From the Executive Director: Success Can Hinge on Knowing the Challenges Ahead

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

Here are four ways SFA’s New Farm Reality Check Curriculum is like a Driver’s Education Course:

  1. Both offer a “Reality Check” for beginners who are getting ready to launch into a risky, difficult, but highly rewarding adventure.
  2. Both teach about potential dangers participants will face.
  3. Both seek to prepare participants to avoid those dangers.
  4. Both are eager to see participants engage in and succeed in their endeavors.

In beginning driver education classes, we’ve all seen the videos and heard the stories of terrible tragedies that can occur when drivers overlook unrealistic expectations, bad assumptions and improper training and preparation. Does that mean we don’t want people to actually drive? Absolutely not! We are realistic about the difficulties and challenges of driving, because poorly trained drivers impact everyone on the road.

SFA’s New Farm Reality Check Curriculum is no different. We want every farmer who launches to succeed.

This year’s SFA Annual Conference will feature a brief introduction to the New Farm Reality Check Curriculum. If you are thinking about launching your farm plan, you might want to check it out!

SFA Deep Roots Program Hosting Nuts and Bolts Workshop

Nuts and Bolts, a workshop designed for those with a desire to farm but with little or no experience with common farm tools and equipment, is set for 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sat., March 21 at Paradox Farm, 11643 State Hwy 78, Ashby, Minn. In this workshop, students will gain practical experience with farm tools and materials.20A

Get prepared for the upcoming season of food production by participating in this Deep Roots Farmer Development Program workshop. You will increase your handiness while developing competence with farm tools and materials. Get the edge for summer farm internships by listing this course on your resume! This is also an appropriate preparatory course for Farm Skills 101.

Small class size guarantees that all students receive ample individual attention. Course instructors are seasoned farmers. Students should have gloves and safety glasses and wear closed-toe shoes and long pants.


  • Common hand tool identification and use on the farm
  • Hands-on operation of common tools
  • Ergonomics and body mechanics
  • Common hardware identification & use: nails, nuts, bolts, staples, screws
  • Building materials, such as lumber
  • Small carpentry project completed during class

Directions: 7 miles north of Ashby; 10 miles south of Battle Lake. Bring a sack lunch. Cost: $99 early bird registration by Feb. 14; $129 thereafter. No walk-in registration.

Click here to register.

Questions? Email gro.n1422725906m-afs1422725906@eus1422725906 or call 218.747.2202.

Small-Scale Sheep Event in Lake Agassiz

SFA_LakeAgassiz_RGBSFA Lake Agassiz Chapter is co-sponsoring a Small Scale Sustainable Sheep Farming Event from 10:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Northern Woolen Mills, 803 11th St. NW, Fosston, Minn. Learn about raising sheep as part of a holistically managed farm, for meat, milk and fiber as well as connect with established shepherds and those wanting to keep sheep, local markets and people interested in sheep products.

Informational booths providing education, information on programs through NRCS and services for shepherds are planned, as well as a tour of Northern Woolen Mills, and lunch will be catered by Quinn Olson, Manager Fosston Farmers Market

Cost is $15 for the public and $10 for SFA members. Under 16 free. For more information or to register by Feb. 14, contact Alethea Kenney at 218.657.2502 or moc.d1422725906ribde1422725906er@ei1422725906lla1422725906, or visit

From the Executive Director: Support SFA and Watch Amazing Things Happen

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

If you follow SFA, you already know about all the amazing things the leaders of our organization are doing to promote and sustain our brand of agriculture into the future. In wrapping up 2014, I just want to offer a note of thanks to everyone who has been such a supporter for SFA this year. Now, as we move on to 2015 and SFA’s 25-year celebration, we need your involvement more than ever.

Yes, this is a year-end fundraising appeal. However, in reality, it’s an involvement appeal. Your involvement with SFA really matters. We understand everyone gets involved at a different level in causes and efforts they feel strongly about. Subscribing to SFA Connect is basic level support for SFA and the movement as a whole. At this level, you learn about sustainable agriculture, and hopefully you’ve come to see the value of farmer networking as a driving force for change in agriculture.

If you’ve been subscribing for a while, but haven’t actually joined SFA with a paid membership, it’s time to take your involvement to the next level. At the paid membership level, your involvement helps to support the work of keeping everyone informed of the issues of sustainable agriculture and the work SFA is doing. Currently, only about 1 in 4 SFA Connect readers are actual paid members. Not sure if you are a member? If you did not recieve a printed CornerPost newsletter this month, you are not a paid member of SFA. Still not sure? Contact Jason Walker at ,gro.1422725906nm-af1422725906s@nos1422725906aj1422725906 and he can check for you.  As a reminder, paid members get discounts to events, like Annual Conference and Midwest Soil Health Summit, and the Winter Workshop “Reality Checking Your Farm Plan” at the MN Organic Conference in early January.

Better still, become a Sustaining Member today, and you’ll never have to wonder if you are a member of SFA.

If you’ve been a paid member, but haven’t yet made a donation to SFA, its time to take your involvement to the next level, and become a donor.  Donors are actually putting important resources to work solving major food and farming issues, like having enough successful farmers to produce healthy food for a growing population. We do that at SFA, and you can help make that happen with your donation today.

Finally, if you are a donor to SFA, we thank you! Your contributions are critical to our success, and we simply cannot complete our mission without the resources you help to provide.

Thank you for your support in 2014, at whatever level. For 2015, let’s all move our involvement to the next level and watch amazing things happen, as we take 25 years of success in farmer networking to the next level!

May 2015 be a year of tremendous prosperity for you and yours.

Chapter Update: Lake Agassiz

2014.11 Lake Agassiz Good Food event

By Marie Petry • Lake Agassiz Chapter Coordinator

SFA_LakeAgassiz_RGBThe food indeed was good at the SFA Lake Agassiz “Good Food from Good Farms” event held Nov. 5 in Thief River Falls, where local celebrity chef Sue Doeden made a delicious wild rice salad using local food.

Following the cooking demonstration (above), the 35-40 area farmers, food producers and enthusiasts who attended toured four “lightning workshops” which included: Lake Agassiz Chapter, Homemade Cheese Press, Thief River Falls Growing Forward food network, and High Tunnels.

If you missed this FREE event, you have two more chances to attend: 1:30-3:30 Jan. 15 in Detroit Lakes and 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 in Bemidji. Check our webpage for details and free registration. All attendees receive the once-in-a-lifetime offer of free SFA Lake Agassiz membership until April 2015.

The Lake Agassiz Chapter Annual Meeting will also be held Jan. 27 at the Bemidji event, where an important and exciting agenda item will be the act of voting in a Chapter Board of Directors.

Also upcoming in Lake Agassiz Chapter is the Small Scale Sustainable Sheep Farming event at 11 a.m. Feb 21 at the Northern Woolen Mills in Fosston. SFA Business/Organization Member Alethea Kenney of Reedbird Farm has put together a wonderful slate of speakers and vendors for those raising sheep or interested in getting started.

For more details on this event and the upcoming Lake Agassiz Chicken Festival, watch our homepage.