In the past, the New CT Farmer Alliance has held farm tours during the summer, which was a great time to see, quite literally, the fruits of our CT farmers’ labor. However, summers have proven to be a difficult time to gather farmers since it is the peak of the season and hard to get off the farm. This year we are doing things a little differently to address that by hosting two bigger and more centrally located gatherings during the ‘bookends’ of the season (spring and fall shindigs) with more regionally focused summer potlucks.
NCTFA kicked off their events of the 2015 growing season with a spring shindig at Sub Edge Farm in Farmington on May 3rd. The event brought together farmers from around the state for an opportunity to meet other CT farmers, learn how Sub Edge has started off their season, and enjoy a great taco bar, local beer, and fantastic spring weather.
One of the benefits the New CT Farmer Alliance offers to its members is access to our statewide list-serv from which you can communicate with fellow CT farmers and hear about relevant news and events within our agricultural community.
Our list-serv has been active for a few years now but, in order to improve the communication that has already been taking place, we are transitioning to Google Groups. Google offers a more accessible list-serv to our members and is easier to operate and maintain.
If you wish to continue being a part of our list-serv, or would like to join it, please officially become a NCTFA member*. We will be deleting the Yahoo Groups List-serv after March 1, 2015. You will only be subscribed to this one list-serv and can adjust whether you would like to receive each individual e-mail or a daily digest of all the e-mails from that day.
To become a member, you must fill out our Membership Form. There are no fees or dues to becoming a member. By becoming a member, we will be able to learn more about you and your farm and can therefore tailor future events to our membership’s needs. In addition to having access to the list-serv, we will inform you of in-person networking and social events that we host, as well as other agricultural events that our service provider partners offer. In short, we hope to provide our members with a greater sense of community and are excited to welcome you into this community.
*If you have already filled out the membership form in the past, whether in person or online, you will automatically be subscribed to our new list-serv.
The NCTFA Steering Committee and Staff would like to thank you for your continued involvement and patience during this transition. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Hartford, CT – On February 20, 2015, nearly 100 CT farmers came out for our 2nd Annual Meeting and Hootenanny located at The Dirt Salon. The event, sponsored by Farm Credit East, the Funny Money Fund, Kahn Tractor, The Farmer’s Cow, and Executive Valet, began with live music from The Sawtelles, local food and beer, and a chance for farmers to meet and network with eachother. The meeting also featured various stations, such as a “Where’s Your Farm?” CT map display, ideas and feedback for the Alliance, a raffle with prizes from generous local donors, and a brief business meeting presentation from the NCTFA Steering Committee.
During the business meeting the steering committee discussed its year in review, upcoming programming for 2015, NCTFA news including a list-serv transition to Google Groups which you can access by becoming a member on our homepage under ‘Join us’, the year’s budget, ways members can get involved, and also included an election of the 2015 steering committee. If you are interested in learning more by viewing the full presentation, you can access it here.
The meeting was part of NCTFA’s mission to host a social event each year in order to grow membership and meet new farmers, as well as to celebrate the farming community’s achievements in the past year. The aim of NCTFA is to support the next generation of growers, specifically those who are small in scale, first generation farmers, new or beginning farmers, market direct-to-consumer and use sustainable growing practices.
If you are interested in getting more involved with the Alliance, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check back on our website for future postings of events we will be hosting.
This event would not have been possible without our generous sponsors and donors.
2015 Annual Meeting Sponsors: Farm Credit East (Large Tractor Level); The Funny Money Fund (from an anonymous sponsor – Small Tractor Level); Kahn Tractor, The Farmer’s Cow (Disk Harrow Level); Executive Valet (Digging Fork Level).
Food and Drink Donors: Firebox; Sweet Sage Bakery; Whole Foods; Mystic Cheese Co.; Urban Oaks Organic Farm; Get Baked; Farmer’s Cow; Black Hog Brewing Co.; and City Steam Brewery.
Prize Donors: High Mowing Seeds; Foodworks Market; Cafemantic; Urban Oaks; Terry Walters; It’s Only Natural; National Young Farmers Coaltion; CT Dept. of Agriculture; Buy CT Grown; Steve Ginsburg; Comstock, Ferre & Co.; and Firebox.
To view more pictures from this event, ‘like’ us on Facebook and click on Photos > Albums.
UPCOMING EVENTS – WINTER 2015
February 7 – Vegetable Pest & Disease Workshop I – Cucurbits and Brassicas (For Beginning Farmers, open to everyone), in Torrington, CT, 8:30am – 1 pm. For more information contact Joan.Allen@uconn.edu or 860-486-6740. Register here: www.extension.uconn.edu/root/feb-veg-wkshp.php
February 10 – 10% Campaign Partner Lunch, at the Tolland Ag Center, Hyde Ave, Vernon CT from 12-2 pm. For more information contact email@example.com or call 860-875-3331
February 11 – 12 – 2015 Soil and Nutrition Conference – NOFA MASS – First Churches, 129 Main Street, Northampton, MA. Register here: www.nofamass.org/events/2015-soil-and-nutrition-conference#.VNTi0VPF9oE
February 14 – Vegetable Pest & Disease Workshop II – Solanaceae & Legumes (For Beginning Farmers, open to everyone), in Vernon, CT, 8:30 to 1 pm. For more information contact Joan.Allen@uconn.edu or 860-486-6740. Register here: www.extension.uconn.edu/root/feb-veg-wkshp.php
February 17 – Connecticut Food System Alliance Gathering: Food and the Economy, The University of St. Joseph, West Hartford, CT, 8:30am – 2:35 pm, open to all. To RSVP email CFSAcoordinator@hartfordfood.org
February 18 – Ins and Outs of Workers’ Compensation for Farm Owners – Connecticut Farm Bureau Office – 775 Bloomfield Avenue, Windsor, CT. No charge but RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-768-1107 by 2/16/15
February 19 – Safe & Effective Use of Organic Pesticides, at Scout Hall Youth Center, East Windsor – 9:30am to 3:30pm – open to all, coordinated by the Scaling Up Program. For more information: www.newfarms.extension.uconn.edu or email@example.com or call 860-875-3331
February 20 – New CT Farmer Alliance’s Annual Meeting & Hootenanny, in Hartford, CT, 5-10 pm – open to all farmers – for more information: www.newctfarmers.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
February 25-26 – Harvest New England Ag Marketing Conference and Trade Show, in Sturbridge, MA, Register here: www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1640652
February 26 – One-On-One Consultation Sessions with Agricultural Professionals, Southington High School, for more information contact email@example.com or 860-885-2821
March 7 – CT NOFA Annual Winter Conference, Western CT State University, Midtown Campus, 181 White Street, Danbury, CT, 8:30am – 5pm, Register here: www.ctnofa.org/winterconference
March 18 – One-On-One Consultation Sessions with Agricultural Professionals, New London Extension Center, Norwich, for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-885-2821
March 28 – One-On-One Consultation Sessions with Agricultural Professionals, Common Ground High School, New Haven, for more information contact email@example.com or 860-885-2821
We encourage you to RSVP to help us with planning, though it is not required. If you RSVP, you will be entered into a raffle for a prize!
Farmers and service providers came together for the Connecticut Build Your Network, Grow Our Future Conference on December 9, 2014. In just the second time around, the conference attracted more than double the number of attendees from the inaugural event. It featured statewide agricultural service providers; talks on key resources for new and
beginning farmers, including crop insurance; the premiere of the Scaling Up videos; an established farmer panel; opportunities to network; and workshops on strategically growing your farm enterprise and making & selling value-added products. The event was sponsored by UConn Extension’s Scaling Up Program for New & Beginning Farmers and the USDA Risk Management Agency. For more information on specific parts of the event, see below:
Highlighted Opportunities from Service Providers:
- FSA MicroLoan Program,
- NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and
- CT Dept of Agriculture Farmland Restoration Program
Key Resources for New and Beginning Farmers:
- New Farmer Bucket List: an extensive list of key resources for new CT farmers
- Scaling Up: a Project for Beginning Farmers: list of resources from UConn Extension
- Connecticut Farm Risk Management and Crop Insurance Program
Scaling Up Videos by UConn Extension:
- Link to all of the videos, featuring Beltane Farm, The Hickories, Provider Farm, and Massaro Community Farm.
The Established CT Farmer Panel:
The panel, facilitated by Susan Mitchell of the New CT Farmer Alliance, consisted of Paul Trubey of Beltane Farm, Steve Munno of Massaro Community Farm, Kerry Taylor of Provider Farm, and Dina Brewster of The Hickories. The topics included:
- Who is the first person you contacted in CT once you started farming and how did you find this person?
- What has been the most successful or helpful grant/program you have participated in?
- What would you have done if you hadn’t gotten this funding? (ie. How would you have worked around it or what else would you have done?)
- What are the steps to get money or get access to these programs?
- How did you get to know other farmers?
- Is there a great “hidden” program or person you discovered?
- For soil health, who is your go-to provider?
- For fruit/vegetable pest or disease issues, who is your go-to provider?
- For animal health, who is your go-to provider?
- What’s the next opportunity that you are waiting for? Project/Grant/Program you wish was here?
- Can CT support growth? The local food movement is growing…
- If you are interested to the panelists’ answers to these questions and the resources they have used, click here.
For information about the workshop leaders, visit their websites:
Strategically Growing Your Farm Enterprise:
- Dave Liker, owner, Gorman Farms, Laurel, Maryland – http://www.gormanproducefarm.com/
- Jody Bolluyt, Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook, New York – http://www.roxburyfarm.com/
Making and Selling Value-Added Products:
- Laura McKinney, owner, Riverbank Farm- http://www.riverbankfarm.com/_/Home.html
- Diane Hirsch, Food Safety Educator, UConn Extension – http://www.extension.uconn.edu/extension-centers/newHaven.php
Couldn’t make it to this event or simply seeking more opportunities to network? Stay tuned for details about the New CT Farmer Alliance’s upcoming annual meeting in February! We will post details soon on our site here: http://newctfarmers.com/category/events/.
Jean-Martin Fortier, a micro-farmer and educator also known as the Market Gardener, presented a workshop through the Yale Sustainable Food Project Speaker Series on December 2, 2014. Fortier, a native to Quebec, specializes in organic and biologically intense practices that allow him to cultivate only 1.5 acres of land, yet still gross more than $100,000 per acre.
Fortier began by explaining his journey to farming. While studying at McGill University, he and his wife were inspired to go to Cuba, where they had learned about their successful use of permanent raised beds without the reliance of fossil fuels at any point during production. Lessons learned in Cuba set the stage for Fortier’s own designs back in Quebec, where he currently standardizes his practice to:
- a total of 10 fields
- 30-inch wide permanent beds
- bed lengths of 100-feet
- aisle spacing of 18-inches
Fortier emphasized that this design largely contributed to his success. Standardization allows him to reuse materials, such as tarps and remay, at any given location on his farm. 18-inch aisles allow just enough space in the rows without giving away too much for paths, but also without being too cramped. 30-inch beds require Fortier to plant more bio-intensely as well as creatively.
The Market Gardener explained that when he plants his 30-inch beds with biologically intensive cropping practices, plant growth results in a canopy over the soil, which retains moisture and nutrients. While some might argue that this would result in a smaller product, Fortier showed how as long as there is soil depth and structure to allow for the plants to deeply root themselves, they will not compete with one another for resources. On the farm, he also lightly harrows the soil about 1 inch down which both helps to support soil structure and a healthy earthworm environment. Fortier compared rototilling the soil overtime to putting it in a blender, which renders it much more difficult for the plants’ roots to reach down as far.
On such a small plot of land, Fortier also has to be creative with his planting practices. Many local farmers may already be familiar with a few of the techniques he uses, such as trellising cucumbers and grafting tomatoes, but he also talked about a few other interesting experiments: growing onions in groups of 3 to maximize space and burying leeks rather than hilling them to produce a longer white stalk. He rotates the crops in his 10 different fields counterclockwise each year and plans their placement depending on where they can receive the maximum amount of nutrients based on which plant was previously there. Fortier mentioned that this careful planning is what supports the efficient functionality of his farm. He transplants everything to allow for quick transitions between crops and to also give the plants a head start on weeds. Fortier explained that this practice is more for weed prevention rather than control, and that UV-treated silage tarps are also essential in his weed prevention practices.
In addition to all of this information, Fortier shared many anecdotes and images from his farm while he delivered his inspiring workshop. He also talked about various tools that help him on his tractor-free farm, and describes them in depth on his website. Fortier continues to educate people through speaking tours, workshops, conferences, the media and his book, The Market Gardener.
Organic micro-farmer and author of The Market Gardener, Jean-Martin Fortier, will lead a workshop on successful small-scale organic farming. Fortier professionally entered agriculture by operating low-tech, low-carbon and high-yield market gardens, and you can too.
4pm – 5pm, December 2, 2014 at
St. Anthony Hall, Yale University
New Haven CT
Sponsored by the Yale Sustainable Food Program. More information here.