Lake Agassiz Chapter Spring Blossom Orchard Tour is May 21

SFA_LakeAgassiz_RGBSFA Lake Agassiz Chapter is hosting a Spring Blossom Orchard Tour from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thurs., May 21, at the Honeyberry Farm & Nursery, 19736 350th St, Bagley (1.5 miles SE of Bagley). The event is free and registration is not required.

During the tour, The Honeyberry Farm and Nursery will showcase the beauty and fragrances of spring blossoms. Honeyberries burst out first, followed by Saskatoons, dwarf sour cherries, currants, aronia, elderberries, and more. Farm owners Jim and Bernis Ingvaldson will lead the tour.

Attendees will learn how to plan orchards to enjoy fresh fruit from early summer to late fall. Cameras and kids are welcome.

For more information about this free event, contact 218.694.3071 or gro.n1435943757m-afs1435943757@ziss1435943757agaek1435943757al1435943757.

SFA Greater Mille Lacs Chapter Now Official

SFA is excited to announce the formation of a brand-new chapter centered around the Aitkin area – the Greater Mille Lacs chapter.

Erik Heimark, SFA Greater Mille Lacs Chapter President.

Erik Heimark, SFA Greater Mille Lacs Chapter President.

According to Erik Heimark, chapter president, Greater Mille Lacs arose because of the large number of sustainably minded farmers around the Aitkin area.

“The idea to form a SFA chapter came about at a meeting last January where local farmers got together to discuss ways to support each other in the coming season,” he said. “The main goals of the Greater Mille Lacs Chapter are to help farmers market and process their products, provide support to their operations, and to educate themselves and their neighbors about the best practices in sustainable agriculture.”

SFA Network Coordinator Jerry Ford shepherded the new chapter through the formation process, and reminds SFA members that anyone interested in chapter-related issues should visit our Chapter Resource Portal.

Anyone interested in learning more about the new Greater Mille Lacs Chapter can contact Erik at ude.n1435943757mu@2214359437570amie1435943757h1435943757 or membership coordinator Jodi Olson at moc.l1435943757iamg@143594375713ett1435943757eduaj1435943757 or 218.927.1435.

SFA Nears Completion in Meeting High-level Nonprofit Standards

SFA Network Coordinator Jerry Ford has been working with the Charities Review Council in a program that certifies nonprofit organizations that meet a high set of standards. Jerry is shown here with Kris Kewitsch, Executive Director, Charities Review Council.

SFA Network Coordinator Jerry Ford has been working with the Charities Review Council in a program that certifies nonprofit organizations that meet a high set of standards. Jerry is shown here with Kris Kewitsch, Executive Director, Charities Review Council.

The Charities Review Council oversees a program to certify nonprofit organizations that meet a high set of standards. The process for attaining the certification is rigorous and demanding, but SFA is nearing the finish line. Organizations that achieve these standards are listed on the website, smartgivers.org, a resource for donors, foundations and philanthropists who seek assurance that a particular charity is structurally sound and effectively pursuing its stated mission.

SFA’s Network Coordinator, Jerry Ford, and Executive Director, John Mesko, have completed a series of required Nonprofit Strengthening Workshops over the past several months as part of this program. Using what they have learned, they have been fine-tuning various area of SFA’s organizational documentation and structure to bring us into greater alignment with legal requirements and accepted best practices.

The final step is a thorough analysis of our procedures, policies and mission, and we are well into that process. Our intention is to be certified by the Charities Review Council before the fall fundraising season, which will open up even greater sources of donation revenue for SFA.

Lake Agassiz Seed Swap April 26 in Bagley

SFA_LakeAgassiz_RGBSFA Lake Agassiz Chapter is hosting a Seed Swap and potluck from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at the American Legion, 112 Main Ave N, Bagley. This event is free and no registration is required.

Attendees can bring extra seeds saved from crops or leftover purchased seeds, all in containers that are not spill-prone and clearly labeled, along with small envelopes to carry home your exchanges. Do not bring treated or GMO seeds. Cuttings, scion wood, etc. are welcome.

No seeds? No sweat! Come anyway and pick up some things that interest you. Discussion welcome on the history of heirloom seeds and ancient grains.

For more information, contact Jim Ingvaldson at 218-694-3071.

Young Farmers Receive Crow River SFA Scholarships

SFA’s Crow River Chapter recently recognized two area youth as recipients of the Outstanding Youth in Sustainable Agriculture award.

Two aspiring farmers received $100 awards at the Crow River SFA annual meeting Jan. 31. Pictured (from left) are scholarship winners Emily Hackbarth and Charlie Otto with Crow River Chapter President Nick Neaton.

Two aspiring farmers received $100 awards at the Crow River SFA annual meeting Jan. 31. Pictured (from left) are scholarship winners Emily Hackbarth and Charlie Otto with Crow River Chapter President Nick Neaton.

These hard-working young people each received a $100 cash award towards their farming projects. It is the CRSFA’s hope that this financial assistance will inspire new generations to start farming!

Emily Hackbarth raises goats, llamas, and gardens at her family’s farm near Silver Lake. Emily is especially interested in pasture management and holistic health for her herd of dairy goats. She is active in 4-H, which has helped cultivate her lifelong passion for agriculture.

Charlie Otto of Delano is also a longtime 4-H member. Charlie raises sheep, cattle, and chickens on his family’s farm, as well as helping with the vegetable gardens. Charlie hopes to use the $100 award to create a better fencing system for his pastured chickens.

For more information, visit the SFA Crow River Chapter homepage.

Lake Agassiz Seed Swap April 26 in Bagley

SFA_LakeAgassiz_RGBSFA Lake Agassiz Chapter is hosting a Seed Swap and potluck from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at the American Legion, 112 Main Ave N, Bagley. This event is free and no registration is required.

Attendees can bring extra seeds saved from crops or leftover purchased seeds, all in containers that are not spill-prone and clearly labeled, along with small envelopes to carry home your exchanges. Do not bring treated or GMO seeds. Cuttings, scion wood, etc. are welcome.

No seeds? No sweat! Come anyway and pick up some things that interest you. Discussion welcome on the history of heirloom seeds and ancient grains.

For more information, contact Jim Ingvaldson at 218-694-3071.

KCIM Soil Health Webinar with Dr. Shannon Osbourne Now Archived

KCIM Keep Cattle in MinnesotaOur most recent Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar was April 3 and featured Dr. Shannon Osbourne of ARS in Brookings, S.D. Dr. Osborne is a Research Agronomist with the US Dept of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service whose research focuses on understanding how soil and crop management options influence the soil environment and how these practices can be developed into production systems that maintain or improve our soil resource conservation and environmental quality, while providing production efficiency.

Dr. Osborne’s presentation focused on the impact of crop diversity, no-till, cover crops and residue removal on soil health properties, including soil physical properties and their interaction with soil biological properties. Specific information will included how crop diversity and cover crops impact soil aggregation, carbon and components of soil organic matter.

Click here to view this and past webinars on our new Webinar Homepage.

From the Executive Director: Volunteering for SFA is Win-Win

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

SFA’s website is loaded with helpful information. A key part of the SFA website is our volunteer page. If you are a volunteer, you will need to be familiar with the volunteer handbook, which can be found there. If you haven’t already been through the handbook, please read it, and then sign and submit a volunteer release form. This is required of all volunteers.

Also on the volunteer page, you can track your volunteer hours. This is a great way to make a formal donation to SFA. By recording your hours here, you are actually making an “in-kind” donation to SFA. This is very useful to us when we write a grant that requires matching funds. But we can only take advantage of this if you record your hours.

If you have a volunteer opportunity in your chapter, listing it here may help you find the right person for the job. We get frequent requests from people who want to volunteer, and since we don’t always know everything going on in each region, this is a great tool for communicating your need for volunteer assistance.

Association Board Elects New Officer Slate

Executive CouncilAt its meeting on Feb. 13, 2015, the SFA Board of Directors elected a new slate of officers.

At-large member Libby Wyrum was elected Vice-President, Lake Agassiz Chapter representative Marie Petry was elected board Secretary, and at-large member Chris Kudrna was elected as Treasurer.

Jim Chamberlin will remain in his role as Board President.

Wyrum has been on the Association Board since 2012. She is the founder of Frank & Ernest Foods, a local marketing consultancy, and is the director of the Linden Hills Farmers Market. She lives in St. Paul with her husband Dan and their two dogs, Frank and Ernest.

Petry has worked tirelessly for the past few years to revitalize SFA’s Lake Agassiz Chapter. Most recently, she has organized three popular “Good Food From Good Farms” events and is planning a yearly Lake Agassiz Chicken Festival. She and her husband, Bob, operate GrassStain Farm near Wolverton.

Kudrna is a longtime SFA Board member and past President who is a stalwart of Crow River Chapter and vendor at Minnesota Garlic Festival. He and his wife, Joanne, own Plum Creek Garlic near St. Cloud.

Chamberlin and his wife, Audra, own Island Lake Farm south of Deerwood, a 107-acre diversified farm where they raise food and fiber for their nine children, seven grandchildren, extended family and friends.

New SFA East Central Chapter Hosting First Meeting

A new SFA chapter is forming in the East Central part of the state, and all are invited to the first official chapter meeting, set for 6 p.m. March 29 at Kimberly-Glen Town Hall in Aitkin.

Admission to this event is free and no registration is required.

The purpose of this meeting is to elect a Chapter Board of Directors and discuss the direction and goals of this new Chapter. Here are the particulars about the event:

  • Date:  March 29, 2015
  • Time: 6 pm
  • Location: Kimberly-Glen Town Hall, 32631 Dam Lake St, Aitkin, MN 56431
  • Cost: Free

For more information, contact Jerry Ford at gro.n1435943757m-afs1435943757@yrre1435943757j1435943757.