The Organic University (OU) brings you an in-depth look at a variety of issues relevant to successful organic production, marketing and organic farm management. Small classes are designed to encourage discussion relevant to your particular situation.
All courses included an organic breakfast, lunch, breaks and a resource book. You may only register for one OU course as each individual course runs a full day.
The OU began in 2001 with six courses dealing with transitioning to organic, organic transplant production, soil management, organic market gardening, organic livestock production, and an introduction to organic farming. A total of 19 courses have been offered over the five year history of the OU.
Read more about the OU and its HISTORY!
NOTE: Continuing Education Unit (CEU) Credits
for Certified Crop Advisors have been applied for through the
Certified Crop Advisor Program and
will be available for many of the
workshops and Organic University courses.
Credits available will be listed in the
Please sign up on in-room sign in sheets at the conference if you are eligible for CEU credits. Download a complete list of the CEU credits available at the 2011 OFC.
2011 OU COURSES (Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 at the La Crosse Center)
Small grains can be an important addition to any cropping system; as a way to provide a livestock ration or to add value to your operation. These crops also add diversity to a rotation and have excellent soil building potential. Producers Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, of upstate New York, and Carmen Fernholz, of western Minnesota, will bring their extensive experience and years of experimentation and work with other organic farmers and Universities to help you understand the agronomic and marketing considerations of small grain production.
After a look at WHY you may want to produce small grains, the presenters will lead a discussion of long term considerations in successful small grain production: soil management, economic viability, weed management and disease cycling. They will spend some time talking about the role of different kinds of small grains, from early spring grains to early row crops, late row crops, late planted non-row crops, to fall cover crops, frost seeding and more. They will discuss sequences of crops, and considerations such as climate, farm size and agronomic considerations. Experiences and best practices with specific crops will be detailed, including suggestions for equipment, seed bed prep, fertility and pest management and special harvesting practices.
Furthermore, the presenters will cover the marketing and utilization of small grains, whether for animal feed, or for food, including the potential for adding value for increased profit. Whether you are a cash cropping, growing crops to feed your own livestock or are integrating new cover crops into your soil fertility program, this comprehensive course will give you the tools you need to successfully produce, utilize and sell organic small grains.
Mary-Howell Martens and Klaas Martens
With their 3 children, Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens farm 1400 acres of organic grains and pro in upstate New York and raise organic heifers, hogs and chickens. They also own and operate Lakeview Organic Grain, which supplies animal feed to dairy and chicken farmers throughout New York, and organic field crop/cover crop seeds throughout the Northeast. They have written extensive on a variety of organic topics, and most of these articles are posted at their website, www.lakevieworganicgrain.com.
Carmen graduated from St. John's University in 1965 and taught high school English and coached wrestling for seven years. He bought a small farm in 1972 and started farming then. He began the organic transition in 1973 and has been certified in part or whole since then. Today the farm is 400 plus acres and all certified organic. Carmen grows a variety of crops including corn, soybeans, and various small grains including oats, wheat, barley and flax. He also uses alfalfa in the rotation as a cash crop and has recently introduced dried field peas into the rotation. All small grains and the field peas are underseeded with a legume. Carmen also grows organic soybean seed for an organic seed company. He has served on a number of boards including the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, The Minnesota Food Association, Chair of Sustainable Farming Association, Chair of the West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and State Secretary for the National Farmers Organization. He is also Vice Chair of Organic Farming Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM).
Carmen and his wife Sally have four grown children and 4 grand children. His most recent activities, besides farming, center around a half time appointment to the University of Minnesota as state wide Organic Research Coordinator with offices at both his home and at the Lamberton Research and Outreach Center. Carmen and Sally were the 2005 MOSES Farmer of the Year and Carmen was awarded the alumni achievement award from St. John's University in 2010 for his work in organic agriculture.
2. High and Low Tunnels for Extended-Season
THIS OU COURSE IS FULL.
Harvesting vegetables beyond the normal growing season has helped many producers market higher value crops over a longer period of time. Join two experienced educators and tunnel enthusiasts to learn their "field-tunnel tested" methods. John Biernbaum of Michigan State University and Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farm in upstate New York will discuss how to use unheated high tunnels / hoophouses as well as shorter and less-expensive caterpillar and low tunnels with a variety of methods to expand the growing season for warm-season vegetables both in early summer and into late fall as well as to grow cool season vegetables throughout the winter.
John and Ted will help participants consider how to incorporate this unique farming system into their farm operation, from planning to purchasing to production, as well as marketing and enjoying their year round produce. A first step is consideration of your goals, economic investment, payback, loans and grants available to growers. A second step is purchasing what you need and getting it built economically and efficiently. A third step is crop management from choosing varieties, providing for fertility and irrigation, scheduling and rotations. John and Ted will discuss producing numerous high value crops in the various tunnels. Adding these fresh vegetables to stored root crops as part a winter CSA share or retail sales program is a proven successful marketing strategy.
John Biernbaum is Professor of Horticulture at Michigan State University, where he teaches courses in greenhouse management, passive solar greenhouses for protected cultivation, compost production and use, culinary and medicinal herbs, organic certification, and organic transplant production. He is currently working with a team of faculty to offer the new Organic Farming Certificate program in the Horticulture Department and the Institute of Agriculture Technology. He does research and outreach on year-round diversified organic farming for small scale farmers, urban agriculture, community and school gardening programs. He is a member of the steering team for the MSU Student Organic Farm. Students, staff and faculty worked together at the SOF to develop a diversified 48-week CSA community farm through the use of passive solar greenhouses and on-farm cold storage methods and now in the sixth year of successful operation.
Ted Blomgren, his wife, Jan, and their boys, Nathaniel (18) and Jacob (15), live in Easton, New York, a farming community in the Taconic Hills just east of the Hudson River, between Saratoga Springs and Manchester, VT. The terrain is rolling, the soils are coarse-textured and sometimes rocky,
and the climatic zone is on the border between zones 4 and 5. Windflower Farm consists of 60 acres, 22 of which are rented from neighbors, and about 42 of which are tillable. The balance of their land is in roadways, hedgerows, swamp, and woods.
The Blomgrens grow crops on about half of their acreage at any one time. Ted and Jan grow organic vegetables, berries, and cut flowers, and raise a laying flock for an 1100-member CSA based in NYC. They sell vegetable shares, flower shares, egg shares, fruit shares, and winter shares. They also sell cut flowers to wholesale customers. Because their primary market is 180 miles to the south, they rely heavily on season extension strategies.
Ted holds degrees in finance and horticulture. He is a former Cornell Extension educator where he worked with large-scale muck vegetable growers near the NJ border, and then with diversified, small-scale vegetable producers in the Capital District. He remains active on CU committees,
including their Organic Farming and High Tunnel work teams, and is on the steering committee of the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference. Along with another Washington County farmer, Ted organizes an annual, three-day farmer-to-farmer conference in Saratoga Springs. He and another
collaborator wrote a SARE-funded high tunnel manual and video. Jan, who holds a degree in natural history, is an artist and a flower grower. She and Ted have been married for 20 years. Nathaniel and Jacob are home-schooled. Although they are active on the farm, they are even busier with
non-farming projects that include drawing, writing, photography, and computer games. All the Blomgrens enjoy hiking, biking, skiing, and kayaking.
3. Enhancing Organic Herd Health CEU credit information: No credit for this course.
Jerry Brunetti of Agri-Dynamics and Guy Jodarski, Organic Valley Staff Veterinarian, know that a common-sense approach to animal husbandry using nature's tools to promote soil, plant, animal, and human health will enhance the long-term productivity and vitality of your herd and farm. This session will provide the basics of holistic organic livestock management, as well as the practical methods you need to implement whole farm systems that support and promote a profitable and sustainable organic herd and farm.
Participants will learn how to improve herd health through a holistic approach emphasizing organic dairy production. The principles of whole farm planning and management to increase biodiversity, productivity and ultimately health will be covered. Soil biology and mineralization, animal nutrition and diverse plant production are keys to herd health that will be explained. The use of organic livestock aids such as herbal remedies, nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies will be covered in part but the emphasis of this course will be on minimizing the use of therapies by producing nutritious feeds and managing livestock for optimal health.
Case examples of specific farms in different regions and how their people, crops, livestock and ecosystems work together to produce health for all will be presented. We will look at health from both detailed and expansive perspectives; from specific plant secondary metabolites and their effects on animal physiology to whole farm ecosystems and how they determine long term sustainability. The primary goals of this course are; to give each participant a better understanding of how to achieve excellent herd health on their farm and to provide some practical tools that one can take home and put to work right away.
Guy Jodarski, DVM
Guy Jodarski, DVM is based in Neillsville, WI and serves as a staff Veterinarian for CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley. He works in organic and sustainable livestock practice with an emphasis in dairy cattle herd health. Dr. Jodarski has been in practice for 23 years. He was an owner/partner in a multiple person large animal practice in central Wisconsin for 12 years. He then worked in industry for an international cattle breeding company and later as the staff veterinarian for two suppliers of feed supplements and supplies for organic and sustainable farmers. Dr. Jodarski enjoys teaching how to keep food animals healthy without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones and chemicals.
Dr. Jodarski serves on the Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA). He is also a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the National Mastitis Council. Guy and his wife Susan have been married 30 years and have 2 children. Dr. Guy enjoys a variety of outdoor activities and is very interested in sustainable forestry – he likes spending time working in the family woodlot in Northwest WI.
In 1979, Jerry Brunetti founded Agri-Dynamics with a vision of providing ecologically sound agronomic and nutritional consulting services, as well as creating a line of holistic animal remedies for farm livestock, equine and pets. After witnessing first-hand the devastating results of conventional, chemically dependent, grain-based farming practices, Jerry embarked on a systems approach to educate and consult for farmers who made the wise choice to transition to ecologically responsible and sustainable farming and today advises farmers, ranchers, communities and individuals toward creating healthy, regenerative and profitable outcomes and solutions.
In 1991, Jerry co-founded Earthworks Natural Organic Products, a company which provides products and consulting services to the golf course and landscaping industries. Jerry's aspiration was once again to encourage the implementation of ecological principles of balancing soils, reducing the use of pesticides and eliminating dependence on chemical fertilizers.
In 1999, Jerry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and given as little as six months to live without aggressive chemotherapy. He instead chose a holistic path of nutrition, detoxification and immune modulation and applied his vast experience with farming and animal nutrition to his own health. The links between healthy soil, truly nutritious food and profitable, sustainable farming are clearly evident in his personal and professional experiences and his skill for communicating this to people has won him extensive praise from holistic health professionals, sustainable farming organizations and many farmers and consumers.
Jerry is a highly demanded lecturer and speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics that include soil fertility, animal nutrition and livestock health. As a result of healing himself of a life threatening episode of cancer utilizing holistic modalities, he is often speaking to audiences about the relationship of "Food as Medicine" and "Farm as Farmacy." Jerry bridges natural and scientific understandings of plant and animal "ecosystems," such as digestion in soils (microbial decomposition), pre-digestion of foods (fermentation) and the digestion that takes place in the GI tract of animals/humans. Jerry's "connect-the-dots" systems approach helps farmers and ranchers understand how the health of people and their communities are linked to healthy land, healthy animals and healthy produce.
Prior to launching Agri-Dynamics, Jerry studied Animal Science at North Carolina State University and then moved to western Virginia to run a cow/calf operation. He served as Regional Dairy Director of the National Farmers Organization in the Northeast for five years. He served on the Lower Mt. Bethel Township Environmental Advisory Council for several years and is currently on the board of Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), is an honorary board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation as well as a steering committee member for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation and is also active in other community based organizations devoted to rebuilding local food systems and local democracy. In 2008, Jerry received the Leadership Award from PASA and the Eco-Agriculture Achievement Award from Acres USA. His DVD's include "Keys to Herd Health," "Holistic Veterinary Care" with Hugh Karreman, VMD and "Cancer, Nutrition and Healing."
If apples are not the last frontier of organic agriculture, you can at least see the frontier from halfway up the tree. From the myriad of diseases that challenge the organic orchardist to insects that appear undaunted by organic control techniques, the journey from conventional techniques to organic practices can prove long and difficult. Join our experienced panel as they take some of the guesswork out of how to transition to organic production and achieve organic certification, as well as how to effectively manage the organic orchard. Jim Koan owns and operates a 120-acre organic orchard in Michigan; Ken Mandley certified his small Wisconsin orchard in 2010; Harriet Behar provides production and certification information as MOSES' organic specialist; and long-time organic farmer Cissy Bowman serves as the executive director of Indiana Certified Organic.
This course will focus on the opportunities and challenges of apple production and the approaches and activities necessary when transitioning or developing any organic fruit orchard. A clear and common sense approach to understanding the organic standards, preparing your written organic farm plan and getting ready for your organic inspection will help to take the guesswork out of this regulatory process. The organic approach to improving soil fertility, choosing tree varieties, pest and disease control will be presented by both an experienced organic producer as well as someone who recently went through the transition process. Anyone who is interested in small or large scale organic fruit production will find this course a good foundation. It will provide that the basic information needed to realistically begin organic fruit production as well as the tools needed to be successful.
Cissy has been growing food organically since 1973 and has worked in organic certification since 1989. She went on in 1994 to serve as Vice President and Legislative Liaison for OCIA International. In 1996 she helped to start the small certification agency that has grown today into ICO LLC, a USDA and ISO 65 accredited certifying agency currently certifying across the US and in the US Virgin Islands.
Cissy also serves as Program Director for the non-profit organization, Hoosier Organic Marketing Education (“HOME”). In this capacity she has worked with Farm Aid to provide disaster assistance to farmers in crisis through floods, financial turmoil and other tragedies—most recently working with a young farm family whose wife/mother was struck by lightning while working in the fields.
This grandmother of five enjoys spending time with her family, canning and freezing foods, making pickles, smoking meats and talking to farm folks.
Jim Koan, owner of AlMar Orchards in Flushing, Mi. was a conventional apple grower for twenty years. In 1996 he started transitioning apple blocks into organic production and by 2005 had all of the 120 acres of apples certified organic as well as some crop land. The last 80 acres is now in transition. Jim's main focus is apple growing but is diversifying more each year to spread the risk. Even though he plants around 4000 apple trees each year, the varieties are not the typical kinds demanded by consumers. The more sustainable, low input varieties planted at 1,000 trees per acre is what is going into the ground.
A small retail farm store is open all year around which is a challenge to keep profitable because of the poor location. Diversification of farm products to sell at the store has lead into raising pigs to sell as a meat source for the customers visiting the farm. The pigs are fed the apple pulp that is left after squeezing the apples for fresh cider and fermented (hard) cider. Since apples are squeezed all year around the pigs consume lots of apples (about 35,000 bushel) and everyone claims that it is best pork that they have ever "eaten". The pigs are also used in the orchards for insect control and to help increase soil fertility by rooting. Michigan State University is involved in collecting data on the benefits of running pigs in an organic orchard at key times.
Jim used to pack apples and sell to several large organic grocery store chains, but has redirected his business plan and chooses not to sell his apples and fresh cider to chains. Many CSA's and buying clubs are now picking up the products right at the farm.
Many innovative techniques are used to increase soil fertility, insect and disease control, in the apple orchards. More diversifying and downsizing is in the future plans. Jim claims that he gains most of his knowledge by making mistakes and so he hopes that he can continue making lots of mistakes for many years.
Ken is the operator of Deedon Lake Orchard near Turtle Lake in northwest Wisconsin. The orchard originally consisted of 1020 trees planted in the late 1980s on standard rootstock and was essentially abandoned after just a few years. In 2006, Ken began managing the orchard on a sharecrop basis with the landowner’s stipulation that organic management practices be utilized. Ken now says that if he knew then what he knows now about the challenges of apple orchards in general and organic orchards in particular, he probably would have run away. But, being naïve and energetic, he began learning about apples trees and organic practices, and in May 2010 the orchard was certified organic by MOSA. The orchard now consists of about 500 of the original trees and 400 dwarf trees planted in high density systems, some on wire trellis and some staked.Ken was one of the first organic farmers in Wisconsin to be approved for the NRCS EQIP Organic Transition program, and also received Organic EQIP funding for three practices; Nutrient Management, Pest Management, and Cover Crop. Marketing is done through an on-site store opened in 2009 and local Farmers’ Markets. As production volume and apple quality improve, Ken hopes to develop a wholesale market to schools, other institutions and Co-Ops. Future plans include value-added products such as fresh cider.
Ken and his wife Connie have been married over thirty-four years and are parents of two adult children. Ken is the Pastor of Grace Community Church in Turtle Lake, had a successful management consulting practice for over ten years, and is a retired Air Force officer. He holds a diploma in Biblical Studies from Gateway College of Evangelism, a B.A. in Psychology from Milton College, and an M. Ed. in Counseling from the University of Missouri.
In her work with MOSES, (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service), Harriet Behar has led trainings and on-farm tours introducing organic agriculture and organic certification requirements to farmers, feed mill operators, bankers, extension agents, NRCS personnel, and other agriculture education professionals. She runs the MOSES Farmer to Farmer Mentoring Program, as well as co-coordinating the MOSES Organic University each February prior to the MOSES Organic Farming Conference. Harriet also staffs the MOSES toll-free organic information line, answering a wide variety questions about organic growing, processing and marketing from around the United States. Working with other organic and sustainable agriculture organizations, Harriet has knowledge of how to make change at the Federal and State levels concerning farm policy and programs.
As an organic inspector, and previously as the first marketing coordinator of Organic Valley, Harriet has visited over 2000 organic farms and processing facilities, attended a wide range of farming and processing seminars and conducted interviews with producers in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Japan. Every organic farm and processor she has visited help to increase the respect and enthusiasm she has for organic methods and ideals.
She has been growing organic vegetables since 1973, and has operated a certified organic farm since 1989 of vegetables, herbs, bedding plants and small grains on her 216 acres in the hills of Southwestern Wisconsin. She and her husband have an on-farm, state licensed dehydration facility, a large solar greenhouse for commercial scale winter vegetable production and small commercial honey and poultry operations. They grow and preserve a significant portion of their food, and are active members of their local natural food coop and land use planning commission.
Predatory insects and pollinators are the unsung champions of the agricultural world. Join the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation's Eric Mader for a discussion of the ecology of these often overlooked and undervalued allies, and practical approaches to enhancing their populations on working row crop, vegetable, and fruit farms.
Specific course topics include an overview of beneficial insect and native bee biology, habitat restoration guidelines, balancing farm practices with insect ecology, and how to access technical and financial resources for beneficial insect conservation through the USDA.
Eric will use real-world examples of restored insect habitats from across the country, and share case studies of farms that achieve all of their pest-management and pollination needs through insect conservation alone. Various native bee nests, books, and conservation tools will be displayed during the session. Participants are encouraged to bring maps or aerial photos of their own farms for specific conservation planning feedback.
PRESENTER: Eric Mader
Eric Mader is Assistant Pollinator Program Director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Extension Professor of Entomology at the University of Minnesota. In this role Eric works nationwide with farmers and agencies to conduct habitat restoration for native pollinators and beneficial insects on working farms.
Eric’s previous work includes commercial beekeeping and crop consulting for the native seed industry where he provided weekly insect and disease scouting on hundreds of plant species grown for prairie restoration efforts. He is the author of several books including Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies by Storey Publishing. Eric lives in Portland, Oregon and when not working, he breeds native vegetables like prairie turnip, camas, and Jerusalem artichoke.
Paul and Sandy Arnold have spent the past twenty-two years building their farm up from bare land to a thriving organic vegetable and fruit enterprise. They continually tweak their activities to enhance the profitability of their farm enterprise. Join the Arnold's as they share how they have developed their operation over the years, and the systems they have put in place to sustain it, with highlights including season extension, soil fertility, weed management, crop production for year-round farmers' markets, and more. New and experienced market farmers will find their engaging style and encyclopedic knowledge invaluable in helping to understand how best to set up and manage their own operation.
From their long term perspective, they have found key areas where growers can save money over time, choosing to make quality long term investments as well as understanding where to put dollars to help with short term issues. From soil building, pest control, high tunnels, post harvest handling, storage and marketing, all areas are viewed through a business lens, how best to perform these functions to promote long term economic sustainability. Some examples of what Paul and Sandy have learned over their many years of vegetable production include:
Planning for successive plantings is essential in increasing production and profit on limited acreage.
Irrigation is incredibly important for improving yields (Paul feels it has been his most important infrastructure investment and what really allowed for growth of the farm)
It pays to “run the numbers”, such as using time management (really understand man hours and where investment in equipment will pay off), as well as crop management (calculate profit per square foot AND yield per acre depending on planting intensity, aisle and row widths), etc.
High Tunnels, especially when automated, can substantially add to season extension and yield.
PRESENTERS: Paul and Sandy Arnold
Paul and Sandy Arnold purchased land in Argyle in 1988, located about an hour north of Albany, NY. They have built Pleasant Valley Farm up to be a thriving fruit and vegetable farm over the past 23 years, which included building barns, a house, a greenhouse, and high tunnels. Their two children, Robert (18) and Kim (15), are both home-schooled and are an integral part of their farm. Over 40 varieties of diverse fruit and vegetable crops are grown with organic methods on about 6 acres of land, which are certified through Certified Naturally Grown. They own 60 acres of land and rent 120 acres from a neighbor; about 4 acres are cover-cropped for rotation, and many acres are for hay, used by a neighboring beefalo farmer. Some of the major crops grown on their farm, which lies in zone 4, include: lettuce, spinach, greens, beets, carrots, potatoes, squashes, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs. Their produce is sold almost exclusively at near-by farmers’ markets year-round and to a few restaurants in Saratoga Springs. They attend 3 markets each week May 1st to November 1st (Wednesday and Saturday), then 2 Saturday winter markets November 1st to May 1st. Since 1996, the Arnolds have been producing crops for winter markets, but have specialized in winter growing/season extension since 1992; Production for the winter markets was accomplished by constructing two large, unheated high tunnels which are used to grow greens all winter, and by storing many crops in an environmentally-controlled root cellar that stores 24 tons of produce under the barn.
To meet the energy challenges of the farm, the Arnolds have installed radiant-heated rolling benches in their polycarbonate greenhouse and also a 10kW photovoltaic-solar system that generates about 50% of their needed electricity. Although neither came from a farming background, they reached their goal 19 years ago of having the farm provide all their family income, and have enjoyed the great lifestyle it offers.
When not farming, the Arnold family enjoys travelling; they have been to Hawaii, the West coast, toured 16 major National Parks in an RV out West for 3 weeks last year, and have visited many other states, hoping to go to Alaska in the summer of 2011. The family also has a camp in the Adirondacks of New York where they cross-country ski, canoe, hike, and fish; the farm irrigation pond is the fun ice-skating spot in the winter. Sandy and Kim have horses for casual riding on trails and around the farm. Church is an important activity for the family, especially for Robert who assists with the sound/music system every week.
Paul and Sandy enjoy presenting at conferences across the country, often integrating them into family vacations and farm visits. Interns are an integral part of Pleasant Valley Farm, which they’ve had helping to run the farm since 1995; they often mentor other farmers, and do numerous farm tours for farmers, schools, and the community. One of their major goals is to create new farmers and help all farmers become profitable.
7. Grazing Systems and Ruminant Behavior
CEU credit information: No credit for this course.
We will discuss functional interrelationships among soil, plants, herbivores, and people as they pertain to managing landscapes and grazing systems. In the process, we will explore what it means ecologically, culturally, and economically for people and the animals in our care to be locally adapted to the landscapes we inhabit.
More than a Matter of Taste:
Palatability is more than a matter of taste. It involves dynamic relationships among cells throughout the body that feedback to the palate to change liking for various mixes of forages available in a landscape. These learned relationships are the basis for the nutritional wisdom of the body manifest through abilities of herbivores to meet needs for energy, protein, and minerals as well as to self-medicate to rectify maladies. Understanding the relationship between the body and the palate has opened heretofore unimagined opportunities for people to train livestock in a variety of ways including to forage in forest plantations, vineyards, and citrus groves; to avoid eating poisonous plants; to better utilize invasive plants; and to rejuvenate landscapes for the benefit of both wild and domestic animals.
Transgenerational Linkages: Experiences in utero and early in life have life-long influences on animal behavior from an animal’s disposition to the foods and habitats where it prefers to live. The emerging field of epigenetics is highlighting how experiences with social and biophysical environments influence gene expression. That is changing forever our rigid views of genes and of evolution based on natural selection of beneficial mutations -- a process that takes place over millennia -- to one that is dynamic and ongoing within the lifetime of the individual. Understanding these processes has important implications for how to create animals adapted to using foods and habitats available locally while minimizing inputs of ever-more costly fossil fuels.
Spice of Life: Animals get sick and tired of eating the same old foods in the same old places. Providing animals with a variety of foods and habitats enhances their nutrition, health, well-being and ultimately efficiency of production in confinement, on pastures, and on rangelands. Biodiverse landscapes are literally nutrition centers and pharmacies with a diversity of plants necessary for the health of soil, plants, herbivores, and people. As every body is different, even within uniform groups of animals, choice and ability to choose enables individuals to select diets that meet their needs. This information helps people better develop plant mixtures that build soil organic matter and nutrients, reduce dependence of plants on fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, promote the nutrition and health of herbivores without reliance on antibiotics and anthelmintics, and enhance the flavor and quality of meat for human consumption.
Implementation: Pasturing ruminants is not only a requirement for organic certification, but can also be a very cost effective tool to feed your livestock, preserve and improve soil and water quality and better your farming lifestyle. We will look at the options for necessary infrastructure to implement grazing on your farm. You will learn about aspects of grazing that you can control and how to accomplish it. We will discuss options for managing fertility, heat and cold stress and drought. We will look at the pros and cons of different options to train your animals to a pasture system and discuss option to achieve biodiversity in perennial pasture swards.
PRESENTERS: Altfrid Krusenbaum
Altfrid Krusenbaum and his wife Sue operate Krusen Grass Farms, LLC, a 340-acre certified organic Dairy and Beef operation. They milk 150 cows, raise 80 heifers and finish 35 steers a year for direct marketed certified organic, grass-fed and grass-finished beef.
Altfrid was born, raised and formally educated in Germany. During his studies and after graduating with a degree in animal and dairy science, he completed several internships in Germany, Canada and the US. He immigrated into the US in 1986 and has operated since 1990 on the current farm near Elkhorn, WI.
The Krusenbaums are one of the pioneers in pasture-based dairy and beef farming in southeast Wisconsin. Management intensive grazing has been the heart of the farming operation since 1992. They host numerous tours every year for local schools, customers, producers and groups from around the globe.
In the wintertime Altfrid speaks on many issues related to Management Intensive Grazing, Grazing and Organics and is especially engaged in developing career paths for aspiring farmers. Having trained interns for 20 years, he is currently offering sharemilking opportunities for young people to get established in dairy farming.
Altfrid is also a NRCS certified Grazing Specialist. He worked in that capacity in SE Wisconsin from 2005-2009 and the last two years as a “Grazing troubleshooter” in the same area.
Fred Provenza is originally from Colorado where he worked on a ranch near Salida while earning a B.S. Degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University. Upon receiving a B.S. degree in 1973 he became ranch manager. In total, he and his wife Sue spent 7 years working on the ranch.
He and Sue left the ranch in 1975 so he could work as a research assistant and technician at Utah State University, where he earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He was a professor in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University from 1982 to 2009. He is currently Professor Emeritus.
For the past 35 years, his group has produced ground-breaking research that laid the foundations for what is now known as behavior-based management of landscapes. That work inspired researchers in disciplines as diverse as chemical and landscape ecology, ruminant and human nutrition, biopsychology, animal welfare, restoration ecology, wildlife damage management, pasture and rangeland science and management, and rural sociology and eco-development. Along with colleagues and graduate students, he has been author or co-author of 250 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books, and he has been an invited speaker at over 325 international meetings.
Their efforts led to the formation in 2001 of an international network of scientists and land managers from five continents. That consortium, known as BEHAVE (Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation and Ecosystem Management www.behave.net), integrates behavioral principles and processes with local knowledge to enhance ecological, economic, and social values of rural and urban communities. They inspire and enable people to understand behavior, ours and other creatures, to fashion environmentally friendly solutions that reconcile differences of opinion about how to manage landscapes. In the process, everyone involved is a student attempting to better understand behavior from genes to landscapes and to use understanding of behavior to help people learn to appreciate that our differences are our collective strength in sustaining communities and landscapes that integrate diverse ecological, economic and social values and services.
He received numerous awards for research, teaching, and mentoring. These awards represent the productivity that flowed from warm professional and personal relationships with over 75 graduate students, post-doctoral students, visiting scientists, and colleagues he worked with during the past 35 years. In 1994 he received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society for Range Management, and in 1999 he received the W.R. Chapline Research Award, the most prestigious award given by the Society for Range Management for achievements in research. He was named professor of the year for the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University in 1989 and 2003. He received the two most prestigious awards given by Utah State University: in 1999, the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award for his work with graduate students; and in 2008, the D. Wynne Thorne Award for outstanding lifetime achievements in research.
He and his wife Sue have recently returned to live in the mountains of Colorado.
Join Joseph Krawczyk and Mary E. Kozak of Field and Forest Products in Pestigo WI, for a fascinating journey into the fungi kingdom. Mushrooms can be a viable addition to your current production or can be a standalone business, cultivating one type or a variety of species. Be prepared for a stimulating day learning the background knowledge along with the practical methods needed to start, and successfully maintain, organic mushroom production.
Wine Cap Cultivation: Wine Cap mushrooms are a popular mushroom amongst Europeans but for the most part are unfamiliar to North American consumers. This easy to grow mushroom is typically sown in wood chip beds outdoors as part of a landscaped bed, under fruit trees or between rows of asparagus or other garden crops. Site and substrate selection are important considerations for this crop and will be covered in detail.
Oyster Mushroom Cultivation on Natural Logs: Oyster mushrooms have become increasingly popular amongst producers for their ease of production and consumers for their diversity of uses in food preparation. The highest quality Oyster mushrooms are grown on large diameter soft hardwood logs using the totem method of inoculation. This method allows for seasonal production and by using different Oyster mushroom species and strains, the growing season can be extended for marketing purposes. Log and Oyster species selection, inoculation methods and incubation strategies will be covered. A log inoculation demonstration will be given.
Log Based Shiitake Mushroom Production: Shiitake mushroom consumption is on the increase in the United States and by far the highest quality mushrooms are grown on natural wood logs. Successful cultivation demands attention to detail and the art of being patient. The steps required cultivation include: log selection and harvest, spawn and strain selection, inoculation, incubation and crop production. Each step of the process will be described in detail. A demonstration of log inoculation techniques will be given.
Year Round Shiitake Production: If the market demands fresh shiitake on a regular basis perhaps it is time to look at year round shiitake production on natural logs. Techniques learned from Japanese growers and our own experience will be discussed.
Straw Based Cultivation of Oyster Mushrooms: This cultivation method allows for year round production to service those markets that demand fresh product on a weekly basis. The mechanics of production are fairly straight forward and will be covered along with the equipment and facilities needed to pull it all together.
PRESENTERS: Joseph Krawczyk and Mary E. Kozak
Since 1983 Joe and Mary Ellen, have owned and operated Field and Forest Products, Inc a business that produces specialty mushroom spawn and sells associated cultivation supplies. The original business plan called for ‘field’ products (blueberries, strawberries and raspberries) to be part of the business mix but ‘forest’ products (mushrooms, spawn) soon became the only thing as demand for product and knowledge quickly stripped away any time for other endeavors. We have presented cultivation talks throughout the eastern United States, including the Penn State University Specialty Mushroom Short Course. We have authored the book “Growing Shiitake Mushrooms in a Continental Climate “which has been said to be the most practical guide to log based mushroom cultivation.
We have shared our expertise with aspiring mushroom growers by helping set up and trouble shoot farms in Khyrgistan, Macedonia, Armenia, the republic of Georgia and Russia and of course, the USA. We have attended symposiums in China on shiitake and other mushroom cultivation and recently toured log based shiitake farms in Japan.
Along with their two young adult children, we love to travel particularly to destinations that require work to get to either via backpacking, canoeing, kayaking or bicycling and once there, hopefully fishing is involved.
Enhancing the recycling of nutrients and building carbon in the soil are foundations of organic agriculture, and building resilient soils can help you manage a variety of stresses from fertility and weed issues to extreme weather-related conditions. Join the Rodale Institute's Jeff Moyer and University of Minnesota's Deborah Allan to learn both the science and practical techniques of soil building and carbon management by enhancing your living soils, including the discussion of strategies that can lower your input costs while continually increasing the productivity of your fields.
Farmers will be given the tools to evaluate what they are doing now on their farms, and what they could do differently to improve soil tilth and crop yields. Jeff and Deborah will present information using “kitchen table science”, helping the attendees learn the complex factors involved in incorporating and retaining carbon in the soil. Use of compost, green manures and raw manures will all be discussed, as well as how each of these offer specific benefits and challenges for a wide range of farming systems. Improving soil biological life, increasing organic matter and implementing a soil management strategy are important aspects of being a successful organic farmer. Building soil health goes a long way to lessening weed and disease pressures as well as producing economically viable yields of nutrient dense crops.
Jeff has been with The Rodale Institute for over 34 years and has been Farm Manager/Director for the past 28 years. He directs all the farming operations involving all the planted areas, fields, gardens and grounds. This includes the operations related to field trials as well as production areas and spans the gamut from grain crops and forages to vegetables and tree fruits. Jeff's vast experience and knowledge regarding organic farming, farm planning, and site infrastructure - has provided the resource planners and the media with a reliable source and perspective for information on the current agricultural issues. Jeff is the project leader on the highly acclaimed Biological No-Till project where cover crop systems and specialized rolling equipment are being developed to facilitate no-till planting systems without herbicides. He has been the chairman of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), sits on the Leonardo Academy’s (ANSI) committee for sustainable ag, is a founding member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, sits on PA Governor’s Transition Committee and is frequently requested to speak at farming seminars and workshops around the world.
Deborah Allan has been a professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Climate at the University of Minnesota for 24 years, teaching classes about the biology and fertility of soils as well as conducting research. She has expertise in the plant root-soil interface, determining how roots and their interactions with soils can be managed to improve efficiency of nutrient use and minimize environmental pollution. Her present work focuses on effects of alternative cropping systems on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics and soil quality. Practices she has examined for their effects on soil properties and plant yields include organic management, reduced tillage, greater plant population densities, use of cover crops, and crop rotations. Deborah is also studying how bioenergy crop residue removal may impact the sustainability of the soil resource. She has examined these different cropping systems and management practices with the goal of maintaining the soil resource while enhancing economic and environmental outcomes. In her spare time, Deborah enjoys tending her organic garden, growing garlic, and restoring prairie on land she owns along the bluffs of the Zumbro River in southeast Minnesota.