Organic News

Growing Kosher Spelt Teaches Mindfulness

A recent article in the New York Times tells the story of a bakery in Brooklyn, New York that specializes in producing a special kind of matzo called shmurah, which means guided or watched. The matzo is used for the first night of Passover. The watching begins while the grain is still growing in the field and continues through the harvest and preparation to ensure the grain meets kosher restrictions—mainly that it hasn’t been allowed to ferment.

Deploying Microbes as a Seed Treatment to Protect Against Soil-borne Plant Pathogens

Plant diseases, especially those caused by soil-borne seed infecting pathogens, pose a serious threat to organic greenhouse and field production. There is a critical need for new techniques and technologies to combat seed and seedling diseases, and organic farmers have identified this as a top research priority.

Both solid and liquid forms of organic amendments such as compost and vermicompost have proven successful in controlling plant pathogens. The working hypothesis is that microbes are closely associated with disease suppression. OFRF provided a research grant in 2014 to Rick Carr at the Rodale Institute (pictured in photo) to establish a proof-of-concept that compost microbes can be deployed on the surface of seeds before sowing to protect against soil-borne plant pathogens. He recently submitted his final project report.

Drought Management Workshop Audio Now Available

The majority of California is in extreme drought. Even with the winter rain, it will take years of wet winters in order to recover.  The drought situation has implications for food production throughout the state and for consumers nationwide. It is estimated that the average person in the US consumes around 300 gallons of California water each week by eating food grown in California (Buchanan et al., 2016). 

Four Season Gardening in Maine

In a recent article in Wicked Local Brewster, organic farmer Eliot Coleman explains how he grows fresh produce twelve months a year on his Maine farm. With just an acre and a half of land, Coleman grosses over $150,000 without charging outrageous prices.

The author of “The Four Season Harvest,” and several other books, Coleman says his success is the result of a lot of hard work, paying attention over the years, and using all the information that is freely available in books and on the web. 

Help Restore Organic Transitions Program Funding

March 1, 2016 - As farmers across the U.S. plan for another crop year, the increasing demand for organic products is driving more of them to consider organic agriculture. Last year alone, sales of organic agriculture products grew by 11%. At the same time, the U.S. had a $1 billion organic agriculture trade deficit—mostly in grains—because the U.S. is not producing enough product for the domestic market.

One of the most effective ways to increase organic production is through university research that helps organic farmers and livestock producers better understand the economic and environmental benefits of organic farming. 

19th Annual Benefit Luncheon Kicks Off Expo West with Organic Feast

March 10, 2016 - More than 300 leaders in the organic industry attended OFRF’s 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon in Anaheim on Thursday, March 10th. The event, which takes place the day before Natural Products Expo West opens, is a long-standing tradition that always sells out. Celebrity chefs Chris Blobaum and Donna Prizgintas, assisted by Beth Miller, were there once again to prepare the all organic feast.

New Report Cites Deficiency in Measuring Toxicity of Pesticide Interactions

The University of California, Los Angeles published a new report that reveals a major flaw in California’s approach to evaluating pesticide use. The problem is that regulators continue to assess pesticide safety one product at a time, even though growers often apply pesticide mixtures that contain multiple products.

USDA Makes Payments Available for Organic Field Border Buffers

Conservation or ‘field border’ buffers provide multiple conservation and environmental benefits, and also help farmers meet USDA organic certification requirements, including protecting soil and water quality and enhancing biodiversity and habitat. In some circumstances, the buffers can also protect organic farms against pesticide or genetic drift from neighboring operations.

Tipi Produce Named Farmers of the Year at MOSES

The Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) kicked off their 27th annual Organic Farming Conference on February 25th. The conference is the largest event in the U.S. about organic and sustainable farming, with over 3,600 people attending this year. Jane Shey, OFRF's Policy Associate, and Board Member, Klaas Martens, were there.

Steve Pincus and Beth Kazmar of Tipi Produce were named Farmers of the Year. They have been certified organic farmers since 1994.On their farm, located outside of Evansville, Wisconsin, they use cover crops extensively to increase organic matter and strengthen fertility and soil biology on their farm. Some of their crops include carrots, melons, pepper and zucchini. They sell 45% of their products through a CSA and 55% to wholesale markets.

Scholarship Recipients Soak Up Knowledge and Make New Contacts at Research Symposium

OFRF was pleased to offer scholarships to qualifying applicants wishing to attend the 2016 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium in Pacific Grove, California. We awarded 20 scholarships in all.

Presented by OFRF and University of California Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension (KARE) Center, the symposium featured current and ongoing organic research findings on topics ranging from soil health, seeds, and plant breeding, to biodiversity and organic livestock systems.

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