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Sal Schettino,Organic Farmer,don't panic eat organic,sals@rain.org
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From: Sal Schettino <sals>
Full-Name: Sal Schettino
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   Christchurch, Dec 15 - A lack of knowledge about organic farming, what
   it entails, and how to do it, are factors which are slowing down
   progress, a leading British organic farmer says.
   Helen Browning, who runs a mixed organic farm at Wiltshire in England,
   told the international organic conference at Lincoln University that
   misconceptions about the system abound among conventional farmers.
   There was still a great deal of scepticism and cynicism in the farming
   community and within organisations such as the British National
   Farmers' Union.
   Mrs Browning said she showed hundreds of farmers around her farm each
   year and it was apparent that ``first they are confused by the
   standards, and secondly, they expect to be confronted by fields
   growing little but weeds, and sick animals at every turn.''
   If ``these farmers are going to convert, they are going to need re-
   educating and a considerable amount of hand-holding, because it is
   clear that they have no confidence whatsoever in their ability to farm
   without chemicals,'' she said.
   Some British colleges were taking up the challenge with enthusiasm.
   But there was still a lack of fundamental husbandry within the
   syllabus let alone any real attempt to examine the complexities of an
   ecological system.
   ``Unfortunately, I suspect that, rather than leading the way into the
   agriculture future, the colleges will only respond to perceived market
   demand,'' she said.
   If a small percentage of the money that had been spent on conventional
   research over the last 40 years had been invested in organic methods,
   production systems far in advance of where they were today would be in
   Prospects had improved for UK organic producers, she said. The reasons
   included an upturn in demand for products and the long-awaited
   introduction of the organic aid scheme which gave financial support,
   at a low level, for the first five years on land newly converted to
   organic methods.
   Organic acreage showed no sign of even modest expansion, she said.
   There had been only 14 applications for the aid scheme funding.
   Organic acreage was static around 20,000 hectares, managed by about
   700 producers.
   Mrs Browning said organic growers needed more information and a major
   breakthrough could have a substantial impact on the whole of
   ``A good example is work being done on no-plough techniques, using
   basic fertility-generating swards into which cereals and potentially
   other crops, are sown. I understand this work is progressing well, and
   should yield great benefits,'' she said.
   These benefits would include the ability to crop more frequently,
   rapid improvements in soil structure, and the elimination of erosion
   risks posed by exposing bare soils, a reduction of nitrate leaching,
   and improvements in yields.
   Organic farming was seen by conventional farmers as regressing.
   ``Famous organic farmers include the Prince of Wales, whose
   magnificently run farm at Highgrove provides inspiration to us all.
   It is too easy, however, for the world to dismiss his efforts with,
   `Ah, it's okay for him, he can afford it. So it's either a rich man's
   hobby or a poor man's dream.''
   But Mrs Browning says she remains optimistic about the future of
   organic farming. She has been appointed to a new think tank on
   agriculture policy reform set up by the British Government.
   NZPA CHP kca 15/12/94 17-23NZ
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Fri 26 Nov 93 11:50
By: Daniel Cohen


Shiitake mushroom production in the United States reached 2.7 million pounds 
in 1991-1992, says a fact sheet published by USDA Small-Scale Agricultural
Alternatives.  The United States imports 14,000 metric tons of dried Shiitakes
annually, nearly 100 times its current fresh production.

A 13-minute video, "Growing Shiitake Mushrooms," is available for $10. from
Extension/Research, NCA&T University, PO Box 21928, Greensboro, NC 27420.

  Source: Maine Agricultural Report, Maine Dept. of Ag., Sept. 10, 1993
Excerpted from Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener (MOFGA), Nov/Dec 1993.
For more information on MOFGA:

                             PO Box 2176
                           283 Water Street
                     Farrell Building (Fourth Floor)
                         Augusta, Maine  04338
                         (Voice: 207-622-3118)

 * Origin: The Daily Planet - Maui, HI (808) 572-4857 (1:345/111 FidoNet)