Organic Certification Approval

Agraria Farm was designated a certified organic farm on May 11, 2012.

Applying earlier this year, we submitted our application, completed the certification and inspection process. Although we have used organic practices for many decades, we learned a good deal putting together our ‘organic system plan’. We enjoyed getting to know our certifier, Baystate Organic Certifiers and are grateful for their expertise with the regulations.

Organic – vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit, mushrooms, & eggs.  Producer ID: 12082.

 

 

 

 

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Spring finally…

2017-05-01 17.41.31Spring is finally here – on the farm it seemed to really happen this last week – bulbs and fruit trees blooming, bees buzzing, birds nesting, and asparagus peeking it’s tips above ground. Forget about weather predictions, calendar dates or astronomical calculations  – when I can experience it I know it’s here!

Always an inspiring time to see everything just burst and abundance begins again. Wow!

Through the end of May we’ll be offering: eggs, honey, asparagus, rhubarb, shiitake mushrooms, and early herbs (lovage, chives, parsley).

july bee copymushrooms3asparagus

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Spring products from the farm

2017-03-09 14.38.42Spring has definitely arrived on the farm – despite the wild weather rollercoaster – our crocuses, snowdrops and hellebores are in bloom!

We are looking forward to a new growing year and offering our farm products!

 

bee products 1 2017

We’ve been working on a few new things – in addition to our honey – we have a beeswax bar, lip balm, and bee skep candles. We have limited amounts – as these are all small batch and handcrafted here at Agraria. It’s been a wild winter for our bees with these temperature fluctuations, so we are pleased to offer these products while they last.

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will politics wreck havoc on organic farming?

Although we are hunkered down with farm planning and other essential business tasks that we normally do before our season hits – it is hard not to follow the current political climate especially its potential impact on our livelihood.

In a recent article in Mother Jones, ‘ Dark Forces’ Are Coming For Your Organic Food”, Tom Philpott discusses the possibility of the National Organic Program being one of the regulations that the Trump administration will remove. Really?  Can you imagine?

Philpott cites the Freedom Caucus’s inclusion of the NOP on the recommended list of regulations to remove. Kathleen Merrigan, a former deputy secretary at USDA under Obama, has characterized the situation as ” ‘the forces of darkness’ are coming together and saying, ‘Let’s sharpen our knives on organic.’ ” The article further tracks agribusiness lobbyists from Olsson, Frank & Weeda calling for USDA oversight on organics to be “reformed”. Well one can only imagine.

Let’s stay engaged, vigilant and outspoken.

 

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climate disruption & our bees

bee on verbena

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It’s been an unusual winter – sparse snow and fluctuating temperatures. Our hives are spread out out on our small acreage and we monitor these weekly – especially when we notice bees out everywhere.

Normally over winter in New England, when temperatures are below 55 degrees, the hives go into dormancy. The hives rely on the stores in the hive bodies and do not forage in temperatures below 55 degrees. However with the fluctuations in temperature recently, the bees have been out and in again when the temperature plummets. This means they are using up their stores more rapidly without being able to replace these with pollen and nectar from a winter climate. And in the end – it’s a race against these climatic fluctuations. It’s a great concern for us on the farm.

Over the last decade, we have noticed a decline in our wild bee populations and pollinators in general. Our domesticated bees have suffered as well due to a confluence of parasitic and viral diseases, malnutrition, loss of genetic diversity, and pesticide exposure. At Agraria we try to breed bees that flourish in our microclimate, capture swarms to add diversity, and build resiliency in our hives. Working with these creatures can be frustrating – there is so much to learn and much of it is guesswork.

And in the end, we have no control over the climate, neighboring farm practices, and will always have a high learning curve about what the bees need to flourish. As we move into a new season on the farm, we are developing strategies formed over the last 15 years of keeping bees and are hopeful that we will make incremental progress in creating a sustainable, healthy apiary.

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Soil = Organic

As I catch up on my reading from late last year, I am truly dumfounded over the debate raging on hydroponic growers being able to get organic certification. So here’s a rant from a very small organic grower who works incredibly diligently to maintain my certification.

Anyone who studies organic agriculture is aware that the movement owes it’s legacy to Albert Howard, Eve Balfour, JL Rodale, and many others. The basic premise in these works is about working with the ecosystem – understanding your soil, climate, topography, and so on. While technology and scientific advances provide many benefits to mankind, these cannot replace or enhance the miracles nature provides.

If the hydroponic industry wants to capitalize on their incredible produce, then create a new category.  Hydroponics practiced outside of the large multi-national corporations may provide an appropriate growing solution. There is nothing wrong with it as a growing technology. But it is not an organic method because that requires plants to be grown in soil.

The use of terminology to obfuscate organic is pretty outrageous: non-GMO, all natural, local, ….  Unfortunately, after the legislation was passed ‘organic’ became managed by the USDA and should be enforced according to those original tenets of a soil based, ecological system.  As organic, a product will then be local, natural and non-GMO, but one of these without organic certification is not organic. Very confusing for the public and the consumer. And now there is hydroponics.

Small growers who are organic and espouse those values, work hard to earn a living, doing so honestly and with integrity. They farm in concert with the ecological system – that is very much the point.

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Wolf Moon

Part of being a farmer is enjoying the nature around us – being watchful, appreciative and wondrous! The January full moon was awe inspiring – as nothing else seems to be so in our world just now.

So we did a bit of research – a full moon is the lunar phase that is completely illuminated by the Sun as it faces Earth. Although it happens much too slowly to notice with the naked eye, a full moon is an event of a full night’s duration. Many calendars will note the exact time when the moon becomes completely full.

‘Wolf’ moon is a name given to the January moon and as so noted by the Farmers’ Almanac. These names are based on American folklore, native Indian Algonquin languages and European tradition.

moon

 

2017-01-11 16.49.42

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Our ‘winter survival kit’

winter-survival-kit

 

 

 

 

As the holidays progress, we’re out distributing our products to all of our favorite clients. This year we’ve put together a wonderful addition to our value-added product line: a winter survival kit. Essentially it’s what we use to remain healthy when the cold, low light season of winter comes around:

  • lemon ginger tea, certified organic (6 bags)
  • 2 oz of our candied organic ginger
  • 1/2 lb of Agraria honey

All made from Agraria grown or raised products. We’ve sourced a beautiful tea tin with a plastic inner keeping cover – your choice of black or white. We’ve added a recipe card on how to use our herbal teas. Festively wrapped in a recycled kraft bag – ready for action.

Useful, beautiful and well priced at $25.00. They’re a hit with our customers and a winter necessity -so order yours quickly!!

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Good Food Awards finalist

good-food-awards-finalist-seal-2017

 

Agraria Edibles has been named a 2017 finalist in the Good Food Awards for our Black Berries Jam – a seasonal preserve made with Agraria’s organic blackberries, jostaberries and honey.

 

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harvesting ginger

2013-10-06-15-19-46One of the more pleasant tasks we do on farm is harvesting some of our favorite plants – our herbs, edible flowers, fruit, and ginger – are at the top of this list. For a number of reasons this year, we left our ginger in the ground until just now – and over the last few days we have been harvesting this amazing rhizome – what a joy!

2016-10-13-14-18-57It is a fragrant undertaking – and because we believe ginger is an essential for healthy living – the harvest signifies the start of a culinary journey to use every part of the plant in our value added products.

 

ginger-bubbaWe sell the new rhizome as baby ginger – and the remaining stem and seed ginger goes into our products. Our dried ginger & herb teas, candied ginger, ginger syrups, ginger marmalade, ginger scones, and the list goes on!

 

 

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women farmers and inspiration

BML berriesAs a particularly difficult summer comes to a close, we reflect on how to better farm with nature and the evolving climate situation. We are passionate about our small farm and all that being a farmer entails: working the land, respecting the local ecosystem, learning about resilient, regenerative and biological farming. It is all all consuming endeavor – many have called it a lifestyle more than a job – however it is characterized –  we are grateful to farm for our livelihood.

This year was a challenge, and so, we are in the midst of analyzing our farm operations to better withstand such trying times. Constantly reconfiguring our produce, products and services to meet farm and revenue goals causes us to search for other examples of similar farm operations.

Lately, there’s been media about women farmers – several articles peeked our interest, made us proud to be female and provided much needed inspiration.

Women farmers in Afghanistan are creating a more reliable and diverse food supply in a famine stuck region, as well as improving the status of women. In Afghan Farm Belt, Unions Bring New Status for Women (New York Times).

And a woman farmer in Umbria who is trying to save ancient fruit trees from extinction: Italian Grows Forgotten Fruit. What She Preserves Is Culture (New York Times).  It’s called arboreal archaeology! A serendipitous combination for a student of archaeology and a fruit grower like myself.

Peruse the articles and stay tuned for more about upcoming changes here at Agraria.

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