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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

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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:
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