Friday, March 30, 2012

The US Farm Bill's International Reach

This graphic is from Oxfam America.  The implications of our farm bill on other countries, and small farmers in the US and the developing world is often overlooked, especially by us American small farm advocates.  

What it comes down to though, is that the 2012 Farm Bill can benefit:
1. Consumers: make healthy foods more affordable than corn and sugar
2.  Our healthcare system: reduce obesity and diabetes and the costs associated with those diseases
3. Small Farmers: give small farmers the same government subsidies and support that huge farms are receiving for commodity crops now
4. International development: help developing countries feed themselves instead of shipping our food to them
5. Aid inefficiency: both in terms of the cost, and in the very high carbon footprint associated with transporting food around the world
6. International relations: the U.S. can provide farmer support instead of food support - and really make a difference in the lives of people around the world instead of continuing to protect and support Big Ag. 


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Farmers Determined to Defend Right to Grow Food File Appeal in OSGATA vs. Monsanto

The CT NOFA Board voted on  March 18 to remain plaintiffs in the case against Monsanto through the appeal process! Read the press release from the Public Patent Foundation:

Battle over Farmers' Rights Against Monsanto Continues to Brew 

 NEW YORK - March 28, 2012 - Today, in Federal District Court in Manhattan, family farmers filed their Notice of Appeal to Judge Naomi Buchwald's February 24th ruling dismissing Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will hear the farmers' appeal, seeking to reinstate the case, which has received worldwide attention. The farmers are determined to move forward with their lawsuit challenging Monsanto's patents on genetically engineered seed technologies in order to continue their pursuit of Declaratory Judgment Act court protection from Monsanto's claims of patent infringement should their crops become contaminated by Monsanto's seed.

"Farmers have the right to protect themselves from being falsely accused of patent infringement by Monsanto before they are contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seed," said Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit legal services organization based at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law that represents the plaintiffs. "Judge Buchwald erred by denying 
Jim Gerritsen
plaintiffs that right and they have now initiated the process of having her decision reversed."
The original complaint in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto was filed on March 29, 2011. In July, Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss.  Plaintiff lawyers at PUBPAT then filed a rebuttal brief on August 11, 2011. Judge Buchwald called for oral argument on the motion to dismiss, which was held in Manhattan on January 31, 2012.  The judge'sdismissal ruling was issued February 24th and plaintiffs were given thirty days in which to file their Notice of Appeal.
"Farmers are under threat.  Our right to farm the way we choose, and to grow
pure organic seed and healthy food on our farms for our families and for our customers is under assault," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Appellant OSGATA. "We are honor-bound to challenge an erroneous ruling which denies family farmers the protection the law says we deserve. We're not asking for one penny from Monsanto. Ultimately, our fight is for justice and is waged to defend the right of the people to have access to good and safe food."
The Plaintiff/Appellant group is comprised of individual family farmers, small and family-owned seed companies and agricultural organizations.  They are all organic or committed to farming without using genetically engineered seeds, and have no desire to ever farm with Monsanto's patented GMO technology.  However, they are fearful that Monsanto seed will trespass onto their farms and that the resulting contamination of their crops will be viewed by Monsanto as illegal 'possession' resulting in patent infringement allegations. Monsanto's harassment of family farmers is well known in farm country, the biotech seed and chemical giant has one of the most aggressive patent assertion agendas in U.S. history. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America's family farmers, while settling another 700 cases out of court for undisclosed amounts and imposing gag orders on farmers. The farmers' fears were heightened when Monsanto refused to provide a legally binding covenant not to sue, signaling Monsanto's intention to maintain their option to sue innocent family farmers in the future.
"America's farmers deserve to be protected under the law from the unwanted genetic contamination of their crops by Monsanto's flawed genetically engineered seed technology," said David Murphy, founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!, an Iowa-based national advocacy organization of more than 300,000 members. "These farmers have no desire to use Monsanto's GMO seeds, yet they are forced into the untenable position of losing their right to farm in the manner in which they choose, face legal intimidation and the loss of economic livelihood, all because America's legal system has failed to adequately protect them from the real threat of genetic trespass that is inherent as a result of Monsanto's patented GMO seeds and the natural biological functions of cross pollination from wind, insects or animals."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Friday March 30 & Saturday March 31: The 30th National Pesticide Forum

Healthy Communities: Green solutions for safe environments
Yale University, New Haven, CT
School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Although organic farming and land management continue to grow, policies to protect people from pesticides are threatened in the Northeast and around the country. At the same time, cutting-edge science links pesticide exposure to health problems, honey bee colony collapse, and other environmental issues. Join researchers, authors, beekeepers, organic business leaders, elected officials, activists, and others to discuss the latest science, policy solutions, and grassroots action.

We are so excited for the 30th National Pesticide Forum to come to New Haven this year! Connecticut is a central battleground for pesticide safety and application laws, which is why CT NOFA co-sponsored the Pesticide Forum.  Learn more about pesticides impact on health, the environment and communities and the policies that address these issues. 

Read our last post about the Pesticide Forum for a list of the keynotes (it's an impressive line up).  
CT NOFA and NOFA OLC also have a number of members, committee members and friends involved including:

Bill Duesing, our Executive Director will be two panels, Pesticides 101 on Friday afternoon and "Fair, Local, Organic Food" on Saturday afternoon.  

Jack Kittredge,policy director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association Massachusetts (NOFA/Mass) and editor of The Natural Farmer, NOFA's region-wide farming and gardening quarterly newspaper.  Jack will be discussing Genetically Engineered food at a panel on the topic. 

Sarah Little, PhD, a toxics use reduction consultant and former Pesticide Awareness Coordinator for the Town of Wellesley, author of Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards, an instrumental committee-member for the Northeast Organic Farming Association's (NOFA) organic landscaping training program for over 10 years and editor for the NOFA Standards For Organic Land Care. Sarah will be on a panel about "Passing Organic Landcare Policies" that will discuss strategies for adopting pesticide-free land care policies. 
Chip Osborne, founder and President of Osborne Organics (Marblehead, MA), has over 10 years experience in creating safe, sustainable and healthy athletic fields and landscapes, and 35 years experience as a professional horticulturist and is a committee-member with the NOFA Organic Land Care Program. Chip will also be on the "Passing Organic Landcare Policies" workshop panel. 

Shannon Raider, Farm Manager & Director of Agricultural Programs at Common Ground High School and one of CT NOFA's favorite workshop teachers.  Shannon is participating in the "Organic Urban Farms and Landscapes Tour" a farm tour that will visit Common Ground High School's Farm, the Yale Sustainable Food Project and Branford's Town Fields (organically maintained!)

Jerry Silbert, MD, Executive Director of the Watershed Partnership, Inc which works in Connecticut to promote safe, healthy, livable communities for present and future generations through education, advocacy, and technical assistance. NOFA Organic Land Care has had the pleasure of working with Jerry on a number of projects, most recently on opposing the reversal of the pesticide ban being considered in the Connecticut legislature.  He will be taking part in the farm tour and a workshop titled "Protecting the Watershed". 

Student: $15
Grassroots activist/member: $35

Non-member: $75
Business: $175 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CT NOFA is looking for an Intern!

CT NOFA is looking for a summer intern! In the summer there are so many events that we're asked to go to, that we can't attend all of them.  So we're looking for an intern (maybe two) who can attend these events, bring our materials, and represent us (by the way - these events are really fun).  When our intern isn't at other organizations' events, they are welcome to volunteer at and attend ours.  We will also need help with outreach, event planning, publicizing, fundraising, and a variety of other projects to give the intern exposure to many aspects of non-profit work. 
This could be you!
Hours: 15 – 25 hours per week. Weekly hours are flexible based on availability and event scheduling and requirements for college credit.

Compensation: Unpaid

Position Details: A vital part of Connecticut NOFA’s Outreach is attendance at farmer’s markets, environmental fairs and events hosted by our partner organizations. The Outreach Intern would be primarily responsible for representing CT NOFA and the NOFA Organic Land Care Program at these events to educate the public about our work and draw in new members. The rest of the intern’s work will be in our office in Oxford, Connecticut helping to promote events and carrying out administrative duties.

  • Represent CT NOFA at farmers’ markets, environmental fairs and other events
  • Assist at CT NOFA and NOFA Organic Land Care events
  • Update and edit CT NOFA’s database
  • Help to distribute press releases and market programs
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Intern must have access to a car, outreach requires travel to different locations, mostly within Connecticut (CT NOFA will reimburse for mileage expenses)
  • Familiarity with local farming or the Connecticut sustainable food movement is helpful, but not required.
CT NOFA is the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. CT NOFA is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the practices of ecologically sound farming and gardening, and to the development of local sustainable agriculture. Our efforts give consumers increased access to safe and healthy food. CT NOFA is a growing community of farmers, gardeners, land care professionals, businesses and consumers that encourages a healthy relationship to the natural world.

Monday, March 26, 2012

CT NOFA Goes to Ag Day at the Capitol

On Wednesday, March 21, CT NOFA attended "Ag Day" at Connecticut's Capitol Building in Hartford, Connecticut.  The state's various agricultural entities, cooperatives, organizations, businesses, farmers, etc.  We saw many friends of CT NOFA and made some new ones!
Exhibitors gave out pamphlets, books, food, seedlings, tote bags and a variety of other merchandise and information!
CT Farm Fresh gave out Apple Cider Donuts (delicious) and basil seedlings (which are just waiting to be planted in my yard!) You can see someone to the left has visited our table and taken a Farm and Food Guide and some salad!
Executive Director, Bill Duesing came to Ag Day along with some new staff (that's me in the middle), Melissa (our photographer) and old staff - Ashley Kremser, who now works for CitySeed. Ashley was tabling for which you should visit to search for local, Connecticut Grown products!
Board Member, Janet Heller, Melissa (who took the photo) and I served greens from Starlight Gardens and Bill's special local vinaigrette.
Myself, Melissa and Janet are pictured with the information we were handing out about GMO-Labeling. Were especially working to educate people about the Connecticut GMO-Labeling Bill and the Right to Know argument that consumers must know the ingredients in their food and how those ingredients were produced.  The Labeling Bill was voted out of the Environment Committee that same afternoon!  Check out our post about the GMO-Labeling Bill for information on action you can take to support the state bill and visit Just Label It to take national action!

Happy Spring Everyone!
All the Best,

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Starlight Gardens Workshop on Greenhouse & High Tunnel Growing

On the first day of spring, CT NOFA hosted an on-farm workshop in Durham, Connecticut with David Zemeslky, owner of Starlight Gardens.  David grows greens through the winter in his 6 high tunnels.
 David shows the group his crop rows, and explained how he fertilizes (Starlight Gardens is certified organic), how he prepares the beds for tomatoes, pest control and adjusting for changing climate.

 These are David's carrots, which he planted in November and left covered for the winter!

 Low tunnels are an affordable, fairly easy method for season extension even for small growers.

More low tunnels! The black bags are filled with compost instead of sand, he uses them to weight down the plastic.  When they break he just leaves the compost on the beds!

 This is a large high tunnel that the National Resources Conservation Service helped fund.  David explained that this greenouse seemed especially successful because of its east-west orientation, allowing it to get more sunlight in the winter.

 John Bartok, Professor Emeritus from the UConn Agricultural Extension discussed greenhouse design and construction.  He told the group about new technologies being developed to control greenhouse and hoop house temperatures and to irrigate these spaces.  He provided guidance on how to ventilate greenhouses as well.

David's organic mole and vole control enjoyed all of the visitors. He was a very friendly addition to the workshop.

After the workshop beginning farmers (those with 10 years of experience or fewer) had lunch together to talk more to David and Ty Zemelsky and discuss challenges in farming.  David shared his lovely greens for the salad at lunch!

For more information on our workshop check out Ty Zemelsky's post about our workshop!

Have a wonderful weekend! Happy planting!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Connecticut GMO Labeling Bill Lives On!

Below is a message from Analiese Paik, editor of the Fairfield Food Guide.  We'd like to share her detailed update on HB5117, Connecticut's GMO-Labeling Bill:

March 21, 2012

Dear Right to Know CT Campaign Members,

A mandatory GMO labeling bill is one step closer to being passed in Connecticut. Today CT HB 5117, an Act Concerning Genetically-Engineered Foods, passed in the CT Environment Committee with a Vote of 23-6, a historic bi-partisan vote and a crucial step in the life of the bill. Five out of ten Republicans voted in favor of the bill and all but one Democrat voted in favor of the bill. The bill will now be sent to the Connecticut House where it will wait until the Speaker of the House, Representative Christopher Donovan, calls the bill for a vote.

During the discussion before the vote today, the Environment Committee reviewed testimony from the public hearing on February 22 and also shared letters that constituents have been sending to them. This bill could not have gotten this far without the advocacy efforts of all of you and the people and organizations you reached out to. Thank you so much for your advocacy work.

Housekeeping: We hope to have an email marketing program up and running shortly and that will allow email subscriptions via the website and Facebook page. In the meantime, we can manually add names. There is a second distribution list that this email is going to the lists generated after Jeffrey Smith’s keynote speech at the CT NOFA conference. Jeffrey Smith’s team is also sending out our emails to their subscribers in CT and surrounding states.

Next Steps:

1) Please write or call Speaker Donovan and urge him to call CT HB 5117 in the House. It is within Speaker Donovan's discretion to raise the bill during this legislative session, which ends on May 9, 2012. If Speaker Donovan does not call the bill within this session, the bill dies and will need to be raised again next session in the Environment Committee. If the bill is not called within a week of reaching Speaker Donovan, we are considering holding a rally at the Capitol. Remember we only have until May 9 to get this bill passed in both the House and Senate and then sent to the Governor.

Please find Speaker Donovan's contact information below.

Christopher Donovan
Legislative Office Building, Room 4100
Hartford, CT 06106

2) We are organizing a literature drop in Hartford on Wednesday, March 28th, in order to provide legislators with educational materials about GMOs and the need for labeling. Please let us know if you are available to help by emailing or

3) If situations dictate, we may plan a rally. Please let us know if you would be interested in attending. We’d need to discuss appropriate signage and key messaging for the media.

4) Please continue to update your friends and networks about the bill and encourage use of the advocacy platform on to send letters to CT legislators asking them to support the bill.

5) Visit a local farmers’ market or co-op and ask if you can distribute literature about Right to Know CT.

6) Plan an event in your town to foster community dialog about GMOs and the labeling bill.

Upcoming Advocacy Events:

1) March 22 at the Fairfield Public Library, Rotary Room, Main Library, 1080 Old Post Road, Fairfield, CT, 10 am

Join Tara Cook-Littman and Analiese Paik to learn about what Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are and how to avoid them when shopping for you and your family. 


The Fifth Annual Global Environmental Sustainability Symposium, with the theme of Global Food, Agriculture, and Sustainability, will be held at Central Connecticut State University on March 29, 2012. The symposium is free and open to the public. The goal is to engage all segments of society in a discussion about issues related to the production and consumption of food.

People concerned about GMOs, should attend the panel discussion about the organic farmers’ lawsuit against Monsanto and GMO labeling efforts in Connecticut. Panelists include Bob Burns, Biointensive Farmer, Pat Bigelow, Nutritionist and founder of the UConn Student Farm, and Bill Duesing, Executive Director, Northeast Organic Farming Association, a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Monsanto.

The symposium will conclude with a Town Hall meeting conducted by Dr. Daniel Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Commissioner Esty will have a discussion with audience members about Connecticut policies and goals related to food and farming.

For a complete list of events taking place at the Sustainability Symposium, go to GESAC’s website at:

3) Saturday March 31 – Food for Thought Expo at Fairfield Warde High School, Fairfield, CT, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm – Exhibitors table and Non GMO Workshop at 2:30 pm

The Institute for Responsible Technology and Right To Know CT will have a table set up with Jeffrey Smith’s books and DVDs for sale and literature on GMOs. Analiese Paik will lead a workshop on GMOs, teach attendees how to avoid them when purchasing food, and urge guests to get involved in the Right To Know CT advocacy campaign.

4) Sunday April 1 - Don’t Be Fooled by GMOs - Westport Inn, 1595 Post Road East, Westport, CT

Join the Westport Farmers’ Market, The Wakeman Town Farm, and Right To Know CT at the Westport Inn from 5:00 – 6:30 PM. Non-GMO nibbles will be served. Analiese Paik, Tara Cook-Littman, and Glen Colello will educate attendees about GMOs and their health risks, how to avoid them, and why and how to support HB 5117 GMO mandatory labeling. We will be joined by several state legislators who will share their own views on the importance of GMO labeling. Suggested donation $5 per person, $10 per family, kids and students are free.

Please submit your events to for inclusion in the e-newsletter and on the website. I encourage you to post your events on our Facebook page.
Hope to see you in Hartford next Wednesday. There are almost 200 packets to be distributed to our Representatives and Senators and we sure could use your help.

Thank you again for all your work.


Analiese Paik
Tara Cook-Littman

Analiese Paik
Founder, Fairfield Green Food Guide, LLC
Helping consumers source fresh, local sustainable food. Because our future depends on it.

Mobile: 203-520-3451
Twitter: @greenfoodgal

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Looking for a Job This Spring?

If you are looking for a farming or agriculture related opportunity this planting season, check out our community board.  We have many new postings opening up for the new (and early) farming season, so now's the time to take a look!

Here are a couple of opportunities that are so new we haven't even had time to post them yet:

Community Gardener (New Haven)
Status: Part Time 20-25 hour a week beginning mid-March through mid-October
Salary: $15.00 per hour

The LCS Community Gardener will work directly with Day Program clients to develop, manage, and maintain the Liberty Springside Community Garden -- a shared community garden. The selected individual will work closely with both clients of LCS and the Westville Community Land Trust. The gardener is expected to interact daily with clients of LCS, and oversee all operations of the garden.

The selected individual must be knowledgeable in understanding and interacting with the homeless population LCS serves, as well as knowledgeable in horticultural best practices for organic gardening.

The individual must possess a valid Conn. Driver's license, and have reliable transportation.
Must be willing to work an occasional weekend if necessary.
Must be able to climb stairs, climb in and out of vehicles, lift up to 25 pounds, work in changing weather conditions.
Must be able to use most gardening equipment including roto tiller, shovels, trowels, etc.

Mail, fax or email resumes to:
Liberty Community Services, Inc.
Human Resources
129 Church St , 2nd Floor
New Haven , CT 06510

PFP Seeks Garden Education Apprentice
The Poughkeepsie Farm Project is a non-profit organization that works toward a
just and sustainable food system in the Mid-Hudson Valley by operating a
member-supported farm, providing education about food and farming, and
improving access to healthy locally-grown food.

We're seeking a dependable and good-natured apprentice with an active interest in food and education as well as an interest in working towards a just and sustainable food system; good communication skills; the ability to take initiative and a desire to be a part of bringing about positive community change.

To apply, please fill out our application (available at the website) and email
it along with your resume to
For more information, please visit our website, or

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Successful Starting Seedlings Workshop

Bettylou Sandy shows students well mixed potting soil
Many students with a wide variety of gardening experience were present at our Starting Seedlings workshop this past Saturday at Common Ground High School and Farm in New Haven, CT.  Co-taught by Common Ground farmer Shannon Raider and longtime gardener and CT NOFA board vice president Bettylou Sandy, the workshop had a great mix of basic information for beginners and more technical training for those who are more experienced.  Bettylou and Shannon kept the workshop well structured in order to provide the most pertinent information for attendees, starting out with a description of the importance of planning and organization, then moving into talking about supplies, temperature, potting mix, water, and light.  Afterward, they discussed the process of planing seeds, germination, and transplanting into a garden setting.  Throughout the class they interspersed opportunities for the students to see and feel this process for themselves, from passing around seeds, to inviting everyone to stick their hands in a bucket of soil to feel the texture.

Shannon Raider and Bettylou Sandy hold
up a properly filled and planted set of
seedling cells

One important thread that carried through the entire workshop was the importance (both ecologically and financially) of reusing existing materials already present in the average household as seed starting supplies.  After all, there's no need to go out and buy brand new seed starting containers if you have egg cartons, grocery store berry packaging, or any other container that can be divided into cells.  Many of these recycled items also have transparent lids or toppers that when closed make perfect greenhouses for starting seedlings, and are an easy and inexpensive way to extend your growing season.

If you missed this workshop, there are still more opportunities get in on the action. Our series of workshops at Common Ground this spring are not yet over! Our Organic Gardening Workshop on Saturday May 5th offers instruction and seasonal tips on what can be planted in your garden now and what must wait for warmer weather. Learn how to prep your garden beds, plan your plantings, deal with early garden pests, and improve soil fertility using organic methods.  At only $10 per person, this a great opportunity to expand your knowledge at a low cost.

If you want to see more photos from our Starting Seedlings Workshop, check out our Flickr page here.  To see our other events this spring, check out our website.

Have a great afternoon and enjoy the warm weather!

Monday, March 12, 2012

What is "Pink Slime"?

A product the industry calls "lean, finely textured meat" has been a fixture in the ground beef served in the free school lunch program and fast food hamburgers for years. But after Chef Jamie Oliver demonstrated how "pink slime" is made on his TV show last year, and media reports suggested it may not be as safe as the government claims, alarm among consumers began surging.

This excerpt was taken from a recent NPR article that discusses both the bacterial health hazards of pink slime, as well as the process of making it supposedly safe for human consumption.  As is the case with so many industrial food products, at the root of the issue it all comes down to price.  Despite all the processing, pink slime is slightly cheaper than regular ground beef, and so is a significant component in free school lunches and much of the ground beef that's sold in grocery stores.  As consumers, however, we can't know for sure what ground beef has it and what doesn't, because the packages are not required to be labeled.

Sound familiar?  It should.  The recent initiative to label pink slime on ground beef is not entirely dissimilar from our efforts to label Genetically Modified Organisms.  It all comes back to us as consumers having a right to know what's in our food. We should not have to pay extra to have ground beef ground up in front of us so that we can know for sure that it doesn't contain ammonia treated trimmings.  We should not have to assume that every non-organic product that contains corn or soybeans has GMOs because we can't know for sure.  Proper labeling is necessary in order to make informed food choices, and being able to make those informed choices is our right.

To learn more about what I meant above by "ammonia treated trimmings", check out this video with Chef Jamie Oliver that explains the process behind pink slime.

Have a great afternoon,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

30th Annual Winter Conference Recap and Call to Action

Our Winter Conference last Saturday the 3rd had nearly 600 attendees, our biggest turnout yet!  It was a wonderful event, packed with workshops, vendors, and a great keynote speech by Jeffrey M. Smith.  This week we've been reviewing incoming evaluations from the event, and have had overwhelmingly positive feedback.  If you attended the conference we'd like to give you our most heartfelt thanks for being a part of our largest event of the year and helping to make it really special and momentous. And if you volunteered with us, we want you to know that this event could not have run so smoothly without you.  Thanks to everyone for your continued commitment to local sustainable food and to our mission to provide reliable access to that food for our communities.
Jeffrey M. Smith during his keynote

The big issues discussed at this year's conference are very important.  It is critical that everyone take action and make their voice heard in order to pass legislation currently being discussed in Hartford.  Preventing the repeal of the school pesticide ban and passing the GMO labeling bill are two initiatives that we need your support on in order to succeed.

You have the opportunity to let your state and Federal legislators know that you want to know what is in your food.  
There are at least three levels of GMO labeling initiatives you can be a part of:

1. A Letter from Congress to ask the FDA to label GMOs. Ask your Representative and Senators to sign on.
Click here for an easy pre-written way to let congress know that you want to know what's in your food. Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (OR) have authored a bicameral Congressional letter and will be urging their fellow Members on Capitol Hill to sign onto their letter.

2. A petition to FDA asking them to label GMOs.
A legal petition (Docket # FDA-2011-P-0723-0001/CP) has been filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. Visit to learn more and to sign!

3. The Connecticut Bill to label GMOs which is closest to home.
The Bill, Officially called HB 5117: An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods, is picking up momentum! Representative Roy first introduced the bill in mid-February and since then several legislators from both parties have expressed support, and Jeffrey Smith was invited to speak on the issue at the Capitol Building on March 2. Now we need Connecticut's consumers and voters to show their support! To find your legislator, click here. You can write your own letter to them, or send ours.

And for those who want to attend something in person:
CT GMO Labeling Bill Informational Meeting and Q&A
What Are GMOs and What Does the Bill Mean for Consumers?
Saturday, March 10, 10-12 noon
Pequot Library, Southport, CT
free and open to the public

Please also contact your state representatives to let them know that you want your children to play on school grounds that are free of chemicals, and that overturning the school pesticide ban is therefore unacceptable.  Working together we can turn the tide of sentiment in our favor.

Two volunteers in yellow participate
in the potluck lunch

If you are working up an appetite from contacting your state representative, check out some recipes from the Winter Conference's potluck lunch we've posted here.  These recipes are centered around winter food, specifically greens, and are a great way to tide yourself over before the heart of planting season begins.  Thanks to Chef John Turenne, farmer Wayne Hansen and Dr. Leigh White for providing these delicious ideas!

Don't forget to check out the pictures of our conference online!

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Three Workshops in Three Weeks!

Saturday, March 10: Soils and Compost
10:00am - 12:00pm
Common Ground High School
358 Springside Avenue, New Haven, CT
Join the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut at Common Ground High School and Urban Farm in New Haven, CT to learn about building healthy soil to grow healthy plants including composting methods.  CT NOFA's Executive Director, Bill Duesing will be sharing his expertise and experience in fostering healthy soil biology as a foundation for successful plant growing.  Tom Rathier, Emeritus Soil Scientist from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station will be on hand to discuss soil testing for lead contamination and how to read test results. The workshop is $10 per person. 
At the conclusion of the workshop we will be having a Beginning Farmer Brown Bag Lunch Social from 12:00 to 1:00.  Bring lunch (we'll bring the Cider from High Hill Orchard in Meriden) and meet some fellow Connecticut farmers.

Saturday March 17: Starting Seedlings
10:00am - 12:00pm
Common Ground High School
Bettylou Sandy at a past CT NOFA workshop
CT NOFA invites you to learn about starting your own vegetables and flowers from seed.  Demonstrations for both planting and transplanting, plus a list of which plants are set out by seedlings and which ones are directly sown by seed into the ground. This workshop will be taught by CT NOFA's Vice President and veteran workshop teacher Bettylou Sandy of Bettylou's Gardening and Shannon Raider, Common Ground's Farm Manager (who also did a seed-starting presentation at the Getting Started in Organic Conference)! The workshop is $10 per person.

Tuesday March 20: Greenhouse & High Tunnel Winter Growing
9:00am to 12:00pm Star Light Gardens 54 Fowler Ave Durham, CT
David Zemelsky of Starlight Gardens
Join us again on the first full day of Spring! David Zemelsky will lead a tour of his greenhouses and high tunnels.  David is a certified organic grower of many types of greens for both farmers' markets and wholesale.  John W. Bartok, Jr., UConn Extension Professor Emeritus and Agricultural Engineer will be there to address greenhouse design and to talk about ways to improve greenhouse efficiency and function. The workshop is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about greenhouse growing.  We are planning to also have a Beginning Farmer Lunch Meet and Greet after this workshop, either on the farm or a nearby restaurant, if you're interested in coming to lunch please let me know (  The workshop cost is $20 for members and $30 for non-members.

David's Greenhouses were badly damaged by last year's
snow and ice storms, we're glad hes up and running for
our workshop this year!

For more information: visit and click on the workshop you would like to attend.  You can register for the Greenhouse & High Tunnel workshop online and the rest you can either mail in a form or give us a call (203-888-5146). 

See you at our upcoming workshops!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jeffrey Smith talks about GMOs at the Capitol Building

Jeffrey Smith addresses concerned citizens, legislators and
the press on March 2 at the Capitol Building.
Jeffrey Smith was kind enough to speak at the Capitol Building on March 2 in support of Connecticut's proposed GMO labeling law, HB 5117.
The first portion of the program was a Press Conference where Jeffrey Smith explained the science of genetically engineered foods and why he, and so many other consumers, scientists and activists, are concerned about their potential threats to the food system and to human health.  Jeffrey Smith was hosted by Representative Richard Roy (D-Milford) who has been the leader in writing and introducing the GMO-labeling bill.  Even more exciting were the ten or so state representatives who joined Mr. Smith and Rep. Roy at the podium to discuss their support of the labeling bill.  The bill already has remarkable bipartisan support, because the "Right to Know" is simply a right! There is no debate or political agenda attached to consumers having the right to know precisely what is in the food they eat and feed their families.
Jeffrey Smith and Rep. Roy are joined by members of both
parties expressing their support for HB 5117.
The bill's supporters include Rep. Tony Hwang (R-Republican), Rep. Andy Maynard (D-Stonington), Rep. Diana Urban (D-Stonington-North Stonington), Kim Rose (D-Milford), T.R. Rowe (R-Trumbull), and several more (I was unable to write down all of their names!)
After the press conference, Rep. Roy and Mr. Smith answered audience questions about labeling, terminator seeds, cross-pollination and contamination, how the proposed bill extends to meat and dairy, and a number of other technical questions.
After the forum ended the audience discussed the issues over coffee while some of us bought Mr. Smith's books.  The audience included farmers, landscapers, activists and conservationists reflecting the same diversity in support of the bill as the representatives supporting the bill.  A few people noted that a couple biotech supporters, and even lobbyists were present for the talk.  Jeffrey Smith's compelling talk and question and answer session along with a fired-up audience might be making them a little nervous . . . .
Jeffrey Smith and Representative Roy answered audience questions for a
long period of time after the press conference.
After drinking coffee with all those GMO-labeling supporters, a number of the bill's early supporters, including CT NOFA Executive Director Bill Duesing, Pat Bigelow CT NOFA Board Member Janet Heller, and luckily, myself, had lunch (thanks to Analiese Paik with Fairfield Green Food Guide and Sallie Hersen who was instrumental in setting up the Press Conference at the capitol) with Jeffrey Smith and Representative Roy.  Mr. Smith discussed his transition into GMO activism, how he has managed to remain "un-squelched" and also his perspective on the Connecticut labeling bill.
Connecticut's long-time GMO-Labeling bill supporters join Jeffrey Smith
and Representative Roy for a healthy, delicious raw and organic lunch.
Show your support for the labeling bill by writing your Connecticut legislator! 

Here's to  healthy minds, bodies and senses of activism!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

See Jeffrey Smith on Friday at the Legislative Forum or on Saturday at the Winter Conference

The leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, Jeffrey M. Smith, is the author of the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on the health dangers genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

noneHis first book Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating masterfully combines the art of storytelling and investigative reporting. His second book, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, is the authoritative work on GMO health dangers. It includes 65 health dangers, linking GMOs in our food to toxic and allergic reactions, infertility, and damage to virtually every internal organ studied in lab animals.

Mr. Smith has counseled leaders from every continent, campaigned to end the use of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST), and influenced the first state laws in the United States regulating GMOs. An admired keynote speaker around the globe, Mr. Smith has been described as "a life-changer".  Former US National Institutes of Health scientist Candace Pert describes Jeffrey as "the leading world expert in the understanding and communication of the health issues surrounding genetically modified foods."

He is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, producer of the films Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals and Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!, writes an internationally syndicated column, Spilling the Beans, has a regular blog on the popular Huffington Post, and is followed on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Get a preview of some of the health dangers from GMOs with this video.

You have TWO opportunities to see Jeffrey Smith this weekend!

Attend the Environment Committee’s special news conference and legislative forum this Friday, March 2, 2012, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 pm. The Environment Committee will hold a news conference, followed by a legislative forum on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) sponsored by State Representative Richard Roy. Following the news conference supporting HB 5117, An Act Requiring the Labeling of Genetically-Engineered Foods, national expert on the subject, Jeffrey Smith, will lead a legislative forum on the subject.  A question and answer session will follow. Please arrive early to find parking, then head to the Old Appropriations, Room 310 at the Capitol in Hartford, CT.

And then of course, your second opportunity is at the 2012 CT NOFA Winter Conference on Saturday at Manchester Community College.  We already have hundreds of people registered and are expecting many many more! Registration before the conference is encouraged, but we accept walk-ins too!