Organic Conversion Field Day!

posted May 15, 2009

The Rodale Institute is making this happen.

Field day to explore farmer resources for converting to organic

State and federal incentive programs make the Institute’s free online training course and its field demonstrations more useful than ever. “The right people at the right place at the right time” is the best way to describe the Transition to Organic Field day to be held 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 5 at the Rodale Institute. Participants will learn about numerous resources available to farmers interested in transitioning to organic production.

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The event is sponsored by the Institute in partnership with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) , Women In Ag Network (WAgN) and the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the USDA.

Transition to Organic Field Day: June 5, 2009; 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Timing: The recent release of $50 million to fund an EQIP initiative to aid in conservation practices related to organic conversion shows the higher profile given organics by the new admnistration. The funds will be administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) through the state NRCS offices and their regional programs.

People: Joining Rodale’s Tim LaSalle (CEO) and Jeff Moyer (farm director) will be a trio of Pennsylvania specialists: an organic certification director, the originator of the new state-funded organic conversion program, and the resource director for the state’s NRCS office.

Place: Participants will receive a wagon tour of the 333-acre Rodale Institute farm, featuring the Farming Systems Trial (long-term organic v. conventional comparison), no-till roller-crimper demonstration (planting corn into a hairy vetch cover crop) and our large-scale co-composting operation. There will also be stops showing other current research highlights.

Presenting will be:

David Kessler, a state representative from Oley will present information on Path to Organic, a state pilot program providing financial reimbursement to dairy, beef, vegetable and other crop farmers during their transition period from conventional to organic production. Kessler secured $500,000 for the voluntary program that will be limited to active owner-operated farms. The assistance will be available to producers who have begun the three-year transition process required by the National Organic Program and to producers who wish to begin.

Jeff Moyer, farm director at Rodale Institute and 2009 chair of USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, will summarize the electronic resources the Institute offers as part of its educational program for current and prospective organic growers. He will illustrate several elements of the course with current operations at the farm on the wagon tour.

Melanie Saffer, PCO certification director, will guide participants through the nuts and bolts of the actual certification process and record keeping.

Daniel Dostie, state resource conservationist from the Pennsvlvania NRCS office, along with other NRCS staff, will describe the conservation practice assistance opportunities available through the new EQIP funds for converting farmers and those wishing to convert to organic practices. The Pennsylvania office has elected to make a broad array of practices eligible for this funding, and will continue accepting applications after the first-round deadline of May 29 until the funds are fully allocated.

For details: 610.683.1400

To register: www.rodaleinstitute.org/upcoming

For directions: www.rodaleinstitute.org/map_and_directions

And…

Transition to Organics (free online course)

www.tritrainingcenter.org/course