February 21, 2011 : Issue 4
Thanks to everyone that participated in SFA’s 20th Annual Conference on Saturday, February 19 at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN. Close to 300 people were in attendance. In the weeks to come read about SFA State Board Members’ impressions of the speakers, ideas and interactions from the conference.
2011 SFA Distinguished Service Award
Curtis Bush with SFA Board Member Karola Dalen
Dr. Dennis Johnson
2011 Sustainable Farmers Emeriti
Jane & John Fischer Merritt with SFA Board Member Karola Dalen
New SFA Website
As part of SFA’s Design Identity revamp we’ve rolled out a new website! Visit www.sfa-mn.org to see how this new design is easier to navigate and puts SFA events front and center.
SFA Connect is Moving!
As you’ve probably realized while reading this edition of SFA Connect it is Monday, not Friday. SFA Connect will now come out every other Monday instead of every other Friday. We’ll still feature the news and events you want to know more about, but you will now start your week with us instead.
Coteau Ridge Chapter
by Sunny Ruthchild & Bruce Johnson
Our group took an outing, called the Wooly Mammoth Hunt, at Neal Ronning’s place. We toured the gorgeous native prairie, looked at organic blue corn, witnessed and experienced being close to and under an immense wind farm, and stood above and marveled at the woods there that are a migration-gathering place for song birds from hundreds of miles around.
In January 2011, we held our annual meeting, and our guest was ElRoy Rogers, the Honey Guy. He spoke of the deleterious effect of GMO pollen on honeybees, and even more dangerous impact on pollinators, of nicotine based coating now surrounding most corn seed. Fascinating call to action.
We also elected officers for 2011: Sunny Ruthchild, President, Richard Rolling, Vice President, Dorinda Speh, Secretary -Treasurer, and Bruce Johnson, representative to State board.
In 2011, we look forward to an on-going tutorial on soils, first a winter-time lecture, and then a hands-on, on-location soil study at each farm we visit this year.
We also intend to continue a collaborative effort with new Local Food producers, finding crops and techniques to increase our ability to participate in this very important movement, and with Land Stewardship Project and CURE (Clean Up our River Environment).
We will also be participating in the Festival of Farms celebration, with an expanded promotional effort.
Coteau Ridge now has a Facebook page, put together by member Erik Posz, local journalist .
Over the past year the Coteau Ridge Chapter of SFA hosted a number of events:
- At our movie night we showed “Food, Inc.” There were many guests in attendance. It was well received and very stimulating.
- Chapter member Richard Rolling lead a lecture on soils. This lecture was based on Minnesota soils with references to Kenyan soils. Richard spent time in Kenya during his years in the PeaceCorps.
- This past spring our chapter played host to a Farm to Cafeteria Workshop. It was mad apparent our need to grow storable crops in order to participate.
- There was a workshop at Richer Siemers on organic lawn care.
- Paul Sobocinski with the Land Stewardship Project provided legislative updates. This was part of our effort to collaborate with active existing resources. It was a great discussion of issues related to livestock housing practices.
- During the Festival of Farms we had tours at farms of Don DeWeerd, Bruce Johnson and Sunny Ruthchild.
- We had a field day at Bob Schellhaus’ farm that focused on Aubrac cow-calf pairs on native pastures.
- There was also a day-long bus trip to the University of Minnesota Arboretum. It was a lovely social and educational trip.
- We also screened the film “Troubled Waters.” This was a timely view, early in the controversy over the film. It was a well attended by local organic and conventional farmers, SMSU professors, and the general public. There was also a fabulous discussion led by LSP’s Paul Sobocinski and CURE’s Patrick Moore.
Thanks to everyone that SFA’s 20th Annual Conference this past Saturday! For the past 20 years, SFA
has been steadily advancing the cause of sustainable agriculture and local food, helping to make Minnesota a leader in the national movement. As the largest organization of sustainable and organic farmers in the state, SFA plays a key role in helping build the community of farmers and eaters that make our state a fantastic place to live. As we continue to move forward, thank you for joining us in the pursuit of more, better and healthier food for Minnesotans of all ages and places.
I hope everyone in attendance enjoyed the conference, and if you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to call me at 763-260-0209 or email.
John is on vacation from February 21-25.
Duluth Community Farm (DCF)
seeks self-motivated/directed person(s) with some food production experience to manage the vegetable market farm the first season (2011) on DCF lands, corner of Riley and Jean Duluth Roads north of Duluth. Duties include: start seeds, develop a business plan, keep farm records, control weeds, build the soil, erect fencing – high tunnels – sheds, planting, irrigation, harvest, marketing, & coordinating with other DCF users and DCF steering committee representatives.
Successful candidate must be able to perform strenuous labor in all weather for long hours as necessary. Ability to engage with public and volunteers essential. Farmer will be a contractor paid via a percentage of their sales. Farm operating, supplies and equipment costs will be covered by DCF.
DCF will provide marketing, labor, and mentoring assistance. Hours and days of duty will be as needed. Farm must be kept in a neat, workman-like manner. Tractor & implement operation experience a plus. First year will entail much weed control, soil building, and set up of infrastructure and systems. Planned crop for first year is mid to late season vegetables. Planned marketing strategy this year includes farmers markets and institutional sales.
The Duluth Community Farm is a community based and sustainably developed social enterprise devoted to production, demonstration, and education around food, farming and gardening. The mission of the DCF includes incubating beginning and early-career farmers for defined use of DCF lands. DCF may also host plots by enterprise farmers and organizational farmer-gardeners. Job description available here. To apply send a resume & references to (preferred) or Kelly Smith, 165 Korby Road, Esko, MN 55733 by March 21, 2011. FFI call Kelly, evenings, at 218-879-3829 or by email.
Joel Salatin Coming to M-State Fergus Falls – March 3
Renowned sustainable farmer Joel Salatin will speak during afternoon and evening events at Minnesota State Community and Technical College – Fergus Falls on Thursday, March 3. The events, which are open to the public, are sponsored by the college’s Sustainable Food Production program and Communicating for Agriculture.
The March 3 program on the Fergus Falls campus includes:
- 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm: Salatin will explain the grass-based polyculture system he stewards at Polyface farm to produce high quality beef, pork, poultry, rabbit, eggs and lumber.
- 3:00pm – 4:30 pm: A panel of farmers will discuss sustainable, nutrient-dense vegetable production.
- 6:30 pm: Salatin’s keynote address will the necessary components of a durable, local food system.
The presentations are open to the public for a $15 suggested donation. Proceeds will be used to fund scholarships for students in M State’s Sustainable Food Production diploma program. For more information on the March 3 events, email Marci King or call 218-736-1625.
Urban Farming Certification Program
The Twin Cities area is experiencing an explosion of interest around urban agriculture. Now is the time to get involved! Running a successful small-scale farming operation in the city can be difficult, and requires many different skills. Don’t let this stop you!
- Become a Certified Urban Farmer and open new doors for earning income.
- Develop skills in high-production, sustainable, organic urban food production.
- Learn within a small team as you receive permaculture design support and feedback during the growing season.
Permaculture Research Institute – Cold Climate is pleased to announce a comprehensive 6-month Urban Farming Certification Program.
Classes begin March 5, 2011 — Space is limited this first year so register now!
- To apply online: click here.
- To sponsor an urban farmer: click here.
- For more information, click here, email or call 612-333-0430.
Calling farmers to sell at small open-air markets in the City of Minneapolis!
“Mini Farmers Markets” offer opportunities for you to sell your produce. These markets are located throughout the City of Minneapolis in high traffic areas and are managed by host organizations like churches and community centers. Each market has five or fewer vendors and no rental fees. Market hours will vary by location.
- Vendors can sell only the product you grow
- Must commit to selling at least once each week, July thru September
- In particular, we are seeking vendors who are FMNP certified (or are willing to attend free certification training in April)
Please call 612-870-3454 or email and provide your name, address, phone, email, and which days you are available to sell. You will be contacted by a market manager in the coming months.
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.
Here’s an opportunity to raise several hundred Black Silkie chickens per season on contract for the Chinese medicinal market. Contact Ping Yin (952-686-3921) or Alex Gu (952-686-3832)
New Case Study Series Targets Beginning Farmers in Sustainable Agriculture
The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
(MISA) recently launched an online series of case studies that provide beginning and transitioning farmers with a unique virtual resource. The “Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” project uses photos, videos, and narratives to integrate personal stories of profiled farmers with detailed information on their practices. The case studies also include technical assistance via extensive tips and links to finance, production, and marketing resources.
The first case study features Laura Frerichs and Adam Cullip of Loon Organics, based in Hutchinson, Minnesota. They produce organic vegetables sold through farmers markets,Community Supported Agriculture, and wholesale clients.
A second case study is underway, featuring Cindy Hale and Jeff Hall of Clover Valley Farms in Duluth, Minnesota. They raise pastured poultry and hogs, produce herbs in a passive greenhouse, and use integrated pest management to grow apples in new and restored heritage orchards.
Case study users have had the following comments:
• I will save this, share it and refer to it often. It’s everything I ever wanted to know!
• Makes me want to do it, but also has me thinking more realistically.
• No one can tackle everything at one time, so it’s nice to be able to review and concentrate on different parts when needed.
• The many links and resource tips really help to equip the reader with tools to take the information a step further. It helps to inspire when you can use the information to help yourself.
“I approached MISA with this project idea because I am a beginning farmer myself,” says Sarah Stai of EcoSmith Consulting. “There are lots of sustainable agriculture resources online, but I still felt like I was reinventing the wheel and craved in-depth examples of individual farmers.”
Stai manages the project in collaboration with MISA and with support of advisors from
University of Minnesota Extension, Renewing the Countryside, the Land Stewardship Project, and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. “Internet technology allows us to offer ‘virtual tours’ of real farms that new producers may not be able to visit in person, while also providing efficient access to essential resources that might otherwise be overlooked,” says Stai.
The “Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” project is located here. Site visitors are encouraged to provide feedback on the project by taking a 5-minute survey that provides
More information here.
More information here.
More information here.
More information here.
More information here.
More information here.