August 2018

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Upcoming organic field days and events

Opportunities to learn about organic farming, plant breeding and research in person:

  • August 28: Cucumber and Melon Research Field Day: The Organic Farming Research Foundation awarded a grant to Common Wealth Seed Growers in 2018 to assess resistance to both Bacterial Wilt and Cucurbit Downy Mildew among selected cucumber and muskmelon seedstocks. Common Wealth is trialing over 40 varieties of cucumber and melon and also doing breeding trials to develop a pickling cucumber that holds up to both diseases. Growers are invited to see the trials at a field day and learn about the project goals, early results, and basic concepts of on-farm trialing and breeding. For more information see
  • September 10-11, 2018: Plant Breeding on the Farm Workshop: Southeastern farmers, agricultural students, and seed stewards can take their skills to the next level learning the fundamentals of organic on-farm plant breeding. Join the NOVIC team, along with experienced seed growers from Common Wealth Seed Growers (CWSG) and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE), for a two-day intensive on field-based methods for organic plant breeding. Trainings include classroom and hands-on exercises in the field including a tour of extensive cucurbit variety trials for disease resistance led by Edmund Frost, and organic trials and seed production of a wide array of vegetable, herb, and flower species tested under Virginia summer growing conditions. The workshop will cover basic methods for breeding in cross and self pollinating species and discussion of crop specific breeding goals for organic systems. Find out more and register here. 
  • September 13, 2018: Participatory Corn Breeding Project Field Day: The Mandaamin Institute has been breeding high yielding corn varieties that are nutrient dense, nitrogen efficient (fixing) and perform well in low-input organic farms. They are also adding cross incompatibility traits that limit contamination from genetically engineered corn pollen. The higher nutritional value of the corn (approx. 30% more methionine, 16% more protein) enables this corn to reduce the need for soybean meal and synthetic methionine in rations for poultry, This year, they are testing these and other hybrids together with organic farmers in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, and researchers at the University of Illinois. This is part of a larger-scope project called Corn and Soil Health (CASH) that is organizing a network of farmers, agronomists, private and public corn breeders to provide relevant information to members. Research is on hybrids, soil health, corn quality, and identification of potential markets. Some farmers participate by doing strip trials, and others are participating in an educational network. On September 13th (8:30 to 11:30 AM) they are hosting a field day in East Troy, Wisconsin, where they willl show you the strip trial planted by farmer Graham Asdit and his colleagues, and other yield trials. We will discuss our research with SARE grant funding and USDA on hybrids, nutritional quality, and nitrogen uptake. And we will introduce the CASH network. A special listening session afterwards will get your input on what kind of organic seed you need. This event will be combined with lunch at noon and viewing a small hybrid production field on the Rohrer Enterprises farm located in East Troy. If you are interested in attending, please contact the organizers in advance-more information and contact details can be found in this invitation
  • September 13, 2018: Oregon State University Organic Breeding and Trialing Research Projects Field Day: During this field day, participants will visit the OSU Lewis Brown and Vegetable farms to learn about and tour several organic farming trials including Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), Tomato Organic Management and Improvement Project (TOMI), Garlic, Dry Farming, Breeding projects: tromboncino squash, aji peppers, Indigo tomatoes, Ayote squash, Andean tubers, carrots, lettuce, chicory, beans, peas, edamame and more! RSVP required. Space is limited. Please email to reserve your space.
  • September 19, 2018: Grass Fed Dairy Production:
  • Join the University of Vermont Extension at the Larson Farm to hear about Rich and Cynthia Larson’s experiences with an all grass fed dairy production. Established in 1977, The Larson Farm dairy herd is 100% grass fed, all A2A2 genetics, and is certified organic and also certified 100% grass fed by PCO. They sell grass fed beef, raw milk and also a line of pasteurized dairy products made on farm at the new creamery. During this workshop we will learn about grass-fed dairy production, pasture management, fertility management and on- farm processing of high quality dairy products. Heather Darby, UVM Extension and Sarah Flack, Flack Consulting will join the Larson’s in sharing their dairy farming system and experiences with you! Register in advance at
  • September 26, 2018: Fourth Annual Farm to Flavor Dinner: Join the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture project members Phil Simon and Cathleen McCluskey, and Madison chef Dan Bonanno of A Pig in a Fur Coat for the Seed to Kitchen’s Fourth Annual Farm to Flavor Dinner at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on September 26, 2018. We'll be showcasing a variety of colored carrots from the CIOA project. You will have the opportunity to sample chef-designed dishes showcasing top vegetable varieties identified through the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, and listen to a panel discussion featuring chefs, farmers, and plant breeders involved in the project. Learn more and purchase tickets here.
  • October 1, 2018: Organic Seed Alliance Annual Field Day and Variety Tasting: Join the Washington State Tomato Organic Management and Improvement project team at the Organic Seed Alliance's community field day and tasting at Finnriver Farm and Cidery in Chimacum, Washington. Find out more and RSVP here

New Online Organic Dairy Course Available

The eOrganic dairy team created two asynchronous online courses about organic dairy production and the second, more advanced course is now available! The course, On the Ground: A Closer Look at Organic Dairy Pastures, Forages, and Soils, is for Extension educators, service providers, farmers, and others interested in organic dairy production. This course is a follow-up to the Introduction to the Introduction to Organic Dairy Production online course. It covers certified organic forages, pastures, and soils for organic dairy production systems in greater depth. The enrollment fee is $75; as a registered participant, you will have access to the course for 90 days and be eligible to earn 15.0 CCA CEUs upon successfully completing the course. Both courses are available here.

Simple Soil Tests Fact Sheet and Videos

Researchers from Utah State University has created a fact sheet and videos on simple soil tests for onsite evaluation of soil health in orchards that can be done with everyday, inexpensive materials. The fact sheet discusses the benefits of soil testing, how to choose a soil testing site, and provides instructions for several physical tests: the soil slaking test (sieve and bucket test), the hose test, and the soil organism biodiversity test. The videos, produced by Esther Thomsen of Utah State University,  demonstrate the soil slaking test, hose test, and the Solvita biological test. Find the fact sheet here and watch the videos here

2018 Organic Certification Cost Share Program

The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program is now accepting farmer and processor applications – crops, wild crops, livestock and processing/handling – for reimbursement of 75 percent of your organic certification costs (up to $750 per scope of certification). Reimbursements are made on a first-come, first-serve basis until all funds are dispersed.

Contact your local FSA office: The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides organic certification financial assistance for organic producers and handlers through state departments of agriculture. Find your nearest Farm Service Agency office to submit your application. You’ll need to complete the cost share application and have the right documentation (W-9, proof of certification, and an itemized invoice of certification expenses). The maximum reimbursement is 75 percent (or up to $750) of certification costs per certification scope, including application fees, certification fees and inspection costs.  Oregon Tilth has helpful information on Organic Certification Cost Share at

Practical Conservation Tillage Webinar on September 19

The next webinar in the Soil Health and Organic Farming webinar series is on September 19, 2018. This webinar, by Diana Jerkins and Mark Schonbeck of the Organic Farming Research Foundation includes the impacts of tillage on soil health, including practical, soil-friendly tillage practices for organic systems. We will discuss several newer tillage tools and approaches that reduce adverse impacts on soil life and soil structure. We still have some space available in all the upcoming webinars in this series--you can register for any or all of them here

Upcoming CCOF Webinars on Recordkeeping and FSMA Water Requirements

The Organic Training Institute of the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation is offering webinars on the following topics. Learn more about all their events and register for the webinars at

  • August 21, 2018: Organic Recordkeeping 101
  • September 12, 2018: Digital Organic Recordkeeping
  • October 10, 2018: FSMA Agricultural Production Water Requirements 

Our Farms, Our Future Conference Materials and Videos Available

SARE and NCAT/ATTRA held a conference in April on the future of sustainable agriculture, and they have made all the conference proceedings and videos from their plenary and breakout sessions available free to the public. Find the conference program, many posters, a podcast and other materials here, and the presentations are available as a YouTube playlist here. Topics range from organic soil health to food systems, pastured poultry, livestock production, and urban farming.

WSARE Accepting Proposals for Professional Development Program Grants

These grants focus on training agricultural professionals to help them spread knowledge about sustainable agriculture concepts and practices. PDP Grants are limited to $75,000. Grants can run for up to three years, with the final year to be focused on project evaluation. Proposals will be reviewed by a technical panel in January 2019, and the Western SARE Administrative Council will select proposals for funding in March 2019. The deadline is November 7, 2018 at noon Mountain Time. Find out more at

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Published August 20, 2018

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.