BFA Newsletter: September 2015

From the field: seasonal news & tips from Dan

Hello all. The summer has passed and the cool days and nights of fall are upon us. Hopefully your growing seasons have gone well. Here in Central MA the nights have just started to dip into the 40’s and the full fall harvest is on. Most of the hoop-houses are planted to their cold season greens, and it is time to start putting sections outside to bed for the winter.

Those who have not yet started planting cover crops should seize the moment! Before it rains, broadcast your cover crop seed into areas where tomatoes, broccoli, winter squash, chard, kale, etc. are currently growing. The seed should germinate and begin growing before your current crop is harvested, allowing them to mature and thus be more valuable for your soil before winter comes.

Always plant a cocktail or mix of cover crops seeds if possible to enhance the systemic function and broaden microbiological communities. Ideally, overwintering cover crops should be planted at this time of year, as the winter killers will not grow sufficiently to have the effect you would like due to the lateness of season. Classic overwintering cover crops are winter rye, vetch and clovers.

The fall equinox is the time that I always suggest growers take yearly soil tests. Click here for the Logan Labs form that is passed out at the BFA courses. A $30 test covers a broad suite of elements including cobalt, molybdenum and selenium along with classics like calcium, phosphorus and zinc. Be sure to select the "Base Plus" box on the form to get the correct report.

This summer has passed in a flurry of activity for the organization with highlights including our first course on the west coast in northern California, new support from two foundations, and our first ever BFA Research Advisory committee meeting, held at the Omega Institiute in Rhinebeck, NY in August.

As always, thank you for your continuing support and interest in growing and eating high quality food!

Dan Kittredge
BFA Executive Director

In this Issue
  1. A Note from Dan
  2. Research Advisory Panel
  3. Biochar Workshop
  4. High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshops
  5. BFA Mineral Depot
  6. Ag Consultant
    Now Available
  7. Soil & Nutrition Conference
  8. Foundation Support
  9. Before & After Pics


Thank you to everyone who has joined BFA in support of our mission to increase the quality of the food supply. With your help, we continue to make great strides forward. The BFA is a membership organization — and our health and direction depends on the involvement and support of people with a shared vision. Become a member today, and join the movement to improve food quality for all – soil health for human health for planetary health!

Join us!

   Research Advisory Panel Meeting

THANK YOU to Omega Institute &
our Advisory Panel Members

As Dan mentioned, BFA held our first-ever research advisory panel meeting in August at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. The purpose of this gathering, which included experts in a range of scientific disciplines related to our mission, was to propose and solicit feedback on a number of potential research projects that could advance BFA’s work – ranging from regional soil profiling and studies to better measure the benefits and limitations of biological management to research and development of the "bionutrient meter" concept.

We extend our profound thanks to Omega Institute for hosting this gathering, which would not have been possible without their support. We also thank our advisory panel members, who generously offered their time and collective wisdom to make this gathering a success.

BFA Research Advisory Panel, August 2015

  • Michael A. Grusak, PhD, Plant Physiologist at USDA-ARS Children’s Nutrition Center, Professor of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
  • Matthew D. Kleinhenz, PhD, Professor, Extension Specialist, Vegetable Production Systems; Professor, Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio State University
  • Carmen M Ugarte, PhD, Research Specialist in Agroecology, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Stephen Wood, PhD, Ecologist and Sustainability Scientist, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, The Nature Conservancy, and Bioversity International
  • Michael T. Kandianis, PhD, Physicist, Shell NanoLab, Houston, TX | Visiting Scientist, Utrecht University
  • M.J. Soileau, PhD, Vice President for Research & Commercialization, University of Central Florida
  • Matt Weed, PhD, Director of Research & Development - Open Photonics, Inc
  • Ted Goodwin, Senior Software Engineer, EMC Embedded Products, Hopkinton, MA
  • Deepak Mohapatra, IBM Executive, Analytics Solution Sales, North American Government Division
BFA Participants:
  • Dan Kittredge, Executive Director
  • Dr. Cathy Kandianis, Research Director
  • Dr. Peter Olszak, Director R&D, Chemometrics
  • Sharon Tilley, Development Director

   Upcoming Workshops

Biochar Workshop

Our two-day Biochar Workshop with Gary Gilmore at the Kittredge Farm in North Brookfield, MA has been rescheduled for the weekend of October 17 & 18, 2015. Gary Gilmore has over two decades experience producing biochar and exploring its various uses. Doing a search on YouTube for "Gilmore Charcoal," or "Gilmore Simple Fire," or "Gilmore Gasifier," you can see an array of biochar applications, such as running internal combustion engines, wood vinegar production, and more. The workshop will include both lecture and hands-on experience. Participants will be able to purchase barrels at the workshop for $10-20. To learn more about the Biochar Workshop or to register, please visit: Financial assistance is available. Please contact Gary Neves ( for more information.

High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshops

The BFA two day course for growers has scheduled dates and locations in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Iowa and California over the next few months with new locations in the offing. Click here to see our current course schedule. Feel free to register early to reserve your space!

Once again, the BFA is grateful to receive the support of the Forrest C. & Frances H. Lattner Foundation to encourage participation in these workshops through scholarship offerings. This grant offers generous support for growers who wish to attend the course, but need financial assistance.

If you are interested in attending a BFA course but live too far from one of our offered locations, please contact Gary at to indicate your interest. You can also consider becoming a local organizer if you have a local network of colleagues, gardeners and producers who are also interested.

Biochar Workshop
with Gary Gilmore

Oct 17-18, 2015
@ Kittredge Farm in North Brookfield, MA

Register today!

A brief Q & A

Intrigued? We posed a handful of questions to Gary about the upcoming workshop...



High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshop

Simsbury, CT
Nov 7, 2015
& Jan 23, 2016

Shrewsbury, VT
Nov 8-9, 2015

Pennington, NJ
Dec 5 & 6, 2015

Fairfield, IA
Dec 12 & 13, 2015

Santa Rosa, CA
Jan 9 & 10, 2016

More dates/locations to be added soon!

Register today!

   BFA Mineral Depot News

With the BFA Chapter system now up and running, and our first real loads of minerals going out this spring, we now are rolling out the mineral depot system this fall. We have secured a location in Central MA that can take loose 22-ton truckloads of minerals straight from the quarry and bag them in 50lb and 1-ton bags for delivery to BFA members around the Northeast.

Prices are currently being finalized and should be sent to you in a special edition newsletter by the middle of October. Thanks to fewer middlemen and regional sourcing, we expect these prices to be very competitive. Contact your local chapter leader about coordinating a local delivery, or for details.

   Now Available:
   Biological Management Consultant

Introducing David Forster

BFA is pleased to announce our first staff consultant, David Forster. David has been a full-time soil and farm consultant since starting Forster Soil Management 5 years ago. With a background in industrial engineering, but a passion for agriculture, he has been intensively studying soil and plant health and agronomy for over 10 years. He has worked with clients on a diverse assortment of crops on anything from a few hundred square feet to a couple thousand acres. As the BFA consultant, he will provide primarily phone-based soil and farm consulting on a one-on-one and group basis, as well as some site visits and other activities.

David is offering reduced rate consultations to BFA members. He'll also be starting up regular BFA Agronomy Q&A Conference Calls, and reaching out to local chapter leaders to provide a call-in service for agronomy questions that come up at chapter meetings. Additional information, including times for conference calls, costs for consulting, and full contact details will be provided soon on the website at

Whether you are a previous BFA 2-day course attendee still struggling to interpret your soil tests or do a "Math for Minerals" calculation, or a biological farmer working to fine tune certain aspects of your practices, David will be a helpful resource for you!

   5th Annual Soil & Nutrition Conference

Cast Your Vote for Topics & Speakers!

The 5th Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference will be held this winter at Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts on February 8-9, 2016. Please mark your calendars!

Cast Your Vote!  What conference topics would you love to see in our program? Please let us know by clicking on our survey link:

Our two-day agenda will include plenary sessions, keynote addresses and break-out sessions that will engage producers, researchers, nutritionists, gardeners and food system advocates interested in food quality.

Details about our conference themes, lodging, food and more are forthcoming in one of our Fall newsletters – stay tuned!


   Foundation Support

BFA thanks the Gaia Fund & Reflection Fund

We are very grateful to the Gaia Fund and the Reflection Fund of RSF Social Finance for their recent grants to BFA. Their financial support aids our efforts to build BFA's organizational capacity and jumpstart important new initiatives in late 2015.

Gaia Fund is a San Francisco-based family foundation that began awarding charitable grants in 1995. The fund's name was taken from the earth goddess of Greek mythology, reflecting the founder's interest in environmental issues - specifically, the fostering of environmentally sustainable policies and practices relative to food production and distribution.

Rudolf Steiner Foundation Social Finance (RSF) is a pioneering non-profit financial services organization dedicated to transforming the way the world works with money. In partnership with a community of investors and donors, RSF provides capital to non-profit and for-profit social enterprises addressing key issues in the areas of Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship.

   Bionutrient Gardeners & Farmers:
   Grab Your Smartphones!

A picture is worth a thousand words

There's no better teaching instrument than "before and after" photos that demonstrate the impact of transitioning to biological management. While BFA has plenty of gorgeous "after" photos that growers have shared, we are in great need of paired photos that capture the "before" situation.

So as you work in your garden and face new challenges, please consider, are there some "before" photo opportunities? If you've just realized your plant growth is stagnating due to low soil conductivity, take a picture before you address the issue!

Some additional examples to get your creative juices flowing:
  • Visual cues/comparisons of growth & health status in different parts of your garden that have varying degrees of biological management;
  • Brix readings and correlation with pest/disease resistance or customer reactions; Plants before/after foliar feeding to address a specific deficiency;
  • Photos of multiple years of a particular crop showing increasing yields.

BFA is now collecting images on an ongoing basis. We welcome your ideas and contributions, which will advance BFA's mission and improve our teaching materials. Please forward any photos you'd like to share to and Thanks in advance for your consideration and continuing support!



Copyright © 2015 Bionutrient Food Association/Real Food Campaign All rights reserved.