Educational Training Opportunity: Nutrient Dense Farming & Gardening – Hudson Valley, NY/CT/ Western MA, From Regional Farm & Food Project

The Regional Food and Farm Project (RFFP) is extremely excited to be partnering with Dan Kittredge in order to bring this year long Nutrient Dense Farming & Gardening course to our area. More detailed information below. If you are interested in taking this course, please register right away -attendance will be limited to 30 people. RFFP website:, Eventbrite registration: We have bare-bones priced this course so that it is affordable for anyone who will benefit. We hope you can participate, our goal is to get enoughgrowers using this system to lead to a Nutrient Dense Certification program, increasing productivity and profits and further distinguishingconscientious, small growers from industrially produced food. It's the next major piece of the puzzle for producing safe, vibrant and life sustaining food.

2010 Nutrient Density Crop Production Workshop Series Dan Kittredge Sponsored by Regional Farm & Food Project Every time we harvest crops from a field, we are strategically mining minerals from the soils. If we do not replenish the minerals removed up to the level where everything that we need in our bodies is present in our crops, we are not fully optimizing our crop production. That's where Nutrient Dense Farming becomes a profound yet simple solution, presenting easy to incorporate practices to enrich our soils, our food and our selves. Nutrient Dense Farming (NDF) aims to create a highly functioning soil ecosystem in which the crops that are harvested have a measurably greater quantity of a broad spectrum of minerals, vitamins, phyto-nutrients, and antioxidants than either conventional or many certified organic crops. These nutrient components also need to be in appropriate ratios to each other in order to maximize absorption and use by the body. This series draws from cutting edge research and long proven techniques that build the ideal soil environment for crop growth and production. Highly functional and robust soils translate into peak nutritive levels, peak yields, and peak pest, disease and extreme weather resistance. Second generation organic farmer Dan Kittredge, Founder and Director of the Real Food Campaign, has made a mission of helping farmers succeed at producing Nutrient Dense Food all over the world. He is currently farming in Western Massachusetts and has worked alongside and taught indigenous farmers in Central America, Siberia, India, as well as throughout the US, including in the arid Southwest. Starting on January 10, 2010, RFFP will be offering a year long series of workshops with Dan Kittredge that will take farmers and gardeners from ordering inputs, inoculating seeds, starting seedlings, planting, cultivation and harvest to fall field preparation for the 2012 growing season. Each daylong workshop will be half lecture, half practical and held every other month on the beautiful Triform campus/farm.  This course is designed to give the farmer/gardener all the information, techniques, tools, and support necessary throughout the entire growing year to become a producer of cutting edge, nutrient dense and maximum quality crops. The intriguing promise of NDF goes beyond nutrition. Fruits and vegetables grown with these principles have more complex and intense flavor and a longer shelf life. "Weeds" prefer different soil life communities than crop plants do so NDF will reduce the need for field maintenance. These crops have a higher yield, are more resistant to natural challenges, require less maintenance and because of their flavor and richness, demand premium wholesale and retail prices. This system will soon emerge as the next big advancement in ecological agriculture and the favorite of health-conscious consumers as well. Consumers are beginning to understand that they can discern the quality of the produce by its flavor, aroma, texture and vitality, as well as being able to measure its brix (a measurement of various sugars and starches present, indicating the presence of micronutrients) with an easy to use refractometer. While nutritionists refer to certain fruits and vegetables as being nutrient dense, Kittredge points out that the levels of nutrients in blueberries, for example, can vary tremendously from one field to another. Soil conditions and complexity largely determine the quality of a harvest (within the genetic potential of the plant species and variety), and these are conditions that a farmer or gardener can readily address and adjust for at different points during the growing cycle. Some organic proponents would like to believe that organically grown foods are automatically more nutritious, but this is not necessarily the case. Although a number of studies show higher levels of nutritional components in organic crops, other studies have drawn inconclusive results. Implementing growing practices that do not use pesticides, synthetic or contaminated fertilizers is obviously healthier, but that does not necessarily guarantee that these fruits, vegetables and animals will provide the micro-nutrients necessary for the most basic human physiological micro-mechanics. Kittredge says the reason is simple. Plants evolved in a symbiotic relationship to soil life, and they can only achieve their full genetic potential when the soil microbial community makes available what the plant wants when it wants and needs it. Soil bacteria and fungi act as a sort of external digestive system for plants, breaking down minerals and converting chemical compounds into a form that can be readily absorbed and utilized by plants  - and in turn, available to us through the animals and plants we eat. If it is not in the soil for plants to get, it is not in the soil for an animal or for us to get. It is that simple. Supplementing this soil diversity and complexity then is the first principle of NDF. In human and grazing animal nutrition, we understand the importance of establishing a healthy intestinal ecology as a basic function for overall health. For our crops to thrive and produce the best nutrition for us, it's fundamental to create and sustain the same quality of healthy soil ecology for them. We can shift the makeup of the soil life community by manipulating factors like the relative amounts of minerals, organic matter, air, and moisture. In addition to increasing organic matter through cover cropping, and adding composts and manure, NDF practices include the use of minerals, biological inoculants, foliage sprays and nutrient drenches. The goal is to enrich the soil with optimal mineral levels for crop plants and their symbiotic soil microbes. If these minerals and their working partners are absent or in short supply, it is difficult for farmers and gardeners to raise high quality, nutrient dense crops. To enhance the availability of recommended rock minerals to soil microbes, -to nourish them and thereby the crops - growers coat them with humates, powdered fish, kelp, sugar or molasses, and biological inoculants. A conventional soil test might assume that a crop can be brought to harvest through a solution of 12 or 16 minerals.  But our bodies require as many as 84 different minerals, most in extremely small amounts, for essential processes like DNA replication, hormone management, glandular function, and enzyme activity. A lack of these critical micro-nutrients has been implicated in the epidemic of many of our chronic, degenerative diseases. So, while we are notoriously overfed, we are at the same time suffering from micro-nutritional deficiencies. Nutrient Dense Farmers use handheld tools to monitor the health of their soil and crops in the field. Taking periodic measurements of soil and plant sap conductivity, brix and other parameters will alert growers to deficiencies in real time. Before those deficiencies become a problem, growers can intervene with a nutrient drench or foliar spray. According to the theory of NDF, plant diseases and insects attack only when the crop plant's function becomes limited (though stressed plants don't necessarily look malnourished). Conventional agricultural rejects this idea as sacrilegious. For instance, some insects can only digest simple sugars and free amino acids, rather than complex carbohydrates and proteins. The presence of these compounds in plant sap and the absence of other compounds is symptomatic of mineral deficiencies. Likewise, fungal hyphae can readily penetrate weak cell walls to infect a plant with disease, while a well-nourished plant is able to defend itself by maintaining strong cell walls. Ideally, the vigor of the plant should be able to overcome the vigor of the disease or pest, the same is true of us. Kittredge' tomato plants got late blight this year (2009), yet bounced back and produced abundantly, while those around him failed. We have been cropping, tilling, and generally disturbing and depleting cultivated soils for a very long time, sometimes even centuries. Through Nutrient Dense Farming we have a means of returning the soil eco-system to a level of vitality and functionality that will insure a harvest of high quality and nutritious crops. Adapted by Gianni Ortiz with permission from an article by Dan Kittredge. 2010 Dates January 10 March 7 May 8 July 10 September 11 November 7 Series $270 RFFP Members $250 Per Workshop $50 RFFP Members $45 For more information 518.392.8545 Nutrient Dense Crop Production Workshop Series With Dan Kittredge and Regional Farm & Food Project Outline for 2010 Course Objectives .       To create a group of growers, learning and working together, with a free exchange of information, knowledge and experience throughout the coming year. .       Every topic will be introduced, revisited, and its application (related skill) demonstrated in the field. .       To facilitate a cumulative learning process. We introduce material early in the series that will be revisited later in the course that will deepen our collective understanding of Nutrient Dense Farming/Gardening. .       Address the 'overwhelm' challenge of new information by providing knowledge in a systematic, year long format and a step-by-step process. All sessions will include a Q&A of material covered earlier. Session #1: The Foundation: Soil Mineral Nutrition January 10 New Concepts Introduction of the Real Food Campaign, Nutrient Dense Farming quality standard and basic soil agronomic principles of Nutrient Dense Farming. .       Protein synthesis .       Mineralization, biology and energy in the soil .       What is necessary to achieve Nutrient Density? .       Outline the year long course and the topics of each of the six workshops New Skills .       Appropriate seed selection and biological inoculation of seeds (using test weights and  exploring open pollinated vs. hybrid). .       Preparing potting soils for best starts. .       Soil tests to address basic mineral deficiencies and the differences between some soil test approaches. o       Logan Labs for vegetables - much closer to standard UMASS test, but with more parameters. o       Midwest Labs for grain & forage fields -$150/acre is considered high fertility investment.  Allows you to spend less money on minerals by understanding what minerals you already have. o       International AgLabs (Reams test) - more relevant after basic mineral ratios are established, understood and addressed. This is the best test to know what is happening at the moment, but doesn't necessarily inform long term management. Session #2: Working the Soil March 7 New Concepts .       Tillage, soil aeration, soil dynamics: How to till to facilitate biological life in soil. (Why to stay off fields when they are wet). .        Deep vs. shallow tillage .       When to till in different cover crops .       Difference between green and brown plant sources .       Introduction to drip systems and foliar applications (budget planning) New Skills .       We will read, discuss and learn to understand various soil tests results. Farmers/Gardeners will bring in soil tests they have received and we will explore specific recommendations based on those results. .       Inoculating transplants with biology in the greenhouse, including a hands on demonstration. Session #3: Working with plants May 8 New Concepts .       We will introduce the basic tool of Plant Sap Analysis (brix). We will understand the implications of test results and discuss the effectiveness of foliar sprays versus nutrient drenches including the differences between male & female foliars and drenches. .       Why conductivity is important and what it signifies. .       Transplanting and biological inoculant review and seeding into the field or bed. New Skills .       Techniques and timing for weed control,  burning and/or stale seed bedding, creating as little disturbance as possible. Is it best to till soil deeply, get it all worked up, let the top layer of weed seeds to germinate then flame them down or to plant into just top layer? .       Biodynamic planting calendar for planting and weeding. .       Take and interpret pH and conductivity readings. Session #4: Optimize Growth, Health & Quality July 10 New Concepts .       Long-term mineral management and whole farm system building. .       Monitoring, and trouble shooting - disease, insects and weeds. .       Plant physiology: How is it expressing itself? How far apart is each stem?  Leaf color?  We will look at plants to understand where they are in their growing cycle. .       Leaf expansion, fruit set, root growth - reading the plant to determine what deficiencies exist. .       How to take the right action at the right time - mid-season correction of nutrient deficiencies and how to get maximum productivity and quality. .       Doubling your fruit set - how to address the increased draw on soil and how to feed it adequately to support a double yield. New Skills .       How to identify weeds and what they tell us about soil condition - weed walk through fields. .       Introduction to cover crops after crop harvest Session #5: Complete The Season In Style September 11 New Concepts .       Fall soil test  - testing soils while crops are at peak draw on soil resources. This is the completion of balancing mineral content and remediation process for current crop and soil content and condition. .       Cover Crop: in-depth discussion to plan for next year. .       Go into winter with fields in something green New Skills .       How to impact yields at this critical time to maximize yield .       Keep tomatoes going for one more flower & fruit cycle .       How to double your winter crop .       How to double your pepper crop Session #6: Putting Land To Rest September 11 New Concepts .       Coordinating biology with cover crops and soil remineralization. New Skills .       Farm/Garden Plan for 2012 - rotations, fall mineral applications, planting plan .       Goal: For each Farmer/gardener to understand what steps they specifically need to take to amend their soil for optimum production for 2012 .       Skill set: More farmers/gardeners to be able to make appropriate decisions about local soil conditions and how to strengthen/remediate them. To register:

3 Comments on Educational Training Opportunity: Nutrient Dense Farming & Gardening – Hudson Valley, NY/CT/ Western MA, From Regional Farm & Food Project

  1. Great article. Please continue this kind of work.

  2. Thabang Mamonyane // October 24, 2010 at 3:10 am // Reply

    Greetings Folks!

    I am Thabang Mamonyane, born and bred in Soweto, South Africa. I have been producing vegetables on 2Ha plot with four hydroponic tunnels 30x10x5m over the last ten years using the conventional soluble fertilizer and growth hormones. The periphery meaning around the tunnels is erable land of about 1.5 Ha.

    I have heard some gentleman talking about nutrient density forestry and I thought this new concept should apply to vegetable production.

    Please will you empower me by teaching me this great new method of farming. My aim and motive is that when I know about ND we could form a partnership to train farmers in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

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