2013 Market Managers Conference Speakers
“We’re riding the wave of the local food movement,” said Bevan Linsley, Farmers Market Manager and Farmers Market Manager Conference organizer. This conference focused on tools Market Managers could use to improve food safety.
Janet Coit, Director of the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) shared her excitement that RI has over 50 summer farmers’ markets. As farmers increase local production, their customers grow local economies while protecting farmland and open space. She reminded attendees “RI Governor Chafee wants to encourage small business owners; farms are small businesses that result in thousands of jobs. The Governor loves to be on the land and to promote local Ag businesses.” Last year the RI Legislature established a RI Food Policy Council and recently created an Interagency Food Council. The state recently approved funding for a new grant program intended to help develop and market local agriculture.
Ken Ayars, RI Division of Agriculture Chief told participants that when Farmers Markets include prepared or baked goods, markets require “Special Food Events” permits and vendors need a food business license pursuant to RI Department of Health rules. Different rules and regulations apply than those of Farmers Markets selling only raw produce. Individually wrapped baked goods must be labeled with their ingredients (in order of volume), nutritional content and allergy warnings (nuts, dairy, etc.) Any farmers market vendor selling items other than produce (whole, uncut) needs a license. Market Managers are responsible to tell the state who will be at their markets. It will be up to the state to oversee their licenses and verify their compliance.
Learn more here.
Shannon Brawley and Heather Faubert, 2014 RINLA Award of Merit winner. Photo by Nora Lewis
The Rhode Island Nursery & Landscape Association (RINLA) held its 2-day annual Winter Meeting “Growing for the Future: Cultivating Healthy Businesses“ at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in January, 2014. Experienced landscapers, nursery growers, Extension professionals, University researchers and industry representatives shared their experience with over 200 attendees each day. Speakers offered business tips, industry innovations as well as pest and disease alerts.
More than a dozen educational and hands-on workshops covered landscape businesses management and plant health care in today’s changing environment while inspiring audiences with gorgeous public gardens and plants.
Keynotes Ed Laflamme & Bill Arman, Harvest Landscape Consulting spoke on “Landscape Businesses: How the Business World is Changing & Capture Your Share of New Opportunities. Audiences learned about past and future plant responses to climate change from State Climatologist at UMaine, George Jacobson. Arborists and other landscape professionals learned how to manage trees for wind stability from Dr. Mark Rudnicki, UConn Forest Ecology Professor. With increasing storm intensity, it is more important than ever to protect trees and power lines. Learn more here.
Posted in Agriculture, Environmental Issues, Horticulture, Recent Posts
Tagged Clem Desjardins, garden design, garden maintenance, Heather Faubert, landscape, nursery, RINLA, RINLA Winter Conference, RINLI, Shannon Brawley, URI
Jon Clements demonstrated apple tree pruning
“Forks belong on your dinner table, not in your orchard,” said Jon Clements, UMass Extension Educator. He shared his witty rules for pruning fruit trees, especially apples and peaches at his fruit tree pruning demonstration for about 40 fruit tree growers at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.
For a Central Leader style orchard,“select trees with 4 to 5 branches or ‘feathers’ fairly high up the tree,” said Clements. For hi-density plantings on dwarf rootstocks, a sturdy system with four wires will support the trees during their productive years. The Tall Spindle style orchard uses trees planted 3’ apart with 10’ to 12’ between rows. To secure braches to wires, use u-hooks like those from OESCO (oesco.com) or Peach Ridge Orchard Supply (peachridge.com). Using rubber bands or wires, tie young branches aiming slightly down so they do not get too vigorous.
Clements said apple trees fruit on 2-year old and older wood. He likes to prune apple trees each wonter after January first in complete dormancy. Clements said, “Growers don’t have to sanitize tools in the winter. If Fire Blight is present in the orchard during teh growing season, then be sure to sanitize tools between cuts when pruning.” Clements recommended starting with the largest trees. Clements offer specific recommendations for pruning apple trees using the Central Leader style. Learn more here.
Posted in Agriculture, Food, Produce, Recent Posts
Tagged apple, apples, fruit tree, Jon Clements, peach, peaches, pruning, Sweet Berry Farm
Moving a greenhouse at Roots Farm
Most greenhouses or high tunnels are constructed and stay in one place. The Rimol greenhouses or high tunnels at Roots Farm in Tiverton, RI are moved several times each year.
Roots Farm hosted a Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island (NOFA/RI) Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) hands-on workshop called “Winter Growing with Movable Greenhouses” for nearly 50 participants.
Mike and Kelli Roberts use their movable greenhouses to raise certified organic greens and produce year-round without supplemental heat. Workshop attendees moved two 50’ by 30’ greenhouses in under ten minutes.
This story made the February 2014 Eastern edition of Country Folks Grower. Read the full story here.
View step-by-step photos of a caterpillar hoop house being set up here.
Posted in Agriculture, Food, Horticulture, Produce, Recent Posts, Vegetables
Tagged Agriculture, CSA, greens, Kelli Roberts, Mike Roberts, Moveable greenhouse, NOFA, NOFA/RI, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island, organic, Organic farming, Rimol, Roots Farm, Tiverton RI, vegetables
Eric Nusbaum, Ph.D. of Wheelwright Consultants
Be sure a market analysis confirms your decision to make a significant investment in a commercial kitchen. “When visitors come to farm-based food stores, cafes or restaurants, customers stay on the farm longer and spend more money” said Eric Nusbaum, Ph.D. of Wheelwright Consultants in Greenfield, MA. See his business planning and kitchen layout recommendations in a past post called “Should you build a commercial kitchen?”
Be sure your business plan includes the cost of operational labor. Often labor-saving equipment is cheaper in the end. Be sure you have accurately estimated local market potential, develop a sound operational plan and a reasonable return on investment (ROI). According to Nusbaum, national average costs of kitchen and bar equipment range from $2,500 and $4,600 per restaurant seat.
Designing commercial kitchens can be daunting with so many rules and regulations. “This makes farming look easy,” said Nusbaum. He discussed equipment sizing and selection, health department codes and operational basics.
[Read more here.]
Movable greenhouse at Roots Farm
Most people think greenhouses or high tunnels are permanent. Roots Farm in Tiverton, RI has Rimol greenhouses (high tunnels) that can be moved by a handful of volunteers. Each fall volunteers move two 50’ by 30’ greenhouses in just a few minutes. Farmer Mike Roberts disconnects most of the anchors holding down his “Rolling Thunder™” greenhouses before volunteers arrive.
All winter, cold-hardy greens, leeks and root crops can grow in unheated, moveable greenhouses and low tunnels. The Roberts learned winter growing first hand from Eliot Coleman at Four Season Farm in Maine. When outdoor temperatures drop, Reemay low tunnels protect crops inside unheated greenhouses. Carrots and greens are easy to harvest in greenhouses. cool temperatures lead to sweet and delicious winter crops. [Read more here.]
Posted in Agriculture, Food, Produce, Recent Posts, Vegetables
Tagged Eliot Coleman, greenhouse, greens, high tunnetl, Kelli Roberts, low tunnel, Mike Roberts, movable greenhouse, Rimol, Roots Farm, winter growing
Join the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island (NOFA/RI) for its Winter Conference & Annual Meeting on Sunday, February 16.
Learn about edible garden design from Landscape Architect and former farmer, Michael Veracka, compost from Mike Merner, owner of Earth Care Farm and educating a new generation of growers from Agriculture Teacher, John O’Malley.
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum
NOFA/RI’s Annual Meeting will celebrate achievements in 2013 and announce 2014 plans. After a healthy potluck meal with NOFA/RI members and guests, join a breakout session with one of our speakers to hear more about their organic specialty.
[Learn more and register here.]
Posted in Agriculture, Environmental Issues, Food, Horticulture, Recent Posts, Vegetables
Tagged Agriculture, compost, Earth Care Farm, edible garden design, farmer, farming, gardening, growers, John O’Malley, Landscape Architect, Michael Veracka, Mike Merner, organic, teacher, X NOFA/RI