April 18, 2011 : Issue 8
SFA Looking for Farmers to Assist UMN with Curriculum Development
University of Minnesota Extension recently received a grant for the development of sustainable farming curriculum materials in 4 areas: Soil Management & Soil Quality, Pastures (and fencing), Market Gardens, and Small Flock Poultry. A portion of this grant will fund SFA’s work in recruiting farmers to work on the project. Farmers will be compensated for their time. SFA applauds UMN for their commitment to build this curriculum “from the farmer up.”
Each curriculum will be put together by a team of educators and sustainable farmers. The grant calls for teams of four (4) people – 2 Extension staffs and 2 farmers. That’s where you come in. We are looking for 2 farmers per team for a total of 8, from SFA.
The curricula are to be developed for delivery to farmers – new and existing – but our goal is to train Extension and SFA farmers in their use and encourage use by other educators.
So the next thing that needs to happen is to get all of the teams together to lay the ground work, get to know each other, and get started on the curriculum development.
Many of you have expertise in this area that you can share. This will be a fun project, and you’ll be compensated for your time.
If you are interested in working on this project, or would like to learn more, please contact SFA’s Executive Director, John Mesko at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-260-0209.
SFA Website + Surveys
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.
We hope you find it more useful and informative. There are a couple of surveys out there that I’d love to have you take a moment to fill out. One is an SFA “user” survey. Here you can tell us what you think about SFA, how you like to interact with us, and SFA’s role in sustainable ag.
The other survey is the New Crops Assessment Survey. Lots of folks stopped by our booth at the annual conference to fill this out. Its one way SFA is working to expand the market for our members who are interested in meeting local food demand. Check it out!
South Central Chapter Update
by Jim Tjepkema
The South Central Chapter’s annual meeting featured a talk by Paula Westmoreland and Lansing Shepard which covered their vision for improved conservation and land use. Paula and Lansing’s talk was based on their new book “This Perennial Land”. This book draws on a three year study of the Blue Earth River basin which included interviews with many people involved in conservation. The study also included a new map of the region that shows extensive areas within the basin that have considerable potential for improved land use. They hope this map will become a model for mapping other parts of our state. The talk well received and was followed by a (More…)
As another Minnesota winter bids farewell, our thoughts turn to spring, and summer. New life, new growth, fieldwork, gardening and WARM!
Winter is not my favorite season, and I surely won’t be missing it, now that we have had several nights above freezing; but there is one thing about winter I can appreciate: The difficulties of winter, like the snow and the cold, are a sure sign that spring will return.
On some of those shortest days, I find myself relishing the fact that this won’t last forever; that spring, and eventually summer, will come. The garden and the pasture will thrive again. And here we are, on the cusp of another growing season.
For SFA, this time of year means our members are busy. Less time for meetings, seminars, training and the like. That’s just fine. We’ll be here, continuing to fulfill our mission of developing sustainable farming systems through farmer-to-farmer networking, innovation, demonstration, and education.
Have a safe, healthy and bountiful 2011 growing season!
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.
Twin Cities Urban Farmer’s Network
There are a growing number of people who are seeking out urban farming opportunities. At this point most communication between people has been limited to various meetings around town in the past few months. Groups have met about land access issues, city policy changes to make urban agriculture more legal, various new urban agriculture training centers, trainer round tables, and limited peer to peer communication. The next logical action step seems to be to try and create a network of people working on urban agriculture in our region. This survey is the culmination of many of the discussions that have been happening in the past few months. This survey is both an attempt to determine who is out there doing what and an invitation to start a dialogue with others through a newly formed listserv that will serve as a place for peer to peer sharing. Thanks for all your doing to create a new food system. The creation of the survey has been a collaboration between the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Gardening Matters and the University of Minnesota Extension.
USDA Announces Opportunity for Organic Producers to Implement Conservation Practices
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White today announced another funding opportunity for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production to implement resource conservation practices on their agricultural operations.
While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cutoff date for this application period is set for May 20, 2011.
“Organic growers continue to express interest in program support to implement conservation practices,” White said. “This additional opportunity will allow more producers to get assistance in protecting the natural resources on their land and creating conditions that help foster organic production.”
Fiscal year 2011 marks the third year of USDA’s Organic Initiative. Up to $50 million is available this year to help producers to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production. For example, conservation practices might include planting cover crops, establishing integrated pest management plans, constructing seasonal high tunnels, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.
Eligible producers include those certified through USDA’s National Organic Program, those transitioning to certified organic production, and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification because their gross annual organic sales are less than $5,000.
Organic Initiative funding is provided through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. The 2008 Farm Bill provided assistance specifically for organic farm operations and those converting to organic production.
Under EQIP Organic Initiative contracts, NRCS provides financial payments and technical assistance to help producers implement conservation measures in keeping with organic production. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers may obtain additional assistance. The 2008 Farm Bill limits EQIP payments for organic operations to $20,000 per year per person or legal entity, with a maximum total of $80,000 over six years.
Producers interested in applying for EQIP Organic Initiative funding must submit applications through their local NRCS Service Center, which can be located through the Web site at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs.
Notice to Hispanic or Women Farmers:
COMPENSATION FOR CLAIMS OF DISCRIMINATION
If you believe that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) improperly denied farm loan benefits to you between 1981 and 2000 because you are Hispanic, or because you are female, you may be eligible to apply for compensation. You may be eligible if:
1. you sought a farm loan or farm-loan servicing from USDA during that period; and
2. the loan was denied, provided late, approved for a lesser amount than requested,
approved with restrictive conditions, or USDA failed to provide an appropriate loan
3. you believe these actions occurred because you are Hispanic or female.
If you want to register your name to receive a claims package, you can call the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 1-888-508-4429 or access the following website:
More information here.
More information here.
More information here.
More information here.
04/30 – 05/01 Sara Sanders: Introduction to Biointensive Gardening
More information here.
For more events, check out our online calendar.