13 Free Farm Commons Legal Webinars

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Photo © Patty O’Brien | www.summercrowphotos.com

Farm Commons announced free registration is open for 13 different law webinars that span from December through March. Farm Commons is an organization working to empower farmers and local communities by connecting them with specialized attorneys. The organization’s webinars are intended to provide individuals with a deeper knowledge of applicable farm law.

Want to learn how to build a legally sound CSA business? How about hosting legally secure farm events? Farm Commons’ webinars have everything you need to know about all this and more. The first eight webinars cover the basics of farm law before the last five delve into more advanced topics. Register now before it’s too late:

1. The Beginning Farmer’s Introduction to Farm Law

Monday, December 8

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

2. Put Your CSA On Strong Legal Footing

Tuesday, December 9

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

3. Hosting Safe, Legally Secure Farm Events

Monday, January 5

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

4. Adding Value without Adding Legal Liability to Farm Products

Tuesday, January 6

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

5. Farmland Leases Built to Last: Content and Legal Context

Monday, January 19

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

6. Food Safety Liability and Regulations for the Farm

Tuesday, January 20

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

7. Sales Contracts for Farm Produce: Why and How

Monday, February 2

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

8. Making Employment Law Work for Your Farm

Tuesday, February 3

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

9. Farm Sole Proprietorships, LLCs, S Corps, C Corps, and Coops: Which? Why? How? (Advanced)

Monday, February 23

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

10. Going In-Depth With CSA Farm Law (Advanced)

Tuesday, February 24

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

11. Getting Farm Work Done Legally With Interns, Apprentices and Volunteers (Advanced)

Monday, March 2

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

12. Financing a Farmland Purchase: Legal Basics for Traditional and Non-Traditional Farmland Purchases (Advanced)

Monday, March 23

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

13. Efficiently Manage Your Farm’s Risks with Insurance (Advanced)

Tuesday, March 24

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

Want to learn more about webinars? Check out this Spotlight Roundup from earlier this year that highlights 7 organizations producing incredibly helpful webinars on food and farming issues.

Resource Partners Event Roundup

Center for Rural Affairs

April: The Center for Rural Affairs (CFA) has two events this month. In partnership with The Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, CFA is hosting the WI Farmer Veterans Tour and Workshop on April 12.  Veterans and family members interested in farming careers are invited to attend this event at Growing Power Farms in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A tour of the farm and its composting and aquaponics system will be followed by workshops at the farm. Admission is free and seating is limited so register here to reserve your spot!

Also on the 12th is the Farm Dreams Workshop. Women interested in farming and ranching will be able to participate in a four-hour workshop to get a feel for the professions and learn how to take the first steps to enter the field. The workshop takes place at the Syracuse Public Library in Syracuse, Nebraska and costs $5. Participants must register in advance and can contact virginiam@cfra.org or call 402.992.5134.

May: On May 10 the Farm Business Financing Workshop for Women will take place at the Lewis and Clark Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The event is an intensive business planning and farm-financing course to help women farmers and ranchers design a business plan and access financing for agricultural operations. Contact virginiam@cfra.org or call 402.992.5134 to register in advance. The event costs $5 and lunch is included.

June: For those thinking about venturing into the farmers market business, the June 7 event Selling at Farmers Markets gives tips and tricks to find the best location, customer base, product, presentation and price to maximize success. Located in Ashland, Nebraska, this event costs $5 and includes lunch. Contact virginiam@cfra.org or call 402.992.5134 to register.

On June 21, Selling Through a CSA will teach women getting started in gardening, farming, and ranching about the advantages of selling through a community supported agriculture system. The workshop will take place at the Webermeier Public Library in Milford, Nebraska. Contact virginiam@cfra.org or call 402.992.5134 to register in advance 

National Center for Appropriate Technology (ATTRA)

April: On April 25 the National Center for Appropriate Technology (ATTRA) will host Entering the Institutional Food Market. Montana farmers, ranchers and processors will be provided information and technical assistance.  Register for this $10 event here by April 20 to reserve a spot.

June: With Montana adopting a new energy code requiring blower door and duct tightness testing for all new homes, there are emerging business opportunities in residential energy efficiency. On June 2, the Home Energy Rater and Energy Star Training in Missoula, Montana will provide comprehensive energy auditor training with an emphasis on new residential construction and the Home Energy Raters rating process. Participants will be prepared to take the tests required to become a certified Home Energy Rater, a Northwest Energy Star Homes Verifier and a Northwest Energy Star Homes Performance Tester. Register online and click here for more details 

Rodale Institute

April: Interested in having your own chickens? On April 26 the Rodale Institute is hosting the Backyard Chickens event to educate those looking to learn how to make chickens a part of their family and get fresh eggs everyday. Participants will learn about cost, breeding, housing, feeding, protecting and handling chickens, as well as leave with a list of recommended books and resources on how to complete this project efficiently. Register ahead of time here.

The Greenhorns

 April: . The future of farmland is unclear. In the next 20 years an expected 400 million acres of U.S. farmland will change hands. On April 26 and 27 Our Land: A Symposium on Farmland Access in the 21st Century at UC Berkeley will delve into the historical context, long-term implications and economic impact and stewardship potential of this impending transition.

May: On May 3 The Greenhorns is hosting Farmland Seekers to provide technical assistance around land and capital access and transition. Attendees will learn essential tools for building and navigating relationships with lenders, investors, landowners, partners, boards, conservation organizations, neighbors and more!

Click here to find out more about our Resource Partners! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more news about upcoming events and conferences!

From farm to fork: the journey of food

Farm to fork—it sounds intuitive enough, right? Farmers produce the food, which is then brought directly to consumers to eat. It’s simple. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way the majority of America’s food system works today. With a rise in agricultural conglomerates, the journey of food from the farm to consumer’s plates is anything but simple.

Take produce, for example. Once the product is picked fresh from the fields, it is often sent on a truck to a packing plant where it can be cleaned and packaged. From there it’s sent to the distributor before eventually reaching local stores. Each of these outlets may be hundreds, even thousands of miles apart, if the stops are in the country at all. About 70 percent of the food Americans consume must go through chilled transportation and storage to stay preserved throughout this process.

So exactly how long is food’s journey before it reaches the shelves of local grocery stores? On average, processed food travels 1,300 miles before it reaches consumers. Produce has an even longer trek with an average travel distance of 1,500 miles before reaching consumers. All food spends an average of 14 days on a truck before hitting local stores. Food transportation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Worldwatch Institute.

Fear not—fresh and local food is making a comeback. Eating locally is beneficial in more ways than one. Farmers usually receive a higher profit margin for their produce and consumers have the opportunity to interact directly with the person that produced their farm-fresh food. While food transportation takes a hard toll on the environment, eating locally eliminates the middlemen and associated travel. Whether it is through farmers markets, CSAs or farm to school, organizations across the country are making strides to build creative solutions to bridge the gap from farm to fork.

California Farm to Fork

California is at the forefront of the local foods movement. The California Department of Food and Agriculture initially funded this project in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Education. California Farm to Fork assists farmers in directly reaching consumers, restaurants, schools and more. The project helps to coordinate workshops focused around local foods and provides resources to increase people’s access to healthy and fresh food from around the state.

Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS)

From 2008 to 2009, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) worked to create a strategy to develop a sustainable local food system in North Carolina. The average person spends about $4,010 on food consumption every year. The folks at the CEFS discovered that if everyone in North Carolina spent 5 percent of that amount on local food, it would contribute over $1.7 billion annually to the local state economy. CEFS put together a farm to fork state action guide to work dynamically towards fostering a locally minded food and farming system in the state. CEFS will host its annual Farm to Fork Picnic on June 8.

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)

The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project works to connect farmers in the Southern Appalachian region to local markets through training and support. The organization works primarily in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia but offers guidance on a national level through its annual Local Food Guide. Working with more than just farmers to spearhead the movement in the region, ASAP helps restaurants and foodservice buyers to find fresh, certified locally grown foods.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

For more than 20 years the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture has worked in Massachusetts toward expanding markets for locally produced food. CISA formed diverse “buy local” programs to assist with all facets of local direct marketing, including providing shares of local produce to low-income seniors, supporting farm to institution programs, consulting farmers and farm service providers and offering technical assistance to farm operations.

Where to Find out More:

Recent Resource Spotlights highlighted direct marketing opportunities for farmers through food hubs and farm to institution models.

To find out where you can buy local food in your area, check out the Find Good Food page on the Farm Aid website.

Farm Aid is a sponsor of the 7th annual Farm to Cafeteria conference in Austin, Texas from April 15th through the 18th. The conference will bring together more than 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, advocates, policy makers and more to work on sourcing local food to institutional cafeterias across the country. Click here for more info and to register for the conference.

 

College Farms: West Coast Region

The Resource Spotlight blog has profiled student farms across the country, from the Northeast to the Southeast to the Midwest. Last, but not least, we’re highlighting student farms on the West Coast.

We know that we’ve missed quite a few impressive student farms…so let us know about your favorite in the comments below!

Visit the student farm directory from the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association or the Rodale Institute’s student farm list to learn more about university farms near you.

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

Urban Farming Farminar

Pennsylvania Women’s Agriculture Network (PA-WAgN) has begun hosting virtual seminars called FARMINARS. On July 1st PA-WAgN will provide a FARMINAR on urban agriculture.

During this online seminar Kirsten Reinford will share how she found space to farm in an urban setting, and how she was able to gather support and raise money to start her farm, Joshua Farm, in Harrisburg. Kirsten will also explain how her farm became a SNAP program vendor.

Joshua Farm is a thriving urban farm that has a CSA, farm stand and market. The farm employs youth from the area and holds service-learning workshops, cooking classes, and guest speakers.

To participate, log into https://meeting.psu.edu/pawagn, and enter as a guest. For more information contact Patty Neiner: 814-865-7031; prn103@psu.edu

College Farms: Southeast Region

We’re making our way across the country highlighting student farms. Two weeks ago we highlighted farms in the Northeast, and now we’re moving to the Southeast. Over the next few weeks the Resource Spotlight blog will profile student farms in other regions of the country as well…stay tuned!

Check out the student farm directory from the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association to find out more about university farms near you. If your college farm isn’t listed below, tell us about it in the comments section!

 

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UGArdenUniversity 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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

College Farms: Northeast Region

Just as classes wind down for the year, students are ramping up their work at college farms. For beginner farmers and those interested in exploring agriculture in an academic setting, university-based farm programs offer a unique perspective. Students are actively involved in all aspects of the farm operation from greenhouse management to field planting to harvesting and distributing their farm-fresh products. College farms provide opportunities for learning, research, independent study, and networking and can be a great way to earn credits and internship hours!

In the next few weeks the Resource Spotlight blog will highlight student farms across the country. This week we’re focusing on these farms in the Northeast.

From Maine to Massachusetts, colleges in the Northeast are growing food for CSA’s, local restaurants, farmers’ markets, and some even supply their campus dining halls! With a short growing season and often-small amounts of farmland to work with, these schools are farming very intensely, and incredibly efficiently.

Check out the student farm directory from the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association to find out more about university farms near you. If your college farm isn’t listed below, tell us about it in the comments section!

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

Online Conference: CSA Expert Exchange on March 15th

The CSA Expert Exchange is an online conference that will bring farmers together to learn about CSA issues important to them. The conference will occur Friday, March 15th, from 11am – 4pm EST (8am – 1pm PDT) and can be accessed with any web browser anywhere in the world. You will be able to see video of the presenters, view slides and participate in the discussion in real time.

Topics include community involvement, strategies for increasing member retention, certifications, equipment, finding the right scale for your CSA operation, and legal issues. For more information, read the agenda.

Cost is $45, viewed live or archived. Register now!

Small Farm Central is providing 20 scholarships to new and beginning farmers to attend the CSA Expert Exchange at no cost.