Author Archives: EFAO

Introducing the 2018 EFAO Conference Art

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Caitlin Taguibao
“I am an illustrator, graphic designer and mural painter based in Toronto, Canada. I enjoy working with people who share similar ideas and interests in food growing, environmental stewardship and community engagement, and have spent time working in urban gardens and organic farms across Canada. I use flat colours and bold linework to create colourful compositions based out of plant lore and personal stories.”

Visit Caitlin Taguibao’s Website

What inspired this piece?
“In response to the theme of “Regeneration: Seeds, Soils & Community Connection”, I wanted to reflect on the cyclical nature of growing while highlighting soil life and soil diversity. Various characters interact with a spinach plant shown at different stages of life: from seed to sprout, to first leaves, growing upwards and then flowering to produce seed. All the while, a community of soil bacteria and critters actively exist below the ground; mycorrhizal connections are made under a waxing moon; a butterfly searches for late summer blooms. No human character is shown so that viewers may find themselves reflected in any of the living beings that are depicted, at any stage of the cycle, so that no role may be seen as more important than another but rather equally acknowledge and celebrated.”

Learn more about the 2018 EFAO Conference!

Call for 2018 Conference Art!

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This year’s 5th annual Ecological Farmers of Ontario Conference will be held in London from December 4 – 6, 2018. We have started building another exciting program, inviting inspiring speakers, and planning a delicious menu!

Each year, the EFAO conference program and promotional materials showcase a work of art from an artist in the ecological farming community. Each piece reflects the conference theme, and also the diverse creative abilities of ecological farmers and their supporters.

We’re seeking artwork to illustrate this year’s conference theme, Regeneration: Seeds, Soils & Community Connection.  We invite artists and EFAO supporters to share a new or existing piece of art that might fit with the conference theme.

The selected artist will receive a full conference pass, and monetary compensation for their work.

Please be in touch with katie@efao.ca if you are interested in this opportunity.

Deadline for artwork samples is June 15, 2018.

Art, clockwise from the top left: the selected piece for the theme of “Our Living Soils” by Andrea Peplinski (2015), the selected piece for the theme of “Rebuilding Rural Economies From the Ground Up” by Jenna Kessler (2017), the selected piece for the theme of “Resilient Agriculture: Our Soils, Our Systems, Our Selves” by Bree Rappaport (2016), and the selected piece for the theme of “Celebrating 35 Years of Learning, Farming and Sharing” by Jessica Weatherhead (2014).

2017 EFAO Conference only 2 Weeks Away!

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Two weeks from today, farmers from all over Ontario will be convening in the Blue Mountains for the 2017 EFAO Conference, Rebuilding Rural Economies from the Ground Up. With an excellent lineup of speakers coming from all over Canada and the U.S. to share their stories and knowledge of innovative ecological farming practices, this is an event not to be missed! Leading up to the conference, check out the features on different speakers and topics on EFAO’s social media feeds and conference blog – but for now, here are a few highlights to look forward to. Registration closes November 28th, so sign up if you haven’t already!

  • Interested in diversifying and trying something new on your farm? Nichki Carangelo will discuss raising pastured rabbits, Ahren Hughes shares his experience with small-scale dried bean production, and Jolanta Dabrowski will guide you through the best natural beekeeping techniques she knows.

  • Been meaning to write that farm newsletter? Not sure how best to share your farm’s story? Shannon Hayes, whose farm-focused writing has been featured in the New York Times, is our keynote speaker and will lead a workshop in her creative process in crafting newsletters.

  • What would the EFAO conference be without its cornerstone of workshops on soil stewardship? You have 5 different workshops to enjoy, honing in on everything from soil management on vegetable farms to farmland regeneration through intensive pasture management.

  • If you learn best from seeing other farms and having conversations, the 2 Wednesday tours are for you! Visit The New Farm, a wholesale-focused vegetable operation (don’t forget to bid on their newly published book at the silent auction!) Or, if you’d prefer to see how a farmer-driven cooperative runs, you can visit the Eat Local Grey Bruce warehouse to see how they bring farmers and eaters together.

  • Enjoy the breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings featuring local, ecologically grown food–some of which comes from our own members’ farms! Childcare is also available on Thursday and Friday, so you can learn and your kids can play ! Both the Thursday and Friday dinners, as well as childcare are opt-in, so be sure to add them to your registration!

Stay updated via the conference website or on our your favourite social media feeds (twitter, facebook, and Instagram)! Hope to see you there!

Dundalk Area Beef Farmer Wins 2017 Mapleseed Pasture Award

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February 22, 2017 (Toronto, ON) – The Beef Farmers of Ontario, Mapleseed and the Ontario Forage Council, sponsors of the Mapleseed Pasture Award, are pleased to announce that Paul DeJong of Ventry Hill Farm from the Dundalk area in Grey County is the winner of the 2017 Mapleseed Pasture Award. The award was presented this afternoon at the Beef Farmers of Ontario Annual General Meeting in Toronto.

 

For his environmental improvements and exceptional pasture management, Paul received a cash award of $500 and a bag of forage seed courtesy of Mapleseed.

 

Ventry Hill Farm consists of 450 acres, 100 of which are in pasture, along with an additional 30 acres of rented pasture land. Paul runs 50 cow-calf pairs and currently raises about 70 stockers that are pastured during the summer months. In order to maximize pasture production and weight gain, he uses a strip grazing system to maintain a consistent forage height and improve forage quality. This method allows Paul to meet his herd’s nutritional requirements, contribute to calf growth, and ensure his cows are in optimal body condition.

 

“Pasture is the main source of feed for my herd and there is a high water table in our area,” explains DeJong. “We try to pasture at least six months of the year, and by grazing a fall rye cover crop, pasture can be extended by two weeks.”

 

To prevent excessive trampling of his forages, Paul installed a waterline to provide fresh water to each paddock, which is equipped with quick-attach couplers for a convenient water supply at all times.

 

“The weight gain and cost per pound of gain achieved by Ventry Hill Farm proves that effective rotational pasture management can have many environmental and economical benefits,” shares Lawrence Levesque, District Sales Manager, Mapleseed.

 

Ray Robertson, Manager of the Ontario Forage Council, commented that as producers try to maximize their net profit from every acre, the management decisions made on Ventry Hill Farm are a great example of how some producers can improve the overall profitability of their operation.
The deadline for applications for the 2018 Mapleseed Pasture Award is November 30, 2017.

EFAO Volunteer Opportunities

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EFAO Volunteer Positions

On-Farm Event Coordinators

Position: On-Farm Event Coordinators

Type: 7 month volunteer (details below)

Organization: Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (efao.ca)

Location: Guelph, Ontario

EFAO is looking for 2 Volunteer On-Farm Coordinators, one located in Eastern Ontario and one located in Southwestern Ontario.

In this position, you would attend and facilitate farm tours and on-farm workshops (for free!) on behalf of the EFAO. These events cover a variety of topics, from irrigation to cut flower production. The On-Farm Event Coordinator is a volunteer position starting in April and lasting until November 2017. The position involves approximately 40 hours of work total, depending on schedule and availability. Events may be on weekends or weekdays (typically, though not exclusively, Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday) and can be up to 6 or 8 hours, including travel time. Volunteers are reimbursed for travel expenses.

More details at: https://efao.ca/seeking-on-farm-event-coordinators/
Deadline: February 24, 2017

Questions about the position can be directed to Naomi Krucker, Membership Services Coordinator (naomi@efao.ca, 519-822-8606 x.105)

Email resume and cover letter in a single document to naomi@efao.ca

EFAO Online Community Forum

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EFAO Online Community Forum

 

The EFAO is proud to launch a new online resource built to serve Ontario’s ecological farming community: the EFAO Online Community Forum. This tool is meant to foster and facilitate the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise, as well as the pooling of resources amongst members of the ecological farming community.

 

As with any community, you get what you put into it. Therefore we encourage you to actively participate: ask questions, offer up opinions, and answer other members’ questions. The forum is open to anyone that has an account on efao.ca (members and non-members alike).

 

We know your time is precious, and with that in mind we made sure the Forum is easy and convenient for you to use. Some of its features are:

 

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Yearly digests (you decide!)
  • Topic activity notifications
  • Reply-by-email
  • User preferences to customize your forum experience
  • Fully indexed and searchable content
  • Actively moderated by EFAO staff and volunteers

 

As far as content goes, you can expect the following:

 

  • Categorized content for all aspects of ecological farming
  • Input from the EFAO member base
  • Classifieds (buy/sell, jobs, etc.) section exclusive to EFAO members
  • Special content from EFAO events (presentations, workshops, etc.) and post-event discussion

 

In order to access the Forum, you simply need to use your efao.ca account username and password. If you don’t have such an account, you can create one for free and get access to the forum. So don’t wait and bookmark the link below.

The EFAO Online Community Forum is generously funded by Carrot Cache!

 

Join the discussion now at:

http://forum.efao.ca

Seeking On-Farm Event Coordinators!

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EFAO Volunteer Positions

On-Farm Event Coordinators

Position: On-Farm Event Coordinators

Type: 7 month volunteer (details below)

Organization: Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (efao.ca)

Location: Guelph, Ontario

EFAO is looking for 2 Volunteer On-Farm Coordinators, one located in Eastern Ontario and one located in Southwestern Ontario.

In this position, you would attend and facilitate farm tours and on-farm workshops covering a variety of topics, from irrigation to cut flower production on behalf of EFAO. The On-Farm Event Coordinator is a volunteer position starting in April and lasting until November 2017. The position involves approximately 40 hours of work total, depending on schedule and availability. Events may be on weekends or weekdays (typically, though not exclusively, Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday) and can be up to 6 or 8 hours, including travel time. Volunteers are reimbursed for travel expenses.

Deadline: February 24, 2017

Responsibilities may include:

  •  Bringing necessary supplies
  • Taking registrations and payment
  • Introducing EFAO
  •  Supporting farm tour host as needed
  • Collecting evaluations
  • Documenting the event (blog post, pictures or video)

Assets:

  • Experience coordinating events
  • Experience public speaking
  • Practical farming experience
  • Knowledge of ecological agriculture
  • Excellent oral communication skills
  • Timely and attentive to details
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Ability to see tasks through
  • Familiarity with broader farm community in Ontario

 

Position Requirements

  • One of the volunteers must live in, or close to Guelph, Ontario and be available to come into the office
  • You will need to have access to a car and valid driver’s license

 

A complete application will consist of:

  1. A resume outlining relevant experience
  2. A cover letter describing why you would be a good fit for this position

 

Questions about the position can be directed to Naomi Krucker, Membership Services Coordinator (naomi@efao.ca, 519-822-8606 x.105)

Email resume and cover letter in a single document to naomi@efao.ca

Extreme Spring Weather

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It seems that last year’s wet spring may be the cause for this year’s drought. Learn why in this CBC Article Hot, dry summer causing ‘weather whiplash’

We’ve been archiving old newsletters and found this article from 1990. Both excessive rain and drought are frustrating,  but equipping yourself to handle both can be crucial to your farm!

LESSONS FROM LAST YEAR – The dangers of A wet Spring – by Bernhard Hack (February 1990)

Each year is a learning experience. We should take the opportunity to learn from mistakes, so that we can try to avoid them in the future. On my visits to farms last year as an advisor I noticed a number of things from which all could learn.

Due to last years extended rainy season in late spring and early summer, farmers became very nervous about cutting hay. Immediately after the first gleam of sunshine many started to cut their forage. Acceding to the date on the calendar they were starting very late. But plants depend much more on the available sunlight for assimilation and growth than on the calendar. Cutting this immature forage immediately following the rainy season had a detrimental effect in many ways.

The soil was too moist to stand the heavy hay cutting equipment. Cutting at this time delayed the soil’s drying because there was no canopy of living forage plants to use this moisture. The results were heavy tracks of soil compaction where all plants, mainly alfalfa were badly hurt and next year only dandelions will be seen. One could see dying yellow alfalfa plants regrowing on the tracks. Remarkably, the soil not only impacted downwards but sideways as well.

Another factor is that during that period of rain and overcast skies, the plant’s ability to manufacture carbohydrates, other nutrients through photosynthesis slowed down. If the plants were cut before they had a chance to use the sunny days to make these nutrients then the quality of the hay would be poor. This results in low milk yields while this poor quality hay is being fed. Farmers who allowed their hay fields to benefit for a week or so from the mature protein and a high content of nutrients (carbohydrates and sugars)/ Also trace minerals were incorporated in the forage during the blooming process. Also, leaving plants to use up the moisture avoided soil compaction.

The protein Question:

Protein in forage is measured through the nitrogen although we know that nitrogen is not necessarily protein.

Let’s consider a living plant. An annual emerges using the seed energy, while a perennial plant regrow this supported by energy stored in the root system. Both types of plants use stored energy to develop the first stages of growth. Then the green leaves assimilate nutrients and support the next stages of growth.  When the blossom stage is reached a plant’s growth ends and all assimilated nutrients are stored in the plant’s structure to foster, in a later stage, the development of seeds.

Indicators For Forage Maturity:

We have balance nutrients and fiber, remembering the fiber plays an important role in butterfat production. While the blossom stage is one indicator of when to cut hay, another one is the appearance of regrowth at the root crown of the blossoming alfalfa plant. Regrowth of the second or third cutting will have the same conditions at the first growth in spring. It is supported by nutrients stored in the root system.

Knowing these facts, farmers will be able to use common sense about when to cut hay, allowing their cows to be healthy and to grow older. In Eastern Ontario I met an old farmer 76 years old still milking 18 cows. He started haying only when all other farmers had finished. He was reported by his neighbors as having trouble drying up his cows. This extreme could give us some food for thought.

Yellow Barely:

Another very common problem for farmers this year was the yellowing of barely. Spring grain which were not planted before the heavy rain, was planted in very moist soil conditions causing severe compaction. Farmers complained about the yellow looking and poorly growing barley. They also observed the soil to be dry when tiling. A few rows of barley along the fence line proved the opposite. Tilling equipment is much wider than the tractor so a few rows of barley were saved from tracks and compaction. These areas showed healthy and vigorous growth of more than double the amount of suffering barely where the compaction has occurred. Another striking example was seen on a field that looked like a chessboard with very Small Square of barely. The farmer confirmed he had crisscrossed the field when tilling. This meant that some squares had not been compacted by the wheels. Remember compaction spreads sideways as well.

In this case another detrimental factor came into play. This field was the farthest from the barn and since clearing the land possibly never received the benefit of recycling organic matter in the form of manure which in turn is able to buffer adverse effects of compaction.

In cases of moist soil conditions that motto should be: “Work rather late than wet”.

Organic Plant Breeding Tour: Fruition Seeds & Cornell University Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm

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Matthew Goldfarb and Petra Page-Mann at Fruition Seedsmgppm copy, and Dr. Michael Mazourek of Cornell University, have been improving and developing new varieties in the Northeast US with a focus on regional adaptation, nutrition, and flavour.

On this 2-day field trip, we will be visiting Cornell University’s Homer C. Thompson Research Farm to check out the field trials for Cornell’s organic plant breeding program and understand the different plant breeding and selection techniques Michael uses to develop new varieties. We’ll follow that up with a trip to Fruition Seeds, where we can check out these varieties in action and how they are being integrated into different seed growing operations.

Learn from these incredible seed producers and plant breeders as they discuss their work on developing regionally-adapted greens, peppers, squashes, radishes, and beets as part of one of the most innovative collaborative organic plant breeding projects in North America.

Full registration for this tour includes the following:

  • Workshops and field tours of Cornell University’s Homer C. Thompson Research Farm and Fruition Seeds
  • Transportation to all farms with pick-ups at the following locations:
    – Guelph, Kingston, or Niagara
    – Upon registering, please select which location you would like to be picked up from.
  • Lunches for September 7 and September 8

Registration will be available shortly on the EFAO events page.  Offered in partnership with The Bauta Family Initiative on Family Seed Security

EFAO Completes Growing Forward 2 Business and Leadership Development Project

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EFAO Standard Logo 2015

 

EFAO recently completed a 10-month planning and training project funded by Growing Forward 2, aimed at increasing EFAO’s organizational leadership, governance and management capacity.

Results from this project include the following:

  1. Board strategic planning process and development of a 3-year Strategic Plan
  2. Management/operations training for new Executive Director
  3. Board governance and leadership training
  4. Media Training for the EFAO Board and ED
  5. Development of Financial Management and Human Resources Policies and Procedures Manuals, a Board Manual and a Membership Handbook

EFAO members will have the opportunity to read the 3-year Strategic Plan and the Membership Handbook which will soon be posted on the EFAO website. Stay tuned to your E-news and newsletter!

We are very grateful to this funding from Growing Forward 2, which has provided significant resources in helping EFAO develop its leadership, governance and management capacity.

 
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