Thursday, March 31, 2011

Centennial Symposium: Food for Thought

 It’s one thing to shop at a local farmers’ market or join a local CSA, but if we want to make “local and organic” a sustainable movement, we need to educate our youth on why this is important.  In order for this to be done effectively, we all need to be on the same page.  The Ethel Walker School, in Simsbury, CT, will be hosting Food for Thought: Food System Literacy in Classrooms, Cafeterias and Communities on Thursday, June 16th and Friday, June 17th, 2011.
The symposium will gather teachers, students, food service directors, sustainability coordinators, farmers and community organizers, and will feature three keynote speakers:
    • Frances Beinecke – President, National Resource Defense Council (and graduate of the Ethel Walker School!)
    • Bill McKibben – Author, Educator and Environmentalist
    • John Turenne – President and Founder, Sustainable Food Systems
The tentative schedule will feature talks with these keynote speakers, workshop sessions, a marketplace, meals featuring local foods, a field trip to the Community Farm of Simsbury or Billings Forge, and music from farmers/musicians at the Sylvester Manor, who incorporate work songs and participatory dance to be incorporated into classrooms.   More information on the symposium can be found at

Workshop session titles include:
Agriculture and The Environment: Understanding the Impact of Choice
Creating a Sustainable Narrative in Your Community: Moving Beyond the Basics
Sustainable Eating and Environmental Dining
Ecologia – How an Urban Farm is Used to Teach Science and Spanish in a Single Interdisciplinary Course
Facilitating Conversations about Social Justice through Food
Farm to School – Sowing Seeds for Future Farms! How Connecting with Schools Strengthens Ties Between Farms and Communities
From Farm to School Cafeteria: The Food, The Bad and the Ugly
Why Don’t We All Eat Local Meat?
Youth Farmstands: Their Place in the Community Food System
Veggiecation: Successfully Linking Classroom Lessons to Mealtime Experiences
The Transcendentalist Challenge: Learning by Doing, Or, Get Away from the Screen and Onto the Farm!
The Many Faces of a Community Farm
Projects with Teeth: Students Learn from Architects, Engineers, Business Managers, Marketing Directors, and Food Service Professionals to Make Sustainable Change
Meatless Monday Campaign
Getting There from Here

For a full list of descriptions and speakers, visit

Please share this flyer with anyone you think might be interested!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Advertising in CT NOFA and OLC Guides

If you’re reading this, you hopefully have one (or both) of the following: the CT NOFA Farm & Food Guide and the NOFA Organic Land Care Guide.  We are currently putting together the 2011-2012 guides so now is the time to place an ad!  Our guides are distributed to thousands across the state and region.  For an even broader access, both Guides are available online.  And there’s even better news!  When you advertise in both guides, you will receive a 10% discount!

The CT NOFA Farm and Food Guide circulates to over 15,000 farmers, residents, community gardeners, and anyone else interested in locating farms, shops, restaurants, and other businesses that support an organic and sustainable way of life.  You can view the 2010-2011 Farm and Food Guide here.

 CT NOFA Member Advertising Prices
             Full-page - $300 
             Half-page - $165
             Quarter page - $120
             Business card - $75

            Non-Member Advertising Prices
            Full-page - $400
            Half-page - $260
            Quarter page - $205
            Business card - $110

Last year, the NOFA Organic Land Care Guide was distributed to over 12,000 people in CT, MA and around the Northeast region.  The Guide lists all current NOFA Accredited Professionals and will include a section for homeowner land care.  For more information, visit

            NOFA Member Advertising Prices
            Full-page - $360
            Half-page - $198
            Quarter page - $132
            Business card - $75
            Non-Member Advertising Prices
            Full-page - $520
            Half-page - $338
            Quarter page - $266
            Business card - $143

If you would like to place an Ad, please contact Susan Killheffer at or 203-789-4577.

We are still taking listings for farms, CSA’s and supporting businesses for the CT NOFA Farm and Food Guide as well.  Please contact Deb Legge at or 203-888-5146.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CT NOFA's Organic Gardening Education Day

CT NOFA is proud to announce a statewide organic gardening education day this Saturday, April 2nd.  Join us at one of these locations from 10:00am - 12:00pm to celebrate Spring, talk with other gardeners and get some inspiration for this growing season. These events are free and do not require preregistration.

New Haven, CT
Soils & Compost: The Best Soil for the Garden
Common Ground High School
358 Springside Avenue
Presenter: Bettylou Sandy
Common Ground is also having their Seed Starting and “Ask the Farmer” event from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Bridgeport, CT
Bridgeport Beautifies, a project of the Bridgeport team of Public Allies Connecticut
Bridgeport Public Library
925 Broad Street
A seedling workshop with Sal Gilbertie of Gilbertie's Herbs

Storrs, CT
University of Connecticut EcoGarden Tour
1527 Storrs Road, Mansfield Center
Presenter: Trish Safner
*Look for a sign for the Mansfield Community Garden; there will be students on site to help locate the garden

Hartford, CT
Good Shepherd Church Community Garden
155 Wyllys Street
Presenters: Bill Duesing & Jack Hale 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Distinguising Invasive Plants and Native Look-a-Likes

        You might remember a blog post from us a few months back on "Spotting Invasive Plants".  If not, you can read it here -
        Now with all of the snow gone it's time to start spotting those invasive species again! Before you can go out and remove them however, it's important to be able to correctly identify invasive species from native "look-a-likes".  Well, you're in luck! Aton Forest, Inc. and Highstead Arboretum are sponsoring two 1-day invasive plant workshops on Friday, April 1 and Friday, April 8, one in Fairfield County and the other in Litchfield County. The workshops will be taught by Bill Moorhead, a consulting field botanist.  Both workshops will include work in the field or lab (depending on the weather),and will focus on distinguising invasive plants from similar native plants in the field in late winter/early spring. 
        The following information can be found at
There are a number of advantages to doing invasive plant control work outside of the growing season, (e.g., no disturbance of breeding birds and wildlife, student volunteers more available, less disturbance of native vegetation, a much extended control season). But it requires more advanced field identification skills to avoid throwing native babies out with the bath water, when working at sites with a significant native plant component, e.g., especially, "early intervention" sites with intact natural communities. This workshop focuses on field identification of terrestrial invasive plants in late winter/early spring, prime season for pulling invasives but a difficult time to identify many plants using guides and manuals, as many are somewhere between dormant and leaf-on state. The emphasis will be on distinguishing invasives from native species with which they co-occur and may be potentially confused, especially when in young/immature state. The workshop will emphasize development and reinforcement of field identification skills in situ – it is planned that most of the day will be spent in the field, after a brief introductory classroom session. The workshop is designed for people who are already interested in and/or involved in hands-on invasive plant control, including land managers associated with land trusts, professionals looking to brush up on their skills, and private land owners managing their properties as natural areas. The workshop will also cover a number of so-called “watch list” species, i.e., plants that it is suspected may become invasive, and plants known to be invasive that have not yet become common in the area. In the event of weather too severe for field work, all or part of each session may be changed into a lab/classroom session, using fresh collected specimens. Enrollment is limited to 15 participants per session.
Each participant should bring: a good quality hand lens with at least 10X magnification; a field notebook (preferably waterproof) and writing implement[s], bags for collecting specimens; his/her choice of sun protection; appropriate footwear for both cold mud and hiking up to 2 miles on not-very-rugged terrain; clothing that allows you to stand around for 5-10 minutes in chilly and/or wet weather conditions in sufficient comfort to concentrate on listening and taking notes.
Dates, Times and Locations:  
Friday, April 1, 2011, 8:30 AM - ~5:00 PM. Highstead Arboretum, 127 Lonetown Road (Route 107), Redding, CT 06896
Friday, April 8, 2011, 8:30 AM - ~5:00 PM. White Memorial Conservation Center, 80 Whitehall Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759
Accommodations and amenities: Lunch and liquid refreshments will be provided. Transportation to field sites beyond walking distance will be by convoy/car-pool in participants' vehicles.
$109.00 for each workshop. Payment is required in advance, by check or money order, to register. Checks should be made out to "Aton Forest Inc." and sent to Aton Forest Inc., P.O. Box 509, Norfolk, CT 06058. Enrollment will be on a first-come-first-served basis. If a session is canceled by us for any reason, tuition payments will be refunded in full, by mail. If a registered participant cancels, tuition may or may not be refunded, at our discretion, depending upon the final class size.

For more information, contact: Bill Moorhead (860-567-4920,,
John Anderson, Executive Director, Aton Forest Inc. (860-542-5125,, or
Bill Toomey, Director, Highstead Arboretum (203-938-8809,,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lawsuit Against USDA’s Approval of Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

        You may be aware of the USDA’s recent approval of genetically engineered (GE) “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa. According to an article by the Center for Food Safety [see link at bottom of article], 93% of all alfalfa planted by farmers in the US is currently done so without the use of herbicides. With full deregulation, the USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be pushed out into the environment every year!!
        Why be so protective of alfalfa, you may ask? Alfalfa is the key feedstock for the dairy industry. Once you start to allow for genetically modified feed, farmers could potentially lose their organic feed, essentially stripping them of their “organic” label.
        And here’s the kicker…this isn’t the first time that the USDA is trying to introduce GE alfalfa. A federal court denied the USDA’s approval in 2007, stating that the USDA failed to analyze any associated risks with GE alfalfa.
        All hope is not lost though! A group of farmers and consumers groups have filed a lawsuit against the USDA’s approval. The plaintiffs include the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Cornucopia Institute, California Farmers Union, Dakota Resources Council, Geertson Seed Farms, National Family Farm Coalition, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Sierra Club, Trask Family Seeds and Western Organization of Resource Councils.
        To get a full understanding of this situation, please read the following article -
        To read the plaintiffs complaint, please visit -

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 28th Homeowners Workshop in Cheshire, CT

The NOFA Organic Land Care Program is proud to announce the upcoming "Green Up Your Yard with Organic Land and Lawn Care: Save Money and the Environment". This workshop will be held at the Cheshire Public Library on Monday, March 28th at 7:00pm. The free 1.5 hour workshops include a half an hour for question and answers. The talk will be given by Bettylou Sandy, owner of Bettylou's Gardening and NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional.

This informative workshop will provide the tools and informational resources needed to practice organic lawn and landscape care, as well as information on the benefits of organic land care. Participants will receive a handout of resources they can use to find more information, and on finding a landscaper who has the knowledge to maintain lawns and landscapes organically.

CT NOFA promotes methods of farming, gardening, and land care that respect biodiversity, soil, water, air and the needs of future generations through education, support, and advocacy.

For more information on the Organic Land Care program please visit, or you can contact Clara at 203-888-5146.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

GMOs Talks in Fairfield County

Jeffrey Smith, one of the nation's leading GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) experts will be speaking twice in  Fairfield County in April
  • Wednesday, April 27th at the Greenwich Audubon
    •  5:30pm - 7:00pm: Reception. 
    • 7:00pm -9:00pm: Lecture and Q&A Session
  • Thursday, April 28th at the Community Film Institute in Fairfield
    • 7:00pm - 9:00pm: Lecture and Q&A Session
Mr. Smith has written the world's best selling book on GMOs: Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating. He is also the author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods

Along with being a world-renowned author, Mr. Smith is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology.  If you have any questions about genetically modified foods and crops, please visit their website at  The site offers everything from a basics page that answers the what, where and why; to a local, non GMO sources page, to an interesting page that discusses fraud relating to faulty regulations and rigged studies. 
GMOs are everywhere in the United States, yet other countries are banning them so it's important that we stand up for ourselves, our families and our future generations!  The first step you can take is by going to one of Mr. Smith's talks!
To register for the 4/27 Greenwich event, call 203-869-5272 x 239 or e-mail Jeff Cordulack at Tickets are $15.
To register for the 4/28 Fairfield event, call 203-292-8190. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door if not sold out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

UN Report on the Right to Food

The United Nations recently released a report on the importance of a shift back to real agriculture. With rising food prices, a lack of sustainable food systems, and a slew of other negative consequences from agribusiness, it’s time for us to take a stand.
The 21-page report states that this can only be done if its “highly productive, highly sustainable, and contributes to a progressive realization of the human right to adequate food.” The report found that the best system to obtain this is by studying and practicing agroecology, the combination of agronomy and ecology (the blending of the relationship between agriculture and the study of living organisms and its surroundings. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

CT NOFA's Farmers Pledge

 CT NOFA is all about organic farms - hey, it's in our name! We know that it's important to become a USDA Certified Organic Farm. The Farmer’s Pledge is a commitment to farming, marketing and farm management in accordance with sound ecological and economic principles. It is separate and distinct from “Certified Organic.” There is no inspection process for the Farmer’s Pledge, but the farmers have signed the Pledge to show their commitment to its principles. Every spring, all our Farmer’s Pledge farms are featured in our annual Farm & Food Guide. Last year 15,000 copies of the Guide were printed and distributed all over the state at farmers markets, agricultural and environmental events, and wherever people were looking for healthy and sustainably grown food. 
The Farmers Pledge is a commitment to:
  • Reject the use of synthetic insecticides, herbicides, fungicides & fertilizers
  • Reject the use of GMO’s, chemically treated seeds, synthetic toxic materials, irradiation & sewage sludge
  • Treat livestock humanely by providing pasture for ruminants, access to outdoors & fresh air for all livestock, banning cruel alterations, & using no hormones or antibiotics in feed
  • Support agricultural markets & infrastructures that enable small farms to thrive
  • Maintain & build healthy soils by farming practices that include rotating crops annually, using compost, cover crops, green manures & reducing tillage
  • Conserve natural resources by reducing erosion & pollution of air, soil & water through responsible farming practices
  • Maximize the nutritional value of food & feed by practicing careful post harvest handling
  • Practice minimal processing for all food products to preserve the natural nutritional value of food: NO use of irradiation, ultra-pasteurization, excessive heat, synthetic preservatives, or GMO processing agents or additives
  • Reduce the ecological footprint of farms & homes by limiting energy use & converting to renewable sources of energy
  • Reduce food miles by selling produce locally & regionally
  • Create beneficial habitat for wildlife & encourage biodiversity
  • Help preserve farmland & farming know-how
  • Ensure food safety by using potable water for washing crops
  • Handle raw manure & soil amendments with care
  • Use ethical business practices
  • Pay a living wage to all farm workers & acknowledge their freedom of association & their right to collective bargaining
  • Treat family members & farm workers with respect & ensure their safety on the farm
  • Work in cooperation with other farmers & with neighboring community to create a more sustainable way of life
  • Sustain the land in healthy condition for future generations
For more information about the Farmers Pledge, please visit We urge you to see if your local farm has signed the pledge. If not, please have them visit this link -

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Healthy Yards, Safe Waters Conference

The NOFA Organic Land Care Program is proud to host the Healthy Yards, Safe Waters Conference on Saturday, March 19th.  Co-sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the conference will be held in Kroon Hall, a truly sustainable building on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, CT. 
This conference is meant for homeowners and property managers who are interested in learning organic techniques to keep their yards healthy and free from pesticides.  Many do not realize the effects that pesticides and harsh chemicals have not only on our yards but also our waters. 

9:30am – 10:00am – Registration and Exhibits
10:00am – 10:15am – Introduction
10:15am – 11:00am – Why Go Organic?
11:00am – 12:00pm – A Landlubbers’ Guide to Protecting Long Island Study
12:00pm – 1:00pm – Lunch
1:00pm – 2:00pm – Breakout Session #1
2:00pm – 3:00pm – Breakout Session #2
3:00pm – 3:15pm – Closing Remarks

Breakout Sessions
Local Initiatives Panel
Working with Towns
Lawns and Lawn Alternatives
Increasing Biodiversity and Environmental Services in Your Yard
Rain Garden Installation
Nearby Nature: Creating Habitats for Children

Confirmed Speakers
Dr. Michael Dietz, Program Director, CT NEMO
Bill Duesing, Executive Director, CT NOFA
Troy Hill, Doctoral Student, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Mike Nadeau, Owner and Operator, Plantscapes
Judy Preston, CT Outreach Coordinator, CT Sea Grant
Chris Randall, Executive Director, New Haven Land Trust
Michael Sesko, CEO, Encendia Biochar
Jerry Silbert, Executive Director, Watershed Partnership
Dr. Kimberly Stoner, Vegetable Entomologist, CT Agricultural Experiment Station
Christine Tang, Director, City of New Haven’s Office of Sustainability

The conference will cost $25 for the general public; $20 for NOFA members, NOFA Accredited Professionals and the Yale Community.  For group rates, please call the office at 203-888-5146.  The cost includes a delicious lunch by the Big Green Truck Pizza!


Kroon Hall is located at 205 Prospect Street in New Haven, CT. For more information and to register online, please visit