Fosston Fiber Festival Upcoming; SFA Sheep Networking Group Forming

Celebrating the fiber heritage of northern Minnesota, the Fosston Fiber Festival will showcase local fiber producers and artists from Oct. 2-4 at Northern Woolen Mills, 803 11th St NW, Fosston. The Festival, which includes fiber workshops, shopping, crafts, Northern Woolen Mills tours and more, is free, family-friendly and open to the public.

Information: or 218.657.2502. The Fosston Fiber Festival is sponsored by SFA, the Sustainable Sheep Community Project of Northern Minnesota, and Northern Woolen Mills.

Also, SFA is forming a Sustainable Sheep Networking Group. Click here to learn more.

MSHS Speaker Slate Coming Together: Allen Williams, Jay Fuhrer, and More

Dr. Allen Williams, shown at left above at the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit with co-speaker Gabe Brown, will return to the 2016 MSHS.

Dr. Allen Williams, shown at left above at the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit with co-speaker Gabe Brown, will return to the 2016 MSHS.

It’s time to talk speakers for the 2016 SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit, set for Feb. 17-18 at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn. – and don’t forget that early bird registration is just $125 for SFA members until Nov. 1.

The following soil health experts are scheduled to appear at the 2016 MSHS. More are likely to be added, but this slate is already looking great:

  • Jay Fuhrer, District Conservationist with the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in Bismarck and a leader of the innovative soil health techniques happening in and around Burleigh County, N.D.
  • Todd McPeak, a producer from Burleigh County, N.D., a world-renowned region of soil health-focused farmers.
  • Dr. Allen Williams, a champion of the grass-fed beef industry as well as a leader in cutting edge grazing methodology.
  • Dr. Wendy Taheri, a microbiologist who specializes in the study of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).
  • Dr. Shannon Osbourne, a Research Agronomist who focuses on understanding how soil and crop management options influence the soil environment and how these practices can be developed into production systems.
  • Grant Breitkreutz, a producer in Redwood Falls, will discuss his operation and how he builds soil health.
  • Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist, will detail the Five Principles of Soil Health and how each is a separate yet vital piece of the soil health puzzle.
  • John Mesko, SFA Executive Director, will present “Soil Health Basics,” an introductory class geared solely to first-timers.

Also at the 2016 event will be more of what we keep hearing makes MSHS “the best conference I’ve ever been to:” discussion tables with presenters; the first-evening social time with drinks, food and a casual discussion with MSHS speakers; two days of farmer networking at the beautiful Arrowwood Resort; and a soil health-focused trade show.

Register below. Early bird prices good until Nov. 1. After that rates are $150 for SFA members and $200 for nonmembers.

Cover Crops & Livestock Integration Field Day is Sept. 25 in Verndale

Cows with fencing 500p for websiteJoin the Sustainable Farming Association for a tour of four central Minnesota farms and a look at the results of a three-year Minnesota Department of Agriculture Sustainable Ag Demonstration Grant project on various applications of cover crops in livestock operations.

The event, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, begins at the farm of Kent and Linda Solberg, 18618 County Rd. 23, Verndale. Watch for the SFA signs.

The tour group will travel via a coach bus to the three other farms: Larry Heitkamp’s farm in Sebeka, Dan and Rosie Middendorf’s farm near Verndale, and Marcus Edin’s farm near Staples.

Cost is $10; lunch is provided. Register below.

Information: gro.n1440839995m-afs1440839995@tnek1440839995 or 1.844.922.5573, Ext. 701. 

Fencing Innovations for Soil Health Field Day is Sept 18 in Marshall

KCIM Keep Cattle in MinnesotaFencing innovations have made the integration of livestock into cover cropping systems easier than ever, and the Sustainable Farming Association is hosting a free field day to show how these strategies can result in improved soil health and enhanced profitability.

Join Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 18 as he installs a semi-permanent fence on the Allen Duetz farm, 2866 Co. Rd. 35, Marshall. Solberg, who has 20 years personal and professional fence design and installation experience, will also lead a discussion of the cover crops planted and how Duetz intends to use them to build soil health and improve his farm profitability. Lunch is included; leather gloves, work boots and safety glasses are highly recommended.

The event is free, but an RSVP is appreciated for planning purposes below or by contacting Solberg at gro.n1440839995m-afs1440839995@tnek1440839995 or 1.844.922.5573, Ext. 701. 

This event is made possible with support from The Pasture Project.

Pasture Project


Garlic Festival Links Farmers, Eaters for Fun-Filled Day


SFA Member Bruce Bacon describes his (hopefully) winning entry into the SFA Garlic Festival Garlic Growing Contest to SFA Executive Director John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

The 2015 Minnesota Garlic Festival is in the books!  The 10th annual version of this highly successful (and wonderfully smelly) event was great fun for all who attended.

This event is a great example of how SFA leads our sustainable agriculture community in many areas, including farmer-to-farmer networking.

Of course there were many people there who came from Hutchinson and nearby communities, as well as the Twin Cities and beyond. In addition to great food, entertainment and fun, these folks had a chance to interact directly with many SFA member farmers.

I personally was engaged in several conversations about farming, and SFA’s educational, mentoring and networking capacity. The average non-farmer that I spoke with was amazed at the breadth and depth of our organization and the services we provide to each other in terms of communication, networking and mutual education.

All in all, a wonderful, family friendly event that highlights the importance of sustainable agriculture in a fun, unique way.  To learn more about how the SFA Garlic Festival “tricks” people into learning about sustainable agriculture, check out my conversation with SFA Garlic Festival Director Jerry Ford below.

Stay Tuned to SFA for updates on the 2016 SFA Garlic Festival!