SFA Soil Health Webinar a Success; Next is April 3

KCIM Keep Cattle in MinnesotaNearly 75 folks registered for our free Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar, “Strategies for Implementing Cover Crops,” led by Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg on March 6.

The webinar is archived on our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage.

As Kent discussed in the webinar, cover crops are a powerful tool farmers can use to improve soil health. Specifically, cover crops aid in keeping soil covered, add diversity to the rotation, keep a living root in the soil, and serve as the “bridge” between cropping systems and integration of livestock.

Kent reviewed the principles of building soil health and integration of cover crops, and he discussed real-world examples of how adding cover crops to your farm can move you toward productivity and profitability.

This webinar is the second in a series of KCIM webinars SFA has planned. Others are slated forApril 3 and Nov. 6; keep watching SFA Connect for details about all upcoming KCIM webinars and programming.

For more information, visit our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage.

These webinars are made possible thanks to The Pasture Project. 

Spots Remain for Deep Roots ‘Nuts and Bolts’ Workshop

Deep Roots“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.

Click here to register.

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: Paradox Farm is 7 miles north of Ashby; 10 miles south of Battle Lake. Bring a sack lunch. Cost: $99. No walk-in registration.

Questions? Email gro.n1427558474m-afs1427558474@eus1427558474 or call 218.747.2202.

2016 SFA Conference Dates Announced; AC Voting Site Live

SFA_AC_It’s never too early to mark your calendars, so get ready.

The 2016 SFA Annual Conference will be Feb. 13, 2016. We are already compiling session topic ideas and need your help – please vote in the widget on the AC homepage. Was there a session you missed this year and want to see in 2016? Have a unique idea for a topic that has been on your mind? Enter it here! Then vote often so we can create a conference schedule around the needs of our network.

Also, we are happy to announce the third annual Midwest Soil Health Summit will return Feb. 17-18, 2016, to Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn.

MSHS_2colorWe are looking forward to compiling a slate of leaders and expert farmers who are dedicated to improving the health of the soil on your farm.

This year’s MSHS included expanded programming like Soil Health Basics I and II, an International Roundtable, and more, and we expect the expanded programming schedule to return in 2016. Keep watching SFA Connect and our SFA News blog for announcements.

Also, check out photos from both 2015 conferences on our Facebook page. 

Deep Roots Class: Intro to Small Ruminant Husbandry

IMG_1993Anyone considering adding goats or sheep to their sustainable food production system or those who want to manage their small ruminants more holistically should attend our SFA Deep Roots class, Intro to Small Ruminant Husbandry, 1-5 p.m. Sat., May 16, 2015, Paradox Farm, 11643 State Highway 78, Ashby, Minn. (ten miles south of Battle Lake; seven miles north of Ashby)

Deep RootsThis course provides students opportunity for hands-on work with sheep and goats. In a working-farm setting, students can learn how small ruminants can fit into a natural systems farm. Course topics include: holistic management, ruminant nutrition, animal handling, fencing, grazing strategies, holistic veterinary care, shelters, weight and age estimation. Wear clothing appropriate for working with animals: closed-toe shoes, gloves, long pants.

Cost is $80 and space is limited. To register, click here. 

From the Executive Director: Networking at its Finest

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko

At the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit, our speakers had discussion tables during the breaks, where participants could sit down in a group and visit one on one with each other and with our speakers. Our keynote speaker, Gabe Brown, hosted a very popular discussion table, and we were able to record most of the discussion with everyone at the table.

Gabe fielded a number of questions ranging from practical cover crop issues, to building soil health without livestock, dealing with neighbors, getting started in farming, seed companies, watering cattle in winter.

This is the kind of farmer networking SFA is promoting. As you’ll hear on this recording, farmers asking questions, feeding off of each other’s questions, and farmers asking each other questions.

You can listen to the recording at SFA’s Farm Solutions Podcast Page. Check it out, and if you have questions you’d like to see addressed on the Farm Solutions Podcast, send them to questions@farmsolutions.community.

Also at the Summit, we held our first ever International Roundtable. About 20 people attended. The importance of this event is in looking at how we can take the soil health building production models developed here in the Midwest and find ways to adapt them for broad application world-wide. Notes from the International Roundtable are available online.

This really is the power of a network. Speakers like Gabe tell us our approach is unique and beneficial. The Midwest Soil Health Summit is a great example.