New York Certified Organic (NYCO) has set the dates for its Winter 2017 meetings, bringing grain and dairy farmers together with guest speakers on the organic crops and dairy production. The 2017 dates are Jan. 10, Feb.14 and March 13. Each program begins at 10 a.m. in Jordan Hall, 630 West North St. at the New York State Agricultural Experimental Station, Geneva.

There is no cost or need to register to attend the NYCO meetings; participants are asked to bring a dish to pass at the potluck lunch. Round table discussions after lunch provide farmers the opportunity to ask questions and hear from the combined experience of the group. These sessions help advance organic production in New York and have been helpful to new and transitioning farmers as well as long-time organic producers.

The New York Crop Insurance Education Team and Cornell Cooperative Extension provide support for these meetings. A brief description of how crop insurance can benefit organic farmers will be included at each of the meetings.

The Jan. 10 NYCO meeting features presentations by Bob Quinn of the Quinn Organic Research Center, Big Sandy, Mont.; Dr. Mark Sorrells of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University; organic producer Tim Christensen of Penn Yan; and Sandra Wayman with the Cornell Sustainable Cropping System Lab.

Bob Quinn leads the Quinn Organic Research Center that includes a 2,800-acre farm in Big Sandy, Mont. The 4th generation farm transitioned to organic production in 1986. Work on organic grain varieties led to the redevelopment of Kamut, an ancient grain grown by the Egyptians. The farm also grows soft white wheat, durum wheat, buckwheat, lentils, peas, sweet clover, and flax.

Quinn, a sought-after speaker on marketing and development of organic grains, will present his vision of where organic markets are going and how New York’s producers can prepare for the future at the Jan. 10 NYCO meeting.

Mark Sorrells, PhD. is the chair for the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University. As part of a research team there, he worked on the ‘Accelerating Production of Organic Grains in Western NY’ project sponsored by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and Wegmans, the family-owned supermarket chain. Sorrells will review the results of this study conducted at the Cornell University Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora.

Tim Christensen farms with his father, Guy in Penn Yan. He has been experimenting with different cover crops in his corn and small grain rotation. His decisions are based on the multi-layered objectives of protecting soil health, adding green manures, and qualifying for annual Conservation Stewardship Program payments. Christensen will share some of the success and failures he has had on his farm.

Cornell Sustainable Cropping System Lab Research Technician Sandra Wayman will review work with the newly-developed perennial grain Kernza.

The Feb. 14 NYCO meeting will focus on how to diversify farm business with organic poultry. The March 13 session will feature speakers on nutrient balancing, crop production, and alternative forage production.

2017 marks the 23rd season of the NYCO winter meetings that began in Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens’ farmhouse kitchen in Penn Yan. The meetings became increasingly more popular every year, moving to the Geneva site to accommodate more than 100 people at each session.

Producers, educators, and agribusiness representatives are encouraged to mark calendars for the Jan. 10, Feb.14, and March 13 sessions in 2017. For more information, contact Fay Benson, 607-391-2699, Benson is an educator with the Cornell University SCNY Regional Team, project manager for the NY Organic Dairy Program, coordinator of the NY Soil Health Trailer, and a member of the NY Crop Insurance Education Team.

Information on past NYCO meetings is online at