Sustainable Farming For Women, By Women

Coming up in August, MOSES, The MidWest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, will be hosting a series of workshops for women. In Her Boots: Sustainable Farming for Women, by Women includes on-farm workshops that provide attendees with skill-building and networking experiences and inspiration to support them in launching a food or farm business. Workshops will be taught by seasoned and beginning female farmers and topics include everything from how to run farm and food-based enterprises and value-added businesses, to land stewardship, risk management through income diversification, and integrating children and family.

Space is very limited, so sign up for workshops as soon as possible—and take advantage of the early bird discount! Click here for more information, or to reserve your spot.

August Workshops include:

Canoe Creek Produce
Sunday, August 4, 2013 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  | Decorah, Iowa  | $35; $50 after 7-31-13
Discuss farm diversification, beginning farmer challenges and resources, and farmstay start-ups with a panel of experienced farmers plus representatives of FoodCorps and MOSES.

Dancing Winds Farms
Thursday, August 8, 2013  | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  |  Kenyon, Minnesota | $35; $50 after 7-31-13
A panel of farmers discusses diversification through farmstays, farming as a single woman, starting farms mid-life, beginning farmer land access & financing, cheesemaking, raising goats, and more!

Scotch Hill Farm
Sunday, August 18, 2013  | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  |  Brodhead, Wisconsin | $35; $50 after 8-9-13
Learn from women who run successful CSA operations through the Fair Share Coalition. Topics include starting

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.

Twilight Meetings

Twilight meetings are informal evening meetings for farmers—a designated time to learn about another farm’s operation and socialize with growers in the community. Here’s a few twilight meetings happening during the rest of this growing season. Contact your local extension agency to learn about additional twilight meetings.

NOFA-NJ hosts a series of twilight meetings for farms of all sizes. These meetings highlight unique and innovative production and marketing methods happening in New Jersey. July’s twilight meeting will be held at Ralston Farm, in Mendham. The farm tour will showcase this farm’s open-pollinated, heirloom veggies, as well as hogs, chickens and bamboo! The event is Tuesday, July 23 from 6:00PM – 8:00PM at Ralston Farms (327 Route 24 West/Main Street, Mendham, NJ 07945). Like most twilight meetings, the evening would not be complete without food to share. So bring a dish for the potluck dinner. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

UMass Extension, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and the Massachusetts Association of Roadside Stands sponsors twilight meetings throughout the growing season. Each meeting includes a farm tour, a discussion about the farm’s production practices, and highlights how the farm is marketing their products. All sorts of farms will be included from those with vegetables, berries, cut flowers, and greenhouses, to farms with livestock, and those creating value-added products. Refreshments are offered at each meeting. Click here to learn more.

The Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Towns Association and the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin are partnering to sponsor on-farm Agriculture Community Engagement Twilight Meetings around Wisconsin. Upcoming meetings will be held August 20, 21, 22 and 23. The meetings are open to all and are specifically for community leaders, elected officials, conservation officials, and dairy and livestock producers. The meeting will start with an hour tour of the host dairy, followed by a relaxed discussion. During the discussion ice cream will be served! Farm tours begin at 6:00 p.m. and the discussion goes from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Click here for specific details about each upcoming farm tour and meeting.

The NH Fruit Grower’s Association holds twilight meetings throughout the summer in collaboration with UNH Cooperative Extension. During the meetings growers can collaborate, learn about pests, and ask questions of extension agents. These meetings also provide an opportunity to earn continuing education credits so that growers can keep their pesticide licenses current. Upcoming twilight meetings include a tree fruit meeting on Wednesday July 10th from 5:30-7:30pm at Apple Hill Farm in Concord; and a vegetable and berry twilight meeting on an organic farm. This meeting will be held on Wednesday July 17th from 5-7pm at Blue Ox Farm in Enfield. For more information about these meetings call Suzanne or Pat at 603-862-3200 or click here.

The University of Maryland Extension hosts Carroll County twilight meetings. The meetings are held monthly each third Monday. July’s meeting will be about pollinators and herbs; August’s will focus on cover crops; and the September meeting will focus on putting the garden to bed and productive garden maintenance. Click here for more information.

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training – or CRAFT— is a farmer-led coalition that helps to prepare the next generation of farmers. The program started in 1994 in upstate New York and has since spread across the U.S. and Canada.

CRAFT networks offer a unique opportunity for new and beginning farmers to share ideas, resources, and skills through a variety of formal and informal learning.  Apprentices participate in regular gatherings at local farms where mentor farmers talk about a range of issues for farm operations. Collaborative on-farm learning fosters farmer-to-farmer relationships and creates a social network within the local community for people just starting out in agriculture. Programing includes: farms interns/apprentices, mentoring, field days, technical assistance, workshops, conferences, social gatherings, strategic business planning courses, farm incubators, and more.

Below are just a few of the many CRAFT projects happening across the country. Click here to learn about additional CRAFT groups, and contact CRAFT@learngrowconnect.org or 815-389-8455 with any questions.

 

Chesapeake CRAFT

Maryland, Virginia, Maryland

Chesapeake CRAFT was founded in 2010 and has grown significantly since then. The program offers farm tours and potlucks throughout the growing season to build the regional farming network. Events, like farm tours, take place on twelve Mondays throughout the growing season starting at 3:30pm. They are followed by a potluck dinner. The next farm tour is June 3rd at Common Good City Farm in Washington, DC. The fee for joining Chesapeake CRAFT is $150.00, which includes attendance of all farm staff to any CRAFT event during the season. For more information e-mail chesapeakecraft@gmail.com.

 

Sierra CRAFT

California

Farmers who make up this CRAFT group stem from Sierra, Plumas, Yuba, Nevada, Placer and Eldorado Counties in the Sierra Mountains of California. The group provides on-farm field days throughout the year for farmers and ranchers, a listserv, and farm business planning classes—all to create an exchange of information between area farmers. Sierra CRAFT is funded by a grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program of the USDA.

 

CRAFT Southeast

Tennessee, North Carolina

CRAFT Southeast launched in 2012 with a goal to strengthen sustainable farming in the Southern Appalachian region. The groups started with funding provided by the Beattie Foundation, and by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Established farmers and aspiring farmers alike are encouraged to join. Contact Cameron with questions at 828-338-9465 or cameron@organicgrowersschool.org

 

Kentucky CRAFT

Kentucky

KY CRAFT focuses on the bond between mentors and interns as a vital way to grow careers in organic farming. Their mission is to not only broaden future farmers’ awareness of sustainable agriculture opportunities, but also to showcase a variety of regional operations. The group holds monthly workshops and hosts a community calendar that displays field days and other events hosted at KY CRAFT farms.

 

Northwest Lower Michigan CRAFT

Michigan

The Northwest Lower Michigan CRAFT is all about community. Farms that want to join must do two things: 1) host a CRAFT event during the growing season; and 2) allow their interns and apprentices to attend CRAFT events. Events generally consist of farm tours, a 30-60 minute demonstration of a farming skill, and a potluck meal. Hosting farms may join CRAFT for free; individuals not connected to a member farm can attend events for a recommended donation of $5-10 per tour. Contact Amanda Kik at 231-622-5252 or amanda@artmeetsearth.org for more information.

 

North Fork Valley CRAFT

Colorado

The North Fork Valley CRAFT runs a lecture series as well as farm tours on participating farms throughout the growing season. There is also an intern Round Table dinner that includes sharing current events, experiences and support systems. The next CRAFT program is a Large Scale Compost workshop on June 4th. Upcoming classes include fruit growing, and permaculture. Contact Lynn Ruoff at lynnruoff@gmail.com or 970-319-9434 for more information.

USDA Announces Rural Business Opportunity Grants

The USDA’s Rural Development Agency is now considering applications for Rural Business Opportunity Grants. While these grants are not for farmers specifically, they can be used for programs that help farmers and encourage business and employment in rural communities. The Rural Development Agency is offering these grants in the hopes they will bring about a resurgence of jobs in rural areas.

The following groups are eligible: public entities, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes on Federal or State reservations, and rural cooperatives.

Up to $2.6 million is available for projects. Before June 30, 2013, $919,820 has been explicitly allocated to American Indian tribes, and $790,303 reserved for Rural Economic Area Projects. After June 30th $790,303 will be available—unreserved—for a variety of projects. The maximum grant award is $100,000.

Applications deadlines are as follows: Paper applications must either be hand delivered to a Rural Development field office, or postmarked by June 28, 2013. USDA must receive electronic applications no later than midnight June 24, 2013. Click here to submit an electronic application.

Visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website to learn about the 2012 projects that received Rural Business Opportunity Grants.

For more information call the Rural Business-Cooperative Service at the USDA at: 202-720-7558, or click here.

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.

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.

 

Urban Farmer Survey

Do you farm in an urban or peri-urban area? If so, New York University, Penn State University, and the National Center for Appropriate Technology welcome your participation in a nationwide survey.

Researchers will use survey results to examine urban and peri-urban farming in the United States, specifically pinpointing:

  1. Technical and informational needs that can be met through outreach programs;
  2. Production, management, and marketing risks for urban farms and the development of programs to address those risks;
  3. And community and policymakers’ awareness of the benefits of urban farming.

Results will be used to create a national outreach and technical assistance program for urban farmers.

There are two surveys—one for urban farmers nationwide and another for Philadelphia farmers specifically (with additional questions related to the Penn State Extension).

Surveys should take about 20 minutes to complete.

For a paper version of the survey, or if you have any questions, contact Lydia Oberholtzer from Penn State University at 301-891-0470 or lso3@psu.edu

Participants will be entered into a drawing to win one of ten $75 gift cards

Are You Counted? USDA Extends Ag Census Deadline

It’s not too late to be counted in the U.S. Census of Agriculture!

Farmers and ranchers across the country are heeding the call to have their voices heard and their farms represented in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. With 1.4 million Census forms returned, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thanks everyone for speaking up by sending in their Census form.

For those who missed the deadline, USDA reminds producers that their farm is important and needs to be counted. As a result, Census forms are still being accepted.

Farmers and ranchers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential. Anyone with over $1,000 in ag sales in 2012 is considered a farmer for the Census of Agriculture.

*Those that didn’t receive a questionnaire in the mail should sign up at the same site by March 31 and USDA will send them a questionnaire.