Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
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Agriculture (CSA) program. In Florida, Mary and Rob Mitchell produce
high-quality organic citrus; they have also developed a successful packing
house and tapped into national markets. In Illinois, Joel Rissman works
land that has been in his family for generations; now he and his wife sell
their diverse mix of organic crops and livestock throughmultiple marketing
channels that include direct sales. In eastern Colorado, the Bensons are
fourth-generation grain farmers who are innovative in their organic crops,
equipment, and marketing. And in California, Phil Foster operates a busy
organic vegetable production ranch that has shifted its focus to local and
regional sales (see map 1).
CS A WITHIN AN EVER-CHANGING FARM
[93], (3)
Steve Porter, New York
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St eve tells me that his farm is “halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. That
is one important part about running our CSA - having a lot of people near
by . We are close to two fairly large cities. Each of the metro areas is close
to one million people.” The CSA group is just one part, or the latest step,
in this diversified five hundred acre farm that is run by Steve, his brother,
an d his dad. “I am a second-generation farmer. My parents bought our
pr operty here in the mid-fifties. It was basically a cattle-feeding operation
fo r twenty years. Then we diversified and grew the crops we needed to feed
th e cattle, you know, hay and corn for grain and a little wheat for a cash
cr op, but not much. So it was basically a livestock operation. We added hogs
in the seventies, bought feeder pigs, and finished them out. Then we built
so me farrowing and nursery facilities in the late seventies. And that is about
w here we stayed until the late eighties when we started adding sheep to the
liv estock enterprise. By then the cattle were very few or nonexistent some
years.”
Because of economic downturns in the livestock market, Steve's family
be gan to look for other ways to diversify. “My dad had been reading about
or ganics and the potential for it. In 1990 we started transitioning some
ground. We had a little field we had always used for a garden spot, and it
didn't have any pesticides or fertilizers on it, so it would certify. The first
year we had half an acre, a big market garden. That is how we started,
with a half acre.” Prior to that, the focus had been livestock. “We never grew
vegetables for marketing, so we were transitioning in a lot of different ways.”
Because of their crop patterns, their conversion to certified organic acres
was fairly straightforward. “We started transitioning more ground and that
was fairly easy because we had hay fields in our rotation, and those didn't
[93], (3)
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