We all can do our part for the planet

Citizenship Washington Focus

By: Jessica LaRosa, Hartford County 4-H Member

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Citizenship Washington Focus with 38 other 4-Hers from Connecticut. The trip was held in Washington D.C., and focused on our nation’s Legislative Branch in government, along with looking at how to become better leaders and citizens in our communities.  When I attended the trip, there were also delegates from 9 other states who were interested in becoming better leaders in their communities.

While in Washington D.C., we attended workshops and committee meetings, and even got to tour the memorials in the District, and famous landmarks near D.C, such as Mount Vernon.  We participated in events such as Twilight Tattoo at an Army base, and attended a dinner theatre.  Overall, the trip was an amazing experience, and it was very educational on how our country’s Legislative Branch operates.  Thank you to everyone who was able to help make this journey happen.

Please visit http://www.4-h.uconn.edu for more information on Citizenship Washington Focus, and our other UConn 4-H programs.


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Brush Hill Farm – CT Dairy Farm of the Year

Brush Hill Farm – CT Dairy Farm of the Year 2017, UConn Extension Green Pastures Program

By Joyce Meader

Brush Hill Farm family

Brush Hill Farm family and team members.

Looking for cows at Brush Hill Farm? Look no further than the pasture. Other than a few hours a day when the cows are being milked in the barn, they enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and lush greens.

The herd spends their days — and nights – outside, from the moment the grass sprouts in April to the beginning of November, when winter starts to take hold.

The dairy farm in the small town of Bozrah isn’t the biggest dairy farm in the state, but this year, it’s been named Connecticut’s Dairy Farm of the Year, the 2017 Green Pasture Award winner.

The Green Pasture Award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.

Sarah and her husband, Texas Moon, oversee 35 Holsteins on about 160 acres. The farm’s been in the Brush family since the late 1800s, but while Sarah’s great-grandparents milked Jerseys, her grandfather and father rented the fields to local farmers for haying. Her dad had pigs, with little interest in cows, but Sarah and her husband used to raise heifers on the farm and sell them, then repeat the process.

Finally, in the early 90s, she and Texas rented the farm from her dad. They converted his pig barn to a freestall barn for their cows, started milking and haven’t looked back since.

Their three children were all involved in 4-H, and since this is a family operation, they help out when they can. The oldest, April, earned a degree in agricultural economics and worked on the farm until two years ago. Recent high school graduate Dixie loves being on the farm, says her mother, and is an award-winning member of the National FFA Association, while son Levi, 15, likes tinkering with tractors and other machinery.

Family is the focus of life on the farm, says Sarah, who admits dairying isn’t an easy way to make a living. “But it’s what we want to do,” she explains. “This is our comfort zone, our passion. My mom lives with us here on the farm, and though she’s never been a farmer, she’s part of the farm.”

The Green Pasture Award came as a welcome surprise. “It’s a huge honor to be nominated by our peers,” says Sarah, “and it shows that there is definitely still a place for small ‘ag’ in this country. Small or big – there’s room for all.”

Being a small operation, Brush Hill Dairy relies on community support as a key to success, whether it’s loyal customers showing up to browse the small farm store or the members of Brush Hill’s CSA garden. She and Texas are also gratified by assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which has provided financial and other support to help establish the farm’s intensive rotational grazing program, as well as grants for other improvements. “We’re as sustainable as we can possibly be,” says Sarah, and that includes being mindful of the farm’s environmental impact.

But back to those ever-grazing cows. Think they mind being outside in all kinds of weather? As Sarah explains with a laugh, “In the spring, they’re ready to go out, and in November, they’re ready to come back in!”

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Economic Impacts of Connecticut Agriculture


You are cordially invited to the release the Zwick Center’s new ag econ impact report on Friday, September 29th at 9.30 AM at the Legislative Office Building (room 1-B) in Hartford.

Speakers include U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the Commissioner of Ag Steven Reviczky, and Dean Cameron Faustman.


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NSW Towns Water Supply Contaminated

NSW Health documents obtained by the ABC reveal areas where deadly pathogens are regularly detected at dangerous levels in unfiltered drinking water pumped from rivers, lakes and dams.

The water safety reports, obtained after a lengthy freedom-of-information battle, also show more than 100,000 NSW residents were issued protective boil-water alerts in the last five years.

GraftonKempseySconeJindabyne and Merimbula are cited as the five worst-performing areas, with repeated “contamination incidents” triggering “potential health risks”.

Around Grafton, a population of 40,000 are at risk from cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes gastrointestinal illness.

Residents have faced 10 boil-water alerts since 2006, issued “in response to the inability of the water supply system to manage risks”.

The documents say faecal contamination from cattle, and even swimmers along the lower Clarence River catchment, is the parasite’s source

Similar problems plague the Bemboka River catchment, near Merimbula, with four boil-water alerts issued by Bega Valley Council in 10 years.

Deadly bugs originate in “onsite sewerage system discharges”, “failures and presence of septic systems” and from dairy farms upstream.

The documents say “chlorine-resistant pathogens” — not killed by chemical treatments — are a threat to more than 40,000 people. (more…)

Water Backed Up In Queensland – Farmers Label Murray-Darling Basin Plan a Failure

Farmers on Queensland’s McIntyre River say the Federal Government’s $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin plan has failed as it allows cotton irrigators to replace water sold back to the Commonwealth with extra floodwaters caught off the plains.

Key points:

  • Murray-Darling Basin plan allows irrigators to catch floodwaters off the plains
  • Farmers claim millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted, with no water savings achieved
  • Water being “backed up in Queensland”, according to farmer Clay Maher

The farmers claim millions of taxpayer dollars invested in local water efficiency projects have been wasted, with no actual water savings achieved.

“The water is backed up in Queensland and it’s not getting into NSW,” according to farmer Clay Maher.

“It should end up at the end of the Murray Darling.”

His neighbour Chris Lamey said extra floodwaters were allowed to be caught by irrigators, which subverts the intent of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. (more…)

Facts & Tips Regarding Water Conservation

Learn How To Reduce Your Water Usage


Water conservation is something we all should practice. Except for the air we breathe, water is the single most important element in our lives. It’s too precious to waste. Here are some useful facts and simple suggestions that will help you understand more about water. They’ll help you save hundreds, even thousands, of gallons per month without any great inconvenience.  Conserving water is something that we all should be doing. We take water and water supply for granted when in all actuality supply is in high demand and of limited resource very little of the Earth’s natural water can actually be used for human consumption. Producing water is costly and uses those limited supplies of water available. By conserving water you can help supply more water while bringing a multitude of benefits your way. (more…)

New Fence Causes Heartache

It just goes to show that when it comes to your fencing, a little planning goes a long way!

A couple has arrived at their new rental home to find a fence built around the front of the property blocking off vehicle access to their garage.

New Zealand couple Beck Cole and Deo Bohn got quite the surprise when they arrived at their new Queenstown home earlier this year, to find a ‘bizarre’ wooden fence that hadn’t been there when they inspected the property. (more…)