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Founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery Given Vision Leadership Award

Albert Straus Recognized for Pioneering the Organic Milk Movement in the United States

Albert Straus, founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery, was awarded one of this year’s Vision Leadership Awards by the Specialty Food Association for spearheading the organic milk movement in the United States in the early 1990s. The Straus family farm was the first certified organic dairy farm west of the Mississippi River. A family-owned and operated business, the Straus Family Creamery was the first 100 percent organic creamery in the United States.

The Specialty Food Association honors industry frontrunners who have gone above and beyond in advancing food standards by creating social, economic and environmental impact through innovation and vision. Two awards are given in each of the three categories: Business, Citizenship and Vision Leadership. The six recipients received the awards during a special reception at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award,” said Straus, who in addition to being CEO of Straus Family Creamery, still operates his own dairy farm. “More importantly, I am pleased that it shines a spotlight on the important work of leveraging organic family farming to revitalize rural communities everywhere. I encourage farmers and ranchers in rural areas throughout the world to learn about the positive impact organic farming can have on protecting the environment, mitigating climate change and improving the health for future generations,” Straus added.

Members of Specialty Food Association and others in the specialty food industry made nominations for the leadership awards. National Supplier Relationship Manager Bob Meyer of United Natural Foods said that nominating Albert Straus was an easy choice. “He is a rock star, and he changed the industry.” Meyer added it was an honor to nominate him, and he’s ecstatic that he won.

A panel of judges composed of industry experts and influencers selected the honorees from more than 50 nominees across the three categories. Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association said, “In our growing industry, leaders like these are paving the way for other companies to succeed and become recognized names. It’s our honor to acknowledge their achievements through the Leadership Awards.”

Straus Family Creamery has a longstanding commitment to sustaining family farming. When Straus converted his family’s dairy to organic production in 1994, becoming the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi, he pioneered a model that reflects the true costs of milk production and promotes sustainable land stewardship. Founding the Creamery the same year, Straus sought to create a market for local, organic milk, and develop a community of organic dairy farmers in the region. Today, more than 80 percent of the dairy farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties are certified organic. Straus Family Creamery continues to make business decisions based on its mission to help sustain family farms, revitalize rural communities and protect the environment.

About Straus Family Creamery

Straus Family Creamery is a Northern California, certified organic creamery offering milk, cream, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream, and a variety of wholesale and specialty dairy products distributed throughout the Western United States. Based in Marshall, CA, the Creamery makes minimally-processed dairy products from organic milk supplied by family farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties, including the Straus dairy. Straus Family Creamery sustains collaborative relationships with the family farms that supply it milk, offering stable prices and predictability in what can otherwise be a volatile marketplace. Learn more at www.strausfamilycreamery.com.

About the Specialty Food Association

The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,400 members in the U.S. and abroad with resources, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food. Learn more at www.specialtyfood.com.

Spotlight On: Farming Systems & Approaches

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

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At the same time that U.S. commercial beekeeping is circling down in a death spiral, hobby beekeeping is booming and almost every beekeeping club in the country has at least twice as many members as it did twenty years ago. What this means is that if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with relatively clean and varied sources of pollen and nectar, the potential for a successful family-sized commercial apiary is better now than it has been for many decades.

LittleField Notes Seed Irony

LittleField Notes: Seed Irony

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They say to preserve them properly, seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place in a sealed, dry container. Yet the circumstances under which seeds in a natural environment store themselves (so to speak) seem so far from ideal, that it’s a wonder plants manage to reproduce at all. But any gardener knows that plants not only manage to reproduce, they excel at it. Who hasn’t thrown a giant squash into the compost heap in the fall only to see some mystery squash growing there the next summer?

Food Energy The Fragile Link Between Resources and Population

Food-Energy: the Fragile Link Between Resources & Population

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Now, after a one lifetime span of almost free energy and resultant copious food, the entire world faces the imminent decline (and eventual demise) of finite, fossil-fuel capital. Without fossil fuels, food can no longer be produced in one area and shipped thousands of miles to market. To suggest that the world will be able to feed the UN projected population of nine billion by 2050 is totally incomprehensible in the face of declining oil.

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

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Most sugar cane is processed in refineries to give us molasses, brown sugar, and various kinds of white sugar. However, some South Georgia farms that raise sugar cane still process it the old way to produce the special tasting sweetener for their own food. One such farm is the Rocking R Ranch in Kibbee, Georgia. It is owned by Charles and Patricia Roberts and their sons. The process they use has not changed in the past 100 years. This is how it is done.

Henpecked Compost and U-Mix Potting Soil

We have hesitated to go public with our potting mix, not because the formula is top secret, but because our greenhouse experience is limited in years and scale. Nevertheless, we would like to offer what we have learned in hopes of showing that something as seemingly insignificant as putting together a potting mix can be integrated into a systems approach to farming.

LittleField Notes Hay

LittleField Notes: Hay

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Farming never fails to dish up one lesson in humility after another. Despite having all the weather knowledge the information-age has to offer, farmers will still lose hay to the rain, apple blossoms to frost, winter wheat to drought… If we are slow to learn humility in Nature’s presence we can be sure that another lesson is never far off.

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

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Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

Useful Birds

Useful Birds

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Whether a bird is beneficial or injurious depends almost entirely upon what it eats. Birds are often accused of eating this or that product of cultivation, when an examination of the stomachs shows the accusation to be unfounded. Accordingly, the Biological Survey has conducted for some years past a systematic investigation of the food of those species which are most common about the farm and garden.

Birth of a Farm

Birth of a Farm

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“Isn’t it nice?” I offer to my supper companions, “to see our beautiful horses right while we’re eating? I feel like I’m on a Kentucky horse farm, with rolling bluegrass vistas.” I sweep my arm dramatically towards the view, the rigged up electric fence, the lawn straggling down to the pond, the three horses, one of whom is relieving herself at the moment. “Oh, huh,” he answers. “I was thinking it was more like a cheesy bed and breakfast.”

Cultivating Questions A Diversity of Cropping Systems

Cultivating Questions: A Diversity of Cropping Systems

As a matter of convenience, we plant all of our field vegetables in widely spaced single rows so we can cultivate the crops with one setup on the riding cultivator. Row cropping makes sense for us because we are more limited by labor than land and we don’t use irrigation for the field vegetables. As for the economics of planting produce in work horse friendly single rows, revenue is comparable to many multiple row tractor systems.

Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 1

Our mild climate makes it too easy to overwinter cover crops. Then the typically wet springs (and, on our farm, wet soils) let the cover put on loads of topgrowth before getting on the soil. Buckwheat is the only crop that I can be certain will winterkill. Field peas, oats, annual rye and crimson clover have all overwintered here. Any suggestions?

Planting Calendar and Other Diagrams

From Dusty Shelves: A 1943 calendar for seeding your vegetable garden.

Littlefield Notes Fall 2012

Littlefield Notes: Fall 2012

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Why horses? We are knee deep in threshing oats and rye when I find after lunch that the tractor won’t start. Press the ignition switch — nothing; not even a click. I cancel the day’s threshing and drive thirty miles to the tractor store and pick up a genuine-after-market IH part. Come home, put in the new ignition switch and still nothing. When we need the horses they start right up, without complaint — every time.

LittleField Notes Fall 2011

LittleField Notes: Fall 2011

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There is a certain set of skills and knowledge that tend to fall through the cracks of your average farm how-to book. Books of a more specialized nature are also abundant but often seem to take a fairly simple subject and make it seem daunting in scope and detail. What follows are a few tidbits of knowledge that I have found useful over the years – the little things that will inevitably need to be learned at some point in the farmer education process.

Traditional Agriculture in Siberia

Traditional Agriculture in Siberia

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The agricultural system of the Old Believers has long been one of hand labor. Their homesteads (hozyastvas) were not intended for tractors or horses, with the possible exception of their larger potato fields. Traditionally the small peasant hozyastva has its roots in hand labor, and this has helped maintain the health of the land. Understanding the natural systems is easier when one’s hands are in the soil every day as opposed to seeing the land from the seat of a tractor.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate Part 2

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 2

Finding just the right cover crop-tillage combination for crops planted the last half of June has always been a real challenge in our location. While surface-tilling mature rye and vetch in May works well for fall crops established in July and August, this cover crop-tillage combo does not allow enough time for decomposition and moisture accumulation for end-of-June plantings.

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