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How Did A Commerce Ex-lecturer Convert 25 Acres of Barren Land Into A Lush Green Farm?

How Did A Commerce Ex-lecturer Convert 25 Acres of Barren Land Into A Lush Green Farm? | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
This story of the untiring efforts of a commerce ex-lecturer to convert twenty five acres of a barren piece of land into a self sustainable green farm, provides an ideal example of a model for rain...

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Tomato Plant Anatomy

Tomato Plant Anatomy | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
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Farming & Agriculture: How To Make Your Own Organic Garden Spray

How To Make Your Own Organic Garden Spray.
This spicy mixture will repel many of the insects that bother your garden. Be careful! It is hot!

 

 

 

 


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Young farmers growing food organically

 

Farming is a life of long hours fighting bugs and disease, while praying for the right weather. But Lindsay Whiteaker and Peter Halupka are discovering the rewards of planting, growing and harvesting a crop for the first time. The two 24-year-olds became commercial, organic farmers this year. They are farming on a quarter of an acre on Newby Road in the eastern Limestone area. Neither is from a farming family, but the love of nature and growing drew them to the business. The two Sparkman High graduates are long-time friends. Whiteaker, who graduated in December from the University of Alabama in Birmingham with an anthropology degree, said she had three job offers but chose farming. She said experience as a farmhand in Oregon and Minnesota, as well as spending three months involved in subsistence farming in Fiji as part a National Science Foundation program, turned her into a farmer. "I've always had a relationship with food," said Whiteaker, who once wanted to be a chef. "And I found out that growing food makes me happy."

Halupka is an art student in New York, but he now considers that a side interest to farming.

"I'd rather work 90 hours a week here on the farm than 40 hours a week somewhere else," Halupka said.

Doug Chapman, a Limestone County Extension Office agent, said it's unusual for someone who doesn't have a family history of farming to go into commercial farming.

"They need to be sensitive to the market and the demands of the customers," Chapman said. "Eventually, they'll find their niche."

Chapman said organic farming is growing, but the Southeast is the hardest region for organic farming in the United States.

"There's a huge demand for organic products," Chapman said. "But the Southeast is so difficult because of the disease and insect pressure. The climate is just conducive to insects and weeds."

The duo is finding that work weeks usually push 90 hours, as they work six days a week. Their day starts early, usually at 5, and they break at 10:30 to avoid the midday heat.

They are farming property owned by the Walker family. Carol Walker is a client of Whiteaker's mother, a Huntsville beautician.

"My mom and Carol were talking about me working in Minnesota," Whiteaker said. "And then the Walkers offered me their land last fall."

The Walkers' only request for payment is they pay part of the water bill.

The duo's lessons began early, and they admitted they're facing a steep learning curve.

"Emotionally, it's a roller coaster," Whiteaker said. "There are times when I'm so happy because we've harvested so much food. But then the next day, I'll find a plant with a disease and I'll feel like a failure."

Halupka planned to till during spring break with a hand-held tiller, but it rained the whole week. His art professors gave him permission to miss the following week, but the rain continued for another four days.

"We finally had to borrow a tractor to finish before I had to go back," Halupka said.

The unseasonably wet spring has been an issue, delaying much of their early harvest. They did get lettuce and beets, but their carrots didn't do so well, she said.

Chapman said crop production is picking up, but the wet weather increased the disease pressure on the plants. When dry weather finally took hold, Whiteaker immediately planted tomatoes instead of giving them a chance to adjust outside in small containers.

"At first, I thought I just killed all of our tomatoes," Whiteaker said. "But they bounced back OK."

"At least it would have been a collective killing, because we're a team and I've made mistakes, too," Halupka said.

They planted 451 tomato plants, plus a variety of vegetables and melons with organic heirloom seeds. These seeds are not genetically modified, and some are passed down through generations.

"They're more resistant to pests and more likely to grow rich and strong," Halupka said.

They are planning to plant some perennials such as herbs, asparagus, artichokes and fruit trees.

They don't use manufactured pesticides. Instead, they use the companion planting method: planting plants near another plant to fight pests.

For example, Halupka said, planting basil near a tomato will keep aphids away from the tomatoes.

They do use neem oil, a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem, an Indian evergreen tree, as a pesticide.

When they're not in the garden, they can vegetables and create products such as kombucha (a fermented tea), ginger ale sauerkraut and a fermented non-alcoholic beer.

They are using community-supported agriculture, a subscription-like network, to commercially support their farming venture.

A CSA client pays $360 for a half bushel of food delivered to their home for 12 weeks. The duo has six customers, with two alternates. They also sell at the Madison Farmers Market.

"We're making a living," Whiteaker said.

Whiteaker plans to visit other organic farms to learn. They both have a goal of one day buying property.


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What are certified organic farming practices? | greenopedia

What are certified organic farming practices? | greenopedia | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

A product must be grown, raised, or processed according to certain standards in order to be certified organic and display the certified organic seal on the label. But what farming practices must be followed in order to earn the certified organic status?

Organic farming practices

Organic farming practices are intended to minimize pollution, enhance environmental quality, and reduce water usage. They are also meant to protect the health of people, animals, plants and soil life, while enhancing biodiversity and ecological harmony. Chemical inputs that endanger these goals are prohibited in certified organic agriculture, and certain age-old practices must be followed instead.

For example, in order for crops and animal products to be certified organic, the farmers are prohibited from using genetically modified organisms (GMO), synthetic fertilizers, or sewage sludge. Farmers and manufacturers are also not permitted to irradiate organic food and products. Conventional pesticides are also prohibited, except those on the USDA’s approved list of pesticides.

Organic techniques

Organic farms use a variety of techniques to maintain a healthy environment and protect animals and biodiversity. Among other things, organic farming techniques are designed to:

Maintain long-term soil health by rotating cropsUse cover crops and animal manure to add nutrients to the soilManage weeds, fungus, disease, and insects through crop rotation and other biological controlsAllow livestock to graze on healthy pastures, and accommodate natural pecking or foraging behaviorsFeed livestock 100% organic grass or grain when they are not grazing outdoorsRaise livestock naturally without the use of growth hormones or antibioticsCan we trust organic farming practices are being followed?

The only way for a farm to be approved for “certified organic” status is to transition away from chemical inputs and unsustainable farming practices, and employ a more holistic approach to soil fertility, pest control, water conservation, and crop and animal health. Organic farms are inspected (often unannounced) at least once per year and are tested for prohibited chemicals. Their books are audited to ensure they maintain strict records of their methods and practices.

When consumers see the certified organic seal on their meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs, they can be confident the farm has been inspected against certified organic regulations.

Farmers can also grow crops and raise animals using organic farming methods, but not pay the fee for inspection or spend the time needed to keep strict records and file the papers for certification. In that case, you won’t see the organic label or seal on the product, so the best way to understand the farm’s methods is to contact the farm, or even pay a visit if it is close enough. Alternatively, you can visit your local farmer’s market and ask the farm’s employees directly. If the farm is not willing to talk about their farming methods, then consider buying your meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs somewhere else.

- See more at: http://greenopedia.com/article/what-are-certified-organic-farming-practices#sthash.7K4Nv2vs.dpuf

A product must be grown, raised, or processed according to certain standards in order to be certified organic and display the certified organic seal on the label. But what farming practices must be followed in order to earn the certified organic status?

Organic farming practices

Organic farming practices are intended to minimize pollution, enhance environmental quality, and reduce water usage. They are also meant to protect the health of people, animals, plants and soil life, while enhancing biodiversity and ecological harmony. Chemical inputs that endanger these goals are prohibited in certified organic agriculture, and certain age-old practices must be followed instead.

For example, in order for crops and animal products to be certified organic, the farmers are prohibited from using genetically modified organisms (GMO), synthetic fertilizers, or sewage sludge. Farmers and manufacturers are also not permitted to irradiate organic food and products. Conventional pesticides are also prohibited, except those on the USDA’s approved list of pesticides.

Organic techniques

Organic farms use a variety of techniques to maintain a healthy environment and protect animals and biodiversity. Among other things, organic farming techniques are designed to:

Maintain long-term soil health by rotating cropsUse cover crops and animal manure to add nutrients to the soilManage weeds, fungus, disease, and insects through crop rotation and other biological controlsAllow livestock to graze on healthy pastures, and accommodate natural pecking or foraging behaviorsFeed livestock 100% organic grass or grain when they are not grazing outdoorsRaise livestock naturally without the use of growth hormones or antibioticsCan we trust organic farming practices are being followed?

The only way for a farm to be approved for “certified organic” status is to transition away from chemical inputs and unsustainable farming practices, and employ a more holistic approach to soil fertility, pest control, water conservation, and crop and animal health. Organic farms are inspected (often unannounced) at least once per year and are tested for prohibited chemicals. Their books are audited to ensure they maintain strict records of their methods and practices.

When consumers see the certified organic seal on their meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs, they can be confident the farm has been inspected against certified organic regulations.

Farmers can also grow crops and raise animals using organic farming methods, but not pay the fee for inspection or spend the time needed to keep strict records and file the papers for certification. In that case, you won’t see the organic label or seal on the product, so the best way to understand the farm’s methods is to contact the farm, or even pay a visit if it is close enough. Alternatively, you can visit your local farmer’s market and ask the farm’s employees directly. If the farm is not willing to talk about their farming methods, then consider buying your meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs somewhere else.

- See more at: http://greenopedia.com/article/what-are-certified-organic-farming-practices#sthash.7K4Nv2vs.dpuf

A product must be grown, raised, or processed according to certain standards in order to be certified organic and display the certified organic seal on the label. But what farming practices must be followed in order to earn the certified organic status?

Organic farming practices

Organic farming practices are intended to minimize pollution, enhance environmental quality, and reduce water usage. They are also meant to protect the health of people, animals, plants and soil life, while enhancing biodiversity and ecological harmony. Chemical inputs that endanger these goals are prohibited in certified organic agriculture, and certain age-old practices must be followed instead.

For example, in order for crops and animal products to be certified organic, the farmers are prohibited from using genetically modified organisms (GMO), synthetic fertilizers, or sewage sludge. Farmers and manufacturers are also not permitted to irradiate organic food and products. Conventional pesticides are also prohibited, except those on the USDA’s approved list of pesticides.

Organic techniques

Organic farms use a variety of techniques to maintain a healthy environment and protect animals and biodiversity. Among other things, organic farming techniques are designed to:

Maintain long-term soil health by rotating cropsUse cover crops and animal manure to add nutrients to the soilManage weeds, fungus, disease, and insects through crop rotation and other biological controlsAllow livestock to graze on healthy pastures, and accommodate natural pecking or foraging behaviorsFeed livestock 100% organic grass or grain when they are not grazing outdoorsRaise livestock naturally without the use of growth hormones or antibioticsCan we trust organic farming practices are being followed?

The only way for a farm to be approved for “certified organic” status is to transition away from chemical inputs and unsustainable farming practices, and employ a more holistic approach to soil fertility, pest control, water conservation, and crop and animal health. Organic farms are inspected (often unannounced) at least once per year and are tested for prohibited chemicals. Their books are audited to ensure they maintain strict records of their methods and practices.

When consumers see the certified organic seal on their meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs, they can be confident the farm has been inspected against certified organic regulations.

Farmers can also grow crops and raise animals using organic farming methods, but not pay the fee for inspection or spend the time needed to keep strict records and file the papers for certification. In that case, you won’t see the organic label or seal on the product, so the best way to understand the farm’s methods is to contact the farm, or even pay a visit if it is close enough. Alternatively, you can visit your local farmer’s market and ask the farm’s employees directly. If the farm is not willing to talk about their farming methods, then consider buying your meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs somewhere else.

- See more at: http://greenopedia.com/article/what-are-certified-organic-farming-practices#sthash.7K4Nv2vs.dpuf


Via Giri Kumar
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Marty Roddy's curator insight, November 26, 2013 9:21 PM

Expensive certification_that buys littel REAL VALUE- and limits actual great food supplies

 

make it easier and SIMPLER....get farms and gardens certified