Farm-to-Institution Producer Report Published

In 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.

Further, a recent webinar that discussed the project findings can be viewed in SFA’s webinar archive.

New Deep Roots Class, ‘Introduction to Homestead Dairy’

Wika with goatsSFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development program is offering a new class, “Introduction to Homestead Dairy,” from 6 to 9 p.m. Fri., July 24, at Paradox Farm in Ashby, Minn. If you’re wondering about adding a dairy component to your enterprise or would like more information to guide your current dairy practices, this course might be for you.

This course introduces students to the topic of homestead dairy farming. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Holistic management: How dairy can fit with a homestead life
  • Animal selection
  • Managing the dairy animal (nutrition, breeding)
  • Basic equipment
  • Buildings/Structures and logistics
  • Milk handling and processing

Deep RootsThe lecture and discussion course is 6-9 p.m. Class limited to 8 people. Fee: $60 (Farm Skills 101 graduates $30).

For those who would like hands-on experience with milking and animal handling, two milking labs will be offered: 7-10 a.m., Saturday, 25 July, and 7-10 a.m., Sunday, 26 July. Each lab is limited to 2 people. Milking lab fee: $60 (Farm Skills 101 graduates $30)

In case of a sellout more classes may be added. Visit www.sfa-mn.org/deeproots or watch SFA Connect for additional class announcements.

Click here to register.

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.

Presenters:

  • 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 www.sfa-mn.org/forage-council.

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.

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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.

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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.

Registration/information: www.sfa-mn.org/central.

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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.n1440935555m-afs1440935555@yrre1440935555j1440935555, 763.244.6659

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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.n1440935555tm@no1440935555cabb1440935555 or 763.753.5099.

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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.n1440935555mu@41144093555500der1440935555g1440935555.

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.

From the Executive Director: Slow Money Coming to Minnesota

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

The modern sustainable agriculture movement has established successful production models. We’ve developed and advocated for successful small and mid-sized marketing models. One of the next areas on which we are working is overcoming financing issues and developing a sustainable financing model for our brand of agriculture.

This is not an easy task, but our friends at Renewing the Countryside have been working on this for many years and have made progress. A number of years ago, at the SFA Annual Conference, we hosted Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, as he discussed alternatives to funding and financing the kind of agriculture which accounts for all costs, including environmental costs. Slow Money has continued to develop, and now Renewing the Countryside is taking the next big step in bringing Slow Money to Minnesota in a big way!

If you are a farmer, or someone interested in the long-term viability of sustainable agriculture, I would invite you to attend RTC’s Slow Money Event, Wed., June 17, in St. Paul. We need to advance solutions in all facets of agriculture, and this event is the gateway to exploring and moving forward those financial solutions.

You won’t be disappointed. Here are five reasons you’ll want to be there:

  1. If you are passionate about local foods and farmers, this event will lay the groundwork for opening up new channels for supporting these businesses.
  2. This will not be boring. Those who come will learn things, and will have fun doing it.
  3. This will be a who’s who of local foods. See old friends and make new.
  4. The venue, Como Dockside has been remodeled and their chef is Ella Wesenberg, formerly of the Modern Cafe, so the food will be great!
  5. After the event, you can head downstairs where there is a free concert by the Big Band Zuhrah Flames.

Click here to learn more and register!

SFA Returns to Mill City Farmers Market on June 6

Mary Jane Miller

Mary Jane Miller

SFA is making our yearly trip to the beautiful and bountiful Mill City Farmers Market, and this year we’re bringing ketchup.

2015.6.2 Crow River KetchupOn June 6 – this Saturday – SFA will be the featured guest at Mill City and along with Mary Jane Miller’s cooking expertise  and our usual booth of goodies and conversation we’ll be making the Minneapolis debut of Crow River Ketchup (right with spokesmodel Dan Zetah). Bottles will be available for purchase, Crow River farmers will be on hand, and Mary Jane will be cooking creative recipes that include the ketchup or go well with it.

We’ll have SFA t-shirts for sale as well – including the return of our “Back End of a Cow” shirts that sold out during our winter conferences.

The vibrant Mill City Farmers Market is held from 8 a.m.1 p.m. Saturdays in the courtyard of the Mill City Museum overlooking the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge, and is next door to the architectural marvel that is Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater. The Market was founded by chef and restaurateur Brenda Langton and is next door to her popular farm-to-table restaurant, Spoonriver. SFA has been a regular at Mill City for many years, and we’re thankful to the Market for all its support.

If you can’t make the market but are hankering for Crow River Ketchup, it will soon be available for sale at all three Lakewinds Co-op locations. 

From the Executive Director: Thankful for Everyday Greatness

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

Our family recently returned from an all-too-rare family vacation, where we took in both Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. With the exception of running (yes, we all made it) up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, à la Rocky Balboa circa 1976, we spent the majority of our time steeped in U.S. history.

One cannot travel the path we did and not be struck with the amazing stories of the men and women who founded our country. Diverse, brilliant, flawed, aristocratic, humble, proud. The personalities are as far-ranging as their accomplishments. At monument after memorial after museum, we were confronted by a nation’s gratefulness, tribute and honor to its leaders, risk-takers, hard-workers and outspoken citizens. There are so many examples of people who set forth a country and a citizenship that has, despite many ups and downs, done much good in the world.

A walk through a museum is one thing, a week of history 24/7 is quite another. I have many takeaways from the trip, but one theme that has been solidly on my mind is the notion of the individual, everyday person in our land. Taken as a steady stream, the memorials to famous founders and leaders in our country is overwhelming. However, the number of great people who are recognized by the National Parks Service or the Smithsonian Institution is just a tiny fraction of the great people who have contributed to our nation and will contribute to it in the future.

I enjoy very much learning about greatness. After being surrounded by so much, I was left with the sense that each of us has a chance in our lives, and in fact every day, to do great things and live great lives. We cannot all get recognized for greatness. And some people might be “over-recognized.” However, our potential, dare I say our duty, to be great is no less.

So for those of you who are toiling daily to make a difference, to grow healthy food, to teach someone else to grow healthy food, to teach someone how to eat better, to make food available from your farm, your co-op, your buyers club, thank you. For everyone who contributes time, energy, brain power, money, prayers, blood, sweat, tears and their whole heart to the cause of making people better, healthier, kinder, smarter, more peaceful, thank you.

You might not be memorialized by a statue or in a museum. But you are engaged in a great work, and I’m proud to be numbered among you.