The NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) MASS September 2014 Newsletter is not one to miss. This issue will inform you on all the need-to-know news about the environment in which you live. Whether you are interested in learning about soil, grazing, and livestock resources, or simply want to know how you can get involved in local community happenings, the NOFA MASS newsletter is sure to teach you something. Refer to this month’s issue if you would like to learn more about how to get connected with the people and organizations that care about what is going on from the ground up, just like you do.
You can access the online newsletter by visiting: https://interactivepdf.uniflip.com/2/26870/298080/pub/
“If you know how many times a place has had a drought in the last 30 years, you can make a pretty good estimate what the chances are of drought in the future. And that means that you can put a price tag on the risk of drought” said microinsurer, Rose Goslinga. Rose explained that each crop’s life cycle is different. Necessary rainfall varies between the planting, germinating, leafing, flowering, and maturity stages, so if there are too many or few rainfalls at any given stage, the crop will die. So, Rose developed the idea of crop insurance and pitched it directly to farmers, but with little success due to lack of trust she approached the organizations working with farmers. Seed companies, microfinance institutions, mobile phone companies, and even government agencies all provide loans to farmers, but with no way of knowing they will be paid back. If it does not rain, how can they repay the loan? After an unexpected 3-week drought, an entire season’s worth of crops shriveled up and died in western Kenya. Rose along with her team approached the microfinance institution that provided the loans to about 6000 farmers in that area. The institution accepted their offer to collaborate, but wanted the money right away so that farmers still had time to replant and get a harvest during that season. The insurance team then took the idea of replanting to a seeding company, convincing them to price the cost of insurance into every bag of seeds. In each bag, there was a card which directed the farmer to text a number, allocating them to a satellite. With this technology in place, they were able to measure the rainfall for the next three weeks, ensuring the farmers that if it did not rain, they would replace the seed. Rose’s initiative provided both farmers and their partner institutions with the security of insurance which proved to be tremendously beneficial to all parties involved.
Our very own Chris Noon has published an article for Lawn & Landscape, discussing how the move towards consumer privacy is bringing back door-to-door sales for the company. In the article, he discusses five ways Noon Turf Care has improved upon the age-old tactic and brought it into modern times.
Read the full article here: http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/ll-091514-Noon-sales-approach.aspx
New York’s bedbug infestation hit the city hard in 2010, but directed much business towards the bed bug detection service industry. As schools, shopping centers, and movie theaters uncovered cases of bed bugs, small business owners experienced a busy season. It was not solely the detection services that saw an increase in service calls. Lawyers also took cases from victims suing establishments, and therapists were being called upon to treat clients with bedbug anxiety. During this time, inspection services were overwhelmed with requests from frantic customers. Bob Young, operations manager at Terminix said that “More often than not, Terminix would provide a free inspection, only to find nothing more than a few harmless beetles. Everything with six legs was a bed bug. Sometimes things with less than six legs”. However, after the city experienced its bedbug peak, landlords and business owners are required to perform more frequent inspections and treatments, which has proven to simultaneously reduce the widespread panic. Midtown Psychologist Steven Brodsky noted that far less patients enter his office seeking help for bedbug anxiety, and when his existing patients get bedbugs, “they take it in stride – sort of”. Bedbug detection business owners also agree that the panic has lessened. Terminix reported that business is down 20% from the 2010 peak, but specialists are seeing far fewer false alarms. Despite a subdued hype, bedbugs still remain, and will always remain a potential problem since the insects are infamously known for being pesticide-resistant. For this reason, experts suggest that the public stays informed, for spreading alarm has proven to create much unnecessary insect hysteria.
This information is as reported by the Wall Street Journal. For more, please visit http://online.wsj.com/articles/where-are-new-yorks-bedbugs-now-1409337589
Seventy years ago, journalist Joseph Mitchell wrote about New York’s rat problem claiming that “some authorities believe that in the five boroughs there is a rat for every human being.” Nowadays, experts estimate that there are even more. In attempt to fix this problem, New York City officials are piloting an initiative to reduce the rat population in infested neighborhoods. One tactic in practice is to get more exterminators on the streets while also closing up holes in public infrastructure. Caroline Bragdon, a rat expert with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, explains that “rats only need a hole or a gap the size of a quarter to enter. It’s not enough just to poison rats and collapse their burrows”. Exposure to tips like these are what city officials believe can help solve the problem. Accordingly, the city has introduced the Rat Academy, a free, two hour course offered to business, apartment building, or community garden owners/tenants. Bragdon reinforces that in order to solve a rodent problem, you must rid of all conditions that brought them there in the first place.
As the internet becomes the consumer’s most preferred source of information, companies are allocating a greater portion of their media advertising budget to online advertising. Chris Noon, owner of lawn care company Noon Turf Care has done just that. “In the past five years we have increased our online marketing budget tenfold as year after year it gives us the highest ROI for sales results compared to any other form of media advertising”. Thanks to analytics and data tracking platforms, online-generated sales leads are more likely to turn into actual sales. The overhaul of online advertising has also allowed companies to eliminate a step in the sales process as well as potential human error since nearly all sales inquiries are made through an online contact form, where the prospect must provide all of their information. However, when a sales prospect uses instantaneous contact to reach out to a company, they are more likely to expect a similar speed in response. Forbes magazine along with Forrester Research directed a research project that revealed a 71% loss of sales leads because an employee does not get in touch with the customer fast enough. Their research indicated that “on average, if an internet lead is responded to within five minutes of being received by the company, it is 100 times more likely to convert into a sale versus if the lead was responded to within 30 minutes after the inquiry was made”. In short, Noon has placed a high importance on ensuring that online sales leads come to fruition by emphasizing the need for timely follow ups.
A recent increase in meat allergies across the nation has doctors pointing fingers at a trouble instigating bug, the Lone Star tick. How does a tick cause meat intolerance? The problem was discovered a few years ago, and countless cases later, doctors are able to explain why. The Lone Star Tick shares a common constituent called Alpha-gal with red meat and even some dairy products. Alpha-gal is a sugar that people digest normally when the medium is food. However, the body’s high-alert response to this tick’s bite is to make antibodies that fight the foreign substance sugar in order to prevent it from entering the skin and bloodstream. Accordingly, the next time the tick bite victim is faced with Alpha-gal, an allergic reaction occurs. Unfortunately, few patients are aware of the risk, leaving people confused and covered in hives.
The Horsley Witten Group, Inc. (HW), a Cape Cod organization dedicated to sustainable environmental solutions, has implemented a project to investigate the effects and better monitor the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the region. According to the final report of the Cape Cod Pesticide and Fertilizer Use Inventory, “a portion of pesticides and fertilizers applied to fields, lawns, and other areas makes its way to surface waters through storm water runoff, to groundwater by leaching through the soil, and to other areas by volatilization into the atmosphere from which it is redistributed by precipitation.” Although the substances are used both privately and commercially, individual homeowners represent over 80% of pesticide product use and nearly 70% of fertilizer product use. Commercial users (golf courses, agriculture, etc.), for the most part, are regulated in that only licensed professionals perform these applications. They also have a financial incentive to use less of the product. This being said, HW plans to work alongside regulators, local environmental groups, and industry professionals to place a focus on better informing residential users of better management practices, such as knowledge development, limiting the size of the managed area, and lastly, alternative landscapes and native species selection.
Fall is the ideal time of year to enhance and protect your lawn. Find and invest in the right tools to ensure that your fall lawn is prepared for winter’s harsh weather and ready for springtime growth. First, we recommend taking advantage of the fall’s mild weather to aerate, reseed and fertilize your lawn, allowing the new grass to take hold before winter’s frost. Manual aerators are an affordable and easy-to-use tool that will ready your soil for seeding and fertilization. A spreader is a cost-effective tool for seeding and fertilizing your lawn before the leaves begin to fall. Once you are dealing with the presence of falling leaves, invest in a sturdy plastic or steel rake to last for countless seasons of lawn clearing. Pair with wide-mouthed leaf bags to prevent the heavy weight of wet leaves from damaging your lawn in the spring. Another option is to invest in a mulching blade for your lawn mower, which will chop the leaves into a fine mulch that can actually invigorate your grass and soil without the hassle of raking and bagging leaves.