May 1, 1999
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967

Sponsored by the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, and University of Vermont Extension. All meetings are open to the public. There is a $3 registration fee for those that are not members of either VV&BGA or NOFA.

May 5, Wednesday, 4-6 pm. Greenhouse Bedding Plant Production at Hudak Farm, Swanton. Dick Hudak and Marie Frey produce vegetable and flower seedlings and perennial plants in about 20,000 square feet of greenhouse space using ecological production practices. They also grow over 20 acres of field vegetables and small fruit for their roadside market. Directions: Take Exit 20 off I-89, turn left (west) to get to route 7. Turn right onto route 7 north. You'll see the sign for Hudak Farm on the left in about 3/4 mile - the greenhouses are on the right.

June 2, Wednesday, 4-6 pm. Organic and Conventional Strawberry Production at Killdeer Farm, Norwich. Jake and Liz Guest run a mostly organic farm, except for sweet corn, bedding plants and berries. Jake is experimenting with ways to grows strawberries organically, and will share his insights on cultivation, fertility and pest control. Directions: Take exit 13 off I-91 onto route 5 north. Stay on route 5 for 2 ½ miles. Just after the vet clinic on left, turn left onto Butternut Rd. The farm is at end of road. We will car pool from there to the strawberry fields.

June 24, Thursday, 3-5 pm, Greenhouse and High Tunnel Tomatoes at Crossroad Farm. Tim and Janet Taylor have a diversified farm and roadside stand in Post Mills. They no longer grow field tomatoes, instead they use 8 greenhouse structures, either weaving or stringing up the plants, at high or low density. They apply manure and fertilizer but no pesticides to the crop. Tim has compared many tomato varieties over the past few years. Directions: Take Exit 14 off I-91, turn west and stay on route 113, for just over 7 miles. North of Post Mills look for the state sign saying Crossroad Farm. Turn right, the farm is ½ mile up on the right.

July 13, Tuesday, 4-6 pm. Integrated Pest Management at Lewis Creek Farm, Starksboro. Hank and Cecilia Bissell grow 30 acres of mixed vegetables using ecological techniques. They sell at Burlington farmers market, roadside stand and wholesale. Weekly crop scouting is used to monitor pest populations. Joining us to help with pest identification and control advice will be pest specialists from UVM and the Department of Agriculture. Directions: The farm is located right in the village of Starksboro on route 116, about 20 miles south of Burlington.

July 28, Wednesday, 4-6 pm. Organic Raspberries and Blueberries at Whetstone Ledges Farm, Marlboro. Gail and Dan MacArthur grow a couple acres of red raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. They use organic practices but are not certified. Sales are thru a roadside stand and pick-your-own. Directions: Take Exit 2 off I-91, proceed 8 miles west on route 9. Turn left onto MacArthur Rd.., then go 1 mile to fields and stand on right.

September 14, Tuesday, 3-5 pm. Small-Scale Diversified Horticulture at Lilac Ridge Farm, West Brattleboro. Amanda and Ross Thurber grow an acre of cut flowers and a couple acres of mixed vegetables, sweet corn and salad greens. They sell at the farmers market, the food co-op, to a restaurant and florist. Horticulture is a recent addition to this family dairy farm that milks 50 Holstein and brown Swiss cows, produces maple syrup, Christmas trees and other forest products. Directions: Take exit 2 off I-91 onto route 9 west. Go a couple of miles and turn left onto Greenleaf St., just past the Christie's convenience store. In one mile, where the paved road turns sharply left by a farm stand, go straight onto the dirt road. The farm is 1/4 mile on the left.

THE BLUEBERRY BULLETIN edited by Dr. Gary Pavlis of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, is a seasonal newsletter for commercial highbush blueberry growers. It provides information on Integrated Pest Management that is quite timely for northern growers because most pests appear here later than in New Jersey. Soil fertility, farm management issues and other topics are also covered. To subscribe, send a $10 check made to Rutgers CE, c/o Gary Pavlis, 6260 Old Harding Highway, Mays Landing NJ 08330.

SEEDCORN MAGGOT may attack vegetable crops in general but damages bean, pea, cucurbit and corn in particular. Problems are usually worse during cold wet springs because germination is slowed. Management decisions must be made before planting. Once you see damage your only decision is whether to replant. This pest overwinters in the soil as a pupa and adults begin to appear in late April or early May. Eggs are then laid and the damage-causing larvae may hatch out once soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F. Damage can be minimized by a combination of cultural practices: plow down cover crops 3 to 4 weeks before planting, completely bury cover crops or previous crop residues to reduce adult fly attraction to rotting organic matter, allow manure to age before incorporating and avoid heavy applications close to planting, attach chain drags behind planter to reduce moisture gradient, use a seed treatment if warranted based on previous history, prepare a seedbed that will promote rapid germination and plant shallow to speed emergence.

COMMERCIAL COMPOST SOURCES include: Ideal Compost Co., Peterborough NH (603) 924-7315; Intervale Compost Project, Burlington VT (802) 660-4949; Mass Natural, Westminster MA (978) 874-0744; McEnroe Organic, Millerton NY (518) 789-3252; Vermont Compost Co., Montpelier VT (802) 223-6409.

MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS were discussed at the Vegetable and Berry Growers annual meeting as a way for farmers to provide some health care insurance for themselves, their families and employees - and to reap a tax advantage from doing so. MSAs are a combination of a high-deductible health insurance policy and a tax-sheltered savings account that can be used to pay medical expenses such as the insurance deductible. Small businesses with less than 50 employees or self-employed individuals are eligible to establish an MSA. The advantages of an MSA as I understand them are that your insurance premium payments may be fully tax exempt, and you will be providing a valuable benefit to employees that does not have negative tax consequences for you as an employer. Contact a knowledgeable accountant, the VT Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration (802) 828-3301, or the IRS (publication 553) at 800-829-1040 for more info. Thanks to Marge Randles for providing info on this.