Cow Share and Raw Milk Legislation in Maryland

Liz Retzig will be presenting an update on cow share and raw milk legislation in Maryland at the 2014 MOFFA Winter Meeting.

In Maryland it is illegal to sell raw milk (as in unpasteurized, fresh-from-the-cow milk).

It is not illegal to drink fresh milk from the cow that you own, but it is illegal to even own a share of a cow in Maryland.

The Maryland General Assembly is considering lifting the ban on raw milk by reinstating cow shares which have been criminalized since 2006. This bill would do wonders for Maryland farmers who wish to engage directly with eager consumers wanting raw milk from their own animals. This legislation, once passed, would repeal the ban on cow shares (and goat) and allow people to contract directly with the farmers of their choice for raw milk.  http://nourishingliberty.com/raw-milk-could-be-legal-in-maryland/

Liz is a Mother, a MOFFA Board Member, and the Co-Founder, Farm Food Freedom Coalition. Liz has been working hard to realize the availability of raw milk in Maryland. She blogs about the right for food choice at Nourishing Liberty .

The Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association 23rd Annual Winter Meeting, is on Saturday February 15, 2014, from 8 am to 5:00 pm, at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis.

Registration is $20 for non-members and $5 for members. Membership is $25 for one year or $45 for two years. Registration is at the door.

Ethnic Vegetable Production

Erroll Mattox from UMES – Maryland Cooperative Extension will be talking about ethnic vegetable production at the MOFFA Winter Meeting on February 15, 2014.

Demographics in America are changing and we can grow food for the world/ethnic market here in Maryland. Erroll will share some thoughts on what we can grow for the South Asian consumer and  insights on marketing.

Erroll is a Farm Management Specialist with the Small Farm Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He describes his job as “helping farmers make money”. He owned and operated an organic farm on The Shore for more than twenty years.

MOFFA, the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association 23rd Annual Winter Meeting, is on Saturday February 15, 2014, from 8 am to 5:00 pm, at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis.

Registration is $20 for non-members and $5 for members. Membership is $25 for one year or $45 for two years. Registration is at the door.

Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association to Hold Conference in Annapolis

Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association to Hold Conference in Annapolis

MOFFA, the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association, announces its 23rd Annual Winter Meeting, on Saturday February 15, 2014, from 8 am to 5:00 pm, at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis.

There will be Information for farmers and gardeners in search of new ideas, techniques, & inspiration, as well as networking opportunities for consumers and distributors looking for good sources of local, organic food.

MOFFA Chairperson Holly Budd says, “I am looking forward to the Panel Discussion on GMO and Food Safety Issues, Organic Food Justice Discussion, an update cow share and raw milk legislation in Maryland, and learning more about farming techniques and research from other organic farmers and researchers.”

Presentations, Panels and Workshops Include: 

  • Panel Discussion GMO/Food Safety Issues Exciting News in State politics moderated by Sophia Maravell, Brickyard Educational Farm.  Panelists include: Alexis Baden-Mayer Organic Consumer’s Association, Darla Eaton, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, MD Delegate Ariana Kelly, Montgomery County, MD Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery, Colin O’Neil, Center for Food Safety.
  • Panel Discussion:  Organic Food Justice Panelists: Carrie Vaughn, Claggett Farm, Lavette Sims, Capitol Area Food Bank. Greg Bowen, Hub and Spoke Program for SMADC

Erroll Mattox from UMES – MD Cooperative Extension will be talking about ethnic vegetable production

Tanya Tolchin: Exploring Low Tech Food Dehydration to Increase Profits on Small Farms.

Mike Haigwood, PA Bowen Farm, “Grassfed and Beyond” – Mike recently returned from Australia where he was studying permaculture and he will include some of that in his presentation.

Maryland Green Registry A good program to share and improve green practices for your farm and great tool for consumers too

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Update on the Organic/GAP University research and GAP training session

Maryland Department of Agriculture Organic Program presentation

Tyler Brown Real Food Farm. Urban farming collective The Farm Alliance of Baltimore

Research Talks by Extension and UMD Researchers:

  • Buchanan, A., G. Chen, L. Hunt and C.R.R Hooks. 2014. Using cover crops for pest suppression in crookneck squash.  Presented by Amanda Buchana
  • Chen, G., A. Buchanan, R. Weil and C.R.R. Hooks. 2014.  Integrating reduced or no tillage systems with cover cropping for organic vegetable productions.  Presented by Guihua Chen.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to share for the potluck lunch, one of the highlights of the meeting.

Attendees can bring seeds to exchange with the other participants in the MOFFA Seed Swap.

There will be a silent auction.  Members may bring display materials; table space is available in exchange for silent auction item donations.

Registration is $20 for non-members and $5 for members. Membership is $25 for one year or $45 for two years. Registration is at the door. For more information, go to http://www.marylandorganic.org or contact Holly Heintz Budd at 443-975-4181

Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA) was established in 1991 as a non-profit organization. MOFFA strives to build a sustainable network of individuals and organizations that support small farms, family gardens and ecologically sound businesses

MOFFA WINTER MEETING 2014 SCHEDULE

TIME

Room  A

Room B

8:00-8:30

Registration

8:30 -8:45

Welcome and Announcements/Holly Budd MOFFA Chair

8:45-9:00

Laura Armstrong of MDE, Julie Oberg MDA Maryland Green Registry A good program to share and improve green practices for your farm and great tool for consumers too.

9:00-9:30

 Shirley Micallef: update on GAP research and organic by Shirley Micallef, University of MD

9:30-9:45

Coffee Break, Silent Auction, Seed Swap Break into separate rooms

9:45-10:30 Buchanan, A., G. Chen, L. Hunt and C.R.R Hooks. 2014. Using cover crops for pest suppression in crookneck squash.
Presented by Amanda Buchana
Shirley Micallef, Donna Pahl:  Pre harvest organic production and GAP
10:30-11:15 Chen, G., A. Buchanan, R. Weil and C.R.R. Hooks. 2014.  Integrating reduced or no tillage systems with cover cropping for organic vegetable productions.
Presented by Guihua Chen.
Shirley Micallef, Donna Pahl:  Post harvest organic and GAP
11:15-12:00 Mike Haigwood, PA Bowen Farm, “Grassfed and Beyond” – Mike recently returned from Australia where he was studying permaculture and he will include some of that in his presentation! Deanna Baldwin, MDA Organic Certification FAQ.  Certified Organic or considering certification? Deanna Balwin will update you and answer questions about NOP interpretations, and compliance with all of the rules.
12:00-1:20

Potluck Lunch, Silent Auction, Seed Swap, Networking

1:20- 1:30

Board Elections and Announcements

1:30-2:30

Panel Discussion: GMO/Food Safety Issues Exciting News in State politics  

Moderated by Sophia Maravell, Brickyard Educational Farm

Alexis Baden-Mayer Organic Consumer’s Association
Darla Eaton, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
MD Delegate Ariana Kelly, Montgomery County
MD Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery      Colin O’Neil, Center for Food Safety

2:30-2:45

Last Chance for Silent Auction, Seed Swap, Grab Some Coffee, Break into separate rooms

2:45-3:30 Tanya Tolchin: Exploring Low Tech Food Dehydration to Increase Profits on Small Farms. Liz Retzig Update cow share and raw milk legislation in Maryland
3:30-4:15 Erroll Mattox from UMES – MD Cooperative Extension will be talking about ethnic vegetable production Panel Discussion:  Organic Food Justice Panelists: Carrie Vaughn, Claggett Farm, Lavette Sims, Capitol Area Food Bank. Greg Bowen, Hub and Spoke Program for SMADC
4:15-5:00 Tyler Brown Real Food Farm. Urban farming collective The Farm Alliance of Baltimore

THE FARM BILL – THE GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY; SPECIFICS ON THE ORGANIC CHALLENGE & FSMA

THE FARM BILL - THE GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY; SPECIFICS ON THE ORGANIC CHALLENGE & FSMA Tacoma Park Silver Spring Co-op’s Second Annual Food and Public Policy Series:

This year, the series will focus on healthy and safe food and how our representatives are addressing the issue of food safety and the availability of healthy food.

Consumers and Farmers must stay alert as the FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) regulations are developed, in order to protect sustainable farming and access to fresh, organic produce. Find out what’s happening to farmers, the Farm Bill, organic agriculture and the ability for all income groups to have access to sustainable foods. (Are we still subsidizing large farms and penalizing low income folks?)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY, 1, 2014

THE FOOD SAFETY MODERNIZATION AND ITS IMPACT ON OUR CO-OP AND FAMILY FARMS

1:00 – 4:00PM

Historic Takoma Building
7328 Carroll Ave. Takoma Park MD 20912
 

SPEAKERS:

  •  Michael Taylor, Deputy Director, FDA
  • Ferd Hoefner, NSAC (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) — will cover Farm Bill big picture and what is good, bad and ugly in the final product
  • Steve Etka, NOC (National Organic Coalition) – will discuss specific organic issues
  • Ariane Lotti, NSAC – will discuss FSMA, where we are, what comes next and we will all share

Q&A and discussion that follows about the future of sustainable agriculture

 Upcoming forums include:

  • Saturday, Feb 15, 1-4pm, GMOs, AND HOW LEGISLATION MIGHT IMPACT MARYLAND CONSUMERS
  • Guest Speaker: Barbara Mikulski, MD US State Senator
  • Saturday, Feb 22, 1-4pm, HEALTH OF THE BAY AND ITS IMPACT ON FOOD, FARMERS AND CONSUMERS
  • Invited Guest: Ben Cardin, MD  US Senator
  • Saturday, March 1, 1-4pm, IMPACT ON US AGRICULTURE POLICIES ON MARYLAND CONSUMERS
  • Invited Guest: Chris Van Hollen, MD US Congressman, 8th
  • Saturday, March 22, 1-4pm, TAKOMA PARK/SILVER SPRING CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR COUNTY OFFICE AND THEIR POLICIES ON FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

 Seating is limited, please do not hold seats.

For more information contact: outreach@tpss.coop

 Please join me for a tour of the Co-op after each event.

Sherri Collins

USING FLOWERING PLANTS TO HELP PARASITIC WASPS ATTACK STINK BUG EGGS

Can you use marigolds to keep Stinkbugs Away?
Can you use marigolds to keep Stink Bugs Away?

Lauren G. Hunt$, Armando Rosario-Lebron$ and Cerruti R2 Hooks*

University of Maryland Department of Entomology

$Graduate Student, *Associate Professor and Extension Specialist

 

      Parasitic wasps are beneficial wasps that generally lay their eggs inside the egg, immature or adult stage of another insect commonly called its host. Eggs of these wasps then hatch, leaving the larval wasp which resembles a maggot to consume the contents of the host egg. After consuming the host, parasitic wasps complete their development within the host and later chew their way out and emerge as adult wasps. Parasitic wasps that attack stink bugs and other insect hosts typically consume nectar during their adult life. Studies have shown that the longevity (lifespan) and fecundity (reproductive capacity) of some parasitic wasps are enhanced when they are allowed to feed on nectar from flowering plants. This need for nectar suggests that the maintenance of nectar producing plants that can be readily assessed by stink bug and other insect parasitoids will support their conservation. Conservation of parasitoids through the provision of nectar increases the likelihood that insect pest eggs will get parasitized and consumed by developing wasps. Plants that are grown near crops for the purpose of attracting and providing a nutritious food source for beneficial insects are often called insectary plants. Thus, we hypothesize that parasitism of stink bug eggs can be increased in crops containing insectary plants along their periphery.

Our current study focuses on the use of insectary plant strips planted along crop borders for managing the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) Halyomorpha halys and other stink bug pests [e.g., brown stink bug (Euschitus servus), rice stink bug (Oebalus pugnax), green stink bug (Acrosternum hilare), etc.] in conventional soybean and organic field corn plantings. Using a conservation biological control strategy, we developed an experimental design to determine if nectar-producing plants, French marigold (Tagetes patula ) “Single Gold” also sold under the brand name Nema-Gone, or buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) and a purple tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia) + buckwheat mixture when planted on the perimeter of soybean and corn plots, respectively, can attract and increase the effectiveness of predators and wasp parasitoids mainly belonging to the Scelionidae family. These beneficial wasps are very small, approximately 1/16 to 1/2 inch in length. Wasps from this family of insects are known to parasitize stink bug eggs including the BMSB and by doing so, effectively eliminate members of the stink bug population. We hope to provide these beneficial wasps a food source by planting these flowering strips, and subsequently increasing the suppression of stink bug populations within corn and soybean plantings.

Marigold is mostly known for its ability to suppress populations of plant-parasitic nematodes. Limited studies have been conducted on its ability to serve as an insectary plant. However, laboratory experiments have shown that the life span of one Scelionid wasp, Trissolcus basalis can be enhanced when they are allowed to feed on nectar from French marigold flowers. Thus, we hypothesize that French marigold flowers may benefit other parasitic wasps in the family Scelionidae. On the other hand, purple tansy and buckwheat flowers have been found to attract beneficial wasps; and in Maryland, purple tansy has been shown to specifically attract Scelionid wasps. Our goals include establishing whether the presence of these insectary plants will have a significant impact on the fauna of insect pests and beneficial arthropods (insects and spiders) associated with corn and soybean plantings. Additional objectives include determining whether these insectary plants will impact final crop yield and quality.

Though data is still being collected and has not been analyzed, from casual observation it is relatively apparent that buckwheat attracts a number of “hungry wasps”. However, purple tansy may be incompatible with MD climate as we noticed that the majority of plants were unable to flourish under field conditions. Most appeared to senesce or die within a few weeks following transplanting and displayed limited flowering. Thus, future plans include replacing the purple tansy + buckwheat mixture with partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculate).

Field studies conducted in Maryland showed that partridge pea have some of the characteristics of a good insectary plant. It is compatible with MD growing conditions, flowers for the entire growing season given enough water and attracts beneficial parasitoids and predators. Partridge pea is a native annual legume found throughout the eastern United States. It is additionally reported to be drought tolerant and grows in disturbed and sandy areas such as roadsides, suggesting hardiness. Partridge pea produces yellow flowers and is considered an important contributor to honey production.  The nectar source of partridge pea is found in glands at the leaf base called extrafloral nectaries (EFN), not in the flowers. Extrafloral nectaries are nectar-producing glands on a plant that is physically separate from the flower. Beginning with the third or fourth true leaf, a saucer shaped extrafloral nectary can be found at the base of each petiole of the partridge pea. These nectaries are very small (0.5–4 mm across), secrete up to three microliters of nectar a day, and almost every leaf has one nectary. In addition to other arthropods, partridge pea plants are visited by many different ant species which can only obtain nectar from the plant’s EFN. Though partridge pea attracts beneficial insects, it has been reported to be an important summer and fall host plant for the brown stink bug suggesting that partridge pea can serve potentially as both an insectary plant and trap crop. Trap cropping involves planting a plant species that is known to attract a pest near a crop susceptible to that pest, in order to lure it away from the crop. Next field season, we will investigate the potential of partridge pea to serve concurrently as an insectary plant and trap crop in organic field corn plantings.

      The corn research project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Anne Nielsen at Rutgers University and is funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant (2012-51300-20097) that was awarded through the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program. This program focuses on helping producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. The soybean research project is made possible through funding by the Maryland Soybean board. If there are any questions regarding these projects and the use of insectary plants feel free to email Lauren, Armando or Cerruti. Their email addresses can be found under personnel at “cerrutirrhookslab.umd.edu/”.

THE STALE SEEDBED TECHNIQUE: A RELATIVELY UNDERUSED ALTERNATIVE WEED MANAGEMENT TACTIC FOR VEGETABLE PRODUCTION

Seed Bed

Authored by: Cerruti R2 Hooks, Amanda L. Buchanan and Guihua Chen

Background problem

Weed management in vegetable cropping systems typically consists of crop rotation, manual weeding, weed mats, herbicides, and cultivation. Herbicide options in conventional and organically grown vegetables are limited because of infrequent registration of new herbicides and product loss due to regulatory actions. Further, vegetable crops are sensitive to many herbicides and this limits the number of products that can be safely applied. The list of organic herbicides is especially limited and there are no pre-emergent organically registered herbicides to prevent weed seed germination. In addition, organic herbicides are mostly unaffordable for commercial vegetable production if sprayed over the entire field. Cultivation has its limits because while weeds between crop rows can be managed with cultivation in some cropping systems, weeds within crop rows generally escape cultivation. Crop rotation is an important weed management practice but is only effective when integrated with other weed management tactics. Manual weeding is effective for organic producers but is costly and one of the most labor intensive production practices.

An often overlooked weed management practice is the stale seedbed technique; a weed management practice in which weed seeds just below the soil surface are allowed to germinate and then killed prior to planting the cash crop while minimizing soil disturbances. The stale seedbed technique is based on the premise that weeds which germinate and emerge before the crop is planted are easier to manage. Ideally when using this technique, only the seeding or transplanting operation should be responsible for disturbing the soil. Some researchers have suggested that stale seedbed weed management is critical to maximize yields of crops that have limited herbicide options. If implemented correctly, the stale seedbed weed management tactic may have a positive impact on vegetable production because it does not depend on new herbicide registrations or require equipment not commonly used in vegetable production. This weed management option can be adopted by organic and conventional growers and has the potential to reduce herbicide use, hand-labor, and overall weed management cost.Precisely how does the stale seedbed work?

Precisely how does the stale seedbed works?  

It has been stated that the stale seedbed technique is based on three principles: 1) cultivation promotes weed seed germination, 2) a small percentage of weed seeds in the soil is non-dormant and able to germinate at any given time and those that can, mostly germinate quickly, and 3) the vast majority of weeds only emerge from seeds in the shallow layer of the soil (i.e., top 2.5 inches), and most typically emerge only in significant numbers from the top one inch of the soil. Stale seedbed works by targeting weed seeds in the shallow layer (i.e., germination zone) of the soil. These nondormant seeds are allowed to germinate and then killed just prior to planting the cash crop. Non-dormant seeds have the capacity to germinate over a wide range of normal physical environmental factors, as opposed to dormant seeds which will not germinate until a specified period of time has passed, even when conditions are favorable for their germination. Weed emergence from the germination zone depends on weed species, soil type and physical characteristics, as well as prior land management practices. When adequate moisture is available, most weeds found on crop land emerge from the top 2.5 inches of the soil profile. Therefore, the stale seedbed technique works by depleting shallow “germinable” weed seeds that would normally develop and compete with a crop after it is planted. This technique works especially well if these shallow weed seeds germinate just prior to crop planting or during the early period of the crop cycle while germinable weed seeds at deeper depths remain undisturbed. Although weed emergence stimulated by irrigation and other production practices is often thought to complicate weed management efforts, this intentional or forced germination may be used as a valuable weed suppression tool.What practices can be used to kill weed flushes during stale seedbeds?

What practices can be used to kill weed flushes during stale seedbeds?

Once weeds are flushed several methods may be used to kill emerged weeds and complete the stale seedbed technique. In reality, methods that minimize soil disturbances and associated movement of dormant seeds from deeper depth of the soil into the germination zone are ideal choices. Herbicide sprays are generally used as part of stale seedbed practices because of minimum soil disturbances during herbicide applications. Other products such as flamers and shallow tillage equipment may be used to control emerged weeds. If cultivation is used to kill weeds that are flushed during stale seedbed practices, it must involve the minimum depth of tillage necessary to kill all emerged weeds but must be less than 2.5 inches so as not to bring up more weed seeds that will then germinate during the crop growing season. In spinach, it was shown that weed control levels achieved with two “no-disturbance’ techniques (herbicide and flamer) were generally better than with techniques that disturbed the soil (e.g., rotary cultivator and hoe, top knives, etc.). However, in a separate study, it was found that shallow cultivation was more effective than glyphosate for weed management in cucumbers and peanuts.

Not all tillage operations facilitate the stale seedbed technique equally. For example, one study indicated that peanut yields tended to be higher with shallow tillage than no-tillage stale seedbed technique. Timing and chemical makeup of herbicides are additional factors that are critical for optimizing their weed suppressive potential via stale seedbed. For example, researchers found during a no-till pumpkin study that paraquat provided better broadleaf weed control than glyphosate as part of a stale seedbed practice and this led to improved pumpkin yield. Further, it was suggested that applying paraquat in no-till  pumpkin before it starts vining is warranted to control weeds that may emerge later in the growing season.What are some disadvantages of the stale seedbed technique?

What are some disadvantages of the stale seedbed technique?

Though the stale seedbed technique can be effective, like any weed management tactic there are some drawbacks. Weeds with lengthy emergence periods may not be managed as well with this technique. Soil conditions such as moisture and temperature affect weed emergence and these factors cannot be controlled. For example, in the absent of adequate rainfall, fields may require pre-irrigation events to initiate weed flushes. Finally, under certain conditions, especially when dealing with “wimpy” or less competitive (e.g., small and slow growing) crops, multiple weed flushes over time may be required before planting the crop to effectively prevent weeds from competing with the crop after planting. Because the standing weed seed bank and soil conditions will differ from field to field, the optimal waiting period between pre-plant irrigation and final killing of weeds may not be known. The stale seedbed technique can be initiated several days, weeks, or months prior to seeding or transplanting a crop. A study involving cucumbers indicated that the optimal timing of stale seedbed preparation was 20 to 30 days before planting. If tillage is used to kill weeds that are flushed during stale seedbed techniques, this could result in more weed seeds being brought up to the soil surface. Stale seed bed technique should not be viewed as a stand-alone treatment that maintains weed suppression during the entire cropping cycle and thus may often require it be part of an integrated weed management (IWM) program.

Will there be research on this technique in Maryland or neighboring states?

Will there be research on this technique in Maryland or neighboring states?    

University of Maryland (UMD) researchers Amanda Buchanan, Guihua Chen and Cerruti Hooks along with colleagues at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University of Delaware, and Delaware State University submitted a research grant to an USDA granting agency to investigate the use of the stale seedbed tactic in combination with one or more of the following practices: winter cover cropping, strip-tilling, no-till planting, flail mowing, in-row cultivation and herbicide application. If funded, we hope to develop a truly integrated IWM program for conventional and organic vegetable producers. In addition, Amanda, Guihua and Cerruti will establish demonstration plots at the Wye Research and Education Facility to show the potential use of the stale seedbed technique in combination with winter cover crops and several cover crop suppression methods such as flail mowing, herbicide burn-down, and roller crimper.

Summary

Summary       

Stale seed bed is a relatively simple weed management tactic that generally involves four steps: 1) a seedbed is prepared, 2) weed seeds in the shallow soil zone germinate naturally or via pre-irrigation and then emerge, 3) emerged weeds are then killed with minimum soil disturbance as necessary, and 4) the crop is promptly seeded or transplanted into mostly weed free soil. A variety of organically acceptable and conventional methods can be used to establish stale seedbeds. Protocols that encourage the greatest amount of “weed flush” without disturbing the soil generally will result in fewer weeds germinating and competing with the cash crop after it is planted. Though the stale seedbed tactic has shown great potential as a weed management option, and may be especially useful in vegetable systems that compete poorly with weeds during the initial period of crop emergence, this technique may require integration with other weed management tactics for season-long weed suppression. For example, the use of an effective stale seedbed technique in combination with cover crop residues may suppress weed development for an entire vegetable cropping cycle. Clearly, improvements in vegetable crop weed management are needed and will depend on refining current tactics and integrating these tactics into a more sustainable and economically feasible system. The stale seedbed technique is a cultural practice that shows great potential as a viable component of an IWM program for conventional and organic vegetable systems, and if properly orchestrated can improve weed control while lowering herbicide applications and overall production cost.

Organic Vegetable Twilight Tour

University of Maryland Extension

What: Tours of University of Maryland organic research plots

  • The effect of cover crops, plastic and other parameters on soil CO2 emissions
  • Weed control in organic systems
  • Companion plantings for increased biocontrol
  • Cover crop effects on pests and natural enemies
  • Speakers include organic growers and University of Maryland researchers

Where: Upper Marlboro Research and Education Center
2005 Largo Rd Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

When: August 15, 2013. Dinner served from 5-6pm
Wagon tours start at 6pm

Who: All organic vegetable growers or those interested in organic vegetable production

There is no charge for the meeting, but registration is requested to help with meal planning.

Register for meeting by sending an email to Jerry Brust

What will new FDA Food Safety Rules mean for small, local, and organic farmers?

Demeter  at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, where the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association  Annual Winter meeting will be held on February 16, 2013, from 8 to 5.
Demeter, Greek Goddess of Agriculture, at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, where the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association Annual Winter Meeting will be held on February 16, 2013, from 8 to 5.

The MOFFA Annual Winter Meeting is February 16, 2013, at the MD Dept. of Agriculture Bldg., Annapolis MD  it will run from 8 to 5. The event includes a panel in the afternoon, from 1:40 to2:40 p.m., to discuss the new FDA Food Safety Rules, and what they mean for small, local, and organic farmers.   Click here to find more details about MOFFA Annual Winter Meeting.

What will new FDA Food Safety Rules mean for small, local, and organic farmers?

Find out how the proposed rules could affect your growing, harvesting, on farm processing and post-harvesting handling practices.  Find out what new labeling and record keeping requirements you may have to meet for sales on farm, at farmers markets, and to retailers and wholesalers.  Learn about exemptions from certain requirements.

Presenter:

Ariane Lotti, Assistant Policy Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Panelists:

Mike Tabor, Licking Creek Bend Farm, Needmore PA and Takoma Park, MD

and

Deanna Baldwin, Program Manager, Food Quality Assurance, Maryland Department of Agriculture

Ariane Lotti,

Ariane coordinates NSAC’s policy campaigns including organic and food safety issues.

She holds a B.A. and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University.  She has served as the Policy Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation.  She is a published author, and has worked on and conducted research on organic and conventional farms in the US and Europe.

Mike Tabor

Since 1972, Michael Tabor has been producing local fresh food for DC area residents of mixed income groups using organic methods.   Mike has also been active in many causes to advance environmental and social justice, including access to healthy local food for inner city populations.

Deanna Baldwin

Deanna is responsible for the Maryland Organic Certification Program as well as other grading and certification programs, including Fruit and Vegetable Grading, Egg Grading, and Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices Certification.  Deanna has a broad perspective on issues of food safety and local and organic production practices across Maryland.

Fall MOFFA Event a Great Success

It was a beautiful day at the Pasture Party at the P. A. Bowen Farmstead!

Great food and music, informative educational exhibits, and lots of fun. Enjoy our slide show from the day:

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Our next event is the MOFFA Winter Meeting
February 16, 2013, at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Annapolis, Maryland

MOFFA – Lets Get Out the Organic Vote

Tom Harbold at a draft-horse driving workshop Carroll County Farm Museum, in Westminster, Maryland
Tom Harbold at a draft-horse driving workshop Carroll County Farm Museum, in Westminster, Maryland

Listen. Hear that? Nope, me neither. It’s the deafening silence, from both sides of the political aisle, on issues of agriculture and the environment. Yes, I know that “it’s the economy, stupid.” As someone who is badly under-employed, and searching – so far unsuccessfully – for a position which will enable me to make a living by doing some good in the world, I am all too personally aware of the miserable state of our economy, as the year 2012 limps to a close, and of the need to find a way to recover.

That said, ignoring the environment in favor of the economy is a prescription for disaster, long-term. Please excuse me for a brief diversion into linguistics: “economy” is based on the Greek words “oikos,” meaning “household,” plus “nomos,” meaning “rule” or “management.” “Ecology” combines “household” with “logos,” meaning (in this context), “knowledge.” It makes not just linguistic but also practical sense to place knowledge of one’s household before management of it. Yet politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to try to manage the economy while remaining woefully, and willfully, ignorant of the ecology.

Furthermore, we live in a closed, finite system. Except for solar energy – sunlight, without which, so far as we know, no life could exist (except, perhaps, for some weird types near thermal vents in the deep ocean) – and occasional meteors, the only resources we possess are the ones contained on and within this planet. We have no other options. The bottom line is that the Earth is the bottom line. Yet   the Obama administration is strangely silent on issues of the environment – or perhaps not so strangely, considering the number of individuals with ties to Monsanto that riddle it – while candidate Mitt Romney has openly mocked environmental concerns.

Referencing Obama’s assertion in his 2008 nomination acceptance speech that “We will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment … when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” – words which, in retrospect, look more than a trifle optimistic – Romney declared that “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans,” pausing for the obligatory moment of laughter, “and to heal the planet. My promise … is to help you and your family.” While he may simply have meant that his ambitions were less grandiose, his comment left the clear implication that these are alternatives, between which we must choose.

The reality is that we are at a point in the history of humankind on Planet Earth where any attempt to help people and families must take into account the health and well-being of the local and planetary environment, or be doomed to failure. While economic stability is an important component of the sustainability equation (see this or other discussions of the “triple bottom line” – people, planet, and profits: http://www.ibrc.indiana.edu/ibr/2011/spring/article2.html), we are past the point where economics can safely be considered as something apart from, and mutually irrelevant to, ecology.

In a recent essay for the Scripps Howard News Service, columnist Bonnie Erbe has written about the economic consequences of several current and pending environmental issues, especially global climate change. These include a European study which indicates that climate change is already contributing to 400,000 deaths each year, worldwide, and costing the world’s economy more than $1.2 trillion, and the fact that in 2010, the International Displacement Monitoring Center estimated that more that 42 million people were forced to flee their homes due to disasters triggered by sudden-onset natural hazards.

Furthermore, a University of British Columbia study found that ocean fish could soon lose as much as 25% of their body weight, because they cannot maintain their weight in warming waters. The potential consequences to our food supply need no elaboration from me. MOFFA members are already well aware of the challenges to farming posed by climate change, including new and different insect pests – notably the marmorated stinkbug – as well as weather extremes ranging from droughts to flooding.

Regardless of whether one believes these events, and the climate change that causes them, are primarily anthropogenic (human-generated), primarily natural and cyclical, or something somewhere in between, they exist, and we have to deal with their consequences. Organic growers also have the deal with the consequences of the widespread use of GMOs, and the tremendous financial weight that can be brought to bear on the political process by their manufacturers, most notably Monsanto.

This election year we are electing not only a President, but one-third of our Senators and all of our Congressional Representatives. An article in Yes! Magazine (http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/a-farm-bill-only-monsanto-could-love) notes that

“the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill contains three industry-friendly provisions, numbered 10011, 10013, and 10014. Collectively, they have come to be known as the “Monsanto Rider,” and the name is entirely appropriate. If passed, this bill would make it more difficult to stem the tide of GMO foods hitting store shelves.

These three provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill would grant regulatory powers solely to the United States Department of Agriculture, preventing other federal agencies from reviewing GMO applications and preventing the USDA from accepting outside money for further study. The bill would also shorten the deadline for approval [from three years] to one year, with an optional 180-day extension. And here’s the kicker: the approval time bomb. If the USDA misses the truncated review deadline, the GMO in question is granted automatic approval.”

Yes, you read correctly. If the USDA does not have time to test and approve a proposed GMO in half the time it has now, that genetically-modified product is automatically approved as safe without any testing at all. Our Representatives need to hear from us – all of us – that this is not acceptable, and that a “yes” vote on a Bill containing these measures will carry consequences.

There is much to think about, as we move toward the 2012 elections. While the hands of the current administration are far from clean, when it comes to agriculture and the environment, its history and possible future actions must be weighed against the likely even greater deference shown to corporate interests should Obama’s opponent be elected to the Presidency. There are pluses and minuses to every choice, political and otherwise, of course; it is unlikely that anyone will agree with any candidate on every issue. But at least the elections do give us a chance to make our voices heard, and so far, at least, big-money interests have not managed to totally silence the voices of “we the people.”

Let’s get out there and exercise our franchise!

Tom Harbold writes from Hampstead, MD. Contact him at neodruid1@gmail.com.