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Flowers Replace Insecticides in Lettuce Production on January 23rd, 2015

Research generated by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in the heart of America’s Salad Bowl is showing how lettuce growers can control pests without the use of insecticides, by allowing a few flowering plants to grow among the salad greens.

Organic farmers have long known that planting sweet alyssum throughout a lettuce field effectively controls aphids, a major pest of salad crops. Sweet alyssum attracts beneficial insects including hoverflies, whose larvae each chomp down as many as 150 aphids per day.

The trade-off for this type of chemical-free pest control used to be the loss of up to 5 percent of yield, due to lettuce being displaced by the alyssum plants.

But thanks to a technique of “additive intercropping,” developed by USDA researcher Dr. Eric Brennan, growers can now plant enough alyssum for pest control without displacing any lettuce, or reducing crop yield. A well-respected crop researcher, Dr. Brennan is a former OFRF grant recipient.

“I see additive intercropping as a sustainable, win-win approach for dealing with major insect pests,” Brennan said. “Farmers can provide the beneficial insects with the resources they need to control aphids, without giving up any valuable lettuce-growing area.”

Brennan’s planting guidelines were developed over a period of nine years, on certified organic research plots, while producing romaine lettuce on a commercial scale. Additive intercropping involves planting one or two alyssum plants per every 50 lettuce plants. The alyssum are planted between regularly-spaced lettuce starts, where they thrive without crowding the lettuce, or reducing its size.

Hoverfly adults feed on alyssum’s nectar and pollen, while the larvae feed on aphids and other insects.

Lettuce is the most economically important crop grown in the Salinas Valley, with annual production values of $1.2 billion in 2013. Aphids are a constant threat to the crop, and are difficult to control, because they often hide in the cozy, protected interior of the lettuce head.

Conventional lettuce farms typically fight aphids with systemic pesticides, which are taken up by the plant and kill the insect when it sucks the plant’s juices. Systemics can reach sucking pests in areas of the plant where sprays do not reach. Growers can also plant lettuce varieties that resist certain aphid species.

Sweet alyssum, a common garden plant of Mediterranean origin, is particularly useful as an insectary plant in the Salinas area because it flowers year-round in California’s mild Central Coast region. Lettuces also grow year-round here, with prime farmland producing multiple plantings, and commanding some of the highest rents in agriculture.

Brennan’s research results are free and available online. He has also produced a lively, interactive 18-minute video that describes his research, shows various experimental planting patterns, and includes graphic footage of a hoverfly larva sucking down a fat aphid.

See the video at
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Upcoming Small Farm Conference! on January 14th, 2015

Upcoming Event: This Old Farm will be here with a booth!

The 3rd Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference
Danville, Indiana
Thursday, March 5th – Saturday, March 7th

Please join us for the third Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference with pre-conference workshop activities taking place on Thursday, March 5th. With numerous networking activities, this conference provides small farmers with many opportunities to learn and interact with other farmers, producers, extension educators, researchers, and students.

Check out the link below for registration information!

Morning Ag Clips! on January 14th, 2015

Check out our recent press release regarding our upcoming Alliance Meeting on 1/24/15. If you haven’t already done so, email Kristy at or call us at 765-324-2161 to reserve your spot today!


Farmer Alliance Meeting for livestock

This Old Farm, Inc. now represents more than 50 farms

Published on January 13th, 2015

This Old Farm has gained several new customers and we need you, the grower, to help satisfy these new customers who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their fresh, local and naturally raised meats and produce. (

As our Indiana growing season comes to a close for the year, a new growing season is quickly approaching. We are already making plans for the new season and look forward to working with you. This Old Farm has gained several new customers and we need you, the grower, to help satisfy these new customers who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their fresh, local and naturally raised meats and produce.

This Old Farm, Inc. now represents more than 50+ farms throughout the state in which we co-market locally grown meats and produce. We are always looking to work with produce and livestock farms, both new and old. We would love to discuss both our livestock operation and crop planning with you as well as our upcoming new marketing strategies! We want you to join us in supplying Indiana with the best food we can produce!

Meeting: Livestock

When: Saturday, January 24th

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Location: This Old Farm, Inc. at 9572 W County Rd 650 S, Colfax IN 46035

Please RSVP to Kristy Miller at (765) 324-2161 or

We are pleased to announce that we have received four grants to help us for the 2015 year. One of which has given us the opportunity to supply locally raised meats and produce to schools! Visit our website at or call to learn more!

— This Old Farm

EGGS!!!!!! on January 13th, 2015

We now have some eggs available! Just stop by our retail store and get your eggs while they last! During the winter, we only have a few dozen a week!

2015 Indiana HORT Congress!!!! on January 13th, 2015

We are happy to announce that 2 of our staff members will be attending the 2015 Indiana HORT Congress in Indianapolis on January 20-22, 2015 at the Wyndham Indianapolis West, 2544 Executive Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46241. We are Booth #52!!!

If you are attending, stop by and say “hi” to Joshua and Summer at our Booth Exhibit!