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By Ted Zettel
Many EFAO members have taken advantage of our on-farm advisory service since it was first offered in 1987. This service is especially popular with those who are making the transition from conventional to ecological, but recently we have visited quite a few farms to help "fine tune" management that has been in place for several years. Even the most experienced manager can benefit from a outside evaluation of his or her methods. The advisor sees the farm more objectively than the farmer and has the advantage of having dealt intensively with many other farms that face similar challenges.
To set up a visit, members can call the MVCA office at 519-335-3557. A staff person will take down some of the vital info about your farm and refer your request to an advisor who is experienced in whatever crops or livestock you produce. The advisor will then contact you directly to arrange a date. The visit, which usually takes 2-4 hours, can focus on those areas where the farmer needs assistance most urgently. Often a particular weed or disease problem will have motivated the call for advice. The advisor will gather enough information to evaluate the whole farm as a unit. He will then make a written report for the farmer, to define problem areas and recommend both short-term and long-term strategies for improvement. The report will also note other EFAO members in the area and suggest resource materials (books, videos, and magazines) that might be of use. A flat fee of $75.00 per farm visit is payable by the farmer to the EFAO.
Many times an on-farm consultation is only the beginning of valuable two way communication. Some of the people I visited years ago when they were starting ecological methods are now trusted friends whose advice I can rely on.
Copyright © 1994 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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