February 13, 2008
Contact: Rosalind Cook, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson
Wellesley Island Farmers to Speak at Going Organic Workshop February
David Belding and Dani Baker of Cross Island Farms are the only
certified organic farmers on Wellesley Island. In fact, they are the
Island�s only farmers. Belding and Baker will speak at the February 27,
1-4 pm, �Going Organic in the North Country� workshop at Cornell
Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County in Watertown. Poultry and
produce farmer Holly Sakowich, Dick deGraff of Grindstone Organics, and
Organic Agriculture Specialist Sarah Johnston of the New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets, formerly executive director of
the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, will also speak
at the workshop.
Baker and Belding organically grow vegetables on five-sixteenths of an
acre, have applied for their certified organic greenhouse license, and
sell produce, honey, and maple products to island residents and to the
campers who visit nearby Wellesley Island State Park.
They also sell to restaurant and private chefs and operate a CSA
(community-supported agriculture) in the Clayton area. They recently
added livestock � a pair of pigs, and have planted a small vineyard.
�Organic production is a choice we make personally. Organic
certification allows us to wholesale and direct sell to others at
premium pricing,� says Baker, who will talk about a record-keeping
system that allows tracking the profitability of each farm sector, i.e.,
vegetables, maple, honey�
The primary organic certification organization in New York is NOFA-NY
Certified Organic, LLC, a subsidiary of the Northeast Organic Farming
Association of New York. Crop and dairy farms and handlers that have
more than $5,000 in annual gross organic sales and are marketing their
products as �Organic� are required to become certified as compliant with
the USDA�s National Organic Produce rules.
The NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC website states that �the use of
synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited in
certified organic production.� A number of other requirements for
certification meet national organic policy standards.
Joining Belding and Baker on the workshop agenda will be New York State
Organic Agriculture Specialist Sarah Johnston, a past executive director
of NOFA-NY. Johnston will speak on New York State Department of
Agriculture and Markets initiatives to help farmers statewide take
advantage of the expanding consumer demand for organic foods. Dick
deGraff of Grindstone Organics, Pulaski, NY, will talk about the changes
he has seen in his 20 years as a certified organic grower, and Holly
Sakowich of Theresa, NY, will share her first-year experiences as an
organic poultry, egg, and produce farmer.
To register for the free February 27th workshop, contact Cornell
Cooperation Extension of Jefferson County at 315-788-8450. Similar
workshops are being held with support from the Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program on February 25 in Westport, and on
February 26 at North Country Community College in Malone. # # #