A Time for Contemplation
The thermometer reads well below freezing in Keene, NH, and your NCAT Northeast gang is feeling sentimental about the year that now comes to a close. 2019 kept us all very busy with travels across the country, with projects that ended and with more that began. Meanwhile, Andy, Lee, and Daniel continue to dream about an agrarian revolution. They work every day to make farming in the northeast U.S. financially, environmentally and socially sustainable.
We hope you enjoy these gleanings from the work we did this year and encourage you, as always, to reach out to us with ideas for the future.
- Daniel led off the year by speaking at the NOFA-NY Winter Conference on Selling the Farm Story and landed himself an article in Lancaster Farming. You can see the slides from the presentation in a special Facebook Album on the NCAT Northeast Page.
- Andy and Daniel wrapped up a three-year long project looking into “Intermediated Markets”. One of the major deliverables from the project is a free, online tutorial that helps you – the farmer – navigate these market opportunities. Through these markets, you can diversify your income stream while staying true to your local values.
- The Greenhouse Manual for Schools that Andy has been working on in partnership with the U.S. Botanic Garden and City Blossoms has been released! The manual is to help schools use their greenhouses to facilitate plant-based learning nationwide.
- Lee has been busy writing this year, and in addition to numerous published articles on soil health and multispecies grazing, he wrote his grazing opus. Pasture, Rangeland, and Adaptive Grazing is a new publication on flexible, goal-oriented grazing that focuses on stock density and observation to regenerate soils and maintain productivity in pastures. Expect the publication – and accompanying videos featuring farmer and soil consultant Allen Williams! – in early 2020.
- Daniel published an updated version of ATTRA’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The publication now takes a deep dive into how a farmers can start a CSA operation on their farms and looks into the future of CSA in the country.
- Lee partnered with GreenWave in order to create an Ocean Farming Toolkit, a series of spreadsheets for starting a multi-trophic ocean aquaculture system. In other words: a coastal shellfish and seaweed farm. The toolkit includes information about site selection and a comprehensive budget guideline. Look for this toolkit in early 2020.
Workshops and Webinars
- Andy organized three workshops on equipment for the farm. Twice he did workshops on Walk-Behind Tractors in cooperation with the Cheshire County Conservation District and UNH Cooperative Extension. He ran a third training on tractor maintenance with educator Shane LaBrake. In addition, Daniel is now wrapping up a series of instructional videos on tractor maintenance that you can view in 2020.
- Lee rocked a webinar on multi-species grazing with Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT). Over 100 folks listened in, live, and the webinar is posted on the FACT website generally and with a direct link.
Armed to Farm
- Andy helped launch the first two Armed to Farm 2.0 trainings. The traditional Armed to Farm program is a free, week-long intensive training to help military veterans build sustainable agriculture operations. Armed to Farm 2.0 was new this year and invited alumni of the program back for training and discussion around specific production techniques and business planning.
- Andy also organized Armed to Farm programs in Vermont and New York. Plus, Andy assisted with an Armed to Farm training in Indiana and Daniel assisted with one in Montana. Over 600 veterans from almost every U.S. state have now been trained through Armed to Farm over the years. The Facebook community has grown to over 500 people in less than a year.
- Speaking of Armed to Farm, Andy and Daniel hosted a special Armed to Urban Farm in partnership with the United States Botanic Garden in Cleveland, Ohio. You can find videos of the week’s highlights on the NCAT Northeast Facebook page.
And, on a personal note, Daniel and his wife welcomed their first child into the world in May of 2019. The little boy has been growing up healthy and fast and is well over 22 lbs as the year rounds out.
Making the Northeast a Better Place for Agriculture
As we look forward to next year, we want to take a moment and thank you for being with us as we push for a more sustainable and regenerative agricultural system. Our world is a beautiful, intricate miracle and humanity is a complicated beast full of potential. Daily, these two forces come together in the production of the food that keeps us all alive. Together, we can make this a flourishing relationship that lasts the ages.
All the best from all of us to you and yours. Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and we’ll see you in 2020.