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Spring, 2005 Vol. 2, No.

64 Publication of the Northeast Organic Farming Association ISSN 1077-2294

Inside This Issue
NOFA Interstate Council Retreat 8
Finding NOFAs Voice 36
NOFA Manuals Completed 37
Michael Phillips Honored 37
The Magic of PEAS 37
Supplement on
Youth & Agriculture
Yale Sustainable Food Project 9
Ridge & Velley Charter School 11
Agriculture as Therapy for the Young 12
The Food Project 14
Rochester School-Community Gardens 18
Vermond FEED Project 20
Seeds Of Solidarity 22
Green Chimneys 24
Farm & Wilderness Camps 26
Finding Common Ground in New Haven 30
YouthGROW in Worcester 32
Editorial 2
Letters 2
News Notes 4
NOFA Exchange 6
Book Reviews 34
NOFA Contacts 38
Calendar 38
NOFA Membership Information 38
by Kathleen Litchfield
The NOFA Summer Conference. From the first
time I heard the phrase, I knew I had to go. I was
interning in northern Virginia, farming 10 acres
of organic vegetables and selling them in Wash-
ington, D.C. As the relentless sun bore upon my
shoulders and sweat trickled beneath my broad-
rimmed cotton hat, I paused and held one of 24
varieties of heirloom tomatoes in my hand,
pricked up my ears and tuned into our New
England farm visitors, two rows away harvesting
the hybrids.
There are so many workshops that I cant decide
which ones to attend, I heard. And theres a big
dance Saturday night and a farmers market, and
all sorts of things to do and people to meet.
That did it. A year after my internship ended, I
fulfilled what became my new mission I got
involved with the Northeast Organic Farming
Association, whose members are the founders
and coordinators of the annual conference that is
now in its 31st year.
While the conference has grown exponentially,
evolving with the times and needs of its agricul-
tural clientele, it has remained the culminating
event of yet another years farming cycle.
And while snow is whirling outside my window
and Im strapping on cross country skis this
afternoon, you can be assured my red pen has
already crossed August 2005 in my new calendar
the rest of my summer plans are coming after
this highlight.
Mark Your Calendar: August 11-14, 2005
In case you havent yet heard, or if youve been
hibernating for the last three decades, the 31st
annual NOFA Summer Conference will descend
upon Hampshire College from August 11-14,
From the time the pre-conference gets underway
Thursday afternoon through the aforementioned
big dance on Saturday evening, this homegrown
event will be jam packed with educational,
practical and philosophical workshops, films,
activities, the fair, the folk dancing and the fun
for children, teens and adults.
And if youre not one of those, theres probably
still something that will knock your socks off in
one way or another, including the pre-conference
on bio-diesel and the always-lively Saturday
evening debate (topic to be determined).
Keynoter Satish Kumar
Our keynote speaker, Satish Kumar, will address
the masses on Friday evening, August 12th. Born
in a small village of Rajastan, India, Kumar
joined the wandering brotherhood of Jain monks
at age nine. At 18, passionately turned on by
Gandhis philosophies, he began campaigning for
land reform and peace. Following an 8,000-mile
peace pilgrimage during which he encountered
some of lifes harrowing adventures, he settled in
England and is presently the director of
Summer Conference Scheduled August 11 - 14
programmes at Schumacher College, a resi-
dential international center for the study of
ecological and spiritual values.
For the last 30 years since the founding of
the NOFA Summer Conference in fact
Kumar has been the editor of Resurgence
Magazine, a highly regarded tome of ecology,
spirituality and frugality.
Resurgence is packed full of positive ideas
about the theory and practice of good living:
permaculture, community supported agricul-
ture, local economics, ecological building,
sacred architecture, art in the environment,
small schools and deep ecology, reads the
About page of its website,
A writer, philosopher, community activist,
nature lover and peace advocate, Kumar
epitomizes these ideas and was awarded the
Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Pro-
moting Gandhian Values Abroad in November
of 2001. Previously, he was awarded honorary
doctorates in literature from the University of
Lancaster and in education from the Univer-
sity of Plymouth.
We are honored to have him speak and he is
sure to inspire us during his keynote presenta-
tion. Watch upcoming issues of The Natural
Farmer for a personal interview with Kumar.
Help Spread the Word!
In a week or so you will be receiving informa-
tion in the mail regarding Summer Conference
advertisements, exhibits and sponsors. If you
or someone you know is interested in purchas-
ing an ad in the Summer Conference booklet,
hosting a table during the conference, or
sponsoring a portion of the conference, youll
find all of the info you need in this mailing.
Youll also receive a mini-poster that you can
post in your community to help NOFA publi-
cize the conference. You can even photocopy it
and enjoy a winters walk around town putting
up posters!
In early May youll also be receiving Summer
Conference registration information, with a
final list of the workshops that have been
Logo & Theme Contest Winner Announced
Were pleased to announce the winner of this
years NOFA Summer Conference Logo &
Theme Contest: Randy Buck of Barre, Massa-
(continued on page 33)
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 2
To the editor:
I was disappointed by Karen Franczyks article [in
the Fall, 2004 issue ed.] The Price of Organic
Consuming. Instead of an analysis of Whole
Foods as a purveyor of organic foods, the article
reads like an ad for the store. Franczyk offers chatty
observations about the customers, but no insight
into the prices Whole Foods charges, its contracts
with farmers or its personnel policies and salaries. I
suppose it would be awkward for an employee of
Whole Foods to examine the stores labor policy. I
doubt that I am the only TNF reader who would like
to know the truth behind Whole Foods reputation as
Those of us who were friends of Russell Van
Hazinga, NOFA-MAs first certified organic dairy
farmer, would like to know why Whole Foods
dropped Russells products in favor of buying milk
from Horizon. Russell was never able to replace
that market. A few cents per gallon of savings for
Whole Foods pushed Russell into a financial crisis
that forced him to sell his cows.
If we are going to educate customers and help
make people more aware of the issues facing
organic farmers, as Franczyk suggests, we should
start with the realities of the economic system that
gives big entities like Whole Foods much more
power than small farms like Russells.
For the prices Whole Foods charges, they should be
able to afford fair contracts for their farmer-suppli-
ers and freedom of association for their employees!
Letters to the Editor:
The Natural Farmer is the newspaper of the Northeast
Organic Farming Association (NOFA). Regular members
receive a subscription as part of their dues, and others
may subscribe for $10 (in the US or $18 outside the US).
It is published four times a year at 411 Sheldon Rd.,
Barre, MA 01005. The editors are Jack Kittredge and
Julie Rawson, but most of the material is either written by
members or summarized by us from information people
send us.
Upcoming Issue Topics - We plan a year in advance so
that folks who want to write on a topic can have a lot of
lead time. The next 3 issues will be:
Summer 2005 Cucurbits
Fall 2005 Alternative On-Farm Energy
Winter 2005-06 Organic Fine Dining
Moving or missed an issue? The Natural Farmer will not
be forwarded by the post office, so you need to make sure
your address is up-to-date if you move. You get your
subscription to this paper in one of two ways. Direct
subscribers who send us $10 are put on our database here.
These folks should send address changes to us. Most of
you, however, get this paper as a NOFA member benefit
for paying your chapter dues. Each quarter every NOFA
chapter sends us address labels for their paid members,
which we use to mail out the issue. If you moved or
didnt get the paper, your beef is with your state chapter,
not us. Every issue we print an updated list of NOFA
Contact People on the last page, for a handy reference to
all the chapter names and addresses.
As a membership paper, we count on you for articles, art
and graphics, news and interviews, photos on rural or
organic themes, ads, letters, etc. Almost everybody has a
special talent or knows someone who does. If you cant
write, find someone who can to interview you. Wed like
to keep the paper lively and interesting to members, and
we need your help to do it.
We appreciate a submission in any form, but are less
likely to make mistakes with something typed than hand-
written. To be a real gem, send it via electronic mail
( or enclose a computer disk (MacIntosh
or PC in Microsoft Word ideally.) Also, any graphics,
photos, charts, etc. you can enclose will almost certainly
make your submission more readable and informative. If
you have any ideas or questions, one of us is usually near
the phone - (978) 355-2853, fax: (978) 355-4046. The
NOFA Interstate Council website is
ISSN 1077-2294
copyright 2005,
Northeast Organic Farming Association
The Natural Farmer
Needs You!
Advertisements not only bring in TNF revenue, which
means less must come from membership dues, they also
make a paper interesting and helpful to those looking for
specific goods or services. We carry 2 kinds of ads:
The NOFA Exchange - this is a free bulletin board
service for NOFA members and TNF subscribers. Send in
up to 100 words (business or personal) and well print it
free in the next issue. Include a price (if selling) and an
address or phone number so readers can contact you
directly. If youre not a NOFA member, you can still send
in an ad - just send $5 along too! Send NOFA Exchange
ads directly to The Natural Farmer, 411 Sheldon Rd.,
Barre, MA 01005 or (preferably) E-mail to
Display Ads - this is for those offering products or
services on a regular basis! You can get real attention
with display ads. Send camera ready copy to Dan
Rosenberg, PO Box 40, Montague, MA 01351 (413) 863-
9063 and enclose a check for the appropriate size. The
sizes and rates are:
Full page (15" tall by 10" wide) $300
Half page (7 1/2" tall by 10" wide) $155
One-third page (7 1/2" tall by 6 1/2" wide) $105
One-quarter page (7 1/2" tall by 4 7/8" wide) $80
One-sixth page (7 1/2" tall by 3 1/8" wide), or
(3 3/4" tall by 6 1/2" wide) $55
Business card size (1 1/2" tall by 3 1/8" wide) $15
Note: These prices are for camera ready copy. If you
want any changes we will be glad to make them - or to
typeset a display ad for you - for $10 extra. Just send us
the text, any graphics, and a sketch of how you want it to
look. Include a check for the space charge plus $10.
Advertise in or Sponsor The Natural Farmer
Frequency discounts: if you buy space in several issues
you can qualify for substantial discounts off these rates.
Pay for two consecutive issues and get 10% off each, pay
for 3 and get 20% off, or pay for 4 and get 25% off. An
ad in the NOFA Summer Conference Program Book
counts as a TNF ad for purposes of this discount.
Deadlines: We need your ad copy one month before the
publication date of each issue. The deadlines are:
January 31 for the Spring issue (mails Mar. 1)
April 30 for the Summer issue (mails Jun. 1)
July 31 for the Fall issue (mails Sep. 1)
October 31 for the Winter issue (mails Dec. 1)
Disclaimer: Advertisers are helping support the paper so
please support them. We cannot investigate the claims of
advertisers, of course, so please exercise due caution
when considering any product or service. If you learn of
any misrepresentation in one of our ads please inform us
and we will take appropriate action. We dont want ads
that mislead.
Sponsorships: Individuals or organizations wishing to
sponsor The Natural Farmer may do so with a payment of
$200 for one year (4 issues). In return, we will thank the
sponsor in a special area of page 3 of each issue, and
feature the sponsors logo or other small insignia.
Contact for Display Ads or Sponsors: Send display ads
or sponsorships with payment to our advertising manager
Dan Rosenberg, PO Box 40, Montague, MA 01351. If
you have questions, or want to reserve space, contact Dan
at (413) 863-9063 or
That we devote an issue of this paper to focusing on
programs which connect young people to farming is
itself a measure of the problem. The average US
farmer is now over 55 and still aging. Children who
grow up on farms are, by and large, opting for other
careers. We now have more prisoners in America
than farmers. The vast store of agricultural know-
how and talent that has traditionally been passed
from parent to child on US farms is in danger of
being lost. That there are programs which con-
sciously attempt to bring youth back into the farm-
ing picture is indeed news very good news!
Whether the hosts are public schools, private farms,
non-profit organizations, colleges, camps, or com-
munity groups, these programs are rediscovering that
there is a natural affinity between kids and the farm
experience. Watching a seed sprout, taking care of a
calf, savoring ripe fruit on a hot day are magical
experiences that no formal learning can duplicate.
Their tactile immediacy trumps any other kind of
knowledge. But the skills necessary to function in
this world are not complex at all. Any child can
master them and thus share ownership of the magic.
We are fortunate that so many diverse programs for
young people are now popping up on farms and in
Youth and Agriculture
community gardens in the northeast. In most urban
areas there is now a way inner city kids can connect
to growing food. Educational farms, farm camps,
school food programs and private farms are all
finding ways to reach youth, often with a therapeu-
tic and healing touch.
In a time when there is so much wrong with our
society so much waste, so much pollution, so
much violence it is indeed gratifying to see a
healthy bond grow between our young and the
culturing of life.
For Peace and Justice In Our Lifetimes!
Elizabeth Henderson
Thanks Liz,
I always like to have letters, however critical,
because then at least I know folks are reading this
I think your beef is with me more than Karen,
however. I wanted an article on the organic consum-
ers who buy at alternative grocery stores like Wild
Oats or Trader Joes. I knew Karen had worked at
Whole Foods for several years and was also a solid
NOFA member, thoughtful consumer/observer, and
small certified farmer who sold tomatoes seasonally
to the company. I asked her to write the article not
as an analysis of Whole Foods but, being as the
issue was on organic consumers, I asked her to write
about the consumers she has met and their variety,
focus, and reasons for buying there. I didnt ask her
to justify the companys prices, labor relations, or
purchasing practices.
I spent 10 years on the NOFA/Mass certification
committee and knew Russell well (and his uncle,
our mentor/neighbor here when Julie and I moved to
Barre and started to farm). I liked him, enjoyed his
free-wheeling attitude, and respected his personal
support for those with little power in our culture.
But I believe there were more fundamental prob-
lems with his relationship with Whole Foods than
their need for a few cents per gallon of savings.
(continued on page 3)
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 3
In terms of the bigger issue you raise, I struggle
with that every day. The lifestyle that I believe in
supports local production of most of our food, low-
tech preservation methods (given that we live in a
region with four real seasons), and a respect for
eating seasonally and locally because we understand
the pressure any other expectation exerts on our
But not everyone shares those values. For many
they seem old-fashioned or unrealistic. Many today
shop, instead, for convenience, price, appearance
and on impulse. That consumers feel this way is, I
think, the most important reality of the economic
system that gives big entities like Whole Foods
much more power than small farms like Russells.
That is why the work NOFA does to educate and
point out viable alternatives in how we eat is so
CSAs, farmers markets, backyard hoop-houses,
artisanal foods, raw milk dairies the growth of
these is all encouraging and shows that we are
slowly winning the battle for the hearts and minds
(and health) of the consumer.
Still searching for solutions,
Jack Kittredge
Dear Mr. Kittredge:
I try, with every food item I buy, to pick those which
are organically grown or processed. This includes
my purchases of milk when the cartons stipulate
organic. But I notice lately that every container of
organic milk I see is also labeled ultrapasteurized.
I think this is new, and a few containers of non-
organic milk also, lately, are stamped with this
Now, one normally assumes that ultrapasteurized
means the temperature as which the raw milk is
heated is even higher than is the case with pasteur-
ization. That may be what they want the public to
believe, but I think that is not the case.
I remember that about 25 years ago the dairy
industry convinced Congress to allow them to label
cream ultrapasteurized when it contained a
substance that inhibited the normal aging of dairy
products cream, only, at that time thus increas-
ing its shelf life. And I well remember purchasing a
container of heavy cream, and when it stood in the
refrigerator long after one would usually leave it, it
didnt sour, as pure cream would, but turned into an
unholy mess with a repellant, nauseating odor.
(continued from page 2) Now, are they doing the same thing to milk? Youll
notice that the carton is dated much farther in the
future than one normally expects yes, the shelf-life
is extended, but if you keep this milk until it sours
youre not going to be able to use it to make a cake
or baking-soda pancakes with. Youll want to pour it
down the drain at once.
So Im buying soy milk from now on it tastes just
fine and is just as good in cooking as cows milk.
Can you find out what ultrapasteurized means?
I also thank you for your newspaper. I always look
forward to its coming.
Frieda Arkin
Ipswich. MA
Dear Ms. Arkin,
Thanks for your letter and your question. I have
observed this spread of ultrapasteurization to
organic milk with concern. Apparently the pressures
of having an extended shelf life are such that some
of the national organic dairies have succumbed.
Pasteurization, as you know, is performed by
heating milk to 145 F for 30 minutes (or to 160 F
for 15 seconds) to kill bacteria and enzymes which
might break down the milk, thus extending its
usable life. This process leaves a few relatively
benign microorganisms that can eventually sour
Ultrapasteurization kills all organisms, so that the
milk will eventually rot without going sour first. It
is performed by heating milk to about 285 F (either
directly by exposure to super-heated steam, or
indirectly via a plate heat exchanger) for a couple
of seconds. Unless quickly cooled, this high heat
can lead to a burned taste in the milk.
Ultrapasteurization, combined with aseptic packag-
ing, allows milk to be stored for up to 6 months
without refrigeration. Once opened, it will spoil as
quickly as regular milk. As far as I have been able to
find out, nothing other than heat is added to the milk
when it is ultrapasteurized.
Many people feel that by heating milk and destroy-
ing the natural enzymes it contains, one is losing
important nutrients. I concur in this belief. We buy
raw organic milk from a neighboring farmer for our
personal use.
While I share your skepticism about the healthful-
ness of pasteurized or ultrapasteurized milk, I must
say I have also heard some disquieting things about
soy products. I think there is far too much soy in our
diets and studies are beginning to find serious
hormonal problems associated with excessive
consumption of soy products.
Rather than opt for soy milk, I would encourage you
to hook up with a local provider of raw milk. Many
jurisdictions now allow its sale if the farmer meets
stringent health requirements.
NOFA is consulting with local dairy farmers here in
the northeast, encouraging them to comply with
local regulations so that they can legally sell raw
milk. We are also setting up cooperative networks of
consumers so that purchasing raw milk is feasible
even for urban households. In Massachusetts please
contact NOFA/Mass at 978-355-2853 to find out
how to get access to legal, healthy raw milk.
Jack Kittredge
Dear NOFA,
In a recent issue you published an article illustrating
use of a 5 gallon plastic pail as a nesting box for
hens. I think this design is ill-advised. Ive been
using these pails, and have occasionally found one
being shared by two hens, even when other pails
were available. Today I discovered four hens in one
pail, unable to get out. When I liberated them, I
found the one on the bottom had died of asphyxia-
tion. I have tossed out the pails and will go back to
wooden nest boxes.
John Mellquist
Vershire, VT
Dear John,
Thanks for the your letter referring to the article on
Steven Bibulas operation in the Winter, 2004-05
issue. The advantage of Stevens system is that the
pails are light and since they hang on the side of the
pen there is no extra work when the pen is moved.
But you are right, chickens do love to share nest
We use light-weight luan to make square boxes in
our mobile pens here, so I cant speak from experi-
ence about the pails. I would think there is some
proper combination of size of entrance hole and
placement of hole from the bottom that would make
a pail asphyxiation-proof, but I appreciate your
Jack Kittredge
Please help us thank these
Friends of Organic Farming
for their generous support!
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 4
compiled by Jack Kittredge
Half of US food wasted. Anthropologist Timothy
Jones of the University of Arizona has studied food
loss for the last decade. He estimates that 40% to
50% of US food ready for harvest is never eaten.
Some of it is plowed under because of fluctuating
commodity prices, some spoils on the way to
market, and a surprising quantity is simply thrown
out. On average, households waste 14% of the food
they have purchased ($590 a year), for a national
total of $43 billion a year. source: The Rams Horn,
December, 2004 & Acres USA, February 2005
EPA may conduct human tests for chemicals. In
setting limits on chemicals in food and water, the
Environmental Protection Agency may rely on
industry tests that expose people to poisons and
raise ethical questions according to a new policy,
which the EPA is still developing. It says were
going to look at each study on its individual terms
and accept studies unless they are fundamentally
unethical or have significant deficiencies, said Bill
Jordan, a senior policy adviser in EPAs Office of
Pesticide Programs. Pesticide makers say human
tests give more accurate results about the risks of
the products to people and the environment. source:
The Associated Press, November 30, 2004
Spring coming earlier. In response to a warming
trend in the US Northeast, Spring is arriving up to a
week earlier than it did 40 years ago, Cornell
University researchers are reporting. They base their
conclusion on a study of historical bloom-date
records for lilacs, apples and grapes, which suggests
that natures calendar is changing due to an increase
in greenhouse gases. The Cornell scientists and their
colleagues at the University of Wisconsin say that
lilacs are blooming about four days earlier, and
apples and grapes six to eight days earlier, than in
1965. The findings in the study the first to
encompass the U.S. Northeast are consistent with
similar reports in other regions of the United States
and in Europe. source:
External costs of US agriculture may exceed $16
billion. A new study, published this week in the peer
reviewed International Journal of Agricultural
Sustainability, estimates that the negative impacts of
agriculture in the US may cost society anything
from $5.7 billion to $16.9 billion annually. The
negative impacts identified include the cost of
greenhouse gas emissions from cropland and
livestock, damage to wildlife and ecosystem
biodiversity , and damage to human health from
pesticides . The authors of the study call for a
restructuring of agricultural policy that shifts
production towards methods that lessen external
impacts. source: The Agribusiness Examiner,
February 1, 2005
Fungus effective against varroa mites. A natural
fungus that kills termites but doesnt harm bees or
their queens has proven deadly to varroa mites. The
strain, Metarhizium anisopliae, killed most of the
mites in test hives in 3 to 5 days and proved as
effective as the chemical control, fluvalinate, after
42 days. source: In Good Tilth, December 15, 2004
and the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener,
December, 2004 February, 2005
Bee trait controls mites. Entomologists John R.
Harbo and Jeffrey W. Harris, working in the Agri-
cultural Research Services Honey Bee Breeding
Unit have discovered a trait in some honey bees
which inhibits the reproduction of varroa mites in
the hive. They have supplied the trait to a queen
honey bee producer who hopes, by selective breed-
ing, to spread the trait into commercial hives.
source: the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener,
December, 2004 February, 2005
News Notes
Carrots come in many colors. USDA scientists in
Madison, Wisconsin have bred carrots in a range of
colors white, yellow, red and purple which
provide a variety of healthful protective effects in
the human body. The red carrots lycopene,
forinstance, buards against heart disease and some
cancers. The yellow ones xanthophylls is good for
eye health. The purple ones anthocyanins act as
antioxidants. The researchers are hopeful that the
novel color of the carrots will contribute to their
appeal. source: The Vegetable Growers News,
December, 2004
Onions effective against cancers. A new Cornell
University study has found certain varieties of
onions high in anti-cancer chemicals, and particu-
larly effective against liver and colon cancer. The
anti-cancer effect if attributed to high levels of
phenolics and flavonoids, types of phytochemicals
which work as antioxidants. Shallots had six times
the phenolic content of Vidalia onions. Western
Yellow onions had eleven times more flavonoids
than Western White ones. source: The Vegetable
Growers News, December, 2004
Raw milk products sold on internet. Organic
Pastures Dairy Company, in association with
alternative health website, will be
offering frozen raw milk products on the internet.
The arrangement apparently meets all applicable
federal laws, and FDA inspectors found no human
pathogens in the products or the plant. For more
information, call 1-877-729-6455. source: Acres
USA, January, 2005
National Organic
Program News
NOP violates organic rule, court says. Three
provisions of the National Organic Program are not
valid, according to a decision issued by the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the First Circuit last week. The
decision came after a lawsuit filed in October 2003
by Arthur Harvey, an organic blueberry farmer in
Canton, Maine.
The NOP regulations have allowed 38 synthetic
ingredients, from alginates to xanthan gum, to be
used in processing and post-harvest handling, even
though the Organic Foods Production Act prohibits
synthetic ingredients in processed foods. The court
ruled that most of these ingredients would no longer
be allowed.
The NOP regulations have, until now, permitted
dairy herds that were undergoing conversion to
organic status to be given feed that is only 80
percent organic for the first nine months, and then
switch to full organic feed after that. Harvey argued
that this violated OFPAs mandate that organic dairy
animals receive organic feed for 12 months prior to
the sale of organic dairy products. Nothing in the
Acts plain language permits of an exception
permitting a more lenient phased conversion process
for entire dairy herds, the court wrote.
The NOP has allowed non-organic agricultural
ingredients, such as cornstarch and pectin, to be
used when organic versions were not commercially
available. Harvey argued that the rule gives certifi-
ers a blanket exemption, without requiring them
to review each ingredient on a case-by-case basis.
The circuit court agreed and ruled that non-organic
agricultural products should have individual reviews
and appear on the National List in order to be used
in processed foods. The full opinion may be ac-
cessed at Search for case no
04-1379, Harvey v. Veneman. source: personal
Email from attorney James F. Handley
NOP asks NOSB for pasture clarification. The
USDA has asked the National Organic Standards
Board to come up with a clarification about pastur-
ing dairy cows. The current federal organic code
requires that the cows have access to pasture. The
Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy think tank, filed
a complaint with the USDA alleging that Aurora
Organic Dairy was violating this regulation. Mark
Retzloff, chief organic officer with the 5,300-cow
Aurora Organic Dairy in Colorado contends that
there is a place in the organic business for large-
scale dairies where cows are fed organic grains in
outdoor pens. While the federal rule requires
organic dairy cows to have access to pasture, it
provides exemptions for bad weather, animal health
and undefined stages of production for the animal.
source: Council of State Governments Update, 1/21/
NODPA formulates pasture policy numbers. In
an effort to help the NOSB sort through the issues
involved in pasture for dairy cows, the Northeast
Organic Diary Producers Alliance has formulated a
policy in support of the NOSB Livestock Commit-
tee recommendation that grazed feed provide a
significant portion of the total feed requirement for
ruminants. Specifically, organic dairy animals from
6 months of age must consume no less than 30% of
their daily dry matter intake from pasture for a
minimum of 120 days per year, with a maximum
stocking rate for lactating animals of 3000 pounds
per acre up to a maximum of 3 cows per acre.
source: NODPA News, November, 2004
Organic certifiers form national association. The
Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA) is a new
organization formed to provide a forum and voice
for the certification agents responsible for the
National Organic Program. The group hopes to
develop uniform criteria for certifying operations
under the NOP, provide training on all aspects of the
program, discuss issues relating to organic certifica-
tion, help reform laws affecting it, and facilitate
communication and information sharing among
certifiers. source: NODPA News, February, 2005
Report blasts NOP. An evaluation of the National
Organic Program by the American National Stan-
dards Institute is highly critical and says the pro-
gram even contradicted its own requirements. The
report, withheld from the public for several months
by NOP associate policy director Richard Matthews,
was released in January. ANSI said the NOP did not
have any way for properly resolving complaints and
disputes on accreditation issues, had not even
identified the personnel responsible for accreditation
and formulation of policy issues, had no procedures
over control of documents, and has not required
certifiers to disclose records of complaints, appeals,
disputes and follow-up actions. The findings, said
ANSI, do not foster confidence in the ability of the
accreditation body. source: Organic Business
News, January, 2005
NOSB forms fish task force. In 2001 the National
Organic Standards Board decided not to draft
standards for wild-caught and farm-raised fish.
Since that time, however, there has been increasing
interest in organic fish, Congress has pressed for
regulations, and foreign fish labeled organic are in
US markets. Thus the NOSB has decided to form a
task force to investigate setting standards. It will be
split into two work groups, one for wild-caught and
one for farm-raised fish. source: Organic Business
News, November, 2004
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 5
Biotech News
Scientist says GMO safety tests flawed. In a paper
co-authored by Salk Institute cell biologist Dr.
David Schubert and published in the peer-reviewed
Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews,
the process by which the US government regulates
GM crops is challenged. The picture that emerges
from our study of US regulation of GM foods is a
rubber-stamp approval process designed to in-
crease public confidence in, but not ensure the
safety of, genetically engineered foods, says
Schubert. source: The Organic Broadcaster, Janu-
ary-February, 2005 & The Non-GMO Report,
January, 2005
GM food studies few, but alarming. A study
published in Nutrition and Health says that there
have been only 10 published studies of the health
effects of GM food. Over half were undertaken in
collaboration with interested companies, and these
(surprise!) found no negative effects on body
organs. The others looked at effects on the gut lining
and several found potentially negative results
(consistent with several unpublished studies).
Although the industry cites some 100 animal
feeding studies, these were studies of nutrient value,
not safety. With only ten health studies, some of
which point to negative effects, any hypothesis
about GMO safety is entirely unproven. source: The
Rams Horn, November, 2004
Monsanto to buy Seminis. Agriculture products
company Monsanto announced it will buy Seminis
Inc., the worlds largest commercial fruit and
vegetable seed company, for at least $1 billion.
Monsanto, a leading developer of genetic modifica-
tions for crops like soybeans and corn, said biotech-
nology modifications to Seminis fruit and vegetable
lines were an option, but the initial focus would be
on leveraging Seminis conventional breeding
programs with Monsantos advanced research and
development to develop improved product options.
Seminis has only one biotech seed on the market
now, a virus-resistant squash introduced four years
ago. Seminis supplies more than 3,500 seed variet-
ies to commercial fruit and vegetable growers,
dealers, distributors and wholesalers around the
world. source: Reuters, January 24, 2005
Canada Backs Terminator Seeds. An international
moratorium on the use of one of the worlds most
controversial GM food technologies is on the verge
of being broken. Leaked instructions to Canadian
government negotiators at the Bangkok meeting of
the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and
Technological Advice, a group which advises the
UNs Convention on Biological Diversity, show that
Canada wants all governments to accept the testing
and commercialization of terminator crop variet-
ies. These are genetically engineered to produce
infertile seeds which farmers cannot replant. The
governments of Norway, Sweden, Austria, the
European Community, Cuba, Peru and Liberia,
helped block the Canadian move temporarily, and
the issue now bounces to another CBD advisory
body (the Working Group on 8(j)) in March 2006.
source: The Guardian U.K., Feb. 9, 2005
GM crop acreage increases. Figures from the Pew
Initiative on Food and Biotechnology report that in
2003 167 million acres worldwide are planted to
GM crops, 25% of the worlds 672 million acres
under cultivation. Of these, 105.7 million are in the
US, 34.4 million in Argentina, 10.9 million in
Canada, 8.4 million in Brazil, 6.9 million in China
and 1 million in South Africa. In the US, 85% of soy
was from GM seed, 45% of the corn was GM, and
76% of the cotton was GM. The full factsheet is
available at
crops. source: Acres USA, December, 2004
US Government forced to disclose locations of
test sites of biopharmaceutical crops. On February
4 an environmental alliance forced the U.S. to
reveal the locations of test sites of
biopharmaceutical crops in Hawaii. The group,
Earthjustice, represents citizen groups Center for
Food Safety (CFS), Friends of the Earth, Pesticide
Action Network North America, and KAHEA: The
Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance. They filed a
lawsuit in November 2003 seeking to compel USDA
to review the environmental and public health
impacts of such activities. The plaintiffs sought
information on the locations of these field tests in
response to the governments arguments that
plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because they had
not specified the precise locations of the field tests.
Now District Court Judge David A. Ezra has
ordered the disclosure, rejecting claims of potential
espionage, vandalism, and civil unrest.
source: February 8, 2005 Earthjustice press release
Vermont looks at GMO liability legislation. Last
year the Green Mountain state passed a law requir-
ing all seed companies selling GE seed to report the
type and amount sold, as well as clearly labeling it.
Now a second bill, which was defeated last year, is
being considered again. The Farmer Protection Act
would pass liability back to the seed companies for
any damages caused by GE cross contamination.
The bill passed the Senate last year, but was stalled
in the House Agricultural Committee. This year,
however, Democrats have taken over the house and
the chair of that committee is organic vegetable
farmer Rep. David Zuckerman. The bill is still
firmly opposed by the biotech industry, but its
chances for passage are increasing. source: NODPA
News, February, 2005
Germany passes strict GM planting law. The
German parliament has passed a law letting farmers
plant GM crops, but makes them legally responsible
for contamination of non-GM crops and requires
recording all land planted to GM crops in a public
register so neighboring farmers will know if a
contamination threat exists. GM proponents say the
law is a defacto ban on GM crops. source: The
Rams Horn, December, 2004 & The Non-GMO
Report, January, 2005
Europe keeps GM crop bans. Europes member
states voted against asking five of their number to
overturn GM bans. The votes were a slap in the face
to the European Commission, which is under heavy
pressure from the US to allow GM food in Europe.
In a separate action, EU governments also voted 12
to 8 against approving imports of Monsantos GM
corn engineered with Bt to resist rootworm. source:
The Non-GMO Report, January, 2005
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5
Blow Your Own Horn!
Start your own diversified organic farm. 50 acres of
beautiful low cost farm land for serious organic
farmers. Call Morze Tree Farm for details at 802-
Angelic Organics, a community supported organic
vegetable farm (www. 80 mi.
NW of Chicago seeks a soil and machinery man-
ager who will be responsible for tillage, fertility,
spraying and machinery management. Must be
highly qualified with at least 5 years of vegetable
farming experience. Full time, year round position
starts in April, 2005. $32,000 per year plus benefits
(negotiable). Three yr. commitment preferred.
(Please - no unscheduled farm visits.) For job
overview, review materials at
CSA shares available in Fulton County, NY. Join in
our farms bounty for the 2005 harvest season.
Pickup at the farm mid-May through early October.
We raise a great variety of fruits (strawberries,
raspberries, etc.), veggies (asparagus, edamame
soybeans, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, squash, etc.)
and herbs (dill, basil, oregano, etc.). We provide
recipes and activities at the farm: forest walks, farm
tours and harvest barbeque. We use all natural
methods, with no pesticides or herbicides. We
believe in sustainable farming. Pastured pork, lamb
and eggs are also available. Call for more informa-
tion. (518) 627-0476.
The Global Resource Action Center for the Environ-
ment (GRACE) is sponsoring a curriculum contest
based on sustainable agriculture for school teachers
grades 5-8. The Units will be based on the award
winning film The Meatrix (
Grand prize is $1000 for classroom supplies and
equipment. Contest ends June 30, 2005. Visit
Sustainable Table
schools/teachers/curriculum.html for more informa-
tion and an application form.
Farm Equipment: Premier electric portable sheep
and goat netting 164' lengths 42" tall, used 2 seasons.
10 available $75 each or b/o. 2000 Walker GHS
mower 48" rear discharge deck 24 hp liquid cooled
zero turn. 825 hrs $5,500. Plastic mulch layer and
bed shaper 3 pth builds 22" wide x 4" high bed
using 3' plastic. Good for small tractors. Irrigation
attachment. Used 2 seasons. $1,200. Hunts Brook
Farm (860-443-1770)
Three Apprenticeships available on certified
organic vegetable farm in western CT for 2005
season, April 1 through mid Nov. Help plant,
cultivate, harvest, and market produce through a 200
share CSA and farmers markets. Opportunity to
learn many of the agricultural and business skills
you will need to run an organic farm. Compensa-
tion includes a private room in apprentice house,
farm produce, and $700 monthly stipend with
scheduled raises. To apply, send letter of intent and
resume to Paul Bucciaglia, Fort Hill Farm, 18 Fort
Hill Rd., New Milford, CT 06776. For more info,
see, or call 860-350-3158.
Why buy what you dont want? Pioneer Valley
War Tax Resisters offers information and experi-
ence. Brief talks to all day sessions. Please call 413-
773-8655 or 5188. P. O. Box 223, Greenfield, MA
Mountain Dell Farm seeks two apprentices for
2005 season, mid-May through November. Private
cabins, board, plus good salary for 50 hour weeks.
Must know how to work hard and be child friendly.
Duties include picking, packing, weeding and
transplanting. We have been making our living as
organic farmers since 1990. We live in a beautiful
land in the foothills of the Catskills. Other interests
include yoga, medicinal herbs, politics, swimming
in the pond, rafting the Delaware River, and rural
parties. Mark Dunau or Lisa Wujnovich, Mountain
Dell Farm, 2386 Roods Creek Rd., Hancock, NY
13783. 607-467-4034. e-mail at
Help Wanted. Allandale Farm is an historic family
farm located in Boston and Brookline, MA. With
over 25 acres under organic production and five
greenhouses, we are able to offer a ready market for
our fresh produce through our own successful
roadside market and local restaurants. We are fully
equipped. We offer salary, benefits and housing to
the qualified, experienced applicant. Long-term
commitment is expected. Contact John at or visit our website at http://
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 7
3+ Farm Acres for Lease - S. Acton, MA, Histori-
cally farmed sandy loam acreage currently main-
tained as open mowed meadow - Bounded by
perennial Ft Pond Brook for irrigation - Good
Martin St. road frontage & neighborhood location -
Suitable for: CSA, fruit orchard, berries, annuals or
perennial crops, tree farm, wildflowers, hay, or
small livestock. Located close to South Acton
MBTA Commuter Rail Stop, and Route 2 - General
Farm Plan has local and state permits - Only experi-
enced Farmer for long- term farming commitment -
Very Generous lease terms. CONTACT: The Hadley
Farm @ 978 263-4775,
Thriving organic vegetable and fruit farm for sale
in Ithaca NY. Great opportunity for people who
want to get right into farming! Very organized,
highly regarded, turn-key 10+ acre operation. Good
soil and water. Fantastic equipment. Apple and
stone fruit orchard. Established markets200
member CSA w/waiting list and loyal, strong
farmers market. Supportive ecovillage community.
Farmers eager to assist the right buyers transition in
order to maintain the success of this enterprise. Sale
to be completed by the end of 2005. Business,
equipment, buildings, long-term lease for sale.
(Land in permanent conservation easement w/non-
profit. ) (607) 272-4636, or bokaer-
Farm Internship Anjali Farms LLC in Southern
Vermont seeks an individual committed to learning
and practicing small scale diverse agriculture.
Openings for three six-week periods from April
15th to November 1st
need to be filled. Room,
board, stipend on/off farm educational experiences
and complete market gardening training available.
Work is 5 days/50 hours a week transplanting to
direct sales; seed saving to value added; newsletter
to special events. We are a USDA certified organic
side hill mixed herb and vegetable, medicinal herbs,
greenhouse, perennial fruits, egg, poultry CSA with
farmers market and restaurant sales venturing into
biodynamics. Come grow with us. email for
Organic farmer and wife, are proposing a particu-
larly unique cooperative community (location is
completely open) backed up with substantial
resources. It is farming/ farmer friendly and for
people who see the negative effects that usury
capitalism, war, over population and religious
superstition have on our planet and people; and who
wish to live differently. Personally, were not sure
solving one part of The Problem does much or
enough. In fact, thinking this way may be part of the
problem. Check out our proposal at or call 352-481-
0275 email to
Marketing Your Livestock Products March 28,
2005, Montpelier VT. Promotion: Telling Your
Story, Selling Your Product. with Chef Harv -
owner/operator of Gourmet Central, a specialty food
business in West Virginia. He has worked with
livestock producers, Extension, and NRCS to
produce and market premium grade eco-friendly
beef called, Petite Beef by Headwater Farms.
Chef Harv will address effective promotion tech-
niques, the costs and scale associated with success-
ful development of marketing for livestock prod-
ucts. In addition, this class will include a farmer
panel on market placement. Pre registration re-
quired. $45/person. 802-434-4122
Field Manager Wanted. S/he will be responsible
for all aspects of field production and will work
with/supervise/teach apprentices, volunteers, farm
staff. Located in Southern Maine, Rippling Waters
grows certified organic vegetables, bedding plants,
herbs, flowers, perennials, and serves as an educa-
tion and community resource in collaboration with
non-profit organizations. Ideal candidate will have
completed at least 2 full-season farm apprentice-
ships, be excited about taking on greater responsi-
bility and have a demonstrated ability to manage
staff. To apply contact Richard Rudolph at (207)
642-5161, or
2005 On-Farm Food Production Workshops. 3
days on Vegetable Growing (Sat. April 16, Sun.
June 12, & Sat. Sep. 10), 1 day on Small Fruit (Sat.
May 21) and 1 day on Chickens for Meat & Eggs
(Sun. July 24). $65 per workshop or $50 each for 3
or more, includes organic farm lunch and course
packet. See our 1/4 page ad in this issue of The
Natural Farmer. Julie Rawson, Jack & Dan
Kittredge, Many Hands Organic Farm, 978-355-
Apprentice/Intern or Experienced Worker
position available immediately for 25+ year family
farm selling at successful Brattleboro market. Super
berries, flowers, maple and more. Especially
interested in sustainability, education and season
extension for local independence. Open with
business records and ideas for serious hopefuls; or
just a season or two of great living (diverse work,
swimming, culture), beautiful R&B and 600-800/
month stipend. Deer Ridge Farm, Guilford, VT
05301. 802-254-3540.
For Sale: Swedish Nibex hand-push Precision
Seeder. Includes instruction manuals, row marker,
and nine seed plates to accommodate seeds for most
market garden crops. Ideal for market garden
operations. $1200.00 or BRO. Contact Keith at
978-371-1423 or
Free: Jetmaster Water Drill Transplanter: Trans-
plant from 1-8 rows. 12 gallon water tank is
pressurized to 65psi by Carbon Dioxide. Includes
instruction manuals. This unit will need some work
(new tires, hoses). Contact Keith at 978-371-1423
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 8
by Camilla Roberts
The regional collaboration of NOFA continues to
On January 12th of 2005, sixteen representatives of
the NOFA Interstate Council gathered together in
Old Chatham New York for an annual retreat to
exchange information, discuss issues, and conduct
business. Five of the seven NOFA chapters sent staff
and board members. New Hampshire sent in a letter
to respond to the agenda. Rhode Island was not
present. This retreat format has become an annual
event, in which we dig into the challenges of devel-
oping the NOFA network and methods to encourage
regional collaboration.
First, we shared highlights from the year of each
NOFA state:
Connecticut; A new president, with a paid director
and assistant. Finances are stable, even with ambi-
tious goals. Membership is nearly 500.
Vermont; Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)
seed labeling legislation was passed in 2004. The
legislature is considering a GMO liability bill that
will shift liability for losses incurred by GMO drift
from the farmers to the manufacturers. The change
of individuals in the legislature makes this a very
promising possibility. Growth of certified farms in
Vermont is around 16%. Programs connecting school
children activities with local food purchasing for
their lunches, and the local farmers are expanding
rapidly. NOFA-VT has taken over coordinating and
promoting Farmers Markets around the state, with an
extra effort to develop markets in areas where low
income coupons can be redeemed. The greatest
challenge is to reach more consumers. There is an
initiative underway to build a Vermont Flatbread
traveling oven, using and promoting local ingredi-
ents to the fairs and events around the state. Mem-
bership is close to 1,000.
New York; The Public Seed Initiative is renamed
the Organic Seed Partnership. It is now funded by
a three year grant to continue research and develop-
ment of organic vegetable cultivars, and includes
participation of a wide spread of land grant Univer-
sity people. Risk Management Agency is encourag-
ing development of small farm insurance, holding
workshops, and reimbursing some farmers for
certification. Organic dairy interest is growing with
Stonyfield, Horizon, and Organic Valley all cultivat-
ing producers in the state. The Farm Guide has been
printed again after skipping a year. Finances are
improved by donations and a good fundraiser event.
Membership is close to 1200.
Massachusetts; New president Frank Albani, with
good staff and consistent steady growth. Land care
program is taking off, in collaboration with Con-
necticut. Activities on GMO issues are focusing on
town by town referendums. While the Gardening
with the Community program is growing, there is a
desire to do more with farm to school programming.
The Bulk Order provides service for neighboring
states too. Programs are paying for themselves
financially. Membership is up to 850.
New Jersey; Certification activities are shifting
over to a state employed staff, which is a positive
direction generally. There is developing state support
for technical assistance, with the Natural Resources
Conservation Service and the state promoting
organic practices. Connections of chefs with farmers
are being developed, with cooking demonstrations
preceded by a farm tour. A workshop titled Explor-
ing the Small Farm Dream has become very popu-
lar. There is a goal to organize and generate con-
sumer movement to create more demand and con-
sumer support for organic farms in the state. Also, a
goal to boost membership, which is up to 300.
New Hampshire; prioritized to participate in
programs, committees, and conferences that are
NOFA-Interstate Council Retreat 2005
photo by Jack Kittredge
NOFA Interstate Council during January retreat in Old Chatham, NY. Shown clockwise
from upper left: Lee Stoner (CT), Steve Gilman (NY), Liz Henderson (NY), Scott Chaskey
(NY), Camilla Roberts (VT), Karen Anderson (NJ), Bill Duesing (CT), Tom Johnson (MA),
Mary Blake (MA), Julie Rawson (MA), Torrey Reade (NJ) [unseen to left: Sarah Johnston
(NY), Mark Dunau (NY), Frank Albani (MA)].
inclusive of conventional agricultural interests, and
also reaching out to local producers and extension
agents. Interest in organic in the state has taken a
leap, with extension agents promoting organic
practices, implementing methods on their own, and
teaching an organic food production course at UNH.
NOFA-NH workshops and conference are well
attended, finances are solid, and membership has
doubled, to around 400.
NOFA boards have considered how the Interstate
Council can be most useful to the individual NOFA
chapters. The feedback supports networking,
sharing skills, successes and failures, regional
influence through policy development, professional
training, and ways to use the media more effec-
In the interest of streamlining the work of the
Interstate Council, the flow of yearly meetings has
been organized to be more efficient on business
matters. The new arrangement aims to allow for
more inspirational discussions and information to be
exchanged. The membership at large will have an
enhanced opportunity to interact with the Interstate
Council at the Summer Conference, held at Hamp-
shire College every August. At the keynote address
each NOFA chapter will briefly present the high-
lights of their year. There will also be a meeting
scheduled at the conference on topics to include
membership participation and interest.
In 2004, the Interstate Council developed a process
by which to promote a regional voice and influence,
in a Policy Committee structure. In 2004 with this
structure, the NOFA Interstate Council drafted and
sent a strong statement to the Animal Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) to support rigorous
environmental impact requirements on GMOs. This
years policy work considers topics of GMO further,
the Farmers Pledge, livestock access to pasture,
participation in the international organic community
and the National Organic Action Plan.
To support the memberships concerns about GMO,
the Interstate Council seeks to support bills in other
states that are similar to the seed labeling and
liability legislation of Vermont. A letter was distrib-
uted that NOFA/Mass has drafted concerning a
professor, Dr Chapela, who has been denied tenure
and dismissed at University of California Berkley.
The letter supports Dr Chapelas opposition to the
Universitys controversial relationships with
Novartis, and his research on GMO contamination
of corn in his native Mexico. The Interstate Council
is considering region wide support for Dr Chapela.
The Farmers Pledge was discussed at length,
exploring the possibility of a region wide adoption
of this program that has been implemented in New
York. There is a unified desire to support the local
and smaller farms for whom the certification
programs are cumbersome. However, there is
concern that the Farmers Pledge undermines the
benefits of the NOP, confuses consumers, and is in
some ways less rigorous than the certification
standards. On the other hand, others experience the
Pledge as an enhancing promotion of a farms
commitment to practices that go beyond the NOP
standards, including social justice practices for
example. More unity on this topic is necessary
before the Council can arrive at a region wide
policy. Therefore, each state chapter is individually
responding to the Farmers Pledge option as they
see fit.
The representatives at the meeting all expressed
support for requiring access to pasture for all
livestock. This requirement is not as clearly stan-
dardized by the NOP as the NOFA chapters deem
appropriate in organic management. The policy
committee is considering the specifics of the
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers pasture policy,
and how to communicate support for pasture access
for all livestock to the NOP.
Liz Henderson brought other issues to the attention
of all present. She encouraged regional participation
in the development of a National Organic Action
Plan, through workshops at conferences for ex-
ample. Among other affiliations, she is the NOFA
representative to the international forum on organics
called IFOAM, as well as a NOFA participant in the
Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. Brainstorm-
ing to find funds to support her work for the NOFA
chapters was discussed. To meet all of the goals of
the Policy Committee around $5,000 is needed.
Liz also alerted everyone to pressure on the Na-
tional Organic Program to allow more synthetics,
how many more plastics are poisonous than we
realize, and the potentials for conservation of urban
gardens through the creation of municipal Garden
Protection Boards.
This Interstate Council retreat demonstrated that
regional energy continues to develop amongst the
diverse and widespread collection of NOFA states.
As the organic movement expands, the interests of
NOFA members across the northeast can be
strengthened through this network of allied NOFA
chapters known as the Interstate Council.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 9
Special Supplement on
Youth & Agriculture
by Christine Nielsen-Craig
Yale University student Laura Hess recalls meeting
Lucas Dreier in the fall of 2002 and talking about
how cool it would be to start some kind of Yale
farm or urban garden space.
My parents laughed when I first told them that I
had this idea of bringing in organic food at Yale,
says Dreier, who now coordinates student volunteers
at the Yale Organic Garden, a three-quarter acre plot
along Edwards Street, a couple of blocks from the
Yale campus in New Haven.
Here, students learn organic farming techniques by
volunteering regularly each week and doing summer
internships. During the peak growing season,
produce is sold at the local farmers market as a way
to introduce the wider New Haven community to
locally-grown, organic food.
Hess is back at the garden after spending a year in
India where she worked with a grassroots develop-
ment organization doing community-based natural
resource management.
Yale Sustainable Food Project
Neither she nor Dreier suspected that the initiatives
of their group, Food from the Earth, would have
become so sweeping in what is now known as the
Yale Sustainable Food Project (YSFP).
Little did they know then that the next year, the
Project would accomplish seemingly amazing feats:
that their own Berkeley College dining hall would
begin serving organic food in seasonal dishes
inspired by Californias delicious-food ambassador
Alice Waters or that a pilot to compost food scraps
would be tested. Nor did they expect that on a
sunny February afternoon two and a half years later,
they would be erecting the third greenhouse in the
student garden they had once imagined.
I never dreamed it would come to this, said Hess,
as she stood bracing a structural pole.
I still cant believe how much this Project has
taken offit started out with a few students lobby-
ing for organic food, and has turned into this huge
movement run at an administrative level, says
Hess. I think its an inspiring example of how a
few thoughtful committed citizens really can change
the world.
The Food from the Earth group has been resurrected
to organize on-campus activities to raise student
awareness about the centrality of food and agricul-
ture in daily life.
On Valentines day, for example, students hosted a
truffle-making demonstration and made bouquets
from dried flowers we grew in the garden last
summer, says YSFP Associate Director Melina
Shannon-DiPietro. They used the trufflesmade
photo by Judy Sirota-Rosenthal
Jeff Warren and Ariane Lotti clear away space for a greenhouse foundation.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 10
from fair-trade, organic chocolateand the bou-
quets to celebrate Valentines day as an act of
celebration and community, and of caring about
agricultural lands and laborers.
Shannon-DiPietro and Josh Viertel, YSFP co-
director, say they want students to leave Yale with
not only a command of their chosen academic
discipline but also with a sense of the interwoven
pleasures of growing, cooking, and sharing food.
Moreover, they hope to spur something of an
agricultural revolution here by increasing the
demand for locally-grown, organic produce.
The student garden is wonderful for practical
experience. It serves as a model of the agricultural
productivity of this region, Shannon-DiPietro says.
Any influence we can have on agriculture in the
Northeast, however, depends on our purchasing
practices in the dining hall.
To that end, the YSFP is headed in the right direc-
tion: The menu at Berkeley has been revamped to
reflect seasonality and simplicity, and as much as
possible, we buy from local farmers practicing
sustainable methods, she explains. In the other
dining halls, students can find entresa grass-fed
beef burger, a butternut squash and sage-topped
pizza, a leek and potato galettethat meet these
same criteria once each day.
But if the Project is be the driving force for agricul-
tural change that its creators envision, Yale must
build enough relationships with local farmers who
care for the long-term vitality of land and livestock
to supply all 12 of Yales college dining hall kitch-
ens with food to feed more than 4,500 student
boarders each day.
The available local supply is not even enough to
feed Berkeley College, says Shannon-DiPietro.
Students are hungry for good food: they have eaten
some of what Northeastern farmers grow, and they
are asking for more.
Were down to the last of our salad mix, for
example, and we wont have any more until May,
laments Viertel.
Brussels sprouts, spinach, cilantro and arugula are
other crops they find difficult to source.
Brussels sprouts are great example of something
we cant find even though they should be grown
here; asparagus too, for that matter, explains
Shannon-DiPietro. Connecticut and Massachusetts
used to have acres and acres of asparagus. And
Brussels sprouts and kale are ideal crops for this
area because their taste becomes so sweet after the
first frost. Unfortunately, these growers got priced
out by big-time growers in California. So were
telling mid-size sustainable farmers, Please, talk to
us because we will buy your produce at a fair
A recent meeting with local farmers yielded some
progress toward the YSFP goal to buy more from
regional producers: George Purtill of Old Maids
Farm agreed to grow tomatoes for the dining halls
salsa and David Blyn of Riverbank Farm offered to
sell his cabbage.
We sat down with farmers and we asked what they
want to grow, what they are particularly good at
growing, and what their soil is best suited to grow:
we will build our menu around these items, Shan-
non-DiPietro says.
Yale, in turn, can offer farmers a consistent, high-
volume market with very little marketing effort.
All they need to do is put their goods in a box for
us, she says.
The YSFP distributor is paid a set rate per box in an
effort to foster honest transactions.
It is really important to us that farmers get fair
prices for their produce, Shannon-DiPietro ex-
plains. I never want to know after the fact that
farmer has been squeezed, and if it does happen, I
rant and rave and it gets fixed.
And though the Project seeks organic goods, the
YSFP doesnt require farmers to be certified.
We know that its nearly impossible to grow apples
organically here in the Northeast, says Shannon-
DiPietro. So, were happy to hear that farmers are
using integrated pest management systems and
setting traps. For us, paperwork and the standards
dont feel necessary to know were getting a good
product. Sometimes a conversation with a farmer is
enough to satisfy our requirements for
If the idea of having it allgood-tasting food, better
stewardship of the land, respect for farmers work
and their need to make a decent livingsounds too
good to be true, Shannon-DiPietro is quick to point
out that while there are plenty of movements that
require sacrifice, Yales effort to change how we eat
and grow food isnt one of them.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 11
by Lisa Kelly
In 1997, I met a woman who told me about a school
she was starting. With two young children myself,
the oldest of which was a year away from entering
kindergarten, I was beginning to get a sick feeling
whenever I thought of him entering the bureaucratic
public school system. Even though the district
schools in our area are considered quite good, I
knew them to be traditional in their approach to
When it came to education, I wanted something
different for my children. I wanted for them what I
felt we all desperately needed: a school where
children are cherished and celebrated for who they
are, and where children learn by doing, by exploring
the world around them, figuring out how the world
works, how it got this way and how we can make it
better. I also felt that we had to approach our
educational system differently if we were going to
raise children who would be stewards of the Earth
rather than masters over it.
When I met this woman who was starting a charter
school based on these values, I was bubbling with
excitement. When I heard the school was a public
school, and therefore free to New Jersey residents, I
thought I had won the lottery. But then, over the
next few weeks, reality set in when I realized that
that charter school was an hours drive away. Since
my husband and I both worked at home in a consult-
ing business, commuting four hours a day wasnt
really an option.
My new friend who was starting the charter school
suggested I start one in my neck of the woods, and
she offered to help by sharing the documents her
school used to get the State of New Jerseys ap-
proval to open. Filled with enthusiasm and naivete, I
smiled and said, Yeah, lets start a school.
And so it began. Here it is 2005 and my children
have been in the Ridge and Valley Charter School
since its opening in September 2004. Yes, incred-
ibly, it took us that long to get up and running. The
truly remarkable thing is that we ever opened at all.
The seven-year birthing process of the Ridge and
Valley Charter School, located in rural northwestern
New Jersey, is punctuated by obstacle after obstacle.
Lack of start-up funding, opposition by the local
school districts, and no existing buildings appropri-
ate for our needs were the major challenges.
Yet, the REAL story behind the Ridge and Valley
Charter School is the fact that it ever opened at all
and why it opened. The real reason that it is today
an official public school sanctioned by the State of
New Jersey is because of everyday people who
believed in the idea of a public school based on
Earth Literacy and experiential education. These
people never gave up, kept working towards this
dream year after year. Think about it. What were
you doing in 1997? Think about how much time has
passed since then, how youve changed, how your
kids have grown. Thats how long this group of
committed people has worked together towards one
goal. Remarkable.
I lucked out in the beginning because I was able to
find these special people easily and quickly. I was a
member of the Community Supported Garden at
Genesis Farm in Frelinghuysen, NJ, and knew many
like-minded people who were members. Whats
more, I was part of a womens study group at the
Borne Out of Enthusiasm and Naivete.
New NJ Charter School Uses Nature as Educator
Genesis Farm Ecological Learning Center, founded
by Sr. Miriam MacGillis. The Learning Center is an
international educational facility that gives work-
shops and seminars on Earth Literacy, based on the
works of Thomas Berry.
When I went to Miriam and explained my idea for a
public elementary school based on Earth Literacy,
where connections in the Universe will be explored
and emphasized, she told me of three or four other
efforts over the years by community people to begin
such a school. One effort even got as far as a
homeschool group that met several times a week in
someones barn. There was definitely an interest in
such a school, she said.
What was missing, I realized as I analyzed those
other efforts, was money. There was commitment,
there was a vision, but there were no funds to make
it happenno money for teachers, no money for a
building. Now, I realized, thanks to the passage of
the Charter School Act of 1994 in New Jersey, there
was a funding mechanism.
The New Jersey charter school law funds charter
schools by mandating that the money follows the
child. This means that the childs home school
district must send 90% of what it spends to educate
that child to the charter school. It keeps 10% for
administrative costs including, in some cases,
In the beginning, my enthusiasm and naivete
prevented me from seeing the problems with this
set-up. Great, I thought, well help ease overcrowd-
ing in our rural district schools (as farms are sold for
sub-divisions, more kids are moving in to our
districts). Oh no, said the local school superinten-
dents, you are taking money directly out of our
pockets and your charter school will hurt our
children. This led to huge opposition from the local
community after we got our charter approved.
Writing the 200-page charter application and getting
approved was a huge undertaking, one that I did
with the help of a good friend. We had documents
from the school I mentioned earlier as well as help
from that schools director and business manager.
Still the process was excruciating, but we got
through it.
It think it is important to explain that a charter
school is one based on a charter or contract with
the state that lays out the mission of the school and
exactly how that mission will be effected. Charter
schools can be initiated and run by parents, teachers
and community peopleanyone interested in
educational innovation. While charter schools have
some leeway in how they approach education, they
are, in fact, public schools using public funds. They
must hire state-certified teachers and the children are
subject to the same state-wide testing as all district
schools. Charter schools are subject to the states
educational Administrative Code, a set of regula-
tions that govern everything from attendance to
special education to discipline.
The charter application is one in which you submit a
blueprint for your school, addressing each and every
one of these highly technical issues. In New Jersey,
there are nearly 60 existing charter schools with
various missions. Getting through the application
process is a huge undertaking. Getting opened once
youre approved is even trickier.
In New Jersey, there is no money for facilities. You
have to find and renovate your siteand pay rent
out of your first years budget. There is a start-up
grant available in New Jersey, which is actually
federal money, that you can use to buy desks and
books and pencils and all the things you need to put
into the school. But there is no funding for a school
Now, in our case, we lucked out, because in 2001,
there was a School Facilities Grant Program. This,
too, was federal money, and we as an approved and
yet-unopened charter school were eligible to apply.
We got nearly $1 million to buy and renovate a
nine-acre property we were interested in.
Wahoo! We bought the site and we were thrilled
until we realized the local zoning board would
NEVER give us a variance on the property because
of the vehement public opposition. But we realized
we now had something we didnt have before
equity that could be leveraged for loans and other
And so the search for another site began and a
beautiful 13-acre site was purchased. Right on a
main thoroughfare, on a rolling hillside, with
amazing vistas of the Delaware Water Gap. When I
imagined first our school, that was the setting I
The new property was purchased and the original
site is on the market. We opted for modular con-
struction to keep costs down and construction time
shorter. Unfortunately, the site wasnt ready for our
opening in September, so we arranged to hold
classes in local camp facilities. We have several
camps in our area with heated buildings that not
only host children in the summer, but also run
retreats throughout the year. We were in one for two
months, and then a second one until February 2005.
These facilities and their management were life-
savers and were very gracious hosts to our children.
My children get to be outside a lot of the day, using
nature as a guide and teacher. My daughter, Tess, is
eight today and was just an infant when I had that
burst of enthusiasm and naivete to start the school.
She loves the school, embracing every aspect of its
uniqueness. My nearly 11-year-old son, perhaps
because of his pre-teen disposition, gives it mixed
reviews. He misses his buddies from his former
school and he is adjusting to being in the temporary
sites. But he loves being outdoors and exploring the
diverse landscapes of the area.
While there were many heart-aches and difficulties
in opening the school, the Board of Trustees, parent
volunteers and teachers who have made this school
come alive have been incredible. I, myself, after
working for nearly six years on this project, left the
Board two years ago, suffering from extreme burn-
out. The people who have shepherded this school
into existence are real angels. They took an idea for
better education and made it real.
Was it all worth it? You bet. We know we are
forging new ground here, showing the establishment
that there are alternatives to traditional ways of
thinking. We know the schools values of connec-
tion, respect and awareness will follow our children
the rest of their lives. We know that our children
will grow up to be stewards for the Earth and will be
prepared to help shape how humanity responds to
future challenges. How cool is that?
Lisa Kelly is a member of the Community Sup-
ported Garden at Genesis Farm and a founder of
Ridge and Valley Charter School. She lives with her
husband and children in Hardwick, NJ.
photo courtesy Lisa Kelly
This is the permanent home of the Ridge and
Valley Charter School in Frelinghuysen, NJ.
Opened in September 2004, the school has 90
children in grades K-8. Plans include an
organic garden that will provide food for the
childrens lunches.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 12
by Amy Stein
One afternoon during my internship at an alternative
school for at-risk adolescents, I was thumbing
through a recent issue of a Teaching Tolerance
magazine. An article on therapeutic gardening
intrigued me and I raced to the vice-principals
office to share the article. She encouraged my
enthusiasm and showed me the way to a closet filled
with gardening tools and seeds. Apparently, a
horticulture teacher had initiated a garden, but no
one had pursued it once she left the position.
Dissatisfied and frustrated with traditional therapy
and education, I needed to implement an alternative
solution. These students had no desire to sit in the
confines of a stuffy classroom and discuss their
feelings. We were interminably met with a stream
of obscenities and airborne objects!
Two weeks later on a morning early in March, we
began our therapeutic garden. Although the
temperature hovered around 32 degrees and snow
flurries scattered the air, 12 students diligently raked
and dug up the turf, preparing the earth for the first
planting season. Another adult leader worked with
some of the students to build a compost bin. The
students eagerly asked questions and sawed lumber.
Working with these students in the context of
psychotherapy groups, I had never seen such
enthusiasm or attention to any task. Subsequently,
we worked in the garden, took a trip to a nearby
farm to milk cows, and cleaned up an abandoned lot
for a flower farm. During the farm trip, several
inner-city students expressed interest in working on
a farm. These trips also served to identify new
vocational interests never previously expressed
simply because they lacked the environmental
The majority of the students described were diag-
nosed with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disor-
der (ADD/ADHD). Infusing environmental educa-
tion (i.e., community gardening) into alternative or
general educational curriculums may be one effec-
tive intervention, addressing cognitive and social
deficits in children with ADHD.
Why farming or gardening for ADD/ADHD?
First, it involves constant physical and manual labor.
Movement boosts serotonin levels, a neurotransmit-
ter found to be deficient in those with ADD/ADHD.
Second, it is visual learning. I understand concepts
such as soil composition and nutrient cycles when I
see it for myself, as well as my students. I have
used soil test kits with student to determine the pH,
phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen levels from
soil samples. I split them into groups and they
eagerly fill the tubes, anxiously waiting for the
results. How many of them would comprehend this
explanation from reading a textbook in a classroom
versus actually seeing it in an experiment from our
garden? Third, farming builds community and
group cohesion. Students readily help each other
and staff members. It lends a sense of accomplish-
ment as we cook and eat food together fresh from
our garden, providing lessons in nutrition. Knut
Hamsuns The Village of Segelfoss (1915) focuses
on the disintegration of communities, attributing the
loss to factories and people who have neglected
traditional skills in favor of consumerism, thus
resulting in a severed relationship with the land.
Fourth, there is an interminable amount to learn
about farming such as plant physiology, botany,
seed structure, fruits, vegetables, and soil chemistry.
Fifth, it is one positive way I can think of to channel
addictive behaviors, anger and depression. If
movement does indeed boost serotonin and one is so
engaged in the work, learning new concepts may be
a likely antidote for depression and addiction. It is a
Reaping What You Sow:
The Therapeutic Benefits of Agriculture for Youth
natural high that far surpasses a chemical high. If
farming ignites the hunger for knowledge in some-
one, an insatiable craving to acquire knowledge may
develop. Hangovers are banished to the past; they
consume too much energy and are a frivolous waste
of precious time, time that may be spent outside
harvesting vegetables, tilling the land, or hiking in
the forest and inhaling the scent of white pines. It is
a cognitive-behavioral form of therapy for drug and
alcohol addiction, as studies have found that exer-
cise is more effective than traditional psychotherapy
in alleviating drug and alcohol problems. People
with drug and alcohol problems in traditional
psychotherapy programs report higher rates of
Farming may also be considered a cognitive or
rational emotive form of therapy as maladaptive
thought processes may be restructured; one is
challenged on a daily basis. Learning concepts such
as soil science may increase self-esteem as one
acquires knowledge and gains confidence in his or
her abilities, thus enhancing self-efficacy. Farming
also serves to help identify vocational careers,
perhaps as a farmer, horticulturalist, plant geneticist
or biologist. Furthermore, these are tangible results
as opposed to traditional psychotherapy where there
is more of an emphasis on cognitive results. Posi-
tive thoughts replace the spiral downward of
negative thoughts that often cause one to become
trapped in a centrifugal force, an overwhelming
sensation of drowning with no hope of resurfacing.
Sixth, maintaining an organic food diet improves
health and provides energy. By enhancing ones
diet, often a benefit of farming and gardening,
health invariably improves. In one study, DHA, an
omega-3 fatty acid found in green leafy vegetable,
walnuts and flaxseed oil, increased P300 brain
waves, which are often decreased or persistent in
those with ADD/ADHD. Another study revealed
that approximately 40 percent of children with
ADHD had an omega-3 deficiency.
Farming may be analogous to the benefits of
meditation: teaching patience, the ability to focus
on a task and prevention of distracting thoughts.
Farming, as a meditative activity, may induce alpha
waves, another possible deficit in those with ADD/
ADHD. Farming also teaches the Buddhist concept
of mindfulness as it creates a full awareness of
living in the present moment, as well as an outlet for
channeling aggression and frustration. Living on a
farm has irrevocably changed my life; it is a drastic
reduction in the frenetic pace that most of society
lives. Because I am not bombarded by extraneous
stimuli, the silence allows time for contemplation.
On highways, people speed recklessly by, honk
horns and shout expletives. Parking lots are acci-
dents waiting to happen and as a result, tempers
flare left and right. The congestion, noise, and
pollution are enough to easily provoke a nervous
breakdown in any healthy person. While living on a
farm, my greatest days were watching a cow
meander in the road, holding up traffic, perhaps a
car or two. As the sun set, I took lengthy bike rides
past neighboring farms, inhaling the pungent scent
of cow manure, and watched baby lambs frolic in
the pastures.
Finally, it is the lifestyle that is most appealing.
Farming demands excessive energy for the arduous,
physical labor, yet paradoxically it is relaxing. It is
a return to an agrarian past. Hands down, Id
choose picking blueberries any day over sitting in a
traffic jam, inhaling carbon dioxide fumes. Cooking
and eating butternut squash soup from your farm
with the company of friends is an ideal way to
spend fall and winter evenings. I find great enjoy-
ment picking fresh arugula and radishes from my
garden for a spring salad and farm markets are an
opportunity to swap stories, produce, advice and
build friendships with local farmers.
While working in another alternative school, my
coworker, Stephanie, and I worked with four girls
from a foster home designing and building a farm
stand to sell our produce. As a group, we initially
designed it on paper, integrating geometric formulas
such as the Pythagorean theorem. Although geom-
etry is typically taught indoors, it can be taught on
an interactive level and experientially in such
woodworking and carpentry projects. As an inter-
disciplinary approach, environmental education also
involves other mathematical concepts: measure-
ment, weights, graphing, recording data, designing,
and observational skills. The students work together
to formulate a solution instead of struggling alone
with pencil and paper. If students are working as a
group towards a tangible goal, it is likely to generate
enthusiasm. In addition, I have observed students
directly give each other support, encouragement and
praise during these endeavors. Students also
conquer fears of learning; one student admitted a
fear of math and refused to measure a piece of
photo courtesy Amy Stein
Two students working at the farmstand of the Uhlerstown, PA farm where I worked in 2002.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 13
wood. We worked with her to read the tape measure
and she triumphantly smiled when she measured a
piece on her own, her eyes aglow with pride.
I spent the following year organically farming,
designing and maintaining an acre on a nearby farm,
as well as taught organic farming and art to youth in
the community. One of our students, Megan, helped
me forage for the larvae of the enemy this particular
summer, the cucumber beetle. She overturned the
massive, prickly leaves and cried out larvae, her
blue eyes widening with excitement. She crumpled
the leaf, gleefully squashing the larvae together.
During the egg stage, she enjoyed folding the leaf
over the miniscule, golden eggs and listening to
them pop, like the popping of bubble wrap packag-
ing. While we checked the leaves, we gently
harvested zucchini, patty pan and yellow squash
from their vines.
During their peak in mid-July, I harvested between
200-250 pounds of squash on a weekly basis. We
piled them in large, straw baskets and lugged them
to a cooler filled with water, where we scrubbed the
soil from their green and yellow elongated bodies
and separated them into different baskets at the
stand. Megan and I headed back out to the fields to
cultivate the weeds with hand hoes between rows, a
tedious job that must be done on a weekly basis or
the weeds spread like wildfire. At one point over
the summer, the weeds rampantly outgrew my
plants and a chef I had met in Frenchtown offered to
help me weed. We weeded for three hours and I
paid him in patty pan squash, lettuce and tomatoes
and then I continued weeding for the next three
As we hoed, I asked her about her home life.
Earlier in the summer, she told me that her parents
divorced and she lived with her mother.
Im going to try and live with my aunt here, she
suddenly said.
Because I dont want to live with my mom, any-
Do you get along with her?
Not really.
Why not?
She drinks too much and Im sick of it.
I quietly paused for a moment before responding
and continued hacking away at a weed clinging to
the soil.
Have you tried talking to her about it, letting her
know that it bothers you?
Yeah, but she doesnt listen. She just goes out to
bars and gets drunk.
Who picks her up?
My dad.
For the next hour, she disclosed to me, while
hoeing, her feelings about her mothers alcoholism.
The conversation served to support my theory of
spontaneous therapy, particularly when it occurs
in the context of nature, not in an office. Students
often discuss their personal lives in the context of a
garden, on a camping trip, hiking or canoeing when
it is on their terms; they feel comfortable and can
relate to someone they do not perceive as an author-
ity figure.
In our agrarian past, labels such as ADD/ADHD did
not exist because we applied concepts. Society
consisted of active and interactive professions such
as farming, blacksmithing, and woodworking.
Students were encouraged to pursue such occupa-
tions and they certainly did not stay isolated in-
doors, vacant eyes staring into computer screens or
television. Communities evolved and supported one
another during times of hardship, thus instilling
values such as loyalty, work ethics and cooperation.
Admirably, the Amish build community and family
relationships. One finds children and adults outside
working together, maintaining their homesteads.
Indian tribes, such as the Iroquois, practiced sustain-
able agriculture and lived in communally based
extended families. The psychological, social and
physiological benefits of agriculture for at-risk
youth irrefutably need to be further evaluated in
studies and incorporated into our educational
Amy E. Stein, LMSW, is the author of Fragments:
Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder (Haworth
Press, 2003, She is a
therapist, artist and writer living in Maine.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 14
by Jack Kittredge
Bostons inner city was, of course, once farmland.
Later, as homes popped up, much of it was still
actively used for gardens and fruit trees. But as
density increased lots got smaller and smaller until
there were more homes than open space. By the
1980s the Roxbury section of Boston had experi-
enced white flight, absentee landlords, dilapidation
of housing stock and ultimately abandoned build-
ings, fires, and trash-filled empty lots. So it is no
surprise that someone ultimately decided to start
growing there, again.
One of the more exciting programs connecting
youth and agriculture is The Food Project. The
vision of the Food Project is creating personal and
social change through sustainable agriculture. The
ways they try to do this are various.
For one, there is a summer youth program, which
goes for 8 weeks in July and August. They hire 60
kids, aged 14 to 16. Last year they had 300 appli-
cants for those jobs. Sixty percent of the kids
accepted come from the inner city and forty percent
from the suburbs. Theyre mixed up and assigned to
6 different teams, each with an assistant crew leader
who worked in the program last summer, and a
college-aged crew leader. The crews rotate between
the affluent suburb of Lincoln and Roxbury, with
four in Lincoln and two in Roxbury at any one time.
Each week one moves from Lincoln to Roxbury and
the one that has been at Roxbury the longest goes to
The kids earn a stipend of $145 per week. They
work 9 am to 4:30 each day, in Lincoln raising food
on 31 acres of conservation land for a 240 person
CSA. In Roxbury they grow on two and a half acres
and run 2 weekly farmers markets. Actual farm
work in Roxbury is probably 4 hours per day, with
the rest of the time split between urban agriculture
workshops, tours of the neighborhoods, personal
development workshops, and other personal and
leadership enhancement.
Collectively the Lincoln and Roxbury sites produce
some 200,000 pounds of vegetables in a summer.
Much of this, up to half, is donated to 8 homeless
shelters such as the Pine Street Inn or Rosies Place.
On Wednesdays the Roxbury crews work in the
shelters preparing and serving meals. The shelter
donations go out on Tuesdays so the kids can go in
the following day and prepare the same vegetables
they just raised and harvested. The purpose of the
summer program is to connect kids up to the entire
cycle of food from preparing the land and planting
crops to tending them, harvesting, selling at CSAs
or farmers markets, and serving at the shelters.
At the end of the summer, the organization hires
about 20 crew workers to continue in an academic
year program called DIRT for Dynamic, Intelligent,
Responsible Teenagers. We do three trimesters so
they can do fall, winter, or spring, explains urban
farmer Danielle Andrews. The majority do all
three. They work all day Saturday and weekdays its
optional. Most do Saturday and one three-hour
block after school. On Tuesdays and Thursdays
from September to mid November Ill have kids
sign up to help here on the land. We have a large
volunteer group on Saturdays in the fall and often
on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are the harvest
days. In the winter they work in shelters and help us
do presentations in schools and community centers
to recruit for the summer program. Then in the
spring theyre back here on the land. After that they
will have worked for us for a year and can do one of
about 25 internships the next summer.
The interns can be up to 18, she continues. They
do public presentations, work in the neighborhoods,
meet with officials. Theres a big jump of responsi-
bility from the summer program to an internship.
After you are an intern you can become a fellow.
Thats for someone who has finished high school
The Food Project: Diversity and Food Security
and either isnt going to college or is taking a year
off before going. For some of the youth just making
it through the summer and coming every day is a
big thing. Some do want to continue on in other
One internship is particularly active. The Urban
Education and Outreach internship was founded in
1998 and works to make connections with back yard
gardeners in the neighborhood. Many of the people
there are immigrants from Latin America, parts of
Africa, Cape Verde, or the American South places
where farming is part of the way of life. So many of
them brought that with them. Within a mile radius
of their office the interns have counted over 170
backyard gardens.
We work with those gardeners to spread the
benefits of growing organically, says 19 year old
Food Project fellow Jeff Boucher, and to talk about
the presence of lead in the soil and how thats a
health risk. In addition to handing out material we
also work to remediate the gardens. We work with a
professor at Wellesley College who has a machine
that can analyze soil for the presence of lead,
mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals. The EPA
sets the standard for lead at 300 parts per million. If
it is over 300 it is not safe to grow food in. Some of
these gardens here have upwards of 2000 or 3000
parts per million. Were not 100% sure where it
came from lead paint or leaded gasoline, but we
think its lead paint. A lot of houses here were
burned down for insurance in the 60s and 70s. So it
could come from their paint.
So we test and offer a variety of remediation, Jeff
continues. For a small garden we might excavate
the soil and replace it. But that involves a lot of
labor and means we have to take the soil to a special
waste site because its contaminated. Sometimes we
can find sites where the lead is low and we can
advise the gardener where to grow certain plants
for example along a dripline or the side of a house is
usually a place of heavy contamination. So we
might suggest that thats a place to grow fruiting
vegetables or beans but not collards. Leafy greens
are high lead accumulators. So its better to plant
them in areas where its less contaminated. Some-
times we might add compost to a site and raise the
whole area up. Thats what we did to the West
Cottage garden. We took all the trash off and
brought in enough soil and compost to raise us up 2
feet over where the old soil was. The last
remediation technique is that we will plant lead-
accumulating crops such as collards or mustard
greens and harvest them and replant 4 times over the
course of the summer as a way of pulling lead out of
the soil. You have to bring the crops to the same
waste site. We dont tell anyone not to grow food.
Its a cultural thing and also a means of addressing
food security. But we want to make it safer.
Building Local Agricultural Systems Today
(BLAST), another Food Project program, does
school gardens and food policy work around food
security. BLAST is also networking with other
youth organizations doing similar work around the
country. There is a community garden in the West
Cottage site where twelve residents have raised beds
and raise food organically. The Food Projects
Roxbury office used to be a restaurant, so they have
established a commercial kitchen there. Interns
work with a chef and do a lot of catering, as well as
create a salsa that is marketed in Bread and Circus
and local stores.
The Food Project was founded by Ward Cheney in
Lincoln in 1991. He had farmed and worked with
Outward Bound, and was interested in taking what
he learned in Outward Bound and applying it to
farming. That first year they hired between 10 and
20 kids and brought them out to Drumlin Farm, in
photo by Jack Kittredge
Jeff Boucher, 19, Urban Education and Outreach Fellow, poses at entrance to West Cottage
Street garden in Roxbury.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 15
Lincoln. From there they moved to Codman Farm,
also in Lincoln, and from there to the piece they
currently have.
In 1994 the Roxbury location was added, originally
on land on Langdon Street and then on a second
site. The second site was an acre and a half on West
Cottage Street that had originally held 16 houses.
They had burned, and in 1996 the lot was filled with
abandoned cars and junk. Then in 2004 the Boston
Medical Center offered their 10,000 square foot
roof. The building had been designed with a 9
inches of soil on the rooftop to make a lawn. But it
had been neglected and grew up in weeds. One
Food Project task is now to rip up that lawn, add
compost, and start a garden there.
The group is also planning to add livestock to the
farm experience they want for the kids. We would
love to have farm animals, says Greg Gale, director
of programs. I dont think wed do it in Roxbury
it would be hard with our neighbors. But I think
the conservation commission in Lincoln would be
open to it. Don, our farmer, has always said that
until we have housing for our grower that is proxi-
mate to the land it is asking too much of the farmer.
Right now he lives in Somerville and if the sheep
get out hed be making quite a trip! But we have just
gotten a house less than a mile from the farm and
that might make it possible to solve that problem.
The Langdon and West Cottage garden sites are
leased from the City of Boston on a year-to-year
basis. But the support of a local community group
gives them some extra security. In the 1980s the
Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DNSI) was
able to get the right of eminent domain over empty
lots within a 3 mile radius of its office. It meant that
the organization could contact landlords and de-
mand that they either clean up the lots or face
turning them over to the city. A number ended up
doing just that, and DNSI went on to develop some
300 lots into low-cost housing, community centers
and gardens. (You can learn more about DSNI and
its unique power of eminent domain at The Food Project worked with
DNSI to get the Langdon and West Cottage sites.
The farm in Lincoln is financially self-sustaining.
The CSA covers the cost of the farmer, the CSA/
greenhouse manager, two seasonal growers assis-
tants and all the equipment and seed costs, but none
of the youth stipends. In Roxbury the kids run the
two farmers markets and also sell to Harvest Coop
in Jamaica Plain. In 2003 they sold over $16,000
just off of the urban land. But its expensive to run
those lots. Danielles position is year-round, and
there is a part time farmers market position also.
One of The Food Projects purposes, however, is to
provide the immediate Dudley neighborhood of
Roxbury with affordable produce. So we try to
match the prices of conventional produce at local
supermarkets, says Danielle, even though we use
organic practices. Economies of scale and our
market are both working against us here. Lincoln is
one of the wealthiest towns in America. People can
pay $600 for a CSA share with no problem. But at
our farmers market a large percentage of our
customers come with WIC coupons. Its a different
photo by Jack Kittredge
Summer programer Anthony Simmons and interns Amara Foster and Kieran Prescott
screen compost before carrying it to the new rooftop garden at the Boston Medical Center.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 16
The Food Projects overall budget has grown to $2.2
million and there are almost 30 full time staff. A
large percentage of their support is from founda-
tions, but they also have a USDA Community Food
Security Program grant and have had EPA funding
in the past. Three full time people work in the
development program. The organization has gotten a
number of inquiries lately from other groups,
interested in replicating the experience elsewhere.
As a result staff have written a number of how-to
manuals, and the organization offers multi-day
workshops on replication.
One interesting aspect of the summer program is
weekly Community Lunches. There is one in
Roxbury every Monday and one in Lincoln every
Friday. The day I visited Danielle harvested salad
greens and carrots and beets that morning and
dropped them off at the kitchen. Half of one crew
worked that morning with the chef to prepare the
vegetables, cook them, and serve them to about 60
of us gathered at the garden. Anyone is welcome to
the lunch, but you have to sign up early because the
list fills up a month ahead of time. On my day there
were a number of graduate students doing an
Audubon Expedition who had spent the morning
helping rip up the rooftop lawn.
At each community lunch some of the young people
talk about their personal and work histories, and
plans for the future. Its a part of the programs
training in public speaking and self-confidence
building. Carla Campbell, 19 year-old crew leader
of the team which had prepped and served the
lunch, had us give the crew a hand. She had started
working there at 14 on a crew, then did an intern-
ship, now was a crew leader and had served on The
Food Projects board. She talked about how she had
changed: We have this thing we call straight talk
on Wednesday afternoon after shelter. Myself and
my ACL tell each person what they are doing good,
individually, and what they can improve on. Its a
good system. It helped me a lot when I was a crew
worker. I was a quiet person and my crew leader
was constantly telling me I needed to open up more.
I said: This is who I am, its hereditary. My father
is quiet and Ive always been quiet. But after a
while I started to listen to what my crew leader was
saying. I wouldnt say I talk a lot now, but Im able
to be vocal and tell the world what I think. Ive
already seen a lot of these kids change in two weeks
people being uncomfortable getting their hands in
the dirt now can climb right into a compost bin.
Working as a board member of The Food Project,
she continued, has been very interesting to me as
Ive gotten to see the insides of the organization
how much money it takes, how the money gets dealt
out, all that stuff. I also went to funders with the
executive director and learned about all that. At
Swarthmore Ive been able to do a lot of things very
quickly, while other freshmen are very timid. Ive
been able to meet with the deans, get money, ask for
grants and scholarships because Ive had experience
at The Food Project. And Ive also been able to
galvanize the Swarthmore black community. The
photo by Jack Kittredge
The Food Project built these cedar raised beds for a backyard gardener in the neighborhood.
This land contained too much lead to grow food, so the interns laid down landscape fabric,
built the beds, and filled them with compost and clean soil. The roots cant get to
contaminated soil. The beds will last two or three years and are particularly
helpful for older gardeners who have trouble bending over.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 17
Food Project has allowed me to be proud of my
Carlas assistant crew leader is Daniela
Petuchowski, a 17 year-old who had just graduated
from Brookline High School and will be going to
the University of Chicago. She also spoke about
what she had gained with The Food Project. The
reason why I love the Food Project is that the food
system we have now gives us the cheapest food in
the world but isnt sustainable both because it
exploits the people who work in the system and the
quality of the product is not good. The Food Project
is a really good way to fight that. On a more per-
sonal level theres nowhere in the world where I feel
more comfortable. I feel like its a combination of
the fact that were all coming from different back-
grounds but each person takes each other for who
they are, not for who they are associated with in
their outside life. Its a really good feeling and I
always want to be here, everyday!
The racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of the
youth involved in The Food Project is striking, and
it is remarkable how well they seem to relate to one
another. This is very much a goal of the organiza-
tion, and a product of the program design, Danielle
remarks. The hiring is one of the most challenging
things for us. Its difficult because were really
trying to hire a diverse mix of kids. Racially,
ethnically, socio-economically. But we also are
looking for a different diversity: kids who are
already showing leadership qualities, average kids,
and kids who are struggling in some aspects of their
lives. They fill out an application and come to an
interview which our academic year youth help to
lead. The kids who have stayed on run some of the
interview activities to see how the kids interact.
Most of us here think that the urban/rural link that
we do is really important, she continues, but not
everybody elsewhere replicates both pieces. Its
very much here about bridging communities. Boston
is a highly segregated city so it is extra important
Here are a few of the kids:
Dania Chitolie, 15, is the farmers market intern. She
is from Dorchester and was introduced to the
program by her cousin. I set up the farmers market
and Im in charge of the cash box, she says. I look
up prices at Stop and Shop and compare with ours
to make sure ours are cheaper. My week is kind of
busy. I do community lunches on Monday, work-
shops on Thursday and Friday. Were at the
Childrens Museum on Tuesday from 4 to 6:30, and
we have a market at Dudley Common from 4 to 7.
We take up three tables and put up three tents. There
are about 10 people in the crew so we usually have
enough people to help the customers.
Jeff Boucher, 19, is a fellow. He graduated from
Newton North High School and is taking a year off
before going to UMass/Amherst to study Resource
Economics. Thats economics that takes into
account the depletion of natural resources and the
environment, he says. Normal economics doesnt
take much account of that. I just got involved when
I was 14 because it was a summer job and you get a
free T pass. I didnt give a lot of thought to farming.
But Ive learned a lot and changed a lot because of
the program. I enjoyed being thrown in with urban
kids. I was sent to private schools up through 10th
grade. I was surrounded by unfathomable wealth. I
knew that life wasnt all about money and these
obscenely rich people who have private planes and
chauffeurs. I was very turned off by private school
and was excited to be in a place where I could learn
with a different group of people.
I really never enjoyed school at all, Jeff continues.
Ive always found the Food Project a safe haven
from school where I can feel productive and maybe
do what other kids do at school but I do it in a
different environment. Ive had the opportunity to
do so many things. I got to go down to DC with the
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture a
lobbyist groups for organic farmers. They send us
action alerts to call our Congressperson or Senator
on some program, but theyre real wordy. I read
them and learn about the issue, and then rewrite the
alert in a youth-friendly way. We get that out to
youth organizations around the nation to take action.
Ive learned a lot about lead and soil science, about
remediation, about agriculture and the food system.
But it was done in this practical way, where you put
it to use. In school its so intangible you dont see
what youre doing and why its important. I cant
describe what an asset it has been to me and help me
get through high school. Theyre in youth develop-
ment and they do a really good job of it!
Amara Foster is an intern who prefers working in
Roxbury to Lincoln. Here you can take a whole
crew and get a lot done, she laughs. In Lincoln
there is so much more land! There you feel so small.
The rows are so long! She feels that she has
learned a lot of about food and food choices with
the program: You may not have a lot of choices in
the city, but rather than McDonalds you can make a
photo by Jack Kittredge
Here the young chefs of Crew B and Brad wait to serve the 60 or so people who signed up for
community lunch today at the Roxbury garden.
Kieran Prescott is another intern who has stopped
eating at McDonalds. He has been to NOFA confer-
ences, given tours of the garden, and feels that he
also has learned about good food choices there.
Meeting the suburban kids is good, he says. You
get to meet new friends. I sometimes go over to the
house of a girl who lives in Sudbury.
Jose Castillo is only 14, so this is his first year in the
program and he is only a crew worker. But he says
farming is in his blood: I always wanted to farm.
My family farmed in the Dominican Republic and
they encouraged me to do this. At first it was kind of
boring - the only thing we did the first few days was
reading. But now its better. I like harvesting.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 18
Jan McDonald, Program Director, Politics of Food
In Rochester, New York, a seven-square mile area known as The Crescent
houses the highest concentration of not only the citys, but the countys, and
indeed the regions poorest residents; 80% of Rochester minority working poor
live here. A mere one square mile consists of The Projects and includes
subsidized housing, fast food stores, used car dealerships, and a plaza, sur-
rounded by industry. It is an area where 45.7% of the possible labor force is
unemployed, residents are prey to most of Rochesters violent crime, and the
vast majority of the regions foreclosures and vacant houses, as well as virtu-
ally all of the regions lead-paint-related health problems are centered.
Here, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School #9 serves an at-risk
population where 98.7% of the students qualify for the free or reduced price
National School Lunch Program. Students who eat primarily from this program
and even eat breakfast at school, eat meals prepared offsite and out-of-sight.
This offers few choices of fresh, local food and further disconnects them from
the source of their food supply. Alice Waters, founder of the Edible Schoolyard,
refers to this as a health emergency and a planetary emergency. We have to be
aware of whom were buying our food from and how its produced.
Plowing into the heart of that poverty, Politics of Food founder Alison Clarke
brought her vision of an edible garden to fruition in 1998. She brought together
local low-income students and their families, from multi-ethnic backgrounds
and together began to grow vegetables on land belonging to Coca-Cola. The
uncultivated space was free, vast, and fenced. A water source was promised
and delivered. Seeds were sown and a garden was born. As it doubled in size
over the second and third years, the well-composted soil became nourished,
loved and productive. They grew the three sisters, corn, beans, and squash,
with peppers, tomatoes, root vegetables, herbs, flowers and small fruits. They
harvested nutritious food, eating cherry tomatoes and raspberries fresh from the
garden. What they also learned was that all they worked for could be taken
away from them in an instant.
In the spring of 2002, following the attacks of September 11, Coca Cola
evicted the gardeners as well as an administrator for the Fire Department who
was growing 500 feet of sunflowers, not for anything they had done, but
because of security issues.
School #9 Principal Sharon Jackson then offered the courtyard area of the
school to the Rochester Roots program. Nearby Bethany House, a house of
hospitality for homeless women and their children that also serves as a food
pantry, also donated 30 X 70 of previously gardened land.
The raised beds, perennials, herbs, and small fruits were transferred to the new
gardens. Many hands helped haul whatever could be salvaged to the school.
The city of Rochester Parks and Recreation Department, very supportive of
community gardens, provided fresh topsoil, mulch, and perennials.
Those first years were like running a relay race, as Alison retired, Mark House
came on board as Program Director, we lost the Coca Cola garden, and Mark
resigned, all in a short time period. But, exactly like growing a garden, a seed
is planted; it sprouts, grows, blooms, withers, dies and produces hundreds of
new seeds. Alison and Mark had nourished the ground to support this new
When I took the position of program director, I had already been a Politics of
Food volunteer for twelve years (four on the Board of Directors). With my co-
worker Mary Boite, Resource Librarian and Office Administrator, we were
carrying on the future of the organization.
Alison guided me through the process of working with youth in the garden and
in the after school workshops. Mark volunteered during the transition. Former
and current community partners offered advice and support, and relationships
with an Advisory Board of schoolteachers and parents were formed.
Alison and Mark had exposed the students to consumer/marketing curricula,
culminating in a trip to the local supermarket where they were given $100 of
fake money to buy nutritious meals for a family of four for one week. Most
students already had some experience with culinary skills: they had made
applesauce, baked goods, stone soup with root vegetables, baked cinnamon
parsnips, salsa, etc All had had direct contact with the earth through garden-
ing and even taught me a thing or two!
Their most important needs became clear almost immediately. Nutrient rich
produce was critical; many were overweight or undernourished, creating an
imbalance of emotions and a lack of energy (except when it came to picking on
each other). Teamwork skills needed to be developed - racial rivalry is perva-
sive. The greatest long-term need was work skills development: time manage-
ment, completion of a task, and conflict resolution. But mostly, they needed to
experience success. This would come in surprising ways.
Success Brings Confidence and Pride
During the summer of 2003, 14-year old student Lynda Allen, my daughter
Sienna and I took an Amtrak to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a Rooted in Commu-
nity youth development conference hosted by Growing Power. I attended a Lip
Balm workshop, put on by teenagers. I was so impressed that I decided to try it
with my students. We were already growing calendula flowers, without realizing
their medicinal qualities. We harvested and dried the petals in my attic, and by
August had enough petals to fill four glass mason jars. We purchased almond oil,
beeswax, honey and vanilla scent, lip balm tubes and tins. After the petals had
soaked for six weeks we were ready to process our product. The students dis-
cussed names and decided on Petal Power, for both lip balm and skin salve.
Labels were printed on an ink jet printer.
The students practiced making the products just once, before being invited to
demonstrate at Abundance Cooperative Market. Petal Power was an immediate
hit. The scent of honey and vanilla filled the store and we sold out!
Success became the impetus for more workshops. Two students were invited to
the Webster Montessori School where they expertly weighed, combined, melted,
and poured ingredients into tins, to the oohs and ahhs of their audience. When
working with students it is critical that they be given the opportunity for public
This fun activity has turned into an entrepreneurial component of our program.
The success of Petal Power led us to develop a comfrey skin salve called Green
Power. We now purchase in bulk. An initial investment of $1,400 provided by a
local foundation has been turned into $3,442 profit with an inventory worth over
$2,000. The students continually reinvest their profits into their products and use
the surplus to pay for field trips, conferences, and garden materials.
Then, in 2004, we received a grant from Hunger Action Network of NYS to
purchase three shares in Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported
Agricultures Peacework Organic Farm. In exchange for required workdays on
the farm and at the distribution site, the students receive 27 weeks of fresh, local,
organic produce. While at the farm they conclude with harvesting their calendula
flowers and comfrey leaf. At distribution they weigh, package and label veg-
etables, alongside other shareholders. They are part of the Peacework commu-
nity now, which adds to their self-confidence.
Learning From the Gardens
Gardening with youth is rarely easy. Gardening with youth who have learning
difficulties, poor nutrition, poor social skills, and low self-esteem is even more
Rochester Roots School-Community Garden
Youth Grow Roots in Urban Environment
photo by Matt Apgar
Developing teamwork skills. Nyasha Petillo & Maria Graves integrate leaf
compost into the soil. Warren Dodson & John Thomas work in background.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 19
difficult. One has to have a great deal of tolerance and compassion, while
instilling values that will benefit them in the long run. A garden does not grow
The students now maintain four gardens, and a Japanese Peace and Vegetable
garden is in the planning stages.
The COURTYARD GARDEN at School #9 contains ten 5 X 10 raised beds in
which students grow pesticide free vegetables, herbs, and medicinal flowers. All
produce is distributed to the students for their families consumption. Teachers
and their students also use this garden as a learning center. In 2004 the school
used a 21st Century Grant to transform it into an architecturally designed garden
with benches, a sidewalk, fencing, and a platform for a future greenhouse.
During construction we had to once again move the raised beds, plants and soil
out and back again. A local foundation funded new non-toxic cedar raised beds.
Fresh soil was again provided by the city of Rochester. The garden is now
Produce from the BETHANY HOUSE MARKET GARDEN is distributed to
Rochester Roots students, shared with Bethany House residents, used in nutri-
tion and cooking classes, and sold at the Rochester Public Markets Organic
Day. The garden is a beautiful respite in the heart of an impoverished commu-
nity, growing a diversity of plants, with a high concentration of heirloom and
Native American produce. Seeds are purchased from local Native American
farmer Melissa Jacobs Sacred Seed collection and other organic seed suppliers.
The BADEN STREET PERENNIAL GARDEN grows calendula flowers for
the Petal Power products, as well as other herbs and perennials.
A 6 X 20 parcel of land on PEACEWORK ORGANIC FARM provides more
calendula flowers and comfrey leaf to process the skin care products. Students
harvest and process these plants during the summer.
The youth with whom I work are aged 5 18, including four Rochester Land-
scape Technicians interns. They respond to some tasks with enthusiasm and to
others with total aversion. Each year we save as many types of seeds as possible.
Seed sorting is a task everyone wants to do. They love tactile jobs and looking
at the designs on the beans; they also love to start seeds in peat pots. The feel of
the warm soil is pleasant to their nerve endings and the smell is wholesome. It is
important that youth receive information through all the senses. They love
watering the garden, fighting over the task but learning to take turns. When it
comes to weeding, I have found that one weed a day is all they can handle.
Today we are going to weed out only the purslane. Learning the name of only
one weed at a time is much more effective, and stays with them longer. Lectur-
ing is the absolute worst experience for all of us - so I do very little of it. Youth
thrive on direct, experiential learning, a truth demonstrated in our garden and
also expressed by Paula Vargas, garden volunteer, Montessori directress, and
Board Chair.
I have learned that awareness is the most important part of gardening: be aware
of where students naturally gravitate. For example, eleven-year-old Warren
Dodson could always be found near the vermiculture bin. So maintenance,
feeding and watering the red wigglers became his responsibility. After observ-
ing, digging through the peat moss and decaying plants for several months
Warren knew how they reproduced, what their eggs looked like, what they liked
to eat, and how much food they could handle. In September he gave a workshop
to other students during the NY Harvest for NY Kids Week fair and he was
featured in a local newspaper article. It is important to send out press releases
on the good work that students are doing. Not only does it elevate their self-
esteem, but also it gets your message out to the community that gardening with
youth is vital!
In a short three years the Rochester Roots School-Community Garden students
have participated in a hands-on, experiential, school-based model of learning
that links them to organic gardening, culinary arts, nutritional education, the
environment, culture, and entrepreneurial and work force development skills.
They have attended sustainable living workshops, organic farming conferences,
hands-on organic garden work, community events, fundraisers, and learned
processing and marketing of a product. They are an integral part of a sustainable
community. We know they will take this knowledge, and this feeling of whole-
ness, wherever they go, to the betterment of their families and their communi-
To learn more please visit our website at
photo by Jan McDonald
Warren Dodson and Joel Diaz sorting organic pumpkins at distribution.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 20
by Abbie Nelson, NOFA-VT; Joseph Kiefer, Food Works; Dana Hudson,
Shelburne Farms
Youth involvement in agriculture, to the general public, often means Future
Farmers of America (FFA). This small minority study agriculture in depth and
work the land for their family or, in the near future, for themselves. The majority
of youth, however, have no intention of working on a farm. Agriculture and food
production is the furthest thing from their minds. They might realize that to eat,
there has to be agriculture, but they are far removed from where their food
comes from and the concept of a local food system.
Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) has worked for six years
connecting students, teachers, and communities with many aspects of agricul-
ture. This includes raising awareness about the local community and its agricul-
tural heritage, working with locally grown and processed foods, learning about
the role of Vermont farms and farmers, and learning about good nutrition. We act
as a catalyst for rebuilding healthy local food systems, and cultivate links
between the classrooms, cafeterias, local farms, and communities. This is
accomplished through the 3 Cs: the Classroom with standards-based curriculum
development, the Cafeteria through purchasing local food and nutrition educa-
tion, and the Community through reconnecting people to their food sourcesthe
farms and farmers. Through the development of a farm, food, and nutrition-
based curriculum, students learn the importance of a lifelong healthy lifestyle
and the role agriculture plays in their lives.
This unique approach to food system change in a rural state happens through a
partnership of three Vermont organizations. The VT FEED partners are:
FoodWorks, an educational organization specializing in community-based
food/garden curriculum and integrating themes of hunger prevention, ecology,
and local heritage into K-6 curriculum.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, a nonprofit
association of consumers, gardeners, and farmers who share a vision of local
organic agriculture work to strengthen agriculture in Vermont.
Shelburne Farms, a nonprofit education center and working farm dedicated
to cultivating a conservation ethic by teaching about stewardship of agricul-
tural and natural resources and by practicing sustainable rural land use.
Our goal is to find practical ways to integrate required content and skills by
using the theme of food, farms, and nutrition as a context for learning, not to
create another add-on to an already overwhelming teaching day for teachers. We
have also found that students resist new tastes and appearances of food in the
cafeteria, so that introducing fresher and homemade foods can be difficult. Yet
when students are able to grow, cook, and experience food ingredients in their
classroom or on a farm, they are more accepting. If they handle and taste new
foods along the way, they typically enjoy them and have a greater understand-
ing of what it took to grow and produce that food.
The key aspect that makes this rural farm to school model successful in Ver-
mont is the crucial link of the community. In rural towns, the school is often the
hub of activity and communication. By bringing a spotlight onto the community
and highlighting their community resources of farmers, food producers, garden-
ers, and related businesses, the students develop a sense of their place in their
community. You are what you eat, and in this case we strive to have the
students eat and learn from right around their hometown.
Agricultural Literacy: through the Classroom,
the Cafeteria, and the Community
photo courtesy VTFeed
Elementary students prepare carrot muffins for the monthly
taste test in a Burlington, VT school.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 21
photo courtesy VTFeed
6th graders in Waitsfield, VT harvest pumpkins for a local farmer.
photo courtesy VTFeed
Randolph, VT elementary student enjoys a
school lunch featuring local foods
Through VT FEED the 3 Cs are incorporated in
schools in many different ways. At one school, a
kindergarten through twelfth grade in Chelsea,
Vermont, students are involved in the school-wide
effort to integrate food and agriculture into their
daily lives. In the high school, the Civics in Action
class designed and built a multi-bed school garden
to grow produce for the cafeteria. The community
was involved throughout the building process
from the design to milling wood for the raised beds,
to filling in the beds with topsoil and compost.
Meanwhile, in the same school, middle-school-aged
students are building an outdoor French bread oven.
The elementary students cooked and baked weekly
this Fall, which included preparing and serving
seasonal produce for monthly taste tests in the
cafeteria. In addition, to complete the school wide
effort to connect food, farm, and nutrition with the
youth of the school, the kitchen manager bought
produce from a local farmer all Fall.
In another community, in Randolph, Vermont, an
entire school district food service and local farmers
have devoted themselves to preparing and serving a
monthly local lunch. A farming organization,
Randolph Area Family Farms, coordinates the
farmers and their products. At the school end, the
food service director and the Culinary Arts students
at the high school order and prepare and distribute
the lunch items for four schools. Community
members come specifically to join the students and
enjoy menus such as: winter vegetable soup, turkey
pot pie with seasonal vegetables, whole wheat rolls,
and chocolate chip squash cookies.
This reconnecting youth to food and agriculture
sounds great for a rural setting, but can it be done in
an urban one? Vermonts main urban center is
Burlington, eith eleven schools and 5,000 students
being served in the city limits. At several of the
schools teachers and students are visiting farms,
building gardens, cooking in classrooms, and
weaving sustainability, agriculture, and healthy food
choices into the curriculum. Some students partici-
pate in school-wide monthly taste tests of food
items, mainly produce, that they help prepare and
serve. Students then survey their peers about the
new foods and the popular items are featured on the
school lunch menu in following months. So far, rice
and vegetable casserole, berry crisp, fruit salad, leaf
lettuce and sprouts have been featured. In Septem-
ber 2003 the food service purchased only $500 of
local fresh produce. Just one year later, they spent
$4,000 ($3,000 of which was directly from local
farms) in September!
So, where are the youth in agriculture? Through VT
FEED and the partners, they are making school
gardens, harvesting at local farms, preparing taste
tests with the school food service, or are cooking in
the classroom as part of the curriculum. Through
hands-on experiences and involvement with the
local community members, youth connect to
agriculture through their basic needfood.
For more information contact VT Food Education
Every Day at 802-434-4122 or email:
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 22
by Deb Habib
It was very cold out eight years ago when the first
posts and beams of local lumber were nailed to-
gether here on the land that is home to Seeds of
Solidarity Farm and Education Center. Hammers,
shovels and ideas have been moving non-stop since
then, resulting in energy efficient buildings, four
greenhouses, solar electric systems, a patchwork of
fertile vegetable and garlic fields, and several grease
and biodiesel powered vehicles.
On a busy day, bustling farm apprentices load the
truck with crates brimming with kale and chard.
Teens in our SOL (Seeds of Leadership) Garden
program come looking for a wheelbarrow to haul
compost and maybe another bag of cookies to pass
around. An intern returns with pizza made by kids
and topped with basil and peppers grown at the
school garden we run as part of our Farm to School
program. The phone rings off the hook with folks
wanting to know if there is still space for vendors at
the Garlic and Arts Festival.
Where Are We and How Did We Get Here?
This article focuses on how a non-profit organiza-
tion (Seeds of Solidarity Education Center Inc.) co-
exists with a for profit farm (Seeds of Solidarity
Farm), and the joys and challenges of this relation-
ship. In order to describe this relationship, and
specifically our agriculture-based programs for
youth, here is a little history about the current status
of each entity and how we got here.
Seeds of Solidarity Farm grows salad mix and
specialty greens for restaurants, caterers and food
coops in Franklin County, Massachusetts; we
market from March to December using solar
greenhouses rather than using fossil fuels. We also
grow 16 varieties of garlic, most of which we sell as
seed garlic at the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts
Festival that we organize with our neighbors. The
farm provides for half of our family income.
Seeds of Solidarity Education Center is the non-
profit entity we founded in 2000. Its mission is to
provide people of all ages with the inspiration and
practical tools to grow food and use renewable
energy in their communities.
Programs of Seeds of Solidarity Education Center
SOL (Seeds of Leadership) Garden for teenagers
Cultivating Healthy Communities, a farm to
school initiative
SOL Patrol, a grease and biodiesel powered van
that travels to schools and festivals
The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival
The seeds of Seeds of Solidarity germinated when
we (Ricky Baruc and Deb Habib) met in 1984
working at the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod.
Ricky continued to farm and build near Ithaca NY,
and Deb went on to teach environmental and
multicultural education in Western Mass. We stayed
in touch over the years, marrying in 1994. Ricky
sold his NY farm and in1996 we bought 30 rela-
tively affordable acres of woods, wetlands, and
fields in Orange, MA, a rural, economically de-
pressed mill town near the Quabbin Reservoir. We
sketched out a five year plan that included things
like: have a kid, build an off the grid house, grow
and market food, and do some sort of education
programs. Ricky did not want to go back to
farming 20 acres and trucking produce to the NYC
green markets. I did not want to commit all of my
time to academia. While building our house and first
greenhouse, we focused on building the soil and a
couple of accounts with restaurants. We also aspired
to some sort of education programs on the farm.
Seeds of Solidarity:
For Profit Farm Meets Non-Profit Organization
We quickly realized our new community was ripe
with need, with some of the highest rates of teen
pregnancy, underemployment, and youth in foster
care in the state. A conversation with a local agency
led to us partnering on a grant and starting SOL
(Seeds of Leadership) Garden for area teens in
1999. The success of this program nourished the
initiation of the non-profit organization, Seeds of
Solidarity Education Center. Initially, we hoped that
we could make a livelihood through grants achieved
for education programs but quickly realized this
would be more challenging than we thought, so built
up the farm accounts as well.
The following sections describe a few of many ways
in which a for profit farm and non-profit organiza-
tion co-exist in terms of vision, finances, and land,
with a focus on our programs with youth, and the
joys and challenges of the farm meets non-profit
Is a Non-Profit Structure Right for You?
Whether you are a farmer thinking about doing
education programs on your farm, or someone
envisioning creating a union of education and
farming, it is critical to think carefully about your
goals. There exists a range of possibilities, such as
offering educational farm field trips for schools or
agri-tourism events for profit, or developing a
partnership with a local school or agency where you
can share your expertise as a volunteer, perhaps
writing a small grant together in order to try out
your ideas.
A non profit organization is organized educational
and charitable may be an appropriate structure if
this is your mission, and if you intend to pursue
sources of funding such as grants and private
contributions that are tax-deductible. Founding and
then running a non-profit requires a lot of time,
work, and some initial investment. Read the book
How to Form a Non-Profit Corporation by
Anthony Mancuso as it is a great way to understand
what is involved, and the appropriate structure to
house your educational plans.
Had I known all that would be involved -- extensive
book-keeping and quarterly and annual filings,
board development, liability insurance, the broken
hearts from not getting grants for work you are so
passionate aboutI may not have done it. I was
simply an educator wanting to make possible my
education vision. It has been a rough road at times
with a steep learning curve, though I do enjoy it,
being a compulsive multi-tasker. Five years after
incorporation, Seeds of Solidarity Education Center
is a small but mighty grassroots organization with a
great board, clear mission and growing mailing list
and donor base. As an employee of this organiza-
tion who carries out program development, grant
administration, intern supervision, and pretty much
anything else that comes along, I draw a modest
salary that makes up half of our family income.
Seeds of Solidarity Farm provides land and office
space to the non-profit organization in-kind, which
means we dont charge for it (that would have been
a red flag to the IRS in regards to obtaining tax
exempt status). Thus overhead is minimal, which
enables grants and contributions to go directly into
Success While Remaining Sane
People will sometimes comment on how we have a
bunch of our SOL Garden teenagers helping with
the farm crops. This is incorrect (though we do
have a farm apprenticeship program). Quite frankly,
they dont come near our market crops, because
they are just thathigh quality market crops that
enable us to pay the billsnot an educational
experiment. SOL (Seeds of Leadership) Garden
takes place on an acre of land at one end of our
farm. This grant-funded program is free of charge
to local teens age 14-20 who come once a week,
April to September. It combines lessons in food
systems awareness and community activism with
hands-on gardening. The SOL Garden field hosts a
quarter acre garden, 28 x 48 greenhouse, and the
SOL Shack meeting space, all of which were built
by and for the teen program over the past 7 years.
While physically and financially separate, the
practices in place on the farm inform how and what
we teach the teens, and validate that they are
contributing to food production in the region.
The food grown in the SOL garden and greenhouse
is taken home and eaten by the teens and their
families, many of who are low income. They also
transform their garden harvest into cuisine that we
serve at community meals that the teens help
organize. It is also sold at festivals including our
photo courtesy Seeds of Solidarity Education Center
Youth in Seeds of Solidaritys SOL Garden program help plant gardens at local schools.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 23
Garlic and Arts Festival. These are amazing leader-
ship and community outreach experiences for the
youth. We used to do a weekly, local farmers
market with the teens, but this was more for their
experience than program income, and became too
exhausting what with our own busy harvest and
marketing days on the farm.
We have built incredible relationships with the
youth and their families over the years. That we
welcome them to our land and treat them with
respect enables amazing bonding and communica-
tion, creating a sense of family among the diverse
teens that make up a SOL Garden group each year.
At the same time, weve had to deal with some kids
with really tough lives who did not know how to
accept love or being treated with respect for the first
time. Negative incidents are few and far between,
but real. Overall, the power and promise of SOL
Garden for us, the youth, and our community keep
us all going.
Outreach Versus Inreach
Our other youth agriculture program, Cultivating
Healthy Communities, happens off site. We are
working with six schools in Orange and Athol over
three years to plant gardens and greenhouses and
promote purchases of local food for school lunches
and breakfasts. The success of SOL Garden helped
us to establish positive connections with area
schools. The Cultivating Healthy Communities
project enables us to reach many more students and
teachers, and further our commitment to innovative
public education. Importantly, we expand into the
community without expanding programs on our
farm, preserving our personal and family lives.
We speak, present, teach, and write about our work
with youth and schools and the activities of our farm
(which utilizes renewable energy). Thus, we get
many calls from people wanting to visit. It is hard
to say no to enthusiastic calls and emails, but it
becomes increasingly essential to maintain balance
between public and private time. Weve resolved
this by inviting the general public to come for a
Solidarity Saturdaywe hold two a year during
which we offer a free tour of our site, and talk about
whatever visitors want to know. About 30 people
generally show up, and it ends up being a really
great way for people to meet and network.
Adding Value to the Farm
Many of the restaurants we sell to are interested in
food and agriculture education, but their plates are
already very full. They like purchasing from a farm
that is committed to educating youth and commu-
nity as these values are often aligned with their own
mission. Though chefs and produce managers are
most interested in our freshly harvested, high
quality produce, the educational programs add value
to the farm.
Prospective farm apprentices are often attracted to
the farm because of the education programs. This
can be good and bad. We have learned to tell people
very clearly during the interview process that if they
come as farm apprentices, they are farming, not
working with the education programs (though we do
have a program for interns from area colleges who
do just that). Farm apprentices are most welcome to
take part in our education programs on their own
time, but we have to be very clear in our farm
apprenticeship process to weed out those more
attracted by the education elements so they are not
shocked by the realities of hard sweaty labor.
We hope you will visit on a Solidarity Saturday.
Check out for more
information about our farm practices and education
programs, and to join our mailing list in order to
receive our annual newsletter and calendar of
Deb Habib is Director of Seeds of Solidarity Educa-
tion Center, 165 Chestnut Hill Road, Orange, MA
01364 which she co-founded with her husband
Ricky Baruc, who runs Seeds of Solidarity Farm.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 24
by Deborah Bernstein
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and youre a thousand
miles from the corn field. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Whether youre farming crops or an education and therapeutic program for
children, the task can be daunting. Just ask Dr. Samuel B. Ross, Jr., the founder
of Green Chimneys, a 166-acre farm where children are healed with the help
of animals and nature.
Best known for its signature animal-assisted therapy programs, Green Chim-
neys goal is to restore possibilities for children through nurture and nature.
Its multi-disciplinary approach blends education, recreation, social skills and
therapy while helping children with emotional problems and learning disabili-
ties through a residential treatment program, special education school, organic
garden and active farm and wildlife program.
Theres something magical about nature and farm animals that can help heal
children with problems, says Dr. Ross, who founded Green Chimneys (first
called Green Chimneys Farm for Little Folk) in 1947. At Green Chimneys,
that magnetic force is the catalyst that draws people together.
Research has shown that animals and nature can reduce stress. In response, a
plethora of animal-assisted therapy programs have sprung up in nursing homes,
schools, hospitals, prisons and even places of business. Corporations have hired
specialists to install aquariums and create plantscapes in waiting rooms, offices
and public places. New building design incorporates views of nature for
residents and patients. Why, then, should not residential programs for children
do likewise?
Frequently children feel depressed, withdrawn and unwanted, says Dr. Ross.
They need to feel a sense of connection, a personal bond with another living
thing. For many, a connection to an adult or peer is threatening, so an animal
becomes a logical solution. Lessons learned from animals become the stepping
stones for a human connection. Nurturing and loving an animal and receiving
back unconditional attention and love re-establishes the worth of the child, and
encourages him or her to risk the human connection.
As a child, Dr. Ross was sent to boarding school. Although he missed his
family and friends, he found great comfort in the time spent with the
headmasters dog. He instinctively gravitated towards the animal for a sense of
well being in times of stress or loneliness. Could animals help others?
The idea of offering young people who had to be in an out-of-home situation
at such a young age the comfort of a variety of different farm animals seemed a
natural thing to do, said Dr. Ross. So, the birth of Green Chimneys was in its
simplest form a boarding school for young children that was also a working
farm in the country. The idea was to give to both children and animals a
healthy atmosphere in which to grow up together. Crops were raised to provide
nourishment for both humans and animals. Plants and trees added to the
aesthetic beauty of the site. Chores gave youngsters a routine and taught them
that one can never expect that everything will be provided for them; each
person has a responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of all we enjoy.
The farm became a healing tool.
Even Green Chimneys Boni-Bel Organic Farm, across the road from the main
campus, helps in the healing process by teaching children to respect the earth
and be responsible citizens through an active organic gardening program.
There, resident students plant and tend vegetables and fruit.
Even the hot sun doesnt detract them from their work, said Dr. Ross. Stu-
dents learn about beekeeping and maple sugaring firsthand. An organic garden
behind Green Chimneys School allows younger children and day students to
have the same experience. It avoids transportation to Boni-Bel and makes
access easier. Flower beds and flower boxes are all over the campus. Children
watch flowers and vegetables they have planted grow, gaining a sense of
accomplishment and self-esteem. Some activity is possible in the greenhouses
and classrooms over the winter.
At Green Chimneys, nature and animal contacts range from children who play
with a dog, cat or rabbit during a session with a therapist to the more compre-
hensive approach where children experience an immersion with animals,
plants, horseback riding and adventure activities. For many, animals make the
Why does animal-assisted therapy work? Its simple. Troubled youngsters and
adults can respond to animals in ways they often cant respond to people. The
human-animal contact helps bring out a nurturing instinct. Learning to care for
animals helps develop a sense of responsibility and caring among children who
may not have known that themselves.
We have found that many of our children come to us unable to trust others due
to very difficult situations, says Dr. Ross. They are often jaded and angry.
They are more apt to risk a friendship with an animal because the animal will
not ask questions, will not judge them and will not tell their secrets to anyone.
Green Chimneys:
Green Is the Color of Healing at
a Farm in Upstate New York
Most children arrive at the farm and choose a favorite animal. We arrange for
the child to work with that animal and form a bond. Soon after, the child must
reach out and build a relationship with a human, whether it be a peer or a staff
member at the farm. The desire to care for their animal dictates that they learn
about that animal from others.
The trust and friendships established because of the animals needs and the
childs desire to nurture the animal are often the basis for therapeutic treatment.
The animal acts as a bridge from the child to the staff and peers.
We recognized early on that children and animals belong together for the
betterment of both, explains the founder. It was believed that animals,
gardens, nature and the open space of a farm would be a terrific place for
children who had to be away from home to grow and thrive. For all people,
contact with nature has the ability to reduce stress. For those with special needs,
the presence of something living has proved itself to be an important element in
the healing process.
At Green Chimneys, youll see animals everywhere. There are celebrity horses
like Romeo, whose rescue from abuse in Brooklyn was featured on Animal
Planets Animal Precinct, and Raemar and Spadi, two Icelandic horses given to
Green Chimneys by Senator Hillary Clinton, who received them as a gift of
A wildlife conservation center is home to more than 50 permanently disabled or
imprinted animals, including an American bald eagle that lost a wing in the
Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Spike, Dr. Rosss Pomeranian, can be found in the fund development building.
A golden retriever named Max lives at David Hall, the residential treatment
facility for teenage boys. Children train service dogs as part of the East Coast
Assistance Dog program and there are dozens of small animals such as rabbits
and birds, and farm animals, including some rare breeds. Theres even a Jersey
heifer named Samantha, presented to Dr. Ross by the staff and children for his
A typical day for a student includes chores, special education classes and
programmed activities. The recreation and work assignments are all part of the
healing process. A full treatment team of social workers, child care specialists,
psychologists, health professionals and special education teachers meet with the
youngsters. Together, they plan and carry out a program designed for each child
where the plant, animal, adventure and nature activities are integrated. The
program is an active one that engages children in a meaningful way.
A strong animal awareness program, which is aptly called Farm-on-the-Moo-ve,
brings farm animals and their student caregivers to schools, fairs and other
public sites within a 60-mile radius of the Brewster facility. Students share the
knowledge theyve gained as they transform from service receivers to service
providers. Students build self-confidence and self-esteem, as they do when they
compete with children from the community at the Putnam County 4-H Fair,
where they win blue ribbon after blue ribbon.
Green Chimneys also has an extensive wildlife rehabilitation program. Whether
an immature owl has fallen from its nest or a red-tailed hawk has been hit by a
car, Green Chimneys staff and students are there to help with the rehabilitation
and return to the wild.
Theres a strong parallel between the healing of an injured animal or bird and
the residential treatment program and therapies that help heal our residents,
says Joseph Whalen, executive director of Green Chimneys. For the animals
and birds requiring lifetime care, we can point to the valiant struggle they make
photo courtesy Green Chimneys
Carlton and Nemo, the emu at Green Chimneys, are great friends.
Nemo is one of more than 300 animals that live
on the farm in Upstate New York.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 25
to stay alive and gain new skills. We are able to
point out to our residential students that their desire
to leave Green Chimneys and move to a much less
restrictive environment is very similar.
Year-round, living spaces are alive with animals and
plants. The horticultural therapy program uses
plants and horticultural activities to improve the
social, educational, psychological and physical
adjustment of children. Two greenhouses provide an
opportunity for children to have something growing
throughout the year.
When we came in 1947, there were gardens
everywhere, says Dr. Ross. Where the dormito-
ries now sit, there was one massive garden, so the
first thing we did was hire a gardener. I dont think
my father ever forgave me for allowing Ross Hall (a
dorm) to be built on our famous asparagus bed. We
had tremendous asparagus!
Today, Green Chimneys operates a very active
certified organic farm and garden where asparagus,
peppers, lettuce, basil, tomatoes and watermelon are
just a few of the plants and vegetables harvested.
At Green Chimneys School, life skills classes teach
children how to cook the fruits and vegetables they
pick from the vines or ground. Theres also a
produce stand operated by students and staff where
people from the local community can buy certified
organic produce.
We have approached agriculture as an important
therapeutic tool at Green Chimneys over our 57
years of existence, says Whalen. In the past 10
years, we have invested heavily in our production
and vocational garden at our Boni-Bel organic farm
site. We have developed an organic production
garden complete with an apiary, maple sugaring,
farm produce stand, greenhouse and agriculture best
practice demonstration exhibits. We also recently
expanded our horticulture program by building new
childrens gardens on our main campus near the
Our array of horticulture assets are one the best
offered in our type of setting and, combined with
our 12-month program, it is fully utilized to benefit
the children we serve, adds Whalen. Our future is
ripe for cultivating new programs on top of the great
agricultural infrastructure we have built at Green
Some plans for the future include expanding the
Green Chimneys School store at the Boni-Bel site
and making it a center for community agriculture
experience and learning. This will provide addi-
tional income and positive exposure for the School.
A tree farm and an orchard are also under develop-
Green Chimneys was a pioneer in recognizing the
value of plants and animals, and they continue as
part of the overall therapy for children.
I imagine there will always be skeptics who will
question the efficacy of the alternative therapies
which involve the assistance of animals, the in-
volvement with plants, the dependence on the horse
to bring about certain body movements and the
wilderness to create opportunities for skill building
and team work, says Dr. Ross. Whereas not a
panacea for all our ills, these approaches offer us
additional tools to improve some of our mental,
social, educational, recreational and vocational
programs. The beauty of these approaches is that
they can become part of ones life and are fun. Some
have said one needs to feel pain in order to appreci-
ate what we often just take for granted. Its all right
to smile and feel good. This does not mean the
therapeutic result is not there. Much of what we do
motivates the individual to try harder, to get in-
volved, to be accepting of the help of others. These
are worthy outcomes for people who have endured
rejection and pain for too long.
Green Chimneys is open to the public on weekends
from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the agency offers farm
internships as part of its commitment to training
adults interested in the human-animal bond. The
internship program offers workshops and courses in
conjunction with a number of colleges and universi-
ties. All interns participate in training, which
includes observation time within other campus
departments, training in assigned barns or green-
house, and in-service concerning communication
with the residents. They participate in weekly intern
meetings, and are responsible for knowing the
treatment goals of each student worker, supervising
the worker at the farm, and documenting the student
workers progress toward the treatment goal. Other
interns work at Green Chimneys during their field
placement as part of an undergraduate or graduate
program in social work and education.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 26
by Jack Kittredge
Central Vermont - along Vermonts route 100 - looks like the Vermont of idyllic
imagination, almost as unspoiled as it was when Calvin Coolidge was born here
132 years ago. Vast tracts of protected land maintain the wilderness feel. Small
towns too small to attract franchised fast food look friendly and modest. It is
said that in the winter the nearby ski Meccas attract too much traffic, but in the
summer the greens and blues of mountain and lake make it look almost like
northern Maine.
In such a bucolic setting one is not surprised to find the thriving Farm and
Wilderness Camps. First established by Ken and Susan Webb in 1939, the
organization now has 5 residential camps plus a day camp for younger kids on
4000 acres in the Green Mountains. Three of them, nestled around the Wood-
ward Reservoir, are devoted to involving the campers in caring for gardens and
The original camp, Timberlake, is for 80 boys nine to fourteen years old and
includes a one acre garden. The kids live in open-air cabins with 8 campers, 2
counselors and 1 counselor apprentice. Indian Brook is a similar camp for 120
girls of that age and has another acre in crops. Besides the exposure to farming,
the camps also let kids focus on art, theater, outdoor experiences and trips or
carpentry and work project skills.
In the 1950s the Webbs added a coed camp for 70 teens 15 to 17 years old called
Tamarack Farm, named for a prominent conifer near the lodge. The kids there
cultivate about 3 acres and have a small dairy farm, chickens for eggs and meat,
pigs and sheep. On another lake there are two more F & W camps: one where
kids do a lot of wilderness trips and one where kids live simply, based on native
American traditions.
Although the Webbs turned the camps over to a non-profit organization years
ago, their theory of education and their Quaker ideals live on here. Ken Webb
was a big voice in the philosophy of getting children out of the cities and
suburbs and back into the wilderness and back on the land the pedagogy of
experiential education, says Todd Daloz, director of Timberlake. That phi-
losophy lives on today and is even more important. I do a lot of recruiting and
Ill say: Every thing is unplugged at camp. There are no TVs, no video games.
The parents faces will light up and the kids faces fall. But Id say campers
notice that for the first 15 minutes theyre here. Then its gone. Theres so much
else to do it stretches their brains.
The camps try to balance knowledge acquisition, work and service projects, and
teaching. In all the programs campers dont just learn skills, they also provide a
service and in that way improve their skills, and pass them on to others. In that
way a camper is not rising ahead of someone else, but sharing his or her learning
with the whole community.
Besides having a clear vision of education, the camps also have firm rules of
personal behavior. We have a lot of rules about cigarettes, drugs and candy,
explains Tamarack Farm co-director Tom Barrup. Were fairly strict about it.
The campers sign an agreement that they understand the rules before they come.
If someone smokes a cigarette they are sent home before bedtime that night. But
then if they want to return they can write a letter back to the whole community
explaining what happened and what they want. Then we stop business as usual,
read it to everyone, listen to their comments, and decide whether they should
return. If its yes, they can come back 7 days later. It pretty much makes tobacco
and drugs a non-issue for the summer. Thats really what most of the kids want.
The same with Walkmans or the radio, he continues. They cant listen to
outside recorded music. If you take away a Discman or an mp3 player, the kid is
bummed out at first. But then through the summer you see a kid who has never
played a guitar pick one up. Theyll pick out a tune and after a while here some
kids get really good. I think they recognize the benefit of where their creative
energy is directed.
That philosophy of personal development extends to treatment of other campers,
according to staffer Dan Moring-Parris. I dont think there are a lot of places
that pay as much attention to what it means to be a healthy and free spirit, he
says. We do a lot of workshops with kids trying to figure out what makes a
community or a cabin healthy. We sign group contracts and have them agree to
rules about bullying and teasing and talking about each others bodies and
appearances. We all agree on them and because we have a camper to counselor
ratio of about 4 to 1, there is always a presence reminding them of the standards
for being in a healthy community.
The campers seem to thrive under this approach and want to come back. Tom
estimates that only about 10 of his 72 campers are new, with many having come
to Timberlake in past summers before graduating to Tamarack. Most campers
are from the East Coast, with a lot from New York, Boston, Philadelphia and
Washington DC. Last year a third of the older campers were from Massachu-
setts. Only a few have farming backgrounds.
Theyre used to going to grocery stores, smiles Brian Hsiang, who serves as
farmer for all the camps. Its a great opportunity to show them how their food
is grown.
Farm and Wilderness Camps
If you were to classify our kids, says Tom, youd say they were an unusual
group. You have to have some money to come, or be on scholarship. For the
ones who pay their way, they are less the really wealthy than from a family
where both parents work maybe one is a therapist and one a professor.
Theyre politically aware.
A summer at Farm and Wilderness is not cheap. Tuition for the 8 weeks is
$5550. Four weeks, only an option at the younger camps, is $3550.
Camperships or financial aid, is available on a limit basis to help families meet
the cost. According to Todd the organization gives out 11% of its gross tuition,
or about a quarter of a million dollars, in scholarship aid. A little over a quarter
of the campers get some help.
Every morning the kids go with a team to do some kind of a chore. The projects
are determined by the year-round farming staff and the kids are presented with a
choice at the beginning of each week. Theyre on that project every morning
that week, then they switch. Some will go out and put more sawdust in the
composting toilets, or change the toilet paper. Some will go out to the garden in
the morning and harvest what the kitchen wants for the day. Some work in the
barns with the animals, or learn how to make cheese or other dairy products, or
do construction projects like building a pen or storage area.
Theres a lottery system to guarantee that kids get their first choice some times
during the summer, explains Tamarack Farm co-director Tina Tannen, and
theres enough variety in the garden that one could always be on some garden
project if desired. Sometimes the subtlety of the garden escapes them, but even
then youll hear the same kids tell their parents on visiting day: this is what I
planted! or I hoed that whole row! They speak with great pride about it.
Teams are usually 5 or 6 campers with a staff person, she continues. We
structure it so that everybody goes through the barn chore rotation for at least a
week during the summer. Those campers who really get excited about it can do
more. And once a week we do an all-camp garden project so that even those
kids who never sign up for the garden get out here and see the progress it makes
through the summer.
At Timberlake barn chores involve care for a Jersey/Brown Swiss dairy cow, her
calf, a year-old Guernsey, a sow and 7 piglets, a milking goat, and laying and
meat chickens. Each cabin has barn chores one week out of the summer. The
kids come with a counselor in the morning and do the milking, pig care, and
feed the chickens so that each camper has a sense of what is involved.
Then that afternoon there will be a line up. The counselors explain what theyre
going to do in a little skit - canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, Tai Chi, farm work
and then the kids choose one to go with. On Saturday the campers approach
counselors and ask them to help with something they want to do.
Timberlake also has an achievement system. We call them ratings, explains
Josh Potts, Timberlake Barns and Gardens Activity Head. You can attain a
rating by meeting certain challenges. If you come to barn chores every time for
a week, on the 14th time you get to lead and tell everybody what to do. And you
might have a small project like repairing a fence or cutting down all the thistles
in a pasture. Thats your Barnsman rating. Also there is the Gardener. Thats
if you have your own plot and record data like weather, weeds, insects, plant
growth, plus maybe some other project like weeding a whole section with a
counselor. If you have both the Gardener and the Barnsman, you can be the
Homesteader. That involves a really big project like building a whole fence or
one kid went up to the woods and cut down some trees, carried the logs down
here, split them and made meeting circle benches at the fire pit.
All the 9 to 12 year olds go through all the camp areas in rotation, but the 13
and 14 year-olds have senior projects. They are a little more advanced, like
photo by Jack Kittredge
Kids from The Barn Day Camp, wearing cicada make-up, sample
ripe strawberries on a hike to the Indian Brook garden.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 27
building a compost pile or fixing the pasture fences, plus having camper plots
where they record daily observations.
Craft projects involve pottery and felting. We have our own sheep, says
Brian, and we card our own wool. A guy up the hill does the shearing.
One project of years past at Tamarack Farm was construction of the Chicken
Cathedral a combination greenhouse and animal pen. The theory is that
animals would live below and theres a solar greenhouse up above, explains
Brian. Wed grow stuff up above and there would be a residual amount of heat
rising up from the animals to heat the greenhouse. It would extend the growing
season, maybe even let us get tomatoes before the kids all leave in August. But
it hasnt worked out too well.
We use the expertise of whatever staff we have, adds Tina. One year there
was someone here who knew about straw bale construction, so we were going
to do that. But the next year we had a timber-framer here, so we ended up doing
that instead. Thats one of the things thats nice about the multi-generational
nature of this camp. People can come back and see the things they built. Thats
sometimes why the construction projects are more appealing to kids. They can
say: I did it and its built and its there!
Right now ducks and chickens are housed on the first floor, with baby layers
upstairs sharing space with stocktanks planted with seemingly thriving peppers
and eggplants.
One year a counselor worked at Tamarack Farm whose father knew a lot about
electric vehicles. So he helped campers convert a truck to run on batteries. Its
used for trash runs around the farm. The camp also has a car that runs on
biodiesel that they use for educational purposes.
Most of the projects are designed to get campers familiar with practical skills
and also to do useful work for the camp. Some of the kids working with
animals will get really involved and become what we call barn chore-heads,
Brian relates. Its really an awesome point when its not a counselor standing
up talking about what has to happen, its a kid! Thats when you sort of know
that these ideas you have planted are really taking root!
Tina adds: They go away thinking: Its not this mystery, knowing how to take
care of this land! I could build my own house if I wanted to. I could fix my own
On the subject of toilets, there are a number of composting ones at Farm &
Wilderness. After each use, one drops a cupful of sawdust down the hole and
odors are minimal. In the Spring the staff empties all the toilets into all a bunker
facility where it is turned for a year, getting quite hot and composting. Then the
following year the material is spread out on hay fields the camp manages. The
process is all state regulated. According to Tamarack camper Sarah Armstrong it
is also educational. Its part of this larger system of our wastes feeding us, she
says. We try to find the trail of where our shit ends up back to us. Its put on the
hay, the cows eat the hay, we use the cow manure on the food that grows in the
garden. Its kind of a long trail!
In mid July the campers go on trips. Some are canoeing or hiking trips, but some
are service project trips in which campers live on a working farm for several
days and help out. That way they get to see how an operating farm really works.
Toward the end of the season, in mid August, the camps have a Harvest Day
when everyone goes to the gardens and picks, cleans, and preps the harvest.
Thats when they slaughter the chickens, too. We have a discussion about what
it is to slaughter an animal, says Josh. We have a sign-up for the kids who
want to do that. Some of them think they want to slaughter, but when they get
there some end up not eating meat for the next three years!
The day after Harvest Day is Food Day. On that day they stop, bring the tables
out, and celebrate the bounty of what they have produced. There are musicians
photo by Jack Kittredge
Some of the Tamarack Farm campers make panir cheese in the
basement of the lodge.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 28
strolling about, the kids do skits and all the food eaten at the camps that day
comes from the farm. Theres a lesson you cant find anywhere else, says
Brian, the long term lesson of nurturing something for 8 weeks and taking it
through the whole process. The final part of that process is that you respect it
and you eat it for yourself. A lot of campers are vegetarians, but some of them
will decide that Food Day is an opportunity to go through the process and
theyll eat meat that day. Others are so put off by the slaughter they wont eat
any chicken.
Rather than make the menu stingy, the few items which arent produced there
like salt, pepper or ketchup are available via barter. Someone will stand up
and sing a song to barter for salt, Tom explains. Thats a way of saying that
the salt didnt just arrive. Someone had to say thanks for having it from some-
where. Its a compelling day.
Then, just before the end of the season, the camps cooperate to create a huge
fair. All six camps produce pickles, canned beans, jams and other food from the
gardens, and make games and crafts, and sell them. Many alumni return for the
occasion, and its a popular visiting day for parents. The money raised goes to
the scholarship program.
Respect for the Quaker tradition is displayed in the morning silent meeting. The
campers will gather and sit together for 15 or 20 minutes in a circle in some
quiet spot before starting on the morning chores. Its a meditative time for
them to think about things, says Brian. If they are moved to speak they can
just say it out. Then, once a week on Monday night, well have a town meeting.
The kids get to make certain decisions about what they want to happen during
the summer. We try to work out a consensus about it. Its neat! I went to a public
school in New Jersey and I never saw anything like that!
The camps try to eat as much as possible from their gardens, which are certified
organic by Vermont Organic Farmers. But they cant produce enough volume
and, besides trying not to buy in any lettuce, they supplement with purchased
food. Brian would like to hook each camp up with a local farm, whether organic
or not. We would kind of sponsor the farm and buy all our food from them if
possible, he says. The kids might go out there for a day or two and help out.
We would purchase everything organic if we could, says Tom, but its a
question of money. We might buy everything organic, but then there would be
some campers who couldnt come because we couldnt help them with financial
aid. Theres a whole spectrum of choices to be made. The teenagers go through
tens of gallons of milk a day. It would be a big expense to buy it all organic.
The animals eat organic grain except for the pigs, which eat table waste from
the dining halls. We have a multi-bucket system, Brian explains. We tell the
photo by Jack Kittredge
A double crew works in the Tamarack Farm garden.
photo by Jack Kittredge
Morgan, 9, enjoys watching the meat birds in their
chicken tractor at Timberlake.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 29
kids that compost is anything they couldnt eat
banana peels, egg shells, rinds on fruit. They know
that if there is any meat in the meal, everything that
is not compost is trash. But if theres no meat, then
theres compost, pig slop, and trash. Pig slop is
anything not meat they could eat, but didnt. Our
pigs are well fed!
One chore is to bring out the compost every day to
the garden and dump it in a bin. When that fills up
the garden crew turns it into the next bin, and so
forth through four bins. By the time the fourth bin is
full the season is over and the compost is aging well
for use the next spring.
Up until 5 years ago the camps were pasteurizing
their own milk with small home pasteurizers. Then
one day the state decided they were a commercial
kitchen and not a mom and pop operation. That
entailed not only a larger pasteurizer but also a
special room with cement floor, stainless steel sinks
and washing facilities, coolers, etc. They are in the
process of putting together such a facility, but until
then their own milk must go to the grateful pigs and
chickens. In the meantime, they buy in pasteurized
milk from a local dairy farm.
The day I visited some Tamarack girls were using
that milk and camp eggs and strawberries to make
strawberry ice cream , and others were making panir
cheese. Yet more girls were sheet-rocking and
painting a room in the basement of the lodge for
temporary use as a dairy room until the organization
can raise the funds for a permanent facility.
Its been five years now, sighs Brian, and some
of these kids have never had the experience of
milking a cow and making and eating cheese from
it. We do slaughter the chickens and pigs, but theres
a missing link in the process.
Making the complete cycle from preparing the soil
to eating the food is important to the mission of
Farm & Wilderness. Our goal here is not to turn
out 72 farmers, says Brian. Were not a vocational
tech school. But everybody eats, and were trying to
raise awareness about food. These kids are excited
about making their own food! They are the ones
who in 10 or 15 years will be supporting local
In order to feed that excitement the staff go to
considerable lengths. Brian plants a large variety of
crops to teach about diversity, and times them so the
kids can see their full development, ideally to an
eatable stage.
The taste of fresh vegetables is so different from
what you get in the store, Tina stresses. When
kids taste their first carrot right out of the ground
theyre blown away.
Josh tries to incorporate fun activities into the farm
work at Timberlake, like dressing up in costumes
and taking the calf for a walk. He has silent meeting
in the garden at least once a week so the kids can sit
and watch and notice what has changed. He also has
campers go up in the garden afternoons to read,
draw plants, write poetry, and sketch the animals.
Having farm animals is important to the campers
learning responsibility. Tina tells of the hot day
when someone left a window closed in the room
where the chicks were being raised. They lost
several to the heat and the campers were distraught.
Farm and Wilderness has 3 milking cows (plus
calves) in order to enable the kids to experience the
realities of dairying. The pigs, goats, sheep, chick-
ens and ducks all give the campers different lessons
about the consequences of their actions. If they
leave the gate open and an animal gets out, Tina
explains, or if they get into the grain bin and
overeat, they can die. That life or death case is
pretty dramatic.
The day I visited Todd told the camp they were
getting horses. We just had some Percherons
donated, he revealed. Its part of reinvigorating the
dairy farm. The idea is that after the morning
milking a horse-drawn wagon would go around and
collect the milk from the various camps and bring it
to the processing facility. It would also bring back
the pasteurized milk for the campers in the after-
noon. We want to bring home the connection
between doing the milking each morning and having
that milk for breakfast the next day. Lettuce doesnt
teach the same lesson that milk does.
Farm and Wilderness staff are generally devoted to
farming. Josh graduated from college with a degree
in plant science, but didnt get out of it what he
wanted, which was to know how to grow his own
food. He says he left college just with an under-
standing of how to perform experiments on plants.
He realized that the only way he would obtain basic
knowledge about plants was to work directly with
them. So he found Farm and Wilderness and took
the farmer job: getting the gardens ready, moving
the animals out to the various camps, and taking
care of the garden and animals during the summer.
Now he helps design the programs as the barns and
gardens activity head.
Brian came in 1999 as a summer counselor and
worked for three years. Then he and his wife ran a
small farm in Pownal for a couple years, and he
came back in January of 2004 to take the year-round
farm position. He hopes eventually to start his own
farm. Marinna Hansen, farmer intern at Indian
Brook, wants to be a midwife and is interested in the
birthing of the lambs and calves. Dan is from
Rhinebeck, New York, and recalls watching the
farms there slowly go out of business. I became a
counselor here in 1999, when I was in college, he
says. A lot of my ideals came together here. It is
Quaker based, it has a strong belief in work as a way
of life and a way to support community. I like the
farm and the work projects all around the camp.
I also talked with a few campers about their feelings
about attending Farm and Wilderness. Hannah Reed,
16, is from Connecticut and is a Quaker. She first
went to Indian Brook and is one of many kids who
come several years. I dont think Ill get into
agriculture for a career, she says, but its really
satisfying to start at one place and pull weeds and
then look back and see the whole row really clean! I
help a little in my garden at home. I get inspired
here. I like to go to the barn and visit the animals in
my free time.
Coleman Yunger, 17, is from Washington DC. He
went to Timberlake for two years, and is now in his
second year at Tamarack Farm. He went to a Quaker
elementary school and chose to be one 10 years ago.
He says: The garden is the best part of camp. I like
getting dirty, being down in the mud! I did morning
barn chores all last week its tough getting up at
6 to milk the cow and feed the pigs, but I love it.
Theres nothing better than the smell of a barn in the
morning. It gets you right up!
Sarah Armstrong, 16, is from Brooklyn. She went to
Saltash Mountain, the wilderness trip camp, before
coming to Tamarack Farm. I come from a Jewish
background, but Im not very Jewish! When I was
first looking at the camps this was the one I
wanted, she recalls, but I was only 13 so I
couldnt come yet. Ive been waiting to come here.
My parents said I could come one more time, so I
decided I would go to the farm when I was 16. Its
really expensive!
Nate, 10, is from Connecticut. He says: Its like
really fun. You dont have to do anything, but they
encourage you to. This is my second year. You get
to take hikes, go swimming, make pottery. Next
week we all get to go on a long trip. You cant have
a Nintendo here, but you can have a flashlight. At
Flying Cloud, you cant even have a flashlight!
Ben, 10, is from Maryland. My mother came here
as a kid and thought it would be fun for me, he
grins. She was right.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 30
by Michelle Huang, grant writer and environmental educator
at Common Ground High School
The first time I met 15-year-old Mary Holloway, she was delivering a veritable
treatise on why one shouldnt eat lettuce. Marys scorn stemmed from the fact
that we had to wash several bushels of the vexatious vegetable by hand, a
process that required hours of swirling, dunking, sorting, shaking, spinning and
bug-flicking while stooped over on upturned 5-gallon bucketsnot the most
glamorous task. In her typical good-natured manner, she swore she never
wanted to eat much less look at lettuce again.
Yet after the lettuce harvest has been safely ended by winter snows, Mary will
readily admit that her grumblings were only a guise. Underneath, there lay a
deep appreciation for the work. The best part about the garden, Mary says
later, is watching the vegetables grow and knowing that you made it happen.
You always complain about the work, but its worth it to see the garden grow.
A sophomore this year, Mary is one of 135 students at the Common Ground
High School, a public charter school in New Haven, Connecticut focused on the
environment and post-secondary education. Students at Common Ground earn
a conventional high school degree based on a very unconventional educational
philosophy shaped by the basic concept of ecology: all living and non-living
things on the earth are connected and interdependent, and similarly, life and
learning do not exist in separate disciplines. Education at Common Ground is
interdisciplinary, experiential, and environmentally-focused. Its little wonder
then, that the school is situated on a working farm, where teachers can immerse
their students in nature, up-close and personal, through that full-contact sport
known as farming.
Common Ground is operated by the New Haven Ecology Project (NHEP), a
private, non-profit organization founded in 1990 by local educators seeking to
offer environmental and ecological education to residents in the greater New
Haven, Connecticut area. NHEPs mission is to cultivate habits of healthy
living and sustainable environmental practices for a diverse community of
children, adults and families. To this end, NHEP operates Common Ground
High School and offers environmental education programs for the general
public at its 20-acre organic farm and forest site within the city of New Haven.
Environmental education programs include after-school, school vacation and
Finding Common Ground:
Growing People, Plants and Animals at an Urban Farm and School
summertime programs for elementary and middle school students, farm and
forest tours for visiting groups of all ages, and weekend and evening workshops
for adults and children on themes such as organic gardening, sustainable agricul-
ture, cooking, medicinal herbs, food preservation, nutrition and animal hus-
bandry. The demonstration farm supports a half-acre mixed production garden,
as well as chickens, ducks, turkeys, a rabbit, goat, sheep and pigs.
Common Ground students are regularly involved in farm operations through
school-time, after-school and summertime programs. During Harvest, Egg
and Seed, Politics of Growing Food and Site classes, subjects as diverse as
biology, ecology, organic farming, math and physics are made real through
outdoor work and study sessions in the garden and animal areas. Through our
After-School Employment Program and the five-week Summer Youth Crew,
students get paid to work in the garden, care for the farm animals, build site
photo courtesy Michelle Huang
Common Ground junior Fred Berrocales holding Lucky the Duck
for last Februarys Science Camp middle schoolers
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 31
development projects, and help sell produce at the farmers market downtown.
In addition to these regular opportunities for farm involvement, other opportu-
nities always seem to present themselves. Students have done Senior Projects
on maple syruping and growing seedlings. Biology classes have conducted
experiments with the chickens comparing organic to conventional feed. And
every year, it seems, we have some students who fall in love with the farm,
coming outside during break time everyday just to hang out with the chickens,
pet the sheep or chase bugs in the garden.
For the urban high school students at Common Ground, many of whom have
had limited contact with natural environments, fresh food and exercise opportu-
nities, involvement in the school farm is often a novel, even alien, experience.
At the beginning of the school year, it is not unusual to see new students run
shrieking from a dragonfly or to hear new students say things like I dont eat
things that come from the ground. Some students will resist walking in the
garden where their shoes might get dirty, or doing chores where they might
break a sweat.
On the other hand, many students leap at the opportunity to take a break from
the classroom and will happily shovel compost and run wheelbarrows around
the garden for hours. Construction projects and tractor driving tend to be the
most popular activities, although not exclusively. Junior Daniel Barrett, who
worked on the Summer Youth Crew last year, says that he really enjoyed just
getting into the rhythm of pulling onions, even in spite of the summer heat and
the dirt. And most students will eventually try and even like eating garden
produce. Wesley Frasier, a sophomore this year, got the nickname Rabbit
because he liked eating straight out of the garden. Its this, he says, that makes
him a fan of organic farmingsince washing off pesticides would interfere
with his snacking!
Many of NHEPs community programs also draw heavily upon the educational
opportunities provided by the farm. Farm tours, workshops, and kids pro-
grams on themes such as Harvest and Cooking, Food and Fitness, Sheep
and Wool and Maple Syruping offer youth and adults the opportunity to
witness and participate in farm planting, pruning, harvesting, cooking and
animal care. Kids ranging from preschool to senior citizen age have been
known to pick vegetables, collect eggs and weed beds at our farm.
But it is Common Ground students who typically get to know the farm the best,
benefiting from up to four years of academic, vocational and recreational
involvement with the farm. The school allows students to witness and partici-
pate in agriculture, offering in-depth engagement with the natural worldan
experience that is relatively rare for our urban teens.
It is also an opportunity that we know is appreciated by our students. When
asked about their favorite times on the farm, many students gleefully describe
being chased by Lucky the Duck, our famous fowl-tempered friend who tends
to get ornery during mating season. Students also find satisfaction through the
self-improvement they realize through farm work; in reflecting upon the best
thing he gained from the farm, one student wrote Im normally lazy and tired,
but my work ethic improved greatly. Perhaps the best, though, is when
students express appreciation for the stewardship they practice on the farm,
both for the land and for the community. Sophomore Daevon Strickland wrote
photo courtesy Michelle Huang
Common Ground freshman Troy Robinson harvesting swiss chard
in his Site class evaluation last year, I think my biggest contribution was
helping to build our school, and care for the animals and gardens. It felt good to
know that I was doing this stuff for others and helping them out. At the end of a
hard day of toiling in the fields, its this type of appreciation by our students that
makes all the farm work worthwhile.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 32
by Matt Feinstein
If the movement for community security is making
a quilt of diverse fabrics and carefully-stitched
threads, youth are good for more than just adding
colorful tassels. They can bring vision to the central
questions of shape, color, and stitch. Youth and
agriculture organizations are substantial contributors
to movements working on issues of food security
and community security in general.
In order to address the question, What is commu-
nity security? we need to look at what often makes
people feel insecure. Large media conglomerates
may force the idea that national security, terrorist
attacks, and the unknown Islamic world should be
of utmost concern. These are, indeed, grave con-
cerns for many who follow their TV sets to the
voting booths. But most immediately, and on a day
to day basis, the great majority of people in the US
experience insecurity in relation to how their
community and the economy is treating them.
Perhaps true community security is having access to
basic needs including food, shelter, and sustainable
work in an area that is free of routine violence.
The good news is that there are exciting movements
dealing with these insecurities and building commu-
nity alternatives. The Community Food Security
Coalition ( now has 325
member organizations alone. Some of the fastest
growing groups are the youth-led urban farming
YouthGROW (Growing and Raising Organics in
Worcester) is one of many interesting examples of a
sustainable agriculture organization (with a focus on
local food systems and environmental justice) led by
youth. We began two and a half years ago with an
abandoned lot in the struggling Main South neigh-
borhood of Worcester, Massachusetts. With a lot of
support and inspiration from The Food Project
( of the Boston area, we
organized a summer program based around organic
vegetable production, community organizing, and
environmental and social justice.
One of the projects YouthGROW has taken on is
educating the community around the issue of lead
contamination in soil, using plants that pull up the
dangerous heavy metal from the ground and out of
reach of kids. These scented geraniums, mustard
greens, sunflowers and other lead-accumulators
make great education tools alongside maps that
show how poorer communities of color have an
unequal struggle to deal with the lead poisoning
problem in their neighborhoods. This is where
YouthGROW has overlapped with other groups
trying to end environmental racism and other forms
of environmental injustice. We are not just resisting
bio-terror labs or struggling against toxic contami-
nation, we are building healthy neighborhood
spaces, organized and empowered resident associa-
tions, and the Local Food Systems that best fit our
communities. Behind each of these visions and
alternatives in action, lies a group of imaginative
young people.
Not only are youth organizations closely linked
nationally through coalitions such as BLAST
(Building Local Agricultural Systems Today, and
Rooted In Community (
localgroups.html), but they are part of global efforts
to achieve true community security. One major
piece of these efforts is creating a local food system
that is part of a movement toward alternative
economies. When we harvest tomatoes from the
YouthGROW Community Farm and sell it to the
ARTichoke Food Cooperative one block away, or
bring them to the food pantry down the street, we
are contributing to a piece of a local system that will
Youth GROWing True Community Security
increase the food security of Main South, Worcester,
and make healthy, local and sustainably-grown food
more accessible to people here.
People have been working on similar projects all
over the globe for many years. Inspiration from such
international work came here, for example, at an
Encuentro held in Worcester, MA in November
2004. Women from Unemployed Workers Move-
ments in Argentina shared stories with YouthGROW
members, food justice activists from Maine, Native
Americans from near Montreal, and many others.
As we continue our local work while building these
transnational links, a major challenge we face is
how to form relationships that are truly horizontal,
that do not replicate the hierarchies and dominations
of current social institutions. Essential to this
challenge is creating the space for the young people
to be full and equal participants.
Invitation to participate: There are lots of exciting
ways to plug into the Youth and Agriculture and
Community Security Movements! Heres where
you can get information on a few of them:
YouthGROW/UGROW, a program of the Regional
Environmental Council of Central Mass: http:// 508-799-9139, (YouthGROW is
looking for a summer mentor intern!)
BLAST Network, a project of The Food Project: 617-442-1322,
Worcester Global Action Network, contact WoGAN
to help you find a Global Justice / Community
Security group in your area! http:// 508-335-7783,
photo courtesy YouthGROW
Down N Dirty: The core group and staff of YouthGROW
Summer 2004, a youth program based at a
1 acre urban farm in Worcester, Mass.
photo courtesy YouthGROW
With food grown at the YouthGROW Community Farm,
Damian Albino cooks up a storm at neighboring One Love Caf
with the guidance of restaurant owner/chef, Venice Fouchard.
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 33
Buck, a lifelong resident of this small rural town,
is a graphic artist whose illustration captures the
connection we share, Celebrating our Bond
with the Earth and Each Other, as Bucks
theme indicates.
A young man full of wonderful surprises and
hidden talents, Buck drew his logo submission
while hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail
last month. Hes a member of the Summer
Conference committee and most of you have
probably seen him manning the NOFA Nibbles
tent during the Summer Conference with his
brother, Phil Buck.
(continued from page 1)
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 34
Becoming a Biodynamic Farmer or Gardener:
A Handbook for Prospective Trainees
written and compiled by Malcolm and Susan Gardner
published by the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening
25844 Butler Rd., Junction City, OR 97448
$19.95 plus $6.50 for shipping and handling
95 pages including appendices
reviewed by Jack Kittredge
This handbook is specifically for biodynamic opera-
tions, and envisions an ideal training of up to 4 years
to thoroughly learn the subject. But a number of the
ideas are also useful for other types of sustainable
The handbook starts off surveying the training
options, college-style and apprenticeships. After a
quick discussion of the options, the reader is referred
to a 20-some page appendix which gives dozens of
detailed descriptions of both, plus contact informa-
The second section is on developing ones own
curriculum and discusses existing examples of both
college-style and apprenticeship ones. Again, an
appendix gives numerous skills checklists (animal
husbandry, plant growing, biodynamic preparation
production and application, machinery, construction,
management, etc.) to help the trainee assess the
comprehensiveness of the curriculum.
The third and fourth sections focus on arranging an
internship or apprenticeship, and then making the
most of it. They give good general advice about
thinking through the whole experience, matching
needs and expectations, getting things in writing, and
learning how to handle conflicts. These points are
bolstered by appendices defending old fashioned
training, giving sample agreements and contracts, and
suggesting guidelines on conflict resolution, keeping
a farm journal, and handling farm safety and first aid.
Altogether this is a comprehensive handbook which
would serve either apprentices or mentors well.
That Distant Land: The Collected Stories
by Wendell Berry
published by Shoemaker & Hoard
( 2004
$26.00 hardback
440 pages
review by Carolyn Llewellyn
Wendell Berrys stories illuminate much that has been
lost to rapid change (progress) in American life, yet
show still how the faults and foibles of our kind
remain doggedly unchanged from generation to
generation. The residents of Port William, Kentucky
will be familiar to many readers from tales published
over the last three decades. For the first time all of
Berrys Port William stories have been collected and
presented in historical order in the new collection,
That Distant Land. (The novels are not included,
though they are noted in the table of contents accord-
ing to chronology). A map of the town and its
surrounds as well as a family tree help the reader
keep track of the families, farms, and lives that are so
seamlessly intertwined.
The theme of humankinds deep connection to the
earth is illustrated again and again through narrators
of varying age, gender, and approach. The passage of
time from mid-nineteenth into late twentieth century
is expressed by people and their situations, as well as
the land and its struggles and triumphs. As the stories
progress through the twentieth century, we follow
generations of interconnected families whom Berry
repeatedly refers to as a membership, emphasizing
the local economy which he reveals so beautifully.
Several stories in this collection deal with persons of
the membership growing old and passing from this
world. Berry, an octogenarian himself, brings the
reader inside the mind of Mat Feltner, an old man
who leaves his farmhouse one morning to check on a
fence, and is found crawling home in the evening,
Book Reviews
conversing with sons and friends long departed.
Fidelity, the next-to-last story, describes a son who
rescues (or kidnaps) his father from a hospital so he
may die in peace and dignity in the woods where he
hunted all of his life. The final story, The Inheritors,
describes a young man riding with an old man
home, to the farm from the city, going the wrong
way on a busy, dangerous road.
These stories are bittersweet, heartwarming, and
heart-wrenching too. They get at so many of the
issues we NOFA-types hold dear without preach-
ing or judging; for this reason I think this book
makes an excellent gift to those who might not be
inclined to read The Natural Farmer. My ninety-
four year old grandmother loves these stories. That
Distant Land is a great introduction to Berrys
writing for those unfamiliar with his works, and an
inspiring read for the rest of us.
Timber Framing for the Rest of Us
by Rob Roy.
published by New Society Publishers P.O. Box 189,
Gabriola Island, BC VOR IXO, Canada 1(800) 567-
US$22.95 / Can$27.95
138 pages.
review by Abby Morgan
Timber Framing for the Rest of Us is a compre-
hensive introduction to timber framing methods
using metal fasteners and screws instead of the
traditional methods of wooden joinery. With 27
years of timber framing experience behind him, Rob
Roy takes the reader from the basic physics of
building, to installing posts and girders. He starts
off by giving a brief comparison of timber framing
verses other more common construction styles such
as Standard Stud Construction and then reviews
structural considerations such as load, bending,
compression and tension. Chapter 1 also talks about
building codes and the importance of doing things
right the first time to avoid a heavy slap from the
building inspector.
Roy dedicates chapter 3 to finding the right timbers
for your project, finding them cheaply and how to
properly cure them before construction. He suggests
scavenging for old timbers, but beware of local
building codes that can inhibit the use of old,
however strong, timbers. For procuring fresh
timers a wide range of options are mentioned, such
as hiring a portable sawmill to cut from your own
property, to going to your local sawyer and purchas-
ing them. He provides descriptions of different
species of hardwoods and softwoods that are com-
monly used for timber framing. He mentions where
and how different types of wood should or should
not be used, based on strength, odor, rot-resistance
or shrinkage.
Chapter 4 goes into the actual building techniques,
starting with the foundation, and on up to roofing.
He includes a photo essay of a beautiful timber
frame home built in Washington State by a former
student. The pictures of the different stages of
progress are very helpful and compliment the
technique descriptions well. I found myself refer-
ring to pictures and diagrams (of which there are
many thank goodness!) while reading chapter 4. I
later discovered a thorough glossary in the back that
would have been very helpful! I suggest future
readers of this book to find it and use it!
Chapter 5 is a case study of building the sunroom
addition that Rob Roy and his family added to their
timber frame cordwood home, Earthwood, located
in upstate New York. Again, pictures and diagrams
are plentiful and helpful. Knowing this project was
to be included in a book, Roy uses a wide variety of
techniques previously outlined in chapter 4. This
gives the reader an example of options and how to
use common sense and creative license to accom-
plish what you want.
A little treat at the end is step-by-step instruction on
building an earth roof; something that can be easily
supported by the strength of a timber framed
building and is a fun, creative and inexpensive way
to top your hand-built structure! Finally, Rob Roy
includes about 20 pages of appendices covering
span tables, stress load calculation for beams, and a
list of resources to help you plan and build your
timber frame structure.
Timber Framing for the Rest of Us is a helpful
introduction to the world of timber framing and
construction in general, but should definitely be
used alongside some practical experience and
further reading and research. This book is very
readable for the inexperienced and provides a
healthy amount of tables, diagrams, pictures and
resources with which to move forward. Rob Roy
offers a strong and durable alternative to building a
timber framed home without needing the advanced
carpentry skills required for traditional timber
The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook: Healthy
Cooking and Living with Pasture-Raised
by Shannon Hayes
published September, 2004 by Eating Fresh Publica-
tions, 16 Seminary Avenue, Hopewell, NJ 08525,
609-466-1700, Fax: 609-466-8892, e-mail:
288 Pages
review by Richard Murphy
It was a one of those beautiful fall New England
days that almost demand to be put on a postcard,
leaves appropriately turning, the unique round barn
in sight. We were at the New England Heritage
Breeds Conservanys annual Exhibition and Sale at
Hancock Shaker Village.
This is the place to be if you are interested in
preserving biodiversity or you just like to see some
beautiful animals. I wish to do both and a bit more.
To be realistic, if what are now considered minor
breeds and were once major breeds are to survive,
just being pretty will not do. Such animals either
have to work, provide clothing (wool, hides),
produce food (milk, eggs, etc.) or become food.
Browsing the exhibits, my nose picked up the aroma
of beef on a skillet. A chef associated with the 500
Farms beef producing coop was giving samples
from member farms. Representing NOFA that day, I
struck up a conversation. While talking my eye
strayed to a handsome paperbound volume and
when there was a lull in the conversation, I picked
up the book and thumbed through it. I quickly
realized this was a book that needed to be reviewed,
if only for selfish reasons.
Weve been raising our own beef (from Devon/
Angus crosses to auction orphans) for over 10 years
with mixed results. The standard we have adhered
to has been grass and forage and organic grain only
when necessary after weaning. It is inthis spirit that
I am always looking for tips and help and recipes
specifically for the grassfed animal. Thus my
excitement when I saw that copy of The Grassfed
Gourmet Cookbook.
When the review copy came, I realized it was not
just a cookbook. Shannon Hayes, the author, wants
to tell you why she wrote the book and why you
should read it, and though, in my case, she was
preaching to the converted, she acquitted herself
Chapter One is entitled Grass-fed 101. Here is a
primer on what grass fed is and why it is good. She
also writes about the method. This is where she
changed my life (well, if not my life, at least method
of preparing meat.) On page 5 Shannon gives us
basic principle number 1.
Put away your timer, get a good meat thermometer,
and be prepared to use it. To my mind, this is the
big one.
Of course, after you throw out the timer, you have to
get a good meat thermometer and what is that? I
feel sorry for our carnivorous ancestors who had to
eat all that grass fed meat without benefit of the
right high tech device. Actually, at first, I felt sorry
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 35
for myself, for no one of my advanced years hates to
face learning how to use a technology more than
moi. The instrument she recommends is a little
more involved than the old thermometer you stuck
in a turkey at Thanksgiving. This appliance has a
long probe that goes deep into the cut of meat.
From the probe a long wire goes out the door of the
stove to a read out. The trick is to get the meat to
the correct temperature, regardless of the time. The
important thing is that it works. At least it worked
for us using our gas stove. One small caveat; your
individual stove and/or thermometer may be idio-
syncratic and you may have to adjust for that. Also,
we do not have a scale so we estimated the weight
of cuts. Of course, NOFA members know that
raising local organic food is really more art than
science. That is the great appeal of it all.
There are many other aspects of this book that are
appealing. There are the practical guides that are
tables at the end of each section detailing the
common cuts of beef and their ideal cooking
There is the chapter on finding and working with
your farmer. She gives cutting suggestions for the
different animals. I can vouch for the different rubs
(a mixture of herbs and spices applied directly to the
meat as a dry marinade) which we tried.
If that were not enough, there are several vignettes
of farms and farmers and their stories that others
will find pleasant enough, but those of us trying to
do the same thing might find lyrical.
Shannon Hayes work is not an entirely new direc-
tion. She is giving us a different way to prepare
meat, but she is also building on the work of others.
Indeed, she cites the work of both Sally Fallon and
Jo Robinson. Ill be getting a lot of use out of this
book. Heck, Im just on the beef section. There is
pork, lamb, poultry and even desserts.
This Common Ground: Seasons on an Or-
ganic Farm
by Scott Chaskey
published by Viking Press, 2005
$23.95 paperback, 199 pages
by Chad Skinner
This Common Ground written by Scott Chaskey
is set on Quail Hill farm on Long Islands South
Fork in the town of Amagansett. Established in
1990 through the Peconic Land Trust the farm
consists of some 25 acres. While on an extended
visit to the states from Cornwall where Chaskey had
made his home Scott was invited to a meeting of the
land trust. Through a twist of fate Scott was asked
to manage Quail Hill Farm, and returned to the
States to his new home on Long Islands South
Fork. Scott brought with him knowledge imparted
to him from an elderly Cornish farmer, his family,
and a poets eye for nature.
Based on a series of farm newsletters arranged by
season Chaskey shares his experience of working
the farm, being an educator, and the responsibility
he feels as a steward of the land. We are as likely to
read of the intricacies of raising garlic as we are to
share the admiration for a skilled welder who can
repair farm equipment. Chasky strives to strike a
balance between native plants and wildlife, and the
necessities for producing Organic vegetables on the
scale of Quail Hill Farm. A consummate believer in
the need for cover crops and allowing fields to lay
fallow, Chasky also believes that plowing is an
important part of making the soils nutrients avail-
able. In addition to the land, Chasky has built a
relationship with the community through CSA, local
restaurants, and the education center located on
Quail Hill Farm.
I enjoyed this book. In particular I enjoyed Scotts
willingness to share his philosophy, and what makes
the Organic movement so important. Through
Scotts writing style I found myself transported to
the various places that he describes. From
Cornwall, to Long Island, and Montana, all in a
beautiful water color style. A very good winter read
Common Ground brought renewed enthusiasm for
the coming seasons.
You Are, Therefore I Am, A Declaration of
by Satish Kumar
Published by Green Books, 2002,
$13.60 paperback, 183 pages
Text Printed by MPG Books Ltd, Bodman,
Cornwall England
reviewed by Julie Rawson
When we decided to invite Satish Kumar as our
keynoter for the 2005 NOFA Summer Conference I
went on-line to learn more about him. Honestly, I
had never heard of him and thought that I should
educate myself. I was attracted by a write up for his
latest book, You Are, Therefore I Am. The title
itself spoke of a thoughtfulness about life and how
we relate to one another that is not popular in our
more me-oriented culture.
By happenstance, Jack and I were going to India
this winter, Satishs home country, so I took the
book along. I had started it before we left, but didnt
read much until the 38 hour trip home. With a recent
trip to India under my belt I was doubly impacted
by this book that refers throughout to places and
people in India, many of which I had just seen first
We are products of our culture this was driven
home to me by our trip, and I understood more
painfully while reading this book how our dominant
American culture has from the start been one of
aggression, accumulation, individualism and waste.
Kumar takes us on a personal tour through his life
and personal evolution by way of important and
influential mentors, teachers, national Indian leaders
and associates. At the same time historical about
great Indian spiritual and political leaders, this book
stays grounded in his personal reality, keeping it
easily readable and accessible to people like myself
who struggle with abstract thought.
Through Kumars eyes we first meet his mom, who
grounds us very thoroughly in the Indian agricul-
tural tradition of the Jain people (followers of
Mahavir who gave up all worldly possessions and
founded this most non-violent religion) in the
1930s. This book is worth the cover price for the
quotes alone. Here are a few from Kumars mother:
individuality and wholeness are complementary,
not contradictorySouls render service to one
another and thus find salvation Have you sweated
Next we hear from Gopalji, his teacher, who offered
these words on peace. It may not be so easy to
see the connection between spiritual peace and
political peace, between inner peace and world
peace, but these two aspects are inseparable, totally
interlinked. Personal, political, and planetary
peace are to be pursued together
From age 9-18 Satish lived as a Jain monk giving up
almost all world possessions and studied under
gurudev Tulsi. Here is a quote from Tulsi on dharma
practice. By living a life of compassion (dharma)
we prevent the inflow of karma. We need not
engage in any action in order to live in accordance
with dharma. We only need to restrain from damag-
ing action. Dharma is to be good rather than do
good. This journey from doing to being is a sublime
journey, a subtle journey..
A turning point came in the authors life when he
read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi and he
realized that he needed to be acting more in the
world. He left the monastery and upon returning
home to his mother learned that he was not welcome
to live there as he had broken his vow to live as a
Jain monk for his entire life.
In 1957 Kumar traveled to the south of India to
Kerala (from his homeland in Rajasthan) to walk
with Vinoba Bhave. In his lifetime Vinoba walked
the length and breadth of India and collected 4
million acres of land as donations from landlords,
which were distributed amongst the landless poor. I
have selected some quotes that were meaningful to
me: Give up the desire for the fruit of your action.
When you give up your personal gain you will enjoy
universal gains.When performed with love, action
becomes its own reward.We need not expect
recognition for acting according to our own nature.
.. . We cannot give up action..All we can give up
is the desire for an outcome.Through work we
express ourselves. . . . .It is the desire to impress
others, desire for recognition, for fame and fortune,
which makes work ugly.
Satish Kumar recounts his walk around the world
for peace in his autobiography No Destination and
therefore doesnt go into detail in this book. He
touches in this book, however, on a visit with J
Krishnamurti, who emphasized freedom. Said he,
we have to abandon religious dogma and nourish
the spirit.
A visit with Bertrand Russell, anti-nuclear activist
left him dissatisfied with Russells advocacy of an
aggressive approach to changing governments use
of nuclear weapons. Here I quote what I feel is the
main theme of Kumars thesis for this book; I was
anxious to put forth a Gandhian perspective to
Russell. Maybe if people were at peace with them-
selves and were prepared to live a simpler life which
did not require an unlimited supply of the worlds
resources, there would be no need to build bombs,
there would be nothing to fight over. If people did
not join the armed forces, there would be no army,
and if people practiced right livelihood, no one
would be there to work in the armaments factories.
The politics of peace has to go hand in hand with
the economics of peace and a culture of peace.
Kumar met with Martin Luther King in 1965. Here
are quotes from MLK that struck me: he
warned An eye for an eye makes the whole world
blind. So instead of an arms race I urge countries to
engage in a peace race. Let all nations compete with
each other in inventing better, faster and more
efficient means of making peace True peace is not
merely the absence of war. It is the presence of
justice, equity, and a non-violent social order. Non-
violence is a moral force which can transform
individuals and societies and bring peace. Only
a strong and brave person can break the chain of
hate Justice will produce order, not the other
way around
The last important person that Kumar introduces to
us is Fritz Schumacher, the champion of small is
beautiful. He held the ideal of a holistic, decentral-
ized and local economy. Here are some Schumacher
thoughts paraphrased by Kumarwe were who we
were, human beings, not human havings; the real
needs of human beings are limited but their greed
and wants are unlimited; affluence is the problem
and poverty is the solution.
The last section of the book relates a trip that Satish
Kumar took to India with his family in 2000 where
he visited a number of inspirational people and
institutions that are active today in India. As we had
just seen some of these places, I found this section
incredibly interesting.
One of the many things that I gained from this book
is the immense and long sense of history that the
Indian experience encompasses. As an American of
northern European background I have had no real
cultural identity except that of American which is
rather historically short. As Americans we have the
challenge to learn about the incredible history that
the world offers us and synthesize the lessons that
have been being learned for millennia. From my
perspective, non-violence is a way of life for the
average Indian. With more than a billion residents, it
was my perception that these people have learned
how to live with one another in a mutually depen-
dent fashion. TV and globalization are really
threatening this culture and rapid change is coming,
much to the chagrin of many people that we talked
to while there. But underlying I detected a national
culture of peace and trust that we would be wise to
learn from.
You Are, Therefore I Am is a good read, whether
you go to India or not. I for one am excitedly
looking forward to the keynote at the 2005 NOFA
Summer Conference where Satish Kumar will share
with us his thoughts on non-violence, sustainability
and the culture of peace that we all would be wise to
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 36
by Elizabeth Henderson and Camilla Roberts
Over the past two years, the NOFA Interstate
Council has gone through a strategic planning
process and is reinvigorating its committee structure
in the hopes of offering members more ways to
participate. Camilla Roberts of Vermont has joined
Elizabeth in launching the NOFA Interstate Policy
Committee. To make this work, we need more of
you NOFA folks to join in. There are many openings
on the NOFA IC Policy committee! We would like
to have at least 2 people from each state chapter. If
you would like to strengthen NOFAs voice in the
policy arena, please contact Elizabeth Henderson
( or Camilla Roberts
On our immediate agenda, besides continuing to
keep an eye on the National Organic Program
(NOP), are:
Developing a NOFA position on pasture for
livestock: This issue will be hot during the
winter season because the NOP still does not
have a clear policy on access to the outdoors,
the National Organic Standards Board has an
excellent set of recommendations, Massachu-
setts Independent Certifiers Inc. is taking the
NOP to court on chicken access, and the
Cornecopia Institute has called for an investiga-
tion of the Horizon and Aurora dairy farms for
their failure to pasture cows in the milking
Developing a NOFA position on synthetics in
organic processed foods and in livestock feed
and feed additives: Maine blueberry grower
Arthur Harvey has taken USDA to court over
this issue. Should the court find in his favor,
manufacturers of organic processed foods will
want to reopen the organic legislation and fix it.
This is our chance to say what synthetics and
processes we think are appropriate for foods
labeled organic.
Facilitating the spread of legislation against
GMOs in NE states: Vermont has passed
legislation requiring the labeling of GMO seed,
a good first step, and is working on legislation
making GMO manufacturers liable for any
contamination. See for the
wording. We are sending a letter to UC Berke-
ley denouncing the firing of Dr. Chapela
because of his work on GMOs.
Facilitating participation in the northeast region
in the creation of a grassroots National Organic
Action Plan.
As one of the oldest organic organizations in the
US, NOFA is an important voice in public discus-
sions of agricultural and environmental policy.
Farming, trade and environmental groups turn to
NOFA for support on all kinds of issues related to
organic agriculture, nutrition, farm work, food
safety, community food security and food sover-
eignty. Sometimes NOFA, either as an Interstate
federation or as separate chapters, signs on to the
action alerts of others; sometimes NOFA enters the
fray by sending out our own position statements.
For example, last year NOFA sent a statement to
support rigorous environmental impact standards for
GMOs to the Animal Plant Health Inspection
Service. Since 1989, Elizabeth Henderson has been
representing the NOFAs on the national scene in the
discussions and debates over the national organic
legislation, and since 1997, she has co-chaired the
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
Support a Public Voice for NOFA
Organic Committee (NCSA-OC) together with
Michael Sligh of the Rural Advancement Founda-
tion International (RAFI). Recently, Karen Ander-
son, Executive Director of NOFA-NJ, has joined the
NCSA-OC steering committee.
This is how we propose to work. As a filter for
deciding which issues to take on, the Interstate
Council (IC) has approved a draft set of principles
of organic agriculture. If an issue fits clearly within
these principles, the NOFA Interstate Policy Com-
mittee can swing into action immediately without
consulting the IC. An example would be signing
onto an action alert in support of the MICI suit
against USDA over chicken access to the outdoors.
(To provide humane living conditions that allow
animals to express their basic innate behavior.)
However, if a new issue arises or an issue does not
follow obviously from the principles, we have
created a process map to guide our choice of
actions. If the issue is time sensitive, we put the
question of NOFA action before the IC Executive
Policy Committee, which has one representative for
each chapter. The initial committee members are:
Bill Duesing, Camilla Roberts, Larry Pletcher,
Karen Anderson, Elizabeth Henderson, Fritz Vohr,
and Jonathan von Ransom. The entire IC will then
review positions taken by the Executive Policy
Committee. If there is no rush, we put the question
to the governing councils of all of the chapters. Our
goal is not to produce a NOFA party line. We will
probably never take positions on many issues, such
as gun control, abortion rights or the endorsement of
particular candidates for office. Within NOFA we
agree to agree on a limited set of values and issues.
Here is the first attempt at a draft of Principles. We
took the 2002 Basic Principles from the Interna-
tional Federation of Organic Agricultural Move-
ments (IFOAM) and revised them. Kim Stoner has
pointed out that in our revising we left out a crucial
concept health, so a next edition is already under
way. Please feel free to submit your suggestions!
Policy statements and activities arising from
issues and concerns of the collective seven
NOFA chapters will be in support of at least
one of the following principles:
1. To produce food, fiber and care for land
with methods that are compatible with natural
cycles and living systems of the soil, plants,
and animals in the entire production system.
2. To maintain long term fertility and biologi-
cal activity of soils using locally adapted
cultural, biological, and mechanical methods,
as opposed to reliance on chemical inputs.
3. To promote the responsible use and conser-
vation of water and all life therein.
4. To encourage agricultural diversity on actively
managed land, and to maintain and encourage
biodiversity and wildlife habitats in the surrounding
ecosystem through the use of sustainable production
5. To use, as far as possible, renewable
resources in production and processing,
avoiding pollution and excessive waste.
6. To create a harmonious balance between
animal and crop production.
7. To provide humane living conditions that
allow animals to express their basic innate
8. To foster local and regional production and
distribution so that communities, regions and
nations can achieve food security and food
9. To recognize the social impact of production
practices and to honor those that are humane,
economically just and environmentally sensitive.
10. To provide everyone, women and men,
involved in the food production, processing,
and distribution system the means for a
basically safe, secure, and healthy working
environment and satisfying quality of life.
This requires prices for farm products that
cover the cost of production; fair, negotiated,
long-term contracts throughout the food
supply chain; and dignified work with living
wages for all food system workers.
11. To honor and protect indigenous knowl-
While NOFA has been revising the IFOAM Basic
Principles, IFOAM has been at it as well. An
international task force of 40 people has been
discussing a series of drafts for over a year in
preparation for the World Assembly in Adelaide,
Australia in September 2005. You can read the
entire discussion and the drafts on the IFOAM
website: The current draft reduces
the principles to four broad statements of values and
includes concise and eloquent explanations on how
to understand them. These are the four basic
1. Principle of Health: Organic agriculture should
sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal
and human as one and indivisible.
2. Ecological Principle: Organic agriculture should
be based on living ecological systems and cycles,
work with them, emulate them and sustain them.
3. Principles of Fairness: Organic agriculture should
be built upon relationships that ensure fairness with
regard to the common environment and life opportu-
4. Principle of Care: Organic agriculture should be
managed in a precautionary and responsible manner
to protect the health and well-being of current and
future generations and the environment.
Please send your comments, criticisms, and sugges-
tions to Elizabeth Henderson
( It has been my
honor to participate in the task force and I will make
sure your voices are heard. I also hope to attend the
Adelaide World Assembly in person, if sufficient
funding of $3,000 can be raised.
To support the NOFA Policy Committee work,
$5,000 is needed. Please contribute whatever funds
you can afford to pay for our travel, time, and
supplies! All contributions will be gratefully ac-
cepted! Contributions can be sent to:
NOFA-IC, c/o Torrey Reade (
723 Hammersville-Canton Rd., Salem, NJ 08079
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 37
First Betsy Award Goes to
Michael Phillips, Organic
Orchardist and Author
New York, NY, November 10, 2004: In celebration
of the life and work of Betsy Lydon, who devoted
herself to sustaining small scale food producers by
encouraging local, seasonal eating and an apprecia-
tion for diversified farming, the first annual Betsy
Lydon Slow Food Ark USA Award was presented
last night at the Savoy Restaurant, to Michael
Phillips, a farmer and author based in the Northern
White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Michael Phillips grows a wide array of vegetables
and medicinal herbs but his passion is in organic
apples. Id love to be growing more apples, but
recognize that the orchard can only be a part of our
farms market mix in sparsely populated northern
New Hampshire, notes Michael. Our livelihood
goes in many directions, all of which takes time and
focus. A passion for apples holds only so much
economic promise for those of us in this commu-
nity. Two and-a-half acres of young trees supplies a
community of shareholders with both dessert and
juice fruit.
Michael grew up in a small town in southeastern
Pennsylvania, and despite extended family roots in
farming, he obtained a civil engineering degree
from Penn State. A ten-month career in the Wash-
ington D.C. area-and watching the sun rise in four
lane bumper-to-bumper traffic-was enough to
convince him to retire and seek an alternative
path. Years were spent volunteering at a home for
abandoned children in New Hampshire, where he
was to plant his first apple tree and meet Nancy. The
farm and a life connection to the apple tree followed
from there.
Michaels book, The Apple Grower: A Guide for
the Organic Orchardist, was published by Chelsea
Green in 1998. Michael teamed up with his wife
Nancy to write The Village Herbalist: Sharing
Plant Medicines with Family and Community,
published in late 2001. This couple teaches about
organic apple growing, herbal healing and self-
reliant living at farm conferences throughout the
country, with even their nine-year-old daughter
Gracie leading herb walks.
The real question in all this says Michael, isnt
so much How big can I become? but rather How
can community-based orchards succeed every-
where? Artisanal ciders and freshly-picked apples
that reflect regional heritage have become niche
markets for smaller growers, and to that I can only
lift my cup up high and give three cheers!
The Betsy, which includes a small cash award, will
be presented annually by the Slow Food Ark USA
Project, a program dedicated to saving an economic,
social and cultural heritage - a universe of endan-
gered foods and tastes including animal breeds, fruit
and vegetables, cured meats, cheese, cereals, pastas,
cakes and confectionery. Contributions to the Betsy
Lydon Slow Food Ark USA Award are welcome
year round, and can be sent to Slow Food USA, 20
Jay Street, No. 313, Brooklyn, NY 11201, made by
calling 718-260-8000 or via the web, at
by Tom Stock
A chicken wire fence hangs between posts in the
garden laden with cascades of light green, viney
foliage. I remember planting day. I used my index
finger to poke shallow holes in the soil near the
fence. Id drop in sugar snap pea seeds, watch them
tumble in, green against brown. Id wait two weeks
and finally see the sprouts and long for the day
when I could harvest sugar snap peas.
This yearly early spring ritual is my way to shrug-
ging off the long, hard winter months. I can finally
touch the soil and watch it grow. I can finally go out
each morning and break off food, crunch it in my
teeth, and taste the satisfaction and magic of snow
I always miss some peas when I pick. Some of them
hide behind their leaves. The best way to find peas
is not to have a container when you pick. Just go out
and start looking. Ive found other techniques as
well so that I dont miss any pea pods. GOD FOR-
BID, this has become an obsession. As a naturalist, I
take pride in having good powers of observation. I
can spot small things, birds, insects, hidden flowers.
Another technique to find all the peas is to be doing
something else near the pea vines, like weeding, and
just look at the vines from different angles, with
oblique glances through the textures of cascading
Cool nights this summer have extended the pea
season. Hot weather slows growth. I write this near
the end of the pea season with remorse. Its almost
time to pull the vines and add them to the compost
pile, a sure way to find a few pods Ive missed.
Picking peas at different times during the day also
reveals missed pods. Backlighting uncovers pods
that are otherwise washed out in bright sunlight.
Using different picking strategies has taught me a
valuable lesson. Approach a problem from different
angles, front, sideways, and from the rear. Pea pods
that are hiding on one side of the vine may be in full
view on the other side. Ive learned to slow down
and approach the problem from different points of
A woman named Rose told me her pea story. She
had a miscarriage. A friend told her to look at pea
pods. Some pods have peas, fully developed. Some
dont, the seed never developed fully because the
sperm never reached the egg or for some other
mysterious botanical reason. This helped her healing
process. As she shelled peas, she saw some pods
without peas. The pea pods helped her to grieve the
loss of her baby and reminded her that life does not
always reach its full development.
Meditation on Peapods
Flat, green pods, fresh, new tender ones, with dried
flower petals still attached; old pods with bulges
lined up with pea seeds inside; mature ones that
snap and taste of sugar; dangling; some hidden,
camouflaged. Peas wait for me to revel in morning
dawn, misty wet grass, bird song. I push vines
gently, searching for those hidden ones lurking in
their green mysterious places as tendrils cling to
chicken wired support amid soft leaves and tender,
pale green vines. I am Jack in the Pea stalks, climb-
ing to heaventhis paradise, right here in my back
The Magic of Peas
by Jonathan von Ranson
The NOFA Interstate Council has just completed a
major undertaking: publication of its ten handbooks
on successful organic farming practices in the
Northeast. The NOFA Organic Principles and
Practices Handbook Series is now available for
purchase, as a set or as individual books, singly or
in bulk.
A project committee hired talented organic farmer/
writers to write the handy, 60-110-page books, a
concept that distinguishes the manuals and gives
them a coherent, savvy perspective and approach.
The committee reached deeper into the organic
community to find farmers and scientists with
specialties relevant to the subject to give the books
pre-publication review. This assures that each topic
got up-to-date experience and research. Included in
the volumes are tables, references and, often, farm
profiles. The books are fully indexed.
Funding came from the Interstate Council, NOFA/
Mass and SARE. The series was illustrated by
Jocelyn Langer and coordinated and edited by
Jonathan von Ranson with the help of a committee
of longtime farmers and leaders in NOFA: Bill
Duesing, Julie Rawson, Liz Henderson and Steve
Books are $7.95 each. To order, go to NOFA and the
book ordering page at or contact
Elaine Peterson, or 978 355-
Straight Talk from The Ones on Farming
Organically and Successfully in the Northeast
[Bulk ordering information: $4.50 per book (mini-
mum 6 books of any title), $3.50 order fee plus 30
per book postage. To request review copies, contact
Jonathan at or 978 544-
Here are the handbooks in the series:
Vegetable Crop Health: Helping Nature Control
Diseases and Pests Organically by Brian Caldwell
Whole Farm Planning: Ecological Imperatives,
Personal Values and Economics by Elizabeth
Henderson and Karl North
Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea: Feeding
the Soil on the Organic Farm by Gracce Gershuny
Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping: Soil Resiliency
and Health by Seth Kroek
Marketing and Community Relations: the Organic
Farmers Guide by Rebecca Bosch
Humane and Healthy Poultry Production: a Manual
for Organic Growers by Karma Glos
Organic Dairy Production by Sarah Flack
Organic Seed Production and Saving: the Wisdom of
Plant Heritage by Bryan Connolly
Organic Weed Management by Steve Gilman
Organic Soil Fertility Management by Steve Gilman
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5
Office Manager: Mayra Richter, PO Box 880,
Cobleskill, NY 12043-0880, (518) 734-5495,
fax: (518) 734-4641,
NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC, 840 Front
Street, Binghamton, NY 13905, (607) 724-
9851, fax: (607) 724-9853,
Farm Education Coordinator: Brian Caldwell,
Hemlock Grove Farm, 180 Walding Ln, Spen-
cer, NY 14883-9609, (607) 564-1060,
Public Seed Initiative Project Coordinator:
Michael Glos, Kingbird Farm, 9398 West Creek
Rd, Berkshire, NY 13736-1329, (607) 657-
Rhode Island
President: Fritz Vohr, In the Woods Farm, 51
Edwards Lane, Charlestown, RI 02813 (401)
Vice-President: Isabel Barten, 69 Lenox Ave.,
Providence, RI 02907, (401) 941-8684
Secretary: Jeanne Chapman, 25 Yates Ave.,
Coventry, RI 02816 (401) 828-3229,
NOFA/RI : 51 Edwards Lane, Charlestown, RI
02813, Fax (401) 364-1699,,
NOFA-VT Office, P. O. Box 697, Bridge St.,
Richmond, VT 05477 (802) 434-4122, Fax:
(802) 434-4154, website:,
Executive Director: Enid Wonnacott,
NOFA Financial Manager: Kirsten Novak
Winter Conference & Summer Workshops
Coordinator: Olga Boshart,
VOF Certification Administrator & Technical
Assistance Coordinator: John Cleary,
VOF Certification Assistant: Nicole Dehne,
NODPA Coordinator: Sarah Flack,
Dairy and Livestock Advisor: Nat Bacon,
Dairy and Livestock Advisor: Lisa McCrory,
Office Manager: Kim Cleary,
Ag Education & VT FEED Coordinator: Abbie
NOFA Interstate Council
* indicates voting representative
* Bill Duesing, Staff, Box 135, Stevenson, CT,
06491, (203) 888-5146, fax, (203) 888- 9280,
Kimberly A. Stoner, 498 Oak Ave. #27,
Cheshire, CT 06410-3021, (203) 271-1732
(home), Email:
* Tom Johnson, Whole Foods Liaison, 87 Wells
Rd., Lincoln, MA 01773 (781) 259-0070,
* Mary Blake, P O Box 52 Charlton Depot, MA
01509 (508)-248-5496 email:
* Larry Pletcher, PO Box 204, Warner, NH
03278, (603) 456-3121,
Elizabeth Obelenus, 22 Keyser Road, Meredith.
NH 03253, (603) 279-6146,
CT NOFA Office: P O Box 386, Northford, CT
06472, phone (203) 888-5146, FAX (203) 888-
9280, Email:, website:
President: Peter Rothenberg, 53 Lanes Pond
Rd., Northford, CT 06472-1125 (203) 484-9570
Vice President: Kimberly A. Stoner, 498 Oak
Ave. #27, Cheshire, CT 06410-3021, (203) 271-
1732 (home), Email:
Treasurer: Ron Capozzi, 69R Meetinghouse
Hill Rd., Durham, CT 06422-2808, (860) 349-
Secretary: Mary Tyrrell, 124 Mather St.
Hamden, CT 06517, (203) 287-0368, Email:
Newsletter: Rob Durgy, P.O. Box 17, Chaplin
CT 06235-0288, (860) 455-0881, Email:
Executive Coordinator: Bill Duesing, Box 135,
Stevenson, CT, 06491, (203) 888-5146, fax,
(203) 888- 9280,
President: Frank Albani Jr., 17 Vinal Avenue,
Plymouth, MA 02360, (508) 224-3088, email:
Vice President: Sharon Gensler, 87b Bullard
Pasture Rd. Wendell, MA 01379, (978) 544-
6347, email:
Secretary: Leslie Chaison, 84 Lockes Village
Rd. Wendell, MA 01379, (978) 544-2590,
Treasurer and Executive Coordinator: Julie
Rawson, 411 Sheldon Rd., Barre, MA 01005
(978) 355-2853, Fax: (978) 355-4046, Email:
Administrative Assistant/Fiscal Manager:
Elaine M. Peterson, 411 Sheldon Rd, Barre, MA
01005 (Tuesdays & Fridays, 9:00 am - 4:00
pm), email:
Webmaster: Paul Kittredge, 1884 Columbia Rd.
NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, (202) 667-3425,
Baystate Organic Certifiers Administrator: Don
Franczyk, 683 River St., Winchendon, MA
01475, (978) 297- 4171, Email:
Extension Educator: Ed Stockman, 131 Summit
St. Plainfield, MA 01070, (413) 634- 5024,
Newsletter Editor: Jonathan von Ranson, 6
Lockes Village Rd., Wendell, MA 01379, (978)
544-3758, Email:
Website: Email:
New Hampshire
President: Larry Pletcher, PO Box 204, Warner,
NH 03278, (603) 456-3121
Vice President: Essie Hull, 115 Baptist Rd.
Canterbury, NH 03224 (603) 224-2448,
Treasurer: Paul Mercier, Jr., 39 Cambridge
Drive, Canterbury, NH 03224, (603) 783-0036,
Secretary/Program & Membership Coordinator:
Elizabeth Obelenus, NOFA/NH Office, 4 Park
St., Suite 208, Concord, NH 03301, (603) 224-
Newsletter: Craig Federhen, 50 Little River
Rd., Kingston, NH 03848, (603) 642-5497,
Organic Certification: Vickie Smith, NHDA
Bureau of Markets, Caller Box 2042, Concord,
NH 03301 (603) 271-3685,
New Jersey
President: Stephanie Harris, 163 Hopewell-
Wertsville Rd., Hopewell, NJ 08525, (609) 466-
Vice President: Pam Flory, PO Box 85,
Hopewell, NJ 08534 (609) 466-4217,
Treasurer: William D. Bridgers, c/o Zon Part-
ners, 5 Vaughn Dr., Suite 104, Princeton, NJ
08540, (609) 452-1653,
Secretary: Olga Wickerhauser, NJ Ag. Experi-
ment Station, 88 Lipman Dr., New Brunswick,
NJ 08901 (732) 932-1000 x564,
Newsletter Editor: Mikey Azzara, PO Box 886,
Pennington, NJ 08534-0886, (609) 737-6848,
fax: (609) 737-2366, Email:
Executive Director: Karen Anderson, 60 S.
Main St., PO Box 886, Pennington, NJ 08534-
0886, (609) 737-6848, fax: (609) 737-2366,
Certification Administrator: Erich V. Bremer,
60 S. Main St., PO Box 886, Pennington, NJ
08534-0886, (609) 737-6848,
New York
President: Scott Chaskey, Quail Hill Farm, PO
Box 1268, Amagansett, NY 11930-1268, H
(631) 725-9228 W (631) 267-8942,
Vice President: Maureen Knapp, Cobblestone
Valley Enterprises, LLC, Box 121, 2023 Preble
Rd, Preble, NY 13141, (607) 749-4032,
Secretary: Annette Hogan, 526 State Rte 91,
Tully, NY 13159-3288, 315-696-0231,
Treasurer: Alton Earnhart, 1408 Clove Valley
Rd., Hopewell Junction, NY12533, (845) 724-
Certification Liaison: Mary Jo Long, 534 Chase
Rd, Afton, NY 13730, H (607) 967-8274, W
(607) 639-2783 F (607) 639-2768,
Newsletter Editor: Stu McCarty, PO Box 70,
632 Tunnel Rd., Tunnel, NY 13848 (607) 693-
1572, fax: (607) 693-4415,
Executive Director: Sarah Johnston, 591 Lan-
sing Rd. #A, Fultonville, NY 12072-2628,
(518) 922-7937, fax: (518) 922-7646,
Contact People
The Natural Farmer Spring , 2 0 0 5 39
Saturday, March 5: NOFA NHs Third
Annual Winter Conference, Concord, NH for
more info: 603-224-5022 or
Saturday, March 5: CT NOFA End of Winter
Conference, Windsor, CT for more info: or 203-888-5146
Saturday, March 12: MOFGAs Spring
Growth Conference , Unity, ME featuring
Fred Kirschenmann, Molly Anderson,
Lawrence Woodward, and Jan Schrock for
more info: 207-568-4142 or
Monday, March 28: Marketing Your Live-
stock Products Montpelier VT for more info:
Saturday, April 9: Salad Greens and Seed-
lings in Year-round Greenhouses, Natick, MA
for more info: 413-848-2836
Saturday, April 16: Spring Focus on Veg-
etable Growing, Barre, MA for more info:
978-355-2853 or
Saturday, May 14: Biodynamic Soil Fertility
Management, Amherst, MA for more info:
Saturday, May 21: Small Fruit Growing,
Barre, MA for more info: 978-355-2853 or
Saturday, June 4: Season Extension for
Vegetable Farms and Gardens, Granby, MA
for more info: 413-848-2836
Saturday, June 4: HerbFest 2005, Sponsored
by Connecticut Herb Association, Topmost
Herb Farm, Coventry, CT for more info: 860-
Sunday, June 12: Mid-Summer Focus on
Vegetable Growing, Barre, MA for more info:
978-355-2853 or
Saturday, July 9: Mechanical Weed Control,
Hadley, MA for more info: 413-848-2836
Sunday, July 24: Chickens for Meat & Eggs,
Barre, MA for more info: 978-355-2853 or
Thursday, August 11 Sunday, August 14:
NOFA Summer Conference, Amherst, MA for
more info: or 978-355-
Saturday, September 10: Fall Focus on
Vegetable Growing, Barre, MA for more info:
978-355-2853 or
Saturday, September 24: Preserving the
Harvest, Barre, MA for more info: 413-848-
Saturday, November 12: Next Years Market
Garden Budget, Dover, MA for more info:
You may join NOFA by joining one of the seven
state chapters. Contact the person listed below for
your state. Dues, which help pay for the important
work of the organization, vary from chapter to
chapter. Unless noted, membership includes a
subscription to The Natural Farmer.
Give a NOFA Membership! Send dues for a friend
or relative to his or her state chapter and give a
membership in one of the most active grassroots
organizations in the state.
Connecticut: Individual/Family: $35 to $50,
Business/Institution: $100, Supporting $150,
Student (full-time, please supply institution name)
Contact: Join on the web at or mail
to CT NOFA, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491,
Contact Bill Duesing at (203) 888-5146 or
Massachusetts: Individual $30, Family $40. Sup-
porting $100, Low-Income $20
Contact: Membership, 411 Sheldon Road, Barre,
MA 01005, (978) 355-2853, (Tuesdays and Fridays,
9:00 am 4:00 pm) or email:
New Hampshire: Individual: $25, Student: $18,
Family: $35, Supporting: $100, Basic* $15,
Contact: Elizabeth Obelenus, 4 Park St., Suite 208,
Concord, NH 03301, (603) 224-5022,
New Jersey: Individual $35, Family/Organi-
zational $50, Business/Organization $100,
Low Income: $15*
Contact: P O Box 886, Pennington, NJ
(609) 737-6848 or join at
New York*: Student/Senior/Limited Income
$15, Individual $30, Family/Farm/Nonprofit
Organization $40, Business/Patron $100.
Add $10 to above membership rates to
include subscription to The Natural Farmer.
Contact: Mayra Richter, NOFA-NY, P O Box
880, Cobleskill, NY 12043, Voice (607)-652-
NOFA, Fax: (607)-652-2290, Email:,
Rhode Island: Student/Senior: $20, Indi-
vidual: $25, Family $35, Business $50
Contact: Membership, NOFA RI, 51
Edwards Lane, Charlestown, RI 02813 (401)
Vermont: Individual $30, Farm/Family $40,
Business $50, Sponsor $100, Sustainer $250,
Basic $15-25*
Contact: NOFA-VT, PO Box 697, Rich-
mond, VT 05477, (802) 434-4122,
*does not include a subscription to The
Natural Farmer
NOFA Membership
* Karen Anderson, PO Box 886, Pennington,
NJ 08534, (609) 737-6848,
* Stephanie Harris, 163 Hopewell-Wertsville
Rd., Hopewell, NJ 08525, (609) 466-0194,
* Steve Gilman, 130 Ruckytucks Road,
Stillwater, NY 12170 (518) 583-4613,
* Alton Earnhart, 1408 Clove Valley Rd.,
Hopewell Junction, NY12533, (845) 677-9507,
Sarah Johnston, 591 Lansing Rd. #A,
Fultonville, NY 12072-2630, (518) 922-7937,
fax: (518) 922-7646,
Elizabeth Henderson, 2218 Welcher Rd., New-
ark, NY 14513 (315) 331-9029
* Fritz & Pat Vohr, In the Woods Farm, 51
Edwards Lane, Charlestown,RI 02813 (401)
* Enid Wonnacott, 478 Salvas Rd., Huntington,
VT 05462 (802) 434-4435
* Camilla Roberts, 35 Sleepy Valley Rd.,
Athens, VT 05143 (802) 869-1388,
Kirsten Novak Bower, 65 Wortheim Ln., Rich-
mond, VT 05477 (802) 434-5420,
John Cleary, 407 Rt. 15, Underhill, VT 05489,
(802) 899-3808.
Kay Magilavy, Virtual Rep, 212 18th St., Union
City, NJ 07087, (201) 863-1741
Jonathan von Ranson, Manuals Project, 6 Locks
Village Rd., Wendell, MA 01379, (978) 544-
3758, Email:
Paul Kittredge, Webmaster, 1884 Columbia Rd.
NW #415, Washington DC, 20009, 202-667-
Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson, The Natural
Farmer, NOFA Summer Conference, 411
Sheldon Rd., Barre, MA 01005 (978) 355-2853,,
Elaine Peterson, Credit Card Support, 92 New
Westminster Rd., Hubbardston, MA 01452
(978) 928-4707, Email:
Interstate Certification Contacts
John Cleary, 407 Rt. 15, Underhill, VT 05489, (802)
Carol King & Lisa Engelbert, 840 Front Street,
Binghamton, NY 13905, (607) 724-9851, fax:
Erich V. Bremer, PO Box 886, Pennington, NJ
08534-0886, (609) 737-6848,