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Tag: healthy soil

At the MOFFA Winter Meeting – soil health tops the agenda

At the MOFFA Winter Meeting – soil health tops the agenda

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…

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Stewardship is a top priority at Next Step Produce

Stewardship is a top priority at Next Step Produce

Nineteen of us traveled to Newburg, Md to participate in the START Farmer’s Network tour of Next Step Produce.  Heinz Thomet  and Gabrielle Lajoie purchased the farm in 1999 after carefully looking for the best place to grow organic produce for direct sale to consumers.  I covered some of the reasons why they purchased the Charles County farm in a blog post last year. A number of the farm guests participated in this START Farmer’s Network tour for the first time, intrigued by the reputation of…

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START Farmers’ Network visits Sassafras Creek Farm!

START Farmers’ Network visits Sassafras Creek Farm!

Soon after we gathered, Jennifer and David Paulk explained their unlikely transition into farming. Since David was career U.S. Navy, they have lived all over the country. However, gardening has always been a hobby that both enjoyed. His last assignment brought the couple to Southern Maryland and they purchased a house with a 1-acre field to enjoy their hobby. Approaching retirement, David said that his work inside the beltway was particularly stressful and he realized that when he would get…

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Twilight Crops Tour Part 2: from heritage corn to college cafeterias!

Twilight Crops Tour Part 2: from heritage corn to college cafeterias!

Last week, I covered half of the stops on the Twilight Crops Tour held August 7th. Today I will cover the rest, in no particular order. So what else is new and happening at the Experiment Station? In his research project entitled Open Pollinated Corn trials, Herb Reid has been searching for characteristics in heritage varieties that farmers may find valuable. Coincidentially, I’ve been reading Dan Barber’s The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, and he begins his…

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Whimsy and wonder on the Twilight Crops Tour

Whimsy and wonder on the Twilight Crops Tour

When we see a great farming approach or new cultivar and we use it, it seems like that idea becomes our own. We have taken a risk and used a recommended approach/product and it worked. However, most of us do not have the time to conduct our own research and experiments and we forget from whence our ‘great ideas’ originally came. Many times, they have come from land-grant college experimental farms like the Central Maryland Research and Education Center in…

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Conventional and organic farmers unite!

Conventional and organic farmers unite!

Farmers did not used to be categorized as conventional or organic. They were much more independent and they followed many farming styles. In the last century, agriculture has gone through profound changes and farmers seems to have settled into two camps: conventional (using approved commercial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides) and organic (for simplicity, I am including all those who do not use commercial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, including Certified Naturally Grown.) While they use different farming practices, I believe that…

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Hurricanes should remind us of the importance of healthy soil

Hurricanes should remind us of the importance of healthy soil

For farmers, heavy rains can be worse than severe droughts. They can prevent seed germination, destroy fragile seedlings, drown crops, and prevent harvest. After the soil dries, the soil can crust over, creating further problems during a following dry spell. In the last two years, most farmers in Maryland have experienced both heavy rains, as a result of hurricanes, and major drought. These events should remind us of the importance of healthy soil. For some time, Ray Archuleta, with Natural…

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