Friday, April 14, 2017

Organic Matters Campaign @ New Morning Market

Image result for new morning market

at New Morning Market 
to benefit the Northeast Farming Association of CT (CT NOFA)

For the month of April, New Morning Market in Woodbury is bringing awareness to the health and environment benefits of organic foods and agriculture through its "Organic Matters" campaign to support the work of the Northeast Farming Association of CT (more commonly known as CT NOFA). Donations will be taken at checkout registers all month with organic facts posted throughout the store and an information table stocked with organic literature provided by CT NOFA.
According to New Morning Market's owner John Pittari who has built one of the largest organic produce departments among independent grocery stores in the nation, "I've been a Board member of CT NOFA for years and am very excited to see their growth and how the organization is making a difference for the organic movement in Connecticut. New Morning Market is thrilled to support CT NOFA through an awareness and donation drive throughout the month of April.
CT NOFA welcomes new members to help support their mission to ensure the growth and viability of organic agriculture, organic food, and organic land care.  Their growing membership is comprised of organic enthusiasts, consumers, supporting businesses, land care professionals and farmers around the State who support organic practices and believe in creating an organic Connecticut. In the past year, CT NOFA has been a vocal advocate in helping to pass Connecticut's Pollinator Bill limiting the use of pesticides to protect pollinator insects and wildlife. Farm members are either certified organic or elect to sign CT NOFA's Farmer's Pledge as a commitment to farming and farm management in accordance with sound ecological and economic  principles. CT NOFA is also the only organization in the nation to offer an organic land care professional certification through its Organic Land Care Professional program.
For more information about organics, CT NOFA and membership, please visit

Adventures at the State Capitol with Bill Duesing

More Adventures at the CT Capitol! 

Bill Duesing, CT NOFA Organic Advocate, visited the state capitol again this week on behalf of CT NOFA members. This time it was to participate in a press conference in support of Bill 6998 banning the use of mulch made from used tires on playgrounds at schools and municipal parks. This form of toxic recycling has become almost the standard for playgrounds.
Although this bill seems like a no-brainer, this is the third year that Representative Diana Urban, co-chair of the Committee on Children, has proposed this ban. 

An ongoing Yale study examining crumb rubber found more than 100 different organic compounds in that rubber, including 12 known or possible human carcinogens, approximately 20 skin, eye and lung irritants, and a long list of VOC's, PAHs and heavy metals. Is this what we want our children and grandchildren to be playing on? 

Press conference speakers included several legislators and representatives of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Connecticut Clean Water Action, the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT and the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. My remarks are attached above. But the star of the show was a ten year old boy from Hamden who spoke with passion and knowledge.TV cameras rolled and reporters asked a few questions.

About an hour later, the Planning and Development Committee held a meeting in the same room to consider bills including number 6998. 

Each bill starts with a legislator or committee. After a public hearing and committee discussion it gets voted on. This playground mulch bill started in the Committee on Children. The ban on roadside herbicide spraying we are working on originated in the Environment Committee.

If a bill is voted out of the first committee it may be sent to another committee, in this case Planning and Development which deals with matters relating to local government. There is a semi-opaque process through which bills are directed to various committees, sometimes because of the issue addressed. At other times a bill is sent to a committee to die. As the June 7 end of this legislative session gets closer, it gets harder to get things done as the bills and issues pile up.
After a brief discussion of the bill, with some committee members expressing strong support and others, strong opposition, the vote was tied at 7 each. The voting was held open until 5 for members who couldn't attend the meeting. The result was a 12 to 10 vote in favor. 

Two of our important partners in environmental work at the Capitol. 
Lori Brown, left, is the executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. Her organization monitors and supports a variety of environmental legislation and produces an annual scorecard of legislators' environmental votes. Anne Hulick is the Connecticut director of Clean Water Action and coordinates the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut.

For more information, click here!

Like seeing Bill Duesing & CT NOFA working to pass ecologically sound laws in the Hartford capital? We do too! Support CT NOFA's advocacy with an online donation today. Be it $1, $10 or more, your contributions make our organic policy initiatives possible! 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Vegetarian Fall Harvest Dinner at Sugar & Olives

Benefiting CT NOFA  

Fall Vegetarian Harvest Dinner
Saturday, December 3
7 pm - 10 pm

Sugar & Olives in Norwalk

Chef/restaurateur Jennifer Balin
$100 per person ($700 for a table of 8) 
Includes event sourcebook with menu, recipes, and farm and food sources

Join us for an elevated farm to table dining experience in a charming industrial space to celebrate fall, support CT NOFA, and dine on cutting edge vegetarian cuisine showcasing the season's bounty. 

This elegant vegetarian feast features fall vegetables proudly grown by CT NOFA farmers and cocktails crafted with small batch local spirits and seasonal ingredients.  

3 Star Certified Green Restaurant Sugar & Olives has been a lunch sponsor at our Annual Winter Conference for the past five years and is a celebrated destination for enjoying and learning how to prepare local food. 

Tickets to this CT NOFA fundraiser dinner are $100 per person or $700 for a table of 8 and must be purchased online before the event. Click here to book your seat or table today! 

Enjoy live music and an opportunity to dine with the growers and producers whose food and drink is being served at the event.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Farm Film Screening ~ Polyfaces: A World of Many Choices

Farm Film Screening
Polyfaces: A World of Many Choices

Thursday, November 10 ~ 6:00-9:00 pm

At Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, CT
RSVP Online ~ $15 per person

Join CT NOFA at Audubon Greenwich for a viewing of Polyfaces: A World of Many Choices, a joyful film about connecting to the land and the community

Polyfaces.. a film to inspire and create change…
“If every farmer in the United States would practice this system, in fewer than 10 years we would sequester ALL the CARBON that’s been emitted since the beginning of the Industrial Age…
Joel Salatin, (2015), Polyfaces, the film.

“As the problems of the world become more and more complex, the solutions become clear and simple.” 

One Australian family spend their life savings and travel to the USA, spending 4 years documenting a style of farming that will help change the fate of humanity!

Set amidst the stunning Shenandoah Valley in northern Virginia, ‘Polyface Farm’ is led by the “the world’s most innovative farmer” (TIME) and uses no chemicals and feeds over 6,000 families and many restaurants and food outlets within a 3 hour ‘foodshed’ of their farm.

Produced over 4 years, ‘Polyfaces’ follows the Salatin’s, a 4th generation farming family who do ‘everything different to everyone else’ as they produce food in a way that works with nature, not against it. Using the symbiotic relationships of animals and their natural functions, they produce high quality, nutrient-dense products.

We show how they regenerate their landscapes, communities, local economies, customer’s health and most importantly their soils. We meet various characters and follow their powerful, personal journeys as they benefit physically and emotionally from the Salatin’s way of farming. This model is being replicated throughout our global village, proving that we can provide quality produce without depleting our planet.

Agriculture is the most damaging industry but it doesn’t have to be and this regenerative model of food production could be just the thing that saves us!

Come join us!
CT NOFA Executive Director Jeff Cordulack will discuss innovative organic farming models which help reverse climate change by absorbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 
If you eat, buy, or grow food, then this film is a must see! Admission is $15 per person and includes a wine and cheese reception. RESERVE MOVIE TICKETS HERE or call us at 203-308-2584. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunday Supper on Waldingfield Farm

Please Join Us for a

 Sunday Supper on Waldingfield Farm

An afternoon meal in celebration of
CT NOFA’s organic mission


Sunday, October 23, 2016

2:00-6:00 pm

At The Red Barn on Waldingfield Farm

24 East St, Washington, CT 06793

Featuring Chef Jason Sobocinski of Caseus & Black Hog Brewery

Join us for a truly sustainable farm-to-table event at a local farm with a top chef to celebrate CT NOFA’s mission ensuring the growth and viability of organic agriculture, organic food, and organic land care in Connecticut.

Hosted by farmer Patrick Horan at Waldingfield Farm, this dinner features Connecticut’s own Chef Jason Sobocinski, owner of Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro (New Haven), Black Hog Brewery (Oxford), and other fine food businesses which all support sustainable farming.

This afternoon meal and organic celebration is not to be missed. Organic vegetables for this supper were grown on Waldingfield Farm and guests will take a farm tour with the Horan Brothers and their amazing growing team to see where they're meal was grown.

Sparkling wine will be served at 2 pm, followed shortly after by a tour of the farm. Following the tour, guests will be will be treated to a 3-course meal accompanied by fine wines and local brews.

$125 Per person includes wine, beer, local food, a farm tour and live music.
Seating is limited so reserve today. 


Reserve Seats Online Here

 Farm to Table Supper Menu 

by Jason Sobocinski


cheese | fruit | pickles | mustarda | carrot hummus | squash feta | leeks | romesco  grilled Farm to Hearth breads


Local leg of lamb or grilled marinated eggplant | Berbere | Urfa | baba ganoush

Farm to Hearth lavash | olive oil | honey

arugula | roasted + pickled delicata | seeds

mint | dill | potatoes | cured lemon


CT apple cake w. olive oil & Juvindale frosting 

Waldingfield Farm is a certified organic vegetable farm hidden away in the bucolic hills of Washington Depot in Litchfield County, CT. Since 1990, they have grown healthy, vibrant produce with environmentally responsible organic farming practices. The farms reputation is built on its legendary heirloom tomato crop and has an ever-expanding array of gourmet vegetables that will complement the meal.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Birds and Bees and Connecticut's New Law Concerning Pollinator Health

 By Bill Duesing

The Act Concerning Pollinator Health, passed by the Connecticut legislature this year and signed into law by the Governor, is important and pioneering legislation. CT NOFA is part of the Safe Grounds Coalition which pushed hard to get this bill passed.  Thanks to all our members who testified or contacted their legislators in support of this Act. Special thanks to long-time CT NOFA member and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station entomologist Kim Stoner.  Her expertise from years of studying bees and pesticides informed this law and will be important in the future.

While pollinators are important for many food crops, that is just the beginning their value and importance in ecosystems.  And, the pollination services they provide farmers for the few weeks a year fruit trees are flowering or the few months that Cucurbits need pollination are largely just a side effect of the pollinators' desire to sip nectar for much of the year.

What are pollinators? Wikipedia says:

A pollinator is the biotic agent (vector) that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization or 'syngamy' of the female gametes in the ovule of the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grain....

Insect pollinators include bees, (honey bees, solitary species, bumblebees); pollen wasps (Masarinae); ants; a variety of flies including bee flies and hoverflies; lepidopterans, both butterflies and moths; and flower beetles. Vertebrates, mainly bats and birds, but also some non-bat mammals (monkeys, lemurs, possums, rodents) and some reptiles (lizards and snakes) pollinate certain plants. Among the pollinating birds are hummingbirds, honeyeaters and sunbirds with long beaks; they pollinate a number of deep-throated flowers.

Look for Pollinators

Goldenrod and asters are important nectar sources for pollinators.
One of these warm sunny days, find a patch of goldenrod or asters in bloom and look closely at the insects feeding on their flowers. Seems like there are hundreds. Some are so small you can barely see them.  Others are over an inch long. There are bees of many kinds (our state is home to 337 species of bees), wasps, flies and more.  They're mostly after the nectar (created out of air, water and a few soil minerals using sunlight) but they pick up and spread pollen as they dine.

At other times of year, you'll see pollinators by looking at dandelions, clovers, mints, linden trees or some of the many other flowering plants that participate in these finely tuned relationships evolution has created. If you can't find a patch of goldenrod or asters, you've found one of the big problems we have. Asphalt and lawns don't provide food or habitat for pollinators.

Pioneering Legislation

The new law supports pollinator health through restrictions on pollinator poisons and encouragement for creating more pollinator habitat.  The law could certainly be better, but it is the first in the nation.  It attempts to limit the use of and the damage caused by the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, or at least those that have a bee advisory box on the label. 

One of the biggest uses of these very powerful pesticides is as seed treatment. Farmers plant neonicotinoid coated corn seeds so that each plant will repel/kill insects most of its life. Unfortunately, often much of light pesticide powder escapes from the planter and can be blown a long way with devastating effects on living things. The law mandates creation of best practices to minimize this damage and works toward registering those treated seeds as a pesticide.  Although it isn't just the fly away dust that is the problem.  Years ago folks in France found out that sunflowers grown from seeds treated with neonicotinoids contained enough toxin in their nectar months later to cause bees who sipped from the flowers to lose their way home.

The law mandates that all neonicotinoids labeled for treating plants be classified as restricted  use.  This means that as of October 1, 2016, they can only be sold to licensed pesticide applicators. In addition, it is illegal to apply these powerful toxins to any plant when it has blossoms or to linden (basswood) trees.

If you think we should go further in limiting these neo-nics, you could sign this petition to the President.

Encouraging Pollinator Habitat

Honeybee on goldenrod.
The law provides encouragement for planting and protecting pollinator habitat.  It requires amending the state plan of conservation and development to give priority to "development that includes model pollinator habitat, ... and to expenditure of state funds for conservation purposes when an aspect of such conservation includes the protection or enhancing of pollinator habitats."

It also requires the establishment of model pollinator habitat as part of conservation plans on land to which the state acquires rights using federal funds.

Next year the Experiment Station will publish an online citizen's guide to model pollinator habitat. The Department of Transportation is required to submit a report on the opportunities to replace nonnative, cool-season turf grasses along state highways with native plant communities and to plant vegetation including pollinator habitat in areas along state highways that have been deforested.

The law requires the director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to appoint three of the station's knowledgeable scientists to a Pollinator Advisory Committee to provide advice to the legislature's environment committee.

It also requires the State Entomologist to report on the conditions that increase the presence of varroa mites to that legislative committee.

Creating Pollinator Habitat

According to the new law, a model pollinator habitat should include "a succession of flowers, wildflowers, vegetables, weeds, herbs, ornamental plants, cover crops and legume species to attract honey bees and other pollinators" in groups or clumps to provide a long season of continuous bloom.  In addition, bee nesting sites should be protected.

I recently attended a workshop on creating urban oases offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with the Audubon Society. Although the focus was on the showier species - birds (especially the ones that fly here from the tropics to breed), butterflies and moths - the approach presented also provides good habitat for the less showy pollinators. To protect our environment and our ability to live here, we should
   Reduce or eliminate pesticide use. Insecticides harm the pollinators directly.  Herbicides remove their habitat.
   Manage invasive plants.  Non-native, invasive plants support far few species than native species do. They also push out native species.
   Conserve water. This summer shows us how precious water is.
   Protect water quality. This is an additional benefit of having a diverse, native plant, pollinator and bird-friendly buffer along and around water courses and bodies. Limiting or eliminating chemical fertilizers is very important too.
   Plant native species. Native plants provide food and habitat for many species as they use the sun's energy to turn common materials into leaves, nectar, seeds and fruit to feed insects and birds. I've never thought of caterpillars the same way since I heard Doug Tallamy describe them as the way nature turns leaves into bird food, passing the sun's energy up the food chain.

The three important aspects of creating habitat are using native plants, increasing variety or biodiversity and encouraging vertical structural diversity. It is easy to understand how a landscape with trees, shrubs and meadows, gardens or diverse farms make a friendlier habitat for birds and other species than a lawn or large cornfield, for example. Apparently community gardens are magnets for birds and other species, so many of us are already on the right path with our diverse organic gardens and farms. A diverse ecosystem with many native flowering plants is also one of the best pest control strategies for farms and gardens.

Fortunately there are many online resources to assist in creating appropriate habitats. Enhancing your Backyard Habitat for Wildlife is specific for Connecticut.  The Xerces Society has a number of good publications including this one specific for New England. It has enough information for those who want to plant acres of pollinator habitat, but has good lists of pollinator friendly plants. Audubon has a number of resources for creating oases and attracting birds.To learn more about Pollinator Habitat and Biology, and Natural Resources Conservation Services programs for farmers, go here.

If we want the services pollinators provide, we need to create (or let nature create) pollinator friendly habitats for them.