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Equipment, Education and Services Cost Sharing Available – NorthJersey RC&D – April 15 deadline.

March 19th, 2021 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Equipment, Education and Services Cost Sharing Available – NorthJersey RC&D – April 15 deadline.)

Now is the time to Apply for Cost Sharing – from 50 % for new Equipment to 90 % for fencing to protect waterways, as well as cost sharing for Education, cover crop seed and soil testing. While you might not want to spend money on equipment or fencing, it is always worth exploring the opportunities, and this has many benefits.

North Jersey RC&D is offering Grants to Farmers in select regions of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, Click on this text to visit Their Website.

North Slope Farm and NOFA-NJ are encouraging eligible farms to benefit from this opportunity! Contact North Jersey RC&D directly, Bridgett Hilshey or Sam Loscalzo, or or feel free to contact Mike, at NorthSlopeFarm; 609-647-9754, if you are interested in assistance with presenting your Farm Plan.

North Slope Farm and NOFA-NJ are focused on supporting NJ Organic Farms, in any way possible. Education opportunties are good and NOFA-NJ has excellent Training Programming. NOFA-NJ also offers mentorship, and this could include a farm at any stage – New or Established.

New Jersey needs viable, vigerous farms and North Slope Farm and NOFA-NJ believe there is room for Specialist Training – to work with Farmers to access the resources they need. The opportunities North Jersey RC&D for cost sharing are the types of things that can help, but sometimes having extra support to get signed up is helpful. Let us know, we’d like to see Farmers Get Ahead..

609-647-9754 to connect with North Slope Farm – “What’s the Next Step?”

New Farm Ventures

March 3rd, 2021 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs | Events and Workshops | References - (Comments Off on New Farm Ventures)

To get prepared,
to Start and Maintain a Farm..
Look: Find similar examples of what you want to do..
Listen: Be honest about the challenges of which you hear..
Feel: Your Work Experience will become your greatest Asset..

But don’t be afraid to change course, and adjust your expectations. The first 5 years are probably the steepest learning curve.

  • You will learn your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Take Note of Resources,
  • Make efforts to Network,
  • Be aware of your Social Support, like family and friends, be upfront with them about your Vision and Plans, many times the support we need comes from previously unknown connections. The easiest examples being, the people we come to know, and Mentors along the way.

NOFA NJ Journey Person Program

ORGANIC OPEN HOUSE – Last Wednesday of the Month Discussion Topics

Thanks to the Exploring the Small Farm Dream Class 2020, and

Instructor: Jess Niederer

Organic Open House – January

January 13th, 2021 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on Organic Open House – January)

Organic Open House – January

Zoom Gathtering – see NOFANJ.org and instruction below for connection

The Journey Persons Path.

NOFA-NJ and North Slope Farm host our monthly Organic Open House, to Gather folks around a topic. For January and February, we are going to Focus on the NOFA-NJ Journery Person Program, starting with a presentation on the concept, and introduction of current and previous JP’s and Introduction to the Program for 2021.

Please Join this conversation, if you, or someone you know might be interested in working with a Farm Mentor. Even just saying so, is the beginning of the Journey.

A Journey Person, by definition, is leaving the comfort, of what is known, and safe. NOFA-NJ invests in providing a Farmer Mentor, to support our Organic Farming Journey Persons. A Mentor’s job is to make significant contact, to ask hard questions, to process hard topics and to develop a lasting relationship, with New Organic Farming Operations, or Existing Organic Operations that want to connect with a Mentor. Journey Persons need to demonstrate a profound Committment to their path, and Mentors are intended to pay attention, to question, to provide support and to encourage.

To learn more, join us on the last Wednesday of January and February, 6-8pm.

Registration on the NOFANJ.org website is best, but if unable to register or join, text your email address to 609-647-9754, on the Wednesday of the event, for a zoom link.

Also – The Organic Winter Conference is virtual this year, very affordable (free to Students and Veterans), and will have a 3-4pm session of NJ Organic Farmers and Journey Persons on Sunday 1/31. Register at NOFANJ.org

Soil Health and Insect Scouting 2020

December 31st, 2020 | Posted by miker in Special Projects - (Comments Off on Soil Health and Insect Scouting 2020)

North Slope Farm 2020 Insect Scouting Report

Scouting and Report by Paige Sirak

(Apologies – Photos were not loading properly, and will be added asap.)

From late June to August of 2020, I scouted insects on three major crops to monitor the effects of the reduced tillage practices on soil biology, namely the insect population. These crops included summer squash, green beans, and carrots. While each vegetable faced its own issues, there was a common presence of beneficial insects among all three.

The summer squash had two main obstacles in the insect world: squash bugs of varying life stages and adult cucumber beetles. The squash bug grows quickly in size and goes through multiple life cycles in a growing season. They are a piercing-sucking insect that causes interruptions in the transport of nutrients to the plant and often leads to chlorosis, wilting, and death of a leaf or a plant (Hahn). This type of damage was commonly seen in the summer squash, especially in the more mature crops (see Figure 1). Although the squash bug caused visible damage, the mature plants were able to cope with the loss of a few leaves in favor of focusing their energy on producing the fruit. Secondly, the cucumber beetle was present on almost every summer squash that was scouted. The cucumber beetle is a biting-chewing insect that feeds on leaves, stems, flowers, and the fruit of the plant, leaving holes and brown spots (see Figure 1). This damage was not severe, but the cucumber beetle is also known to carry and transmit disease (Snyder). Beyond its feeding habits, its high mobility most likely played a part in the spread of powdery mildew among the later generations of summer squash. The powdery mildew, which is transmitted through small spores, had affected much of the later generations of the squash (see Figure 1)(Wyman). However, as these later generations were mature, they were still able to yield fruit without much loss. While there was a significant presence of harmful insects, the summer squash produced marketable fruit and was not critically damaged.

The second crop, green beans, was only slightly affected by insects but was more heavily affected by disease. The bugs that were often found on the beans were flea beetles. These biting-chewing beetles left small holes in the leaves (see Figure 2). The damage was typically reduced to 10-15% of the leaf and did not cause any severe issues. Previously, flea beetles had affected napa cabbage on the farm, but as that crop was not present, the population was not as significant. The beans were facing issues with a fungus, bacteria, or another disease that caused them to brown, curl, and shrivel (see Figure 2). Due to the lack of severe harmful insect presence, it can be concluded that the green beans’ slight struggle was with another foe.

The carrots, the third crop monitored, were experiencing significant rotting damage due to what was previously believed to be the carrot rust fly maggot. The carrots that were monitored often had tunnels that were eaten away and rotting (see Figure 3). In order to identify this pest, the carrots would be pulled and observed, and the soil would then be sifted through to look for any living insects, specifically larvae or maggots. The damage was found mostly on the more mature carrots. While the affected location of damage fluctuated, it became clear that, as the carrots matured, the marred surface appeared on the top/middle of the carrot, as opposed to near the tip. It was this fact that allowed an expert at a NOFA event to identify the pest to be the carrot weevil. The damage between the carrot rust fly and carrot weevil are nearly identical with the exception of the location of the affected area. As carrot weevils are notoriously difficult to get rid of, this issue is expected to persist and harm future carrot crops.

While these crops experienced some unfortunate insect-related issues, there was also a strong presence of beneficial species that were common to all three vegetables. One insect often found was the ladybug in varying life stages (see Figure 4). Ladybugs typically consume harmful pests such as aphids, whiteflies, mites, and cabbage moths (Telkamp). Further beneficial insects included pollinators, such as varieties of bees, butterflies, and moths (see Figure 4). The presence of flowers being grown for market and the wildflower populations on the farm ensured that pollinators were frequent visitors. Additionally, native milkweed was found between fields, which supported lots of these beneficial insects. It served as a habitat for monarch butterflies and caterpillars, as well as for other pollinators and bugs looking for a wild strip of land.

At the end of this project, it became apparent that while the squash and beans interacted with insects in their own ways, they were able to overcome these obstacles and yield a sufficient crop. While the conclusion to the mystery of the carrot weevil was not what we had been hoping for, it helped me gain real-life experience for practices such as the scientific method and research. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to engage in hands-on experience and to have worked with such wonderful and knowledgeable mentors.

Works Cited

Hahn, Jeffrey. 2020. “Squash bugs in home gardens.” University of Minnesota Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/fruit-and-vegetable-insects/squash-bugs

Snyder, William E. 23 December 2019. “Managing Cucumber Beetles in Organic Farming Systems.” eOrganic. https://eorganic.org/node/5307

Telkamp, Mike. n.d. “What do Ladybugs Eat?” HGTV. https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/animals-and-wildlife/what-do-ladybugs-eat

Wyman’s Home and Garden. 1 July 2018. “Powdery Mildew and How to Control It.” Wyman’s Home and Garden Blog. https://wymangardens.com/blog/57740/powdery-mildew-and-how-to-control-it

Season Summary 2020

December 31st, 2020 | Posted by miker in Season Summary - (Comments Off on Season Summary 2020)

Details to come

August Open House 2020

September 30th, 2020 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops | References - (Comments Off on August Open House 2020)

AUGUST OPEN HOUSE

Discussion of Post Harvest Handling

Resource Link: Post Harvest Fact Sheet UC Davis

Resource Link: Properties and Recommended Conditions for long term Storage of Fruits and Vegetables; Compiled by Marita Cantwell

Resource Links thank to Meredith Melendez, NJ Agricultural Extension Service

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Become a Member of NOFA-NJ, and support 35 years of

Organic Farming in NJ

Organic Open House June 24

June 15th, 2020 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on Organic Open House June 24)

Direct To Consumer, Farmer Interface.. 6pm to 8pm

6-6:30 introductions, 6:30-7:30 Special Guests, 7:30-8 discussion and sharing.

Our monthly gathering will be Zooming again this month. Register at the NOFA-NJ webpage, or if trying to join on that Wednesday, text me 609-647-9754, your email address and Ill send you an invitation to join, around 6 pm.

Check out these Links:

Rutgers On Farm, Food Safety Covid-19 info

Fresh From Zone 7 ;Farm Products

West Windsor and Trenton Farmers Markets

Dogwood Farms ; NJ Organic Farm and Retail

Bone-In Food; Home Delivery Quality Foods

Special Guests confirmed to date; Meredith Melendez, County Agricultural Agent, to discuss Food Safety Best Management Practices. Mike Azzara, Zone 7 Produce Supplier, to discuss managing changing marketing strategies and staff topics. Chris Cirkus, Manager of West Windsor and Trenton Farmers Markets, to relate experiences from the front lines of protecting food access and farmer outlets. Also, Jon Knox of Dogwood Farms, Ron and Virginia from Bone -In Foods, to discuss managing home delivery. Organic Farmers to share insights and discuss strategies.

Join us, to hear from these folks, collect some good info, ask questions and generally connect with our NJ Organic Community.

Organic Open House 5/27/20

May 25th, 2020 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on Organic Open House 5/27/20)

Organic Open House May 27, 2020 6pm-8pm

Send your email address to receive an invitation to the zoom – to northslopefarm@comcast.net, or text your email address to mike at 609-647-9754

Awareness and Influences – and your questions about NOFA-NJ and Organic Farming in New Jersey!

Each Month, North Slope Farm and NOFA-NJ co-host an Organic Gathering.

May 2020, will start by asking each participant to share their Name, occupation (these days), and Location. If you are new to the Open House, please share something about what has brought you to join? We will try to address specific questions, early on.

Once we’ve welcomed newcomers and heard around the table, what’s the latest in the Organic Community, As host, I suggest the topic of, “coping with stress, insecurity and life’s challenges.”

I ask everyone to think about the practices, teachers, guidance’s and safety measures they use, to cope with stress and insecurity. Specific authors, books, movies, teachers, practices can be shared with the group by sharing a “Chat”, as well as your spoken word.

I find myself aware, that the influence of stress in my life, is reducing the joy I feel even when I am facing a joyful scene, like a child laughing or dogs playing. Being aware of the situation, I am aware I need to focus on my disciples – to stay healthy and find positive guidance and support, to help me through the fog. No one should be expected to get through these days, without some vulnerabilities being tested!!

I find comfort in a regular schedule, I am happiest when I am outside, I need time to think about whatever comes to me. These are my strengths, they are why I love farming, and I am looking forward to gathering with a bunch of Organic Minded folks on Wednesday night.

Register to join the Zoom, even if you can join last minute, text Mike 609-647-9754, your email address, to be invited, during the Zoom, 6pm-8pm. If we can add you, we will.

Totally Informal Format, please remember it is a public space, so our discussion will be focused on the appreciation of individual experiences and awarnesses, to the benefit of the group. We can field questions about Organic and NOFA-NJ, and folks can come and go, its an Open House!

Prepping for the Farmers Market, in the Year of Covid-19

May 15th, 2020 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs | Musings from the Field - (Comments Off on Prepping for the Farmers Market, in the Year of Covid-19)

This Friday, my partner Colleen, and our friend Tami, and I, harvested a lot; hardy greens, Kales, Napa, Collards, Spinach and some Swiss Chard. Yesterday I had harvested Arugula and Micro Greens. We also had a stash of Radishes from a previous harvest.

I am very particular about the Produce rinsing, so that is my Job. Fill the bulk tanks, immerse and agitate the produce, spin it dry, bulk pack it into bio bags, until we package.

Colleen and Tami returned from lunch, garbed themselves in face masks, and packed greens for about 4 hours.

All this is fairly normal, except that the whole time, we were wearing face masks. And both Moms had to get their kids connected and functioning with Virtual School in the morning and another chance to reinforce the need to “do your virtual school work!” while trying to make lunch and get a bite themselves.

Our Farmers Market has taken many steps to accommodate Social Distancing and avoiding crowds. They have posted instructions for a new entrance, allowing a line of cars to wait until being allowed into the parking area. Instructions on customer behaviors – wear a mask, don’t bring kids, don’t loiter chatting, or gather in groups, line up appropriately and don’t take a long time shopping.

Our stand is going to be bare bones – three stations – #1 place your order, #2 here’s your produce, #3 please pay by check, or exact change and Bring your own Pen!

All our produce is going to be $5, or $10 and each unit is already packed. A lot of my customers are going to be unhappy with this, “too much greens” they’ll say. Its true, I’d rather set up the usual display, lots of colors and options, allowing browsing, custom selections and enjoyment of the moment.

But this is serious – we are farmers, and we want to get the food to you. Our customers need access to food, and honestly, if major food distribution systems falter, local Farmers Markets will, all the sudden, be valued by a lot more people. We have no idea how many customers to expect, and want everyone to get a healthy dose, of the high quality, whole foods, we are bringing you. If it seems like too much greens, chop it finer, and add it to more meals. Hearty Greens will keep you Healthy!

As a manager, and as a worker, as a father and a husband, a Brother, I am stressed out, by this Covid-19 crisis. I don’t like to wear a mask, but I believe it is critical to reduce exposure between people. I am a key shopper for my family, and just as I expect the folks who serve me, to be careful of how they act, I too am very careful to protect the food chain that I provide. I already washed my hands, all the time, now I regularly am spritzing diluted bleach solution, and wiping down every time I enter and leave a public space, because if a molecule of virus gets on me, I want to weaken and remove it. Keeping myself – and my family, and my customers – free of Covid-19, is the priority now, and it takes up a lot of time, energy and emotional space.

This Virus Crisis is a wake up call – Nature is in charge here, and anything can happen. Humans have carved wide paths through the Paradise that we’ve been born into, and we are quick to call out that others are wrong and nasty. Everyday, we make decisions about how to be, whether to hoard or to share, whether to help or exclude. You can see the people wearing masks, and making space for others, and know that they are the people who are aware of others, who recognize that their actions matter, and they make up the real strength of a community, struggling with a new challenge.

See you at the market, (if you are the designated shopper), and know that (most likely) I am smiling at you, behind my mask.

NOFA-NJ Strategic Planning Review Process – 2020

April 20th, 2020 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on NOFA-NJ Strategic Planning Review Process – 2020)
NOFA NJ Mission Statement
Brainstorming Priority Programming and Focus for NOFA-NJ January 2020
Priority Topics for NOFA-NJ Board
NOFA-NJ Items to Review, Refine and Pursue
NOFA-NJ Strategic Planning Items – To review, confirm, adjust and pursue