May 2021: What Farmers Need to Know

Here’s the top news for sustainable farmers in NC & SC

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CFSA's Grower's Toolbox
Dear Nahid,

I hope your season is off to a great start! While you have been busy getting ready for it, we have been busy making sure we are ready to help! We are excited to have added two great people to our CFSA team, Kana Miller, our local food distribution coordinator, and Geoff Seelen, our new market access coordinator. Kana will be responsible for coordinating the logistics of FarmsSHARE, and Geoff is relaunching our Market Access Initiative.

We recently wrapped up our first year of research evaluating scale-appropriate technology for organic no-till vegetable production and launched a new page on our website with information on other research projects we have completed. Please be sure to check them out!



Karen McSwain, CFSA Associate Executive Director for Programs

P.S. Save November 13-15 for our 2021 Sustainable Agriculture Conference!

We’re looking for presenters. Haven’t presented before? We like having new faces and voices sharing their expertise! Don’t consider yourself an expert? We might! We prioritize workshops that deliver practical and innovative solutions to other farmers, ranchers, urban growers, and so many more. Learn more and submit a proposal. The deadline is tomorrow, May 28. But for you, our loyal readers, we’re going to extend the deadline to Wednesday, June 2!

Need to talk over your idea with us before submitting a proposal? We’re happy to help. Email Mary Beth Miller at marybeth.

Thinking about food safety certification for the farm?
Expert Tip: How Do Organic No-Till Methods Compare?
by Mark Dempsey, CFSA Farm Services Manager
Post-Harvest Station at Central Carolina Community College Student Farm (a CFSA member)

We’re excited to soon kick off the second year of CFSA’s organic, no-till research project at Lomax Farm, studying how well different cover crop-based, organic no-till systems perform, and the acreage at which each makes sense. If you’re a small- to mid-scale grower who wonders about which organic, no-till method or equipment to use, and whether it makes sense to invest in larger-scale equipment, it is our hope that this research will inform some of your decisions. While our research is not definitive – it covers only one crop and needs another year of data at least – it will hopefully provide a framework for navigating the decision-making process when taking on organic no-till or scaling up.

But, before getting into project results, let’s visit some of the questions that inspired this research:

  • What’s the best method to pull off a successful no-till crop: roller-crimper, flail mower, or something else?
  • How do production costs and profits compare across different methods and acreages?
  • How does all of this stack up against the organic industry standard: tilled and bedded with plastic mulch? Keep reading
Check out CFSA’s New Organic Research Page
Does Mark’s expert tip above have you thinking about investing in no-till equipment? Want to learn about the efficacy of OMRI-approved bio-pesticides? How about whether you should plant grafted or un-grafted heirloom tomatoes in your high tunnel?

Check out our new Organic Research page to get answers to these questions!

Meet The Newest Staff Members at CFSA!
Kana Miller, Local Food Distribution Coordinator

ea514b44-54a2-c252-5ac9-be626032a8a5.pngKana grew up in Georgia but has called North Carolina home for the past six years. She received a bachelor’s in environmental studies from Skidmore College and is currently working toward a graduate certificate in food policy and sustainability leadership graduate certificate from Arizona State University.

Kana’s interest in sustainable and equitable food systems deepened after serving as a FoodCorps service member, working with youth to strengthen their relationships to food, farming, and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining CFSA, she worked at Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC, where her work focused on building connections between hunger and health. She is committed to racial equity and food justice, and brings excitement for growing, cooking, and sharing food.

Kana lives on a small farm in Lewisville, North Carolina, with her partner, growing seasonal vegetables. She can be found creating new recipes in the kitchen or hiking with her pup, Ida Red.

Geoff Seelen, Market Access Coordinator

63dcc1af-b956-ee93-1186-d3a7a5fdfe01.pngBorn and raised a New Englander, Geoff first moved to North Carolina in 2004 to pursue an undergraduate degree. After college, he began working in restaurant kitchens, inspired by his lifelong love of food and cooking. Geoff was drawn to farming through his experience working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York.

After returning to North Carolina in 2014, Geoff created the Farm Kitchen, a monthly dinner series at Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro, where he was a partner in the farm. Having worked as a chef and farmer simultaneously, Geoff understands the many challenges that farmers face in production and the marketplace. He has developed a clear understanding of the demands and expectations for agricultural products from the perspective of both grower and buyer.

Geoff loves collaborating with others to solve difficult problems, sharing his knowledge and passion about food in the process. He lives in Hillsborough with his wife, Katie.

Check out CFSA’s New Crowdfunding Board

Have a project that you’re crowdfunding for, or want to contribute to someone else’s farm or food business project directly?

It can be hard to know where to go. This is why, in the last month, we launched a new Crowdfunding Board on our website. We wanted to give you a one-stop place to find local food and/or farm projects from CFSA members that are currently running crowdfunding campaigns and seeking donations from the public.

Got a crowdfunding campaign to post? Review our instructions. CFSA membership is required to post.

2021 Small Swine Enterprise Study

The National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will start conducting the 2021 Small Swine Enterprise Study next month.

One of the main focuses of this study is niche marketers, including organic pork producers. The results will be used to benchmark current production practices, assisting the U.S. swine industry to understand disease preparedness strengths and vulnerabilities, helping policymakers and industry stakeholders make science-based decisions, and identify educational needs related to health and production on small enterprise operations.

If this makes sense for you, we encourage those that are eligible to participate. If selected, you will receive notice by mid-June.