Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop









Saturday, January 23, 2010

Buy Fresh, Buy Local Food Guide

If you'd like your farm or business included in the Shenandoah Valley Buy Fresh, Buy Local Guide, go to

for a producer survey or a retailer survey.

Cost is $25.00 and the deadline is March 5, 2010.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

GIS Mapping May Affect Area Farmers

If you have dealings with the FDA, USDA (Botetourt Farm Agency), Mountain Castles Soil and Water District, any of the Conservation Easement Organizations, and possibly your Insurance Agency, etc., etc., you may become aware of their dependence on the GIS parcel maps.  They generally will go to to the official Botetourt County website:  http://botetourt.org/ and then to the links for GIS Mapping:  http://www.co.botetourt.va.us/business/maps.php?about=1 and superimpose the outline parcel map for your farm over the aerial map.

You will need at least a broadband Internet connection to access this site and enough memory to download the GIS map viewing software to access the maps of your farm.  The area public libraries may have their accessible computers set up to go to the GIS Map site.  If not, ask if they will set it up for citizens who have no other option to access the maps.

It is worthwhile to take a close look at your farm's map.  It never crosssed my mind that there could be serious mistakes on those maps, and I know I'm not alone in this.  However, I found that the map of my farm showed half my barns and one pond on someone else's parcel!  This, despite the fact that we filed an accurate survey of our property in the Clerk of the Court's Office in 1997!

Every parcel which is not properly mapped has parcels surrounding it which are affected.  Each parcel affected has other parcels around it which are affected, and so on...

The GIS Mapping Project in Botetourt County is ten years old.  There was plenty of time to check and correct incorrect maps.  Historically recent surveys should be properly represented, at the very least.  It is reasonable to expect that land without surveys may have errors in mapping, but I do not accept that there is any excuse for ignoring surveyed land within the county.

There is a "disclaimer" on the GIS site which seeks to create a legal protection for damages caused by incorrect mapping.  I do not understand the purpose of accepting serious errors in this mapping.  There's not much point in placing incorrect maps on the official County website. 

If you find an error, call the County Administrator and report it.  I've been told that the County will not do the corrections until April 2010.  That is unacceptable, in my opinion.  If you feel the same, please voice your concern!

Free Webinar: DIY Biodiesel: Keeping It Safe, Keeping It Legal

You're invited to a free webinar on

DIY Biodiesel: Keeping It Safe, Keeping It Legal!

This FREE webinar is the second in a series on farm-scale biodiesel production.

DIY Biodiesel: Keeping It Safe, Keeping It Legal will help the novice biodiesel producer on the right track to establishing safe and legal production practices. It will cover safety practices including:

  • personal safety
  •  workspace safety
  •  materials handling and regulations
  •  waste stream handling
  •  methanol; and
  • compatibility with equipment and environmental safety and regulations

There will also be time to ask and get answers to your questions.

The webinar will feature a presentation by NCAT energy specialist and biodiesel homebrewer Rich Dana, along with special guest expert Steve Fugate. Dana is an energy specialist in NCAT's Midwest office. He is an avid biodiesel home brewer, producing more than 400 gallons a year for use as a farm and heating fuel. In the past he has operated a community biodiesel pilot project in Grinnell, Iowa, and served as president of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association and legislative liaison for the Iowa Farmers Union. Fugate is the founder of the Yoderville Biodiesel Collective in Kalona, Iowa, and the biodiesel project leader for the Iowa DNR's Trails Crew.

This free webinar will be held Thursday, January 28th at 11 a.m. MST. Please register in advance at www.attra.ncat.org/webinars2010/biodiesel2.

On the day of the presentation, please log on to the webinar Web site 10 minutes early to allow the required software to download. You can then listen to the webinar through your computer's speakers and see the presentation slides on your computer screen. You may also listen to the webinar by calling a phone number provided after you register online.

TITLE: DIY Biodiesel: Keeping It Safe, Keeping It Legal

WHEN: Thursday, January 28th, 11 a.m. MST

WHERE: www.attra.ncat.org/webinars2010/biodiesel2

Please join us on January 28th for this informative webinar.

Friday, January 1, 2010

17th Annual OGS Spring Conference

Early Bird registration for the 17th Annual OGS Spring Conference is now open!

Join over 1300 farmers, gardeners, activists, and consumers March 6 & 7, 2010 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) for the southeast's largest sustainable living conference. If you register before February 12th at 5pm, just $40 per day buys you a general registration, and access to over 60 classes! The 6th annual Childrens Program is for kids aged 7-12, and costs $30 per day. Additional hands on workshops and cooking classes are $5 each. REGISTER NOW!!!! See you there, green thumb.

More information about this event can be found at www.organicgrowersschool.org