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.”

Growing Change: Family Farm Defenders

It’s no secret that today’s global food system doesn’t do its best by family farmers or eaters. Most of the world’s food economy is designed as a commodity market that drives down the price paid to farmers and drives up the cost of food to consumers. This thought of food a commodity like any other widget is just one concept that Family Farm Defenders (FFD) is working to dismantle in pursuit of food sovereignty and a more just and sustainable food system in America and across the world.

Family Farm Defenders, a small yet unyielding organization based in Wisconsin, would not exist without its late founder John Kinsman, who passed away at age 87 this January. After nearly dying from chemical exposure to agricultural pesticides, he made the switch to organic farming decades ago. But that was just the beginning. It wasn’t long before Kinsman transformed from a dairy farmer in Wisconsin with 36 cows to a global advocate for a just food system.

Food sovereignty rooted much of John Kinsman’s and Family Farm Defenders’ work. The term food sovereignty was coined by La Via Campesina, an international group that began in 1993 as a collection of peasants and farmers working to defend sustainable agriculture as a means of gaining global social justice. After travelling with Via Campesina and aiding in its formation, Kinsman brought the idea of food sovereignty back to FFD. While FFD had really started as a grassroots reaction to pressing issues related to milk and dairy farmers, the notion of food sovereignty broadened the organization’s mission and found resonance with several other organizations fighting for a just food system in the U.S., in no small part because of John’s dedicated work.

John Kinsman

There was magic in Kinsman’s seemingly effortless ability to unify individuals in a common fight — a fight against “corporate agri-business and institutionalized oppression,” as John Peck, the current executive director of Family Farm Defenders, puts it. “Meeting peasant leaders from all around the world, [Kinsman] saw that we have more commonalities with, say, peasant farmers in Mexico than we do with someone working for Monsanto here in the U.S.,” Peck explains. “Our farm workers and farmers together are both struggling for a living wage and dignity.”

Family Farm Defenders’ work expanded to include other threats American family farmers face. One of those concerns is land grabs, whereby corporations and wealthy investors buy up farmland. These investments drive up the cost of farmland so that farmers can no longer afford it and are driven out of business. In Wisconsin, where natural resources are so abundant, this has become a major problem with the growth of the natural gas and mining industries. The folks at FFD offer a listening ear for farmers in need and a grassroots approach to rallying against this kind of corporate power.

Family Farm Defenders also promotes the concept of “fair trade” (as opposed to free trade). Beginning in 1996, Kinsman spearheaded the Family Farmer Fair Trade Project. At the time, Peck was a University of Wisconsin-Madison student involved in a campaign to bring Fair Trade Certified coffee to campus. With Kinsman as his mentor, Peck questioned why Fair Trade only applies to foreign goods. Shouldn’t farmers here in the U.S. also benefit from fair trade? In response, Kinsman created FFD’s own Fair Trade Certification that applied to Wisconsin cheeses. Farmers with the certification doubled their profit per pound of cheese sold, when compared to their regular markets. Though FFD no longer sells the Fair Trade cheese, the model stands as a successful method for farmers to secure a fair price for their products.

Through this work, Family Farm Defenders’ strength has resided in educating and organizing. FFD works locally through town hall meetings and pushes for local ordinances that give the community control over their own resources. The organization hosts a number of farm tours — or as Peck calls them, “farm reality tours” — for the public, including many international visitors. FFD also leads protests related to its campaigns, primarily holding them in Chicago where many citizens they encounter have never met a family farmer before. The group is active at conferences across the country and holds its own annual meeting in Wisconsin. To educate the public, FFD hosts forums, panels, church groups and does outreach to bring awareness to its constituents.

Family Farm Defenders Protest Photo
Family Farm Defenders lead a rally in support of family farmers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the day before Farm Aid 25. Photo © Paul Natkin.

Today, Peck is the only Family Farm Defenders employee, but a team of dedicated volunteers and passionate board members join him in carrying on the work. The organization will celebrate its 20th anniversary at its annual meeting this March, where the winner of the annual John Kinsman Food Sovereignty Award will be presented. While the future of FFD remains uncertain, Peck is confident that Kinsman’s work and legacy will endure.

Mentored for years by Kinsman, Peck sums him up this way, “He was able to take all of that negative energy and awareness and turn it into something positive, to try to figure out how we can build coalitions around the struggle, how we can change. He was a quintessential grassroots organizer. He was very good at telling stories that were empowering and gave people hope… He made connections between people that maybe didn’t know they had anything in common. If they sat down and talked together they realized that they all care about dignity and justice and fairness and peace in the world.”

Learn More

Season extension resource roundup

Winter is just around the corner, but just because the season is ending doesn’t mean the growing season needs to go with it. Luckily, there are season extension techniques that farmers and gardeners can implement in order to stretch a crop’s natural outdoor growing season or store crops through the winter.

There are plenty of easy, inexpensive practices available to farmers and gardeners for season extension. Many organizations put together tips on how to extend the growing season well beyond its natural time:

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) provides an extensive look at season extension. The resource includes information on everything from irrigation to transplants to plasticulture to heat as it applies to soil and moisture. The guide offers preparation and logistical information for various practices right for farmers or gardeners at any level, whether that is mulches or high tunnels or anything in-between. The resource also contains input on how to calculate the economics behind different practices and implementation.

The North Carolina State University organized basic concepts to remember in order to effectively extend a crop’s growing season. Most importantly, NC Cooperative Extension explains that growers must understand the principles behind heat and cold, as well as its impact on plants. Among other ideas, the university’s guide points out the ground retains heat that protects plants in cold temperatures, but wet ground preserves more heat than wet ground. The guide also addresses: temperature thresholds for different crops, different cultural practices for season extension and information on fabrics and structures commonly used.

University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension provides a look at various inexpensive methods of season extension. The guide provides insight into low tunnels and winter storage for post-harvest storage methods. Through video demonstrations, the UMass Extension site also displays various how-tos on building and maintaining a hoophouse.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) put together an overview of information involving season extension, with particular focus on high tunnels, greenhouses and nurseries. SARE provides an outline of different topics with access to case studies, course information, fact sheets, multimedia packets and links to other organization’s websites. The guide delves into basic winter storage units, as well as information on marketing products and the economics behind season extension. The SARE website explains the basic fertility, pest and water management during cold months.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) provides individual results from farmers that conducted research on various topics surrounding winter growing and storage. Five farmers researched methods of winter storage delving into the following issues: broccoli under row covers, watering impacts on soil temperature, bed pitch impact on soil temperatures, row cover comparisons and row cover heights. Three farmers looked into differing issues with winter storage techniques: winter carrot storage to maintain quality and minimize staining, carrot storage systems and post-harvest winter squash treatments.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension organized a guide for farmers in Maine climate areas. The site is dedicated to educating farmers on how to make appropriate decisions for a particular farm situation. The resource explicates different techniques separated by no or low-cost practices and those that require investment. The site provides cost estimates for the techniques and offers links to resources on specified topics from other outlets.

In the same realm, Maine Rural Partners has a season extension program in place that focuses on food and energy. The program focuses on assisting women, elder and limited resource farmers in overcoming a multitude of common challenges: high energy costs, low daylight, market uncertainty, low volume compared to input costs, financing and institutional purchasing challenges.

The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension provides a short, but comprehensive overview of various tools to implement for effective season extension including: cold frames, garden fabrics, high tunnels, Walls O’ Water, hot caps and greenhouse umbrellas. The site explains how to use these techniques leading up to and proceeding frost dates.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service often provides hightunnel cost-share support for limited resource farmers.

Just because winter is coming doesn’t mean it’s the end for fruit and veggies. It is important to recognize that different season extension techniques are suited for different types of farms and climates. There are many inexpensive, basic methods of season extension, such as winter storage, that any farmer can easily implement into his farming or gardening.

Farming Podcasts Roundup

Ever wonder what a farmer is listening to on his or her iPod? There’s a high chance it’s one of the many food and farming podcasts hitting the airwaves. These podcasts are covering important issues in farming, food and agriculture, and often are hosted by farmers, farm advocates or seasoned agriculture journalists. Below is a small list of podcasts, but there are many more! Tell us about your favorites in the comments sections below.

 

The Beginning Farmer Show

The Beginning Farmer Show recounts the ups and downs of starting a farm. This podcast serves as an audio journal for beginning farmer Ethan Book, who shares his experiences in starting up a farm. He also interviews others to gain additional insight and advice. Past shows have included: Balancing Family, Farm, and a Job; Building Marketing Relationships; Rotational Grazing; and a series on Hard Lessons Learned. Ethan has also interviewed guests like Luke Gran of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

 

Small Home Farm Radio

Erin Lahey, the host of this successful podcast, spotlights a back-to-the-land mindset by demonstrating how easy it is for us to return to our roots. Small Home Farm Radio is a half-hour show that focuses on small-scale farming, gardening, and homesteading. Recent episodes include one about the health of the soil, and another about endangered and heritage livestock breeds.

 

Extension on the Go

Extension on the Go is brought to you by the University of Missouri Extension and hosted by Debbie Johnson. On the show, specialists and experts share tips and advice on a wide range of agriculture, garden, and nutrition topics. Each episode is 3-10 minutes long and includes guests like Tim Baker a horticulture specialist for the University of Missouri Extension, Pat Guinan a climatologist for the University of Missouri Extension Commercial Agriculture Program and David Trinklein a horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

 

Agri-Pulse

Agri-Pulse is a weekly report about the latest agriculture news. The show has a strong focus on agricultural and rural policy decisions being made in Washington D.C. Topics range from international trade, to organic foods, farm credit, loan policies and climate change legislation. The Agri-Pulse website boasts, “We are the only farm and rural publication with full-time staff covering key congressional hearings and meeting with members of Congress and the Administration.” Besides the weekly podcast, the Agri-pulse website features daily updates of current news and events.

 

Food Chain Radio: What’s Eating What

This veteran podcast has been around for years with over 700 weeks of back-shows! Michael Olson, the host of this one-hour show, delves deep into topics from how the price of gas affects the price of food, to the controversial topic of genetically engineered food, to water and agriculture. Food Chain Radio is syndicated on commercial radio stations throughout the U.S.

Back to School, Back to Farming: School Garden Roundup

Just because the weather is starting to cool down and school is in session doesn’t mean you have to move indoors. Last spring we did a series on college gardens and farms. Here’s a roundup below. So, get your hands off of your keyboard and into the soil!

 

West Coast

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 an one-acre lot, the farm has a fruit orchard, and many different student and community plots.

Contacts: Graduate, medical and postdoc students contact Jesse Bateman; Undergraduate students contact Patrick Archie; Staff and faculty contact Karen Zack

***

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 build a hands-on experience into the curriculum. The farm spans two acres and now has over 300 students and 400 community members. Farm produce is sold in order to subsidize operational costs and summer student internships. Community building is an important part of the farm. Weekly events include: Sunday Skool work parties every Sunday 9-12 and Thursday night Harvest parties—with free hot supper—starting at 4:30.

Contact: org_council@lists.oregonstate.edu
 or 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.

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

***

UW Farm – University of Washington

Seattle, WA

This urban farm was started in 2004 by several students and faculty members wishing to inform the UW community about the global food system. 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 an official registered student organization with over 600 members. Community is an important part of the farm, and is facilitated by pizza bakes in the farm’s outdoor oven. Stay updated with farm events by joining the listserve.

 

Midwest

Sustainable Student Farm – University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

The Sustainable Student Farm at The University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign supplies the university’s residence halls with fresh, local produce. The farm operates with 6-acres of outdoor space during the growing season and nearly 10,000 square feet of high tunnel production space year-round. The farm also sells produce at a market on the university’s quad from May-November, and this year it will be starting a pilot CSA with 30 shares. In addition to growing produce in a sustainable manner, the farm is also going off the grid with the installation of a new solar powered system.

Contact the farm here.

***

ISU Student Organic Farm – Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

This 6-acre student farm began in the fall of 1996 and has been continuously student led and managed. Almost all of the fruits and vegetables produced at the farm are donated to shelters and food banks in Ames. Starting this coming fall, the farm will also sell its produce to ISU Dining.

Contact: rmclay@iastate.edu

***

MSU Student Organic Farm – Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan

The MSU Student Organic Farm is a 10-acre, certified organic farm that operates year-round. The farm sells its produce through a 48-week CSA, and a 7-month on campus farm stand, as well as to the MSU dining halls. This is a truly sustainable farm with passive solar greenhouses, enabling distribution of fresh produce through the winter. In addition, the farm also runs a 9-month Organic Farmer Training Program focused on organic farming techniques.

Contact: msufarm@msu.edu

***

The Howdy Farm – Texas A&M

College Station, Texas

The Howdy Farm is a sustainable, student-run farm that provides both students and community members in College Station with hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture. The farm began in 2009 with a few square feet of raised beds, and now takes up 5-acres. Through partnering with dining services and having a CSA, the farm gets its fresh produce out to the university and the public. The farm serves as a living classroom, by providing ample opportunities for student internships, both undergraduate and graduate research, and a Horticulture Vegetable Crop Production course.

Contact: thehowdyfarm@gmail.com

 

Southeast
UGArden – University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

Students run this one-acre garden plot at the University of Georgia that was first planted in May of 2010. Since then the garden has grown to include: tilapia aquaponics, permanent fruit plantings, beehives, and a woodland mushroom demonstration area. In addition to selling produce at a farm stand, the food is used to help alleviate hunger in the senior citizen population of Athens. The garden is used as a classroom for two freshman seminars and a course in sustainable community food production.

Contact: Lindsay Davies at lndavies@uga.edu

***

Berea College Farm – Berea College

Berea, Kentucky

The Berea College Farm is one of the longest running student farms in the U.S. At 500-acres, this farm has space for pastures, cropland, gardens, woodlots and ponds. The farm has beef cattle, hogs, chickens, eggs, goats, fish, honeybees, grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits, and herbs, all of which are used in the dining hall, or sold to the public. Berea College Farm is housed by the Agriculture and Natural Resources program at the college and compliments the academic programs. The 50 students employed each season rotate between working with field crops, horticultural crops, livestock, equipment maintenance, and marketing and sales for the farm.

Contact: michael_panciera@berea.edu or sean_clark@berea.edu

***

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) Farm

Pittsboro, North Carolina

CCCC’s five-acre, organic student farm produces an array of crops. The farm also runs in conjunction with the college’s Sustainable Agriculture program, which teaches students the skills that they need to manage a profitable, sustainable, community-based farm. Students can take a wide variety of courses on the farm: Medicinal Herbs, Organic Vegetable Production, Sustainable Cut Flower production and Sustainable Poultry Production, as well as courses about biofuels, and sustainable building.

Contact: Robin Kohanowich: rkohanowich@cccc.edu / (919) 545-8031

***

The Clemson Student Organic Farm Project – Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

Clemson’s 15-acre student farm started in 2001 and was certified organic in 2005. Students and faculty work together to grow a variety of vegetables, culinary herbs, flowers and fruit. The farm hosts a CSA program and encourages the community to visit the farm for seasonal pick-your-own fruits and vegetables.

Contact: kgilker@clemson.edu, sjadrnicek@gmail.com

 

Northeast

Beech Hill FarmCollege of the Atlantic
Mount Desert, ME

Beech Hill Farm is a 73-acre organic farm that is owned and operated by College of the Atlantic (COA) on Mount Desert Island in Maine. The farm, which COA bought in 1999, has fields of crops and three orchards of heirloom apples. Shuttles run from COA’s campus in Bar Harbor to the farm to ensure easy access for students, faculty and staff who want to get their hands in the soil. Students also conduct research and independent study projects on the farm. Produce from the farm goes to COA campus dining hall.

Contact: beechhillfarm@coa.edu

***

Farm CenterHampshire College

Amherst, MA

The Farm Center was created in the late 1970’s as a place for students and faculty to learn about sustainable farming and to provide a place for academic work like studying animal behavior and agriculture science. The farm has a CSA, of which Hampshire College Dining Services purchases 20 shares per year to use on campus. The farm also offers a Food, Farm and Sustainability Institute where students, faculty, staff and alumni can learn about food production and sustainable agriculture during the 6-week institute. This year’s institute runs from June 3-July 12th.

Contacts: lcox@hampshire.edu or nehFC@hampshire.edu

***

Cook College Student Organic FarmRutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers University boasts having the nation’s largest organic farm managed completely by students. The five-acre farm was founded in 1993 and provides locally grown, organic produce to CSA members and surplus produce to a nearby soup kitchen. Cook College farm also has paid summer internships for students who not only work the land, but also write the weekly newsletter, The Cover Crop.

Contact: 732-932-9711, ext. 256

***

Dilum Hill Student FarmCornell University
Ithaca, NY

Dilmun Hill is a student-run farm with a mission to provide students, faculty, and staff, as well as community members with opportunities to experience sustainable farming. The farm’s bounty is sold in Ho Plaza and in front of Mann Library June through October and supplies fresh veggies to the Cornell Dining and Manndible Cafe.

Contact: dilmunhill@cornell.edu

***

Dickinson College FarmDickinson College

Carlisle, PA

At 50-acres, the Dickinson College Farm is a certified organic living laboratory that gives students hand-on experience growing food for their community. Most of the harvest is split between the campus dining hall and Dickinson’s CSA program—which in this case stands for Campus Supported Agriculture. The rest goes to the town farmers’ market, local restaurants, and some is donated. In addition to dark leafy greens and bulbous root vegetables, the farm also manages a flock of sheep, grass-fed beef cattle, laying hens and broiler chickens.

Bonus: Jenn Halpin, the farm’s director, was a Farm Aid Farmer Hero!

Contact: halpinj@dickinson.edu; (717) 245-1969

***

Common Ground Student-Run Educational FarmUniversity of Vermont

Burlington, VT

Common Ground’s three-acre farm is 100% student run and operated. In addition to row crops, the farm has a perennial fruit area with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black currants, gooseberries, sour cherries, plums, peaches, and nectarines. The farm contributes fresh, organic vegetables to the Campus Kitchen Project—a hunger relief program that distributes meals to the community. Produce is also sold at a stand in front of the library, and distributed through a CSA. UVM has really jumped on board, offering courses like an Organic Farm Practicum and Organic Farm Planning.

Contact: cgsref@uvm.edu

***

Agricultural Learning CenterUniversity of Massachusetts

Stockbridge, MA

Perhaps one of the newest college farms in the Northeast is the 50-acre farm at UMass Stockbridge, which launched this past April. This farm will act as a classroom, giving students a place to learn about agriculture while also digging in and participating in growing crops and raising livestock. UMass has other farms throughout the state of Massachusetts, but those are primarily for professional research—this farm is specifically for students and pairs with the new Sustainable Food and Farming major at the university, which offers classes like: organic weed control, community food systems, and sustainable soil and crop management.

Contact: AgLC@cns.umass.edu

Livestock 101 Workshop

Join the Accokeek Foundation for an intensive class on the basics of raising livestock. The workshop includes a combination of classroom and field instruction, and specifically focuses on animal husbandry of heritage breeds like American Milking Devons, Hog Island Sheep, Ossabaw Hogs, Buckeye Chickens, and Black Turkeys. Polly Festa–who has been managing livestock for over 15 years–will teach this class.

The workshop runs from 6:30-9:30pm on September 30th and costs $10 members, $15 non-members.

Click here for more information and to sign up.

Join us for Farm Tours in NY State!

Saratoga Springs, NY — the home of this year’s Farm Aid concert — is a region chock-full of amazing farms. To highlight the diversity of agricultural opportunities in the region, we’re organizing three different farm tours open to the general public on Friday, September 20th (the day preceding the Farm Aid 2013 concert). Please join us for one of the stellar tours we’ve put together!

All tours cost $25 per person and will include lunch. Buses for the tours will depart at 9am sharp from Saratoga Spa State Park.

Register at www.farmaid.org/events and check below for details about each of these fabulous tours. We hope to see you there!

Farmer Communities + Networks
Roxbury Farm CSA, Kinderhook, NY
Gather your friends and put on your muck boots, ’cause it’s a Crop Mob!  Help Roxbury Farm CSA, a 400-acre biodynamic vegetable and livestock farm prepare for garlic planting. Tours led by farmers Jean-Paul Courtens and Jody Bollyut will precede a lively discussion led by local farmer mentors and apprentices. Conversation will focus on the communities that support our family farmers – from CSA members to farmer-to-farmer networks. The views of the Catskills aren’t so bad either.
Tour returns at 3pm

Achieving the Small Farm Dream
Pleasant Valley Farm, Argyle, NY
Join us for a tour of Pleasant Valley Farm and meet the leaders in season extension, winter storage, direct marketing, and much more!  Situated on 180 acres of land in Argyle, NY, Paul and Sandy Arnold will share their inspiring story to show how small family farms can be prosperous and profitable.  This tour will highlight the essential partnerships with NY organizations and agencies that helped Pleasant Valley Farm pursue the small farm dream.
Tour returns at 2pm

Creative Solutions for Family Dairy Farms
Willow Marsh Farm, Ballston Spa, NY
Dairy farmers have to get creative to stay in business. Join us at Willow Marsh Farm, where Chuck and Darlene Curtiss are using value-added dairy products to reach new customers and respond to local demand for their milk. Their 25-cow dairy now offers 40% of its fluid milk as bottled raw milk, cheeses, and yogurts, and also sells fresh products (including their own beef) from local vendors at their farm store. The Curtisses are building an on-farm creamery to process their own cheese and yogurt products. Get ready to taste some of the best farm-fresh dairy products around and engage in meaningful discussion around the challenges and opportunities facing family dairy farms in NY and across the country.
Tour returns at 1:30pm

Summer Reading: Farming Magazines

Reading material is always important for those lazy days of summer, or a quick respite from the sun under a shady tree. There are tons of farming and gardening publications. Below are a few that stand out to us. Let us know about other farm-related magazines you read in the comments below!

Acres USA
Acres U.S.A. boasts being North America’s oldest and largest magazine covering commercial-scale organic and sustainable farming. This monthly publication brings readers the latest techniques for growing crops and livestock. Issues are written by experienced farmers, consultants, veterinarians and researchers, who all practice sustainable farming. The articles focus on practical, hands-on information on topics like: cover cropping, rotational grazing, soil fertility, composting, organic certification and value-added processing, as well as many others.

Growing for Market
Growing for Market is a trade publication for local food producers. This magazine focuses on the business of growing and selling vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, plants, herbs, and other food products. The magazine’s website features a news aggregation site that updates regularly with information and news about agriculture.

Small Farmer’s Journal
Based in Oregon, The Small Farmer’s Journal has a wide-reach, as it is sent to 72 countries worldwide. This publication focuses on the work of independent, family farmers with topics like: livestock, crops, farming systems, equipment, recipes, marketing, poetry, and political updates. According to the journal’s website, “this folksy and feisty publication, a true clarion of free speech in the best old sense of the phrase, is a vibrant and exciting platform for engaging far-flung ideas about anything pertinent to the small family farm experience.”

Grit
GRIT is a bi-monthly magazine that is all about country living with a strong emphasis on community and stewardship. The publication focuses on those who live in rural areas, and magazine topics include: product reviews, livestock guides, gardening, cooking and other do-it-yourself information.

Beginning Farmer Resources

As a beginning farmer you may face a number of obstacles: from access to land, to developing your skills, to planning out your finances, and even to figuring out what to grow and how to sell it. Plus, you may run into plenty of questions while trying to start up your business. The guides below will be particularly helpful resources during this time. Check them out, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have unanswered questions: email or call 1-800-FARM-AID.

The Greenhorns’ Guidebook for Beginning Farmers  is written for young farmers by young farmers. It is meant to be a helpful resource and guide into the field of sustainable agriculture.

The Land Stewardship Project and the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture worked together to publish Resources for Beginning Farmers: Building a Sustainable Future. This guide provides a listing of resources for beginning farmers who are entertaining the idea of earning a living by sustainably producing food and fiber. These resources are updated annually on the MISA website.

BeginningFarmers.org has an extensive array of resources, publications, events, forums and other tools for beginning farmers. And similarly, Start2Farm.gov lets you explore what it takes to start a farm and to find resources.

Local farming listservs are great resource for finding jobs, bouncing around ideas, and connecting with other farmers in the area. See if there is one near you by tapping into a local CRAFT group.

For more information, head to the Farmer Resource Network’s beginning farmer page.