Resources for Organic Farmers in Vermont

Information, Services and Support for Vermont's Organic Vegetable and Fruit Growers

Articles, Fact Sheets and Links to other helpful sites

 

 

All About Growing—Start Here
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Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page, University of Vermont (UVM) Extension

One of the first places vegetable and berry farmers should visit is the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page maintained by Vern Grubinger, Ph.D. This site contains a plethora of resources on every topic, including: soils, production, pests, food-processing, marketing, pricing, organizations, events, and even alternative energy on farms. As the State’s Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist, Vern visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice.

 

Business Planning and Development
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Farmers' market resource page
For information about marketing and pricing.

VERMONT FARM VIABILITY ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM
The Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program provides farmers with business planning and technical assistance through consultants, which is tailored to a farmer’s needs. Farmers assess the farm operation’s strengths and weaknesses for possible management changes to increase profitability. On-farm consultations result in a written business plan. NOFA-VT is a provider for this program; if you want to work with NOFA-VT consultants you must say so on your application.

VERMONT SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER
The Vermont SBDC’s goal is to spur Vermont's economy by helping its small businesses succeed and grow. The SBDC mission is to strengthen existing business entities, and assist start-ups through high quality, no cost counseling, and high quality, affordable training programs.

VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY PAGE, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT EXTENSION
One of the first places vegetable and berry farmers should visit is the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page maintained by Vern Grubinger, Ph.D. This site contains a plethora of resources on every topic, including: soils, production, pests, food-processing, marketing, pricing, organizations, events, and even alternative energy on farms. As the State’s Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist, Vern visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice.

WOMEN’S AGRICULTURAL NETWORK
WAgN provides education and technical assistance to those individuals interested in starting or expanding their agricultural endeavors.


Crop-specific Information
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RICE GROWING HANDBOOK
Could rice be Vermont's newest crop? Linda and Takeshi Akaogi have been experimenting with growing rice down on their farm in Putney. CLICK HERE to read Cheryl Bruce's article about their trials.  

COLD CLIMATE GRAPE PRODUCTION, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT EXTENSION
Lorraine P. Berkett, Ph.D., the University of Vermont’s Extension Professor IPM Specialist, has assembled information on ecological production methods and IMP alerts for grapes information.

UVM APPLE PROGRAM
Lorraine P. Berkett, Ph.D., the University of Vermont’s Extension Professor IPM Specialist in Apples, has developed ecological production methods for apples. Her site has cultural information and IMP alerts. Lorraine is part of a multi-state organic apple project for growers: ORGANIC APPLE PRODUCTION. She visits orchards upon request to examine problems and offer advice.


Especially For New Farmers
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Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established in 1994 as a unit within the University of Vermont to integrate university and community expertise to promote sustainable farming systems throughout Vermont and the region.

Vermont Land Trust
Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program VT Land Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving working land for the future of Vermont. Their Farmland Access Program with Land Link Vermont helps farmers gain access to quality and affordable farmland.

Vermont New Farmer Network
The Vermont New Farmer Network is a working group of agricultural organizations committed to serving the needs of new and aspiring farmers in Vermont.

VERMONT NEW FARMER PROJECT
The University of Vermont Extension's "virtual toolshed," including a land access database and information on other resources available to new farmers.

Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page, University of Vermont Extension
One of the first places vegetable and berry farmers should visit is the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page maintained by Vern Grubinger, Ph.D. This site contains a plethora of resources on every topic, including: soils, production, pests, food-processing, marketing, pricing, organizations, events, and even alternative energy on farms. As the State’s Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist, Vern visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice.

Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN)
WAgN provides education and technical assistance to those individuals interested in starting or expanding their agricultural endeavors.


Farm Management

PERSONNEL POLICY
Having a personnel policy in place before hiring workers will help keep expectations aligned and ease any disagreements. You can download Riverberry Farm's Personnel Policy and Sexual Harassment Policy as examples to work from.

Crop Planning Spreadsheet
Figuring out what to plant where and when can be challenging, especially for diversified growers. This spreadsheet from Kenneth Mulder of Green Mountain College, provides a framework for planning. This spreadsheet was introduced in a 2010 summer workshop in partnership with Rutland Area Farm and Food Link. For a video of the workshop and other resources, click here.

FARM COMMONS
Farm Commons provides proactive legal services, including model CSA member and worker agreements, guidelines for crafting legally-sound apprenticeships and on-farm experiences, and business organization comparisons.

Farmer Technical Assistance
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Perry's Perennial Pages, University of Vermont Extension
Leonard Perry, Ph.D., the University of Vermont’s Extension Greenhouse and Nursery Specialist, has information on selecting and growing hardy ornamental perennials in Vermont. Leonard visits grower’s operations upon request to examine problems and offer advice.

Plant Diagnostic Clinic, University of Vermont Extension
Ann Hazelrigg manages the University of Vermont’s Plant Diagnostic Clinic. Their web-based materials help growers identify common insects and diseases. The Plant Diagnostic Clinic identifies of diseases, plants, weeds, and plant insects encountered by Vermont agricultural operations. Ann visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice.

University of Vermont Extension
Located throughout the state, University of Vermont Extension links Farms to UVM to specialists that provide timely, research-based information and education. Their “Extension A-Z” lists all their programs, resources, and information.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) - Vermont
NRCS puts nearly 70 years of experience to work in assisting farmers with conservation. Their programs provide technical assistance and cost-share to farmers for implementing good conservation practices that improve environmental quality.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM)
VAAFM has a great “Subject Index” that lists all the farm programs in the State, including programs, practices, and rules.

Vermont Farm Service Agency (FSA)
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers and manages many farm financial programs. These programs include: the farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster, and loan programs. It has a network of federal, state and county offices that serve farmers. Their loan programs can help farmers buy land, build and upgrade facilities to meet expanding markets.


Greenhouses and Energy
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Energy Conservation for Greenhouse Growers
David Tatum's and Jimmy Bonner's, Mississippi State University Extension, two paged document focuses on greenhouse heating.

Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Production
Energy-related resources and programs from NRCS.

Energy Information for Vegetable and Berry Growers
Vern Grubinger’s Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page lists energy information and links. These include case studies on many types of alternativeenergy to heat greenhouses in Vermont,conservation checklists to improve greenhouse efficiency, biofuel studies,information on solar and wind energy, and more. 

Farm Energy Field Guide
Maine Rural Partners, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing collaborative, integrated approaches to rural development, has developed a comprehensive webpage with useful links about energy efficient checks, building, lighting, greenhouses, cooling, pumps, energy audits, renewable energy and more.

Greenhouse Energy Consumption
Scott Sanford, University of Wisconsin Madison, has developed a web page focused on greenhouses with links to many recourses listed on how to reduce your energy use.

Greenhouse Energy ConservatioN Check List
John W. Bartok, Jr., Agricultural Engineer at the University of Connecticut developed this excellent conservation checklist which included information about heating and cooling greenhouses, trucks and tractors, and water systems.

Reducing Natural Gas/Propane Use for Greenhouse Space Heating
The four paged document, produced by Scott Sanford at the University of Wisconsin's Biological Systems Engineering Department and Wisconsin Focus on Energy, has many suggestions on how to reduce heating fuel use.


Networks and Grower Organizations
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Organic Trade Association
OTA is a membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America.

Vermont Farms! Association
The Vermont Farms Association is an organization of farmers offering on-farm educational experiences.

Vermont Fresh Network
The Vermont Fresh Network builds innovative partnerships among farmers, chefs and consumers to strengthen Vermont's agriculture.

Vermont New Farmer Network
The Vermont New Farmer Network is a working group of agricultural organizations committed to serving the needs of new and aspiring farmers in Vermont.

Vermont Vegetable & Berry Growers Association
This diverse grower organization promotes the economic, environmental and social sustainability of vegetable and berry farming in Vermont through education, promotion and communication among growers.


Organic Certification & Farming
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Vermont Organic Farmers Certification (VOF)
The VOF page has guidelines on organic production, the process, fees, and deadlines, forms for required record keeping, and resources and articles for organic growers.


Organic Research
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Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC)
The OACC conducts organic farming research and provides knowledge transfer and extension services for organic farmers.

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
OFRF works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming practices.

Northeast SARE
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education provides grants and information to improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life. Farmer Grants test new crops, practices and systems through on-site experiments and share the results with other farmers. Grants average about $5,200, and are capped at $10,000. Farmer Grant applications are due in December.

 

Pest Management
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ATTRA
ATTRA has 100s of articles on organic pest and crop management written in a very readable format.

NOFA VERMONT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE ADVISORS
NOFA Vermont provides organic growers with technical assistance and educational opportunities. Please see our web pages linked above.

ORGANICA - A RESOURCE FOR ORGANIC APPLE PRODUCTION
The OrganicA website provides organic apple growers with organic IPM information; Lorraine Berkett, Ph.D. of UVM Extension leads this project.

ORGANIC MATERIALS REVIEW INSTITUTE
OMRI pages contain lists of materials approved for use in certified organic production. Please be aware that growers must always read the pesticide label, which can be found via the web if you search of the name of the materials and label, as some OMRI approved materials are labeled for residential use only, thus these materials not allow in commercial production in the State of Vermont. 

PEST IDENTIFICATION SERVICE, THE PLANT DIAGNOSTIC CLINIC, UVM EXTENSION
Pest management begins with a proper diagnosis of what the problem is. Ann Hazelrigg manages the University of Vermont’s Plant Diagnostic Clinic. Their web-based materials help growers identify common insects and diseases. The Plant Diagnostic Clinic identifies of diseases, plants, weeds, and plant insects encountered by Vermont agricultural operations. Ann visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice. You can contact her at: Ann.Hazelrigg@uvm.edu or 802-656-0493.

MAINE ORGANIC FARMERS AND GARDENERS ASSOCIATION'S (MOFGA) PEST REPORTS
MOFGA's Organic Crop Specialist, Eric Sideman, Ph.D., periodically compiles pest reports for farmers and gardeners.

eORGANIC
Extensions website that focuses on organic agriculture has general sections on the organic management of insects, diseases, and weeds. Each section contains sub-sections of many topics with friendly articles based in science for effective whole system pest management.

PEST MANAGEMENT, VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY PAGE, UVM EXTENSION
One of the first places vegetable and berry farmers should visit for pest management information is the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page Pest Management section maintained by Vern Grubinger, Ph.D. This section contains excellent links related to pest management issues. Also see the section on crop by crop production. As the State’s Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist, Vern visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice. You can contact him at: VernonGrubinger@uvm.edu or at 802-257-7967. 

STATE OF VERMONT PESTCIDE SAFETY REGULATIONS
IMPORTANT ORGANIC PESTICIDE SAFETY INFORMATION FOR ORGANIC GROWERS

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a federal regulation that applies to organic growers using pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses.  The WPS requires the agricultural employer to take steps to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure and possible illness and injury to employees, while organic pesticides are used.

If you apply organic pesticides on your commercial farm and have employees, the employees MUST be trained. You are required to be a Certified Handler (if you are not a certified applicator) in order to train employees. It is important to note that a COMMERCIAL ORGANIC grower, who has employees, must use only pesticides with the Agricultural Use Requirement statement on the label.  This statement includes important safety information for yourself and your employees.

Agency of Agriculture inspectors will be checking organic fruit and vegetable operations, nurseries, greenhouses, orchards, etc. routinely during the 2010 growing season to make sure that those applying organic pesticides are in compliance with the WPS.  If you need help with training or any other compliance issue please contact Annie Macmillan at 828-3479, or Anne.Macmillan@state.vt.us. For further information on this regulation please click on the heading link above.

Vinegar as an Herbicide
Growers should be aware that acetic acid (vinegar) in concentrations greater than 8% cannot be used as an herbicide unless it is an EPA registered product, and can be hazardous to handle. One product ("Weed Works Weed & Grass Killer"), a 20% solution, has recently been approved by the EPA. Click here to download the label with ag use requirement information. Note: This product has not been reveiwed or approved by OMRI.

 

Pest Management Publications

A WHOLE FARM APPROACH TO PEST MANAGEMENT
This easy to read SARE Bulletin provides examples of ecologically based practices and systems farmers use to help management their pests. It has an excellent resource section in the back.

CROP ROTATION ON ORGANIC FARMS: A PLANNING MANUAL (PDF)
Rotations are the foundation of every organic farms' pest management program. Editors Charles L. Johnson and Sue Ellen Johnson have created friendly guide to help you develop a rotation that works for you.

DISEASE AND PESTS OF VEGETABLE CROPS IN CANADA
This excellent text by Ronald J. Howard, J. Allan Garland, and W. Lloyd Seaman is used by Northeast extension and NOFA technical assistance people. Excerpts can be found on the web. If you are looking to buy a copy locally, contact Ann Hazelrigg, who keeps copies on hand for growers at a reduced cost. Contact her at: Ann.Hazelrigg@uvm.edu or 802-656-0493.

MANAGING COVER CROPS PROFITABLY
This SARE Handbook contains a wealth of information about cover crops. It includes crop crops’ performance and roles, cultural traits, management, and advantages and disadvantages in text and very helpful chart format.

MANAGING INSECTS ON YOUR FARM: A GUIDE TO ECOLOGICAL STRATEGIES
This e-book by Miguel A. Altieri and Clara Nicholls provides the principles of ecologically based insect pest management. It can be downloaded for free.

RESOURCE GUIDE FOR ORGANIC INSECT AND DISEASE MANAGEMENT
Brian Caldwell, Emily Rosen Brown, Eric Sideman, Anthony Shelton, Christine Smart are updating this excellent pest management guide to add more crops. The current edition includes brassicas, cucurbits, lettuce, solanaceous crops and sweet corn. For each crop it contains pest and disease information, cultural controls, materials approved for organic production and their efficacy and references. There is no e-version of this book; if you are a NOFA Vermont member you will get a 10% discount when you order it through the NOFA Vermont office; an order form it located at: http://nofavt.org/books-merchandise.

STEEL IN THE FIELD: A FARMER'S GUIDE TO WEED MANAGEMENT TOOLS
This SARE e-publication edited by Greg Bowman focuses on effective weed control by the use of rotations, cover crops and the mechanical tools available to farmers.

Sustainable Agriculture Links
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ATTRA
Looking for the latest in sustainable agriculture and organic farming news, events and funding opportunities? ATTRA features all that, plus in-depth publications on production practices, alternative crop and livestock enterprises, innovative marketing, organic certification, and highlights of local, regional, USDA and other federal sustainable Ag activities.

CENTER OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established in 1994 as a unit within the University of Vermont to integrate university and community expertise to promote sustainable farming systems throughout Vermont and the region.

GROWING FOR MARKET
Growing for Market is a monthly magazine for small scale growers providing information about growing and marketing produce, herbs, and flowers.

NORTHEAST SARE
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education provides grants and information to improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life. FARMER GRANTS test new crops, practices and systems through on-site experiments and share the results with other farmers. Grants average about $5,200, and are capped at $10,000. Farmer Grant applications are due in December.

THE NEW FARM
The Rodale Institute’s website reaches out to food producers to exchange valuable “farmer-to-farmer know-how.” The website presents expert resources for crop and livestock production, direct marketing, local food systems, policy campaigns and community-building collaborations.

VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY PAGE, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT EXTENSION
One of the first places vegetable and berry farmers should visit is the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Page maintained by Vern Grubinger, Ph.D. This site contains a plethora of resources on every topic, including: soils, production, pests, food-processing, marketing, pricing, organizations, events, and even alternative energy on farms. As the State’s Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist, Vern visits farms upon request to examine problems and offer advice.


Soil and Media Testing
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AGRICULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING LAB AT UVM
The Agricultural and Environmental Testing Lab provides commercial growers with test soil for macronutrients, micronutrients, pH, CEC, percent organic matter for $14, heavy metal testing costs $10, they run the PSNT, pre-sidedress nitrate test for field corn and sweet corn, from mid-June to mid-July for $8, and test manure for its nutrient value for $35. They provide fertilizer recommendations for vegetables, berries tree fruit, ornamentals, grains and field crops that are based on research for crops grown in Vermont and other New England and Northeast states with similar soil types.  

CORNELL SOIL HEALTH TESTING SERVICES
The Cornell Soil Health Lab offers two Soil Health Testing packages: a Basic Package ($40, recommended for grain/forage crops, non-Ag uses) and a Comprehensive Package ($65, recommended for vegetable and organic production, trouble-shooting in non-Ag uses, and for first time soil health assessment). The Basic Package includes aggregate stability, available water capacity, surface and subsurface hardness, organic matter, active carbon, and the standard soil fertility package. The Comprehensive Package includes the Basic Package PLUS the root health bioassay and potentially mineralizable nitrogen (this is the complete soil health test as in past years). 

GREENHOUSE SOILS AND MEDIA TESTING AT U-MAINE
The Saturated Media Extract Test or the greenhouse media test is used for both potting mixes and greenhouse or hoop house soils that have been highly amended. U-Maine will test for macronutrients, micronutrients, lead, pH, CEC, percent organic matter nutrients plus soluble salts and nitrate-nitrogen all for $22. If you put UVM Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist Vern Grubinger’s email at the bottom he will get a copy and provide recommendations.

GREENHOUSE SOILS AND MEDIA TESTING AT U-MASS
The Saturated Media Extract Test or the greenhouse media test is used for both potting mixes and greenhouse or hoop house soils that have been highly amended. U-Mss will test for macronutrients, micronutrients, pH, CEC, percent organic matter nutrients plus soluble salts and nitrate-nitrogen all for $22. If you put UVM Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist Vern Grubinger’s email at the bottom he will get a copy and provide recommendations.


Using Biologicals

Science has been aware of the ability of microbial organisms found in compost (and later in compost watery extracts or compost teas) to suppress some diseases since the late 1960s with the work of Harry Hoitink at Ohio State University. In recent years, more and more biological products have been developed to help suppress diseases. The thinking goes that when good guys are present it appears more difficult for the bad guys to get a foothold on the surface of plant tissue. But how reliable are these materials in disease prevention? Linked below are two excellent articles and an ATTRA resource. The articles discuss some of the issues of using either garden or farm made compost teas or manufactured biological products to help suppress diseases and boost plant immunity. These articles will help you decide whether using biological materials should be a part of your garden or farm disease management strategy.

Please remember to check OMRI lists to make sure the materials you choose are still listed each year before you purchase any of these products.

 

Efficacy of Various Biological and Microbial Fungicides - Does That Really Work?
Margaret Tuttle McGrath

Efficacy of Various Biological and Microbial Fungicides - by Margaret McGrath of Cornell University

Compost Tea to Suppress Plant Disease - by Vern Grubinger of UVM

 

Winter Growing
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Winter Growing Research Results
Results from on-farm research at 8 Vermont farms, looking into winter growing and storage.

 

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Funding sources for the NOFA Vermont Vegetable and Fruit Technical Assistance Program include:

  • The John Merck Fund
  • The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE)
  • Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program