Beekman 1802 Mercantile is awarding $20,000 to one small American farm

Beekman 1802 Mercantile, a lifestyle company based in Sharon Springs, NY, is now accepting applications from farmers nationwide for its “Mortgage Lifter” contest.

The “Mortgage Lifter” is an annual contest that awards one small American farm $20,000 to further its business goals, be it paying the mortgage or otherwise. The contest name comes from an heirloom tomato first bred in the 1930’s — a tomato so juicy and delicious that farmers sold them quickly to “lift” their “mortgages” during the Great Depression. Beekman 1802 Mercantile continues to honor the intent and name of this unique tomato through its Mortgage Lifter line of pantry products.

More information about the Mortgage Lifter contest is online here. Act fast! Applications are due July 18, 2016.

Eligibility, contest rules, and FAQs are online here.

New resources for farmers transitioning to organic production

Transition to Organic Network (TON) listserv
TON is an online community of farmers, processors, handlers, buyers, agricultural service providers, and other food system stakeholders that share a common interest in transitional and organic agriculture. TON members connect with each other via the listserv to:

  • Exchange questions and resources related to transitional and organic agriculture and certification,

  • Stay informed about educational opportunities and programs for transitioning and organic producers and buyers, and

  • Network and develop relationships with other actors in the transitional and organic community.

Click Here to Subscribe to the Transition to Organic Network Listerv.


Making the Transition to Organic: Ten Farm Profiles
 

This publication features livestock, field crop, and vegetable producers who, during 2012-2015, were in the process of transitioning or who had been recently certified organic. Each profile addresses organic transition strategies (full transition, gradual transition, immediate transition, and split transition), challenges encountered, and outcomes deemed “most satisfying.” Click here to download a PDF version of this report.

 

Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs 
This publication is a decision-making tool designed to assist with the development of actionable production, marketing, human resource and finance strategies when considering the switch to organic. The Organic Transition Planner includes worksheets as well as three business plans developed by transitioning dairy, row crop, and vegetable farmers. Click here to download a PDF version of this report.

Greener Fields Together

Greener Fields Together is a local and sustainable produce program which helps farmers make capital investments and infrastructure improvements through Cultivating Change, a local farm grant program. Greener Fields Together donated $60,000 to farmers throughout the country in 2016 so that farmers can focus on farming and, for a fleeting moment, not be burdened by the weight of the food system.

Congratulations to farmers that received grants! Learn more about some of the winning projects here:

http://www.greenerfieldstogether.org/news/sustainable-agriculture-local-farm-grants

New publication: Short Duration Cover Crops for Vegetable Production Systems

Short Duration Cover Crops _New ISU GuideIowa State University just published an eight-page guide to working with “short duration” cover crops — those that are managed for just a brief period of time, usually between 45 to 60 days.

According to University researchers, “Planting short duration cover crops can provide multiple benefits to growers who employ them in their fields. Cover crops can improve soil and water conservation efforts, organic matter input, nitrogen fixation, weed suppression and bio-fumigation, providing not only better yields but a healthier environment.” We agree!

The University’s new guide addresses how short term cover crops fit into overall crop rotation, lists example cover crops to plant, and describes various aspects to consider when planting them.

Click here to download the guide (It’s free!) and learn more about the benefits of short duration cover crops.

 

Jan. 19 webinar: Building a Legally Sound Intern and Volunteer Program for Farm Work

We all know that farming is hard work. Do you ever wish you had a little extra help?

Farm Commons is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, January 19th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern about how to legally offer farm work to interns and volunteers. There are many people passionate about good, local food who would probably love to lend a hand and learn more about what it takes to produce the foods they love — but it’s important to make sure that you follow all labor laws when engaging them.

Now could be a great time to explore whether or not intern or volunteer help is right for your farm! Click here to learn more about the webinar and to register for it.

December 22: Free webinar on farm insurance options

Farmers! Insurance for your farming operation is important, but navigating the options can be overwhelming and confusing at times.

If you have lingering questions about insurance and risk management, then Farm Commons has answers! Join them online on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for a free webinar — Insurance for the Farm: Policies and Principles to Efficiently Manage Risk — to address common questions, such as:

  • What’s a farm liability policy and is it the same as a property/casualty policy?
  • How does it work with a homeowner’s policy?
  • Is workers’ compensation required and how does it work?
  • When do you need to look into getting a commercial policy?
  • What are affordable crop insurance options for the sustainable farm?

Advance registration is required. Click here to register and to learn more about it.

HELP US GET THE WORD OUT! COMMUNITY FOOD PROJECT FUNDING NOW AVAILABLE

Since 1996, the USDA’s Community Food Project Grant Program (CFP) has been supporting the alleviation of food insecurity in low-income communities through projects which:

  • Promote community self-reliance in meeting their own food needs;
  • Encourage comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues;
  • Meet food needs through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; and
  • Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project, planning for long-term solutions, or the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Earlier this week the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) posted a Request for Applications (RFA) for the next round of CFP funding. $8.64 million dollars of funds are available. The turnaround time to submit an application is very tight, with applications due no later than 5:00 pm EST on November 30, 2015.

The application process often takes more than two weeks to complete, which is why we need your help!

Do you know of organizations or efforts in your community with experience in:

Community food work, particularly concerning small and mid-sized farms, including the provision of food to low-income communities and the development of new markets in low income communities for agricultural producers;

Job training and business development for food related activities in low-income communities or;

Efforts to reduce food insecurity in the their community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs?

If so, please forward this post and make them aware of this great opportunity!

For this round of funding, three types of grants are available:

Community Food Projects, examples of which include community gardens with market stands, value chain projects, food hubs, farmers’ markets, farm-to-institutions projects, and marketing and consumer cooperatives. All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Community Food Project award in a single year is $125,000 and the maximum award over four years is $400,000.

Planning Projects, examples of which include community food assessments’ coordination of collaboration development, GIS analysis, food sovereignty study, and farm-to-institution exploration.  All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Planning Project award is $35,000 for the total project period.  The maximum grant period is three years.

Training & Technical Assistance Projects, examples of which include workshop training, peer-to-peer interaction, one-on-one training, assistance with evaluation, webinars, and/or video-conferencing. All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Training & Technical Assistance Project award in a single year is $250,000. The maximum award over a two-to-four year period is $500,000.

Farm Aid is collaborating with New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and additional partners to provide free one-on-one technical assistance and resources to applicants. If you are interested in receiving assistance, please fill out this intake form.

There are three upcoming webinars available to help prepare applicants:

General CFP Information(Hosted by USDA): Thursday, October 22 at 2:00 pm EST – Go here to join

Grants.gov for CFP Applicants (Hosted by New Entry): Monday, October 26 at 1:00 pm EST – This webinar will review the process of getting set up in Grants.gov for the first time. This webinar is geared towards those who have never submitted an application on Grants.govor would like a refresher. For new users to Grants.gov, the registration process can take as long as 2 weeks to complete, making it critical to begin the registration process as soon as possible. Register here

Evaluation component of CFP Application (Hosted by New Entry): Wednesday, October 28at 1:00 pm EST – We will review the requirements for the evaluation component of the CFP application. We will review logic models and talk about Whole Measures and Indicators of Success. This webinar is geared towards those with less experience in evaluation or those who would like to learn more about CFP specific evaluation. Register here

Only electronic applications will be accepted via Grants.gov. For new users to Grants.gov, the registration process can take as long as 2 weeks to complete, making it critical to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

To learn more about inspiring Community Food Project grants, past and present, check out this great Digital Storytelling site.

Grant opportunity for farmers focused on animal welfare issues

The Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a nonprofit organization that promotes humane production of meat, milk and eggs, is now accepting applications for its Fund-a-Farmer grant program.

Fund-a-Farmer grants award eligible farmers with up to $2,500 to execute projects that will improve the welfare of their farm animals. This year FACT is especially interested in granting to independent, animal-welfare-oriented farmers wanting to transition to pasture-based systems or improve animal access to pasture.

Click here to learn more about Fund-a-Farmer grants and download the application form.

Applications are due by November 3, 2015.

Now accepting applications: Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund

The California-based CCOF Foundation is now accepting applications from certified organic producers for its Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund.

The fund provides direct financial assistance to certified organic producers and processors/handlers who have suffered losses in 2015 due to extreme hardship.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Certified organic operation currently in good standing (valid organic certificate required for consideration)
  • Have not received CCOF disaster or hardship funding in the last three years
  • Have experienced severe economic loss in the 2015 calendar year
  • Can submit documentation or supporting evidence of economic loss resulting from the hardship (required for consideration)
  • Can submit a copy of receipt for organic certification fees paid in 2015 (by any accredited certifier)
  • Have not received federal assistance for the same loss

Click here to download the application.

Applications are due to CCOF Foundation by October 23, 2015.

“QuickBooks for Farmers” online course starting October 5th

Image courtesy of AgBiz Assist

Image courtesy of AgBiz Assist

Do you ever wish that your farm’s financial information was better organized and easier to use to make business decisions? If so, then the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project’s new online course, BF 204: QuickBooks for Farmers, might be for you!

This course will teach you the basics of using QuickBooks, a popular accounting software, from a farmer’s perspective. All farmers are welcome to participate, beginning and experienced alike. The only prerequisite is a desire to start using QuickBooks for your farm’s recordkeeping.

The course last six weeks, running from October 5 through November 9, 2015. It involves participating in one weekly webinar each Monday night from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern, plus additional readings and homework assignments.

The cost is $200 per person. Visit the course’s webpage to register and to learn more about the specific topics covered.