Tag Archives: technical assistance

A Profile of NOFA-VT’s Journey Farmers

The Journey Farmer Program is a two-year program for beginning farmers who are in the first few years of running their own farming enterprise in Vermont. The program is largely shaped by the farming interests and goals of the Journey Farmers, and enables aspiring new farmers to advance their farming skills and experiences, along with being a part of a learning community of other aspiring farmers and farmer mentors. NOFA-VT Journey Farmers receive an educational stipend, farmer-to-farmer mentoring, free admission into NOFA-VT’s workshops and Winter Conference, business planning support and access to technical assistance by the NOFA-VT staff. New farmers are being welcomed to the fold each year…find out more about the application process here.

NOFA-VT’s Journey Farmer program accepting applications for 2016

Program provides training, mentoring, educational stipend, and more

Journey Farmer Ansel Ploog
“Being a Journey Farmer has helped us access expertise from mentors and provided a readily available sounding-board for farming questions,” said Ansel Ploog of Fly Wheel Farm in Woodbury, Vermont.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is now accepting applications for the 2016 Journey Farmer Program. The Journey Farmer Program is a two-year program for beginning farmers who are in the first few years of running their own farming enterprise in Vermont. The deadline to apply for the program is November 19th, 2015.

The Journey Farmer program was developed in 2011 to help farmers successfully bridge the gap from education and apprenticeships to viable commercial enterprises. To reach these goals, the program provides farmer-to-farmer mentoring, free admission into NOFA-VT’s Summer Workshop Series and Winter Conference, business planning support, access to technical assistance, and an educational stipend. Journey Farmers also become part of a supportive network made up of other beginning farmers and farmer mentors by participating in special gatherings, educational offerings and events.

“Being a Journey Farmer has helped us access expertise from mentors and provided a readily available sounding-board for farming questions,” said Ansel Ploog of Fly Wheel Farm in Woodbury, Vermont.

“During our ‘journeyship’ our farm has gone from a lean start-up to a business with specific production and financial goals and we have confidence that we can achieve them.”

The program is largely shaped by the farming interests and goals of the Journey Farmers themselves, and enables aspiring new farmers to advance their farming skills and experiences, along with being a part of a learning community of other aspiring farmers and farmer mentors. To date, 30 Journey Farmers have participated in the program. This year, three to five new Journey Farms will be selected to participate.

For more information, and application information, visit www.nofavt.org/beginning-farmer/journey-farmer. Applications and resumes are due by November 19, 2015. Couples and/or business partners should submit one joint application. If you have any questions regarding the program, criteria for selection, or the application please contact Rachel Fussell, Education Coordinator, at rachel@nofavt.org or call (802) 434-4122.

Chris Blanchard knows a lot about managing farm staff

The second workshop in our LABOR MANAGEMENT  FOR FARMERS series is entitled, “Run Your Team: Tools for Managing and Motivating Employees on the Farm” and it’s going to be taught by someone who knows an awful lot about the subject.

Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard’s workshops, writing, and consulting throughout the country have gained a reputation for fresh approaches, down-to-earth information, and honesty.

In his fourteen years of farming at Rock Spring Farm, Chris Blanchard has managed over 100 employees, made hundreds of mistakes, and changed the work environment from “The Yelling Farm” into a place he was proud to manage. His workshops are high-energy, fast paced and media-rich. His presentations have gained a reputation for fresh approaches, down-to-earth information, honesty and humor.

Below is an excerpt from a post on Chris’ “Purple Pitchfork” blog:

Ten Thoughts about Employees

  1. Happy employees are productive employees – and productive employees are happy employees.
  2. The right tools plus the right people equals maximum productivity.
  3. The boss sets the tone and sets an example.
  4. The boss is never tired. Even if she is.
  5. Be certain going in that what you say you want is what you really want. If you have a partner, discuss this with them.
  6. Some people are fast. Some are not. You probably can’t do much to make dramatic changes, so figure it out before you hire. After you hire, either find a way to deal with what you’ve got, or change what you’ve got. Only two choices.
  7. Be clear about goals and be clear about standards- and make those standards quantifiable. 50 bunches per hour. No more than 3 cercospora leaf spots on a Swiss chard leaf.
  8. Be certain. Don’t tell people to “do their best”… describe best. Don’t make a big deal about changes in procedures- it makes even good employees think they know as much as you.
  9. Poor performance by one employee drags management and labor down.
  10. If you have a partner, be certain you agree on goals and procedures. Anything else encourages dissent and confusion.

More “Management” posts on Purple Pitchfork »
More info on NOFA Vermont’s HR workshops for farmers »

Milk Quality & Mastitis Part II: Treatment

This article is part of the NOFA Vermont Dairy and Livestock Technical Assistance Program.

Click here to jump to our Winter Conference offerings for dairy and livestock farmers.

Silhouette of three cowsWe recently shared some resources for mastitis prevention. But what to do when cows do get a clinical or subclinical udder infection?

Subclinical mastitis can show up as an increase in the SCC (somatic cell count) without visual signs of mastitis. Clinical mastitis will include visual changes in the milk or udder swelling.

When a cow has clinical mastitis, treatment suggestions that Dr. Guy Jodarski, staff veterinarian for Organic  Valley/CROPP Cooperative, discussed in a recent webinar include:

  • frequent stripping
  • vitamin & mineral supplements
  • allowed synthetics including fluids, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • biologics (such as immunoboost) and vaccines
  • herbs including antibacterial tinctures
  • topicals (essential oils)
  • whey products – made from colostrum
  • antioxidants
  • homeopathy

Some synthetic medications are allowed for use on organic livestock; for acute mastitis cases these include Banamine (Flunixin) and aspirin. Electrolytes (such as CMPK or hypertonic saline), along with injectable vitamins, are also used by some veterinarians.

Before treating an animal, check the 2014 Organic Livestock Healthcare List or contact the VOF certification office to be sure the treatment is approved for use. It is important to keep records of what treatments are used, and to withhold milk when required by the organic standards.

As there’s no single silver bullet treatment for mastitis, each farm will find a few products from this list that work for their management system.

A good relationship with the veterinarian can make being  certified organic easier! Your veterinarian can help you  understand what treatments to use, develop a better prevention plan, and keep better records.

For more information on organic production, herd health, and other technical assistance available from NOFA Vermont, contact Sam Fuller, Program Coordinator, at 802-434-4122 or sam@nofavt.org.

Dairy & Livestock at the Winter Conference

Join us for an advanced commercial dairy & livestock track on Saturday, including:

Sunday also offers a diversity of workshop topics, including Efficient Swine Rationing from Piglet to Adult, Farm Labor: Strategies for Success with Your Employees, Market Research: How to Address Opportunities, Winter Lambing Procedure, and many more!

And on Monday, February 17th, join our all-day intensive:
Chicken Soup for the Soil: Building Nutrient-Dense Soil for Nutrient-Dense Crops with Jerry Brunetti,
Jack Lazor, and Heather Darby.

Milk Quality & Mastitis Part I: Prevention

Silhouette of three cowsThis article is part of the NOFA Vermont Dairy and Livestock Technical Assistance Program.

Organic milk buyers know that milk with a low somatic cell count (SCC) will have longer shelf life, less off flavor and higher cheese yield, which is why they pay quality premiums. Those premiums are a big economic incentive to prevent mastitis and maintain low SCC. Keeping high-count cows out of the tank can do this, but mastitis prevention is ideal. Prevention requires monitoring udder health to detect new mastitis cases early on, as well as adapting management practices to increase sanitation and prevent infections from spreading.

In the article Milk Quality on Organic Dairy Farms, Dr. Linda Tikofski of Cornell University emphasizes the importance of good milking procedures to prevent mastitis. Her list of procedures includes: pre-dipping & wiping with individual towels; fore-stripping into a cup or gutter to remove high SCC milk and bacteria in teat ends; milk fresh heifers first, then low SCC cows, then high SCC cows, then contagious cows last; and applying a post dip to at least 2/3 of the teat. She also said that it is better to leave some milk in the udder than to damage teat ends by pulling down on machines or leaving them on too long.

In a recent webinar on organic dairy cow health, Dr. Guy Jodarski, staff veterinarian for Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, also discussed the importance of dry cow management to prevent mastitis, including good dry off procedure, dry cow housing with clean & dry bedding and nutritious high forage diet.

For more information on organic production, herd health, and other technical assistance available from NOFA Vermont, contact Sam Fuller, Program Coordinator, at 802-434-4122 or sam@nofavt.org.