February 13, 2008
Contact: Rosalind Cook, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, 315-788-8450

Wellesley Island Farmers to Speak at Going Organic Workshop February 27

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. # # #