Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Webinars for farmers

Three new webinars coming up soon. All of them are free and open to the public, and advance registration is required. They all take place at 2:00 PM.

March 30, 2017: Using Biofungicides, Biostimulants and Biofertilizers to Boost Crop Productivity and help Manage Vegetable Diseases<>

Effectively managing diseases is one of the biggest challenges facing organic vegetable growers. A wide range of biologically based products are now available on the market that claim to boost crop growth and help plants withstand many plant diseases. However, there are few independent, scientifically-based studies to validate the efficacy of some of these products, and instructions detailing how and when to apply these products to achieve the best results are unclear. In this webinar, participants will describe the different types of products available in the marketplace today, provide an overview of recent studies evaluating their efficacy, and discuss strategies for identifying the most effective products and application practices. Presenters: Giuseppe Colla of Tuscia University in Viterbo Italy, MariaTeresa Cardarelli at the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Rome, Italy, and Dan Egel and Lori Hoagland of Purdue University. Register<>

April 6, 2017: Taking Stock of Organic Research Investments<>

This webinar will present the findings from the report by the Organic Farming Research Foundation:Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments: 2002-2014<>. This report provides information on the progress USDA funded organic research projects have made in addressing critical research needs. We will describe the types, locations, and impacts of USDA funded research, as well as research gaps and topics that require greater attention. The webinar will conclude with a set of recommendations for strengthening organic research in the US to best support the needs of organic farmers. Presenters are Diana Jerkins, Joanna Ory and Mark Schonbeck. Register<>

April 11, 2017: Use of High Glucosinolate Mustard as an Organic Biofumigant in Vegetable Crops<>

Brassica plants, including mustards, contain glucosinolates that, when broken down, produce compounds that can reduce weed pressure, insect pests, populations of parasitic nematodes, and soil-borne pathogens such as Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinia, Verticillium, and Phytophthora. In this webinar, we’ll address the use of mustard cover crops that have been bred specifically to have high glucosinolate concentrations and act as a biofumigant in crops like potatoes, peppers, carrots, black beans, and strawberries.Webinar presenters include Heather Darby and Abha Gupta, University of Vermont Extension; and Katie Campbell-Nelson, University of Massachusetts. Register<>
Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Minnesotans Struggle to Find Healthy Food

An idea for New York?

St. Paul, MN - Lawmakers are considering funding the Good Food Access Program. It was approved last year to help end some of the food deserts in the state. Comments from Leah Gardner, Good Food Access Campaign Manager, Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition; and Janelle Waldock, vice president for Community Health and Health Equity at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Read more

Monday, March 27, 2017

In Defense of Food

It was great to have 40 people join the Potsdam Food Co-op and GardenShare for a viewing of "In Defense of Food," Michael Pollan's documentary, yesterday.

"In Defense of Food" tackles a question more and more people around the world have been asking: What should I eat to be healthy? Michael Pollan distilled a career's worth of reporting into a prescription for reversing the damage being done to people's health by today's industrially driven Western diet. "In Defense of Food" debunked the daily media barrage of conflicting claims about nutrition. Traveling the globe and exploring the supermarket aisles to illustrate the principles of his bestselling "eater's manifesto," Pollan explored in the movie how the modern diet has been making us sick and what we can do to change it.

Some of his advice had the ring of common sense.  My favorite was, "If your great grandmother would not recognize it as food, don't eat it."  And as we debriefed about it this morning at GardenShare, the moms on our team were astounded to learn that, in many cases, a container of yogurt has as much sugar as a bottle of soda!

Did you attend?  What did you come away with?


Friday, March 24, 2017

Poll: Hunger a Uniting Issue Among Colorado Voters

Denver, CO - Polarization among the electorate seems to be at an all-time high, but voters of all stripes in Colorado agree ending hunger should be a priority, according to a new poll conducted by Kupersmit Research. A strong majority do not want to see cuts to programs such as food stamps and subsidized school meals, and the research found bipartisan support for the role of government in addressing hunger.

Read more

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cabin Fever Trivia Night a Success!

GardenShare's fifth annual "Cabin Fever Trivia Night" was held on March 18, 2017 and was a record-setting event for the organization.  Sixteen teams of four took part in the event and answered questions about farming and farmers markets, the Adirondacks, North Country food and beverage, local sports, and music.  When we finished that evening, we had raised over $2,500 to support GardenShare's work to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County!

The winning team represented Deep Root Center for Self-Directed Learning in Canton.  

Second Place went to a team of Potsdam residents who called themselves “Wilson.” 

The prize for the best team uniform went to the team representing the Buccaneer Lounge in Canton.  

There was also a prize for the best team name, which went to “The Alternative Facts.”

Tony Lynn
Presenting sponsors who helped make this event possible included St. Lawrence Health System and Stauffer Farms.  Other sponsors included Save-a-Lot, Sandstone Family Dentistry, and Mort Backus and Sons.  Tony Lynn, morning show host at The Wolf 95.3 was the evening's Master of Ceremonies.

The amazing volunteer committee that organized this event demonstrated the difference that a small group of people can make.  All of the local farms and businesses who donated made this event possible and demonstrated their commitment to building a strong and vital community where people care about each other. Isn't it great to be part of such a place?

Some of the prize baskets
Thank you to all those farms and businesses who donated to the prize packages for the winning teams, including:  Bittersweet Farm, Canton Apples, Canton Farmers Market, Circle G Farm, Eight O’clock Ranch, Fullers Farm, Harmony Farm, Kent Family Growers, Martins Farmstand, Raymond Watkins, Red Wagon Farm, Smith Farm Chicken, Sweetcore Farm, Tupper Hilltop Maple Treats, and Warren’s Rustic Creations.

Cookies from Sugar Valley Bakery
Thank you to all who donated food for the event, including:  ARAMARK, Potsdam Food Co-op, Stauffer Farms, Stewart’s Shops, and Sugar Valley Bakery.  Special thanks to Brick and Mortar Music who donated the use of a sound system.

Go here for even more photos.

Funds raised will support GardenShare's work to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County.  GardenShare's annual Local Food Guide, farmers market promotion, and promotion of Community Supported Agriculture help ensure that the County has a vibrant, local food system where our food choices are healthy for us, for our communities, and for the environment and where local farmers are able to make a living that supports their families.   GardenShare also makes it possible for people to use food stamps at area Farmers Markets and helps low-income families buy CSA shares so that everyone in the County has access to enough nutritious and affordable food to sustain a healthy lifestyle.  

Farm to Food Bank Legislation

A broad coalition of New York legislators, farmers, anti-hunger and environmental advocates asked Governor Cuomo to step up to the dinner plate and fund the Farm to Food Bank bill (S.1606/A.6192) in the final New York State budget. The group held a joint press conference on the bill at the Capitol in Albany.The bipartisan legislation, which has tremendous support in the legislature, would provide a refundable tax credit to farmers of 25% of the wholesale value of donated food up to $5,000 annually. The money would partially offset the costs of labor, packaging and transportation needed to get fresh food from the fields to regional food banks and pantries across the state to benefit New Yorkers in need.

Read more 

Monday, March 20, 2017

New resources to prevent food waste

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the launch of a new virtual resource center dedicated to reducing food loss and waste: Further with Food: Center for Food Loss and Waste Solutions( Further with Food is the product of a public-private collaboration among the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Feeding America, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Innovation Center for U.S. Diary, the National Consumers League, the National Restaurant Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund, with additional funding and support from the Keystone Policy Center and the Rockefeller Foundation. 

Further with Food is designed to be a central hub to find and share information and tools dedicated to reducing food loss and waste in the United States. This site provides a broad spectrum of users – from experts to novices – with high-quality information and proven solutions to reduce food loss and waste.  It also offers a platform for the public to share research, experiences, innovative approaches, and tools. If you have a resource that you think would be useful to others in the food loss and waste community – or know of a resource available elsewhere –use the Share Resource form to submit a resource for consideration. The Further with Food team will review the information provided, and if the team determines the resource meets its criteria for inclusion in the website, the resource will be added for others to access in the “Find Resources” section.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trivia Night this weekend!

Since neither of our teams are going to Lake Placid this weekend, are you finding yourself with a free weekend?

Don't forget Cabin Fever Trivia Night on Saturday!  You can register at the door if needed!

Saturday, March 18, 2017
7:00 PM
Elks Club, 10 Elm Street, Potsdam

MC Tony Lynn, morning show host on 95.3 The Wolf

Admission $20 or $10 for students with ID

Put together a team of four or we'll help match you with a team and join us for a raucous night of good fun for a good cause!

Great prizes!
1st and 2nd place team in the trivia contest
Best team name and best team uniform

$20 per person – admission benefits GardenShare
$10 admission for students!

To register for Cabin Fever Trivia Night, go here.

North Country trivia, including these fun new trivia categories:
Farming, North Country Food and Beverage, and Adirondacks

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Presenting sponsors:
St. Lawrence Health Systems
Stauffer Farms

Partnership sponsor:

Friend Sponsor:
Mort Backus and Sons
Sandstone Family Dentistry

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nutrition for young children

March is National Nutrition Month and a good time to talk about nutrition for all, especially young children.

Last week, Congresswoman Elise Steganik introduced the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act. This bipartisan bill would expand access to nutritious meals for young children by reducing paperwork, streamlining eligibility requirements, and promoting clearer guidelines for providers so that we can increase program participation. Additionally, the bill authorizes reimbursements for a third meal in a day for programs that offer nutritious late-afternoon meals to children who are in care for more than eight hours. Read more about the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act here.  

If you have young children or work with them, you may find these rousources useful.  Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children is a collection of tip sheets on nutrition, active play and screen time for children ages 2 to 5 years.  Supplements D and E were recently added to this publication, Create a Positive Meal Environment and Support Family Style Meals. Take a look today!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Maple Weekends this weekend and next

Maple Weekends take place March 18-19 and March 25-26 at 168 maple farms in 45 upstate counties. Over 400,000 visitors are expected to participate in Maple Weekends activities. New York’s maple producers rank second in the nation in the production of syrup, provide a boost to the agricultural economy and drive tourism across the State.
A searchable list of Maple Weekend events is at Most events will be held on Maple Weekends, but events will be taking place throughout the month.
The maple industry is a major contributor to the State’s agritourism economy. New York State ranks second in the country in maple syrup production, and had a record season in 2016 with the production of more than 700,000 gallons of maple syrup.  This was an increase of 18 percent and broke the previous year’s 70-year production record by over 100,000 gallons, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Good and Cheap: Great recipes on a budget

Cooking Classes
Potsdam Public Library, 2 Park Street, Potsdam
Dates: 3/20, 3/27, 4/3, 4/10, 4/17, 4/24
Time: 6 - 7 PM

Learn to cook affordable, healthy foods in this fun and informative six week program at the Potsdam Public Library! Each week participants sample a new recipe and take one home. Gain the skills and the knowledge to save money and make delicious meals, and learn about the nutritional value of what we eat. This FREE series is run by Cornell Cooperative Extension and hosted by the Potsdam Public Library. Call 315-265-7230 or email to register.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Showing of "In Defense of Food" rescheduled

The February showing of the movie “In Defense of Food” was snowed out, so GardenShare and the Potsdam Food Co-op have rescheduled it for Sunday, March 26, at 3:00 PM.  Admission is free for the film, which will be followed by discussion with local experts.  The event will be held at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Canton.  "In Defense of Food" is based on Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Popcorn and soda spritzers supplied by the Potsdam Food Co-op will be available.  

The documentary will be followed by an informal discussion with food experts from the St. Lawrence County community on the local food movement. Information on ways you can get involved with food system and anti-hunger initiatives locally will be available. This event is free to the public and everyone is welcome to attend!

In Defense of Food tackles a question more and more people around the world have been asking: What should I eat to be healthy? Celebrated US author and lecturer, Michael Pollan distills a career's worth of reporting into a prescription for reversing the damage being done to people's health by today's industrially driven Western diet. In Defense of Food debunks the daily media barrage of conflicting claims about nutrition. Traveling the globe and exploring the supermarket aisles to illustrate the principles of his bestselling "eater's manifesto," Pollan explores how the modern diet has been making us sick and what we can do to change it.

There is no admission charge and no pre-registration required.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


I am just back from the Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, DC and some of the conversations there, along with some of the things one sees online had me thinking...

...sometimes things don't mean what you think they mean!

The term "entitlement" has a very specific meaning when we are talking about federal policy and spending.  Entitlement programs, sometimes called mandatory spending, are those programs written into the law, so they are not discretionary when it comes to planning for the federal budget.

If a program is an entitlement program, that means that anyone who meets the qualifications is eligible and will receive the benefit if they apply.  That's why Social Security and Medicare are entitlement programs.  It has nothing to do with the negative connotation that can be attached to the word "entitled."

Of course, it also means the budget planning is a bit harder, because Congress is not setting a maximum number and saying to everyone else, "sorry, money's all gone."  And conversely, when spending on entitlements drops, any savings cannot be added to the discretionary parts of the federal budget.

SNAP (formerly called food stamps) is an entitlement program.  If you apply and you qualify, you will receive the benefit.  Why is this important?  It means SNAP is not subject to a budget cap.  So in recent years, when the economy was not so great, applications for and spending on SNAP rose as people found themselves unemployed and in need.  As the economy has improved, SNAP numbers have decreased.  This is how the program was designed and it seems obvious to me that to truly be a safety net, it needs to be done this way.

I don't expect my readers to start responding to internet memes with this logical explanation, but I hope it has at least made more sense to you!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Master Food Preserver Training

The workshop is designed as a train-the-trainer program for educators and volunteers to enable them to offer food preservation classes in their community.

Future service required to become a recognized MFP Volunteer.

The Program Includes:
• Scientific Basis of Home Food Preservation
• Hands-on Experience in Traditional Canning & Pressure Canning
• Making Jams & Jellies
• Pickling & Fermentation
• Demonstrations in Freezing & Drying
• Discussion of Other Methods of Preservation

The 3-day course is appropriate for the experienced and novice food enthusiast alike. Training includes lunch each day and a food preservation notebook. Class limit 25.

This training is made possible by the Canton Community Fund.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Position Available: Americorps VISTA

GardenShare is seeking a full-time person for an Americorps VISTA position.  This position will work with the five farmers markets in St. Lawrence County to promote the use of SNAP benefits at the markets and to engage more volunteers and build the sustainability of the markets.  The VISTA will also work to strengthen GardenShare and build the organization's capacity through volunteer recruitment and support.

What is the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps Program?
The Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps (AHOC) is a nationwide AmeriCorps VISTA program, funded by the USDA with matching support from the Walmart Foundation, sponsored by the Hunger Free America (HFA). The AHOC program partners with some of the nation’s most innovative anti-hunger nonprofit organizations which support HFA’s mission of “moving families beyond the soup kitchen.”  AHOC engages those who commit a year of their life as community change agents in this best practices originating and highly commended program by way of new project implementation, capacity building, volunteer management and community support building while simultaneously breaking down barriers and providing improved access to nutritious foods via nutrition education and benefits utilization, including SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and the Summer Food Service Program.

 Program Benefits:
  Professional work experience with some of the nation’s  most respected anti-hunger organizations
  Living allowance, paid biweekly 
  Segal Education Award ($5,775) or End-of-Service Stipend ($1,500)
  Opportunity to forbear student loans while in service
  Relocation Assistance (if applicable)
  Childcare Assistance (if applicable)
  Optional Life Insurance
  One year non-competitive status for US federal government positions
 A network of over 180,000 AmeriCorps VISTA  volunteers and alums

 How to Apply:
GardenShare is seeking one person to join the program in June 2017.  Apply with a cover letter and resume to by March 31, 2017.

About GardenShare:
GardenShare has worked to end hunger and strengthen our local food system since 1996.  Originally formed as a network of gardeners sharing their extra harvest with local food pantries, GardenShare has since embraced a larger vision and adopted this refreshed mission statement in March 2015:  GardenShare's mission is to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County through policy advocacy work and by strengthening the food system to benefit all County residents.

For more information about GardenShare:  or contact

Monday, March 6, 2017

Americorps Week

This week celebrates Americorps and all of the volunteer currently serving, as well as those who have served in the past.

GardenShare is thrilled to have an Amercorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) working with us this year.  Brianna Blackburn started in November and will serve a full year, working on farmers markets, SNAP (formerly called food stamps), and volunteer recruitment.

Brianna comes to GardenShare through the Anti-Hunger Opportunity Corps, which is a program of Hunger Free America and the USDA, and is supported by WalMart and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

GardenShare will soon be recruiting for a second Americorps VISTA position, to start in June.  Watch this space and for more details.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

National School Breakfast Week:

            You know those sayings that you’ve heard so many times in your life that they just become ingrained in the back of your mind? For me, the phrase ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ fits into this category. Although I know breakfast is important, I think the phrase has been used so much that many people, including myself, forget just why. With National School Breakfast Week coming up this week, I think it is important to be reminded why breakfast is so valuable to a child’s education.

            According to the USDA, in 2015, over 90,000 schools served school breakfast to 14 million students each day. Out of these 14 million breakfasts, 11 million each day were free breakfasts for students from low-income families. That means that without meal assistance, approximately 11 million students everyday are at risk of going hungry! By feeding students school breakfasts, they are more likely to reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math, have better concentration, participate in class, and retain more of what they learn. Studies also show that offering free school breakfast results in better attendance records. The point is that, the 2.3 billion school breakfasts served annually, many of these free or reduced, greatly help children and especially those from low income families, to have a more equal playing field in life. Hunger reinforces the cycle of poverty. Arriving to school hungry every day prevents students from reaching their potential. By providing breakfast to those who cannot afford it, kids are no longer held back by hunger and are given a fairer chance to be successful in school.

            Knowing the importance of eating breakfast, what are some ways to spread awareness of the value of school breakfasts? Some ideas for this year’s National School Breakfast Week include creating a school breakfast challenge! Students are handed a card at the beginning of the week and receive a hole punch every day they purchase a breakfast item. At the end of the week, students who have 5 hole punches are entered into a raffle! Cards can be downloaded at Other ideas include having a school art contest or a classroom photo contest centered on the topic of National School Breakfast Week! Posting pictures online or hanging artwork around the school can help spark dialogue on the importance of school breakfast. For more National School Breakfast Week ideas, visit the School Nutrition Association website at the following link:

-- Jamie Oriol
SLU student and
GardenShare intern

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Two weeks til Cabin Fever Trivia Night!

It will be here before you know it!  Have you put together a team and signed up for Cabin Fever Trivia Night?

Saturday, March 18, 2017
7:00 PM
Potsdam Elks Club

Admission $20 per person with a discount to $10 for students!

Compete in a North Country trivia contest in teams of four - put your own team together or we'll match you up with someone.

First and second place in the trivia contest
Best team name
Best team uniform

Register soon - this event often sells out!

All proceeds benefit GardenShare's work.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Presenting sponsors:

Partnership sponsor:

Friend sponsor:

Mort Backus and Sons

Friday, March 3, 2017


The federal government’s entitlement programs reflect a commitment to meet low-income people’s basic needs in a few essential areas, including health (through Medicaid), food (SNAP,), and support to people with disabilities ( Supplemental Security Income). All people who meet the programs’ eligibility criteria can access them without delay, and funding increases automatically and immediately respond to increased need resulting from economic downturns, natural disasters, or higher-than-expected costs (such as when a new drug increases health care costs). In contrast, block grants are fixed pots of money that the federal government gives to states to provide those benefits or services. Initial block grant funding levels are often inadequate initially, and they typically erode over time due to inflation. Block grants don’t respond rapidly or at all to increased need. And states can shift the federal funds to other purposes or to replace state funding, or they can make program cuts that federal law doesn't permit now.

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 2/22/17, Block Grants

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Expanding GardenShare's work to help families afford healthy, locally grown food

Have you heard about the expansion of GardenShare’s Bonus Bucks program?  This program is a way for lower-income and working families to double their buying power at local farmers markets, or to receive a financial assistance for 50% of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.

Our goal with the program is to reach families that may be struggling to put healthy food on the table while supporting local farmers.  Interestingly enough, the USDA is just starting research to determine if these kinds of subsidy programs can help improve nutrition for low-income families, and strengthen local economies by increasing farmers sales.  Read a synopsis of the planned study and early steps here.

Full details on GardenShare's program, including income eligibility guidelines, and an application can be found here.  Below is a quick summary:

Subsidized CSA Share - The customer chooses a CSA from the list of participating farms. Every farm works differently and offers different products and pricing, so it is important to research and call the farm to determine which one works best for a specific household. GardenShare can cover half the cost of the CSA share for eligible households, up to a max value of $250.  The customer pays the balance..

Double your money at the farmers market - For households that receive SNAP benefits, just take the SNAP card straight to the market manager to get double value. If you are not on SNAP, you can still double your purchasing power with our new punch card program.  If your household meets the income requirement, you can purchase up to 25 punch cards per year, meaning $250 dollars worth of farmers market coins will only cost you $125, each individual $10 punch card costs you $5 out of pocket and each card can be purchased in single quantity or in bulk. Punch cards are taken to the market manager in exchange for $2 tokens which can only be spent on food at the farmers

Funding for Bonus Bucks is generously supported through the Health Initiative in partnership with Alcoa and generous GardenShare donors.  If you would like to help support this program, go here to make a tax-deductible donation.

This program will be operating as long as funds are available

For more information reach us at 315-261-8054 or at


SNAP is often considered one of the more effective and efficient safety net programs. A large body of research shows that SNAP reduces poverty, improves food security among low-income households, and has positive effects on infant health and long-term benefits for children who received it. Nevertheless, despite this strong track record, the program still faces challenges. The main challenge is how to engage participants in work. Work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) were largely reinstated across the country by 2016. But it is unclear the extent to which work requirements and work programs can help other populations engage in work. SNAP Employment and Training pilot programs are currently being tested across the country, but none are testing mandatory requirements outside of those involving ABAWDs. Additional pilots in a few states could be implemented and rigorously studied to determine whether mandatory work requirements for able-bodied adults with children could be effective and whether they increase employment among SNAP recipients. If successful, efforts to expand work requirements more broadly could be explored.

Source: American Enterprise Institute, 2/22/17, SNAP Challenges

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


The Environmental Working Group and Food Policy Action Education Fund are launching the Plate of the Union campaign, which aims to encourage consumers to become activists for policies that make food safer, make healthy food more accessible, and make food production better for our environment. The new initiative will deploy grassroots and online tools and tactics to raise awareness about farm and food policies, and show why consumers must demand their right to healthy food as Congress begins crafting a new Farm Bill. The campaign will focus on four main issues: (1) stopping taxpayer subsidies going to Big Ag polluters; (2) protecting and improving anti-hunger programs like SNAP; (3) increasing federal investments in organic agriculture; and 4) expanding federal programs to revitalize land and reduce food waste.

Source: InsuranceNewsNet, 2/22/17, Plate of the Union