Roma Neighborhood Farms achieve Organic Certification

This new farm has used organic methods for three years. The farmers have just received organic certification for their Portsmouth greenhouse. “Matt and I just passed final inspection for organic certification. We had help from NOFA/RI, and though only the hoop house was certified, we feel it’s a great accomplishment for being in business such a short time,” said Phil Hadley.

In 2011, Matt Plumb and Rory Hennessey started Roma Neighborhood Farms on an acre of farmland in Portsmouth. The pair studied seed catalogs, prepped the beds and started farming. For the next two seasons, they built their growing skills and established restaurant customers.

In year three, Phil Hadley joined the Roma Farm team. The partners now lease another acre of farmland from Sustainable Aquidneck in Middletown. The farmers grow for restaurants and offer 40 summer farm shares with weekly pickups at the Middletown farm on Thursdays from 3 – 6 p.m. or Sundays from 12 – 4 p.m. or delivery for residences/businesses located on Thames St. and Bellevue Ave. in Newport. Contact the farmers at romafarms@gmail.com.

The farmers received technical assistance with the organic certification process from Organic Farm Advisor, Steve Ramos of Steve’s Organic Produce in Bristol. The Farm Advisor program is available through the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island (NOFA/RI) and provides free technical guidance to farmers wishing to implement organic methods on their farms. Experienced organic farmers are paired with new or transitioning farmers. The Organic Farm Advisor program is possible thanks to a generous Farm Viability grant from the RI Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Agriculture, which seeks to enhance farmers’ ability to grow and market their crops.

Learn more or apply for organic technical assistance here.

Specialty Crops Training, as defined by this USDA-supported program, includes fruits, dried fruit, tree nuts, vegetables, nursery crops, Christmas trees, floriculture, cut flowers, honey, hops and turf grass production. Program participants learn how to enhance their market competitiveness with their specialty crops through: research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, “Buy Local” programs, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and/or reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental conservation, product development and/or developing cooperatives.

 

Sandywoods Farm plans a high tunnel “Barn Raising”

"Barn raising" a high tunnel at Sandywoods Farm Sandywoods Farm “Barn Raising” a High Tunnel 43 Muse Way, Tiverton, RI Saturday & Sunday, May 17 & 18, 9 a.m. Sandywoods Farm in Tiverton is planning an old fashioned  “Barn Raising” to install their NRCS high tunnel. If you’ve always wanted to know how to put up a hoop house, head over to Sandywoods Farm this weekend. Become an expert before you construct your own high tunnel. The high tunnel will extend the Community Garden growing season and provide additional agricultural opportunities for Sandywoods Farm’s unique community.

Lunch will be provided by Church Community Housing. Please register so we know how much food to bring for lunch. Learn more or sign up to lend a helping hand email Jessica Blackledge at info@easternriconservation.org or call 401-816-5667.

“Barn Raising” partners include:

  • Sandywoods Farm
  • Sandywoods Farm Community Garden Co-op
  • Church Community Housing
  • Eastern RI Conservation District
  • NOFA/RI

Winter moths pose threat to apples, pears and blueberries

As expected, winter moth eggs started to hatch in Kingston. I found one empty egg shell yesterday afternoon and 7 empty egg shells this afternoon. I think it would be a good idea to spray apples and blueberries in winter moth areas with an insecticide by Monday, April 21st. The tiny caterpillars are very susceptible to insecticide before they get into buds. For organic growers I said the only organic insecticide I knew would work was Entrust. Well, last night I was talking to an organic grower, and a couple of years ago I suggested he try Neemix to control winter moth. He said it worked great and that's what he's going to use this year. Good thing someone has a good memory! For non-organic fruit growers I recommend Imidan or Sevin. I've attached a picture of a couple of empty egg shells for those of you who are interested. Heather   --  URI Cooperative Extension hhf@uri.edu 401-874-2967 cell 401-256-7438

empty winter moth eggs

Update from Heather Faubert, URI Extension on April 18, 4 pm:

As expected, winter moth eggs started to hatch in Kingston, RI. I found one empty egg shell yesterday afternoon and 7 empty egg shells this afternoon. I think it would be a good idea to spray apples and blueberries in winter moth areas with an insecticide by Monday, April 21st.

The tiny caterpillars are very susceptible to insecticide before they get into buds. For organic growers I said the only organic insecticide I knew would work was Entrust. Well, last night I was talking to an organic grower, and a couple of years ago I suggested he try Neemix to control winter moth. He said it worked great and that’s what he’s going to use this year.

If you have further questions, conatct Heather at URI Cooperative Extension via email to hhf@uri.edu. You can also call the URI Extension office at 401-874-2967 or Heather’s cell at 401-256-7438.

Fruit Tree Pruning

Jon Clements, UMass Extension on pruning apple trees

Jon Clements of UMass Extension pruning apple trees

“Forks belong on your dinner table, not in your orchard,” said Jon Clements, UMass Extension Educator. He shared his witty rules for pruning apple and peache tree at a pruning demonstration at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.

Apples
For a Central Leader-style orchard,“select trees with 4 to 5 branches or ‘feathers’ fairly high up the tree,” said Clements. For hi-density plantings on dwarf rootstocks, a sturdy system with four wires will support the trees during their productive years. The Tall Spindle-style orchard uses trees planted 3’ apart with 10’ to 12’ between rows. 

Apple trees fruit on 2-year old and older wood. He likes to prune apple trees each winter in complete dormancy. Clements said, “Growers don’t have to sanitize tools in the winter. If Fire Blight is present in the orchard during the growing season, then be sure to sanitize tools between cuts when pruning.” Clements recommended starting with the largest trees. Clements offered specific recommendations for pruning apple trees using the Central Leader style here.

Peaches
Peaches fruit on new wood. Using clean tools, prune blooming peach trees in warm, dry weather to speed healing. The later you finish pruning, the smaller the fruit will be as energy went into growing those shoots. “Shade is the enemy for peaches and leads to weak wood,” said Clements. Reduce shade at the top to keep the lower wood strong. See Clements’ specific recommendations for pruning peach trees here.