Executive Director’s Note

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

Do you support sustainable agriculture?  If you’ve been taking the time to read this newsletter for any length of time, then I’d say you do.  Getting informed is the first level of involvement in any cause.  We are very happy you’ve decided to have SFA be a source of informaiton for your benefit and edification.

Would you like to be further involved? Step 2 would be membership.  Have you renewed your SFA membership?  I want to thank the many folks who have done just that in the past few days.  I know it’s hard to keep track of all the groups and organizations vying for your time, and your membership. If you were a member of SFA at one time, maybe you’ve forgotten to keep it going.  Here’s one way to make sure you won’t forget your SFA membership: become a sustaining member!  Its easy, and you’ll never have to worry about us reminding you again.  Many folks have opted for sustaining memberships this season.  To do so, just click here.  

Of course, your membership can also be easily renewed online by credit card or by check.  To pay by check, see the membership form here.

And finally, thanks again for your continued support of SFA.  Your membership in our organization strengthens our movement, and is helping to make sustainable agriculture the preferred brand of agriculture now and in the future!


Follow me on Twitter: @johnmesko.

Voting Now Open for 2015 SFA Annual Conference Topics

Ten of the session topics at this year’s Annual Conference were chosen by you, SFA’s members and supporters, using an online application that allowed you to vote for your favorite topics as well as submit your own. The top vote-getting topic, Root Cellaring, was a standing-room-only session led by root cellar builders Jerry Ford and Greg Reynolds as well as the esteemed John Fisher-Merrit, who dazzled the attendees with the details of his affordable yet highly customized root cellar that has significantly enhanced his farm’s revenue stream.

With this year’s SFA Annual Conference fresh in your minds, it’s time to start thinking to our next annual gathering, set for Feb. 14, 2015, again at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph.

We have opened voting for the 2015 Annual Conference session topics – click this link to begin voting. The more votes we tabulate, the more accurately we can tailor the session schedule around your wishes. One thing we hear a lot during an after the Conference is, “there were so many good sessions I had a hard time choosing.” If there was a session you missed in 2014 but still are interested in, be sure to input that topic into the website. Some of the topics already submitted include:

  • SFA_AC_Cover crops and soil health
  • Fencing
  • Integrating crops and livestock
  • Hogs on pasture
  • Root cellaring
  • Agroforestry
  • New crops
  • Season extension
  • Seed saving
  • Grazing for beginners

Make your voice heard – submit your own ideas and vote early and often.

Also, photo galleries from both the 2014 Annual Conference and inaugural Midwest Soil Health Summit are available on each conference’s homepage. Check them out!

SFA Member Writes Post on Paradox Farm

Emmy and Sue for ConnectSFA member Emmy Tolbert (at right with Sue Wika) recently wrote an article for the Stand for Food blog after attending an SFP Workshop on Deep Winter Greens at Sue and Tom Prieve’s Paradox Farm. Here’s an excerpt:

Have you ever dreamed of owning  a “deep winter” greenhouse–one of those polycarbonate covered structures, with interiors that feel like spring and summer, surrounded by black gold(soil) and lettuce seeds that grow into many shades of glorious green? That once found, built, or structured, is a true treasure during our cold Minnesota winters?

Just imagine my joy when I received the last reserved spot in the “Deep Winter Production of Greens and Livestock Fodder Utilizing Passive Solar Energy” class held at Paradox Farms in Ashby, MN.  Now sponsored by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, Sustainable Food Production instructors Tom Prieve and Sue Wika taught this class in a warm and cozy corner of their barn to thirteen energetic and excited students of various ages on a cold, blustery January day.

Prieve kicked off the morning with a tour of their deep winter greenhouse, where the students observed the unique practicality  and benefit of this polycarbonate-covered structure. The pair of educators (a pair of docs)  were inspired to build this greenhouse to fit their personal farm needs,  to nurture their goals of  being more self-reliant, and to foster the ethic of neighborhood supported agriculture.

To read the entire post, click here.

Organic Management Workshop Upcoming in Verndale

Jim Chamberlin

Jim Chamberlin

Staples Area Farmers Market Association is hosting an event, Organic Management Workshop, focusing on gardens, seasonal high tunnels, and hoop houses, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Verndale Community Center, 109 1st Ave SE, Verndale.

The workshop is designed to address local needs for organic production practices of low income, small producers of horticulture crops in central Minnesota. Speakers will answer questions and make recommendations on soil health, organic fertilizers, organic pest management, and composting.

Speakers include high-tunnel expert Terrance Nennich as well as SFA members David Birky, Arlene Jones, Kathy Connell and SFA Association Board President Jim Chamberlin.

Cost is $8 by March 15 and $12 thereafter; both fees include lunch and materials. Send a check payable to Staples Area Farmers Market Association and contact info to Lois Detloff, 21390 County Rd 24, Bertha, MN 56437, or click here here to download a brochure and registration form.

For more information, contact Deb Erickson (218.445.5147), Lois Detloff (218.924.2704) or Mel Wiens (218.894.2715).

Lake Superior Chapter Plans Farmers Take the Stage

Please join SFA’s Lake Superior Chapter for an evening of musical and variety talent presented by our members and supporters – SFA_LakeSuperior_RGBFarmers Take the Stage, set for 7-9:30 p.m. March 21 at Clyde Ironworks, 2920 W Michigan St, Duluth.

All area farmers, SFA members and supporters are invited to perform their music, poetry, or other act at this event. If you are interested, please contact Joel Rosen at plfarm@q.com or 218.389.3306

A $10 suggested donation goes directly to the work of LSSFA.