AOLCP August 2010 News
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september banner 2010 
NOFA OLC Advanced Workshop in September: 
Compost Tea workshop
: Workshop is on September 21st, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. Location: Stonewall Farm, 242 Chesterfield Road, Keene, NH 03431

Regular Price: $200  NOFA Member/AOLCP Price: $185 
Help Us Get the Word Out!
Please email these calendar announcements to your colleagues, favorite
nursery, industry related organizations; include in your next e-news or post
it to your Facebook page!   See a copy of our course flyer .
For course descriptions or to register click here or contact us at 203-888-5146
Our 2nd annual Advanced Workshop series will conclude with the above workshop. 
We started the series with Edible Landscaping with Fruit, a workshop with Lee Reich.  The workshop was held at Lee's garden, which gave participants a fantastic opportunity to see how to incorporate edibles in the landscape of someone's home.

The next workshop was a workshop on Soil Testing and Interpretation - this workshop gave students the opportunity to learn about soil sampling techniques and making sense of the test results. The instructor was Todd Harrington who is well known for his scientific methods.

The Organic Lawn and Turf Course was a day for the professional lawn and athletic turf managers.  Speakers presented varied perspectives; Paul Sachs  focused on compaction, Don Bishop provided information on pest, weeds and diseases, and Javier Gil was a wealth of knowledge on the topic of compost tea.

Class participants practice burning control method.
invasive removal 2010


In Bridgeport, CT we had a workshop on Organic Invasive Removal with Mike Nadeau, who provided information and hands-on opportunities to practice removal methods. Some methods were conventional and some methods were burning hot! 


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NOFA OLC is excited to announce the availability of partial scholarships for NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals interested in participating in NOFA OLC Advanced Workshops. Non-profit and Municipal employees are also encouraged to apply.
Recently, NOFA received funding allowing for scholarships that cover more than 50% of the cost of NOFA OLC Advanced Workshops to interested students who qualify. Scholarship recipients who are NOFA Accredited will be awarded $105 to apply to course fee of $200. Scholarships are limited and are reviewed on a rolling basis.  To apply, please complete the following application:
Return completed form to the NOFA OLC Program Manager []
-          Scholarship recipients are required to
complete a total of 5 volunteer hours within a year of the award date.
-          Scholarship awards are applied to the base cost of the course (regular course discounts cannot be applied)

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            Save December 7th for the 2010 Annual             Organic Land Care Gathering!

We are excited to announce that this year's Annual Organic Land Care Gathering (formally known as the Update Course) will take place on December 7th at the UCONN campus in Storrs, CT. 

This year the Annual Gathering will focus on issues relating to biodiversity. We are expecting a wonderful line-up of speakers.  In the running are Doug Tallamy, Michael Klemens, Carolyn Summers and Catherine Zimmerman.  This is NOFA OLC's largest event of the year and is a great way to meet up with old classmates and meet newer Accredited Professionals. 

Expected course cost is $75 for AOLCPs.  This is the last NOFA course offering before the reaccreditation deadline.  This is also the only course offered in 2010 that can be applied to your 2012 accreditation.

Interested in exhibiting or becoming a sponsor of the event?  Contact John Weedon at

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Out and About  -   AOLCP Judith Robinson 
NOFA OLC logoConnecting People to their Environment 
By Kathy Litchfield

PRINCETON, NJ - Gazing at the greening willow outside her window, Judith K. Robinson reflected on the years she grew organic food for her family and taught others to do the same.

The actor, director, producer and teacher, who became accredited at the Westchester County, NY 5-day course in February 2010, has dedicated her life's work to communicating and opening people's eyes "to a larger view of themselves and of life."

            One of our newest AOLCPs has performed on and off Broadway, including with Director Elia Kazan in "Dark at the Top of the Stairs" by William Inge; toured nationally with Sammy Davis Jr. in "Desperate Hours" and Charleton Heston in "Detective Story"; performed in numerous television shows and commercials; and produced educational films and voice-overs for charitable organizations.

            She learned dance from Martha Graham, has directed and taught at Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute and the Stella Adler Studio in New York; and two years ago co-created a multi-faceted (music, words and dance) original production entitled "The Haunting of Lady Macbeth" which was performed at the White Wave Festival in the arts haven that is Dumbo in Brooklyn, NY.

            How did this accomplished actor get involved in Organic Land Care?

"I've always been really interested in soils and soil biology," said Robinson, who has organized and taught around residential pesticide reduction, the environmental impact of new highway systems, soil erosion.

"I knew that taking the course would deepen that knowledge and give me another perspective. I grew most of our food organically when my family was young and wanted to learn the other aspect - native species, and how to see property landscapes in a more ecological way."

            Driving through her home of central New Jersey, Robinson cringes at the extensive "volcano mulching" she sees, and hopes to change this through one of several projects she is currently working on.

            Presently available on the NOFA NJ website ( is a streaming video Robinson created introducing the two new executive directors and their goals for NOFA NJ.

She also produces a local cable television series, "Our World, Our Choice," which entices viewers to understand soil and the connection of the environment to where their food comes from, while educating about and encouraging healthy eating habits. The first show focuses on two farmers -- an organic produce grower and a grass-fed, natural beef, lamb, pork and cheese producer.

            "My goal is to activate people, help them to see the practical connection, long range," she said.

            In addition to seeking funding for additional streaming videos, some focused on Organic Land Care, and planning to approach different environmental organizations as partners, Robinson hopes to encourage local corporations to consider more ecologically-friendly growing practices. Many corporations lease land to farmers who are growing GMO corn and soybeans, alongside acres of grass that she thinks could be converted into beautiful landscapes.

            She'd love to hear from AOLCPs with stories to share that could potentially be included in video productions or future articles, and can be emailed at

AOLCPs in Action...

Jim Beard is teaching a college-level course in Organic Land Care this semester, using the NOFA Standards as a textbook. Beard is a professor at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, and is enthusiastic about bringing this education to his students, who'll be doing OLC projects on campus grounds.

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Also of Interest...   

 vertical wall  Vertical Gardens - the Ecological Landscaping Association web site has an interesting article     on  vertical  gardens as an alternative to conventional gardening. 
"The concept of a garden is rising to new heights, literally, as we look up rather than down for new gardening opportunities. Referred to by many different names - vertical gardens, living walls, or green walls - this relatively new form of gardening is taking root in many locations across the country."  ELA

 Taste! Organic Connecticut - The only LOCAL & ORGANIC festival in Connecticut is being sponsored by CT NOFA.  Taste! is being held on September 19th,from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, at Manchester Community College. Good food, interesting workshops, music, and plenty of fun.
  Autumn Beauties: Native Plants in the Collections - Sunday, October 17, 1 to 3:30 p.m., at

Tower Hill Botanical Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA. Dori Smith  will discuss the special characteristics of native plants and why they are great choices for your gardens, such as drought and insect tolerance. You'll learn to create a palette of plants that will please you and the wildlife, year round. To register, call 508-869-6111 ext. 124 or e-mail Education Secretary
Maurita Bernier at


 The 2010-2011 OLC Guide - is available for distribution. Please call 203-888-5146 to request copies of the Guide to distribute in your communities.  We appreciate it if you will help us distribute copies of the Guide.
The Guide has a number of new and informative articles that homeowners and professionals will find useful. Along with the articles, the guide provides listings of Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals.
 CNLA -(CT Nursery & Landscape Association) reminds landscapers that there is a $50 Connecticut state fine for failing to display the orange triangular caution sign on the rear of their trailers.
 Strangest Gardens -
A recent issue of Popular Mechanics had an article on "The World's 18 Strangest Gardens".  Sure to make you smile and gasp in wonder.
 Watch a video - from the UMass Extension Turf Program, the videos provide information on water protection research.                                                                                                           
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Current AOLCP Credit Opportunities

The following classes and events have been approved for OLC credits.  In order to see a complete description of an event and the number of credits that will be awarded for attendance please go to the credit opportunities page of our website.  When you click on an event title, a complete description, including time, place, registration information, and number of credits will open.
9/1/10 - Clone of Become a Rhode Island Tree Steward, RI
9/1/10 - Ornamental Herbaceous Plants: Summer and Fall Perennials, Bronx, NY
9/7/10 - Ornamental Herbaceous Plants: Summer and Fall Perennials, Bronx, NY
9/10/10 - Permaculture, CT
9/11/10 - NOFA-NJ Organic Gardening Series, Hillsborough, NJ
9/12/10 - Ecology: The Living Forest, Bronx, NY
9/14/10 - Waterscaping, Bronx, NY
9/15/10 - Disease Identification and Management, Bronx, NY
9/15/10 - Systematic Botany, Bronx, NY
9/18/10 - Sustainable Landscapes: Planning for Large-Scale Construction, Watertown, MA
9/19/10 - All About Apples!, MA
9/21/10 - Producing and Applying Actively Aerated Compost Teas, Keene, NH
9/23/10 - Alien Invaders: An Introduction to Invasive Species, Bronx, NY
9/25/10 - Dendrology: Woody Plant Identification, Bronx, NY
9/25/10 - Ornamental Woody Plants: Fall Trees and Shrubs, Bronx, NY
9/25/10 - Ornamental Herbaceous Plants: Summer and Fall Perennials, Bronx, NY
9/25/10 - Systems Approach to Natural Turf Management, MA
9/25/10 - Rain Gardens and More, Framingham, MA
9/25/10 - Tree Identification, Bronx, NY
9/25/10 - Fall Trees and Shrubs, Bronx, NY
9/30/10 - Pests and Problems of Woody Ornamentals, Worcester, MA
10/1/10 - Fall Trees and Shrubs, Bronx, NY
10/1/10 - Ornamental Woody Plants: Fall Trees and Shrubs, Bronx, NY
10/1/10 - Herbaceous Plant Identification , Bronx, NY
10/2/10 - Grasses, Sedges, and Rushes, Bronx, NY
10/3/10 - Ornamental Woody Plants: Fall Trees and Shrubs, Bronx, NY
10/3/10 - Fall Trees and Shrubs, Bronx, NY
10/4/10 - Soil Science II: Chemistry and Nutrition, Bronx, NY
10/4/10 - Soil Science I: Physical Properties, Bronx, NY 
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NOFA Standards Review

The following excerpt on Principles of Organic Land Care can be found on page 5 of the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care.

Soil Health




A basic principle of any organic land care practice is knowledge of and proper care for the soil.

Organic land care emphasizes a holistic approach to plant health by nourishing the soil life instead

of feeding the plant directly. This results in healthy soil, which produces healthy plants. The

relationship between a given soil and a plant can be looked at in two ways:


  1) the need to alter the soil can be minimized by choosing appropriate plants for that soil

type; and

  2) the soil can be amended to provide for the long-term health of the plant.

In either case, soil testing is important in order to understand the characteristics of the soil and the

balance of soil elements (see Soil Testing). Soil tests along with site analysis allow the land care

professional to select and implement practices that maintain or improve the soil's life and vitality and

minimize soil erosion. A healthy soil is free of crusts, compaction, pesticides and other toxins, salt

buildup, and excessive erosion. In a healthy soil, the native organisms are active because organic matter is sufficient and nutrients are balanced.


The soil food web is the community of organisms living in the soil. A healthy soil food web forms

protective layers around roots to prevent pathogens from attacking the roots; helps plants obtain nutrients from the soil; breaks down toxic compounds that inhibit plant growth; improves disease suppression; and builds soil structure so that nutrients and water are easy for the plant to obtain, and easy for roots to move through. For more information about the soil food web, see the Soil Foodweb web site


In natural systems, organic matter generally cycles in place, added to the soil through root and stem

decay of winter-killed annuals and leaf decay. A thriving microbial community digests and breaks down

this organic matter to release nutrients back to the soil. The organically maintained landscape retains and recycles organic matter, to the extent that the client's needs and the situation will permit. On-site composting is a means to this end, as is direct mulching. By closing the nutrient cycle in this way, the need for external inputs is minimized.


Organic soil amendments may be needed to help balance a soil's chemistry, stimulate its biology, and

restore its physical composition. Such amendments may also be needed to feed turfgrass in a lawn, which has extraordinary nutrient needs because it is grown in an unnatural way--perpetually mowed and kept green as long as possible.


Organic soil fertility is based on feeding the soil, not just the plant. This means that carbon is fed to the soil along with nitrogen through the use of manure, compost, blended organic fertilizers, and, in some situations, cover crops. Horticultural methods which short-cut this natural order by directly feeding plants synthetic nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) lead to damaged soil and a weak root systems, making the plants more susceptible to insects, disease, and drought. Over-fertilizing the plant (chemically or organically) may also inhibit the development of mycorrhizae-symbiotic fungi growing on or around plant roots that help to gather nutrients beyond the range of the roots themselves.Eventually the soil structure collapses and it becomes infertile. To revive dead, compacted soil, it may be necessary to apply compost to improve and build soil life.


A well-balanced soil-building program that increases humus content and organic matter gives many

benefits. It recycles nutrients, improves water retention, balances minerals, and buffers pH. In addition to compost and manure, other amendments may be indicated based on the soil test results, such as root stimulants, rock dust, secondary micronutrients, flocculents, beneficial microbes, organic humus, volcanic humic shale ore, fulvic acid, or kelp.


Most turf grasses and ornamentals perform best when certain cations are in balance, with the base

saturation in these ranges: potassium 2-7%; calcium 65-85%; magnesium 10-20%; hydrogen 0-5%;

sodium 0-5%. Micronutrient needs may differ according to the turf or ornamental plant type. It is

important to get the pH in the right range (depending on whether the plants to be grown prefer acid or

nearly neutral soil). According to one school of thought, it is important to balance the calcium-tomagnesium ratio. If magnesium is too high relative to calcium and liming is needed to adjust pH, use calcitic lime instead of dolomitic lime, which is high in magnesium.

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