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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Materials from Organic Crops Day

Thanks to those who attended the 12th Annual Southern Minnesota Organic Crops Day. Interested in learning more? View materials presented.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Living on the Land: Learning to Live on a Few Acres

Colleen Carlson
UMN Extension Educator

Pining to be in the woods? Want to raise lambs but have been too sheepish to ask for
information? Don't know the difference between an eggplant and an egg shell? Would you like
to live in the country or get more enjoyment out of your current acreage?

Living on the Land is an eight-week course, offered by University of Minnesota Extension, aimed
toward people new to land ownership. Living on the Land begins with goal setting and
individual property inventory, then addresses soil, plant, livestock, and water basics.

Living on the Land will provide you with a solid background in all aspects of land management. The basic agricultural information will help you be a good steward of your land and prepare you for more advanced learning opportunities. You’ll also have plenty of time for networking and questions.

What:  A team of instructors will share their knowledge and experience to address topics including:

● what do you have and what do you want
● what you can do with your land (legal issues)
● record-keeping and finances
● protecting water quality
● maintaining wildlife, woodland and pasture
● getting dirty with soils
● profitably growing fruit, vegetables and other crops
● caring for and managing your animals.

When: Monday nights, March 13 – May 1, 2017 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Where: Belle Plaine High School Library, Belle Plaine, MN

$220.00/farm if registered before March 10, two people can attend per farm.  A $20 late
fee applies to registrations on or after March 11, 2017.

● Access to many subject matter experts face-to-face
● Numerous booklets, fact sheets and other resources
● Soil test kits
● Access to the series material online.
● Opportunity to interact with other beginning farmers
● Tours to gather ideas and inspiration

Register by calling the Scott County Extension office 952-492-5410 or us the form on the brochure,


Colleen Carlson, Extension Educator Carver/Scott (952) 492-5386 or email

Jason Ertl, Extension Educator Nicollet/Sibley (507)237-4100 or email

Monday, February 13, 2017

Improve lambing management - Workshop on 3/11

Sheep numbers continue to decline throughout the USA, while demand remains strong - a situation which provides a great opportunity for those who raise sheep, whether the flock is small or large. 

This workshop is designed for the person who is interested but with no experience raising sheep, or who already has a few sheep but wants to improve management skills. The morning will be spent in the Beef Barn Classroom, and in the afternoon there will be time for hands-on activities with the sheep. 

The workshop will be held on Saturday, March 11, 2017, 9:00-3:30, in the Beef Cattle Barn. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Pre-registration is encouraged so that we can plan for food. Cost of the workshop is $15/adult, $20/couple or business partners, and $10/student. Please contact Wayne Martin at, or (612) 625-6224.

The workshop will be taught by Kyle Rozeboom, Livestock Specialist in the Animal Science Department, and Wayne Martin, Alternative Livestock Systems Specialist with Extension. Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to the following:

Agenda topics:

  • Flock Management Overview, including  Sheep Management Calendar
  • Ewe Care- Preparing for Lambing
  • Housing/facilities
  • Post-Lambing Management Practices
  • Vaccinations, how and when to administer,
  • Parasite control, Hoof care,
  • Semen Testing for Rams
  • Artificial Insemination
  • Marketing

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Public invited to first Deep Winter Greenhouse prototype 2.0 to finish construction

Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) have been working with producers and community groups throughout Minnesota to field test a prototype design of a passive solar greenhouse that enables farmers to produce crops all winter long. 

The public is invited to an open house of the first Deep Winter Greenhouse (DWG) prototype 2.0 to finish construction on February 18 in Finland, Minnesota. 

Support for this phase of RSDP's DWG project has been provided by Extension, MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures, the Institute on the Environment, and a consortium of agriculture lending banks. The prototype was designed in collaboration with the College of Design Center for Sustainable Building Research.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Women in Ag Network Announces Second Annual Conference

“Planning for Our Future,” the second annual Women in Ag Network conference, will be Feb. 16 in Willmar.
The conference runs from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Willmar Convention Center. Discounted rates are available by registering early. 

The conference is an opportunity for women in agriculture to learn how to manage through times of adversity and see a way to the future.  Participants will have an opportunity to both learn these skills and network with others who are facing similar challenges. Breakout sessions during the day are designed to build skills in business planning, marketing, entrepreneurship and more.     

Lilia McFarland, new and beginning farmer and rancher program coordinator for USDA, will give the keynote address, “Planting Seeds for the Future.”

“The number of women farmers in Minnesota is growing– today more than one in four  producers in the state is a woman,” said Extension educator Pauline Van Nurden. “Our goal for this conference is to empower Minnesota women in agriculture -- giving them opportunities to gain skills, enhance their leadership and management abilities, and network with other farmers just like them.”

Women in agriculture want to be proactive and prepared for any situation in agriculture, added Extension educator Betty Berning. The conference will provide tools to proactively plan; participants will leave feeling like they have a path forward. 

As a sampling of the conference, Berning offers these five tips for effective, realistic planning in farming. (

For registration details and more information on the conference, please visit:

The Women in Ag Network formed to provide educational opportunities for women involved in agriculture, to enhance their leadership, management and production abilities. Our goal is to connect women to relevant, research-based education and to each other. For updates, please like our Facebook page:

Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Small Farms Newsletter - Winter Learning Opportunities

'Tis the season for conferences

Winter is full of conferences and other learning opportunities.  

The list of conferences seems to be growing.  In this newsletter, I'm sharing a non-exhaustive list of conferences in the region you may be interested in.

Also, we have several online learning opportunities from Extension, you'll find those in this list as well.

Plus! My conference survival tips.

Hope you're enjoying this holiday season.

Online options
Local Foods College is a weekly webinar series going from January 17th to March 7th with topics on 
poultry production, high tunnel disease management, accessing capital, and other topics.  Watch these from home or gather with others at a viewing site.

Beef Home Study Courses are self- paced online courses that start January 17th.  Options include Cow/Calf Nutrition, Health Management for the Cow/Calf Herd, and Introduction to Cattle Feeding.

Regional conferences

MN Organic ConferenceJanuary 12-13, St. Cloud, MN

MFVGA - Getting Started in High TunnelsJanuary 18th, St. Cloud, MN

MFVGA - Beginning Berry ProductionJanuary 18, St. Cloud, MN

MFVGA - Upper Midwest Regional Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Trade ShowJanuary 19-20, St. Cloud, MN

WI Fresh Fruit and Vegetable ConferenceJanuary 24-26, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Organic Vegetable Production ConferenceFebruary 3-4, Madison, WI. 

SFA Midwest Soil Health SummitFebruary 15-16, Fergus Falls, MN

MOSES Organic Farming ConferenceFebruary 23-25, La Crosse, WI

Conference survival tips
We've all been there - the first morning of the conference is going great, you've had some coffee, learned a few things, energy is high.  

Then you eat lunch, a lot of lunch, and the rest of the day goes downhill.  Plus, by day two, you get the "drinking water from a fire hose" feeling as you try to absorb more information.  There's gotta be a better way, right?

Well, here are my tips to make your conference more enjoyable and productive.
  1. Stand - sitting all day is no good!  Don't feel like you HAVE to stay seated the whole time. 
  2. Take it easy at the buffet - Food and eating it are my favorite things.  I've attended several of these conferences myself, and the food is great, and there's a lot of it.  But, food comas are real, and they don't mix well with learning.
  3. Take notes with your phone's camera - I can better pay attention to the speaker if I'm not trying to furiously scribble what their presentation slide says - taking a photo is quick and easy and allows you to focus more on the presentation.
  4. Take a break! - If I spend the whole time at the conference in sessions, I eventually hit a wall.  While I might be trying to learn, I'm not because I'm tired and probably a little crabby.  Take a walk, get some fresh air, or find some other diversion to give your brain a break.
  5. Network - I always learn new things by talking to farmers, other ag professionals, and folks at the trade show.  Ask them about the sessions they've attended and learn about their farms/line of work.
  6. Ditch a session - have you ever gone to a session thinking it was one thing, and turned out to be something else entirely?  Well, as polite Midwesterners, we may feel obligated to stay.  You're not, it's ok, you can do it, just get up and leave quietly.
  7. Drink some water -'s water, and you've been drinking too much coffee :) 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Join us for the 2017 Local Foods College

Local Foods College is a series of eight educational webinars on topics related to local food production. The webinars (what's a webinar?  It's a seminar conducted on the web) are at 6 PM on Tuesdays from January 24th to March 14, 2017.  Topics for this year include;
  • Soil health
  • High tunnel disease management
  • Sheep, goats, and fiber
  • Farm to market vegetable handling
  • Poultry production
  • Cottage food law
  • Accessing capital
  • Seed saving
Local Foods College is free, but registration is required to access the webinars, visit the Local Foods College site.

This is the sixth year for this series, and the 2017 series will provide many options for participants to interact with one another. The webinar format is handy for many participants to access from home or office locations.  There are also public sites that offer opportunity to network with your neighbors.

Sponsors include University of Minnesota Extension and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (aka SHIP).
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