Let's explore regionally adapted seeds
In farming, choosing the right seeds to plant is critical to your success. From shade tolerance to frost sensitivity to drought resistance, there are seemingly endless qualities that might determine if your crops will succeed, do just fine, or flat-out fail.
As the global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the demand for food and water will inevitably rise, necessitating an increase in food production. The extensive use of mineral fertilizers, agrochemicals, and water in intensive farming practices has resulted in land degradation, environmental pollution, and the exhaustion of natural resources. To address these challenges, sustainable agricultural practices focused on minimizing environmental impact and reducing the residual effects of chemicals in the food chain are essential. One promising approach is leveraging the potential of soil microbiota in agriculture to create a more sustainable and healthy food system.
The Flower Farmer’s Roadmap to a Profitable 2024 Mother’s Day
Mother's Day is a big deal in the floral industry, with flower sales climbing higher and higher every year. In Canada, tens of millions of dollars are spent on cut flowers for Mother’s Day, and in the United States, it’s estimated that moms receive more than $2.6 billion in flowers each year. With such high demand for farm fresh flowers, small-scale and local flower farms have a unique opportunity to make a huge profit during this holiday.
If you felt unprepared for the 2023 Mother's Day flower season, don't worry - you're not alone. The good news is that you have an entire year to plan and prep for next Mother's Day, and this spring is actually the perfect time to start!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Soquel, CA 5/11/2023 — Tend, a leader in farm management software, announced today the upcoming release of Tend 2.0, a groundbreaking upgrade to its comprehensive farm management platform.
Set to launch this fall, Tend 2.0 will transform farm management with an array of improvements and enhancements that offer users greater flexibility, functionality, and a more intuitive interface. The new version has been meticulously developed by a passionate team of organic and regenerative farmers and technology experts over the past two years, integrating valuable feedback from existing users.
Dr. Ron Weiss is not your average primary care physician. He serves as the Executive Director of Ethos Primary Care and is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Rutgers University. Dr. Weiss is also a botanist and a farmer who believes in using food as medicine, allowing him to bring a unique perspective to the field of healthcare.
From the earliest days of agriculture, women have made significant contributions to its
success, from saving seeds and tending crops to managing livestock and processing food.
In 2022, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan measure
to designate March 24th as a day
to honor “the countless women who help agriculture prosper both at home and abroad.” So on
this first official National Women in Agriculture Day, we’re sharing the stories of three
women-led farms whose commitment to resilient agriculture inspires us to no end.
Eric built Deep Root Farm from the ground up over one hectic winter, turning to Tend for
nuanced, efficient crop planning that launched him into a successful first season. As his
business grows, Eric uses Tend as a long-term tool to optimize his production systems for
Shane and Emma took their transformation from avid hobby gardeners to professional market
farmers seriously. They use Tend to help them set ambitious goals, create organized
production plans, and streamline management for a thriving family business.
The decisions made inside the White House, State Capitols and even County Offices have
tremendous impact on how we farm. Ecological incentives, resources, minimum wage
and market prices are just a few of the countless facets our government influences
Legislature can offer protection and support, but it can also overlook realities felt by
farmer, particularly that of the smaller, ecological grower. This is precisely why it’s
important for farmers to voice their experiences and needs.
I spoke with Paul Towers, Organizing Director & Policy Advocate at Pesticide Action
for advice on how farmers can let their voice be heard. He outlines that each type of
legislation has different processes, “as you move up in government, they become increasingly
The takeaway is that you’re more likely to influence change on the state level. There’s a
reason “all politics is local” is a popular catchphrase at all levels of government.
In need of inspiration? New ideas? Or the opportunity to learn about some of the latest
in the farm business?2018 is full of diverse small-farm conferences happening all over the
The most beautiful, deep-green, aphid-free kale can make your heart sing while harvesting
the field and just as quickly make your heart break as you unpack wilty, rubbery bunches
your farmers market table. Produce goes through a bit of shock in its transition from field
market, and proper post-harvest handling can either ease or worsen that shock. If building a
$20,000 packing shed isn't in your immediate farm plans, here are the basics of all you
need to move produce from your field to your customer in good condition.
Sustainable farming techniques have never been more popular, but understanding what
differentiates each one is difficult. For someone looking to join the agricultural industry,
it better to pursue organic compliance, follow the permaculture route, or commit to
Winter doesn't need to mean the end of farm income. There are plenty of towns with winter
farmers markets—and if yours doesn't have one, it might be time to start one.
You may know the farmers-market drill by now, and a farmers market in the off-season isn't
different. There are extra perks to vending at a winter farmers market, like camaraderie
vendors, time spent getting to know your customers without the bustle of the busy season,
good reason to get off the farm and come into town when the weather is dreary. On the other
hand, attracting and retaining customers when their thoughts turn from the lure of local
tomatoes to the stress of holiday shopping becomes more of a challenge.
In our previous post, we talked about
the benefits of email marketing. At this point, you probably know that email marketing is a
powerful tool. But, we need to look no further than an inbox full of unopened emails to know
that you can’t just send any email and expect the customers to come rolling in. This article
will cover tips about how to effectively leverage your email marketing.
In today’s ever expanding organic market, the importance of optimizing your farm's
and marketability is extremely important. Keeping up with new trends and studying up on new
research can be discouraging and exhausting. But with a little curiosity and good ole
science experiments, farmers can stay well ahead of the pack in markets while giving farms
stability and improving profitability. Through on farm variety trials, organic producers:
increase and optimize for yields; identify climate adapted varieties; increase
manage risks of pest and environmental factors; identify organic seed sources required by
National Organic Program (NOP) and most importantly increase security for individual farms
well as the greater sustainable agriculture community.
Most farmers know that soil sampling is an imperative practice in organic farm management
soil stewardship. But sometimes it can seem like the reports are speaking a different
Most of the labs generating reports are operating from the school of thought that caters to
conventional, big scale, agriculture. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. Here’s a few
suggestions for approaching soil testing with organic practices in mind.
No need to run for cover—unless you’re a cabbage worm. These are not your garden variety
These wasps are mostly stingless, at least to humans. What looks like a stinger is really an
ovipositor, used to deposit their eggs into or on top of crop pests, which they use as
Because of their small size, these beneficial insects often fly under the radar, and
the notice of many farmers… but they are worth looking out for, as they are capable of
performing significant ecosystem services, especially in organic farming systems.
Farms are crawling with bugs - especially those practicing organic farming methods. Pests
be the first bugs that come to mind, but many of these are beneficial insects, providing
important services from pollination to pest control.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at one of the most familiar and classic of all
the lady beetle.
In the last post, we looked at legumes and how their ability to fix nitrogen makes them
to most cover cropping systems. In the quest for sufficient nitrogen, grasses and cereals
different, but similarly vital, role. Here we will look at a few of the most broadly
regionally-appropriate grasses, whose popularity (see Chart 1) is an indicator of their many
Grasses are well known for being excellent nitrogen scavengers, capturing residual nitrogen
after harvest. Left in the soil, this nitrogen is fairly mobile and liable to be lost to
leaching or denitrification during wet winters. (Read more about N cycling in agricultural
systems at the Universities of Minnesota and Delaware extensions.) As adept nitrogen fixers,
most legumes do not need to be much good at scavenging nitrogen. Grasses, on the other hand,
scavenge and hold residual nitrogen like champs.
The previous post began outlining initial steps for implementing an orchard starting with
assessing your skills as a grower and getting acquainted with what qualities to look for
selecting a site. With these basics squared away, next steps are to make decisions around
design, sourcing, and scale.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago...the second best time is now” - Chinese
Well, sort of. Perhaps the more responsible answer would be that the second
time to plant a tree is after you’ve conducted a soil test, planted cover crop, and
your region’s heat index. Amidst the excitement of future pies, jams, and ciders, starting
orchard implores careful investments and planning. But, the lure of fruit’s high dollar
the diversification of adding perennials to your system, and simply the joy of growing crops
that satisfy your sweet tooth, are reason enough to pursue orcharding.
The familiar little green and white circle sporting the “USDA Certified Organic” label is
popping up with increasing frequency, peppering the grocery aisles and being waved like a
at farmer’s markets across the country. With the number of organic suppliers expanding
taking the steps to get your farm certified organic is a smart, if not necessary, business
Since the National Organic Program’s launch in 2002, the organic movement has been well
underway, and yet the process of getting certified can seem like a headache. Between the 80
organic certification agencies to choose from, and the paperwork, records, historical
and receipts that all need to be collected and synthesized from the past year, or three….the
details can feel overwhelming.
If you’re continuing to expand a hand-cultivated production system, sooner or later, you
find your production size has reached the “awkward stage.” The awkward stage is that blurry
boundary where the cultivated ground is too much to keep up with by hand, but perhaps not
big enough to justify the investment in a tractor. If you’re at the micro-production scale
are looking to improve efficiency, you might be a solid candidate for a two-wheeled,
tractor. Walk-behinds are typically selected by farmers who plant densely, have odd shaped
fields (often due to maximizing limited space), or are concerned about compaction in high
content soils. There are several walk-behind tractors on the market; BCS is a popular brand
offering lots of options and serves as a good measure for assessing the potential costs and
benefits of acquiring this type of tool.
Legumes, grasses, and cereals make up the majority of commonly-used cover crop species -
there are a few other non-legumes that have value in their niche strengths, particularly in
diversified and small-scale farming. This post will take a look at a few crops that are
champions when it comes to scavenging phosphorous, attracting beneficial insects, and
powerful biodrills and potent biofumigants.
Yes, fun. I happen to really enjoy this part of selling produce, almost as much as I enjoy
converting anyone in earshot to share my love of broccoli leaves. (Seriously: it’s going to
If you’re thinking I’m nuts, that promotion is pretty low on your list of preferred
and that you don’t really want to spend any more time on promotion than you need to… then
This means that, unlike me, you won’t need to remind yourself that the goal, ideally, is to
minimal effort to attain maximum enrollment, thus freeing up more of your time for all those
other items on your to-do list.
When marketing your CSA, there are two main places that come to mind: the places where you
promote or advertise your CSA, and those where members receive their shares.
Let’s start with places where you will promote and advertise for your CSA.
When pricing your community supported agriculture shares, where do you begin?
Having never started my own CSA, this seemed like an overwhelmingly complex question -- one
had long been curious about. Do you determine the retail value of the share by researching
prices for the crops you will grow? Do you start with your overall cost of production, look
how much you need (or want) to make, and work backwards? Or is there some other perfect
for profitable farming that magically reveals itself to you when you become a CSA farmer?
a bit of this kind of pondering, I decided to reach out to my extended ag community to
I like to think of CSA marketing as a sort of matchmaking process. (Just go with it for a
So you know this sweet bunch of vegetables, and you want to set them up with this totally
community you happen to know. They’re perfect for each other! To make the match, you’ll want
extol the virtues of your vegetables, of course… but in a way that speaks specifically to
What I mean is that the first step in marketing your CSA is aligning what you have (your
product) with what your customers want. To do that, consider the following three
In need of a new irrigation system?
to install a windrow of native plants? Hoping to build new high tunnels? Whether you’re
a farm or looking to upgrade an existing production, the NRCS may be able to help! The
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has several financial assistance programs designed to
support farmers in accomplishing projects that will improve and protect the land, water, and
surrounding habitat. Offering grants and technical assistance, the NRCS has regional and
national offices that are here to support such efforts. The application process can feel
daunting, so I interviewed Cindy Askew, a District Conservationist at the NRCS based out of
LaFayette, Georgia, to see what insight she might be able to offer farmers embarking on the
quest for financial assistance.
With thousands of connections made
small farms and eager visitors in the US and around the world, WWOOF is an incredible
that should not go untapped. A sliding scale membership fee of $5-50 opens the door to
of enthusiastic visitors (WWOOFers) in search of their next farming adventure, ready to
a half day's work for room and board. Selecting your next WWOOFer can be a bit
overwhelming, and finding the right match is crucial for a successful experience.
For farmers that follow sustainable and organic farming methods, cover cropping is a common
practice, with many great ecological benefits. Cover crops can literally cover the soil,
as a mulch whether living or dead. They can also be incorporated into the soil as either a
nitrogenous “green” manure, or as more mature, carbonaceous addition. Including cover crops
your rotation will improve soil fertility and tilth by adding organic matter (which also
increases the water-holding capacity of your soil), breaking up clods, and fracturing
from tillage. Cover crops prevent erosion, suppress weeds, and provide habitat for
insects, and allow you to fix (or add) nitrogen and mine or scavenge nutrients for your next
Unexpected blow outs in irrigation pipes
malfunctioning sprinklers are inevitable events that contribute to inconsistent water
But, even when a system appears to be running smoothly, upon a closer look, you may be
surprised by the inconsistencies. Variable irrigations build upon themselves application
application- salts can accumulate, nitrogen can leach, and crops suffer. Running a simple
distribution uniformity (DU) test can reveal how evenly water is actually being applied,
enabling you to weigh the need for making improvements while also informing proper
sets. Because uniformity has significant impact on yield and water usage, running the
DU test on drip and overhead systems is well worth the time.
The number of breweries in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2011, now approaching a
of 4,300, according to the Brewer’s Association. The craft beer business is booming;
batches and unique ferments from local ingredients are filling the kegs of hip bars in every
city. There’s no doubt beer is a product consumers are excited about, and hops are a key
ingredient. Integrating hops into your crop plan is a significant commitment, but it’s worth
entertaining; here are a few key considerations to get the juices flowing.
In the current climate of convenience, retaining your community supported agriculture (CSA)
members - the ones who leap into shared seasonal risks with you - can be a challenging feat.
Whether you connect with your community of CSA members in person at the on-farm pickup, or
simply via the weekly e-newsletter, surveying your members provides insight as to how the
being received. An end-of-season survey is a great way to learn more; the trick is designing
to be effective, so that it doesn't take up too much time and provides relevant results.
The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) strives to support the “hardworking farmer veterans who
chosen to serve their nation twice – once by defending it and once by feeding it.” The idea
the Coalition germinated out of a gathering convened by Michael O’Gorman, previously of
Farm/Del Cabo, in 2007.
It’s no secret that when starting an
farm, there is plenty to consider: soil building, crop planning, infrastructure, just to
few. While these are obvious and necessary, it’s also important to considering developing a
brand for your organic farm. One important aspect of branding is creating a farm logo.
Odds are pretty good that you got into
farming because you love the feeling of dirt under your fingernails and sun on your face
than the glow of a computer screen. And yet, even the most technophobic of us know
the digital world offers powerful tools for sustainable farms, especially when it comes to
Proper greenhouse management is extremely important for
the efficiency and health of a farm. It may seem simple — put a seed in a tray
with soil, add water, and voila, there are young plants to transplant into the
field. In theory, yes, that’s all there is to it. But optimal air temperature
and water delivery are crucial for the development of seedlings. Also, hidden in
the air all around us, in the water coming out of a hose, and in the ground
inside a greenhouse, there are many mysterious little life forms ready to wreak
havoc on young plants. The three most important greenhouse management practices
are optimal temperature control, consistent air circulation and proper moisture
Tomatoes are by far one of the most prized and valued vegetable crops on the market these
The mere number of varieties, types and growth techniques are head spinning. From heirloom
hybrid, beefsteak to paste, hot-house to dry-farmed, and the ever more popular grafted
it’s hard to keep up with what’s what these days. This is the first in a series of articles
will try to alleviate the ails of understanding tomato culture and describe the most popular
growth techniques as well as get to the bottom of what all the hype is about.
Here we will discuss three main types of CSA models that have been successful all over the
country: “Boxed” Subscription Style, On-Farm “Market” Style and Farmers Market “Bucks”
All three have strong pros but also may not be the best fit for every farm. With a little
forethought you can save yourself money and headaches by choosing the best fit for you.
With the public interest in farming growing faster than a
zucchini in July, now is a great time to think about offering a class on your
farm. Workshops and classes are a fun way to connect with new and existing
customers, sharpen your skills, increase revenue, and build relationships.
The vital role honey bees play in the
pollination enterprise is certainly no secret; honey bees are among the highest valued
pollinators in agriculture, and as evident in the last several years, are dying and
at an astronomical rate due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). According to the USDA, 42% of
honeybee colonies were lost in 2014 - the second highest rate on record. Given that over a
of all global crops are dependant on pollinators (not to mention an even larger percentage
crops that are enhanced by bee activity), entomologists are already on the lookout for
Tend began when our Founder and CEO, Avi Benaroya, began growing food for his family on his
property in Northern California. After searching for software to help manage a diversified
and having little luck, an idea was born: a mobile and web app to help diversified farmers
manage their crops and sell more produce. It’s been a productive journey since then, and
we’re excited to take one more step toward our mission of enabling quality food systems: the
launch of our blog!