Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NCR-SARE Grant Recipient, Marla Spivak, Named MacArthur Fellow

University of Minnesota entomologist and past NCR-SARE grant recipient, Marla Spivak, has been named one of 23 recipients of this year's "genius grants" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Spivak will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations and reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore.

According to the Foundation:

Marla Spivak is an entomologist who is developing practical applications to protect honey bee populations from decimation by disease while making fundamental contributions to our understanding of bee biology. Essential to healthy ecosystems and to the agricultural industry as pollinators of a third of the United States’ food supply, honey bees have been disappearing at alarming rates in recent years due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides. To mitigate these threats, Spivak’s research focuses on genetically influenced behaviors that confer disease resistance to entire colonies through the social interactions of thousands of workers. Her studies of hygienic behavior—the ability of certain strains of bees to detect and remove infected pupae from their hives—have enabled her to breed more disease-resistant strains of bees for use throughout the beekeeping industry. Spivak’s “Minnesota Hygienic” line of bees offers an effective and more sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides in fighting a range of pests and pathogens, including the Varroa mite, a highly destructive parasite that spreads rapidly through Western honey bee colonies. By translating her scientific findings into accessible presentations, publications, and workshops, she is leading beekeepers throughout the United States to establish local breeding programs that increase the frequency of hygienic traits in the general bee population. With additional investigations into the antimicrobial effects of bee-collected plant resins under way, Spivak continues to explore additional methods for limiting disease transmission and improving the health of one of the world’s most important pollinators.

Marla Spivak received a B.A. (1978) from Humboldt State University and a Ph.D. (1989) from the University of Kansas. She has been affiliated with the University of Minnesota since 1993, where she is currently Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Entomology. She is the author and creator of numerous beekeeping manuals and videos, and her scientific articles have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Neurobiology (now Developmental Neurobiology), Evolution, Apidologie, and Animal Behavior.

Spivak has participated in and coordinated several NCR-SARE grants pertaining to her work in the Bee Lab. Together with Gary Reuter, Spivak published, "A Sustainable Approach to Controlling Honey Bee Diseases and Varroa Mites" which demonstrates results from SARE-supported research. She's also the co-author of SARE's 2010 book, “Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists,” which is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step, full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees and other bee species that provide pollination alternatives to the rapidly declining honey bee.

The following NCR-SARE projects highlight some of the research she has conducted with support from NCR-SARE.

Sustainable agriculture and local food systems discussed at NCR-SARE Listening Session

Source: Daily Nonpariel

Food. How people get it, where it comes from, where it’s sold (and for how much) and more. It’s a broad topic, with many actors with different interests and values.

A swath of those actors met Friday morning to discuss sustainable agriculture, local food systems and more as part of a North Central Region-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education listening session.

The meeting at the Iowa Western Small Business Development Center at the Council Bluffs Airport drew about 30 people, including farmers who worked as little as seven acres to farmers with more than 200 acres.

There were people invested in food in the area from numerous angles: School lunch programs, celiac disease, grocery stores, food councils, local government and more.

Pixie Martin, the facilitator during the listening session, told the crowd gathered, “This is about you and your thinking. Communities define their own sustainability.

“You’re on the front lines of our food systems and know what’s happening in the community.”

NCR-SARE is part of the national SARE program, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and covers 12 states: Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Indian, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

As its name implies, the organization is heavily involved in research and education in sustainable agriculture. This is the third year the organization has held listening sessions.

Friday’s session was part of three taking place in the area. On Sept. 23, a session was held in Lincoln, Neb., while the third meeting was held Friday night in Omaha.

Issues covered at the session included youth involvement, education about how food is produced and large-scale versus small-scale farming, especially in terms of the regulations that sometimes effect small-scale operations because they’re crafted in a “one-size-fits-all manner.”

Health was discussed at length, with Virginia Bechtold, supervisor of nutrition services with the Council Bluffs Community School District, telling the group, “we want to buy local and Iowa products. The hurdles we face are quantities and pricing.”

Charlie Caldwell – who farms in rural Pottawattamie County, east of Council Bluffs – said it’s time for people to realize the true cost of the food they eat, decrying the amount of chemicals in most food consumed in the United States.

“The challenge for smaller producers is educating the public about why they should spend more money on fresher, organic food, why it’s better for you,” he said. “People often say, ‘I don’t want to pay that much.’ Look at your health bills. It’s the food.”

Caldwell grows corn and soybeans on 180 acres, has a 7-acre organic vineyard and 6 1/2 acres of aronia berries. He was at the meeting in part on behalf of the Midwest Aronia Association.

So what’s next?

NCR-SARE oversees a number of competitive grant programs and has awarded more than $40 million since its inception in 1988. Attendees of Friday’s listening session were able to get information and input on how to best apply for those grants, while NCR-SARE officials heard about the needs of the southwest Iowa community.

Tom Coudron, a top-level NCR-SARE official who was at the meeting, said that past sessions had resulted in increased biofuel funding in areas that didn’t have it, educational involvement on a kindergarten through 12-grade level and in other areas.

He said the sessions are critical to the organization.

“Input is needed for us to get it right, they’re the end users of the services and grants we provide,” Coudron said. “It has to be right for them.”

Pottawattamie County Supervisor Chairman Melvyn Houser, who has a farm near Macedonia in Grove Township, said that while there are a number of food organizations working together, the listening session was an opportunity for the various people involved in food ways to discover each other.

“A lot of people came together and realized there’s more going on around them than maybe what they realized,” he said. “Many people are interested in this.”

Moving forward, Houser said, more meetings are needed at the local level to discuss the topics covered Friday.

Season Extension and High Tunnel Webinar Series Offered in November

Source: Ohio State University (OSU)

URBANA, Ohio — Learn more about pest management in season extension production systems such as high tunnels by registering for a new webinar series offered in November and sponsored by the Great Lakes Vegetable Working Group, the University of Illinois Extension, and an NCR-SARE Professional Development grant.

There will be five 1-2 hour webinars produced on Nov. 1, 3, 8, 16 and 18. The first three webinars will focus on an introduction to pest management in various season extension systems, focusing on tomatoes and winter crops. The last two webinars will be geared toward soil, water, and nutrient management, plus a summary of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) high tunnel pilot project initiated in 2010.

Why consider participating in the season extension and high tunnel production webinar series? Pest complexes in season extension production systems like high tunnels are different than field grown fruits and vegetables, and an understanding of that difference is needed to capitalize on early and late season markets. High-tunnel production can lengthen the growing season and provide producers with a means to enter the market earlier with high value crops. In addition, in several states the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing monetary incentives and assistance through EQIP to growers who use high tunnel production systems.

Says Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, “The adoption of growing crops using high tunnels provides ‘great potential’… to expand the availability of healthy, locally-grown crops.”

Webinar One is titled “Introduction to Pest Management for Season Extension” and will air on Nov. 1 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. EST (5:30-7:30 p.m. CST). Bill LaMont from Pennsylvania State University will provide an overview of season extension methods and the pros and cons of getting into season extension: low tunnels, row covers, high tunnels, greenhouses, extended storage and basic economics. Judson Reid and Meg McGrath with Cornell University will speak on basic pest management considerations in high tunnels for insects, mites and diseases, respectively. Brad Bergefurd at The Ohio State University will discuss best weed management options in high tunnels.

Webinar Two is titled “Pest Management of Tomatoes in High Tunnels” and will be offered on Nov. 3 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. EST (5:30-7:30 p.m. CST). Matt Kleinhenz, with Ohio State, will start with an overview of production systems and economics for tomatoes and other solanaceous crops. Shubin Saha, with Purdue University, will address cultural controls, pesticide use, biocontrols, and organic methods for pest and mite management of tomatoes under high tunnel production. Sally Miller, Ohio State, will discuss cultural controls, pesticide use, grafting, and organic methods for disease management.

Webinar Three is titled “Pest Management in Winter Crops.” This webinar will be held on Nov. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. EST (5:30-7:30 p.m. CST). An overview of winter crop production systems including a discussion of economics, sanitation, plastic management, production sequences, crop selection, sanitation for simple hoophouse, greenhouse, in-ground, in container, row covers, and low tunnels will be given by Adam Montri from Michigan State University. Judson Reid will cover pest and mite management for winter crops and Ann Hazelrigg, with the University of Vermont, will offer disease management options for winter crops. Vegetable storage management will be covered by Matt Kleinhenz, Ohio State.

Webinar Four is titled “Management of Nutrients, Water, Soil, and Other Production Considerations in High Tunnels” and will be broadcast Nov. 16 at a different time than the previous three webinars. This will be a brown-bag lunch webinar airing from 1-2 p.m. EST (noon-1 p.m. CST). Mike Orzolek with Pennsylvania State University will be the presenter for this topic. The first 50 participants or organizations to include webinar four as part of their registration will receive a free copy of the High Tunnel Production Manual published by Penn State.

Webinar Five is titled “Interpreting NRCS High Tunnel Project Guidelines.” This will also be a brown-bag lunch webinar on Nov. 18, 2010 at 1-2 p.m. EST (noon-1 p.m. CST). The guidelines pertaining to the high-tunnel production pilot project will be outlined and discussed by Ruth Book, state conservation engineer; Ivan Dozier, assistant state conservationist; and Brett Roberts, state agronomist, all with NRCS in Illinois. Not all states in the North Central or North East region participate in this program, so check with your local state NRCS office for more details and applicability.

Pre-registration for this webinar series is mandatory and can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/season_ext. The cost for the series is $30 whether you attend one or all five webinars. Each webinar will be recorded and available on several state IPM or vegetable oriented websites for viewing soon after its original airdate. For people who do not have a broadband connection, organizers are identifying several sites throughout each state to host the webinar series.

Please visit the Great Lakes Vegetable Working Group website at http://glvwg.ag.ohio-state.edu/index.php and click on “Projects” at the top of the page to find more information and a pre-registration link for this webinar series.

Sustainable Living Expo to be Hosted in IL

Source: Carmi Times

Good choices. Smart Living. Help Yourself.

That's the theme for a new event coming to southern Illinois. The 2010 Sustainable Living Expo will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 9 at the University of Illinois' Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Pope County.

Dubbed as "A Country Boy Can Survive meets the Victory Garden," the event has been designed to appeal to "all ages, all income levels and all 'shades of green,'" according to Expo steering committee chair, Stephanie Brown, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service coordinator for the Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, the non-profit organization leading the planning effort.

"Times are hard. Unemployment is up, retirement accounts are down and people are worried about their futures. It's an excellent time to offer a program like this to help the region's citizens practice what they are already known for - self reliance," said Brown.

The event offers something for most everyone. "Raising more of our own food, supplementing our energy needs, surviving natural disasters and taking care of the land we depend for our quality of life in southern Illinois -- that's what the expo is all about," said Brown. Attendees can learn everything from basic gardening to living "off the grid" to proper tree care - even how to clean a fish.

"The sheer number of topics and speakers we have gathered for this one day is pretty amazing," said Brown. "Kind of like the internet, only better. There's no substitute for being able to see, listen and ask questions of real people. A lot of people in our region still don't have high speed access to the web or the interest in learning everything on a computer."

Program tracks include locally-grown foods, energy, conservation and survival. The Shawnee Energy Festival, held last year near Carbondale, is part of this year's expo. Organizers of both events agreed early on that it would be best to combine forces to avoid competition and provide an even more appealing showcase of alternatives and practical solutions for sustainable living, said Brown.

"You may have a hard time deciding which sessions interest you the most," she said. "Because there are so many good topics and experts on the scene, it's best if you get here early - and bring your family and friends so you can compare notes at the end of the day."

Five tents will feature concurrent presentations, while 30 outdoor learning stations will be led by experts and practitioners who "walk the talk" in more focused ways related to sustainable living. Additional programs and ongoing demonstrations will be held in the main buildings at the Ag Center - and at the heart of it all - the main tent featuring exhibits. A kid's area rounds out this family friendly event.

Vendors will be part of the fun, offer related products and services, and keep all attendees properly "sustained" with good food, drinks, and plenty of great ideas. According to Brown there are still a few spots left inside and outside the exhibit tent. Organizers are seeking area businesses and non-profit organizations that offer products or services consistent with the "buying local and taking care of our own" spirit that has been the aim of the group from the start. Paid vendors may advertise, promote and sell goods on site.

"This is a politically neutral event, not a place to campaign for office or push a particular agenda," said Brown. It's about showcasing ideas, services and products for people to consider on their own terms. This is an event for everyone, including those who already think of themselves as 'green.'"

Friday, Oct. 8 offers a selection of eight different pre-expo workshops, including reaching and keeping dedicated customers, social marketing for small businesses, basic solar knowledge, energy tax credits and grants, establishing a specialty crop operation, high tunnels for season extension, grant writing and "wildlife on your place." Advance registration is required by Oct. 4. A modest fee includes lunch - registered vendors can take the customer service and social marketing courses for free.

Those who plan to attend the main event (free) on the 9th are asked to register in advance so vendors will have plenty of food on hand to feed the crowd. See the website or call ahead to register. It will also be possible to register on site the morning of the event - just check in at one of three information tents located at parking shuttle stops and pick up a program/event map. All registrants will be entered in a drawing to win a beautiful quilt throw.

In addition to the Shawnee RC&D Area, major sponsors of the 2010 Sustainable Living Expo include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Connect SI Foundation, U of I Environmental Change Institute, U of I Extension Small Farms Program, the North Central Region Sustainable Ag Research & Education (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Program, USDA Forest Service, John A. Logan College, Southeastern Illinois College, WSIU Public Broadcasting and Advanced Energy Solutions.

More information, including the complete program and directions to the event site, are available at www@shawneercd.org. One may also call 618-993-5396, extension 6 or send an e-mail to info@shawneercd.org.

The Dixon Springs Agricultural Center is located on Illinois 145 in Pope County, four miles north of the intersection with Illinois 146, or 25 miles south of Harrisburg.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WI Farmers Explore Feeding Strategies for Pasture-Raised Poultry

Melissa, Linnea, Jason, and Annabelle Fischbach (left to right) with the Day-Range system. Photo by Beth Probst.

Three farmers in the Mason, WI concerned about health and safety of big barn chickens have created a how-to manual and a research bulletin that share information about feeding strategies for pasture-raised poultry.

Pasture Perfect, LLC is a partnership of three farms in the Mason, WI area - Great Oak, Wild Hollow, and Vranes farms. All three farms of Pasture Perfect Poultry started raising chickens for their own families due to concerns about the health and safety of big barn chickens. Each started selling to their neighbors and then to their neighbor’s neighbors.

After operating independently, in 2008, they entered into a formal partnership to cooperatively market and process chickens and turkeys under the Pasture Perfect Poultry brand. Each farm is currently raising 600-800 poultry per year with nearly 1,600 processed on the farms using a processing trailer built and owned by Pasture Perfect. The poultry are direct marketed to customers in Ashland and Bayfield County, WI. In addition to poultry, each farm is engaged in other farming practices including pastured lamb, pork, vegetables, eggs, fruit, and/or hazelnuts.

The birds are raised with a day-range pastured poultry system. The Day-Range system consists of a mobile pen, or “hoopie” located within an electrified-fenced area. The system can maximize access to pasture, allow for freedom of movement, and reduce labor costs. All three operations had experience raising chickens using the Day-Range system and were natural problem solvers. They wanted to conduct on-farm research to determine the effectiveness of feeding strategies for maximizing forage intake and feed conversion of pasture raised broiler chickens in a day-range system.

In 2008, they submitted a proposal to the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant program, and were selected for funding.

“SARE has a history of funding innovative projects, particularly for exploring alternative poultry production systems,” said Melissa Fishbach of Pasture Perfect Poultry. “We thought our project could answer a basic poultry production question while also serving as a model for other poultry research.”

It was hypothesized that feeding the chickens their entire daily ration once per day would allow the chickens to exhibit their natural foraging behavior and, therefore, potentially increase their weight gain and feed utilization efficiency. Furthermore, the once per day feeding system could potentially reduce labor costs by requiring only one visit of the chickens each day.

Based on the results of this Day-Range research, it appears that feeding the total daily ration between 11AM and 2PM is a viable option and may even result in better feed utilization and higher finish weights. According to Fishbach, over the 4 week pasture grow-out period the once-a-day feeding would equate to up to about 28 hours saved. Multiplied by an hourly wage of $12 per hour, feeding once per day could save up to $336 per batch of birds. Although the results were not consistent across all four batches tested, Fishbach indicated that the once-per-day feeding could impact the performance of the birds. A 0.5 average weight increase was observed at one of the batches, which equated to an extra $1.40 of revenue per bird, assuming a retail price of $2.85 per pound.

“In addition to the economic, environmental, and social impacts, our project demonstrates very real economic benefits. Perhaps, more importantly, the research protocol outlined in our project will allow poultry producers to refine the pastured poultry production system and assist in decision making.” said Fishbach. “We hope other pastured-poultry projects will utilize our how-to-manual to design their own experiments. We also hope the publications we developed will inspire other producers to document their production systems in similar detail.”

Two educational pieces were created as a result of the project, a Research Bulletin produced by Jason Fischbach of Bayfield County UW-Extension in cooperation with Pasture Perfect, and a How-To Manual produced by Pasture Perfect.

Both are available online, or in print by contacting the NCR-SARE office:
Read more about Pasture Perfect’s SARE project online at http://www.sare.org/MySare/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewProj&pn=FNC08-729, or contact the NCR-SARE office for more information.

University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry to Pursue Elderberry Market

Source: Green Horizons

Funding to help study, build elderberry market

The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry has been awarded a grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE), "Developing Successful Marketing Strategies for Elderberry Growers and Value-Added Processors: A Model for Specialty Crop Development in the U.S. Midwest."

The grant will use an integrated approach to contribute to the creation and development of an elderberry regional industry as a model for specialty crop development in the Midwest U.S., said project director and UMCA associate director, Mike Gold.

The project will increase knowledge about the elderberry market in the region. An elderberry financial decision tool will be developed to support producer decision making for on-farm and associated enterprise opportunities. A comprehensive outreach program will disseminate results of this project.

Only 9 percent of the initial pre-proposal submissions were ultimately funded by NCR-SARE.

"All funding is very competitive these days," Gold said. "We are excited to have received this award and are ready to move ahead with our elderberry project to carry the industry forward."

In addition to Gold, key players in the grant include Ina Cernusca, UMCA marketing specialist; Francisco Aguilar, assistant professor of forest economics, MU Forestry Department; Larry Godsey, UMCA economist; Elizabeth Barham, rural sociologist, University of Arkansas Agricultural Economics Department; John Brewer, president and co-founder of Wyldewood Cellars Winery; Terry Durham, organic farmer, Eridu Farm, Hartsburg, Mo.; Andrew L. Thomas, research assistant professor in horticulture, MU Southwest Research and Education Center; Patrick L. Byers, MU Extension, horticulture specialist; Julie Rhoads, UMCA event planner; Michelle Hall, UMCA senior information specialist; and Park Bay, agricultural lender and Vice President of Business Development, First National Bank & Trust (now Landmark Bank), Columbia, Mo.

Center receives grant for online courses

Agroforestry has steadily been gaining attention among landowners and natural resource professionals for its environmental and economic benefits. With this increase, the need for trained professionals in agroforestry has been expanding.

That's where the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry comes in. The Center has received funding from the University of Missouri System to develop eight courses, creating an Interdisciplinary Online Graduate Program in Agroforestry.

The program will consist of a graduate certificate (12 credits) and master's degree (30 credits). An existing agroforestry course will be converted to an online course. Three additional courses in the biophysical and socio-economic dimensions of agroforestry will be developed, as will four elective courses in soils, watershed management, natural resource policy and biometrics.

"Professionals across the U.S. and overseas are looking for courses, graduate degree or certificate programs in agroforestry," said Shibu Jose, UMCA director. "Nearly 1,500 Peace Corps volunteers, for example, work abroad every year on agroforestryrelated projects. This program could provide them with an opportunity to pursue a degree or certificate in agroforestry while working abroad. We are not aware of any similar program in agroforestry elsewhere in the country."

Admission to the new graduate certificate and degree program will begin in fall 2010.

UMCA and MU faculty involved with the project, in addition to Jose, include Francisco Aguilar, Larry Godsey, Michael Gold, Jason Hubbart, David Larsen, Randy Miles, Peter Motavalli and Ranjith Udawatta.

"We hope to increase enrollment of graduate students in courses related to agroforestry," said Shibu Jose, UMCA director. "The ultimate outcome of this project will be 'society-ready graduates' who are capable of making positive changes in the agriculture, natural resources and environmental sectors in the U.S. and around the world."

NIFA Currently Accepting Applications for Community Food Projects

Source: USDA, Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2010 – USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of nearly $5 million in funds for community-based food and agriculture projects through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP).

Since 1996, the Community Foods Projects program has been funding low income community organizations to take control of their food systems and become more self-reliant. Projects have created food systems that are economically equitable and socially and environmentally sustainable.

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects program are to (1) meet the food needs of low-income individuals; (2) increase the food self-reliance of low-income communities; (3) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues; and (4) meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs, including needs relating to infrastructure improvement and development, planning for long-term solutions and the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers. Community Food Projects have been funded in nearly to 300 communities in 48 states during its 14-year history.

Community Food Projects unite the entire food system, assessing strengths, establishing linkages, and creating systems that improve self-reliance over food needs. Applications are being solicited for Community Food Projects and Planning Projects until November 17, 2010. Grants are intended to help eligible private nonprofit entities in need of a one-time infusion of federal assistance to establish and carryout multipurpose community food projects. Projects are funded from $10,000 to $300,000 and up to 36 months. All grants require a dollar-for-dollar match in resources.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NCR-SARE Grant-Writing Workshop for Farmer Rancher Grant Program in IL

The University of Illinois Extension, in collaboration with the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN), will host a grant writing workshop from 6:30-8:30 p.m on October 26, 2010.

Information will be presented on the basics of grant writing as well as specifics on grants available through the NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program and the Illinois Department of Agriculture (AgriFIRST, Specialty Crop Grant Program and the C-2000 Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program).

Online registration is available at http://central.illinoisfarmbeginnings.org/central/cisfn/fieldDays.aspx or by calling Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at 217-968-5512 by October 25. Cost is $15 (there is no charge for CISFN members).

Fred Kirschenmann Speaks at Master's Tea at Saybrook College

At the current rate of consumption, mankind will quickly consume the Earth’s limited resources, sustainable agriculture expert Fred Kirschenmann said Tuesday afternoon.

Kirschenmann spoke about the future of food production and energy use before an audience of about 30 at a Master’s Tea in Saybrook College. Without new methods of farming, he said, the world’s food supply could become increasingly unstable.

Kirschenmann, the president of a 3,500-acre certified organic farm in Windsor, N.D., began the Tea by mentioning two books that he said have had a profound influence on his views about energy use in agriculture: “The End of the Long Summer,” by environmental journalist Dianne Dumanoski, and “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet,” by Five Colleges professor Michael Klare.

“What the literature demonstrates is that our total energy consumption has been incredibly liberal,” Kirschenmann noted. “We are going to see significant changes in the way we involve ourselves with food if we continue to take out the earth’s limited resources at this unsustainable rate.”

Kirschenmann added that reduced biodiversity and dependence on fossil fuels are reasons to be worried about the present state of the food system. Growing fewer types of plants increases the risk of one disease or pest wiping out an entire crop, he said.

To reduce risk in the food system, farmers should adopt rotational grazing systems where energy input is comparatively low, and governments should reduce farm subsidies and implement banking policies that would allow farmers to explore a wide range of alternative growing techniques, such as pesticide-free farming.

Everyone should take on the mantle of being “food citizens,” said Kirschenmann, who has chaired the administrative council for the Department of Agriculture’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

“Envisioning a better future leads to more community engagement so that we can own these problems together,” he noted.

Four people at the Tea said they enjoyed the discussion. Patrick Cournoyer GRD ’12, who is researching plant cell biology, said he found the discussion inspirational but not ideological.

“I really appreciated how Kirschenmann emphasized the roles of both the public and private sectors in dealing with these problems,” he said. “Public policy needs to preempt us from having a very rude awakening somewhere down the road, but the food industry needs to be part of the solution too.”

Peter Beck ’12 — who has visited Kirschenmann’s farm — said he enjoyed how Kirschenmann focused on what he believed were “real” answers to the difficulties of sustainable farming.

“The talk was so refreshing to me because it was a very practical and pragmatic conversation,” he said.

The Yale Sustainable Food Project was a co-sponsor of the event.

NCR-SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshops in MO

There will be 4 SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshops to assist participants in what is the purpose of the grant, what are the component pieces of the grant and will brainstorm ideas with you. The cost of the workshop is $25 which includes materials and lunch. Preregistration is required to receive a lunch.

Contact either KB Paul, Lincoln University at paulk@lincolnu.edu or Debi Kelly, University of Missouri at kellyd@missouri.edu for additional information.

  • Oct 5 – Jefferson County Extension Center, Hillsboro, MO. Call 636-797-5391
  • Oct 6 – Miller County Extension Center, Eldon, MO. Call 573-882-0085.
  • Oct 9 – Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Urban Impact Center, Kansas City, MO. Call 816-809-5074
  • Oct 12 – Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon, MO. Call 417-466-2148

Beef Cattle Grading Clinic & Pasture Walk with SARE Grant Recipients

Beef Cattle Grading Clinic
Date: September 23, 2010
Time: 3:00 pm
Place: Salem Livestock Market, Salem, MO

This program will provide an opportunity for you to learn how feeder cattle are graded and what buyers are looking for. This program will be led by a Missouri Department of Agriculture Grader, and will help you better understand the USDA feeder cattle grading system, including muscle, frame, and condition scoring. We will have feeder cattle on hand to help you better understand and visualize the differences in the various grades of cattle.

Salem Livestock Market Directions: Located on Hwy 32 west, just west of the Hwy 72/32 Junction on the west side of Salem.

Pogue Farm Tour/Pasture Walk
Date: September 23, 2010
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Denny & Mary Beth Pogue Farm
Denny & Mary Beth Pogue own and operate a commercial beef farm, and have used Management Intensive Grazing for about 15 years. Most recently, the Pogue’s have been involved with the University of Missouri SARE Grant project which involves utilizing the “Grazing Wedge”. The grazing wedge is a tool for managing forages for a beef op-eration, and visually represents the quality and quantity of forage dry matter available both now and during the next round of grazing. As part of the Pasture Walk/Farm Tour, the Pogue’s will provide information on how they have improved forage management using the grazing wedge, as well as a what changes they plan to make in the future.

Additionally, MU Extension State Beef Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Justin Sexten, will also be a guest speaker and will address how the Grazing Wedge fits into the beef production system, as well as other relevant forage and nutritional aspects of beef management.

Pogue Farm Directions: From Salem, take Hwy 19 North, to the Hwy 68 Junction. Take Hwy 68 approximately 13 miles north to Hwy F (NOT FF). Left on Hwy F for approximately 2 miles to farm entrance on right. Look for signs.

No meal will be provided, however, you will have time to grab a bite to eat in Salem or “brown bag” it at the Salebarn, prior to heading to the Pogue Farm. Refreshments will be provided at both locations.

For more information, contact Ted Cunningham, MU Extension Livestock Specialist, at the Dent County MU Extension office at 573-729-3196.