Executive Director’s Note

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

I want to make sure that you know about the 3rd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference: Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities in which I will be participating. The conference will explore the economic impact as well as the community and environmental benefits that can result from the development of a robust local food system.

Slated for Tuesday and Wednesday, November 11 – 12, 2014 at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the first day of the conference will offer an Urban Agriculture Field Trip on which attendees will get a sneak peak at Los Angeles’ first multi-faceted food production business incubator for local entrepreneurs along with a tour of a blossoming 1.5-acre high school campus urban farming operation in Pasadena and a visit to a hydroponic shipping container farm in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The second day of the conference will feature panels and keynotes that will explore, among other topics, the following:

  • Reintegrating Agriculture into the City
  • The local food production and commercial potential of controlled environment agriculture in cities;
  • How city and county policy can encourage investment in and support of local and urban agriculture;
  • Business models and technological solutions from irrigation technology to supply chain innovations necessary to augment the growth of local food systems

I would love to see you there. Below are some more details on the conference as well as a link to register along with a promo code that will provide you with a ‘friend’s discount’ of 20% off the ticket price.

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

  • John Mesko – Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota
  • A.G. Kawamura – Former Secretary of California Dept. of Food and Agriculture
  • Nicola Kerslake – New Bean Capital
  • Dwight Detter – Whole Foods Market
  • Daniel Allen – Farmscape
  • Nurit Katz – Chief Sustainability Officer at UCLA
  • Kimberly Kessler – Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy

REGISTRATION & TICKETS: A limited number of discount tickets for those of you in my network are available at 20% off the list price. So register quickly to reserve your spot by going to http://seedstockconference.eventbrite.com and entering the promotional code SEEDSTOCKFRIEND to receive your discount!

Deep Winter Greenhouse Workshop Registration Now Open

A class from the SFA Sustainable Food Production Program, “Deep Winter Production of Greens and Livestock Fodder Utilizing Passive Solar Energy,” will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 31, 2015, in Ashby, Minn.

Dr. Sue Wika’s deep winter greenhouse at Paradox Farm utilizes passive solar energy with underground heat storage and provides winter greens for local consumers. Photo by Ann Arbor Miller/MPR News.

Dr. Sue Wika’s deep winter greenhouse at Paradox Farm utilizes passive solar energy with underground heat storage and provides winter greens for local consumers. Photo by Ann Arbor Miller/MPR News.

This newly listed class is distinct from the Feb. 13 Deep Winter class that is offered in combination with the SFA Annual Conference.

During the class, farm owners Sue Wika and Tom Prieve will provide a detailed overview of the construction and operation of their deep-winter greenhouse, which utilizes passive solar energy with underground heat storage. The greenhouse provides greens for local consumers. In addition, the structure is utilized to produce fodder for the farm livestock. Students will be in the greenhouse to see how greens and fodder are planted and harvested.

This particular Deep Winter class is more in-depth and will provide opportunity for students to “get their hands dirty” in the greenhouse by planting and harvesting greens. It will also cover greenhouse construction in a more detailed manner.

Cost is $100/person. Bring a sack lunch. Beverage and fresh winter salad (grown on site) provided. The class will be held at Paradox Farm, 11643 State Hwy 78, Ashby, MN 56309 (Directions: 7 miles north of Ashby; 10 miles south of Battle Lake). Storm date is Feb. 7, 2015.

Click here to register.

SFA Annual Conference Registration Now Open

A scene from the 2014 SFA Annual Conference. Registration is now open for the 2015 version, again to be held at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn.

A scene from the 2014 SFA Annual Conference. Registration is now open for the 2015 version, again to be held at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn.

By Jason Walker • SFA Communications & Membership Coordinator

Get your winter planning off to a sustainable start: Registration is NOW OPEN for the SFA Annual Conference, Minnesota’s farmer networking showcase set for Feb. 14, 2015, at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph.

A founding concept of SFA is that there is wisdom in our farming community. So, just like last year, YOU will help to determine and lead the sessions, which will include casual but focused networking conversations on topics that you choose. Using an online voting system, SFA members chose session topics; we will analyze the data and create the schedule around your wishes. Vote on our AC homepage and view the leading session topics.

Again on Saturday morning will be our yearly Leaders Breakfast and SFA Awards ceremony at7:30 a.m. This event costs just $15 and includes breakfast, a special “State of SFA” address, and the awards ceremony. This is a separately ticketed event from the Annual Conference.

New this year is a special day-before workshop on Deep Winter Greenhouses, from 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 13, 2015, at Paradox Farm, 11643 State Highway 78, Ashby, MN 56309. Space is capped at 10 registrants for this innovative workshop at Sue Wika and Tom Prieve’s farm; the Annual Conference will also include a follow-up session on Deep Winter Greenhouses on Saturday at St. Ben’s. There is no discounted registration available for this workshop, which may only be purchased in a special combination pack with the SFA Annual Conference. This workshop will definitely sell out, so sign up ASAP.

Family programming will return at the 2015 Annual Conference, led this year by Budding Farmers.

Family programming will return at the 2015 Annual Conference, led this year by Budding Farmers.

Also, family programming is returning – admission for children ages 3-12 is just $10 and includes separate programming from Budding Farmers. Children 2 and under are free but will be the responsibility of their parents.

Of course, everything you expect from the SFA Annual Conference will return as well – culinary demonstrations from Mary Jane Miller; a trade show; the end-of-day local food, wine and beer reception; plus plenty of networking, fun and fellowship.

The venue at St. Ben’s is a familiar, centrally located one that’s easily accessible. Lunch is not included with registration; instead, you’ll enjoy a lengthy break, during which, you may eat at St. Ben’s, walk to one of the local-foods restaurants in St. Joe, or bring a sack lunch. The idea is to give you the freedom to network at your own pace, and to take advantage of the quaint surroundings.

Register through Sept. 30 at the Early Bird rate of $35/members and $45/nonmembers. SFA members will receive a separate email with discount registration instructions. Only SFA members will receive this separate email.

Vendor/Exhibitor Registration is open as well. Visit our Annual Conference homepage to download the proper form.

See you there!

Organic Potato Farm Tour Set Near Sebeka

Join Larry Heitkamp, Kent Solberg, and the Toxic Taters Coalition for a free organic potato farm tour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 13, at Heitkamp’s Yellow Rose Organic Farm.

There are 50,000 acres of potatoes planted in Minnesota every year. And while conventional, chemical-intensive production is the norm on many of these acres, it’s not the only way that potatoes can be produced. Organic and sustainable potato production is possible; in fact, Minnesota farmers are already doing it.

Please join the Toxic Taters Coalition to learn more about organic potato production. Heitkamp and Solberg, SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist, will give a tour of an organic potato farm and share information about cover cropping, soil health, insect and disease management, and their efforts to move toward no-till practices. Over lunch, members of the Toxic Taters Coalition will share information about their campaign to protect local communities from pesticide drift from RD Offutt’s potato fields.

Directions: From Sebeka, MN, take Hwy 12 East for 7 miles. Turn right (south) on 201st Ave (a dirt road). Go 1/4 mile and take a left into the potato field. We’ll have signs up on the road to help you find the right place.

The event is free and lunch is included. Please RSVP to Lex Horan at lex@panna.org or 651.245.1733.

Students: SFA Internships, Scholarships Available

Thanks to our new SFA Connect subscribers who signed up Aug. 29 at the Sustainability Action! Open House at the University of Minnesota. We had a great time meeting scores of students who were interested in sustainability and SFA as well as our Sustainable Food Production Program.

Good luck to all of you in your classes this semester and beyond, and we hope to see you at the SFA Annual Conference in February! Scholarships to attend the conference are available for current students and require a volunteer commitment; for more information,email Jerry Ford atjerry@sfa-mn.org.

Also, 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.