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Farmers and other people interested in alternatives to conventional farming formed the South Central Chapter in the late 1980s. Some of the founding members were originally members of the first SFA chapter that met in Lewiston, Minn. Also, many of the founding members belonged to the Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa Ridge Till Club that held its meetings in Albert Lea, Minn. The SMNI Ridge Till Club emphasized sharing of information between farmers and helped many farmers convert from conventional tillage to ridge tillage. The chapter also received help in the beginning from a non-profit group, the Land Stewardship Project, which started the first SFA chapter and several other SFA chapters.
SCSFA sponsors educational programs that are common to all SFA chapters including an annual winter meeting with guest speakers, farm tours and field days, and some other farmer-led projects. In late summer we usually gather for a potluck meal followed by a short program on some topic of interest to our members. Our chapter has also organized many small informal meetings in homes or other locations covering many different topics related to sustainable farming. Some of our members are organic farmers and have helped other members convert to organic farming, while other members use sustainable farming methods but are not organic farmers.
Our board meets monthly during most of the year to plan activities and conduct business. We were participants in the SFA Festival of Farms which included a tour of Hope Creamery, the Sunopta specialty grain elevator, and the Wencl organic dairy farm. Our chapter has also helped with the Lutteke organic field day near Wells, Minn., and provided food for a Weston Price meeting on nutrition. Most of our members reside in Mower, Freeborn, Faribault, Blue Earth, Waseca, Nicollet, and Steele Counties. The membership of our chapter includes small-scale producers of locally marketed food and larger farms devoted to grain and livestock production, as well as some supporters of sustainable farming who are not farmers.