New Webinar Planned on “Building Minnesota’s Farm to Institution Markets”

Set for 3-4 p.m. June 25, this webinar will review the findings of a recently completed survey of Minnesota producers on current and potential farm to institution markets (e.g. K-12 schools, hospitals, etc.) in Minnesota and the surrounding region.

The findings of the survey identify key challenges and opportunities for producers to expand engagement in such markets, including an understanding of the types of practices and resources needed for economically sustainable participation.

Presenters from the collaborating organizations – the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), the Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) and Renewing the Countryside (RTC) – will review highlights of the survey results and discuss recommendations for “next steps” in farm to institution efforts that benefit producers in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.


  • Pete Huff, Director of Food Systems (IATP)
  • Jason Walker, Communications Coordinator (SFA)
  • Grace Brogan, Program & Communications Manager (RTC)

RSVP now here.

Farm-to-Institution Producer Report Published

Survey Report IMAGEIn 2014-15, SFA, along with Renewing the Countryside, collaborated on a project led by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, “Building Minnesota’s Farm-to-Institution Markets: A Producer Survey.” The goal of the survey was to determine the resources Minnesota growers — specifically specialty crop growers — need to engage with institutional markets in a consistent and economically viable manner. It also identifies some of the key “next steps” that farmers feel are needed to ensure the state’s emerging farm-to-institution markets work for them.

Project leader Pete Huff published a final comprehensive report from this project that includes a wealth of data and producer comments on this issue.

To learn more about the project and access the report, click here. 

To simply download the report, click here.

Forage Council Summer Tour is June 23 in Fort Ripley

The Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council, a SFA networking group, is hosting its 2015 Summer Tour, “Managed Grazing & Timber Production: Getting the Most Out of Your Woodlands,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 23 at St. Mathias Community Park in Fort Ripley.

Planned are presentations from University of Missouri research station superintendent Dusty Walter and Early Boots Farm owner Tyler Carlson, a tour of the Rosanne and Bruce Caught dairy/beef farm and the Steve Moe silvopasture sites, and plenty of discussion and networking.

Cost is $20 and includes refreshments, lunch, and the program. To register and learn more, visit

Festival of Farms Event Schedule Rolling In

The following is a compendium of what SFA chapters have planned for the upcoming Festival of Farms. For more information on these and any updated or additional events, visit our Festival of Farms Homepage.


SFA_LakeAgassiz_RGBLake Agassiz Chapter Festival of Farms, “Building a Community of Farms in Lakes Country,” will be 1-4 p.m. July 11. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at at Lida Farm, 44593 25th Ave, Pelican Rapids; and then move to Lost Farm just a few miles down the road.

Lida Farm is a 20-acre vegetable farm in operation for over 10 years that features diverse marketing strategies, integration of small-scale livestock production, and innovative methods of season extension including a deep winter greenhouse. Lost Farm is a beginning-farm operation focused on self-sufficiency while exploring local markets for sustainable products. Enterprises include pastured livestock, market gardening, sustainable woodworking, and value-added food preservation.

RSVP online here or by calling Noelle Harden at 218.280.5253.


SFA_Central_RGBCentral Chapter is hosting Festival of Farms from 12:30-8 p.m. on July 11 with a bus tour to and from three local farms, a local foods dinner, and more.

The event begins and ends at the City Park in Alexandria (118 City Park Rd). Buses will transport attendees to each of three SFA farms: Lakeside Prairie Farm, Berry Ridge Farm, and Fruitful Seasons Dairy. These farms feature draft-horse power, grass-fed beef and dairy, pastured pork and chickens, berry production, vegetables, high tunnels, oats and wheat. Then, at 6 p.m., a local foods dinner will be prepared for attendees by chef Eugen Wittemann.



Plum Creek GarlicA free Garlic Growers Field Day & Gathering is planned for Festival of Farms from 2-6:30 p.m. Sun., July 12, at Plum Creek Farm.

The event begins with a field day at the farm, 2547 195th St, Clearwater, MN 55320, for a look at Chris and Joanne Kudrna’s garlic, and have some open Q&A time. Dr. Carl Rosen will be there for the really technical questions.

Around 3:30 or 4 p.m., the group will head to Chris and Joanne’s house, 3655 Plum Creek Drive, Saint Cloud, MN 56301, for potluck and more conversation. The possibility of starting a “garlic growers association” under SFA’s nonprofit umbrella will also be discussed. The event will end by 6:30 p.m.

RSVP to Jerry Ford, gro.n1435751803m-afs1435751803@yrre1435751803j1435751803, 763.244.6659


Garden Farme is again hosting its Picnic Scientifique, “Soil as System,” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., July 11 at 7367 175th Ave NW, Ramsey. The event is free and no registration is required.

The day will include a garden walk with Garden Farme’s Soil Sci Committee on “Testing for Soil Health;” Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center will present a summary outline of aboveground impact in “Soil, Society, Economics;” and another garden walk on “Soil System Linkages – Determined or Stochastic?”

Information: Bruce Bacon at gro.n1435751803tm@no1435751803cabb1435751803 or 763.753.5099.


University of Minnesota Extension and Natural Resources Conservation Service are teaming up with SFA to sponsor a special “warm-up tour” on “Grazing Management and Pasture Forage Quality” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thurs., July 9, at Living Song Farm, 7616 25th Street SW, Howard Lake, Minn. This event is free and no registration is required.

Jerry Ford, who has been rotationally grazing since 2006, will be the host. Other speakers include Tom Gervais, NRCS grazing specialist; Julie Reberg, NRCS District Conservationist; and Rod Greder, Wright County Extension Educator.

Registration and program begin at 10 a.m. Some walking will be required, and sturdy shoes or boots are recommended. Lunch will be provided.

Information: Rob Greder, Wright County Extension Office, at 763.682.7381 or ude.n1435751803mu@41143575180300der1435751803g1435751803.

Registration NOW OPEN for 2016 SFA Annual Conference, Midwest Soil Health Summit

Registration is now open for SFA’s 2016 winter conferences – get the following dates on your calendar and register NOW for the best prices.

Click here to register for the SFA Annual Conference, set for Feb. 13 at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. Until Nov. 1, early bird registration is just $35 for SFA members and $45 for nonmembers. You may also register children 3-12 for the Budding Farmers program and for the SFA Leaders Breakfast.

Click here to register for the SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit, set for Feb. 17-18 at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn. The MSHS features soil health experts and farm leaders for two days of education and farmer networking – all geared at improving the health of your soil. Early Bird pricing is $125 for SFA members and $175 for nonmembers until Nov. 1.

Sponsor & Exhibitor registration is open for both conferences on their respective homepage linked above. And remember that SFA Business/Organization members earn significant discounts on sponsorships and exhibitor space at our conferences. To learn more about SFA Business/Organization memberships, click here.