Ready to Learn ‘Reality Farming?’ Enroll in Farm Skills 101

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Are you ready to learn what it’s really like to be a forage-based livestock farmer? Do you need boots-on-the-ground farm experience in a relaxed environment led by farmer educators?

Deep RootsAre you ready to learn “reality farming?”

SFA’s Deep Roots Farm Skills 101 fall semester provides the hands-on skills new farmers need to succeed once they’re on the land. Registration for our fall semester is now open, and a few spots remain for anyone looking to build competence while learning from experienced teachers in a student-focused environment.

The hands-on Farm Skills 101 course teaches pasture management and grazing basics; fence construction, both permanent and temporary; compassionate animal husbandry and handling; and farm equipment maintenance and operation.

Farm Skills 101 students gain experience and build confidence as part of a supportive learning community, which continues as students join SFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Network organization. Farm Skills 101 classes take place on two farms in central Minnesota – these are days in the field, not field days. Farmer-educators Sue Wika, Ph.D., Tom Prieve, DVM, and Kent Solberg, MS, lead a class limited to 6-8 students, creating an outstanding learning environment.

New this fall: In addition to the on-farm instruction, students will also have opportunity to discuss some of the classic literature relative to sustainable farming via an online learning community. One exciting component of the online curriculum is the Adjust 2015 New Farm Reality Check, a comprehensive project led by Executive Director John Mesko.

The on-farm classes meet Oct 2-3, 9-10, and 17-18. The online learning community commences the last week of September.

Tuition is just $1,250 and includes lodging and local foods suppers. Scholarships are available. To learn more about the curriculum, the teachers or to register, visit deeprootsfarmer.com or contact Dr. Sue Wika at gro.n1438318856m-afs1438318856@eus1438318856.

Options Abound Across State for Festival of Farms 2015: Duluth, Pelican Rapids, Alexandria, Ramsey, & More

SFA’s Festival of Farms™ is an opportunity to learn about sustainable agriculture, network within the community, and have fun at various farms across the state. The Festival is unique to each event, but the goal is the same—to build a unified sense of SFA’s presence in communities across Minnesota and tighten connections within the local food community.

Listed below are the various events planned this summer by SFA chapters and members. For a comprehensive description of the following events, visit our Festival of Farms homepage.

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Charlie Danielson

Charlie Danielson

Lake Superior Chapter is hosting a tour of Charlie Danielson’s Up North Farm and Restoration from 1 to 3 p.m. Sat., July 11 at 6551 Bergstrom Rd, Duluth. This permaculture-style homestead shows off the power of diversity and working with animals to build healthy soil while creating many value-added goods. Since 2007, Charlie and his partner Kristin have raised 12 species of animals for milk, meat, eggs, tillers, fertilizers and friends. They grow a mix of annual and perennial plants along with mushrooms. Idea for those with a new piece of land or looking at ways to creatively grow on others.

Topics covered will be soil health, animal husbandry with rotational grazing, biomimicry, and how to start small with big ideas. This is geared toward beginning farmers but would benefit any farm.

Informationn/RSVP: moc.m1438318856rafht1438318856ronpu1438318856@eilr1438318856ahc1438318856.

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Lake Agassiz Chapter Festival of Farms, “Building a Community of Farms in Lakes Country,” will be 1-4 p.m. July 11. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at at Lida Farm, 44593 25th Ave, Pelican Rapids; and then move to Lost Farm just a few miles down the road.

Lida Farm is a 20-acre vegetable farm in operation for over 10 years that features diverse marketing strategies, integration of small-scale livestock production, and innovative methods of season extension including a deep winter greenhouse.

Lost Farm is a beginning-farm operation focused on self-sufficiency while exploring local markets for sustainable products. Enterprises include pastured livestock, market gardening, sustainable woodworking, and value-added food preservation.

Please RSVP online here or by calling Noelle Harden at 218.280.5253.

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Lakeside Prairie Farm

Lakeside Prairie Farm

Central Chapter is hosting Festival of Farms from 12:30-8 p.m. on July 11 with a bus tour to and from three local farms, a local foods dinner, and more.

The event begins and ends at the City Park in Alexandria (118 City Park Rd). Buses will transport attendees to each of three SFA farms: Lakeside Prairie Farm, Berry Ridge Farm, and Fruitful Seasons Dairy. These farms feature draft-horse power, grass-fed beef and dairy, pastured pork and chickens, berry production, vegetables, high tunnels, oats and wheat. Then, at 6 p.m., a local foods dinner will be prepared for attendees by chef Eugen Wittemann.

To register, or for more information, visit www.sfa-mn.org/central.

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Plum Creek GarlicSustainable Farming Association is hosting a free Garlic Growers Field Day & Gathering for Festival of Farms from 2-6:30 p.m. Sun., July 12, with Plum Creek Farm.

The event begins with a field day at the farm, 2547 195th St, Clearwater, MN 55320, for a look at Chris and Joanne Kudrna’s garlic, and have some open Q&A time. Dr. Carl Rosen will be there for the really technical questions.

Around 3:30 or 4 p.m., the group will head to Chris and Joanne’s house, 3655 Plum Creek Drive, Saint Cloud, MN 56301, for potluck and more conversation. The possibility of starting a “garlic growers association” under SFA’s nonprofit umbrella will also be discussed. The event will end by 6:30 p.m.

Please reserve your spot by contacting Jerry Ford, gro.n1438318856m-afs1438318856@yrre1438318856j1438318856, 763.244.6659.

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Garden Farme is again hosting its Picnic Scientifique, “Soil as System,” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., July 11 at 7367 175th Ave NW, Ramsey. The event is free and no registration is required.

The day will include a garden walk with Garden Farme’s Soil Sci Committee on “Testing for Soil Health;” Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center will present a summary outline of aboveground impact in “Soil, Society, Economics;” and another garden walk on “Soil System Linkages – Determined or Stochastic?”

Information: Bruce Bacon at gro.n1438318856tm@no1438318856cabb1438318856 or 763.753.5099.

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Living-Song-FarmUniversity of Minnesota Extension and Natural Resources Conservation Service are teaming up with SFA to sponsor a special “warm-up tour” on “Grazing Management and Pasture Forage Quality” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thurs., July 9, at Living Song Farm, 7616 25th Street SW, Howard Lake, MN 5534. This event is free and no registration is required.

Jerry Ford, who has been rotationally grazing since 2006, will be the host. Other speakers include Tom Gervais, NRCS grazing specialist; Julie Reberg, NRCS District Conservationist; and Rod Greder, Wright County Extension Educator.

Animal productivity and farm economics can be enhanced by improved pasture management. Successfully establishing a rotational grazing system and wisely managing pasture forage grasses and legumes can lead to higher carrying capacity and improved gains in grazing animals. Well-planned fencing and watering systems are needed to maximize efficient pasture use. Some local and federal programs can provide financial and technical assistance for graziers wanting to establish high-density grazing systems on their farms.

At this field day we will be presenting management strategies to help improve your bottom line from pastures while also enhancing soil health and protecting water quality. Tools like the rising plate meter, the grazing wedge, and the refractometer to measure forage quality will be demonstrated. Marketing beef, sheep, lamb and poultry produced on pasture will be discussed, as will grazing in the certified organic program.

Registration and program begin at 10 a.m. Some walking will be required, and sturdy shoes or boots are recommended. Lunch will be provided.

Information: Rob Greder, Wright County Extension Office, at 763-682-7381 or ude.n1438318856mu@41143831885600der1438318856g1438318856.

New Deep Roots Class, ‘Introduction to Homestead Dairy’

Wika with goatsSFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development program is offering a new class, “Introduction to Homestead Dairy,” from 6 to 9 p.m. Fri., July 24, at Paradox Farm in Ashby, Minn. If you’re wondering about adding a dairy component to your enterprise or would like more information to guide your current dairy practices, this course might be for you.

This course introduces students to the topic of homestead dairy farming. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Holistic management: How dairy can fit with a homestead life
  • Animal selection
  • Managing the dairy animal (nutrition, breeding)
  • Basic equipment
  • Buildings/Structures and logistics
  • Milk handling and processing

Deep RootsThe lecture and discussion course is 6-9 p.m. Class limited to 8 people. Fee: $60 (Farm Skills 101 graduates $30).

For those who would like hands-on experience with milking and animal handling, two milking labs will be offered: 7-10 a.m., Saturday, 25 July, and 7-10 a.m., Sunday, 26 July. Each lab is limited to 2 people. Milking lab fee: $60 (Farm Skills 101 graduates $30)

In case of a sellout more classes may be added. Visit www.sfa-mn.org/deeproots or watch SFA Connect for additional class announcements.

Click here to register.

Forage Council Summer Tour is June 23 in Fort Ripley

The Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council, a SFA networking group, is hosting its 2015 Summer Tour, “Managed Grazing & Timber Production: Getting the Most Out of Your Woodlands,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 23 at St. Mathias Community Park in Fort Ripley.

Planned are presentations from University of Missouri research station superintendent Dusty Walter and Early Boots Farm owner Tyler Carlson, a tour of the Rosanne and Bruce Caught dairy/beef farm and the Steve Moe silvopasture sites, and plenty of discussion and networking.

Cost is $20 and includes refreshments, lunch, and the program. To register and learn more, visit www.sfa-mn.org/forage-council.

Registration NOW OPEN for 2016 SFA Annual Conference, Midwest Soil Health Summit

Registration is now open for SFA’s 2016 winter conferences – get the following dates on your calendar and register NOW for the best prices.

Click here to register for the SFA Annual Conference, set for Feb. 13 at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. Until Nov. 1, early bird registration is just $35 for SFA members and $45 for nonmembers. You may also register children 3-12 for the Budding Farmers program and for the SFA Leaders Breakfast.

Click here to register for the SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit, set for Feb. 17-18 at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn. The MSHS features soil health experts and farm leaders for two days of education and farmer networking – all geared at improving the health of your soil. Early Bird pricing is $125 for SFA members and $175 for nonmembers until Nov. 1.

Sponsor & Exhibitor registration is open for both conferences on their respective homepage linked above. And remember that SFA Business/Organization members earn significant discounts on sponsorships and exhibitor space at our conferences. To learn more about SFA Business/Organization memberships, click here.