Ready to Learn ‘Reality Farming?’ Enroll in Farm Skills 101

Fam

Are you ready to learn what it’s really like to be a forage-based livestock farmer? Do you need boots-on-the-ground farm experience in a relaxed environment led by farmer educators?

Deep RootsAre you ready to learn “reality farming?”

SFA’s Deep Roots Farm Skills 101 fall semester provides the hands-on skills new farmers need to succeed once they’re on the land. Registration for our fall semester is now open, and a few spots remain for anyone looking to build competence while learning from experienced teachers in a student-focused environment.

The hands-on Farm Skills 101 course teaches pasture management and grazing basics; fence construction, both permanent and temporary; compassionate animal husbandry and handling; and farm equipment maintenance and operation.

Farm Skills 101 students gain experience and build confidence as part of a supportive learning community, which continues as students join SFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Network organization. Farm Skills 101 classes take place on two farms in central Minnesota – these are days in the field, not field days. Farmer-educators Sue Wika, Ph.D., Tom Prieve, DVM, and Kent Solberg, MS, lead a class limited to 6-8 students, creating an outstanding learning environment.

New this fall: In addition to the on-farm instruction, students will also have opportunity to discuss some of the classic literature relative to sustainable farming via an online learning community. One exciting component of the online curriculum is the Adjust 2015 New Farm Reality Check, a comprehensive project led by Executive Director John Mesko.

The on-farm classes meet Oct 2-3, 9-10, and 17-18. The online learning community commences the last week of September.

Tuition is just $1,250 and includes lodging and local foods suppers. Scholarships are available. To learn more about the curriculum, the teachers or to register, visit deeprootsfarmer.com or contact Dr. Sue Wika at gro.n1438221759m-afs1438221759@eus1438221759.

From the Executive Director: Organic Valley’s Grass Up!, Featuring SFA Speakers, is May 7

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko

There is still time to RSVP for what I think could be a watershed event in the sustainable agriculture movement: Organic Valley is teaming up with key organizations and experts in the field of sustainable agriculture to bring energy and focus about our future at a FREE event this Thursday called Grass Up!

Click here to learn more and RSVP.

An invitation-only event, which is set for 6 p.m. May 7 at Macalester College in St. Paul, Grass Up! helps people understand the connections between soil, pasture, climate change, seeds, nutrition, and pollinators. It will gather people with expertise in these areas and help us all understand the points where these six areas intersect.

SFA is a part of this event in several ways.

I’ll be one of two keynote speakers, offering a short overview of how these issues connect for farmers today and in the future. Also, Kent Solberg, SFA’s Livestock & Grazing Specialist, will join me at the discussion tables after the keynotes to network, learn and share. Kent will be an expert at the pasture discussion table, while I’ll be networking with others about agriculture’s response to climate change.

It’s basically a fantastic cocktail party, with great food, great learning, and an excellent opportunity to network, and I hope you’ll be able to make it. I’d love to see you there, and to let everyone know SFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Network® organization is providing solutions for our future!

Space is limited. Click here to RSVP.

SFA Soil Health Webinar a Success; Next is April 3

KCIM Keep Cattle in MinnesotaNearly 75 folks registered for our free Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar, “Strategies for Implementing Cover Crops,” led by Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg on March 6.

The webinar is archived on our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage.

As Kent discussed in the webinar, cover crops are a powerful tool farmers can use to improve soil health. Specifically, cover crops aid in keeping soil covered, add diversity to the rotation, keep a living root in the soil, and serve as the “bridge” between cropping systems and integration of livestock.

Kent reviewed the principles of building soil health and integration of cover crops, and he discussed real-world examples of how adding cover crops to your farm can move you toward productivity and profitability.

This webinar is the second in a series of KCIM webinars SFA has planned. Others are slated forApril 3 and Nov. 6; keep watching SFA Connect for details about all upcoming KCIM webinars and programming.

For more information, visit our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage.

These webinars are made possible thanks to The Pasture Project. 

Implementing Cover Crops – First Steps

Are you interested in developing a plan for implementing cover crops on your farm? Today our show is about Cover Crops and an Upcoming opportunity to learn more about implementing them on your own farm.

On the heels of the very popular Midwest Soil Health Summit a couple of weeks ago, we’ve had lots of questions about next steps. In true SFA fashion, we highlight a farmer with solutions for exactly how to do this.

SFAs Soil Health Principles are as follows:

Keep the soil covered.
Minimize soil disturbance.
Increase crop diversity.
Keep living roots in the soil.
Integrate livestock.

Cover crops are a powerful tool farmers can use to improve soil health. Cover crops can play a key role in implementing soil health principles. Specifically, cover crops aid in keeping soil covered, adding diversity to the rotation, keep a living root in the soil, and serve as the “bridge” between cropping systems and integration of livestock.

“Strategies for Implementing Cover Crops,” a SFA Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar led by Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg, is scheduled for 1-2:30 p.m. March 6. The webinar is free and open to all.

In the webinar, Kent will review the principles of building soil health, integration of cover crops and real world examples of how adding cover crops to your farm can move you toward productivity and profitability. This is in support of SFAs Principles of Soil Health concepts.

Sign up is easy. Once you register, you’ll be sent a weblink that you can click on to join the webinar on Friday March 6 at 1 PM in the afternoon.

We want this to be a great experience for you. If this is the first or one of the first webinars you’ve participated in, I suggest you test your internet connection.

This webinar is the second in a series of KCIM webinars SFA has planned. Others are slated for April 3 and Nov. 6; keep watching SFA Connect and our homepage for details about all upcoming KCIM webinars and programming.

Around 200 See Power of Soil Health on Display at MSHS

SFA Executive Director John Mesko (left) leads a Q&A session with Dr. Allen Williams (center) and Gabe Brown at the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit on Feb. 18 in Alexandria, Minn.

SFA Executive Director John Mesko (left) leads a Q&A session with Dr. Allen Williams (center) and Gabe Brown at the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit on Feb. 18 in Alexandria, Minn.

The 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit showed SFA’s strengths as a Farmer-to-Farmer Network® organization – nearly 200 farmers had the chance to talk one-on-one with some of the world’s leading experts on soil health.

MSHS_2colorBoth informational and inspirational, the presentations from the likes of Dr. Allen Williams and Gabe Brown (shown above with SFA’s John Mesko), Jerry Doan, Dr. Wendy Taheri, Kent Solberg, Dr. Michael Lehman and Ian Cunningham prove that soil health not only has the potential to transform agriculture in this country, it has both the potential to transform it soon and to provide immense benefit to farmers who use these methods.

The importance of a Farmer-to-Farmer Network® organization like SFA was clear when examples were given that both Allen and Gabe – two incredibly innovative, successful farmers – have neighbors who still refuse to adopt soil building farm practices. When world-famous farmers like these still face skepticism, it’s no wonder SFA members see the value of networking with others in their area for camaraderie and wisdom.

Attendance at the 2015 MSHS was up nearly 50 percent, and the crowd was encouragingly diverse – as one attendee remarked, it was “nice to see a long line at the women’s restroom.” SFA is an inclusive, family-like organization, and we are thrilled to see farmers and farm families of all types attending our events.

Thanks to all who came, and we are excited to begin planning the 2016 version. Look for an announcement of 2016 dates coming soon.

To download Dr. Allen Williams’ presentation and for other resources, visit our MSHS homepage.