SFA Sustainability Conference Internships Available

SFA is accepting applications for Sustainability Conference Internships. These hands-on internships are for late fall and winter 2014/15 and require attendance at the SFA Annual Conference on Feb. 14 as well as the Midwest Soil Health Summit on Feb. 18-19. Those interested in an application should contact SFA Network Coordinator Jerry Ford at jerry@sfa-mn.org.

Click here to learn more at our internships homepage.

Voting Update: 2015 SFA Annual Conference Session Topics

We are thinking about topics for our next SFA Annual Conference, set for Feb. 14, 2015, again at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph.

Voting closes Oct. 30 for 2015 Annual Conference session topics  – click this link to begin voting. The more votes we tabulate, the more accurately we can tailor the session schedule around your wishes.

We’re up to 61 topic ideas and over 4,000 votes! The top ten vote-getters as of Aug. 24, 2014:

  • Salvaging, Repurposing, Upcycling, and Restoring farm equipment and buildings
  • Deep Winter Solar Greenhouses
  • How Can Sustainably Produced Fiber Contribute to the Success of Local Food Initiatives
  • Integrating Crops & Livestock
  • Multi-Species Grazing
  • Get a butcher there to discuss what cuts to produce, how to decide when to butcher, proper nutrition (grass based) for best results, etc.
  • Cover Crops & Soil Health
  • LLC, LC3 and 501c(3) which one is right for me? A conversation about limiting liability and your business.
  • Direct Marketing Meat
  • Value-Added Processing

Make your voice heard – submit your own ideas and vote early and often.

Voting Now Open for 2015 SFA Annual Conference Topics

Ten of the session topics at this year’s Annual Conference were chosen by you, SFA’s members and supporters, using an online application that allowed you to vote for your favorite topics as well as submit your own. The top vote-getting topic, Root Cellaring, was a standing-room-only session led by root cellar builders Jerry Ford and Greg Reynolds as well as the esteemed John Fisher-Merrit, who dazzled the attendees with the details of his affordable yet highly customized root cellar that has significantly enhanced his farm’s revenue stream.

With this year’s SFA Annual Conference fresh in your minds, it’s time to start thinking to our next annual gathering, set for Feb. 14, 2015, again at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph.

We have opened voting for the 2015 Annual Conference session topics – click this link to begin voting. The more votes we tabulate, the more accurately we can tailor the session schedule around your wishes. One thing we hear a lot during an after the Conference is, “there were so many good sessions I had a hard time choosing.” If there was a session you missed in 2014 but still are interested in, be sure to input that topic into the website. Some of the topics already submitted include:

  • SFA_AC_Cover crops and soil health
  • Fencing
  • Integrating crops and livestock
  • Hogs on pasture
  • Root cellaring
  • Agroforestry
  • New crops
  • Season extension
  • Seed saving
  • Grazing for beginners

Make your voice heard – submit your own ideas and vote early and often.

Also, photo galleries from both the 2014 Annual Conference and inaugural Midwest Soil Health Summit are available on each conference’s homepage. Check them out!

Conference Updates: Roundtables at Soil Health Summit, Friday Night Social Before Annual Conference, and More

Jason Walker

Jason Walker

By Jason Walker • SFA Communications & Membership Coordinator

SFA’s two conferences, the Annual Conference and the Midwest Soil Health Summit, are rapidly approaching. If you haven’t registered, though, don’t worry – registration for both is still available. Click here to register for the Annual Conference, set for Feb. 8 in St. Joseph; and click here to register for the Midwest Soil Health Summit, set for Feb. 19-20 in Alexandria.

As the schedules for both are currently being finalized, we do have some fun and interesting updates for you. Here are a few:

  • The Midwest Soil Health Summit will feature Roundtable Discussions with speakers Gabe Brown, Richard Bieber, Wendy Taheri, Jay Fuhrer and Ryan Stockwell, as well as with the farmers from our Producer Panel. These informal sessions are just what they sound like – a way for attendees to interact one-on-one with the expert farmers and researchers leading the Summit. This is also in addition to the Friday night social time, which will focus on farmer-to-farmer networking.
  • For those attending the Midwest Soil Health Summit, please be aware that Arrowwood Resort is holding a block of rooms until Jan. 19 for MSHS attendees. After Jan. 19, they will release the rooms to the general public – rooms will still be priced at the special MSHS rate but there’s no guarantee of room availability. For questions or to reserve a room, call Arrowwood at 320.762.1124.
  • Remember the Friday night social from past SFA Annual Conferences? It’s coming back in 2014! This year, all conference attendees and their families are invited to our free Friday Evening Social & Musical Jam, “How Farmers Do Minnesota Winters,” set for 7-10 p.m. Feb. 7 at Minnesota Street Market, 27 W Minnesota St, St. Joseph. Let’s have some fun getting to know one another with music and conversation. Bring your instrument and voice – food will be available for purchase from the market. Then, feel free to continue the dialogue and explore downtown St. Joe after 10 p.m.
  • The SFA Leaders Breakfast, where we present our yearly awards and hear a special “State of SFA” address from Executive Director John Mesko, is returning the morning of the SFA Annual Conference. The breakfast, set for 7:30 a.m. Feb. 8 in the Gorecki Center at the College of Saint Benedict, costs just $12.50 for conference-goers to attend. To register or learn more, click here.
  • Speaking of SFA Awards, the deadline for nominations is quickly approaching. Get your nominations for SFA Farmer Emeritus and Distinguished Service Awards to Mary Hanks by Jan. 17. More information and a downloadable nomination form are available here.
  • There are a few Annual Conference volunteer spots still left. All volunteers get a free SFA T-shirt. Register here or contact Volunteer Coordinator Gretchen Boyum at boyumfarms@gmail.com or 218-535-1567.

Also, it was great to see many of you at the Minnesota Organic Conference this weekend in St. Cloud. Mary Hanks, Meg Moynihan and crew put on another stellar event. Thanks to all who stopped by the SFA booth and said hello, like SFA members Doreen Devoy-Hulgan, Steve Niedzwiecki, Jim Chamberlin, Lisa Baker, Chris Kudrna, Elizabeth Millard, Karla Pankow, Mathew Nix, and Dave and Karen Baker. We’ll see you soon at the Annual Conference and Midwest Soil Health Summit!

SFA Seeking Farmer Emeritus, Distinguished Service Award Nominees

SFA is accepting nominations for the 2014 Farmer Emeritus and Distinguished Service awards, to be honored at the Leaders Breakfast at the SFA Annual Conference on Sat., Feb. 8, 2014, at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn.

The Farmer Emeritus award will be given to a farmer or farm family, currently farming or retired, that has dedicated many years to the advancement of sustainable farming in Minnesota.

The SFA Distinguished Service Award is for a farmer or non-farmer who has shown a high level of dedication, commitment, service and perseverance to supporting sustainable agriculture in Minnesota.

Email nominations to mary.hanks@state.mn.us or mail to Mary Hanks, 10500 295th St W, Northfield, MN 55057. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 17, 2014.

Click here to download the SFA Awards Nomination Form.

Past winners and more information is available on our SFA Awards page.