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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

LFFP Podcast Ep 1 - Bluff Country Co-op - Part 1

Our first podcast episode!

In the Local Food Fine Print, we interview food buyers to learn how farmers can access their market and improve relations with buyers. The focus is on intermediate markets like co-ops, restaurants, food hubs, grocery stores, etc. Plus, we discuss details like insurance, pricing, food safety, and more.

In this episode, I interview Jason of Bluff Country Co-op. We talk about produce availability in Southeast MN, what they do when a farmer's crop they were going to buy fails, selling produce to the co-op and how to start that conversation, quality requirements, and delivery schedules.

Listen to it here.

We would really appreciate your feedback on this episode via this short survey:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Attend the Goat Health and Nutrition Workshop

Inline image 1
by Colleen Carlson, Extension Educator

UMN Extension is hosting a Goat Health and Nutrition Workshop. 
This workshop pertains to any meat or dairy goat farmers as well as 4-H members who want pointers on how to maintain healthy goats.

The cost of this event is $12 per person with a cap of $20 per farm.

DateMonday, December 4
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Faribault Event Center within South Central College 
Cost: $12/person; $20 cap/farm

Pre-registration is not required, but is appreciated. Please contact Claire LaCanne at 507.332.6165 or for registration or if you have any questions.
For more information and to learn about the speakers, see the Goat Health and Nutrition Workshop 2017 flyer.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017 Todd County Area Goat Workshop

By Brenda Miller

You are invited to the 2017 Todd County Area Goat Workshop being held November 20th.

This workshop is intended for both dairy and meat goat producers who are interested in learning about overall goat nutrition, production, and management of goats. Ag businesses who work with dairy and meat goat producers are also welcome to attend.

Speakers & Topics

  • Nutrition for All Ages & Stages of a Goat’s Life—Dr. Michael Schlegel & Dr. Clay Elliott, Purina (This will be 2 different presentations tailored to both dairy & meat goat producers)
  • Work Smarter, Not Harder: Creative Farm Solutions— Heather Olson, Riverside Goats
  • Reproduction & Genetic Strategies— Missy Isder, Sparkling-M’s Dairy Goats
  • Grants for Livestock Producers & Staying Connected— Wayne Martin, U of M Extension
  • Ecological Service Livestock Network—Kelly Anderson, MN Department of Agriculture
  • And more!

Please RSVP

To help get an accurate meal count, please RSVP by November 15th by contacting Brenda Miller at
the Todd County Extension Office: 320-732-4435, or U of M Extension, 215 1st
Ave S, Suite 101, Long Prairie, MN 56347.

Date, Time, Location, Cost

November 20, 2017
10:30 AM-2:00 PM
Registration starts at 10 AM
Clarissa Ballroom, Clarissa, MN
Free to attend, lunch included

Monday, October 30, 2017

Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota!

Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota
by Fritz Ebinger

Solar, wind, and biomass are plentiful sources of clean energy in Minnesota and UMN Extension's CERTs Program is here to help farmers and rural small businesses get projects done.

Thinking about renewable energy or energy efficiency for your farm?
  • Explore projects that could work for you: CERTs' website features real examples of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at Minnesota farms and small businesses.
  • Identify potential funding and financing options: Funding options like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) are great ways to fund and finance projects.  Access CERTs' sample applications and templates to get started fast.
  • Get one-on-one assistance for your project: Fritz Ebinger, the CERTs Rural Energy Development Specialist can visit your farm, help you scope out a project, and develop a financial performance model to help your business decision.
For more information on how to get started, please visit the Clean Energy Resource Team's website or contact Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Specialist at 612-626-1028 or

Monday, July 31, 2017

August Small Farm Newsletter

Let's.  Talk.  Dairy.  (and about a perennial grain field day)

Those interested in organic dairy production have two field days to pick from coming up.  If you can't make it to one of those, take a look at the organic dairy resources shared below.

Plus, the UMN Extension Women in Ag Network summer tour is going to Redhead Creamery in August.

And, have you heard the buzz about the perennial wheat being developed at the U? Well, there's an opportunity to see it in production and learn more about the research and development happening.

Our website has been updated too, it's worth taking a look.

Click here if you'd like to receive this newsletter via email.

Jake Overgaard
UMN Extension Educator

Dairy Field Days and Resources
Organic Dairy Field Day - Southeast MN
Friday, August 4th

  • Learn from the Nelsons, who milk 90-100 cows on their organic dairy by Altura
  • Far tour includes a focus on pasture and forage production
  • Organic Dairy research update from UMN's Dr. Brad Heins

Organic Dairy Day - Morris
Tuesday, August 15

  • Economics of organic dairying - Dr. Larry Tranel, Iowa State University
  • Organic dairy research update - Dr. Brad Heins, University of MN
  • Guided tours
    • Pasture walk featuring Kernza
    • Organic silage variety trials
    • Feeding options for calves

Organic Dairy Resources from WCROC
The West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris uniquely researches dairy production, with side-by-side organic and conventional herds. 

They've developed great resources for farmers on the topics of herd health, forages and feed, pest and fly management, out-wintering, and profitability.  

Learn about a fly vacuum, feeding kelp and fodder systems, and out-wintering dairy herds among other topics at their website.

Other Upcoming Educational Opportunities
UMN is holding a Kernza Field Day on August 10th near Madison, MN.

Kernza (TM) is a perennial grain being bred & developed for commercialization in a partnership between the Forever Green Initiative and The Land Institute. Come learn from a farmer who is growing it and get an update on the research and development of the grain.

UMN Extension's Women in Ag Network's summer tour will be headed to Redhead Creamery. Attendees will get a tour of the farm, discuss managing a family business, and have the opportunity to network and socialize. The tour is on August 16th from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. Learn more about the event and register here.

Website Update
A few brave UMN Extension Small Farms Team members took on the task of reviewing our website.  A number of changes were made to improve the look, but most importantly, we added resources on fruit, vegetables, crops, forages, livestock, farm safety, business and marketing, and general land management that ought to be useful.  Take a look!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kernza Field Day

by Constance Carlson

The public is welcome to attend a field day and tour of one of the oldest stands of Kernza® in Minnesota on Thursday, August 10. This is an opportunity for growers, processors and others interested in learning more about this new and exciting grain.

As the first commercially produced perennial grain crop, intermediate wheatgrass (Kernza® perennial grain) has the potential to change agriculture landscapes by providing valuable ecosystem services and new economic opportunities. The University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative (FGI) has been engaged in research and development on this ground-breaking crop for several years in strong partnership with The Land Institute (Kansas), where the grain was first developed. 

The UMN and Land Institute research team includes ecologists, breeders, agronomists and food scientists working on everything from increasing seed size and yields to field trials and commercial opportunities. The crop has advanced to the point that early commercialization has begun, with local and regional food businesses as well as corporate partnerships with companies such as Cascadian Farm / General Mills, Inc. and Patagonia Provisions.

The Kernza Field Day will be held on A-Frame Farm in Madison, Minnesota, owned and operated by Carmen Fernholz. Fernholz has been working with the University of Minnesota and growing intermediate wheatgrass for six years and will be on-hand to talk about his experience growing Kernza®. Intermediate wheatgrass researcher, Jake Jungers, Ph.D. will also be on-hand to talk about the current research and where the University is hoping to take this crop. 

A tour of the Kernza®  plot on Fernholz's farm is planned. We recommend wearing durable shoes or boots to walk through the field. 

Kernza Field Day: A-Frame Farm
Thursday, August 10, 2017
1 - 3PM Tour followed by a social hour. 
 2484 Hwy 40  Madison, Minnesota 56256

Please RSVP by Aug. 3

Light refreshments will be served. 
This field tour is made possible through a generous grant from the MDA through the AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Grant. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CSA Field Day - July 21

Join us for a field day on Friday July 21st from 9-11am at Golden Bee Acres, owned and operated by Harold and Pam Walz with the help of their farm manager Melissa May.

Golden Bee Acres raise and harvest over 20 varieties of produce and sell free-range eggs at the St. Cloud Farmer’s Market and to their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members.

Golden Bee Acres prides themselves on being guardians of the land raising food with sunshine, water, intelligent design, careful handling and love.

Discover the Walz Family’s story of Golden Bee Acres, see their high and low tunnels, and learn more about the Small Farms Program. In addition, hear from different experts including information on industrial hemp production.

Cost of the event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Register for the event at:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Learn about Barley Breeding and Management at Barley U

by Constance Carlson

Held every two years, this is a free event hosted for the public to learn more about the barley breeding and development at the University of Minnesota. As you know, barley is one of the primary ingredients for producing beer and the University of Minnesota is an active center for barley research. 

Come to the St. Paul campus on Thursday, July 132 -5 PM and join others from the local malting and brewing industries to visit with UM researchers, learn about barley research, and see field experiments on campus. 

This year we will get “back to basics” with more descriptions of how we breed, grow, and harvest barley. We will have planter and combine equipment demonstrations, field plot tours, and hands-on activities to learn how to do barley pollination. All followed by refreshments and a chance to socialize.

UMN-St.Paul Campus - Thursday, July 13  2 - 5 PM


Free Parking along Gortner Avenue just south of Larpenteur.  Look for the white tent.
Link to St. Paul Campus Parking Map

Thank you and see you at the event!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

UMN Extension Small Farms Newsletter - May 2017

How muddy are your boots?

The 2017 growing season is up and running, in fits and starts.  

Either way, it's happening, and I have a few select resources, specifically for vegetable producers, to help along the way; some tools and ideas for diagnosing and managing the pest and disease issues you may encounter this season (more simply put, vegetable IPM).  

I'm also sharing some educational opportunities for beekeepers and cottage food producers, plus some new resources related to policy and sale of local produce and meat.

Plus, I could use your help!  Please consider responding to a (seriously) short survey, especially if you market local food or want to market local food.  It will help guide and improve a project in development.

Jake Overgaard
UMN Extension Educator

You can subscribe to this newsletter, sign up here.
Crop Disease Management in a High Tunnel
This webinar, presented by Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator, was part of the 2017 Local Foods College.  It covers the following;
  • Where pathogens come from
  • Optimizing the environment in a high tunnel to reduce disease
  • Crop rotation, disease resistant crops, and grafting
Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers
Here's a sampling of the questions answered in this expansive guide.
  • What products (organic and conventional) can I use to treat bacterial diseases of onions?
  • How long from pollination to maturity for a cucumber?
  • At what temperature should a hot water bath be for lettuce seed?
  • What's a hot water bath?
What's Wrong With Your Plant?
Cut down on your head-scratching and start using this great diagnostic tool! It's a photo and symptom based tool for diagnosing diseases and other pest issues of vegetables, fruit, trees, and more.

Watch a demo of how it works at our YouTube site.

Or, go straight to the tool;

Upcoming Educational Opportunities

The UMN Bee Squad has a mentoring program this year where participants can get hands-on experience and learn from experienced beekeepers.  Classes are held periodically throughout the season, and you can attend in St. Paul, Wayzata, or Rochester. You must have prior experience or have taken a beekeeping class.  Visit the Mentoring Apiary page to learn more and sign up.

There are training session for cottage food producers who make and sell baked goods like home-canned pickles, salsa, jam, or jelly (& don't necessarily live in a cottage :) that meet MN Department of Ag training requirements.  Many dates and locations to pick from; Rochester, Minneapolis, Grand Marais, Willmar, Little Falls, and St. Cloud!  Learn more and get registered.

New Resources
Local Food Advisory Committee Fact Sheets
The MN Local Foods Advisory Committee has put out a series of fact sheets related to local food sales and the related and sometimes confusing regulations and policies.  

Produce, meat, eggs, poultry, aggregation, and more.

Such a Short Survey

I have a project in development, interviewing local food buyers (those in intermediate markets like co-ops, grocery stores, food hubs, etc) to get tips for farmers marketing to those outlets.  I want to know what you want to know to make this project better. The survey is six questions long.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

U of M New and Innovative Crops Forum

by Constance Carlson, UMN Extension

The University of Minnesota has been an international leader in new crop research and development for over 150 years. This forum will share the latest UMN research and development into a wide-range of crops that are in development or ready for production and end use.

This forum is for producers and farmers interested in growing these crops, as well as culinary professionals, food entrepreneurs, processors, food hubs and the many other partners in the Minnesota food landscape who are interested in learning how they can capitalize on the agricultural innovation happening at the University.

Most importantly, this event is an opportunity for attendees to network with researchers and industry partners interested in developing the supply chains needed to get UMN research from the lab into the fields and onto our dinner plates.

Date:  Monday, June 26, 2017

Location:  Cargill Building Rm 105, St. Paul Campus, UMN Twin Cities


8:00-9:00 AM Registration, networking, & light refreshments

9:00 AM Welcome & Introductions

9:30 - 11:30 AM: Day Neutral Strawberries - A Minnesota grown strawberry you can enjoy in October!
  • Current Research & Development
  • Best Management Practices, marketing
  • Culinary Uses, benefits, sourcing
11:30 – 12:45 PM: Lunch & Networking
  • Tables featuring: Grapes, Hazelnuts, Kernza®, Camelina, Elderberries, and Barley

1:00 - 3:00 PM: Upper Midwest Hybrid Hazelnuts – A delicious and hardy Minnesota nut adapted from the wild
  • Current Research & Development
  • Best Management Practices, marketing
  • Culinary uses, benefits, experience, sourcing

3:05 PM Wrap-up and Networking

Interested in attending? Contact Constance Carlson, or 612-709-6790.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Farm to Fork: Marketing Local Food to Institutions

Are you looking for information on customer requirements and local and state regulations governing local food sales?  Do you want to know more about food safety protocols and post-harvest handling needed to sell to restaurants, co-op's and schools?
To increase local food utilization in Wright County, University of Minnesota Extension, Crow River Food Council, and Sustainable Farming Association are hosting an educational event on May 11th, 1:00-4:30 pm at the Wright County Government Center, 10 2nd St NW Buffalo, MN 55313, Room 120 to share the information needed by producers to sell to institutions.
Space is limited. The cost is $20.  Contact the Wright County Extension Office at 763-682-7394 or by e-mail to register.  
Buying food grown locally helps strengthen our communities and puts fresh, healthy food on our dinner plates. Sourcing locally also helps us grow our understanding and appreciation of the farms, orchards and vineyards in our region. When restaurants and other food service organizations highlight local food on their menus, they stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Direct marketing helps producers manage market risk by giving them more control over how and when they sell their products, more control over pricing and a greater share of the revenue from sales. Institutional buyers likewise gain more control of their supply chain by dealing directly with producers to communicate specific requirements.
Experienced experts will speak about local and state regulations, food safety and post-harvest handling procedures. A panel of buyers will also answer questions about: pricing, contracts, quality standards, delivery and a host of other issues.

For more information, take a look at the agenda.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Women in Agriculture Network Announces June Event

Betty Berning, Extension Educator

The June Women in Agriculture Network (WAGN) seminar will be a farm transition and estate planning workshop entitled, “Where Do I Begin?”   

The event will be June 6, 2017 at the Halstad Legion Recreation Center (580 2ndAve. West, Halstad, MN 56548).  Registration is at 9AM with the program running from 9:30AM-3:30PM.  The fee is $20, which covers the cost of lunch.  Payment can be made the day of event.

"Many farm families struggle with beginning the process of transitioning the family business to the next generation,” shares Gary Hachfeld, Extension Educator. “The process takes communication, trust, and respect as a foundation to begin the task. The ‘Farm Business Transition: Where Do I Begin?’ program addresses many of these items. Program participants will be introduced to ideas, concepts, and tools they can use to help them get started with the process."

Participants will learn about different communications styles; transferring labor, income, management, and assets; retirement considerations for the senior generation; assessing an operation’s financial viability; and goal-setting.  Through fun, hands on exercises, families will learn how to apply these concepts to their farm and begin their own transition and succession plan.

To register, please visit:

To learn more about Women in Ag Network or this event, please visit:

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.
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