January / February 2017                                           VOLUME 5, EDITION 1
Shifts in Tobacco Farms

In the Connecticut River Valley, the most commonly grown tobacco is shade tobacco. Planting tobacco begins in April and the harvesting starts in August. 

Shifts in consumer tastes, land development, labor shortages and anti-smoking sentiment is changing the future of tobacco farms. An example of this is O.J. Thrall Inc, which has been growing tobacco since 1640. Due to a decrease in demand for shade tobacco, a portion of the farm was sold. Even with this downsizing, the Thrall family stated that:  "We're absolutely not getting out of the business."

Shade tobacco was previously considered as premium wrapper which demanded higher market prices. It became popular as a wrapper for premium cigars. Farms say the river valley's soil is one of the key factors in the quality of the leaf and that is why they have not relocated to a lower-cost region.

To read the full article,  click here
"AeroFarms is on a mission to transform agriculture by leveraging our patented technology and farming locally. We do this by building, owning and operating indoor vertical farms that grow safe, nutritious food in a way that is respectful to the planet and the communities in which we grow." 

The iPhone isn't the only thing getting an upgrade nowadays. Farmers have been experimenting with new technologies for decades to produce more food using less land, fewer pesticides, less water and will a smaller impact on the environment. The idea of vertical farming is relatively new and refers to a method of growing crops without soil or natural light, in beds stacked vertically in a controlled-environment building.

AeroFarms is a new indoor agricultural company that started in 2015. AeroFarms purchased an old steel supply warehouse in Newark, New Jersey. The seventy thousand square foot floor was then filled up with kale, bok choi, watercress, arugula, lettuce and other salad greens nearly thirty-six feet tall.

AeroFarms utilizes aeroponics, which provides water and nutrients to the plants by spraying a mist. There is no dirt involved. Aeroponics use about 70% less water than hydroponic farming, which grows plants in water. Hydroponic farming uses 70% less water than traditional farming. Without dirt or water weighing the plants down, it makes for transport of plants much easier. One of the problems with aeroponics was the nozzle which sprays nutrients and water, would clog. Ed Harwood, the farms inventor, created a nozzle that does not clog, but will not give out his design secrets.

The controlled environment of a vertical farm means that crops can be grown out of season and without worry about the climate outside. Their compact space would allow them to fit into highly populated areas with minimum negative impact on the environment. Everything from the humidity of the air, to the shape, size and complexion of the plant leaves is monitored and watched. Any change in the plants growth or environment alerts the plant biologists and scientists on their computers or even their phones. Some even have apps that allow them to adjust the functioning of the farm remotely.

These farms have also been a great learning resource for children. Young students in city areas might never have seen certain vegetables grown and this method of farming shows students how roots grow, how to monitor their plants' needs and even better, they get to eat the fruits (or vegetables) of their labor! AreoFarms currently supplies some school cafeterias with farms so they can grow their own greens.

Although a new method of farming, AeroFarms hopes to become widespread, changing the way densely populated areas grow their food.

To read the full article  click here
To learn more about AeroFarms,  click here
Winter Farmers Markets

The northeast winters are known to be snow covered and freezing, hardly a time when you'd expect plants to be growing. Even with the nasty weather, farmers markets are taking place, selling fresh, locally grown produce.

Popular foods during the winter sold at these farmers markets consist of meats, cheese, specialty foods and microbrews or wine. Tea, coffee, soaps, spices and sauces are also popular.

Not sure where to find your nearest winter farmers market? Consider using  farmfresh.org, which has a map showing farmers markets in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. You can follow the links to specific farmers markets to see a few of the farmers that will be there. Be sure to check back often to see additions to each farmers market, as they are adding new produce and products each week!

Preventing Workplace Violence

Health care professionals face high risks of workplace violence. Some factors include working with patients with a history of violence, or who are under the influence of drugs. Healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined. 

OSHA has provided a list of resources to help you compile and implement a workplace violence program in your healthcare facility. To use these resources to help prevent workplace violence,  click here

OSHA is considering whether a standard is needed to protect healthcare workers and is obtaining information about the extent of workplace violence in healthcare. If you have any comments, please submit them  here by April 6th.

To read the full webpage,  click here



Health Education Mini-Lessons
Using culturally and linguistically appropriate materials when talking to farmworkers is a great way to make a connection. The National Center for Farmworker Health has created mini-lessons about various topics in both Spanish and English. 

Some of the mini-lessons include why it is important to keep a house clean, what to expect during a doctors visit and about various mental health topics. Each mini-lesson is only a few pages long and has a quiz at the end, making it a great resource to use in a focus group or health education session. Easy to read charts and graphics are also used. 

Here are a few mini-lessons:

What is an STD? (Spanish)


Where to Look for Resources: Farmworker Health Network

For key resources and farmworker health guides, please refer to the Farmworker Health Network (FHN). The FHN is a group of six National Cooperative Agreements in migrant health funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide technical assistance and training to migrant health centers. Click here for a comprehensive list of FHN agencies.  

Outreach Resource Corner  


A full list of various language and culturally appropriate mini-lessons in both English and Spanish. Provided by the National Center for Farmworker Health.
Farmworker Justice has provided useful tools in Spanish, English and Hatian Creole about how, when and where to enroll for health insurance.
Upcoming Events 

January 28-29
Community Dialogue on Race, hosted by Cooley Dickinson Health Care and the United Way of Hampshire County
Location: Amherst, MA

Location: Radisson Hotel, Cromwell, CT

February 21: CRVFHP Monthly Meeting
Location: Conference Call


If you have an article suggestion or a recommendation of what to feature in an upcoming
Notes from the Field, please send it to  Savanna Gardner.