New York Certified Organic (NYCO) community is still strong after 26 years

Group of farmers watching a powerpoint presentation

This winter marked the 26th year of the New York Certified Organic (NYCO) meetings. This discussion group is old enough that sons and daughters of original members are now attending and presenting as farmers at the meetings!

The meetings have always been on the 2nd Tuesdays of January, February and March. This year, a winter storm on January 8 left roads so bad that plow trucks were driving backwards down the road, spreading salt before they could drive forward to plow them. On February 12, every school in Geneva and the surrounding area was closed. Although we got a hint of spring in early March, we saw a cold winter snap again on March 12.

These weather complications didn’t stop our faithful NYCO attendees from arriving at our three meetings in Geneva this winter! More than 60 people attended each meeting.

We included two farmer panels this year, one on bedded packs and one on high speed discs. Mike & Karen Hooper and Ben & Kate Whittemore spoke about their bedded pack barns, showed pictures, and answered questions in January. In March, Eric Sheffer, Rodney Graham, Thor Oechsner, and Peter Martens shared their experiences with high speed discs, illustrated by pictures and videos.

Invited speakers, including Tomasz Falkowski, Director of the Cornell Horticulture Department, Bob Schindelbeck, Director of Cornell’s Soil Health Lab, and Cornell University Crop and Soil Sciences Professor Emeritus Dr. Charles Mohler, talked about their specialties. This year we also used webinar technology to include live presentations from Dr. Heino Schaupp and Dr. Matthias Westerschulte, with German plant breeding and seed company Deutsche Saatveredelung AG (DSV).

During the winter storms of January and February, our potluck lunches had so many lively small-group conversations that we decided to skip the customary large group discussion in the afternoon and allow the smaller, more focused discussions to continue. This also allowed our meeting attendees the flexibility to travel home on their own time, without missing any important parts of the program.

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