Archives: Resources

Composting in the Back Yard or on a Small Farm

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Composting is a natural, biological process in which microorganisms use organic materials as food and leave a residue of digested organic matter that is almost completely decomposed. Composting is the same as the decomposition that happens to all living things when they die, except that you control

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An Introduction to the Physical Nature of Soils

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Benefits of Composting The soil is a complex and dynamic system of living and nonliving components. In natural ecosystems, minerals cycle from living back to non-living components, while organic matter levels remain relatively constant as deposits of organic matter (from falling leaves, for example) balance decomposition. In

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Ridge Tillage at Hackmatack Farm

By Nicolas LindholmPhotos and illustrations by Nicolas Lindholm Ridge tillage as we practice it at Hackmatack Farm is a system of growing vegetable crops in raised ridges formed before planting. Essential to this system is incorporation of winterkilled cover crops and other organic matter into the top surface layer of soil as we form the

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Zone Tillage – A Reduced Tillage Option for Northern Farms

By Jan Goranson and Rob Johanson, Goranson Farm, Dresden, and Jean English, Ph.D., MOFGA Plowing and tilling soil excessively can reduce soil health by exposing soil to so much aeration that organic matter oxidizes excessively; subjecting soil to wind and water erosion; inverting soil layers, thus displacing soil organisms from their ecological niches. Plowing and

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Organic Strawberry Production

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Introduction Similar to any organic crop production, producing strawberries organically entails a system approach to the whole farm. Many of the practices are the same in organic and conventional strawberry systems, but the fundamental approach to soil husbandry and pest management may be quite different. Successful organic

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Raising Organic Pigs

by Diane Schivera, MAT Pigs can be valuable additions to diversified farms by providing meat and helping to clear land. Louis Bromfield wrote in his book From My Experience (1955), “To be financially successful at raising hogs primarily requires the ability to think like a hog.” This article covers the basics of keeping pigs and

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Storing Garden Vegetables

by Eric Sideman, PhD and Cheryl Wixson, P.E. Apples Use caution when storing apples with other vegetables as they give off ethylene gas that causes other vegetables to rot. They can be stored in tubs with lids to prevent this effect. Choose varieties that are good winter keepers, like golden russet, Belle de Boskeep, winter

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Organic Chicken Basics

By Diane Schivera, MAT Introduction The basis for organic livestock production is the development of a harmonious relationship between land, plants, and livestock, and respect for the physiological and behavioral needs of livestock. This is achieved by: Providing good quality organically grown feed Maintaining appropriate stocking rates. Designing husbandry systems adapted to the species’ needs.

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Feeding Whole Grains to Chickens

By Diane Schivera, MAT Introduction Feed is the most expensive portion of the cost of raising chickens, and this expense is magnified by the fact that most folks feed a ground mash or pellet that is formulated and produced by a feed company. In an attempt to reduce this cost, you can feed laying hens

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Cleaning, Grading and Hatching Eggs

By Diane Schivera, MAT Revised June 2017 Introduction Many natural barriers help prevent bacteria from entering eggs. The “bloom” or “cuticle,” a gelatinous covering that dries after the egg emerges from the hen, helps seal the pores in the shell, reducing moisture loss and bacterial penetration. The many egg membranes also help prevent the passage

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