agriculture

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Jul 31, 2015

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don't plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

"We've traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it's a very productive acre and a half," Eric Reuter says.

Jimmy_Joe / Creative Commons

This iridescent, copper-colored beetle hails from Japan, has been around since 1916, and is not a picky eater. Japanese beetles feast on grapes, cherries, raspberries, cannas, basil, roses, and lots of other plants. They often feed en masse, devastating plants. 

Goats Seized at Cornwall Farm Up for Auction

Jul 24, 2015
Courtesy Department of Agriculture

Thirteen goats from a herd which became part of the legislature’s budget discussions are being auctioned off. 

The argument over genetically modified food has been dominated, in recent years, by a debate over food labels — specifically, whether those labels should reveal the presence of GMOs.

The battle, until now, has gone state by state. California refused to pass a labeling initiative, but Maine, Connecticut and Vermont have now passed laws in favor of GMO labeling.

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We must really love tomatoes. Even with farmer's markets, CSAs, and farm stands loaded with fresh, locally-grown tomato fruits this time of year, we still insist on growing our own. This is even more impressive considering all the problems tomatoes can have.

Martin LaBar / Creative Commons

There’s nothing like the beautiful blue-flowered hydrangea. Although once thought of as an old fashioned flower, hydrangeas are popular again.

Alice Henneman / Creative Commons

I’m an Italian-American from Waterbury, so I’d like to think I know a little about basil. 

Pauline Zaldonis

A number of mobile food stores will be making their way around the state this summer. The idea is to bring fresh and affordable produce to communities without a nearby supermarket. 

Sergey Yeliseev / Creative Commons

In a press release from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection late last month, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station announced that there was gypsy moth -- Lymantria dispar -- activity across the state, coupled with some pockets of tree defoliation. However, the increased moth activity does not necessarily indicate that long term issues are ahead, according to the CAES.

Department of Agriculture

The goats were taken in January from the Butterfield Farm Company in Cornwall. They were said to be malnourished with many suffering from a number of highly-transmissible diseases. Now, the state has announced a plan to manage the herd of 96 animals that fell into state care following an animal-cruelty investigation.

State Acquires Development Rights for North Canaan Farm

Jun 15, 2015
Lisa Ruokis / Creative Commons

A 220-acre farm in North Canaan is the latest to be protected under Connecticut's Farmland Preservation Program.

Chion Wolf

Squaring growing demand for locally grown food with new national farm regulations has been a point of frustration for many in agriculture and farm officials from around the northeast are meeting in New Haven this week to talk about it.

Winter Conditions Ideal for Start of Strawberry Season

Jun 8, 2015
James Lee / Creative Commons

Connecticut's strawberry growers are predicting they'll have a robust crop despite a dry spring.

Nicholas A. Tonelli / Creative Commons

This year's cold winter killed off a high percentage of insects that target Connecticut's hemlock trees. That's good news for forests and for landowners in the state.

Although it's a tropical island, perhaps surprisingly, Puerto Rico produces very little of its own food. After decades of industrialization, the U.S. territory imports more than 80 percent of what's consumed on the island. There are signs, though, the trend is changing.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Since March, avian influenza has hit 14 farms in the western and mid-western United States. So far, at least four million chickens and turkeys have died or been euthanized.

There are no bird flu cases yet in the northeast this year, but the Connecticut Department of Agriculture is advising poultry farmers and backyard flock owners to follow simple precautions.

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Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at Yale University on Tuesday and said he likes how social media is causing a change in the way big-business producers like McDonald's create their food.

Laura Hubers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

When you think about plants, you probably picture individual trees or your favorite type of flower, but you probably don't think of them in a bigger way: as habitat.

Ryan King / WNPR

It all starts with a sugar bush. While that sounds like something out of the board game Candy Land, it's actually another name for a stand of sugar maples -- one of the trees that gives us maple syrup.

Christopher Harrison / Creative Commons

Connecticut farmers will have an opportunity to become authorized to accept food stamps from customers at their farms and at farmers markets. 

Lewis Hine (1874-1940) / Wikimedia Commons

Shade tobacco came to Connecticut in 1900 from the island of Sumatra, which was beginning to dominate the world of cigar wrappers. The leaf had a light color, delicate texture, and mild flavor that cigar lovers love.

So it seemed like a good idea to grow it somewhere besides Sumatra and the artificial shade concept developed in Florida in the 1890s. Connecticut growers tried it on one-third of an acre in Windsor in 1900, and the result was so good that farmers, in an un-Yankee-ish burst of headlong passion, planted 50 acres in 1901.

The industry grew like shade tobacco -- that is, fitfully -- and woven into its life were the stories of the latest set of immigrants willing to work in cheap and concentrated bursts. We tell you as many of their stories as we can.

Fast food giant McDonald's announced Wednesday it will begin sourcing chickens raised without antibiotics.

Over the next two years, the chain says its U.S. restaurants — which number around 14,000 — will transition to the new antibiotics policy, which prohibits suppliers from using antibiotics critical to treating human illness.

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A Cornwall farm operator, accused of mistreating dairy goats, has been arrested on animal cruelty charges. Tara Bryson, who operates Butterfield Farm Co. with her boyfriend, Michael Hearl, was arrested Thursday.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market / Facebook

The well-known Coventry Regional Farmers' Market is heading into its final summer season, beginning on May 31 and running every Sunday until October. While local businesses and vendors are sad to see the market go, they are grateful for the executive board’s dedication and ambition over the past 12 years.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

I totally get the case against the Oscars and I look forward to hearing our friend Steve Almond make it on the show today. The case is that the creative arts and zero-sum games to not belong together because art is fluid and not hierarchical.  How can one performance or movie lose when another wins? It's absurd right? Wrong.

For example, we all know it was appalling in 1995 when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "Shawshank Redemption." Or, in 1981 when "Ordinary People" bested "Raging Bull." Whether we want to cop to it or not, we have internal standards and we know when they've been violated. This hour on the Scramble, Almond and I will debate that. 

Revelations about animal suffering at a federal animal research facility have sure gotten the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

They've also prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the facility through its Agricultural Research Service, to name its first ever animal welfare ombudsman — as well as review and update its animal welfare strategy.

Eggstrordinary Eggs!

Feb 5, 2015
Shawn Zamechek / Creative Commons

Just about all of us eat eggs and when we say that, we mean chicken eggs. But, there are all kinds of other eggs you can eat. I cook occasionally with duck eggs and I've tasted goose and quail.

Today on the show, we talk to a farmer who ranches exotic eggs, including emu, and a chef who cooks with them.

Flickr Creative Commons, Pink Sherbet Photography

Let's take a frozen cheese pizza. We'll add a little pepperoni to it -- and ship it off to a supermarket. Now, the question: who makes sure that pizza is safe to eat?

"As soon as you add the pepperoni, you introduce the Department of Agriculture," said reporter Wil Hylton. "Otherwise it will be under Health and Human Services and the FDA."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Unlike other parts of the country, New England has been seeing a growing number of new farms. Connecticut is among eight states recently chosen for a federal pilot program supporting locally-grown food in schools.

Existing federal funds in this year’s Farm Bill will now allow 16 school districts to use tax dollars to purchase fruits and vegetables from Connecticut farms for school lunches. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty calls it a double-win.

Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

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