Calling All Farmers! Upcoming CSA Workshop

The Accokeek Foundation’s Center for Agricultural and Environmental Stewardship is proud to present Successful CSAs: How to Start and Manage a Community Supported Agriculture Program. This workshop, to be held on Thursday, March 3, is perfect for farmers who want to start a CSA or refine their current operation.

A CSA share awaits pick-up at the Accokeek Foundation's Ecosystem Farm.

The Accokeek Foundation has for almost two decades operated a CSA, and we will share with participants the production and marketing knowledge that we have gathered over the years. The event will feature a panel of experienced farmers who will discuss the “how to” details of operating a CSA—from finding a customer base and setting up a planting schedule to packaging produce and communicating with shareholders—as well as a talk on food safety. The workshop costs $25 (registration required, scholarships available). Participants will receive a handbook and other take-home materials. A locally-sourced lunch will be provided.

Learn more after the jump! Visit our website to register.

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Starting with Seed

Last spring's seedlings, growing in the greenhouse.

As the winter winds down, the growers at the Accokeek Foundation have started to think about the upcoming season at the Ecosystem Farm. The time is ripe to make our planting plans and order our supplies and seeds. From the Rose de Berne tomato, with its rose-pink hue and heirloom flavor, to the colorful fish pepper, an African American heirloom with variegated foliage and an excellent taste, we’ve made note of our favorites from last season and our plans to plant them again.

While we do save our seeds whenever possible, we also order seeds from various catalogs. Some of our favorite sources? Fedco, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

In some of these catalogs, you might even spot seeds from the Foundation. We’ve supplied various companies with seeds over the years, from our Orinoco and Rustica tobaccos to our Virginia Gourdseed corn. This latter crop is an eighteenth century variety that was back-bred, recovered, and reintroduced by corn geneticist and former National Colonial Farm Director Ralph Singleton.

Virginia Gourdseed corn.

But seed saving can occur even on a small scale, and we encourage all gardeners to practice this small exercise in sustainability. A saved seed is a treasure that preserves the previous season’s perfect plant. For seed saving tips, we recommend Seed to Seed or SavingOurSeeds.org.

And for those gardeners who have the seeds but don’t know where to start, check out our upcoming Organic Gardening Workshop: Starting from Seed. This class—part of our season-long Organic Gardening Workshop Series geared toward backyard gardeners—will provide participants with the information needed to start their seeds and get a jump on the growing season. Click here to read more and sign up!

Farmers, environmentalists must work together for sustainable agriculture

A Letter to the Editor of the Baltimore Sun

The publication of the American Farm Bureau’s response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to set a strict “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay (Baltimore Sun, Jan. 9, 2010) provides us with an important opportunity to open up the dialogue between farmers and conservationists. Earlier this month, the Accokeek Foundation hosted a conference titled “Common Ground: Growing Agriculture, Restoring the Bay,” in which policy makers and farmers alike explored ways that profitability and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand. A panel of successful farmers affirmed that, in this region that prizes local food, pastoral landscapes, and a wholesome environment, the farms that are profitable in the future will be those that adopt sustainable practices and help protect and restore the Bay.

The Accokeek Foundation and other organizations with similar standing and expertise in sustainable agriculture should do all we can to ensure that farmers have the tools they need to adopt sustainable practices and find success. I hope that farmers will use this opportunity to work with new environmental regulations and reclaim their rightful role as exemplary stewards of the land.

Wilton Corkern, President