SFA Chooses Winter Sustainability Conference Interns

Katie Harris

Katie Harris

For the second consecutive year, SFA has tapped Sustainability Conference Interns to help plan our winter conferences and become a part of our farmer networking organization. This year, three interns were picked from a diverse, deep pool of applicants: Katie Harris, Helen Schnoes and Kelsey Wulf.

Harris (top right), who will work alongside Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg, is a student at the University of Minnesota with a major in Food Systems – Organic and Local Food Production Emphasis. Harris, of Anoka, works at Grass Roots Cooperative in Anoka, has volunteered at Mill City Farmers Market and has studied sustainability in Ecuador.

Helen Schnoes

Helen Schnoes

Schnoes (middle right), who will work alongside Event Coordinator Jerry Ford, just received her Master of Regional Planning degree from Cornell University. A Minneapolis native, she has extensively studied food systems and co-funded Sitka Salmon Shares and has experience planning several local foods events.

Wulf, who will work alongside Communications Coordinator JasonWalker, is a familiar face at SFA events and graduate of the Sustainable Food Production program.

Kelsey Wulf

Kelsey Wulf

Wulf, who lives in Detroit Lakes, has worked on several farms, including Seven Pines Farm and Lida Farm. She has also been selected to help with SFA’s 25th anniversary celebration, and has written and compiled several submissions for the upcoming CornerPost and an online historical archive.

SFA thanks everyone who applied for our sustainability internships.

Support SFA on Give to the Max Day

Help advance farmer networking and education in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest – donate to SFA on Give to the Max Day on Nov. 13, 2014.

Click here to view SFA’s Give to the Max Day homepage.

SFA supports sustainable farmers with our networking opportunities, field days, Annual Conference, Midwest Soil Health Summit, and other educational events. SFA has built a crucial network where farmers can rely on support from like-minded individuals as well as tap the wisdom of our community.

We help farmers be more sustainable, productive and profitable, thereby helping build soil health and water quality while putting healthy, ethical food on the plates of people throughout Minnesota and beyond.

If you believe in the importance of family farms, clean water, healthy food and preserving natural splendor and wildlife habitat, then make a tax-deductible donation to SFA today. 

Remember SFA on Give to the Max Day Nov. 13

GTM Day 2014Once again, SFA is asking for your support on Give to the Max Day, which this year is Nov. 13.

Click here to visit SFA’s page.

Feel good about donating to SFA – we do not have costly overhead expenses, so your dollars go directly into helping us provide more farmer networking and educational events. Our programs are making a difference, and with your help we can make an even larger impact on agriculture in the Upper Midwest.

Give to the Max Day has moved to a new site after last year’s five-hour blackout, so hopefully those issues will not return. Some SFA folks were unable to donate because of the blackout, but remember that you can always donate 24/7/365 on our homepage.

All donations to SFA, whether on our homepage or the GiveMN Give to the Max Day site, are fully tax-deductible.

Cover Crop Field Day Near Fergus Falls on Oct. 6

West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District is sponsoring a Cover Crop Field Day from 10 a.m. to noon Mon., Oct. 6, at John Walkup farm southwest of Fergus Falls.

The field day will include a review of cover crop seed mixes, plant identification, annual cover crop uses for cropland and livestock management, a soil pit to show cover crop benefits, seeding methods and more.

The event is free, lunch will be provided and will be held rain or shine. The Walkup farm is southwest of Fergus Falls on County Highway 15 – five miles south of Orwell Dam and 1.5 miles north of County Rd. 26.

For more information, call the WOT SWCD at 218.739.4694.

Executive Director’s Note

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on the current state of affairs in Sustainable Agriculture.  By some measures, the modern movement is about 25-30 years old.  Adulthood by all respects.  We’ve come a long way to get to this point.  Of course there has always been those farmers who practice sustainability and have been organic since organic was the only way to farm.  However, the term “sustainable” and along with it, “sustainable agriculture” have become a part of most people’s every day language.  To many, those terms are only slightly more specific in meaning than they were at the outset of our movement.

However, I think most of us can say we “know it when we see it.”  Sustainable agriculture is a mindset, its an approach.  Admittedly, true sustainability is a near-impossibility to achieve.   We all want to see the environment, farm businesses, farm families and our rural communities become more resilient, more productive, and in general, improve over time.  By focusing on the principles of sustainability, we can move all of these forward.

SFA, through its members, chapters and collective work has been able to make such an impact in agriculture and in rural communities over the years.  We’ve all seen the rapid expansion of farmer’s markets over the last 10 – 15 years.  Do more farmer’s markets mean we’ve achieved sustainability?  No, not really, but they are an exciting piece to the picture of the future.  25 years ago, no-till corn and soybean production models were in their infancy.  In part, through SFA’s Farmer to Farmer Network® organization of educational events, no-till agriculture has become commonplace; and improvements to the environment can be evaluated.

Now, we are in the midst of another mass migration “back to the land.”  The jury is still out  on the relative merits of this latest move.  However, with more new and beginning farmers starting sustainably-minded farms, the future bodes well for sustainable agriculture.

In the coming weeks, I hope to explore more aspects of the state of sustainable agriculture.  If you have any thoughts, let me know.  I’d like to hear lots of perspectives.  You can reach me at john@sfa-mn.org.