Festival of Farms is Next Saturday, July 12; Coteau Ridge Chapter Event Added in Pipestone

SFA_CoteauRidgeC_RGBA new Festival of Farms event has been added in the Pipestone area,  where SFA Coteau Ridge Chapter is hosting its Festival of Farms event from 1 to 4 p.m. July 12 at 1826 70th Ave, Pipestone. Visit the diverse farm of Don and Beverly DeWeerd, who have been farming organically and sustainably for more than three decades.

Dr. Kristine Nemec, Postdoctoral Research Entomologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Brookings, S.D., will present on the research project she is conducting at the DeWeerd farm that studies the response of pollinators and natural enemies to oilseed crops.

Dr. Christina Mogren, Research Entomologist at USDA-ARS in Brookings, will share the research she is conducting on the effects of landscape level habitat on native pollinator diversity and honeybee health.

This event is co-sponsored by OCIA MN #1. A lunch will be served.

The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP at 507.215.7291 for food-preparation purposes.

A compendium of SFA chapters that are participating in Festival of Farms, along with complete details and scheduling, is available on our Festival of Farms homepage.

 

Festival of Farms Events Aplenty on July 12: Ramsey, Northfield, St. Cloud, Hutchinson Areas

As the official start of summer nears and the growing season is in full swing, SFA chapters are gearing up for Festival of Farms, set for July 12, 2014.

The following is a compendium of SFA chapters that are participating in Festival of Farms. For complete details and scheduling, please visit our Festival of Farms homepage. Please note that of the tours below, the Picnic Scientifique and the Central Chapter event require an RSVP.

Picnic-smallIn the Northwest Metro, SFA member Bruce Bacon is hosting a special Festival of Farms event, the “Picnic Scientifique” Soil Field Day. The event, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., July 12, 2014, will be held at Bacon’s Garden Farme, 7363 175th Ave NW, Ramsey.
The event’s tour schedule:

  • 11 a.m. Garden Walk with the Garden Farme Soil Committee
  • 12:30 p.m. Bumblebee & Pollinators Walk with Sarah Foltz Jordan, Xerces Society
  • 2 p.m. Garden Walk with the Garden Farme Soil Committee

To learn more, click here. To RSVP, click here.

SFA_Central_RGBIn the St. Cloud area, the SFA Central Chapter is hosting tours of four farms:

To learn more and to register, click here.

Cannon River for Web Use JPG

In the Northfield area, the SFA Cannon River Chapter and Just Food Coop are sponsoring tours of two farms near Webster. The tour begins at 9:20 a.m. at Waxwing Farm; a free bus ride is available and leaves at 9 a.m. from Just Food Co-op in Northfield. The farms on the tour include:

  • Waxwing Farm, Anna Racer & Peter Skold, 4800 Dent Ave, Webster, MN. Waxwing Farm is a 40-acre diversified farm located in Webster that raises a wide variety of vegetables, laying hens, and market hogs that are marketed through a 70-member CSA and the Fulton Farmers Market in Minneapolis.
  • Sweetland Orchard, Mike & Gretchen Perbix, 26205 Fairlawn Ave, Webster, MN. In their five-acre orchard, the Perbixes grow 49 varieties of apples, many of them heirloom, not counting the cider apples. They also have a few pears and plums. They sell apples at the Kingfield market in Minneapolis, but most of their business is Pick-Your-Own on weekends in September and October.

For more information, click here.

SFA_Crow_RiverC_RGBIn the Hutchinson area, the Crow River Chapter will host two sets of farm tours at three different farms – tours are set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 12 at these farms:

  • The Farm of Minnesota, Dan and Donna Moe, 24618 State Hwy 15, Hutchinson. The Farm of Minnesota offers CSA shares, fresh produce at farmers markets, service to local restaurants and co-ops – and you can get their fruits and vegetables right there at the farm.
  • New Story Farm, Daniel Zetah & Stephanie Usery, 19778 235th St, Hutchinson. Farmer/operators Daniel Zetah and Stephanie Usery are actively working toward forming a “cooperative farming village,” a place where others with similar values and visions can work cooperatively on diverse endeavors.
  • Living Song Farm, Jerry Ford & Mariénne Kreitlow, 7616 25th St. SW, Howard Lake. Living Song Farm operates on land that has been in the Kreitlow family since 1898. Of the family’s 288 acres, Jerry and Mariénne have 70 acres in transition to certified organic, where they are managing 40 acres of rotational grazing for cattle and pastured laying hens, and growing garlic, onions and potatoes for market.

OCIA-MN #1Festival of Farms is sponsored by OCIA-MN #1. 

Executive Director’s Note

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to chat with SFA member Sylvia Burgos Toftness, a grass-fed beef producer and radio host from Amery, Wis. Sylvia invited me to be on her radio show, and we had a wide-ranging conversation about sustainability, food and farming. We discussed the Adjust 2015 Project at length. You can listen to the podcast of the interview here!

In other news, Festival of Farms is around the corner. I hope you’ll be taking advantage of this opportunity to reach out to neighbors and friends during this community building event! Have a great time.

What We’re Reading (and Watching)

A new SFA feature, “What We’re Reading (and Watching)” is a section of links to articles and videos chosen by SFA staff that you might enjoy.

 

Executive Director John Mesko with North Dakota Soil Practitioner Gabe Brown at the 2014 Midwest Soil Health Summit

Executive Director John Mesko with North Dakota Soil Practitioner Gabe Brown at the 2014 Midwest Soil Health Summit

“Plowed Under: Across the northern plains, native grassland is being turned into farmland at a rate not seen since the 1920s. The environmental consequences could be disastrous.” The American Prospect.

“Soil Carbon Cowboys: Meet Allen Williams, Gabe Brown and Neil Dennis – heroes and innovators! These ranchers now know how to regenerate their soils while making their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. They are turning ON their soils, enabling rainwater to sink into the earth rather than run off. And these turned ON soils retain that water, so the ranches are much more resilient in drought. It’s an amazing story that has just begun.”

For Rent: 80 Acres Near Princeton

SFA was contacted by a landowner looking to rent up to 80 acres of land near Princeton to a sustainable farmer. The landowner, Myron Angstman, lives in Alaska but spends a few months a year on the farm, dubbed Long Pond Elk Farm; a caretaker, Dave Price, looks after it while they are gone.

The land, located two miles east of U.S. 169 off County Road 9, is currently rented for corn, beans and alfalfa. To learn more or set up a showing, contact Myron (on Alaska time, three hours earlier than Central Time) at 800.478.5315, or caretaker Dave at 763.389.2742.

Fall Harvest Gathering for Women Slated for Nov. 7-9

Save the date – attend the 15th Fall Harvest Gathering for Women in Sustainable Agriculture on Nov 7-9, 2014, in Whalen, Minn.

Get to know other women who care passionately about farming and the earth. Some attendees farm and some want to farm, but all enjoy sharing and learning from each other at the annual Fall Harvest Gathering at Cedar Valley Resort in Whalen. Costs are reasonable and scholarships are available. All women are welcome. Highlights will include:

  • Three virtual farm tours
  • Lively discussion on soil health, what to look for, and how to keep it
  • Panel discussion on passing on the farm
  • Excellent potluck lunch Saturday (and great food throughout the weekend)
  • Music, campfire, silent auction
  • Time to walk (or bike) the Root River trail
  • Time to talk casually with women who share your passion

More information: staceyleighbrown@gmail.com.

Farmers Trip to Nicaragua Planned in September

A food- and agriculture-focused trip to Nicaragua in September is being planned for interested folks in the Minnesota ag community.

Against the backdrop of Jalapa, Nicaragua’s annual Corn Festival, this trip will focus on making connections between Nicaragua’s and Minnesota’s agricultural communities in the contexts of climate change and other global market impacts (e.g. Jalapa’s shift toward tobacco and coffee exports away from basic food production). The trip will foster exchanges of ideas and perhaps material or technical aid.

The trip, Harvest Time in a Changing World, is set for Sept. 14-26, 2014. Farmers and ag producers, animal husbandry experts (vets), agronomists, co-op leaders, and people interested in sustainable and international food issues should consider attending.

For more information, contact Jon Kerr at jon@isla.cc or 612.819.8877.

Save the Date: Festival of Farms is July 12, 2014

Festival of FarmsFestival of Farms™ is an opportunity to learn about sustainable agriculture, network within the community, and have fun at various farms across the state. The Festival is unique to each chapter, but the goal is the same—to build a unified sense of SFA’s presence in communities across Minnesota and tighten connections within the local food community.

SFA’s chapters are currently planning their Festival of Farms 2014 events. Look for updates here in SFA Connect and on our Festival of Farms homepage.

Other upcoming SFA events for your calendars:

SFA’s Annual GrazeFest Event at Mill City is June 7; Book Signing, Cooking Demos, and More

Jason Walker

Jason Walker

By Jason Walker • SFA Communications & Membership Coordinator

SFA’s annual GrazeFest series event returns June 7 to Mill City Farmers Market, held between the Mill City Museum and Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis.

Again this year SFA’s Mary Jane Miller will be cooking on stage with food from the market as well as grass-fed beef from Living Song Farm. We’ll have a family-friendly SFA booth with a few freebies, 2-for-1 Garlic Festival coupons and plenty of SFA folks on hand, and the vibrant market itself with its 60-plus vendors is always worth the trip.

secret-atlas-cover-1500px-webNew this year is a book signing of “The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food,” which features a chapter written by me, “Open Arms, Open Farms,” that features several SFA farms, including Jerry Ford and Living Song Farm. Both Jerry and I will be there to sign copies of the book, in which maps and illustrations complement journalistic essays that take readers deep into the history, culture, and gastronomy of the Upper Midwest.

SFA at Mill City is our main urban event, reaching an audience of consumers who purchase food from our member farmers yet may not be aware of our organization. It’s a great way to help people learn about sustainable farming in general and the importance of supporting local farms and SFA.

Mary Jane’s samples of Jerry’s beef will be worth the trip alone, but it’s also a great time to pick up the “Secret Atlas” and talk local food. We’ll be there from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hope to see you there.

If you’re interested in learning more or purchasing the “Secret Atlas” – which includes SFA members’ Living Song Farm, GrassStain Farm, Lakeside Prairie Farm and Round River Farm, as well as a wide array of other essays on Upper Midwestern food – visit the Heavy Table’s bookstore.

Farm Skills 101: Low Student-Teacher Ratio, High Level of Practical Knowledge Make Course A Great Value

SFProduction LOGOGetting a good bang for your buck is rarely guaranteed in the world of sky-high college tuition.

But not for students in SFA’s Sustainable Food Production Program, which teaches various real-world sustainable farming skills in an on-farm environment. Not only does Farm Skills 101 teach students the hands-on skills needed to become successful sustainable farmers, it’s a great value, too – SFP also boasts a low student-teacher ratio that leads to a fairly intense, in-depth experience.

Dr. Sue Wika

Dr. Sue Wika

Farm Skills 101 consists of around 50 hours of on-farm education in three weekends of fun and fulfilling learning. As instructor Dr. Sue Wika is fond of saying, “These are days in the field, not field days.” Students must dress properly: pants, closed-toe shoes, gloves and safety glasses are required. Topics include Fencing Strategies for Forage-based Livestock Systems, Compassionate Animal Husbandry and Handling, Pasture Management and Grazing Basics, and Farm Equipment and Tools.

Wika said the Farm Skills 101 was developed for both students with some farm knowledge as well as for those who didn’t grow up on a farm.

“It’s a way to experience and learn some of those skills ‘farm kids’ acquired through daily interaction with farm processes,” she said. “The course is designed with a low student-teacher ratio, so the experience will be empowering.”

And then there’s the bang-for-your-buck factor. Tuition for the Fall 2014 semester of Farm Skills 101 is just $1,025, and scholarships are available. For the amount of knowledge packed into this course – students learn not in theory, but in practice – Farm Skills 101 tuition is a smart investment in the future of anyone considering a sustainable farming career.

Fall 2014 classes are Oct. 3-4, 10-11 and 17-18 at farms near Alexandria, Minn. All students receive a free one-year SFA membership.

To enroll, visit this link and view payment information. To learn more or view a more detailed curriculum, visit the SFP Program homepage or contact Dr. Wika at paradoxhomestead@gmail.com.