibly grateful for the community that surrounds the farm.  Our main harvest season is 26 weeks (six months straight!), with a smaller WinterShare program that completes the year.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fueling up in Cheyenne, Wyoming


An array of fueling options at a gas station in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Even the gasoline contains a corn product-it is 10 percent ethanol.
The wastes from making ethanol are fed to
beef and dairy cows, pigs and chickens.
Fueling up in Cheyenne, Wyoming
By Bill Duesing

The American way of eating is shaped more by the availability of low-cost fossil fuels and government crop and other subsidies than it is by nutrition, health or flavor.

I took the photo above while buying gasoline at a station in Cheyenne, Wyoming this summer. This array is an example of the ubiquitous advertising for these kinds of foods: ground beef sandwiches, often with bacon and/or cheese or processed hot dogs on white bread buns. (For the chicken nuggets, their wheat breading is the bun equivalent.)

It also made me think about the health consequences of eating this kind of food: weight gain, obesity, diabetes, sore joints, heart disease, cancer and possibly even schizophrenia!

Why are foods that may cause so much damage so heavily advertised? A rhetorical question really. The answer: profit.  Much of that profit comes because food industry accounting doesn't include many significant costs.  Health care costs are not included.   The illnesses above, and the foods that cause them, are responsible for millions of dollars in health costs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Updates From the Field: Ro-Jo Farms

Ro-Jo Farms 2014 Season Wrap-up
-Josiah Venter, CT NOFA Journeyperson


With the 2014 CSA season coming to an end, Ro-Jo Farms of Bethany has several highlights to share with the farming community. We had a very successful growing season with fortey CSA members in New Haven, Hamden, Bethany and Woodbridge getting fresh produce delivered to their door along with a handful of restaurant sales in New Haven and Hamden.






Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Climate Change and Organic Agriculture

By Bill Duesing

Many of us participated in the inspiring People's Climate March on 9/21/2014 in New York City. Marchers represented a wide variety of religious, educational, environmental, energy, social justice, peace, health, labor, cultural and other organizations.  Though they all had their own agendas for solving problems and making the world a better place, they agreed that climate change is very serious and needs to be addressed.


From right, soil scientist, permaculturalist and CT NOFA founding Board member Cynthia Rabinowitz, CT NOFA Executive Director Eileen Hochberg and former executive director Bill Duesing at the beginning of the People's Climate March.
CT NOFA was a partner in the March. That day, I saw many CT NOFA members, including former board members and folks from many of our partner organizations. Many more NOFA colleagues were among the 400,000 participants in this resounding call for action on climate change.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Vermont Food Fight

By Bill Duesing

The month after Vermont governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the country's first genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling bill with a firm effective date, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association (SFA), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sued in Federal Court to overturn the new law. This law is scheduled to take effect in 2016; there is no trigger clause requiring other states to pass similar legislation before it takes effect.

With foresight, the Vermont legislature established the Vermont Food Fight Fund to help defend the GMO Labeling Law.  A strong defense of Vermont's law should strengthen Connecticut's. You can contribute here. 

Why are these three multibillion dollar lobbying associations, representing the world's largest and most powerful corporations, suing to stop what the citizens want? After all, these citizens are their customers.