Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Well, a new story is coming to light, which is no less scary. A 5am raid on an Amish farmer, legally producing a product in his state, but being accused of some of his highly dangerous (raw milk) product being transported across state lines. Here it is.
I wonder how long it will be that we can legally eat veggies that actually touched the ground, and were not kept safe by huge wildlife exclusions zones, and piles of paperwork and regulation.
How long will our freedom of choice to buy veggies from who we like, drink milk we want (already gone in 21 states), or put salt on on dinner last? We need to stand up for our right to choose our food. (as sad as that is)
I like this quote: "Senate Bill 510 actually will strengthen the forces that have led to the consolidation of our food supply ... while harming small producers who give consumers the choice to buy fresh, healthy and local foods," said R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard in the release.
It is true. I rewatched Food, Inc. the other day and was torn again, between righteous anger at our food system and fear that documentaries like it will help cement a one-size fits all food safety system.
We need a system which does not treat a 4 acre veggie grower like Earthbound Organics. If you have not already, tell your senators you support the Tester Amendment. Here is info on it.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
We have 2 beds of a Spanish onion (Big Daddy), 2 beds of a sweet red (Mars), 4 beds of a yellow storage onion (First Edition), and 3 beds of a white sweet (these last we planted from sets as an experiment!) In addition, we have in two beds of leeks (about 1500 total) and a bed of high density leeks and onions, for baby leeks, spring onions, and torpedo style onions (the only ones we started from seed ourselves.)
All of that (about 14,000 onions by our math if things are perfect (which they never all) joins the 4-1/2 rows of garlic and 1/2 row of shallots we put in that field last fall to give us a full quarter acre of Alluims.
A quarter acre may not seem like a lot, but we are already trying to figure out how we will cure all of these onions, I don't think 11,000 onions will fit easily into our hoophouse. If each onion is only 4 ounces (which is small) that is about 86 bushels of onions (2,750 pounds.)
The scary thing is that next year, we will probably be doubling our onions!
Planting is just the beginning of the work, onions need a lot of TLC, especially weeding to keep them happy and healthy. They also need regular fertilizer application (folair feeding with fish powder and side dressing with corn gluten.) Thrips are the major pest of onions, and midlews (powdery and downy) are a huge issue.
Wish us luck as our onion season starts!
Friday, April 23, 2010
There will still be lots to do tomorrow for onion planting day, so join us 10-4 if you would like to help, but today farmer hubby and I got started and got about 1900 feet of onions planted (about 20% of what we have to do, so still lots that needs help!)
Here is a video of us watering them in. You cannot see the onions in this video, but they are there, 4 rows per bed and spaced about 4 inches apart...
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We want to get them all in before the rains start Sunday, so we will be getting some planting done in advance of Saturday, but there should still be lots to do! If we run out of onions, there are other things to help with if you would like to. This will be our first "farm help day" of the year. If we hold others will depend on the intrest we get for this one.
Park in the Armington Pond lot, turn off Quick Rd. across from the Humane Society and email us with any questions.
Friday, April 16, 2010
When you stop by tell us you read our blog, and get... Well nothing except gratitude!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
According to food safety news "The most contentious amendment in consideration, proposed by Senator John Tester (D-MT), to exempt food facilities with under $500,000 gross sales from preventative control plan requirements, and traceback and recordkeeping provisions, will not be part of the manager's amendment, but will be debated separately when the bill is brought to the floor. "
Please note that Food Safety news is on the separate side of the issue from me and thinks this amendment is "asking for trouble." But their article outlines the amendments made and pending clearly so here is the link: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/04/farmers-make-gains-in-senate-battle/
I would ask you to call your senators and ask them to support the Tester Amendment and support your local farms.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
You may have heard:
- You will have to pay $500 and be subjected to inspections to grow your own garden!
- It will outlaw organics!
- It will end Farmers Markets and CSAs!
- It will mean only GMO seeds can be sold!
These things are NOT true. The law will not do this, your garden will not be illegal and your farmers market is safe, you will still be able to buy organic veggies and avoid GMO varieties.
But it will have significant impacts. Basically the problem is this - it is trying to apply a one size fits all mold to farms and food producers, across the board, regardless of size of the grower (/producer) or means of distribution.
- It is NOT limited only to products involved in interstate commerce, which means that the food your farmer grows for your local farmers market is not exempt.
- It does NOT recognize differences in farm size, which means a 10 member CSA will have to pay the same fee, complete the same paperwork, and compile the same Hazard Plan as a multi-thousand acre non-diversified farm.
- It puts the FDA in charge of farmers production methods. Is this really the right place for this to be? Shouldn't this be a Department of Agriculture issue? People who deal with farms and not pharmaceutical factories?
- Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system will apply to even the smallest local food processor. This means that the person making cupcakes or jelly for market will be considered legally the same as Kraft food.
But honestly, my biggest concern is not for this bill today. In all probability, if it passes the worst that will happen with small producers is they have to pay their $500, because the amount of work involved in implementing this involves is so large that it will be years before they work their way down to the 2 acre grower. BUT it will set up a framework to institute regulation whenever public opinion blows.
So lets say that in 5 years there is a U-pick strawberry farm somewhere which gets contaminated somehow with something? Lets say, hypothetically, that 24 children who picked strawberries there get very ill, a couple may even die. With this law in place it would be a matter of REGULATION not LEGISLATION that U-pick berry farms are no longer compliant with food safety laws.
Lets say that in 7 years there is a farmers market somewhere where jalapenos which are contaminated with something are sold. They trace it back to a farmer who had a deer walk across his field. There is not necessarily proof that that is the source of the contamination, but since we know that animals should not be within 1000 feet of food (California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement) new REGULATION not LEGISLATION is put in place that any food grown within 200 feet of evidence (footprints) of animals must be destroyed.
Lets get crazy and say that in 20 years there is a problem somewhere and good diligent organic farmers by compost from a company who has produced a bad, contaminated product. People in 4 states get sick, 25 die. Now you can no longer use compost in farms via the stroke of a pen.
I am all for food safety, but I feel that the small grower is a pretty safe bet from a safety standpoint. We are NOT the same as big farms and should not be treated such.
We need to call and let our Senators know that we do not agree with 510. Since it is pretty much guaranteed to pass (which senator will risk being against food safety, and be accused during the next election of being responsible for death of the next child to be victim to a food contamination outbreak) we need to support amendments which exempt small producers.
One size does not fit all!
Orginizations who support this bill have spent over $7,000,000 in donations, those who oppose it less then half a million. Wow, what a diffrence.
Want to guess what side big business is on? Here's a clue, it is not on the side of small farmers!
No difrenetnation between a producer who grossed $500, $5,000, $50,000, or $50 million, same fees, same paper work, same requirements. Does this make sense?
CALL TODAY! http://www.westonaprice.org/Urgent-Action-Alert-on-Senate-Food-Safety-Bill.html Let them know you support the Tester ammendment.
"The Committee version of the bill does NOT address my concerns, and I urge the Senator to support the Tester Amendment to exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill."
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I will post more about it tommrow, but this is an important issue for small farms (and as importantly small and home food producers) so I ask each of you to look into it as well. For more information click here.
April 10, 2010
Re: Senate Bill 510 – Local Foods and Farms May be at Risk
Dear Friends and Lovers of Local, Sustainable Foods,
I am writing to let you know about S.510, a food safety bill which has been named the “Food Safety Modernization Act”. Having read the bill and analysis and commentary on the bill, I have come to the conclusion that S. 510, if passed, may have the (seemingly) unintended consequence of compromising and potentially eliminating altogether many small farms, and along with that consumer access to local food – whether at farmer’s markets, through a CSA (community supported agriculture), or in farm to table restaurants. All without addressing the root cause of the past food contamination problems.
As you may have already gathered, I oppose - strongly oppose – S.510. I am sending this email letter to you because it is my hope that after you read this you will consider calling your Senator and expressing your own opinion about this. This can be relatively easy. I have included at the end of this email an “Action Alert” from the Cornucopia Institute (a non-profit educational organization which supports the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture). The Alert provides simple instructions for contacting your Senator, with some suggestions for what you might want to say
The companion bill to S.510 passed the House last year, and it is predicted that this Bill may come before the Senate for a vote as early as this coming Tuesday, April 13. In addition to moving pretty quickly, the bill also seems to be somewhat of a sleeper. Although its impact on small, local farms will be considerable, potentially devastating, there seems to be very little awareness of it among the members of the local farms/local foods community. All attention (if any) has been focused upon the so-called “Leafy Greens” regulatory process which has been traveling around the country, with the “Produce Safety Project” hosting “stakeholders” meetings between representatives of the prospective regulators (the FDA, the USDA), farmers, and research academics
S. 510 provides extensive, onerous, expensive regulatory requirements, all done in a “one size fits all” manner (meaning that the same rules would be applicable to both the enormous industrial farms and to small local farms). Farm registration, hazard analysis and controls, extensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements, extensive traceability documentation, etc. The bill provides for the establishment of detailed standards regarding the manner in which a farmer may grow, water, nurture, harvest and store his crops, what animals may come in contact with his crops (possibly none), and so forth – seemingly every aspect of the farmer’s food growing operation. The FDA would be given sweeping enforcement authority - the power to enter the farm, to order food to be quarantined or recalled, to order the farm to be shut down, etc. – all under very subjective standards which leave a lot of room for abuse and/or mistakes. If you are at all familiar with the USDA’s or FDA’s track record under their already extensive regulatory authority, you know that it is not exactly exemplary. This history, with respect to small farms in particular, is replete with stories of arbitrary, capricious and often just plain ignorant (and highly subjective) enforcement operations. A little “oops” by the Feds and a small farmer already operating with a very small profit margin faces the risk of being forced out of business.
Viewed most charitably, the bill is a poorly thought out reaction to the food safety problems of recent years (remember the E. Coli on spinach coming out of California?). What the bill overlooks is that virtually all of the recent food safety scandals have been linked directly to large, industrial scale agricultural operations. The main threats to food safety, even according to the government proponents of the bill, are centralized production, centralized processing, and long distance transportation. These are attributes of the industrial food system, certainly not of the small, local, sustainable and/or organic farmers who typically sell at farmer’s markets, through their own CSA or directly to restaurants. In fact, the food produced by family and local farms, often organic and sustainable, is probably the safest in the nation. This makes sense, when you stop to think about it. These farmers know first-hand the importance of food safety. It is for them a way of life. They and their family members work in the fields. They eat the same food that they sell us (OK, maybe they eat the stuff with the bumps and bruises). They know that if there is a problem there will be no hiding behind the food consolidator, the packing house or the long distance transportation operation. When we buy local product we know the identity of the farmer who grew the food, and many of us also have the opportunity of getting to know the farmer. Food safety safeguards are very naturally built into local food systems.
Once we understand that the main threats to food safety involve large scale industrial agriculture, it is readily apparent that it makes no sense to impose upon small local farms the onerous and complex regulatory and record-keeping requirements which may be appropriate to control the “big guys” with their disturbing record on food safety. The larger operations will be able to absorb these costs – the fees as well as the time cost of extensive recordkeeping and documentation. The small, local farmers will not. Many of them are already operating at the margin, settling for a very small income in order to be able to continue doing what they love, playing their part in building a local, sustainable food supply for our communities. And any of you who have friends in this community know that they are already at or below the minimum amount of sleep required to sustain human life, especially during growing and harvesting season.
As I considered S.510 Bill and the surrounding issues, I found myself asking the question, who will benefit from this legislation, if passed? The answer, I believe, is that large agricultural business will be the winner. Congress and the public may think that it is the public that is benefitting – there has been a lot of hoopla about food safety in the past couple of years. Some of it is certainly justified – there have been significant breaches in the safety of our food supply, virtually all of them linked to big agriculture (E. coli on fresh spinach, melamine in dairy products, Salmonella in peanut butter, to name a few). By inducing the public to believe that their food is safe, and by crippling or shutting down the smaller and increasingly “thorn in the side” sustainable, local, organic farmers whose message and offerings of safe, healthy, sustainable, community enhancing food is catching on in this culture, this bill looks to me mostly like a vehicle for large agricultural interests to increase their markets.
Thank you for reading this far. If you share even some of my views on this Bill, you may agree that it is important to let your Senator know about this before the upcoming vote (which may occur as early as Tuesday, April 13). If you would like to do this, please continue on and read the Action Alert from the Cornucopia Institute which I have included in the balance of this email. This Action Alert provides simple suggestions for expressing your concerns to your Senator, including how to contact him or her and discussion points. Cornucopia encourages people who support small, local farmers – people like most of us - to support the proposed amendment to S.510 offered by Senator Tester, (D-MT), who is actually a certified organic farmer. While this amendment may not be perfect, in terms of the goal of protecting and preserving the viability of small local farms, it is all the best that we have, and I encourage you to support it.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Here is a video highlight from our day of potato planting.
Farmer Hubby rigged our new cultivator to cover them and WOW did it make it so much nicer then last year! Over 1300 feet in today, with about that much still to do would be hard without equipment to help, as it was it was a full day process, to hill, apply fertilizer, put the potatoes in and then cover them.
(This is the first time I tryed uploading video from my cell!)
Friday, April 9, 2010
From what he could gather the customer was a pretty new produce grower and seemed eager to plant everything NOW! Raymond Yoder (the owner of the business) looked at him and said, with great wisdom "The calender doesn't lie, it will be cold again."
Now I am looking out the window of my office at sleet pounding down. Exceptional warm year or not, it will be cold again when it is the first week of April and you live in Northern Ohio!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
On Tuesday while Farmer Hubby was happily discing the seat on the tractor broke! It is hard to use a tractor with no seat, and work needed to be done, so he welded a quick fix and got back on the seat, and I worried about him falling to his death and being overrun by a run away tractor (and disc.)
Well before he went back out he ordered a new seat from Rural King. That was on Tuesday around lunch time.
Well yesterday he came in for lunch and saw a BIG box sitting on the porch. He cringed thinking they had packed all our onions into one big box instead of individual cases, but when he opened it his new seat was in the box! 26 hours from ordering it to it getting to us from Indianapolis.
Now that is service, and a company who understands the importance of speed to farmers in the critical spring season.
Thanks Rural King! (I guess UPS should be thanked to...)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
With luck and some hard work within a week all 500 pounds of potatoes will be in the ground! Also, the bushel of onions we are trying as sets. That is only a couple thousand onions, but not to worry, our 5 cases of starts (about 2000 each and how we normally grow onions) are due to be delivered sometime next week. Between onions, leeks, and garlic we have about 1/4 acre so everyone should have their fill!
Cabbage and lettuce should soon follow, and than step by step through the spring planting season until the eggplants and peppers are put in after all threat of frost has passed!
There have been years when we are pushing to be 100% plowed by this week in May! I will take this weather (warm and dry) but I really hope that the summer does not prove this dry or we will be testing our irrigation capacity!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Easy! You can take our seed saving class next Saturday (April 10th) and walk away with a tray of 72 seedlings you started and the confidence to care for them yourself...
Check out details here: and email us with any questions or to register. (Preregistration is required.)
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
After much deliberation we have decided that we think that this local food thing is just a fad. So we have decided to get out of farming. Don't worry, CSA members, we have you covered.
I hope to continue to blog here about our adventures in the new "FAIR MILE" world, with our dinners of Chicken Nuggets and imported asparagus. In fact, I will probably go out of my way to avoid local food, because (after all) I DO care.