May 2, 2011 : Issue 9
SFA Joins Renewing the Countryside at 2011 Living Green Expo
May 7-8, State Fairgrounds
Join SFA and our partners at Renewing the Countryside at the 2011 Living Green Expo! While the great elements of past expos will be back, the event, this year, is blossoming into something that promises to be spectacular. In addition to 300 hundred exhibitors, 40 workshops, and 20 cooking demos — this year’s expo includes abundant cultural performances, an array of activities for children, outdoor entertainment, and interactive educational exhibits including: A Complete Street in Action, an electric car show, and a green wedding.
Having outgrown the Grandstand – this year the expo is taking over the entire Northeast Corner of the State Fair grounds with activities and exhibits in multiple buildings and in outdoor venues. And if the current forecasts holds, May 7 & 8 promise to be beautiful spring days.
Please consider joining amazing event as a sponsor, exhibitor, volunteer, or attendee. More info can be found at: http://www.livinggreenexpo.mn/
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: email@example.com 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…)
Faithful readers of this newsletter will remember well my declaration 2 weeks ago about the end of winter… I should have never said that! 30 degrees and snow here this morning at our farm. I hear it’s not much better in other parts of Minnesota.
So, I’ll make one more pronouncement. Spring follows winter, even if it takes a while.
Looking for something fun this weekend? Try the Living Green Expo. This year, SFA will be joining Renewing the Countryside for a bit. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to consumers and other farmers. If you are interested, you can find more information here.
Lest you think SFA’s support of Living Green Expo is somehow a detraction from our mission of reaching farmers, have a look at all the farms and farmers who will be there. 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.
ANNUAL REMINDER ABOUT PESTICIDE AND FERTILIZER COMPLAINTS
To register a complaint about pesticide or fertilizer misapplication, please go to:
The MDA’s Pesticide Complaint web page: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/chemicals/pesticides/complaints.aspx
Complaints can be filed online 24/7 using the link provided on the web page. Online complaints are reviewed by staff several times a day during regular business hours. A new FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) will be available soon.
If you wish to talk to a person, you can call 651-201-6333, our complaint intake phone number. We have multiple phone lines for this number and several folks who will taking calls. This number is answered during regular business hours 8AM to 4 PM.
If it’s an emergency or after hours, call the MN Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798 out state and 651-649-5451 metro area. The complaint will be delivered to the Inspection Unit staff.
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.
USDA Farmers Market Directory
We are delighted to announce that 2011 USDA Farmers Market Directory is now open for updating. Please feel free to forward to your networks, especially market managers who want their markets included in the 2011 Directory.
Out & About
Farm to Consumer Foundation Hosts Raw Milk Symposium
For more events, check out our online calendar.