High Tunnel Workshops in Iowa

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is hosting a series of classes for growers producing crops in high tunnels. The “High Tunnel 101″ workshop will cover: high tunnel selection, construction, soil management, irrigation, pest management, bed design and cropping systems. The “Advance High Tunnel Tomato Production” workshop is offered to growers who already use high tunnel technology. Topics will include: environmental control, nutrient management, foliar sampling, hands-on grafting practice, production budgets and succession plantings for maximum efficiency. Participants will leave with a high tunnel manual for future reference. 

Fees: $55 per person or $90 per couple (or employees of the same farm), and includes a resource guide, lunch and refreshments. Pre-registration is required. Click here for more information.

High Tunnel 101

Heartland Acres Events Center, 2600 Swan Lake Blvd, Independence, Iowa
Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Call Buchanan County Extension by Oct. 23 to register at 319-334-7161

Annelise Winery, 15110 Hwy 92, Indianola, Iowa
Oct. 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Call Warren County Extension by Oct. 28 to register at 515-961-6237

Lee County Extension Office, 414 N Main St., Donnellson, Iowa
Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Call Lee County Extension by Nov. 5 to register at 319-835-5116

Advance High Tunnel Tomato Production

North Iowa Events Center, 4-H Learning Center, 3700 4th St. SW, Mason City, Iowa

Nov. 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Call Cerro Gordo County Extension by Nov. 14 to register at 641-423-0844
 

College Farms Revisited: West Coast Region

Now that we’re firmly in September and students are getting into the groove of a new school year, it’s time to revisit our post about college farms and gardens. In the programs listed below, students are actively involved in all aspects of farming from greenhouse management to field planting, and from harvesting to distributing farm-fresh products. College farms provide opportunities for both learning and research and can be a great way to earn credits and internship hours!

This week we’re focusing on college farms along the West Coast. We know that we’ve missed quite a few impressive student farms…so let us know about them in the comments below!

And be sure to visit Rodale Institute’s student farm list to learn about additional farms near you.

***

Stanford Community Farm – Stanford University

Stanford, California

The Stanford Community Farm dates back to 1885 when it was the Palo Alto Estate. 
Today the farm is run by a combination of faculty, staff and students. This organic farm keeps farming and agriculture front and center at the university—as exemplified by student farmers and an Earth Systems class taught on the farm. Spread over a one-acre lot, the farm has a fruit orchard and many different student and community plots.

Contact: Graduate, medical and postdoc students contact Jesse Bateman; Undergraduate students contact Patrick Archie.

***

Organic Grower’s Club – Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

The Organic Grower’s Club is a completely student-run, organic farm. The farm began in 2000 by a group of agriculture science students who wanted to add hands-on experiences into the curriculum. The farm spans two acres and now has over 300 students and 400 community members. Farm produce is sold to subsidize operational costs and summer student internships. Volunteer on the farm! Thursday Night Work Parities happen every week 4:30-dark—with free hot supper!

Contact: org_council@lists.oregonstate.edu
 or James Cassidy the Faculty Advisor; and click here to Join the Organic Growers Listserv.

***

Organic Farm – Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

A five-acre area on the Evergreen campus accommodates a farmhouse, garden, biodiesel facility, compost facility, greenhouse and a 38,000 square foot, certified organic, crop production area. Students at the college enrolled in the Practice of Sustainable Agriculture Program become interns on the farm and grow, harvest and sell their bounty at both a campus farm-stand and through a CSA.

Contact: (360) 867-6160 or email the Farm.

***

Agricultural Sustainability Institute – University of California Davis

Davis, California

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute started in 1977 and continues to serve UC Davis students, faculty, school children and community members. The program focuses on sustainable agriculture principles and practices, in-field experiential learning, and inspires students’ initiative, creativity and exploration. The university encourages students to participate on the farm and learn through internships, formal courses and research projects. Year-round crop production takes place on the 4.5-acre farm and produce is available through the university’s dining services and campus coffee houses. Fruit and vegetables are also available at the UC Davis Farmers’ Market and through a CSA. Visit the farm anytime from 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday.

Contact:Mark Van Horn or (530) 752-7645

***

UW Farm – University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Several students and faculty members wishing to inform the UW community about the global food system started this urban farm in 2006. The farm serves as a classroom for many different university classes from ecology to anthropology—and the farm also hosts a quarterly sustainable farm internship. The farm is a registered student organization with over 600 members. Learn more about farm events by joining the listserve; and click here to learn how to volunteer and get involved.

 

Organic Farmers: Be heard through the Organic Seed Survey

It’s the peak of the growing season, with farmers out on their land plucking off tomatoes and digging up carrots. But come winter, these farmers will be tucked away in their offices planning next year’s crop. Will they use organic seeds? How will they source them?

Since 2008 the top eight global seed firms have gobbled up 70-plus smaller seed companies. Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta control over half of the market—a sharp increase from the mid 1990′s when the top three seed corporations controlled 22 percent of the industry.[1] (Check out this excellent infographic for more). That consolidation over seeds – the genetic source of all the food we eat – has had dramatic impact on family farmers, and organic farmers in particular.

The Organic Seed Alliance’s national seed survey aims to understand the impact of those most affected by this consolidation: organic farmers. Every five years, OSA’s survey results highlight the needs of organic farmers and the availability of organic seeds and seed quality to inform future policy and research. The findings are published in their State of Organic Seed report.  View the 2011 report here.

OSA’s last survey gathered responses from 1,027 organic farmers in 45 states and demonstrated a lack of availability and quantity of organic seeds. Nearly 80% of respondents said they were having some degree of difficulty sourcing organic seeds. Contributing factors included: concentration in the seed industry, cutbacks in plant breeding programs, and disagreement and confusion over how to implement the National Organic Program. Concentration in the industry is particularly problematic for organic farmers, as it leads to a dearth of organic seeds and varieties.

OSA’s national seed survey is vital in determining the barriers and the opportunities in the organic seed industry and in discovering how farmers are using, or not using, organic seeds.

If you are a certified organic crop producer, please consider taking this confidential survey.

The deadline for responding is October 3, 2014. Access the survey here.

Sources:

1. Wendy, Banks (2013). “Biotech Infographic Shows Global Consolidation Of Seed Industry.” The Sleuth Journal. October 15, 2013. Available:http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/biotech-infographic-shows-global-consolidation-seed-industry/

Ohio Manure Science Review Course

Spruce up your manure practices at an all-day program this Thursday. Workshops will include: Nutrient Variability of Liquid Manure in Storage, Winter Runoff: Do Setbacks Work?, Economic Value of Manure, and Subsurface Band Application of Poultry Litter, among others. There will also be field demonstrations on application methods.

The Manure Science Review program qualifies for the following continuing education credits:

  • ODA Certified Livestock Manager (CLM): 5.5 continuing education hours (CEU’s)
  • Certified Crop Advisor (CCA): 3.0 Soil & Water Management CEU’s, 2.5 Nutrient Management CEU’s
  • Professional Engineer (PE): 2.0 continuing professional development hours (CPD’s)

Details

Manure Science Review
Thursday, August 14, 2014
8:45 am to 3:30 pm
Rupp Vue Farm
14636 Seville Road, Sterling, Ohio

Click here to register or for more information.

 

Pest and Disease Management Workshop for Organic Growers

Join NOFA-NY and Cornell Cooperative Extension Organic Fruit and Vegetable Production Educator, Emily Cook, at a workshop that will help you improve your pest and disease management skills. The workshop, which is funded by the USDA Risk Management Association and The New World Foundation, will introduce insect and disease scouting techniques, scouting protocol, and insect and disease identification. They will also go over the latest ways to monitor for and trap pests. Additionally, the workshop will cover online resources for monitoring disease movement in the northeast.

Details:

August 12th at 4:00pm at the Groundswell Center, 430 W. State St, Ithaca, NY 14850

Contact Emily Cook to register: ekc68@cornell.edu or 845-340-3990

USDA Webinar for Small-Scale Livestock Producers

Coming up next week: the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) will hold a webinar to discuss the Grass-Fed Program for Small and Very Small (SVS) Producers–a program that aims to create more opportunities for small-scale livestock produces.

The webinar will go over eligibility and how to market products as USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef in a way that is less costly and more in tune with the needs of small-scale producers. In order to get this certification, weaned animals must be fed only grass and forage and no grain or grain byproducts. Ruminants must also have access to pasture throughout the growing season.

AMS announced this new program for small grass-fed producers this past spring. Read more on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog and on the USDA’s blog.

 

Who: Small-scale and niche market livestock producers (those marketing less than 49 head of cattle each year).

What: AMS webinar about the Grass-Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers.

Where: Listen in via phone or computer: Phone: 866.740.1260, access code 72020000; Computerhttp://www.readytalk.com On the left side of the screen enter participant access code: 72020000.

When: Tuesday August 5th; 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern Time

**Send questions for the presenters to Jennifer.Turpin@ams.usda.gov

USDA Announces Funding for Organic Certification Costs

Getting certified by the USDA National Organic Program is expensive. That’s why the USDA recently shelled out nearly $13 million to help bring costs down. This is a win for small producers and handlers, many of whom have been growing organic products but haven’t been able to afford certification.

The money, which is made possible through the Farm Bill, covers up to 75 percent of certification costs, up to 750 dollars. These funds may be used for certification-related expenses spent between this past October and September 30, 2014.

Visit the NOP Cost Share Website for information on how to apply for these funds. Questions should be directed to Dana Stahl the USDA’s Organic Certification Cost Share Program Manager at Dana.Stahl@ams.usda.gov, (540) 361-1126.

All About Soil Health

As stewards of the land, farmers are responsible for maintaining fertile land for future generations. A big part of this is preserving rich, healthy soil, which is important not only for a sustainable future but also for the crops these farmers grow. Soil health is a science and can be tricky to master, but there are plenty of resources available to farmers to help.

Not sure how the quality of soil impacts you? The Rodale Institute created a Soil Biology webinar to explain why healthy soil is important to individuals and the ecosystem as a whole. “The soil is not, as many suppose, a dead, inert substance,” J.I. Rodale wrote in Pay Dirt: Farming and Gardening with Composts. “It is very much alive and dynamic. It teems with bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, molds, yeasts, protozoa, algae and other minute organisms.” The webinar goes on to explain what elements should be abundant in soil and how to maintain those levels.

A crucial aspect to preserving healthy soil is testing. Cooperative Extension offers soil testing resources and guides to help with this process. Click here to find an Extension agent near you. Many Cooperative Extensions provide online educational resources. University of Maine Extension offers this publication with a step-by-step guide to soil testing. Cornell University Cooperative Extension has an entire webpage for soil health, including the “Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual,” a soil health management plan and informative videos dedicated to proper soil testing. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension also offers a soil health webpage with various publications, updated news on soil health science and a list of websites that can provide further help.

While these organizations provide an overview of how to sustain soil health, there are many outlets that offer information on the nitty-gritty of related topics. The Rodale Institute compiled reports and publications related to soil health research discussing specific issues the organization is working on. Many of these can be viewed online here. Rodale also provides an informative, focused webinar, “Impacts of Plastic and Cover Crop Mulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes.”

ATTRA also compiled a list of publications the organization created that discuss specific topics surrounding soil health, ranging from “A Brief Overview of Nutrient Cycling in Pastures” to “Rye as a Cover Crop” to “Alternative Soil Amendments.” ATTRA also offers two educational webinars discussing soil health: “Organic Research and Needs: Cover Crops, Crop Rotation and Soil Health” and “Innovative No-Till: Using Multi-Species Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health.”

Free Organic Seed Resources Available

The Organic Seed Alliance is dedicated to providing free resources to producers with information related to organic seeds. Its website offers publications divided into the following categories: policy reports, plant breeding and variety trials, seed production, worksheets and record sheets, Organic Seed Growers Conference proceedings and a Organic Seed Growers Conference webinar archive. This growing catalog of publications is continually updated and can be helpful to organic and sustainable producers.

The Organic Seed Alliance also offers educational courses that are available to the public, some of which are accessible online. The following courses are currently available: Fundamentals of On-Farm Plant Breeding, Fundamentals of Seed Production, Seed Saving for Farmers and Gardeners and On-Farm Variety Trials.

For additional web-based organic seed resources, check out eOrganic!

Drought: How to Prepare and Where to Find Help

Drought afflicted the Midwest and California in recent seasons and is likely to continue to impact farmers in these states as climate change becomes a more pressing agricultural concern.

When dealing with a drought or any natural disaster, one of the most valuable tools a farmer can implement is record keeping.  “Currently, government agencies, lenders and insurance companies are requiring better and more accurate records,” a publication from Pennsylvania State University’s Cooperative Extension describes. “Not only bushels per acre, income and expenses, but also weather records are becoming increasingly necessary.” South Dakota State University’s Cooperative Extension released the “Record Keeping in Farm Management” publication to explain the importance of record keeping, particularly during a drought. As the article explains, there’s very little that a farm can do to prepare for a drought, but thorough record keeping can improve a farm’s financial wellbeing. This publication comprehensively provides an overview of what careful record keeping should look like.

While record keeping and water management techniques can make a vast difference for a farmer facing drought, there are some online resources that can help.

Farm Aid Resource Guide

Farm Aid developed a Crisis Support Resource Guide that has a list of resources to guide farmers to educational resources during a time of crisis, which includes a natural disaster such as drought. These resources also dip into other relevant topics, such as where a farmer can turn when in need of legal advice or services.

Beginning Farmers LLC

The Beginning Farmers LLC compiled a list of online resources applicable to beginning and experienced farmers. These resources provide a look into the science behind drought and how to plan for its impact and manage the repercussions if drought hits. Beginning Farmers also encourages farmers facing drought to contact the organization for more resources.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)

CDFA’s California Drought Information and Resources created a site with organizations and websites that can provide assistance to farmers facing drought. While some of these are state-based organizations, there are many resources available to farmers on a national scale. The site provides a list of USDA grant programs that may apply to farmers during a drought.

Click here for drought updates and more information on USDA assistance programs.