Conservation Stewardship Program passes Congress — Apply Now!

In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers operating over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts. Annual CSP payments are currently $680 million a year!

The CSP is a working lands conservation program administered by the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship.  Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.  Find the enrollment alert here!

Application forms are available at your local NRCS state offices and farmers should visit their local service center to sign up.  State offices will have information on priority resource concerns for your state and agents available to help farmers.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has created an essential guide to help farmers learn how to apply for the CSP and includes a list of organizations that can assist with the application process.  The Land Stewardship Project has a useful and up-to-date fact sheet.

Western SARE Announces 2014 Call for Proposals

The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has posted their 2014 calls for grant proposals. Grants are offered in five categories: Research and Education, Farmer/Rancher, Professional + Producer, Professional Development Program, and Graduate Student. SARE is a USDA competitive grants program that supports agricultural systems that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible.

Some helpful resources for preparing applications are available on the Western SARE grants page. Contact your local professional development program office with questions regarding the program. A complete list can be found here. You can also contact Utah State University, 4865 Old Main Hill, Logan UT 84322-4865, (435) 797- 2257 for assistance.

Nationwide, there are four SARE regions–North Central, Southern, Northeastern, and Western–with the shared goal of advancing innovative strategies to produce and distribute food, fuel, and fiber sustainably. More information, including information on past funded projects, can be found on the national SARE website. **Please note: each SARE region has a different timeline for grant applications. Check the SARE website for information about grants deadlines for your specific region.

 

Available Funding for Rural Energy Programs

2013 funding is available for the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program from the USDA. This program gives financial assistance in form of loan guarantees and grants to farmers and rural small businesses for conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funds are also available for energy audits and assessments. Some eligible REAP projects include: solar panels, anaerobic digesters, installation of irrigation pumps or ventilation systems, as well as conducting energy audits and feasibility studies for such projects.

All grant and combination grant and loan proposals are due April 30th. Applications for feasibility studies are also due April 30th. Guaranteed loan applications (that don’t have a grant component) are due July 15th.

For more information about REAP, visit the USDA’s REAP portal, as well as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s REAP page.

Details on how to apply for REAP funding available in the Federal Register.

For help with the application process, contact National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).

Get Growing…Spring Workshops Around the Country

Spring has sprung! Are you ready for the upcoming growing season? Check out these workshops and classes to launch your farm into the growing season:

 

Cover Crop Workshop

April 5, 2013

North Iowa Events Center, 3700 4th St, SW

Mason City, Iowa

Join Iowa State University, the USDA-National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment and The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, to learn about the use of cover crops in sustainable fruit and vegetable production systems. This workshop is geared toward commercial horticulture extension specialists, county horticulturists, local food organizations, IFVGA and PFI board members, and IDALS and NRCS personnel. Fruit and vegetable growers are also welcome!

Registration is free, but required as space is limited! Click here to register.

For more information contact Dr. Ajay Nair: nairajay@iastate.edu or 515-294-7080

 

Introduction to Vegetable Production Workshop Series

April 6, 2013

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Join Penn State Extension to learn about production skills, strategies, and resources for vegetable production. The workshop series is geared toward beginning farmers and will help to refine techniques and optimize production and profit. The workshop will include demonstrations on both organic and conventional vegetable production, as well as hands-on experience in the latest techniques and tools for small and large farms.

Workshops start on April 6th and go through June. The series costs $300 and includes handouts and other materials.

Click here to learn more and sign up.

Questions? Contact Lee Stivers ljs32@psu.edu / 724-228-6881 or Heather Mikulas hem12@psu.edu / 412-473-2540

 

Managing a Greenhouse from Seed to Field

April 20, 2013

Rancho Cordova, California

Soil Born Farms has ongoing classes as part of their Urban Farmer Series. On April 20th learn how to start your crops from seed. Learn how seeds germinate, and make sure that your seedlings succeed!

The course is $40 and runs from 3:00-6:00pm. Click here to register and for more information.

 

Beekeeping 101

April 20, 2013

Rancho Cordova, California

Learn beekeeping in the classroom and in the field! Brian Fishback, an experienced beekeeper from BD Ranch and Apiary, will demonstrate best practices for keeping bees and producing honey.

The cost of the workshop is $49, $40 Co-op owners, register here through the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op.

Click here for more information.

 

Spring Grazing Workshop

April 23, 2013
Boswell, Oklahoma

Learn how to manage a low-input, bermudagrass/ryegrass grazing system while also achieving land stewardship and financial goals. Producer Jan Lee demonstrates forage production management and stocking rates for optimization and efficiency. The workshop runs from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm and includes lunch.

Registration is $20.  Click here to register and for more information.

 

Cover Crop Mixes

April 24, 2013
Online

Learn about different sustainable options for cover crop mixes online. This webinar is being sponsored by NRCS East National Technology Support Center, as part of their Understanding Organic and Sustainable Agriculture series. The webinar will be held from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST.

Click here for more information.

 

Farming Transplants: The Basics of Greenhouse Production for Sales and Farm Use

April 25, 2013

Blue Heron Farm 1641 Shaw Rd.

Lodi, New York 

Become confident in your transplanting abilities! This workshop will teach you how to estimate your market and then plant accordingly. Learn how to time plantings, market transplants and learn about different plant varieties. Greenhouse plant care may also be covered. The workshop will run from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm.

Fee: $5/person; $10/two or more people

Register here by 12:00pm on April 22nd.  Space is limited to 30 people.

Call Stephanie with questions at 585-271-1979 ext. 509.–

 

Composting, Vermiculture & Compost Tea Workshop

April 27, 2013

Warwick, Rhode Island

Join NOFA Rhode Island for a hands-on demonstration of hot composting, worm composting and compost tea. Reinhard Sidor will lead the class, teaching you how to make compost from yard and kitchen waste and then how to use your compost—from container gardening, to use as mulch and fertilizer, to improving soil quality. The workshop runs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Workshop fee is $40. Register via email.

For questions, call Sanne Kure-Jensen at (401) 369-3303.

Click here to learn more.

 

Basic AG Raise and Wean Healthy Calves

May 30, 2013

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Learn best management practices to ensure the health and productivity of your calves from birth through weaning. This FREE workshop is designed for beginning cow-calf producers. The workshop runs from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Click here for more information.