Monday, April 30, 2012

Lots of opportunities to support organic!

Call for strong organic standards and GMO labeling this week!
Take Action: Write in Now to Make Your Voice Heard at Upcoming Meeting
Submit comments by May 3, 2012
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will meet in May to decide on a range of issues regarding the future of organic food and farming in the United States. The 15 member board will vote to allow or prohibit substances and practices in certified organic food and farming after considering input from any interested members of the public, such as farmers, consumers, food processors, or professionals.
Public participation is vital to the development of organic standards, as farmers and consumers relay their ideas to the board for consideration. By writing in, you will be sure that your concerns are considered by the board at the meeting in Albuquerque. Take action now.
Learn more on the Beyond Pesticides page or submit a comment to the board on this government sight!

Also, our friends at Right2Know CT are making a final push for the GMO-Labeling bill in Connecticut.  First, sign a petition to Speaker of the House, Chris Donovan and to Governor Malloy. Second, think about attending, and help us spread the word about a Right to Know CT rally at the Capitol on Friday, May 4, from 11:30-1:00 pm, after which we will hand deliver the Right to Know petition to the legislature.
Please RSVP to with the size of your group as we must contact Capitol Police to tell them the size of our group. We were advised to hold the rally on the north side of the state Capitol building that overlooks the park, so let’s meet there. Come anytime from 11:30-1:00. Please prepare a sign or banner to help promote our mission: to get HB 5117 passed to mandate GMO labeling in our state. Please note: this is a pro-GMO labeling event, not a Non-GMO event, so please keeping signage on message. Analiese Paik, Tara Cook-Littman, Bill Duesing, and Bob Burns will each make brief statements at the rally so passers-by and the media will hear the many reasons why GMO labeling is important for CT consumers. We recommend packing lunch and drinks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gardening With Climate Change: Summer in February and Snow in April

With highs in the 80s in February, a two month drought, and April snow showers, how do you insure that there are May flowers?
First of all, you'll need to review the USDA's new Plant Hardiness Zone Map:
Remember, these changes in range indicate hanges in climate much more complex than the temperature increases.  While the new hardiness zones mean Connecticut gardeners can plant some warmer climate plants, it also means that the plants must be tolerant of extreme weather.
Visit the interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map here.
As we've already seen in the month of April, climate change seems to take the form of long dry periods broken up by a few storms that produce a lot of precipitation - purchasing and installing a rain barrel can capture this excess precipitation for use during extended dry periods.  There are countless models of rain barrels,you can probably get them at your local garden center (including Home Depot) and they can be ordered online.
Organic matter like compost holds more moisture for longer periods of time, making it an ideal soil additive to fix moisture around your plants.  Plants spaced further apart are able to spread their roots more to seek out water in the soil.  Choose more drought resistant plants, and group plants that will require more water close together, so you only need to water a small area of your yard at a time.  Consider the microclimates in your yard - does water collect in a certain area of your yard? Put more water thirsty plants near these moist regions.
While drought is an issue, there are also some frost warnings for Connecticut tonight - you'll need to get your burlap/cloth/plastic/other plant coverings out!

This is a great information sheet for Connecticut Gardeners about how to plant for droughts and lists of drought-resistant plants:

I also like this article from the UK about how gardens can mitigate some of the affects of climate change:

Have a wonderful weekend,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dieting vs Common Sense

Here in the United States we love to diet, which is ironic considering how high our levels of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are. With a society so attuned to the fat, calorie, antioxidant, and carbohydrate contents of our food, and so willing to try new, supposedly healthier options, you'd think we'd all be thin and fit.  But as as notes in a recent post featuring good food guru Michael Pollan, our obsessive dieting culture tends to over-complicate the issue of proper nutrition.  In fact, the very words diet and nutrition conjure up a science experiment more than real food, and thus much of our food has succumbed to that mechanized, over-processed ideal.

"Good and evil foods are constantly changing roles," Denise Gee writes on "One month, our nemesis is salt; the next, it’s sugar. Now it’s high-fructose corn syrup. We’re all over the map. 'That should tell us something,' Michael Pollan says. 'We’re either eating the ruinous food and feeling guilty about it or we’re eating healthy food and feeling virtuous about it. But I submit to you that that’s a really bizarre way to think about food.'"

So what do we do when in the thick of this very complicated and confusing dilemma?  Pollan suggests that we take some advice from thousands of years of ancestors the world over:

"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. And have a relaxed attitude about food. Don’t be a fanatic."


That's really all you need to know in order to live a healthy, happy life free of dieting and obsessive attention to nutrition.  If three short sentences isn't enough to live by, however, here is Michael Pollan's expansion on the above statement.

Pollan's Food Rules 
• “Avoid products containing ingredients a third-grader can’t pronounce.”
• “Don’t buy any foods you’ve ever seen advertised on television.”
• “Just imagine your grandmother, or your great-grandmother depending on your age, as you’re rolling down the aisle in the supermarket. If she would not recognize something as a food, it’s not a food.”
• “Shop the perimeter of the store. That’s where the live food lives.”
• “Don’t eat until you’re full. Eat until you’re satisfied. The Japanese have a rule called hara hachi bu, which means, “eat until you’re 80 percent full.” That’s a radically un-American idea. But if we adopted this, and had our children do the same, the positive results would be profound.”
• “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry.”
• “Do all your eating at a table. And no, a desk is not a table.”
Want to boost your health and have some delicious plants on hand all season?  Sign up for our Organic Gardening Workshop at Common Ground High School on May 5! The workshop is just over a week away, so make sure to call into our office at 203.888.5146 to register.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth Day Successes!

Earth Day is now behind us, and photos and feedback are coming in!  Here's what our staff had to say about their experiences over the weekend:

Clara Buitrago at Hamden Earth Day
We had a booth at the April 21st Earth Day Celebration, at the Middle school in Hamden, CT. We also offered three 20 minute workshops for attendees. The two workshop presenters were Annie Mixsell and John Tycz, who are both Accredited Land Care Professionals. The event was extremely well attended! We met many wonderful people, and had a steady number of people stopping by at our booth to ask questions and pickup informational materials. Thanks to all that attended the workshops and stopped by to say hi!
-Clara Buitrago, Organic Land Care Accreditation Manager

Outreach material at Hamden Earth Day
I represented CT NOFA at the Woodbury Community Earth Day in Hollow Park on April 21, 2012.  This Earth Day Event has grown to a huge celebration with over 130 exhibitors and lots of attendees!  We were excited to give out our brand new 2012-2013 Farm and Food Guide, and also enjoyed apples from our vendor-neighbors, Urban Oaks Farm from New Britain! It was a great day, thank you to New Morning and to the Woodbury Earth Day Committee for doing such a great job planning, and to all the people who attended!
-Kristiane Huber, Events and Outreach Coordinator


Missed out?

Earth Day may have technically passed, but that doesn't mean the events are over!  There are plenty of upcoming celebrations if you missed out last weekend, or if you just can't get enough of the outdoors and the local community. 

Thursday, April 26
Mary M. Hooker Environmental Science Magnet School Tour
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Please click here for more information on this project.

Saturday, April 28
12th Annual Fairfield Earth Day Celebration
Fairfield Warde High School
10 AM and 4 PM
Come grab some CT NOFA Farm and Food Guides at this event!
For more information visit the event webpage

Ansonia Nature Center Earth Day
Ansonia Nature Center
All Day - Visit the website for details, and come check out our CT NOFA table!

Fifth Annual Newtown Earth Day: Awareness, Smiles, and Education
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Newtown Middle School
For more information, visit the event webpage

Family Earth Day, New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park
Youth Museum at Hungerford Park
11:00 AM and 3:00 PM
For more information, visit the Youth Museum website

Sunday, April 29
Celebrate Earth. Photograph Trees. Discover Outdoor Wilton
Woodcock Nature Center
2 to 4 p.m
For more information, contact Jessica Kaplan by email or at 203-834-2624

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Look out for the NEW 2012-2013 Farm and Food Guide!

Guess what Melissa is so excited about!
Well, she's excited because she has spent countless hours creating the 2012-2013 Farm and Food Guide and it is finally finished, but she's also excited because we have 10,000 copies in the office!  Our guide has grown to 54 pages and lists Connecticut NOFA’s 125 member farms and supporting businesses alphabetically by county.  The Guide also includes listings of farmers markets, community farms and community supported agriculture offerings.
To be listed in the guide, farms must be certified organic or sign CT NOFA’s Farmer’s Pledge agreeing to specific sustainable and ethical farming practices with the general goal of improving the land’s environmental and agricultural quality.  We are happy to welcome twenty-one new farms to our membership for the 2012-2013 Guide! Our supporting businesses sell products of our member farms or offer services for them. 
The guide includes information about food storage, winter food crops, recipes, community farms and gardens, farming and cooking resources and county maps of farm locations!  CT NOFA will be distributing the guide at events where we are tabling, but the guide is available to our partner organizations and businesses around Connecticut for distribution. 
The Guide to Organic Land Care, a publication that lists the NOFA Organic Land Care Professionals and provides articles and tips about organic land care, will be available in a month.  This publication will also be free for distribution by our organizational partners. 
To order guides for distribution, contact the CT NOFA office at 203-888-5146 or e-mail  You can also preview a pdf of the guide on our website:

Here's to Connecticut's farms and food!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Podcasts for Farmers, Gardeners, and Landscapers

Michael Phillips
Biodynamics Now!, The International Biodynamic Food and Farming Discussion Group, is a great resource for anyone interested in farming, gardening, or land care.  In a series of podcasts, Biodynamics Now! interviews some of the movers and shakers in the sustainable and organic food movement, highlighting many of the key components to living a healthier, happier life.  Recent interviews include Michael Phillips, a holistic orchardist who taught Growing Fruit in a Healthy Orchard Ecosystem, a recent workshop for our Organic Land Care Program, and Dr. Rob Dunn, author of The Wild Life of Our Bodies, a wonderful book that explains how "our mind’s recent requirement for ‘cleanliness’ is denying our old fashion bodies of many of the synergies we co-evolved with" (and a book that is currently making its rounds around our office).

Dr. Rob Dun and his book, The Wild Life of Our Bodies
As the name of the website would suggest, Biodynamics Now! focuses its material around the concept of biodynamic agriculture, an approach that "emphasizes life processes which have potent organisational (syntropic) effects to engage minerals and chemical reactions...In large part, biodynamics involves getting a dynamic interplay going between what goes on above ground and what goes on below."   Understanding the relationships between different life processes and organisms is very important in developing a sustainable way of life.

Check out the Biodynamics Now! website to learn more about how biodynamics relates to food, farming, and your life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

This weekend is Earth Day! Hopefully you have found a fun Earth Day celebration to head over to, or are planning on taking some time to enjoy our the natural environment!
Here are some event listings from the CT DEEP website:

Friday, April 20
Windsor Community Clean-UpGet your friends and relatives to join you and feel good about doing something for the local environment. You can make a difference every day! Meet behind the Windsor Town Hall, 275 Broad Street, at 11:45 AM. Make sure to wear closed shoes and long pants. Gloves and a snack will be provided. Children 12 & under must be accompanied by an adult. The clean-up will last until 4:00 PM. For more information contact Cyd Groff at (860) 285-1987 or send an email You can also visit the Windsor website,

Visit CT NOFA at the Woodbury Community Earth Day!
Lights Out Hartford Throw The Switch for Charity!  (Hartford)Rebuilding Together Hartford is hosting an exclusive fund raiser at the Connecticut Science Center. In the name of conservation, we will "Throw the Switch for Charity".  The idea is to promote energy conservation awareness in Connecticut and raise funds for charity. Join us as we toast to turning unused lights off on Friday night, April 20th from 7:00 to 11:00 at the Connecticut Science Center.
For tickets, visit
The Connecticut Science Center will open its doors at 7:00 pm on Friday, April 20th. At precisely 10:15 pm, The Science Center and other participating Hartford public and private sponsors will shut their unused office lights off to create rare spectacle in honor of conservation. In celebration of Earth Day 2012, we will view the spectacular event from Science Alley.
For tickets or for further information, visit Additional  contact Mike Weed at 203-530-8346 or by email at

Sound CommunitiesEnvironmental issues affecting Long Island Sound and its communities - Keynote address by CT DEEP Deputy Commissioner, Susan Frechette. Panelists Judy Preston, CT Sea Grant; Penny Vlahos, UConn Avery Pt.; David Bingham, League of Conservation Voters; & Bill Kirby, US Coast Guard headquarters.
This free event takes place from 7 - 9 pm at Leamy Hall, Coast Guard Academy, New London and is sponsored by CGA Sustainability Club & New London County Environmental Educators Coalition. Arrive at 6:45 to view informational displays.
For further information, contact Amy Cabaniss at or 860-439-5217

Enfield Earth Day Celebration
The Town of Enfield will celebrate Earth Day on the Town Green on Friday, April 20 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM with a variety of entertainment and activities, including demonstrations, games, and a drawing for a free compost bin. Info Shred, sponsored by Rockville Bank will be on hand to shred outdated documents. Residents are invited to shred up to two boxes, 10"hx12.5"wx16"d of outdated documents. It is not necessary to remove staples or paperclips but documents need to be out of binders and notebooks. It's time to clean out your closets and bring your gently used clothing which will be donated to Allied's Attic. Residents can also bring up to 6 expired CFL Light bulbs for recycling. Remember to stop by the Enfield Clean Energy Table. For more information, contact the Enfield Public Works Department at (860) 763-7560 or visit

Saturday, April 21
2nd Annual Trashion Fashion Show (Hartford)Trashion Show will be emceed by Hartford's fashion guru Debbie Allen Wright of Project Closet. The runway is set to live fusion music from local musical guests The Little Ugly.  There will be art featured on the walls made from used and recycled materials.  The "Trashion" are garments made from consumer waste, worn by models and dancers.  Materials including newspapers, plastic bags, paper goods, books, old clothing, soda cans, straws and mirrors will be featured. The designers and artists are students, professionals and novices from Hartford & Litchfield counties and Boston, MA. There will be a Question & Answer session with the artists & designers after the show.
Location:   ArtSpace Hartford, 555 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT 06105
Time:   7:00 - 10:00 pm
For further information, contact Amy Merli by email or phone at 860-309-3985 or visit:
Earth Day Hike in BloomfieldCome and celebrate special places in Bloomfield.  This is a family friendly outing and an easy hike lasting about an hour and a half. All ages are welcome. Parents come with your children and be prepared to hike; wear sturdy footwear and bring water.  Meet at 120 Mountain Ave at the Captain Oliver Filley House in Bloomfield at 2:00 PM.   Rain Date April 22nd; check web site for changes.   See blog for map.  Hiking highlights: The 1834 Greek Revival Stone Captain Oliver Filley House, Wades agricultural fields in spring season, views of panoramic Hartford from Hawk Hill on the LaSallette Trail, the conjunction of two sub-watersheds in the North Branch Park River Watershed and the LaSallette Trail connection through Hawk Hill Farm.
For weather cancellations visit    For further information contact Vikki Reski at 860-243-1749 or by email at
Hamden's 6th Annual Earth Day Celebration This family event will be held from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Hamden Middle School, 2623 Dixwell Avenue. It will feature environmental exhibitors, school exhibits, food, free activities (including face painting, scavenger hunt, woodworking projects), and giveaways galore. Free shows include ART FARM -- A Circus for a Fragile Planet at 1pm, 9am bird walk, WTNH Weathervan, Reptiles, Magic Shows, solar demonstrations, organic land care workshops, and Carbon Nation Movie. Hamden's Earth Day Celebration is brought to you by Walmart, Dexsil, Covanta, the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, and Home Depot. For more information, contact Pamela Roach at (203) 287-7021 or via email You can also visit
Woodbury Earth DayFor the 18th year Woodbury, CT will celebrate Earth Day in a big way. This year's theme is 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' and the celebration will feature exhibits, activities, vendors and non-profit organizations who are dedicated to sharing their passion for green living.  Learn about reducing your carbon footprint, enjoy delicious all natural and organic foods and beverages, and meet Connecticut companies that are making a difference.  There will be fun for all ages. The event will last from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM at Hollow Park on Hollow Road in Woodbury. The festivities are sponsored by the Woodbury Business and Economic Development Committee and by New Morning Market. Vendors for this year and next are asked to visit for details and an application. For more information contact Mike Cunningham at (203) 232-6285 or email You can also visit the event website,
Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride, New HavenTwo Rocks | 1000 Riders | 20 Organizations | One Cause
Join us as we travel from West Rock and East Rock, with celebrations on both sides of New Haven. Along the way, eat tasty food, hear great music, take on environmental service projects, and explore our city's parks and neighborhoods. All are welcome. Rock to Rock raises funds for 20 environmental groups, working together to create a greener, healthier community. Meet at Common Ground, 358 Springside Avenue, New Haven at 8:30 for registration and breakfast. Pre-registration is encouraged and discounted: $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, $15 for ages 18 and under. Register online at . For more information contact Joel Tolman at (203) 389-4333 x1214 or via email . You can also visit the event website,, to learn more and to see a full list of event sponsors.
Enjoy Earth Day - Wilton's Environmental Celebration Ribbon Cutting and Dedication of Wilton's new Wellness Park, Chamber of Commerce CASH MOB for Earth Day specials, 1 mile Family Fun Run, Environmentally Healthy Scavenger Hunt and litter pick-up, Preparation of Community Garden at Trackside, Spring Program Displays at Trackside, Nissan Leaf, Healthy Refreshments and Dan Esty, CT Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, to speak on "Protecting our Environment in Turbulent Times"
The free event takes place from noon to 3pm at School Road, Wilton Center, and Trackside Teen Center, Wilton.  For further information visit or contact Karen Strickland at 203.762.8384 x279 or by email at
Earth Day Solar Open House (Portland)A member of Portland's Clean Energy Task Force will be opening his home up to Connecticut residents interested in renewable energy. A solar representative will be on hand to answer questions and talk about why now is the best time to invest in solar. Capacity is limited-reserve your spot today!  There will be two 45-minute presentations beginning at 10:00 am and 11:30 am. Register at or call at 860-372-4406 and let us know what time slot you would like to attend.  (The address of the Open House (in Portland, CT) will be given upon registration.) Sponsored by Portland Clean Energy Task Force, Portland's Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge.
For further information, visit   or contact Chamae Munroe at  or 860-372-4406
Earth Day at the Habitat ReStore in Cromwell
Help save the environment by:
  • Recycling gently used home furnishings or building materials. Your donation helps us raise funds to continue to build homes and hope in Middlesex County!
  • Exploring local green alternatives
Join our celebration from 11 AM to 5 PM at ReStore, 34 Shunpike Road, Unit 24-26 Cromwell, CT 06416. Bring your surplus technology devices technology for recycling, come and see the newest electric and hybrid vehicles, and participate in a fabulous silent auction and face painting for kids and adults. Free food and beverages provided. This event is sponsored by the Middlesex Habitat for Humanity. For more information call Hector Aguilar at (860) 788-6483 or email You may also visit the event webpage,
Celebrate Earth Day with a Hike around Notch Pond  (Bolton)
Join Bolton Conservation Commission members and many elected and appointed public officials as we learn about - Transit Oriented & Sustainable Development, Filling the East Coast Greenway Gap, CT DEEP Proposal to Remove or Repair Notch Pond Dam, 11th Annual Town Wide Photo Contest and Sale of Rain Barrels.  Also, a Bull Moose was recently photographed in the area of Freja park. Bring your camera as we hike around the moose habitat of Notch Pond!
Event takes place at 9:00 a.m, rain or shine.  Meet in the Bolton commuter lot, Rt 6/44 across from Georgina's Pizza. 1.5 mile Hike around Notch Pond in Bolton.  Sponsored by the Bolton Conservation Commission.   (No dogs please.)
For further information, contact Rod Parlee, Chairman by email or by phone at 860-649-8066 ext 110.
Sunday, April 22
Earthstock Celebration at Tunxis Community College (Farmington)The community is invited to Earthstock Connecticut from 10 AM to 4 PM at Tunxis Community College in Farmington. The event will feature eco-minded vendors and exhibitors, music, food and family activities. Some of the highlights include performances on a solar powered stage by John Mayock and The Homesteaders, The Green Jazz Band, and Tunxis Community College Student Jazz Ensemble. Participants can also take part in drumming circles by Power of the Drum, face painting, massage therapy, hair extensions, rides on the Roaming Railroad’s electric engine train, and greetings with costumed characters. Vendors will sell items such as jewelry, crafts, candles, apparel, handbags, handmade soap, honey, art, and more. A portion of proceeds from these sales will be donated to the Tunxis Community College Sustainable Energy Fund.
For an update of vendors, demonstrations and a schedule of performances and activities, visit Rain date is April 29.

Solar Installation Grand Opening Celebration (East Haddam)Grand Opening Celebration for new 66KW photovoltaic array at Ballek's Garden Center, 90 Maple Ave., East Haddam CT 06423.  This installation will produce over $1,000,000 in clean electricity over its expected 30 year operating life while reducing the need for use of fossil fuels.  Solar technology really works!!!  Going Green---the best solution is using the sun!!!
Open to anyone interested in learning about solar energy/PV and solar hot water technology, and how state and federal incentives make it  really affordable.  Light refreshments will be served.
For further information, visit or contact Bob Ballek at 203-931-5560 or by email at

Celebrate YOUR Land at Eagle Landing State Park and Clark Creek Wildlife Management Area (Haddam)Celebrate the end of the Haddam Land Swap and enjoy your land on this Earth Day!
Help the group pick up litter and debris from 10 AM to Noon.  Hear a brief story of the grass-route group's struggle to keep these lands protected.  Come play, explore, relax and just appreciate these protected lands along the beautiful Connecticut River.
This free event takes place at Eagle Landing State Park and Clark Creek WMA Bridge Road (RT 82), Haddam - by the swing bridge from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  Hot Dogs and salads available from 12:30 to 2 PM.  Please bring your own beverages - water and soft drinks available.
Sponsored by Citizens for the Protection of Public Land.
For further information, visit or contact Rob Smith at 860-873-2189 or 

Peace on Earth Day (West Hartford)Celebration of earth and our stewardship of her.  A meeting for Worship at 10 a.m.; an "organic and/or local foods" picnic at 11:30 a.m;, music and drumming starting at 12:30; workshops in composting and a demonstration of aquaponics; creation of a driveway mural, giving of red maple saplings and booklets on trees for donations.
Event takes place at Hartford Friends Meeting, 144 S. Quaker Lane, West Hartford from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.; and is sponsored by Center for Serenity, Hartford Friends Meeting, Growing Greener Group, Cool Quaker Kids, Playtivity and Interreligious Eco-Justice Network (IREJN)
For further information contact Nancy Mason at or 860-772-1985.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

5 Things You Need to Know About GMOs

Michele Jacobson, a certified Clinical Nutritionist and the author of Just Because You’re An American Doesn’t Mean You Have To Eat Like One!, recently wrote an article entitled 5 Things You Need to Know About GMOs.  We've talked about this issue a lot because it deserves being talked about, and the second that we lose momentum over this issue is the second the bills currently pending nationally and statewide lose ground.  If you still haven't contacted your legislator in Connecticut, or haven't signed the Federal petition, here are some excerpts from Michele's article that might sway you to do so:

Why You Want To Avoid GMOs
What about the effects of GMOs on us after we’ve eaten them? Human studies are sparse to date, but there is a broad call for more research due to suspicion that foods made from GMO plants are linked to an increase in allergies. Indeed, “soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced.”2 Additionally, “scientists recently found GE insecticide in corn showing up in the umbilical cords of pregnant women.”

Where Does The Rest Of The World Stand?
“Unlike most other developed countries – such as 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. Yet polls have repeatedly shown that the vast majority of Americans, – over 90% in most studies – believe GE foods should be labeled.”

Labeling in the EU is mandatory. Even some countries in need of aid have restricted the use of GM food. The United States is the only country in the world that allows the unregulated and unlabeled distribution of genetically modified and genetically engineered foods to be sold.

What CanYou Do?
As it turns out, there is quite a bit you can do on a personal level to make your stance known.
1 - Avoid GM and GE foods to the best of your ability! It’s not so easy, as they have really infiltrated our food system, but by avoiding processed foods and paying attention to labels you can at least stand a chance.
2 - Buy 100% certified organic food. While guaranteeing your safety from genetically modified foods, this also makes a statement to producers that you don’t support GMOs in our food system. It’s simple supply and demand (or, in this case, demand and supply). Although it certainly isn’t the only reason to buy organic foods, it’s a great reason to start.
3 - Many states have bills pending the labeling of GMO products. Or, at JustLabelIt you can sign a petition for the FDA to require that all genetically engineered foods be labeled as such.
4 - Raise awareness! Talk about it to your friends, point out the No GMOs label on packaging, and pass this article along to a friend.

For more GMO information, please visit our website.  We all have a right to know what is in our food!  Please contact your legislator today and let your voice be heard!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Not too Late to Sign up for a CSA Share!

It is one of the most anticipated times of the year for Connecticut food-lovers, spring.  Connecticut Grown produce is becoming available at local farmers markets, health food stores and farm stands.  Another option for Connecticut’s locavores is buying a share at a farm that has Community Supported Agriculture or a CSA.  Many CSAs in our state are looking for new members!

Below is a list of CT farms that are still have shares available for the 2012 season.  For a longer CSA list please visit our website, and if you don't see your CSA listed on the website and want us to add it, please let us know.

Fairfield County
The Hickories
Simpaug Farms, Ridgefield
The Hickories, Ridgefield

Hartford County
Beckett Farms, Glastonbury
Bristol's Farm, Canton
Deercrest Farm, Glastonbury
George Hall Farm, Simsbury
HighlandArt Farm, Marlborough
Holcomb Farm, West Granby
Oxen Hill Farm, Suffield
Renaissance Farm, Burlington
Tulmeadow Farm, West Simsbury
George Hall Farm
Urban Oaks Organic Farm, New Britain

Litchfield  County
Adamah Farm, Falls Village
Beaver Meadow, Litchfield
Clatter Valley Farm, New Milford
Local Farm, Cornwall Bridge
Maple View Farm, Harwinton
Sun One Organic Farm, Bethlehem
Wright Farm, Goshen
Waldingfield Farm, Washington

Middlesex County
Barberry Hill Farm
Starlight Gardens, Durham

New Haven County
Barberry Hill Farm, Madison
Bodhichitta Farms, Prospect
Eve’s Corner Garden CSA, Bethany
Farmer Joe’s Gardens, Wallingford
Gazy Brother’s Farm, Oxford
Hindinger Farm, Hamden
Massaro Farm, Woodbridge
Turtle Ridge Cooperative, New Haven Area
Robert Treat Farm, Milford

Studio Farm
New London County
FRESH New London, New London
Huntsbrook Farm, Quaker Hill
Philomel Gardens, Preston
Studio Farm, North Stonington
Scott’s Yankee Farmer, East Lyme
Provider Farm, Salem 

Tolland County
Down to Earth CSA, Stafford

Windham County
Devon Point Farm, Woodstock
Wayne’s Organic Garden, Oneco

A CSA is a program that allows consumers to directly support local farmers.  You can become a shareholder or subscriber by paying a membership fee upfront at the start of the growing season. This fee covers production costs and in return, a member receives a regular supply of local, Connecticut food.  The cost and size of the share is pre-determined by the farmer, generally by produce value or weight.  You can find a share that is the right size for you and your family, and if the share seems too large, split it with a friend or neighbor!  Some CSAs offer working shares that charge a discounted membership fee in exchange for volunteer work on the farm.  No matter how you look at it, CSAs are good for your wallet, the environment, and your health!

The CSAs, Community Farms and Specialty Crops Program of Connecticut NOFA is funded by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA and administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beginning Farmer Funding in the 2012 Farm Bill

Our Beginning Farmer Program at CT NOFA is funded by the USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) established in the 2008 Farm Bill.  This program funds local organizations to create community-based support for new farmers.  This program might be now facing cuts in the new farm bill.  We rely on this funding as do many other organizations and many of our nation's future farmers.  You can learn more about the program from their 2011 Progress Report. It’s a great example of how public investments can stimulate the outcomes we want –  more beginning farmers getting started and succeeding. That is something we all know we need more of.
Our Beginning Farmer lunch at the Greenhouse Workshop was funded by our BFRDP Grant!
The U.S. Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill will be introduced by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow in the next few days, and immediately following its introduction it will be marked up and voted on by the Senate Agriculture Committee. Changes to programs and funding levels are being floated — some not so good and some outright bad.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program has no funding past 2012. As Senate Farm Bill proceeds, it is still unclear if any resources will be dedicated to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The only indication we have to go on is what happened in the proposed “Secret Farm Bill” within the failed Super Committee process last fall. In the “Secret Farm Bill” only $10 million a year was provided to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. That would be a 47 percent decrease compared to what was offered for the program this year and represents a massive cut to the program overall. We cannot allow this to happen in the Senate Farm Bill.

U.S. Senators need to hear from organizations and farmers about the need for making real investments in beginning farmer support. Ask your Senator to secure these resources that maintain and grow training and assistance for our next generation of American farmers and ranchers. 

To contact your Senator, use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121.

Message:   I want Senator __________ to make the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program a top priority and to ensure it is funded at $25 million a year in the Farm Bill. We need to invest in support for new farmers. Dedicate the funding and continue this new farmer support program as is.  It does not need changes. It does not need tweaks. It needs funding.

When you call, it’s best to try and contact the staff member responsible for agriculture issues if you can.  If they are not available, make sure to leave a message with the receptionist. Let them know what organization you’re with and where you’re from.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The U.S. EPA denies petition to cancel 2,4-D

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, or 2,4-D is the most widely used pesticide in the world, and one of the main pesticides used in North America.  2,4-D was made especially famous (or infamous) by it's inclusion in Agent Orange, the defoliant used by the United States to wage war on Vietnam's countryside in the Vietnam War.

The herbicide has been used in the U.S. since the 1940s and is used in about 600 products registered for agricultural, residential and industiral uses (Beyond Pesticides).  The chemical has also been associated with a number of serious health isues including soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and birth defects.

In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council requested that the EPA cancel all product registrations and revoke any tolerances for 2,4-D.  A "tolerance" refers to a legal residue limit in food.   The EPA reviewed the data cited by the NRDC and the new studies submitted to the EPA and has ruled that there is not enough data to conclude that 2,4-D is directly contributing to cancer and health issues.

This is especially worrisome, because Dow AgroSciences is seeking federal approval to sell corn seeds that have been genetically modified to be resistant to 2,4-D which will most likely result in even more widespread use as we have already seen with the use of Round-Up on "Round-Up Ready" genetically modified crops.

The New York Times article on the subject reported that the main study which conflicted with the studies submited by the NRCS was one financed by 2,4-D manufacturers conducted by Dow, which exposed test rats to the chemical and found no reproductive problems related to the exposure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Humane and Sustainable Livestock Farming Workshop

Join the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) and the owners of Footsteps Farm, Craig and Sheryl Floyd, to learn about human certified and sustainable livestock farming on May 21 from 4pm – 7pm.  Since 2002, Craig and Sheryl have produce humanely raised, grass fed pork, chickens, turkeys, beef and other farm products on the 15 acre Footsteps Farm in Stonington.

In 2006 Craig and Sheryl earned the Humane Certification for their poultry (turkeys, layer chickens and broilers) and their pigs.  The certification is a consumer certification and labeling program and Footsteps Farm is the first and only Humane Certified farm in Connecticut. The label means that eggs, dairy or meat were produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind.  Craig describes his livestock as “free range all day, every day.”  Craig will also explain Management Intensive Grazing, a rotational grazing system.  These practices while ecological and humane also create high quality meats, dairy and eggs.  Even Martha Stewart chose Bourbon Red Turkey from Footsteps Farm for her Thanksgiving Dinner.

The workshop is for farmers, homesteaders, or anyone interested in livestock production with a focus on heritage breed turkeys, Scottish Highlander cattle, Footsteps Farm’s own breed of pig, the Large Shireworth, laying hens and broiler chickens (though they will not be on the farm at the time of the workshop).

After the workshop there will be a beginning farmer dinner and gathering for those who have farmed for ten years or fewer.  The workshop and beginning farmer mixer are made possible by a grant from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture through the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.  Workshop registration is $20 for members and beginning farmers (ten years or fewer of farming experience) and $30 for non-members.  To register in advance call our office at 203-888-5146 or visit

CT NOFA is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the practices of ecologically sound farming and gardening, and to the development of local sustainable agriculture.

For more information:
-          Footsteps Farm Website
-          “Keeping the Livestock Comfortable” by Gail Braccidiferro, published January 21, 2007 in the New York Times.
-          An interview with Craig in “You Are What You Eat” by Leslie Rovetti published in 2004 the Mystic Times

To register, visit CT NOFA's event page or call our office at  203-888-5146!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Plant for Pollinators!

Blackberry provides food for you and for bees!
Organic management of a garden or yard naturally encourages pollinators to thrive in your yard.  Planting native flowers that encourage pollinator activity allows your yard to contribute to the local ecosystem, while also using ecosystem services to improve the quality of your yard.
  1. For a guide to how to choose and group plants for all different types of pollinators, check out "Selecting Plants for Pollinators: Eastern Broadleaf Forest", a publication from the Pollinator Partnership and North American pollinator Protection Campaign.  This guide includes information on how to support the pollinators most of us forget about including moths, beetles, flies and wind.  The guide also mentions bats, which do not act as pollinators in the Northeast (though they offer numerous other invaluable ecosystem services), but they are vital pollinators in warmer areas in the Southeastern US and much of the tropics.
  2. Review this list of non-native flowers that grow well in Connecticut that attract butterflies compiled by the NRCS
  3. Pay attention to the season when these flowers bloom, be sure to choose flowers that bloom in all different times throughout the spring, summer and fall (which also means your garden will be consistently beautiful through these seasons). Observe when most of the flowers in your garden bloom and consider which seasonal gaps need to be filled.
  4. You should also get to know our native pollinator bees a little better.  They might not make honey, but they have supported the breeding and reproduction of Connecticut's plant-life for thousands of years before European honeybees came to the United States.You can support native bees using plants from this list published by the Xerxes Society (yes, the plants on these lists do overlap quite a bit - that makes it easier for you!)
  5. Never (ever) use pesticides: Recent studies carried out in the UK, France and in the US by the Harvard School of Public Health tied pesticides, especially neonicotinoids to Colony Collapse Disorder.  While a number of scientists have taken issue with the study, it seems like we should use the precautionary principle and not risk the health of our region's valuable pollinators.  These chemicals are also thought to be quite harmful for hummingbirds.
  6. Bee Balm or Monarda
  7. For information on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard, check out this blog post from a couple years ago by one of the NOFA Organic Land Care Program's Accredited Professionals, Debbie Roberts - "A Hummingbird Cafe" and this list of flowers that attract hummingbirds.  Remember to try and choose natives!
Happy planting (and pollinating!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

CT NOFA Announces the 2012 Journeypeople

            The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) is proud to announce the acceptance of Max and Kerry Taylor of Provider Farm in Salem and Joey Listro of Sullivan Farm in New Milford to the first year of the Connecticut Journeyperson Program. The program is designed to provide financial and educational support for farmers transitioning from apprenticing to farming independently.  More of Connecticut’s farm operators near retirement age while the demand for Connecticut Grown food continues to grow.  To respond to these trends, beginning farmer support has been identified as a key to securing Connecticut’s local food supply and protecting farms.
            2012 will be Max and Kerry Taylor’s first full growing season on Provider Farm.  Prior to working at Provider Farm, Max worked at Riverland Farm in Sunderland, MA and Kerry with five years of experience at Brookfield Farm in Amherst, MA.   At Provider Farm the Taylors are growing vegetables and raising beef cattle for sale through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  There are still shares available for their CSA, with shares available for pick-up from their farm in Salem, CT.   For more information about Provider Farm or to purchase a share, visit their website at
Max and Kerry Taylor - Provider Farm
            Joe Listro has just taken on the position of Farm Manager at Sullivan Farm, a community farm in New Milford, Connecticut.  Listro has operated a small, vegetable growing business through the Community Farm of Simsbury and worked as a farm-based educator at Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain.  Sullivan Farm is a community farm, providing a rich variety of produce at their farm stand and is open to the public.  For more information about Sullivan Farm, please visit
Joe Listro selling vegetables at the Ellington Farmer's Market
             The Journeyperson Program is a two year program that will provide the selected farmers with stipends supporting education, business planning, a paid farmer mentor and admission to all of CT NOFA’s workshops. The Journeyperson Program is part of a collaborative program implemented by NOFA chapters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.  The project, funded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture through the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, provides support through several avenues including on-farm workshops, apprentice-mentor matching, farmer socials and a beginning farmer workshop track at NOFA Winter Conferences. 
            For more information on the CT NOFA’s programs for beginning farmers, please visit

Friday, April 6, 2012

Make Your Yard a Honey Bee Haven! - Take the Pledge

You can take a pledge to maintain your yard in a way that creates habitat and food for bees.  This is pretty important, because by acting as vital pollinators - bees create food and habitat for lots of things! Here is the text from explaining the program and how you can be a part of this honey bee network:
Bees are responsible for pollinating one in three bites of food we eat...and they're in trouble. Since the mid-1990s, they've been dying off in droves around the world. Colonies have been mysteriously collapsing with adult bees disappearing, seemingly abandoning their hives.
This phenomenon — known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD — is likely caused by a variety of interacting factors, including pathogens, loss of habitat and increased exposure to systemic and other pesticides.
Policymakers have yet to make pollinator health a top priority, and current regulations don't provide adequate protection for bees. But a groundswell of concerned citizens, gardeners and beekeepers is building to protect bees.
Join the movement! Take the pledge to provide a honey bee haven with access to pesticide-free food, shelter and water. It doesn't take much space — a few containers of the right kinds of plants tucked into your garden, on a balcony or front stoop, will get you started.
Guiding Principles:
  1. Protect bees from pesticides. Pesticides kill beneficial insects including pollinators and natural enemies that control common pests like aphids. Certain pesticides, including neonicotinoids, are highly toxic to honey bees in particular. Instead of using pesticides, explore organic ways to grow healthy plants, such as using compost for healthy soil and controlling pests with homemade remedies and biocontrols like ladybugs.
  2. Provide a variety of food for bees. Consider clustered plantings with staggered blooming times so there is food throughout the year and particularly in the late summer and fall. Native plants are always best, and inter-planting and hedgerows provide additional forage on farms. Mix cloverseed in with the grass of your lawn so bees can benefit from clover flowers (while the clover fixes nitrogen in your soil!)
  3. Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees. This can be a river, pond, irrigation system, rainwater collection system or small-scale garden water features. Shallow water sources can provide more than enough water for bees, without creating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.
  4. Provide shelter for bees. Leave some ground undisturbed and untilled and some dead trees and plants on the property for wild bees to nest in.