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Industrial Organics Competition

salatin-industrial_photo1by JOEL SALATIN

“Wal-Mart is the largest vendor of organic products.” This headline began appearing in news outlets about five years ago and announced a major change in the integrity food game. Hailed by some as a major positive breakthrough, others, like me, see it as a new threat to the ecological farming movement.

In a recent farm tour, I surprised myself by saying to the assembled group: “industrial organics is now just as big a liability in our food system as Monsanto.” The statement came on the heels of questions regarding why our farm was not certified organic or any of the other certifications currently lauded as third-party verifications for animal welfare, fair trade, or Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

At the outset of the organic certification movement, I remember suggesting that what we really needed to certify was the reading material next to the farmer’s toilet. All of us involved in the fledgling clean food protocols realized that this was more of an idea, a lifestyle, a worldview, than it was a list of dos and don’ts. And yet the do and don’t list is exactly where the idea went with the passage of the National Organic Standards.

Although it took awhile for the federal government’s ownership of the word organic to sprout legs in the food and farm culture, it certainly did …big legs. In the past five years, I’ve sensed a major shift in the organic market that does not bode well for the local integrity food movement built on neighbor trust and transparency.

Recent shenanigans from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), from stacking oversight toward industry representatives in defiance of the enabling legislation’s clear intent, to eliminating the mandatory sunset clause for questionable substances indicate a profound adulteration of the organic idea. Constant litigation and exposure by the watchdog outfit Cornucopia, as wonderful as it is, seems to do little to arrest the juggernaut of adulteration within the industrial organic fraternity.

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Make the Most of the 2016 Acres U.S.A. Conference

Omaha, Nebraska
Eco-Ag U: Tuesday, Nov. 29-Wednesday, Nov. 30
Main Conference: Wednesday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 2

Be an Acres Conference All-Star:
Catch a flick: We work hard to bring exciting, informative films to each conference for your viewing pleasure. The films are shown around lunchtime, so check the conference schedule and don’t miss out. This year’s selections include: Seed: The Untold Story and Circle of Poison.
Meet the Author! We hold numerous book signings throughout the conference. Check the schedule, buy the books in our on-site bookstore, meet the author and get your copy signed.
Get your questions answered in Consulting Halls: Meet with top eco-ag consultants in a small-group setting…a rare opportunity to obtain valuable advice specific to your farm’s needs.
Trade Show: Don’t forget to visit the more than 100 vendors of high-quality eco-inputs and innovations in our Trade Show. Whether you are looking for a specific product or want to pick someone’s brain, the trade show delivers.
Nutritious eats: No need to leave the hotel in search of quality food (although there are lots of great options in Omaha…we’ll highlight a few later) with Creative Cuisine Catering.
Continued learning: Each conference keynote speech and all lecture sessions are recorded live. The recordings are available during the conference as they are produced and full sets of CDs and MP3s are available after the conference.
On-Site Bookstore: Take advantage of excellent prices on all our titles…without worrying about shipping!
Top-Tier Keynoters: Treat yourself to a mind-expanding session each evening at 7:30 p.m. including organic pioneer and author Grace Gershuny, health authority and author Dr. Arden Andersen and farmer and activist Denise O’Brien.

What to bring:
Pens/Notepad/Notebook (You’ll want to take lots of notes. It also helps to write your name on your notebook in case it gets left behind in a session.)
Business/Contact Cards (You will be meeting people with the same farm interests/business needs and ideas — take advantage!)
Reusable Water Bottle (The warm air can be pretty dry indoors in the wintertime.)
Backpack (Many folks find this useful to help bring their supplies, especially if they are leaving and coming back to the hotel throughout the day.)
Badge (When you check in, you’ll receive a name badge. Please don’t misplace your badge, and remember to wear it each day as you’ll need to display it for admission to all conference events and the trade show.)
Conference Program (When you check in, we’ll give you a nifty tote bag designed for this year’s meeting. Inside the bag will be helpful resources including a full conference program including the list of events, times and locations as well as information about the speakers, a map of the Trade Show with information about each vendor and more. Keep it handy!)
Comfortable Shoes (Trust us on this one.)

Venue:
Hilton Omaha, 1001 Cass Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102, phone: 402-998-3400.

Getting to the hotel:
Airport Transportation, by Taxi
One-way fare between the Omaha Airport and downtown is about $11. Upon arrival at the airport, proceed to ground transportation by the baggage claim. There should be cabs waiting. Following are the taxi companies in Omaha:
• Happy Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• Checker Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• Yellow Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• Safeway Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• City Taxi ─ 402-933-8700

Driving from the Airport
From airport, take left onto Abbott Drive. Left at 10th Street, to Cass Street. Turn right. Hotel is on the left.

Parking:
Self parking: $14.00 (Garage Parking)
Valet: $20.00 (Event Valet: $15)

Dining in Omaha
Here are a few recommendations:
Block 16: block16omaha.com
Avoli Osteria: avoliosteria.com
The Grey Plume: thegreyplume.com
Kitchen Table: kitchentableomaha.com
The Blackstone Meatball: theblackstonemeatball.com
LOCAL Beer, Patio and Kitchen Old Market: localbeer.co
Lot 2: lot2benson.com
Modern Love: modernloveomaha.com
V. Mertz: vmertz.com

Want more information? Check out our Conference FAQs: www.acresusa.com/2016conference-faq

Managing Available Phosphorus

canstockphoto26719966by Jon Frank

Have you ever baked a cake? If you want the cake to turn out well you need to have the right amounts and ratios of ingredients. What would happen if you decided to modify the cake recipe and double the liquids, while cutting the flour and dry ingredients in half? It would mix just fine in a bowl, but when you take it out of the oven you would have some glop that nobody wants to eat, and you wouldn’t dare call it a cake. You must understand the right proportions to make modifications, or else you need to follow a recipe.

In this same way, you need to maintain the right levels and ratios of available nutrients in soil if you want to produce nutrient-dense foods. It is especially important to keep your eye on the big three: calcium, phosphorus and potassium. If you get these three right in your soil, everything else is a piece of cake.

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Interview: Journalist, Author Joanna Blythman Cracks the Code of Processed Foods and Marketing

The Dark Side of Food

Joanna joanna-blythman-photo_c-alan-peebles-rights-clearedBlythman’s most recent book, Swallow This, is one of the best ever written about the plague of manufactured food that has afflicted us for lo, these many years. Balancing outrage with a supple command of the facts and a razor wit, Blythman’s book offers an eminently accessible and lucid account of what makes manufactured food different from real food, as well as the myriad methods manufacturers and retailers keep trying to put one over even on the most conscientious food shoppers. All of us, even if we avoid it religiously, have to live with the consequences of soaring health care budgets and life in a society where incredible numbers of people rarely cook and eat dinner together as people did for many centuries. It turns out Blythman has been hiding in plain sight in the British press for many years, accessible to Americans only via newspaper and magazine websites until the publication of Swallow This, the first of her many books to cross the pond. Born in Glasgow, the daughter of Scottish activist and songwriter Morris Blythman, she has won many awards for her writing, including a 2007 Good Housekeeping award for Outstanding Contribution to Food. She regularly appears on broadcast media in the U.K. as well as in the columns of The Guardian and other outlets.

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Interview: Biointensive method continues to help farmers reap ultra-productive harvests, boost soil health

John-JeavonsStill Growing Strong

John Jeavons is known around the world as the leading exponent of the small-scale, sustainable agricultural method he has trademarked as Grow Biointensive. Working from the heart of Mendocino County, California, he is a tireless advocate, developer and researcher of intensive growing. Over the years he has proven that the title of his best-known book, How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine, is no exaggeration. As he tells below, Jeavons has been hard at it for over 40 years, yet he still talks about his work with unabashed enthusiasm and passion.
— Chris Walters

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Sweet Rewards: Growing Berries on the Suburban Farm

Photo1

Ripening ‘Red Lake’ red currants.

by Michael Brown
Growing up in central New Jersey, I’ve seen large expanses of former farmland transformed into seemingly endless residential sprawl. While this doesn’t bode well for open space (as well as a host of other things), it does present opportunity for those able to attract these new potential customers. One way is by creating a suburban farm. Such a farm, on less than an acre, allows spry and innovative farmers to use small size and proximity to markets to their advantage.

Eight years ago, after my youngest child neared the end of high school, I decided to expand my love of gardening into a business. I started off small — about a tenth of an acre in part of my backyard. I named my suburban farm “Pitspone Farm” — from a Hebrew word meaning very small. Over the years I slowly expanded, until at this point I’ve more or less taken over my entire backyard, about one-third of an acre.

From time to time customers come to my farm to pick up produce or visit my operation. Invariably I’ll get a call as they sit in their car in front of my house: “Hi, I’m not sure we’re in the right place. This looks like a residential area.” At that point I usually come out from the back to greet and reassure them that they are indeed in the right place. From the front my home looks like a typical residence. All the action is in the back.

My goal has been, and continues to be, to explore the model of a small-scale suburban farm, both as an income producing entity and as a contributor to the food supply. This model might be of interest to people in several types of circumstances:
1. Not everyone is lucky enough to find large, affordable acreages for farming. However, many of us living in the suburbs have easy access to enough land for a suburban farm.
2. A suburban farm can be a useful way to transition into larger acreage, by establishing markets and experimenting with various crops.
3. A small suburban farm allows one to work a farm while holding down an additional job.

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