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.

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

How to Sell Fruits and Vegetables to the USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) buys more than $530 million worth of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits and vegetables each year to supply schools, food banks and to distribute during disasters. Learn how to sell your farm’s produce to AMS at a free interactive webinar on Thursday June 27th at 2:00 pm EST. This free webinar is open to fruit and vegetable growers, and processors and distributors of all sizes.
The webinar will discuss how the USDA Commodity Procurement program works and what products the USDA buys; go over requirements for selling to the USDA and how small, socially disadvantaged, women and veteran-owned businesses can get involved; and provide all of the tools and resources necessary to do business with USDA. The webinar will conclude with a Q+A session.

Space is limited. Click here to register.

Web-Based Farmer Assistance Tools

In the age of all things digital, comes a new set of web-based tools to help farmers. From nitrogen meters to farm management and organizational tools, these online resources can put a lot of information into a farmer’s hand, while simplifying complex tasks.

Below are a few tools that stood out, but there are many more that didn’t make this list. Please tell us about tools that we may have missed or that you currently use in the comments below.

 

Adapt-N

Nitrogen fertilizer is an expensive business, with nearly $5 billion spent on corn crops alone. But much of this nitrogen goes unused—it’s either lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide or leached through the soil. So a new tool called Adapt-N has been created to help farmers predict their corn nitrogen needs more accurately. This is a free web-based tool that sends farmers alerts via text or email. The tool triangulates data on the local soil, crop and weather to provide farmers with estimates that can help them save money and protect the environment by not applying too much nitrogen fertilizer. The data are updated in real time throughout the growing season. Cornell University researchers who created the tool estimate that it helped farmers save nearly $200,000 last year and reduced fertilizer on about 7,500 acres of land. The tool currently has 600 users and was chosen as AgProfessional’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Top Product of the Year. Read more about Adapt-N and try out the tool.

 

CropMobster™

The web-based CropMobster is all about creating community. By building a local network of farms, and families in need, it creates affordable access to fresh food. This food is surplus produce that would otherwise go to waste. The CropMobster tool works through a set of alerts that go out via text, email, Facebook, Twitter, or telephone and get the word out immediately as to when and where there will be a gleaning event, crop mob or discount produce sale at a farm. This allows farmers to find a home for their leftover fruits and vegetables and families to find the produce they need.

 

Growers Edge

Growers Edge has been called the Google for farmers, as it pulls and organizes vital decision-making data that a farmer or rancher needs and stores it in one place. This completely free service offers a few difference options for viewing information, from the CashMax application, which allows farmers to track cash bids from more than 4,500 nationwide locations, as well as search for the best prices for different contract markets in their location, to the Profit Manager feature that allows farmers to set profit goals, record transactions and track profitability for each crop. Growers Edge also provides farmers the opportunity to trade in the futures and options markets for a $7 per trade commission versus the standard rates of $30-$70. This web-based tool provides farmers with an easy way to track and manage their business.

 

Seed to Harvest

Seed to Harvest is a crop record, smart phone application. This app was built with the organic farmer in mind and provides detailed planting information like transplanting records. A farmer can use this app to track their inputs and harvest records. Records are organized by field and section, and are stored on the smart phone, with the option of emailing, or downloading the information.


Save Our Citrus

The Save Our Citrus app was created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop the spread of citrus diseases. This free iPhone app allows growers to report and identify the four leading citrus diseases: citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab. Farmers report symptoms by uploading photos and then receive a response from a USDA citrus expert.

 

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.

 

Looking to Improve Animal Welfare on Your Farm? Apply for Fund-a-Farmer Grants!

The application period is open for the Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) Fund-a-Farmer Project: a micro-grants initiative that assists farmers in improving animal welfare. The Fund-a-Farmer Project grants up to $1,500 for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Last year, FACT awarded $13,000 to nine farms across the country.

Working, independent family farmers who raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the grants. Projects involving goats and sheep are only eligible for marketing grants. Apply online at www.fundafarmer.org. Applications are due by May 1, 2013, and grants will be awarded in August 2013.

Winter Conference Round Up

‘Tis the season for farm conferences! Take advantage of the many opportunities to network with other farmers, farm service providers, and farm activists this winter! See what’s happening in your region and get registered for fantastic conferences happening near you. Farm Aid staff will be present at the conferences marked with an asterisk (*).

Are we missing a conference? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

January

Jan. 10-11 – Midwest CSA Conference – Eau Claire, WI

Jan. 10-12 – Practical Farmers of Iowa Conference – Ames, IA

Jan. 12 – Cascadia Grains Conference – Tacoma, WA

*Jan. 12 – NOFA-Mass Winter Conference – Worcester, MA

Jan. 17-19 – GrassWorks Grazing Conference – Wausau, WI

Jan. 18-19 – Future Harvest-CASA Conference – Lansdowne, VA

Jan. 23-26 – EcoFarm Conference – Pacific Grove, CA

*Jan. 23-26 – Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG) Conference – Little Rock, AR

Jan. 24-26 – Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Winter Conference – Aberdeen, SD

Jan. 25-27 – NOFA-NY Winter Conference – Saratoga Springs, NY

Jan. 26-27 – NOFA-NJ Winter Conference – Lincroft, NJ

 

February

Feb. 2-3 – Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference – St. Paul, MN

*Feb. 6 – 9 – Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Conference – State College, PA

Feb. 7-9 – Organicology – Portland, OR

*Feb. 10-12 – Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) Conference – Saratoga Springs, NY

Feb. 15-16 – Small Farmer’s Conference – Albany, GA

*Feb. 15-17 – NOFA-VT Winter Conference – Burlington, VT

Feb. 16-17 – Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association Conference – Granville, OH

Feb. 16-17 – Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota Annual Conference – Chaska, MN

Feb. 21 – California Climate and Agriculture Summit – Davis, CA

Feb. 21-23 – MOSES Organic Farming Conference – La Crosse, WI

*Feb. 22-23 – Georgia Organics Conference – College Park, GA

 

March

March 1-2 – NOFA-NH Winter Conference – Laconia, NH

March 2 – CT-NOFA Winter Conference – Wilton, CT

March 2-5 – National Farmers Union Convention – Springfield, MA

March 10-12 – California Small Farm Conference – Fresno, CA

March 22-23 – New England Meat Conference – Concord, NH

March 29-30 – Just Food Conference – New York, NY

New Organic Certification Guides from ATTRA

Earlier this year, USDA launched its new Organic Literacy Initiative, an effort to help connect current and prospective organic farmers, ranchers, and processors with the USDA resources available to them.

As part of this initiative, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has partnered with the National Organic Program (NOP) on four new guides with detailed information about organic certification.  They include information about organic requirements and best practices, and also further explain the certification process:

The guides can be downloaded for free or ordered as a paper publication for a small handling fee either at the links above or on the ATTRA website.