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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Small Farms Newsletter

Take advantage of the off-season

Honestly, I think "off-season" is the wrong term. I know you're all busy year-round, and while you may not be putting in 14 hour days in the field, you've got work to do. It may be appropriate to say "different-season", or we can just call it winter.

Either way, I hope you have the time to take advantage of the valuable educational opportunities coming up. This newsletter focuses on a few online options, some conferences, and a new podcast I've created.

-Jake Overgaard
 Extension Educator
Online options
Local Foods College is a weekly @ 6 pm webinar series going from January 23rd to February 27th with topics on fruit and nut production, pasture management, deep winter greenhouses, seed saving, and pollinators. Participate in these from the comfort of your own home. Sign up here.
 Backyard Chickens - Science and Practice  (ANSC 1201) is a course offered online by University of Minnesota and is available to the public. The class is perfect for those currently raising or interested in raising chickens at a small scale. Students will learn basic biology and behavior, selection, housing, nutrition, management, and diseases of chickens. You can find enrollment instructions here.

Regional conferences
MN Organic Conference, January 11-12, St. Cloud, MN

WI Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Conference, January 21-23, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Emerging Farmers Conference (Formerly the Immigrant and Minority Farming Conferece), January 26-27, St. Paul, MN
GrassWorks Grazing Conference, January 30-February 1, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Conference, February 2-3, Madison, WI. 

SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit, February 14-15, Fergus Falls, MN

MOSES Organic Farming Conference, February 22-24, La Crosse, WI
There are more (!), take a look at MISA's list of 2018 conferences.
Food Safety Modernization Act
Upcoming Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training

UMN Extension and partners have scheduled two Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings, one on January 17 in St. Cloud and another on March 20th in Monticello. 

Whether you're exempt from the rule or not, the training can be of value, find out what you can expect to learn at the Produce Safety Alliance website.

Registration is required, visit the MDA registration page to sign up.

Looking for more info on FSMA? Find info from UMN Extension here, there's a ton of info from the Produce Safety Alliance, or take a look at FDA's At a Glace publication.
Local Food Fine Print Podcast

Earlier this year, some of you responded to a survey I put out on accessing local food markets. The product of that feedback is a new podcast from UMN Extension Small Farms - the Local Food Fine Print podcast. 

Listen to learn directly from food buyers (like those at co-ops, restaurants, food hubs, and more) how to enter their market, communicate, and about the "fine print" like insurance, liability, food safety, delivery schedules.

The first episode is out! I interview Jason, the produce manager at Bluff Country Co-op in Winona. You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or listen on the UMN Extension Small Farms site.


  1. As rather new mushroom cultivator I appreciated Jason's point of view as a co-op produce manager. Looking forward to the next episode!

  2. Free Thinker, thanks so much for the feedback! Hope you're enjoying the rest of the episodes.


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