January 7, 2011 : Issue 1
Farming, Food & Fellowship at SFA’s 20th Annual Conference
Each farm and community is unique. They each face different challenges as they strive to be ecologically and environmentally sound, profitable and economically robust, and beneficial to their inhabitants. In other words: sustainable. There are a variety of ways to works towards sustainability. At SFA’s 20th Annual Conference on Saturday, February 19 at the St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN, the days will revolve around just this: “The Routes of Sustainability: Food, Farming, & Fellowship.” The conference will feature a variety of breakout sessions, speakers and exhibits on the different paths our farms, communities, and lives need to embrace to lead a more sustainable existence.
Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. and the program runs from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pre-registration is appreciated, but walk-ins are welcome. Visit www.sfa-mn.org to register. Contact John Mesko, SFA’s Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763-260-0209 if you have questions. For more details about SFA’s Annual Conference, and to learn about SFA’s programs supporting the development and enhancement of sustainable farming systems through innovation, demonstration, education, and farmer-to-farmer networking, visit the conference page.
Woody Tasch, president of Slow Money, will be the keynote speaker. Slow Money is a newly formed NGO and social movement that is a pioneer in merging investing and philanthropy. It’s mission is to build local and national networks, and develop new financial products and services, dedicated to: investing in small food enterprises and local food systems; connecting investors to their local economies; and building the nurture capital industry. Soil fertility, carrying capacity, sense of place, care of the commons, cultural, ecological and economic health and diversity, nonviolence — these are the fundamentals of nurture capital, a new financial sector supporting the emergence of a restorative economy. And these are the fundamentals of the Slow Money Principles. Tasch is also the author of the recent book, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered.
The conference will also feature a variety of breakout session on different paths to sustainability, practical skills sessions, slow money, farm business management, a seed swap, health, food and cooking, internships, agritourism, and more. Expert speakers will range from farmers and students to researchers, cooks, teachers, and community organizers. A delicious, locally produced lunch will be provided through College of St. Benedict Culinary Services in the campus dining hall. Throughout the day there will also be the opportunity to visit an array of exhibitors on sustainable agriculture and more.
RTC Agritourism Business Development Workshop
Is there a Market? What are the Regulations? What are the Liability Concerns? Where To Start? Renewing the Countryside and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota are presenting two “getting started” workshops this winter. We will have presentations and information on tourism trends, licensing, ordinances, insurance and marketing. Attendees will complete a self-assessment, identify potential scenarios and begin to develop a business plan. As part of the project, Renewing the Countryside and other consultants will offer limited on-going technical assistance in developing feasibility, business and marketing plans. You will develop a plan you can implement to start your new enterprise.
January 18, 2011
Tau Center, Winona State University
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
February 19, 2011
St Joseph, Minnesota
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Taste of Sustainability
Join SFA for The Taste of Sustainability the night before the conference on Friday, February 18 from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Alumni Hall, College of St. Benedict. The evening will feature chef and farmer led, seasonal local foods cooking demonstrations, a local-foods buffet, live acoustic music, and more.
Upcoming Chapter Annual Meetings
Crow River Chapter
Sustainability: On the Farm, At the School, In the Home
Saturday, January 22
Gale Woods Farm, Minnestrista, MN
Lake Superior Chapter
Saturday, January 22
Back to Basics for the Next 7 Generations
Saturday, January 29
Pine River, MN
Welcome to the first SFA Connect!
In today’s digital age, SFA recognizes that timely information is critical. As a member of SFA, you recognize the important role your organization plays in helping to promote and develop a strong network of farmer-to-farmer and farmer-to-consumer relationships.
That’s a major focus of SFA Connect. Many thanks to Anne Borgendale for redesigning our communications and making them more effective and accessible. Take a look, follow the links, and let us know what you think. My email is email@example.com and phone is 763-260-0209.
Crow River Chapter Update
By Greg Reynolds
The Minnesota Garlic Festival was a huge success. The estimate was that we had just under 3000 people come through the gate. That’s not bad for a one-day event on the edge of nowhere. The Great ‘Scape Café did all right, but not nearly as well as last year. We will have to up our game to get back on top of the fund raising heap.
Rumor has it that next year the AG Society wants to kick us out of the Agribition Building so they can start setting up for the County Fair. Most of the exhibits and the wine tasting would move over to the cavernous Commercial Building. None of that is a problem, but the Café is in a corner of the Agribition Building. Staying there would put us even farther from the major traffic streams. There wouldn’t be any existing kitchen if we were to move it outside. The logistics of cooking and serving 7-800 meals outdoors could be a little tricky.
Our Fall Social was a big hit. We had a tour of the new food co-op in Long Lake, Harvest Moon. It is a nice store. Nick said that his dad had never been in a co-op grocery store before and was very impressed. He also said that his dad only ever gets into any grocery store about three times a year.
After the tour we watched the film Farming Forward. The film features many SFA members talking about why sustainable agriculture is important. After the film Jerry wouldn’t let us eat supper until he droned on and on and on with announcements and who knows what all. The potluck was excellent and the dessert table was spectacular. Of the forty some people who showed up, several SFA members came from as far away as Austin. You won’t want to miss the next one.
On December 2 we hosted a Farm to Cafeteria Conference in conjunction with MISA at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), University of Minnesota Extension, the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), Renewing the Countryside (RTC), and the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships all pitched in to make the event a success. The USDA’s Risk Management Agency coughed up the money to put the thing on.
Attendance was pretty evenly divided between food service personnel, community members, and farmers. The farmers were a little bit out numbered which was a little surprising. Usually the farmer-chef networking events have a surplus of producers. There were a fair number of vegetable producers, some fruit growers, and only one turkey farmer.
No farmers were there to represent chicken, beef, pork, eggs, milk, or cheese. I know you’re out there. Farm to School is a growing local market, they buy a lot of food, and they pay a fair price. I pride myself on having the most expensive veggies going and charge the schools the same price as everyone else. No one complains. School food service staffs need to be a little on the ball to make it work, but it can be done. You should consider selling to your local schools.
The conference started with a panel that discussion about getting food from local farms into the cafeterias. Between lunch and the formal networking session there was 2.5 hours of conversation and networking between farmers and buyers. It was almost enough time to get it all done. I was pointing school districts that were farther away to farms that were close by even if they weren’t at the meeting.
The day finished up with breakout sessions in three tracks: Farmers, Food Service, and Community. All the sessions were well attended. The Farmer session had Jim Topie from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture talking about what’s legal; Michele Schermann from the University of Minnesota covered Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, and I talked about the bidding and sales process. While no one dozed off, Bruce looked a little drowsy, but it could have been the turkey sandwich he had for lunch. The Food Service session had people hanging around talking until after we had everything packed up, and I heard that the Community track was also pretty good too.
Our next event is our Crow River Chapter Conference. It will be at Gale Woods on Saturday, January 22. The topic will be Sustainability for the Home and Farm. Rumor has it that there will be a beer and cheese tasting afterwards. We will probably require pre-registration to make sure that we don’t run out of, ah, food.
Get Your Interns Here!
What if you could meet and interview all your interns, apprentices and seasonal employees in one day?
Plan to be at Sustainable Farming Association’s Annual Conference on February 19, 2011, and participate in the session, "Interns, Apprentices and Seasonal Employees." This extended session starts off with a panel that will explore some of the basics of internship programs and employment issues. Panelists include:
- Aaron Reser, Mill City Farmers Market
- Courtney Tchida, UM Sustainable Ag, MISA
- Gary Brever, Ploughshare Farm
- Amy Bacigalupo, Parker Forsell, Land Stewardship Project
Then the session move into "Popcorn Networking". You may have seen something similar to this, perhaps at one of our events, in which everyone gets quick recognition, and a way of visually demonstrating their interests. Then it’s open networking time!
SFA is spreading the word out far and wide to assure lots of young people and potential workers will be there, and students get special low registration rates. Any help spreading the news is appreciated!
A bit later in the day is a session specifically for organizations and farms called "Know the Law". Jennifer Jambor-Delgado, staff attorney with Farmers’ Legal Action Group, will walk us through the rules and regulations of having interns and seasonal employees.
If you would like to have an exhibit at the conference or be a sponsor, sign up here.
Farming Forward is a positive and inspiring look at sustainable farming in Minnesota. Directed by Martin Lang and Ethan Marxhausen in collaboration with the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, this new documentary paints an intimate portrait of the state’s burgeoning diversity of small family farms, from the rural to the urban, from multi-generational farms to new immigrant operations, from organic to local (or both!) and every point in between. Meet the people, young and old, from interns to elders, who grow your food and are passionate about reestablishing the links between people, the land and their food. Order your copy here.
Become a 2011 Mill City Farmers Market Vendor
Applications for the 2011 Mill City Farmers Market are now available. You may read more about becoming a vendor at Mill City Farmers Market at www.millcityfarmersmarket.org.
Job Opening at Happy Dancing Turtle
Food and Water Security Program Coordinator
Happy Dancing Turtle is seeking a full time Food & Water Security Coordinator to research, develop, and implement sustainable agriculture programs to build local and community competence in food and water security. Please review the job posting for a complete description of the responsibilities and skill requirements.
OUT AND ABOUT
1/8 – Poultry Health Management for Pasture and Backyard Producers (Northfield, MN)
1/9 – On-farm Afternoon Cheesemaking Basics Class (Nerstrand, MN)
1/13 – Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators on Your Farm (St. Cloud, MN)
1/13 – Mob Grazing – What Ultra High Stock Density can Do for You! (St. Cloud, MN)
1/14-15 – Minnesota Organic Conference and Tradeshow (St. Cloud, MN)
1/15 – Learn to Grow Grapes (Lake City, MN)
1/15 – “Legends of the Valley” Dinner on the Farm to Table Series (Cochrane, MN)
1/18 – Computer Aided Permaculture Design and Site Assessment with Internet Resources (Minneapolis, MN)
1/19 – Agritourism Business Development Workshop (Winona, MN)
1/20 – Winter 2011 Homestead and Landscape Design Series – Thursdays (Prior Lake, MN)
1/22 – Small Farm U: Forage Basics & Sheep Production (Jordan, MN)
1/22 – Winter 2011 Homestead and Landscape Design Series – Saturdays (Prior Lake, MN)
1/22 – Crow River Chapter of SFA Annual Conference (Minnestrista, MN)
1/22 – Slow Cheese (St. Cloud, MN)
1/28-29 – WFAN Annual Conference (Clive, IA)
1/29 – Central Chapter of SFA – Annual Meeting – Back to Basics for the Next 7 Generations (Pine River, MN)
2/2-3 – CERTs 2011 Clean Energy Convergence: Learn, Connect, Act (St. Cloud, MN)
2/4-5 – NPSAS 2011 Winter Conference (Fargo, ND)
2/4-6 – 6th Immigrant and Minority Farming Conference (St. Paul, MN)