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Extension > Small Farms News > August 2016

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


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