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2012 Advanced Growers’ Fall Seminar: Profitable Year-Round Farming and Marketing
NOFA/Mass and SEMAP present the 2012 Advanced Growers' Fall Seminar With Paul and Sandy Arnold
This one-day Advanced Growers' Seminar will show how small-scale farming practices and organic systems can be used to make a livelihood throughout the year. Learn ways to make your farming operation more economically robust with well-designed farm systems, innovative techniques for extending the productive season throughout winter, intuitive methods for tracking farm productivity and expenses, and marketing techniques for success.
This seminar will be conducted as a lecture accompanied by power point slides to illustrate the core ideas. Each registrant will receive a handout. Paul and Sandy will cover the following topics.
1. Start-up through Good Business and Record-Keeping: Paul and Sandy purchased land in 1988, which was the beginning of Pleasant Valley Farm, and they built it up quickly to be a profitable farm by treating it as a business. Their presentations with many power point photos/charts will start by showing the progression of their farm from just land to a full operating farm. Tips and tricks for running a good farm will be discussed such as accounting, deciding what to spend money on, and how to manage expenses. Their simple record-keeping techniques will show what to grow to make the most per square foot and how to manage a farm so that it becomes profitable.
2. Labor Efficiencies to Maximize Profits: How to manage workers on a farm, have them make you money, and rules of managing employees will all be discussed, including many labor saving techniques to improve labor efficiencies. The Arnold's utilize farm interns on their farm, as well as hourly workers, mostly homeschooled teenagers and local college students.
3. Production from Greenhouse to Field: The Arnolds will discuss their systems for producing all their transplants for the farm in their Rimol polycarbonate greenhouse which has radiant-heated, rolling benches and automatic venting. Greenhouse seeding production using various trays (Speedling, Winstrips), homemade soil mixes, biological control of diseases, and methods/tips of transplanting/seeding out by hand and with various seeders will all be discussed.
4. Mulching, Soil Management, and Weed Control: Pleasant Valley Farm has utilized hay, straw, and chopped mulch for years to increase organic matter, hold in moisture, and help with weed control, and they have been used more recently in conjunction with Biotello, a cornstarch based black plastic. The full system of mulching with a flail-chopper and bedding chopper, transplanting crops with a Buckeye Water Wheel transplanter, and all the tractor systems of cultivation/weed control as well as the many hand tools and tricks for weed management will be discussed to show how a strict "no weed" policy can be managed. Soil fertility, calculation of amendments and fertilizers, and many new and exciting developments/results of their Nutrient Dense trials during 2012 will be reviewed.
5. Post-Harvest Handling of Crops and Storage: Post-harvest handling is important for long-term quality of all crops, both fresh for markets and for long-term storage. Paul and Sandy will show how their employees are trained for weekly market harvests, and also go through a whole season of many crops to show how they are harvested, cured and stored in various facilities, including a root cellar with modern cooling/humidity controlled equipment to have product for winter and spring sales.
6. Season Extension with Fieldhouses (low tunnels) and Row-Covers: Paul and Sandy have been practicing season extension on their farm, which is in zone 4, since 1992, utilizing home-made field houses (14'x100') in the spring, fall, and winter in order to extend the season and have an abundance of product for sales at their farmers' market table. Rowcovers are used extensively in 3 seasons to protect plants from the cold, increase growth and germination, and enable crops to be available earlier in the spring and late into the fall.
7. Year-Round High Tunnel Production and Marketing: The first high tunnel was built by Paul and Sandy in 2006, the second in 2009 and the third one in 2012. They will go through each month of detailed production systems in their high tunnels (30'x 144') to produce summer crops like tomatoes, basil, squash, spinach, and beans and also winter/spring crops such as spinach, lettuce, mesclun, Asian greens, arugula, kale, mustards, turnips, broccoli raabs, broccolini, and swiss chard. Using various row-cover and hoop techniques, their 2 unheated tunnels yield over $1,200 per week in produce for the winter weekly farmers' markets. Varieties as well as organic insect and disease controls will be discussed. Marketing is very critical to the success of any farm and the Arnolds will show how they approach their only means of marketing to make a living at farming - 3 weekly farmers' markets, two which operate year-round. Displays, products, presentation, employees, and the variety/diversity of products all need managing for details to keep customers happy and coming back.
Paul and Sandy Arnold own Pleasant Valley Farm in upstate New York and have been farming for 24 years; they have two teenage children who are home-schooled and help run the family farm. Over 40 varieties of diverse fruit and vegetable crops are grown with organic methods on about 8 of their 180 acres of land, and they grow a diverse range of crops in two high tunnels. The Arnolds make their living selling their produce year-round at 2 to 3 area farmers' markets each week; they specialize in season-extension and profitability, and enjoy utilizing renewable resources such as solar for hot water and electric. Although neither came from a farming background, they have enjoyed farming as their sole source of income for the past 20 years and have also enjoyed the great lifestyle it offers.
This event is part of an educational collaboration between SEMAP and NOFA/Mass, supported in part by the USDA Specialty Crops Program through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
For more info or to register, please contact Ben Grosscup at 413-658-5374 or email@example.com
- The Registration Fee for the seminar is $65.
- The Pre-Registration Fee, if postmarked by Oct. 29, 2012, is $60.
- The Early Registration Fee, if postmarked by Oct. 22, 2012, is $55.
- Members of any NOFA chapter or SEMAP receive a $5 member discount.
We will share lunch from 12:15 to 1:15pmand dinner from 5:45-7:00pm.We have minimized food costs for this one day seminar by inviting registrants to contribute raw vegetables to the lunch and dinner that we’ll be serving, which many have done. As of October 29, we are no longer accepting food contributions from participants. You can purchase meals by adding $25 per person to your registration fee.This way, everybody gives, receives, and eats very well.
Transportation, Directions, Parking
On the registration from, there is an opportunity to indicate your interest in being connected with seminar attendees in your area who also wish to carpool to the event.
If you need a place to stay, Stonehill College lists a number of nearby hotels and inns.
Policy on Registrations, Cancellations, and Refunds
Registration forms can be sent by postal mail, or scanned and sent by e-mail attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org (put November 5, 2012: Advanced Grower Seminar in the subject line]. No other online registration is available. Registrations are acceptable once payment (check or credit card) is received. Cancellations will be honored with refunds (less $10/person processing fee) until October 26, 2012.
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August 8-10, 2014, UMass, Amherst, MA