Category Archives: Member News

New & Updated EFAO Memberships

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We are excited to announce the following membership categories, developed to support the needs of new and existing EFAO members. Starting September 1st, 2019, the following membership rates and benefits will apply to all membership purchases and renewals.

Click the image for a pdf version of all new membership details:



A few things to note:

  • The Full Membership remains $75 and includes the same benefits as a 1-year Farm/Individual membership
  • While the 2-year membership is no longer available, a discounted $65/year membership will be available if you sign-up for auto-renewal

Calling all Photographers!

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“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”   – Marc Riboud

To help celebrate our 40th anniversary, EFAO invites all members to participate in a photo contest! Showcase everything you love about food and farming by taking – and sharing – your favourite farm photos. Your photos could be featured in EFAO’s newsletter, website and other promotions. Send us your best shots for a chance to be featured in a future issue of our new Ecological Farming of Ontario newsletter and win some prizes!

Categories

  1. Farmscapes
  2. The faces of farming
  3. A day in the life: farmers at work
  4. Animals and livestock
  5. The Harvest: vegetables & fruit, field crops, grain, value added products
  6. Tools of the trade

Entry period

The deadline to submit is 11:59 pm (EST) on September 1, 2019. The winners will be announced and photos featured in the January 2020 newsletter.

Eligibility

  1. There is no cost to enter.
  2. All members of EFAO over the age of 18 are eligible to participate (excluding staff).
  3. All photos must be taken in Ontario.
  4. Entrants may submit up to three (3) photos in each category, up to a total of 12 photos
  5. Photos should be high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) preferably in .jpg format. File size must be a mininum of 1 MB, maximum 10 MB.
  6. Photos must be original work, and have not been previously published online or in print, except for personal farm/business promotion. 
  7. Photos must not depict nudity or violence.
  8. Entrants and winners will allow EFAO non-exclusive use of their photos for the EFAO website, magazine, social media and/or other promotional purposes without renumeration. Photo credit will be given.
  9. By submitting a photo, entrants agree they hold the copyright to each photo or have been authorized by the copyright holder(s) to do so. EFAO assumes no responsibility or legal liability for breach of copyright.
  10. Overly manipulated photos are not allowed.

All submissions will be juried by an in-house team of staff judges. Judging will be opened to the EFAO community on social media (Facebook and Instagram). EFAO’s photo contest is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, Facebook and Instagram in any way.

There will be one (1) winner in each category, one (1) people’s favourite, and one (1) grand prize winner.

Prizes

The grand prize winning photo will be published on the cover of our newly redesigned Ecological Farming in Ontario newsletter, to be launched January 2020, and the winning photographer will receive a $100 credit towards the EFAO event(s) of their choice.

Category winners will be featured in the winter edition of the newsletter with photo credit, and will receive brand new EFAO swag.

Submission guidelines

  1. Please name each file with the photographer’s name and category so it’s clear who to credit for the photo, and what category you are submitting to.  For example, FCampbell_Faces.jpg
  2. Please download and complete the entry form.
  3. Email both the photo(s) and completed form to martina@efao.ca

March is Member Month!

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March is Member Month at EFAO! That means contests, prizes & special offers – read on for details!

At EFAO we are lucky to be among a community of amazing, innovative and passionate farmers! We are a member-driven organization and as such, highly value the feedback and ideas our members provide. Members help shape our events & conference programming, and enable us to offer farmer-to-farmer training and support. Working together, we can help farmers make a better living growing real food while improving our soils, crops, livestock and the environment.

Our many membership benefits include discounted rates on high-quality farm training events, a subscription to our print newsletter, access to a farmer-to-farmer Advisory Service and online Forum, funding for farmer-led research, and more! Becoming a member connects you to a vibrant network of ecologically-minded farmers across the province.

This year our goal is to grow EFAO’s membership by 150 new members. To get involved this month, you can:  

  1. Join EFAO or Renew your existing membership
  2. Participate in a contest on Facebook or Twitter
  3. Donate $25 or more

Do any of the above and you will be entered into a draw to win great prizes! Some prizes up for grabs include gift certificates, a 1-year extension on your membership, and a FREE 2019 EFAO Conference Pass!

Don’t miss out – follow us on social media and be sure to subscribe to our e-news for details on all the great things happening this month!

 

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 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

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”.

Summary from Flower Growing Plans 2016 KTM

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By EFAO Member Stephanie Scott

Started out by discussing what the EFAO is and how it hflowersssselps connect small scale organic and ecological farmers in Ontario.  We all hope that the EFAO will help connect Ontario flower growers so we can better share information that is applicable to our climate and growing conditions

  • Discussed certification vs. not being certified, how a lack of organic standards for cut flowers impacts organic flower growers, growing more cut flowers than other certifiable products results in little incentive to go through all the work and expense to become certified

Introduced participants:

  • Theresa Schumilas of Garden Party, St. Agatha ON (host) has been growing organic vegetables, bedding plants and running a CSA, expanded into cut flowers in 2014.  Sells to florists and DIY weddings
  • Stephanie Scott of Petals & Sprigs, Baden ON third year growing cut flowers part-time, has flower CSA and does a few weddings/year
  • Jennifer Penney – grows cut flowers for her son’s vegetable CSA near Neustadt, ON
  • Kerri-Ann Peet-Harris – Flamborough, ON, Mainly an organic hay grower, has a cut flower garden and is looking for ways to expand it around haying season.
  • Melissa Winkler – New cut-flower farmer, had a roadside stand last year, planning sales at her neighbour’s on-farm store this year.

 

DIY weddings – cut your own flowers offer a lower cost option for brides, but may require more time and help than the price reflects

Talked about potential for other pick-your-own flower events to provide flowers for weddings, funerals, as a memorial event, as a party idea.  On a farm with a good set-up to host events could offer an additional revenue stream. (Good idea to keep a separate garden for pick-your-own flowers, and expensive and high effort flowers kept away from the public)

 

The discussion came back to the problem of finding customers that value locally grown flowers, that may be more expensive, several times.  How that changes during the seasons and how awareness of conventional flower growing methods is increasing slowly.

  • Mother’s Day is first holiday Ontario growers could easily have flowers for (if you don’t have a greenhouse) but demand may be higher for potted plants than bouquets of flowers.
  • Thanksgiving biggest holiday that we experience for flower sales
  • Possible year-round of long-term customers could include restaurants, offices, realtors (that stage houses for sale), hotels

Discussed different flowers for different needs, shorter stems for posies or small tabletop arrangements, longer stems for florists and hand-held bouquets.  Large woody stems needed for large scale arrangements eg. big urns in a hotel lobby

 

Touched on the difficulty of managing cooler space with flowers and veggies in it, as many flowers are ethylene sensitive and can’t be stored with anything that releases ethylene gas.  If managing both at the same time need to know the sensitivity of the flowers you are dealing with.  Best source we have found is the book ‘Specialty Cut Flowers’ by Alan M. Armitage and Judy M. Laushman

 

List of favourite perennials:

  • Daisies
  • Phlox
  • Yarrow (can pinch some of each variety to spread out flowering times)
  • Rudbeckia
  • Coneflowers
  • Bleeding heart

 

Favourite vines:

  • Sweet peas
  • Clematis
  • Hyacinth beans

 

Everyone agreed getting cockscomb celosia to germinate and thrive as transplants is much more difficult than the plumed version.  No one had any brilliant tricks for guaranteed success.

 

Early and late season flower ideas:

  • Flowering shrubs
  • Fruit trees
  • Dogwood
  • Pussy willows
  • Flowering Kale
  • Winter greenery, woody branches

 

Favourite Seed Sources:

  • Geo Seeds
  • Swallowtail Seeds
  • William Dam
  • Vesey’s
  • Johnny’s
  • Since the flower industry focused seed houses only have large volumes of each variety, we should work together to pool orders.  Can be hard to be a small grower.

 

Raker’s Truck plug orders:

  • Also mostly in large volumes, makes sense to pool orders, but wholesale prices are very low, even after importing from USA.
  • Easier to go through a broker
  • Has huge variety

 

Business Growing Ideas:

  • On farm event on how to arrange flowers, would pay for flowers (possibly pick-your-own) and the instruction time
  • Theresa sometimes hosts Herbal Tea events, has many herb beds, people go pick things to try out the flavours as a tea, just need a tent, hot water and lots of tea pots
  • Workshop educating potential DIY brides about how to do your own wedding flowers
  • Growing starts or a few specialty flowers to sell to other flower growers who do more arranging work
  • Connecting with wedding planners to get more bridal customers
  • Propagating perennials to sell to other growers and the public (perennials need dividing every few years anyway so it’s a good way to make money out of a task that needs to happen anyway)

 

We talked about the growth of the local flower movement, Slow Flowers in the USA, and educating customers.  Flowers are slowly following in the broad awareness of local food.

 

Best foraged material ideas:

  • Goldenrod (buds, still green, before flowers open)
  • Milkweed pods
  • Pinecones and tamarack branches with cones on them
  • Spindle bush
  • Burning bush seed pods

 

Mistakes and learning experiences:

  • Spacing, getting the right spacing for the size of flowers you want to produce, and so plants can support each other
  • Staking musts: Bells of Ireland, dahlias, delphiniums, foxgloves (sometimes), peonies.  Need to account for the wind at your location

 

Transport and display strategies:

  • Tall straight sided buckets for transporting in car or van best.  Or if flowers are chilled dry packing in flower boxes (best for those with shorter cars)
  • Places to find display buckets; garage sales, thrift stores, dollar stores, flower supply warehouses

 

We think more flowers are sold at the end of the week, before the weekend, than earlier in the week.  People want them for entertaining on the weekend, or to take to the cottage in the summer.  Might get better sales with a later week market, or having a roadside stand filled at the end of the week.
We all hope for more flower-focused events from the EFAO in the future!

Questions and Answers Regarding National Standards for Organic Agriculture

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The link below contains proposed answers to questions, raised by organic stakeholders, regarding the National Standards for Organic Agriculture. The proposed responses are subject to a 30 day comment period. All comments regarding these answers should be sent to OPR.RPB@inspection.gc.ca

Questions and Answers Regarding National Standards for Organic Agriculture

NEW COMMENT PERIOD – March 7 to April 7 2016

 

 

 

KTM Summary: Small Scale Vegetable Growers Exchange

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Summary by EFAO Member Rashel Tremblay

Radishes-lines-up.-jpgOn February 15th, nine people gathered for a potluck and an informal idea exchange. One member drove over 3 hrs to attend! We came up with a large list of topics to talk about and the meeting could have gone on for several extra hours.

With the mix of beginner and seasoned farmers in attendance it was a great discussion and everyone left having learned lots of new information. Some of the topics we covered were: CSA start-up questions; the best veggies to grow for a CSA or for a market; studying and learning more about one’s own unique market needs and wants; the importance of adding fruits and berries to a CSA mix; permaculture methods to help with various soil conditions; invaluable farm tools and “best practices” for harvesting veggies such as beans; variety details and best growing practices for crops such as corn (especially when done organically), spinach, beans, lettuce (head vs leaf; washing + drying), tomatoes (heirloom vs hybrid; greenhouse vs field), and peppers; the pros and cons of growing lesser known crops such as Asian vegetables and strategies for introducing these to the public; the proson  buying in certain crops, like potatoes, vs growing them yourself; overwintering and season extension; pollinators, especially native ones, and how to attract them.

Interested in hosting a similar kitchen table meeting in your area? Contact naomi@efao.ca for more details.

Tools and Design for the Market Garden

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Tools and Design for the Market Garden

Summary bstock-exchangey EFAO Board Member Denis Heraud

 

Having only started our farm operation in 2015, I thought this workshop came at an ideal time when I am currently building and planning to build tools to improve my own efficiency. The inspiration contained within was a courtesy of Ken Laing (of Orchard Hill Farm) and Jeff Boesch (of Cedar Down Farm), with both presenters sharing some of their custom tool building that aims to increase efficiency on their respective farms.

Jeff seems to be operating a farm very similar to our own, only greater in size and scope. He talked about his bed maker and row marker (very interesting as we also work with permanent beds, however we do not have a bed maker/marker at the moment). His design is simple and cost effective, though I personally wondered why he used a steel plate as a level instead of a cage roller (or similar roller), which I think would be lighter in weight and better at breaking soil clumps. Regardless, we were certainly inspired by this design, especially the row markers he built on a set of spring at the back of the implement. We also recently built a row cover and drip tape spooler that borrows ideas both from Jeff’s and Ken’s designs which works rather well. Speaking of the latter, his low cost hoop house design was interesting with its roll-up door that allows for easy ventilation of the structure. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference, such as how Ken welded small metal hooks onto his caterpillar tunnel’s posts to hook the rope onto, or the hooks that hold up the plastic cover to aerate the tunnel (an idea he himself borrowed from another farmer). However, Ken’s best work lies in his custom built horse-drawn implements that are so well thought out as to think they were commercially made. Some of the tools he uses are built from scratch, some are existing implements that he modified to fit his production system and equipment. One could say he has taken the plunge in terms of no-till soil management as he has already created or modified several implements in the last couple of years in order to reduce the amount of tillage that he typically would rely on. There are countless examples on Ken’s farm of ingenious contraptions that were built from scratch or subtle modifications to pre-existing implements that have greatly increased their efficiency.
Choosing Ken and Jeff as presenters was an interesting choice as the former could be considered a well-seasoned farmer (with over 30 years experience) and the latter as a younger farmer (with about 10 years of experience). Their approach to farming may be different, but the resourcefulness that farming requires reveals a kind of universal truth. Both use limited means and materials to solve a problem that is specific to their own production system, giving birth to ideas and corner-of-the-table sketches that, at the end of the day, they find their farm could not live without. This is perhaps best exemplified by Ken’s simple but effective wheel stirrup hoe, created 30 years ago with some wood and metal, and still used in his fields to this day.