MOFFA 29th Annual Winter Workshop Meeting February 22, 2020 in Annapolis

MOFFA, the Maryland Organic Food and & Farming Association, will hold its 29th Annual Winter Workshop Meeting on Saturday February 22, 2020 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis. The meeting is open to the public, and everyone is invited to attend. (Snow date: March 7)

Learn, Explore, Connect, Grow!
Gain practical knowledge from organic farmers and researchers. Explore current issues. Join in lively discussions. Meet fellow farmers, gardeners, food system advocates, and consumers. Enjoy a delicious homegrown potluck lunch. The MOFFA Annual Winter Workshop Meeting is a day loaded with information and inspiration!

Keynote Speaker:
Margaret Morgan-Hubbard
Founder and Director of ECO City Farms
Making Maryland the Affordable ‘Healthy Food for All’ State

Workshops:
Growing Dryland Rice in Maryland, Developing A Cut Flower Business,
Raising Woodland Pork, Data-Driven Farming, Composting Basics
Reaching Consumers Beyond Farmers Markets
Organic Update with Deanna Baldwin, MDA
Noxious Weed Update, Lane Heimer, MDA

The Latest Science & Research:
Using On-Farm Drainage Ditches to Enhance Biological Control,
Drought Effects on Lettuce and Kale Susceptibility to Salmonella Colonization
Plants and Pollinators Interactions

Panel Discussions:
The New Black Farmer Movement
Climate Impact – Paying Farmers to Sequester Carbon

Legendary Homegrown Potluck Lunch * Silent Auction
Half Price New Book Sale * Display Tables

Only $5 for members and $20 for non-members
Membership is $25 for one year, $45 for two years and $12 for students. Registration is at the door or online.
For more information or to register online, go to http://www.marylandorganic.org/events

Attendees please bring a dish to share for the Potluck Lunch, one of the highlights of the meeting. You are encouraged to donate an item for the Auction to support MOFFA. Members may bring display materials. Table space will be available in exchange for auction item donations.

Nick’s Organic Farm and Climate Change: How we adapt to changing weather and try to reduce the factors contributing to climate change

Extreme weather is real and has gotten progressively worse in just the past decade. We have been farming organically for forty years.  It used to be farmers would hope for a “good” year—now we hope for a “normal” year.  We get whipsawed between a cool wet spring one year and a hot dry spring the next.  We had the wettest year on record in 2018 with twice the normal rainfall, keeping us out of the fields most of the season.

We raise crops and livestock on 175 acres in the fertile Frederick Valley near Buckeystown MD.  Our land is certified organic and protected from development with an easement from the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.  Since purchasing this former dairy farm over twenty years ago, we have seen our practices increase our soil organic matter levels by fifty percent, helping to reduce green house gas by storing more carbon in the soil.

In addition, we have changed our organic practices, in part, to adapt to climate change.  Having started in wholesale organic vegetable production in 1979, we have moved gradually to grains, seeds, feeds, forages, and beef and poultry. One goal in making this transition has been to build the health and resilience of both our soil and farming system in the face of climate change.

The transition allows us to 1) maintain more continuous vegetative cover to prevent soil erosion, 2) plant a very diverse and complementary mix of plant species to increase yields and to hedge against extreme weather, 3) maintain growing roots of multiple interplanted species at all times of year to increase soil enhancing microbiological activity and soil fertility needed to stimulate higher yields, 4) use our pasture grazing animals to accelerate the incorporation of carbon from the air and to store that carbon in the soil, and 5) reduce soil disturbing tillage which gives off greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.  These changes also allow us to build an organic farming system with a broad bio-diversity of crops, animal species, and varied cultural practices, all of which contribute to our 8-12 year crop rotation and pasture based rotation for multi-species livestock grazing.

Specifically, we undertake certain farming practices to build our soil carbon and soil health and thereby make our farming system more resilient to withstand the vagaries of climate change. For our livestock, we limit the number of cattle and poultry on our land so that our pastures do not become weakened by over-grazing, allowing our pastures adequate time to regrow before being grazed again.  We constantly move our livestock to fresh pasture so they have access to the vegetation at the peak of its nutritional value and so the animals evenly spread their soil building manure over the entire farm.  We plant summer annuals and winter annuals directly into our perennial pastures so that we can boost our total yield of forage when seasonal hot or cold weather slows the growth of the underlying grasses and legumes.  In addition, recent research shows that our long-standing practice of feeding sea kelp improves cattle digestion efficiency and consequently reduces by half or more the greenhouse gas methane produced by our herd.

For our crops, we minimize soil tillage and plant no-till whenever possible. We often seed crops and cover crops directly into standing crops and stubble to not disturb the soil and maintain continuous living roots as much as possible.  As a hedge against weather variability, we plant multiple maturities of corn and soybeans and mix multiple species in our hays and pastures so that all of our crops do not depend on optimal weather occurring at the same time. We plant or interplant crops and cover crops in all four seasons to keep living roots and vegetative cover on our soils at virtually all times which builds our soil carbon and guards against soil erosion.  As a result of our practices, despite 2018’s record rains, we still had growing crops everywhere on the farm all year long.

Because of our soil building practices, compared to neighboring farms, our fields hold more moisture in very dry years, giving us better yields.  Our carbon rich and vegetatively covered fields also allow sudden heavy rainfalls to penetrate our soil better, reducing waterlogging of plant roots and stopping soil depleting nutrient runoff, again leading to better yields.  Because we plant a diversity of species together, when hot or dry weather discourages growth in one species, it favors growth in another, helping to maintain overall yields.

Adapting our farming practices to accommodate climate change also required changes in our marketing.  We stopped selling wholesale and started selling our new products to the end user—either another farm or directly to consumers.  We also began producing on-farm value added products.

We selectively improve the breeding of heirloom organic seed stock to sell to small seed companies.  We maintain several open pollinated corn varieties and vegetable soybean varieties. We harvest, clean, and sell non-GMO heirloom food grade corn for grinding, and we grind our whole grain corn on our stone mill to sell cornmeal/polenta.

On the farm, we process our pastured slow growth chickens and heritage and commercial turkeys, and we pack our eggs. We grind and package our field grains to sell livestock feed. We sell hay, baleage and whole feed grains directly to regional organic dairies.  We sell to consumers our 100% grass fed Black Angus beef by the cut, as boxed beef, and as value added products such as jerky and all beef sausages.

While we have transitioned out of fresh vegetables, at any time we can incorporate some of our previous produce back into our crop rotations, starting with sweet corn, green beans, fresh soybeans (edamame), winter squashes, pumpkins and gourds. We would have to increase our work force and marketing, but we have most of the capital intensive infrastructure and equipment still in place from our prior vegetable production.

Nick Maravell, Nick’s Organic Farm, LLC

http://www.nicksorganicfarm.com   mailto:nicksorganicfarm@comcast.net

Farm Tour and Open House at Nick’s Organic Farm

You are invited to attend a Farm Tour and Open House at MOFFA founder Nick Maravell’s Organic Farm. Since 1979, we have been committed to constant improvement in our organic farming methods and to a strong relationship with our customers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia.

October 19-20, 2019

2733 Buckeystown Pike, Adamstown, MD 21710

301-983-2167 (office)

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday    October 19, 10 am-4 pm

Sunday   October 20,    Noon-4pm

Rain date: Check website

nicksorganicfarm.com

Activities

  • Hay Rides and Farm Tours
  • Visit the Chickens, Turkeys, and Cows
  • Tour the crop fields
  • Kids Shell and Grind Corn
  • Play on Hay Pile and Corn box
  • Learn about Organic Farming

Food

  • Cherry Wood Fired BBQ
  • Pit Beef, Burgers, Sausages, Chicken
  • Hot Cider and Chocolate

Learn more about the SPECIAL GUESTS at our 2019 Farm Tour here!

Products

  • Order Your Organic Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Buy Organic Heritage Corn, Pop Corn, Cornmeal
  • Buy Grass-Fed Beef by the Individual Cut
  • Buy Pastured Whole Frozen Chickens or Cuts of Chicken
  • Buy Pastured Eggs
  • Buy Chicken Feed, Hay, Straw

Directions (look for signs as you get near):

From I-270, Exit 31B, Rte. 85 South, towards “Buckeystown,” go 5.5 miles to 2733 Buckeystown Pike on the left,

From I-70, merge onto I-270 via Exit 53 toward “Washington.”  Take first exit 31B toward “Buckeystown” (Rte. 85 South) go 5.5 miles to 2733 Buckeystown Pike on the left.

 

At the MOFFA Winter Meeting – soil health tops the agenda

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 6.21.58 PM
Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune

Face it. Most humans treat soil like. . .well dirt. At USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), there is a new urgency for people to know more about our soil, as good soil is disappearing due to erosion, compaction and loss of organic matter. NRCS has created a new Soil Health Division to focus on education. Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA) attendees were fortunate to have the Division’s new Chief, Dr. Bianca Moebius Clune, to be the featured speaker at their Winter Meeting.

Of course, organic farmers must know and appreciate the value of healthy soil. But withoutScreen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.04.55 PM being able to use herbicides, most organic farmers have to till their soil. Dr. Clune says that intensive tillage is “like a little earthquake” for the soil. It breaks up soil structure, damages the biota, and can compact soil and reduce absorption. It can even affect pest management. For organic farmers, some tillage is inevitable to reduce weed pressure, but they can take actions to reduce the impact and they can monitor the conditions of the soil.

Dr. Clune provided information on how to take shovel tests to check for  compaction and how to evaluate the roots for soil health and where to send your soil for testing to get a more complete analysis of soil condition, such as the Cornell Soil Health Assessment.

She urged farmers to get in touch with local NRCS offices for assistance and to  be aware of the EQIP Organic Initiative that “provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers in addressing resource concerns including, but not limited to assistance with:

  • Developing a conservation plan
  • Establishing buffer zones
  • Planning and installing pollinator habitat
  • Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion
  • Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices
  • Improving irrigation efficiency
  • Enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management”

To learn more contact Lindsay Haines, Lindsay.haines@wdc.usda.org, an EQIP program specialist.

Re-posted from the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission blog by Greg Bowen

Community Food Assessment Short Survey

 

SURVEY POSTCARD FRONT

If you are a grower in Frederick, Carroll, Washington or other nearby counties in Maryland, please take this very short survey:

Farmer Community Food Assessment Survey

We hope that the survey results will help all of us better understand the diversity, strength and potential of our region’s ag sector and begin to quantify how many growers have the capacity and desire to meet demand if it is created through a new Food Hub or other aggregation/distribution outlet.  We are also looking at the need for a shared processing facility;  the survey results thus far show interest.  Please give us your input!

 

MOFFA Summer Social Farm Tour & Potluck Supper

Sunday, August 24
2:00 – 6:00 PM
Summer Creek Farm
15209 Mud College Road
Thurmont, Maryland 21788

SummerCreekFarmField

Rick Hood, of Summer Creek Farm in Thurmont, has graciously offered to host this year’s Summer Social.

Rick established Summer Creek Farm in 1992 and currently has 34 acres in organic production. Summer Creek Farm grows vegetables, grains, and raises poultry.

Rick has been active in the agricultural community for many years serving as president of MOFFA (Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association), MCOGC (Maryland Certified Organic Growers Cooperative), and the Frederick Farmers Market, as well as being a Future Harvest/ CASA board member.

Come join us for a fun and informative afternoon!

Please bring a dish to share for a fantastic potluck supper.

For more information call or email: 301-785-2936 hcole77@aol.com

Please RSVP by August 18th on Facebook or to hcole77@aol.com