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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Newsletter - Soils Farmbyte + Value added grant

I’ve been preparing and holding local field days this week and time is at a premium.  So, I have an abbreviated newsletter.  The field days are nutrient management focused, soils are on my mind and so I’ve got a soils-focused Farmbyte for you. 

Also, there’s a fantastic grant opportunity from the MN Department of Ag that comes around annually, I think many of you could benefit from the grant.

To sign up to receive this newsletter via email, fill out this form.

Farmbyte
Soils:  Sampling and nutrient guidelines

In this Farmbyte, we share…
  •          A video on soil sampling procedure
  •          Nutrient guidelines for fruit, vegetables, row crops and small grains
  •          Article on how to maintain soil fertility in organic fruit and vegetable systems
  •          USDA Web Soil Survey

MN Department of Agriculture's Value Added Grant program
From their website...

Who's eligible?
  • Individuals (farmers) or businesses
  • Agricultural cooperatives
  • Local government entities

What can you use the money for?
  • Equipment purchase or physical improvements to intended to support businesses that will:
  • Start, expand, or update livestock product processing
  • Purchase equipment to start, upgrade, or modernize value-added businesses
  • Increase the use and processing of MN Ag products (required for all grants)
  • Purchase equipment or facility improvement to increase food safety
  • Increase farmers' processing and aggregating capacity to sell to schools, hospitals, or other institutions

Maximum grant award is $150,000, minimum is $1000.

For more information, visit the MDA website.
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That’s all for this week, have a great weekend!

Jake

P.S. Feel free to share this using the options at the top of this page.

Additional resources
UMN Extension Crops Website & Calendar of Events

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Newsletter - Happy National Farmers Market Week


This week is National Farmers Market week (read the USDA news release), so I'm sharing some marketing ideas and resources.

Prior to joining UMN Extension, I worked on a farm in Winona County.  During that time, I spent a season selling (mostly) fruit and (some) vegetables at the Winona Farmers' Market, I really enjoyed it.

Obviously, after just one year I'm not the professional marketer that many of you are, but here are the strategies that worked well for me;
  • The advice "pile it high and deep" is sound
  • Vary the height of product displays
  • Clearly display prices
  • Smile and say hello to EVERYONE that passes
  • Get to know and support your fellow vendors
  • Have fun
For more ideas on display, The Art & Science of Farmers’ Market Display (UVM Extension) has some great ideas.

Other marketing resources

In each newsletter, we list "additional resources" at the bottom.  Among them, is the UMN Extension Community and Local Food Resources.  Within this site, there's a great section on marketing local food.  There's an excellent list of resources, take a look.  

Some of my favorites on the page are;

Marketing local food:  Start with this manual, it's great and has a MN focus.  From MISA, 

Marketing strategies for farmers and ranchers:  Shorter, similar to "Marketing local food".  From ATTRA.

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Hope it's a good week at the market for vendors and customers alike.

That’s all for this week, have a great weekend!

Jake

P.S. Feel free to share this using the options at the top of this page.

Additional resources
UMN Extension Crops Website & Calendar of Events

Friday, August 5, 2016

Newsletter - Bees


To me, it seems possible that people in caves have heard about the decline of bees, it’s all over the news.  I think people are responding - It’s exciting that a growing number of people are keeping their own bees.  In addition, as farmers, there’s a great role to play in improving the health of honey bees and the vast range of other pollinators out there for their health and that of our crops.

So, here is some information, resources, and training opportunities for current/future beekeepers, and farmers.  And, if you have a lawn, make it a bee lawn, more below.  To get more bee news, sign up for the UMN Bee Bulletin.

To sign up to receive this newsletter via email, fill out this form.

TED Talk – Why bees are disappearing
Dr. Marla Spivak, University of MN Professor, delivers this TED talk discussing the plight of bees and steps to improve bee health.

In the News - Here's the colony-killing mistake backyard beekeepers make
MPR shares how a novice beekeeper manages varroa mites and details how infested hives are impacted and can spread mites to other healthy hives.

Manual – Honey Bee Diseases and Pests
So how do you know if you need to treat for varroa mites? What are the treatment options?  What about other diseases and pests?
This UMN Extension manual provides guidance on sampling along with treatment recommendations, including organic options.

Article – The importance of pollinators
Fruit is the focus of this article on pollination; which fruit benefits from insect pollination? What are the symptoms of poor pollination? With info on pollination contracts, native bees, and more.

Handbook – Managing alternative pollinators
This book from SARE provides info on how to improve pollination on the farm, rear bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, etc along with info on native pollinators, and additional resources.  Great book!

Beekeeping Classes
Four upcoming classes on beekeeping in northern climates are offered on the UMN St. Paul Campus; one for beginners, another to help beekeepers improve hive survival year to year, a queen rearing course, and a ‘beyond the basics’ class.  Sign up early.

Videos – Beekeeping in northern climate
UMN Bee Lab and Extension produced videos on a range of topics including; frames, brood boxes, foundations, combs, etc. 

Bee lawns!
Do it.
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Alright, I could go on, but I’m stopping there.  We’ll talk bees more some other time.  Also, are you impressed at the lack of bee puns in this newsletter?  I am.

Have a great weekend!

Jake

P.S. Feel free to share this using the options at the top of this page.

Additional resources


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Newsletter - Pick from 15+ ag newsletters

We surveyed MN farmers last year about their interests and needs.  In the responses, there was a request to share other small farm news sources.  We don't claim to be the only online newsletter one would ever want or need; personally, I subscribe to six or seven other ag focused newsletters and listservs* that keep me up to date on events, news, research, grants, and other opportunities. 

Some of you may be thinking "Nope!  I don't have time for more emails!"  Oh, how I sympathize. My method: create rules to filter incoming messages to a dedicated newsletter folder, skipping my inbox.  Whichever email client you use, consider this option.

Earlier this week, I sent a message to the rest of our Extension Small Farms Team asking for their online newsletter and listserv recommendations, it's not completely exhaustive, but here's the list of ag focused sources we assembled.

To sign up to receive this newsletter via email, fill out this form.  :)

*A listserv typically allows subscribers to post information to all other members.
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SustAg – Listserv

Personally, I like SustAg the most, lots of news from a broad spectrum of posters.

Managed by:  MN Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA)
Focus:  Informational posts about field days, workshops, courses, seminars, research results, books, articles, or any other educational resources or learning opportunities


  • SustAgMarket:  Buy, sell, lease, trade, barter goods related to sustainable ag and local foods
  • Healthy Debate: Your place for discussion, debate, and opinions related to sustainable ag
  • MNUrbanFarmers:  Ask questions, share resources and knowledge, urban ag focus

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Alternative swine, poultry, sheep, and goats – Listservs

Managed by:  UMN Extension
Focus: Discussion among farmers, Extension Educators, and researchers on livestock production with focus on sustainable livestock production.

Sign up for…
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MN Organic Network – Listserv

Managed by: MN Department of Ag
Focus:  Connects people who want to share information about organic agriculture, kick around ideas, ask each other questions, and work together on projects.


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Weekly Harvest - Newsletter

Managed by:  National Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Focus: Has a national focus; News and resources, funding opportunities, coming events.


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RSDP Happenings - Newsletter

Managed by: Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP)
Focus:  RSDP has a range of projects in MN focused on local food and sustainable agriculture.  Their newsletter features success stories, educational and funding opportunities.


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Organic Broadcaster & Organic Link - Newsletters

Managed by:  Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
Focus:  Organic production ideas, research, and policy.


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SFA Connect - Newsletter

Managed by:  Sustainable Farming Association
Focus:  SFA Connect is a bi-weekly email newsletter providing news and updates from the Sustainable Farming Association, as well as a listing of other relevant events in sustainable ag.


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Bee Squad Bulletin - Newsletter

Managed by:  UMN Bee Squad
Focus: News, project and research updates from the Bee Squad.


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Grazing Gazette - Newsletter

Managed by:  NRCS, Fillmore SWCD, UMN Extension
Focus:  Grazing recommendations, news, and events.

Sign up: Send a request to ruesi001@umn.edu, see the archives here.

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Other UMN Extension Newsletters
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And remember, there's always an unsubscribe option and a delete button.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy your weekend!

Jake

P.S. Sharing is great, feel free.  Use the "share" button above, or, here's a short link: http://z.umn.edu/17cv

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Additional resources


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Apply for value-added grants

MN farmers have the opportunity to fund projects through grants from the MN Department of Agriculture's Value Added Grant program.

From their website...

Who's eligible?
  • Individuals (farmers) or businesses
  • Agricultural cooperatives
  • Local government entities
What can you use the money for?

Equipment purchase or physical improvements to intended to support businesses that will:
  • Start, expand, or update livestock product processing
  • Purchase equipment to start, upgrade, or modernize value-added businesses
  • Increase the use and processing of MN Ag products (required for all grants)
  • Purchase equipment or facility improvement to increase food safety
  • Increase farmers' processing and aggregating capacity to sell to schools, hospitals, or other institutions
Maximum grant award is $150,000, minimum is $1000.

For more information, visit the MDA website.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Newsletter - Season extension

Local food growers who use season extension may see multiple benefits.  Yields and quality can be improved.  Growers can also be first to market with earlier crops and produce longer into the fall.

Growing in a high tunnel, a.k.a. hoop house, or using other means of season extension come with a unique set of challenges; different pests and diseases, crop rotation, irrigation management, etc.

So, here are some resources and educational opportunities for those looking to add season extension to their farming mix or make improvements to existing practices.

To sign up to receive this newsletter via email, fill out this form.
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In the news:  Extending Minnesota’s growing season

Go back in history to 2008, when high tunnel production was starting to take off in MN.  This MPR story profiles a farm in northern MN and talks tunnels with now retired Extension Educator, Terry Nennich.


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Resource:  UMN high tunnel website

So much here! 
  • Basic management info
  • Structures
  • Crop specific recommendations
  • Economics and marketing
  • High tunnel conference presentations
  • Additional resources

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Educational opportunity:  High tunnel and farm tour

Date:  August 8th, 2016
Location:  Tour leaves from Little Falls, will visit two farms
Cost:  $15
Preregistration:  Required
Deadline:  July 30th

In addition to the farm visits, topics and speakers include;
Dr. Angela Orshinsky and Dr. Chris Phillips, University of Minnesota
  • High tunnel integrated pest management
  • Pest and disease scouting
  • Spotted wing drosophila
Terry Nennich, UMN Extension, Emeritus
  • High tunnel research results
  • Successful high tunnel production
For more information and to register, take a look at the event flyer.
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Resource:  UMN low tunnel strawberries

Research at the West Central Research and Outreach Center has shown great results from low tunnel strawberry production.  Their website features articles on different aspects of the production system as they go through the growing season. 

If you’re interested in this system, I highly recommend the free eBook "Cold climate strawberry farming” featured on this site.


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Educational opportunity:  Build a low tunnel

At this event, you can participate in the construction of a low tunnel!  A tour will also include growing techniques and tips for day-neutral strawberry cultivars in the Upper Midwest.

The tour is part of the annual Horticulture Night at the West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris.  

Date:  Thursday, July 28, 2016
Time:  Tour times are at 5:15 and 7:15 pm.  
Location:  West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris


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Video:  Growing raspberries in high tunnels

This short video goes over some basic considerations of high tunnel raspberry production including cultivar selection, layout, and a primer on spotted wing drosophila.


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Recorded presentation:  Increasing vegetable production with economical season extension

High tunnels are not the only game in ‘season extension town'.  In this recorded presentation, Terry Nennich, UMN Extension Emeritus, discusses…
  • Raised beds
  • Plastic mulch
  • Row covers
  • Low tunnels

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Because it’s hot (especially in a high tunnel!):  Heat illness and agriculture

Work still needs to get done despite how unpleasant the weather may be.  This Penn State Extension article goes over the risks, symptoms and strategies for dealing with excessive heat on the farm.  A few of their tips include…
  • Drink approximately 8 oz. (1 cup) of water about every 15–30 minutes. (Note: Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water!)
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs and large amounts of sugar because they can speed up the dehydration process.
  • If you are a farm owner or manager, educate your workers about the prevention and emergency response of heat-related illnesses. Also observe your employees for heat related problems as well.

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That's it for this week, have a great weekend!

Jake

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Additional resources


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Visit the UMN Student Organic Farm

The University of Minnesota will be hosting two Open House and Field Days this summer and fall at Cornercopia, the student organic farm and research plots. 

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the innovative organic growing practices students at the U of M are involved with as well as talk with researchers about their work in organic and sustainable agriculture. 

There will be tours, tasting, & more! These events are FREE & open to the public. We hope to see you there!


When
Wednesday, July 27th6-8pm
Tuesday, September 20th4-6pm

Location 
Cornercopia Organic Farm on the UMN St. Paul Campus, Intersection of Lindig St & Dudley Ave.

Parking 
Available in the Gortner Ave Ramp, 1395 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN, 55108

Contact

For more information, view the event flyer.
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