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Weed Management 2018/ Student Interns

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This week's blog entry is from a guest writer. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, contact nicole@thelandconnection.org.

By: Ann Swanson, Hendrick House Food Service

♪ ♫ Let’s talk about weeds bay- beee, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the bad things and the good things that involve wee – ding- ing, let’s talk about weeds! ♪ ♫
 


Can you find the pepper plant?

Well I have to say there is more bad than good when talking about weed management for farms. It is definitely one of the toughest tasks that I face each year. Weed management is something every farm must evaluate and decide while planning their farm in the off season. Why weed management? Weeds can out compete your plants for sunlight and soil nutrients. They can also help spread disease and pests to healthy plants.

Food for Thought - Grilling Peaches (and just Grilling)

tobrien's picture

Last Sunday, Rey and I decided to have some friends over for a little grill-out in our backyard. We are very proud of our backyard and have gardened it to within an inch of its life, which seems silly given that we rent our house, but it is our oasis and our escape, and we want to enjoy it. So we garden, garden, garden. And then we talk about inviting friends over to hang out and enjoy it, but inevitably we are too busy, or we forget, or we’re too tired. But, this time I just threw it out there and all of a sudden we were hosting some friends for a grill-out.

 

On-Farm Variety Trials: What’s the fuss about?

Mallory Krieger's picture

We’ve all been there. It's the deep winter, the days are short and cold. The farm is buttoned up for the season. For the first time in nearly a year, we have the time and space to dream. It is Planning Season, the weeks in the winter when we pour over the seed catalog and drool over flashy new varieties, voraciously seek out our old standbys, and mourn the loss of discontinued favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're like me, you likely have poor impulse control and are drawn in by the (sometimes) poetic variety descriptions and artistic plant photography. I am drawn to the unusual, a purple carrot or a stripped tomato. “Oh, I’ve never heard of a sunberry, I must grow it!” Yet, I am often left with an uneasy feeling when it comes time to click “check-out”. Will these varieties grow well in my western Illinois timber soils? Do these carrots germinate uniformly enough to use my flame weeder? Will my customers like the flavor of this tomato? Selecting varieties can be a gamble and farming has enough variables that are out of my control. Variety selection, I can control.

Grow With Me!

Jacquelyn Evers's picture

As I settle into my second month at The Land Connection, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the immense amount of learning I do each day. I sit through a variety of meetings every week, read expert content generated by our staff, work through hundreds of millions (...maybe it just feels like that many!) of emails daily, and every step of the way, I am learning more and more about agriculture and, more specifically, the work our organization does. I can’t help but wonder how many of our followers are interested in organic and sustainable farming, though may not be as lucky as I am to sit in rooms with experts who are able to share their life’s learning with me. So as I work through some big understandings, I have decided to share the wealth of new information with those of you who are like me, aspiring experts in agriculture. Every month or so, I will be posting a blog in my new series “Grow With Me!” Each blog will consist of some of the brilliant, and possibly not so brilliant, things I have learned. Hopefully you can benefit from the many new understandings I am gaining at The Land Connection!

 

Local Food and the Farm Bill

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In the sustainable farming and farmers market community, we've all been watching the developments surrounding the 2018 very closely. Last summer, both Mallory and I had the opportunity to speak at a House Ag Committee listening session at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur. Together with a coalition of local food advocates pulled together by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, speakers who were called up had two minutes to address House Ag Committee Chair Rep. Conaway and 7 other members of the commitee, including 3 Illinois representatives (Mike Bost, Cheri Bustos, and Rodney Davis). Mallory spoke about the importance of Farm Bill programs that support the training of new farmers, and I talked about the huge impact of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) on a market such as ours, and on the importance of programs that support and boost SNAP access at farmers markets.

Guest Blog: Choosing Organic Homemade Alternatives Over Store-Bought Staples

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Eating healthier while spending less is everyone’s dream, especially for those primarily responsible for making purchases for household staples. With a little effort, you can find homemade alternatives to your expensive shop bought staples. Apart from saving a couple dollars, you will know exactly what goes into your food and the exact procedure used in making it.

Get Creative With Dairy Products

Dairy products make up a very high percentage of the food consumed by the world’s population. In fact, statistics show that 54% of Americans consume dairy products, which accounts for at least 176 million people. This is the first group of staples that you can try making at home for a change. With a variety of recipes that can be found online such as American cheese, cream cheese, ricotta; producing dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream and buttermilk is no longer a hopeless fantasy.

If you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, then there is the option of producing your own soy milk, almond milk or nut milk at home. For the healthiest dairy products and alternative milk, you should use organic ingredients.

Food for Thought (Summer Edition) - Basil & Garlic Scapes

tobrien's picture

Farmers Market season is one of my favorite times of the year. Walking up and down the aisles past mountains and mountains of fresh produce, freezers full of local meat and poultry, and vendors selling anything and everything you can think of is so exhilarating.

 

One of my favorite things to do is go to the market towards the end of the day, as it starts to wind down, and really chat with the vendors. You can talk to them about what moved that day and what didn’t, what they have leftover, and what they are looking to off-load. It’s fascinating to me when things that typically don’t move at all end up selling out in the first few hours, or when a typically “hot” item doesn’t seem to move at all one week. This is when I challenge myself. I will go and buy a bunch of the things that didn’t sell well, with no actual meal in mind. I’ll just buy a bunch of things, sometimes at some sort of discount because it can’t move forward, and go home and see what I come up with.

A Not-So Goodbye

I’m not very good at goodbyes, but this is hardly a goodbye. Although I will be leaving my current position at The Land Connection, I won’t be going far! I will miss working here, but I am excited to be going back to school (right here in town!) in the Fall for my PhD in NRES, where I will be working on projects with agroecology and soil health.

 

A PSA on your local CSA

Jacquelyn Evers's picture

A PSA on your local CSA

Listening to my latest podcast (I am not ashamed to admit it was Missing Richard Simmons), it’s impossible to make it through 15 minutes without an advertisement for Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. And let’s not mention the endless social media posts of friends offering free meal coupons to the same services. With the constant introductions and reminders of these services, it’s easy to forget that right in many of our own backyards we can find a similar service provided by local farmers. Not sure what I am referring to? Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. This PSA will help you understand the ins and outs of CSA programs and, more importantly, give you more than enough reasons to drop your meal service in support of our local farmers!

What is a CSA? The basic concept is that community members purchase “shares” of produce (or eggs, meat, dairy, flowers, etc.) directly from a local farmer and the farmer promises a regular (typically weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) delivery at a convenient location. This system eliminates the middleman, so you know exactly where your food is coming from. It also provides an upfront cash flow to farmers allowing them to purchase seeds, fix or buy equipment, etc.

We need a policy platform

Mallory Krieger's picture

You’ve likely heard the news on Friday that the House Farm Bill was voted down; a casualty of the heated immigration debate. Regardless of the proximate reasons the bill failed, this was a very good thing. As I discussed in my blog last month, the House Farm Bill was very bad news for issues we care deeply about, SNAP/Food Access, Conservation, and education programs for sustainable/regenerative farmers. The Senate has yet to release their draft Farm Bill, but insiders have reported that it is a more favorable bill for the Good Food Movement.

The current Farm Bill expires on September 20 of this year and a replacement bill is unlikely to pass before the deadline. The consequences of expiration are yet fully known. If Congress passes a continuing resolution, the current Farm Bill continues unchanged for the duration of that resolution. If Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution, only programs with budgets over $50 million will continue, gutting dearly ALL of the programs that directly benefit small, diversified, and sustainable farmers (Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Value Added Producer Grant, Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive Program, Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, the list goes on…).

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