Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Listening Sessions Help Guide the Grant-Making Process for NCR-SARE

NCR-SARE, in cooperation with the Nebraska Great Plains Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D) and Iowa Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D), conducted public listening sessions at three locations in east-central NE and southwest IA to discuss increasing the sustainability of their agriculture.

The NCR-SARE listening sessions serve as an opportunity to bring together people with differing viewpoints within a community of place to share their perspectives of sustainability and agriculture. Reports resulting from the listening sessions serve as a respected information source on the status and prospects of sustainable agriculture and as such guide the Administrative Council that directs the NCR-SARE competitive grants and other programs.

“The purpose for the listening sessions is for NCR-SARE to learn from residents of the region what is on peoples’ minds, what NCR-SARE is doing well, and what we might change to better meet the needs of people who live in the region,” said Bill Wilcke, Regional Coordinator of NCR-SARE.

NCR-SARE and the RC&Ds partnered with cooperative extension and community colleges to provide public meeting facilities in Lincoln, NE, Omaha, NE, and Council Bluffs, IA. The sessions took place in late September, 2010, in Lincoln, NE at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office, Council Bluffs, IA, at Iowa Western Community College, and Omaha, NE at Metropolitan Community College.

“Southwest Iowa and east central Nebraska form a natural ‘food shed’ based on the naturally occurring flow of goods and services between the rural countryside and the metropolitan areas,” explained Norman Hanson, Chairperson of the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D.

To discover how the communities of Lincoln and Omaha,NE and Council Bluffs, IA are defining sustainability in their area, listening sessions were held in each of the communities during a three-day visit by NCR-SARE researchers and educators. The sessions included facilitated discussions, tours, and question and answer periods, among other activities.

Grounding their perceptions in visits to local community gardens, small-scale producers, and programs to foster future growers, the participants then listened at each location as stakeholders in the local food system discussed their perceptions of current trends and how their communities will sustain food production and distribution in the future.

After an introduction ice-breaker that generated ideas defining community, participants were asked a round of questions in each listening session. They received a handout with the questions as they registered and the questions were posted on a power point as the group discussed them. Questions addressed topics such as trends in rural and urban food systems, community and regional challenges for food systems, observed successes in urban and rural communities, perceptions of sustainable agriculture, and the future of food systems.

Some of the major trends addressed by participants included: an increase in local production and distribution, a decreased proportion of farming to production needs, an increased need for effective and accurate communications about food systems and regulations, gaps between the pricing and affordability of land and food, the availability of food sources, an increased awareness of health and food relationship, a need for more reliable education/knowledge at all intersections in the food system, a need for employment security for all in food delivery system, and the need for more and younger farmers.

A summary of findings and the data that support the conclusions and recommendations for next steps was developed. It will help guide NCR-SARE in its effective design and distribution of grants.

In order to generate and disseminate sound and practical information and to increase the sustainability of agriculture, NCR-SARE will continue to listen and respond to groups and communities of farmers, ranchers, researchers, and extension agents throughout the region. Suggestions of where listening sessions should take place are welcome and you can direct ideas to ncrsare@umn.edu.

11th Annual Kansas Winter Grazing Conference

The 11th Annual Kansas Winter Grazing Conference is scheduled for January 15, 2011, 9am-4pm in Junction City, Kansas. Topics for the day are Mob Grazing, Focusing on Animal Performance, and Multi-Species grazing with Cattle and Sheep.

Featured speaker is Greg Judy of Clark, Missouri who uses Holistic High Density Planned Grazing to graze cows, cow/calf pairs, bred heifers, horses, and stockers. He and his wife Jan own a 250 head grass genetic cow herd, 300 head hair sheep flock, goat herd, and graze Tamworth pigs. They have also started direct marketing grass-fed beef, lamb and pork. Greg is author of “NO RISK RANCHING, Custom Grazing on Leased Land” and “COMEBACK FARMS, Rejuvenating Soils, Pastures and Profits with Livestock Grazing Management.”

This conference is sponsored, in-part, by NCR-SARE. For more information, contact Kerri Ebert at 785-532-2976 or kebert@k-state.edu.

13th Annual Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference

Visit Madison, Wisconsin for the 2011 Midwest Value Added Ag. Conference, Cultivating Farm Profitability, January 27-28, 2011 at the Sheraton Madison Hotel.

This is the first year the conference will be held in Madison and River Country RC&D Council is expecting an eclectic mix of small-scale farmers and urban agricultural enthusiasts as well as the region’s top educators and farm service organizations.

The program will feature Joel F. Salatin. Salatin is an American farmer, lecturer, and author whose books include You Can Farm and Salad Bar Beef. Salatin raises livestock using holistic methods of animal husbandry, free of potentially harmful chemicals, on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. Meat from the farm is sold by direct-marketing to consumers and restaurants.
Sponsored, in-part, by NCR-SARE.

Register online at http://www.prestoregister.com/cgi-bin/order.pl?ref=rivercountryrcd&fm=1

5th Annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit

The January 2011 Wisconsin Local Food Summit is being held at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI, January 13-14, 2011. http://osthoff.com/

Breakout sessions will be conducted on a wide range of topics of interest to those who are concerned about local food issues followed by a facilitated summit session that will strive to determine through consensus the 3 highest priority topics currently for local food system development in Wisconsin. Due in part to support from the Program Innovation Fund, WLFN now has resources available to form statewide working groups around these topics. As always, networking opportunities will abound during the summit. Local food prepared by Chef Chad Kornetzke throughout the summit. Includes a scaling up local foods presentation by NCR-SARE.

A block of rooms is being held for the group at $70 single and $100 double. Please make reservations by December 15, 2010 to secure this rate. To reserve your room, call 800/876-3399 and identify yourself as an attendee at the Wisconsin Local Food Summit.

NCR-SARE Webinar on Grass-Fed Beef

An NCR-SARE webinar "Grass-fed Beef" will be presented by Terry Gompert, Extension Educator in Knox County.

It is scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. CDT.

To participate in the Adobe Connect "Sustainable Agriculture” Webinar Series, you will need to have a computer with internet access and a phone. At the meeting time, simply click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser to enter the meeting: http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/unl Contact Gary Lesoing at (402) 274-4755 or glesoing2@unlnotes.unl.edu with questions.

Former NCR-SARE AC member, William Tracy, Named Interim Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Source: University of Wisconsin

Agronomy professor and department chair William F. Tracy has been named interim dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“Chancellor Martin and I are delighted with Bill’s willingness to serve and are confident that the college will maintain and grow its forward momentum and success under Bill’s leadership,” says Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr. “We’re fortunate to have someone with Bill’s background, skills and judgment to step in at this most critical juncture.”

Tracy will assume the post on Jan. 2, when CALS Dean Molly Jahn steps down.

“The college is very well positioned for the future. My primary goal will be to work with our faculty, staff, students and external partners to ensure that the position of CALS dean is an attractive and exciting opportunity that will attract the best possible leader and scholar,” Tracy says.

Tracy joined the Department of Agronomy in 1984 and has served as chair since 2004. He has a long record of service on campus committees and initiatives. He recently finished a term as chair of the University Committee, the executive committee of the Faculty Senate.

His research focuses on breeding and genetics of sweet corn, one of Wisconsin’s most important vegetable crops. Tracy has developed many new hybrid and inbred varieties with improved yield and resistance to insects and disease. He has taught a wide range of classes, from entry-level crop production to graduate instruction in plant breeding and plant genetics. He has also been very active in efforts to get the university involved in K-12 science education and in outreach and continuing education related to crop production, plant genetics, and the interaction between agriculture and society.

Tracy earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant and soil sciences from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and earned a Ph.D. in plant breeding with a minor in agronomy and genetics from Cornell University in 1982.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Announces New Director

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is pleased to announce the appointment of Rob Hedberg as its new director. Hedberg has served as interim director of the program since January 2009, and brings a wealth of personal, professional and educational experience in agriculture to the job.

Since 2005, Hedberg has worked at USDA-NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) focusing on science policy, legislative and inter-governmental affairs. In these roles, he worked closely with Congress and other federal agencies on issues related to agricultural science and led USDA's participation in negotiations on the Research Title of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Prior to working at USDA, Hedberg served in the policy arena for Congress and scientific organizations. He served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow and as Director of Science Policy for the National and Regional Weed Science Societies.

Hedberg gained practical public and private sector field experience in a variety of leadership roles in agricultural business, research and education, including owning and operating a crop consulting and research firm and serving as a regional agronomy agent for the University of Vermont.

After growing up on a small farm in Michigan, Hedberg pursued degrees in agriculture, first receiving a Bachelor's degree in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University. He then went on to complete a Master's degree in Plant Science from the University of New Hampshire and a Graduate Certificate program in Management and Administration at Harvard University.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MOSES Organic Farming Conference, Feb. 24-26

The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. Organized by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES),
and held annually in La Crosse, WI, the conference is an extraordinary, farmer-centered event.

With over 60 informative workshops, 140+ exhibitors, locally-sourced organic food, live entertainment and inspirational keynote speakers, the conference is celebrated as the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community. Sponsored, in part, by SARE. To register and view more information, visit http://www.mosesorganic.org/conference.html.

Western Corn Belt Conference for Organic Farmers, Dec 6-7

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service will host the Western Corn Belt Conference for Organic Farmers on Dec. 6-7.

The conference, for organic producers and traditional agriculture producers considering a transition to organic farming, begins on Dec. 6 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel, 3200 W. Maple St., Sioux Falls. Registration is $30 for those who sign up on or before Nov. 15; the registration fee is $40 after Nov. 15. One-day registration options after the early sign-up period ends are set at $30 for the first day only and $15 for the second day.

To register for the conference, send payment and contact information to event organizer Peter Sexton, Box 2207A, Plant Science Department, SDSU, Brookings, SD 57007. For additional information call Sexton at 605-688-6179.

Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University will present the keynote address on Dec. 6. Speakers during the morning session Dec. 6 will discuss transitioning to organic crop production systems, and the afternoon session will focus on organic weed control and a presentation on biology and management of soybean aphids. The second day will include sessions on rules governing organic production, government programs for transitioning to organic production and organic livestock production.

Conference speakers include extension specialists, educators and researchers from South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois. Organic producers and other experts will also share their experience and expertise throughout the conference.

Peter Sexton, SDSU plant science professor and a conference organizer, said the conference should be a great opportunity for agricultural producers, people who work in agricultural service businesses and the public.

“We’re including a top-notch lineup of speakers and guests, we encourage organic producers and anyone who is transitioning to organic production or considering a transition, to register for the conference,” Sexton said. “The conference will include research-based information on weed control and beef production, as well as opportunities for people to hear first-hand from organic farmers regarding their own experience with transitioning, weed control and beef production.”

Sexton said organic production in the United States has expanded greatly over the last 10 years and that this trend is projected to continue.

A complete conference agenda is available online at www.sdstate.edu/ps/news/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=887385. Partners in the event include the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, the USDA’s Integrated Pest Management and SARE programs and the South Dakota State University IPM Program.

A block of rooms has been reserved for conference attendees at the host hotel. While rooms are available, participants can receive the group rate at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel by making reservations before Nov. 6. Ask for the “SDSU Organic Agriculture Conference” rate. Call the hotel directly at 605-336-0650.

Rural Farming to Urban Gardening Event Features NCR-SARE Grant Recipients

What: “Rural Farming to Urban Gardening” -- an evening of enlightened conversation and photography exhibition on food and farming.
When: Tuesday, November 30; program & facilitated discussion 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; (self-guided photo exhibition 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
Where: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, One Michigan Ave. East, in downtown Battle Creek
RSVP: 269.969.2678

Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m., for “Rural Farming to Urban Gardening,” a nourishing evening of conversation on food and farming, accompanied by a photography exhibition on Black Farmers (self-guided photo exhibition 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.). The stirring visual display is the backdrop for what promises to be a stimulating and relevant discussion.

During the program, Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA and NCR-SARE grant recipient, reflects on her 40 years experience working on farm bills to improve the lives of rural poor. Conversation continues with Michigan farmers Peggy Kohring and NCR-SARE grant recipient Barbara Norman, and includes topics relating to nutrition, food safety, and childhood obesity.

The event begins with Distant Echoes: Black Farmers in America, a captivating photography exhibit and video featuring the work of world-renowned photojournalist John Francis Ficara, who shares the lives and working conditions of black family farmers throughout the United States that are slowly disappearing from the American landscape.

“Rural Farming to Urban Gardening” happens at the Kellogg Foundation and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. Seating for the event is limited. RSVP: 269.969.2678

2nd Annual Agroforestry Symposium, Jan. 12, 2011

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri’s second Annual Agroforestry Symposium will be Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011.

The program, “Meeting Renewable Energy Goals: Role of Bioenergy Crops,” features a keynote address from Steve Flick, Chair of the Board of Directors of Show Me Energry Cooperative, Centerview, Mo. Flick will present “Real Green from Real Green.”

The symposium will be from 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. in the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building’s Conservation Hall Auditorium, University of Missouri.

The Energy Independence and Security Act mandates that annual biofuels use nearly triples from the current 12 billion to 36 billion gallons per year (BGY) by 2022, with 21 BGY coming from advanced biofuels. To achieve this goal, significant gaps must be addressed in all parts of the supply chain, said Dr. Shibu Jose, director, The Center for Agroforestry.

“As outlined in the President’s Biofuels Interagency Working Group Report, a strategic approach is needed to ensure development of suitable energy crops, sustainable feedstock production systems, and infrastructure-compatible advanced biofuel production,” he said. “The goal of this symposium is to share the current state of knowledge on producing and processing the most common bioenergy crops in the region.”

The symposium is free and open to the public, although RSVP is requested. Please contact Julie Rhoads, rhoadsj@missouri.edu, by Jan. 5 to reserve your spot. Please contact Shibu Jose, joses@missouri.edu, with interest in exhibiting posters related to agroforestry and/or biomass studies.

Steve Flick is an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant recipient. To view his project report, go here: http://www.sare.org/MySare/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewProj&pn=FNC07-692

Vance Morey to Serve as Interim Coordinator for NCR-SARE

NCR-SARE would like to welcome Vance Morey to their staff. Morey has been hired as the Interim Regional Director for the program, replacing Bill Wilcke, who is on disability leave. In addition to serving as the key staff person to the Administrative Council as they develop program goals and make funding decisions, the Regional Director oversees and promotes NCR-SARE to a broad audience. Housed at the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul campus, Morey will provide leadership for the program, supervise staff, and manage grants and budgets.

Morey earned degrees in agricultural engineering from the Michigan State University and Purdue University before becoming a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in1970. His research has focused on post harvest handling of crops, energy use, and biomass utilization. He has taught a range of courses over the years including processing of agricultural products, food process engineering, engineering computations, and introduction to design.

Morey has served several organizations, including the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, Institute of Food Technologists, Institute for Briquetting and Agglomeration, American Association of Cereal Chemists, American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Society for Engineering Education, and the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology.

NCR-SARE Hires Beth Nelson to Coordinate R&E and Graduate Student Grant Programs

Beth Nelson has been hired as the Associate Director for the NCR-SARE program, a new position at NCR-SARE. Housed at the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul campus, Nelson will support the NCR-SARE Research and Education and Graduate Student grant programs administratively, and provide leadership for SARE within the region.

Prior to coming to her new position with NCR-SARE, Nelson served as the Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator for NCR-SARE since 2004. She facilitated SARE-supported educator professional development in sustainable agriculture in Minnesota, and promoted other SARE research and education opportunities.

Nelson earned graduate degrees in Plant Physiology at Purdue University and the University of Minnesota before joining the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) as the Associate Program Director for the Information Exchange Program in 2000. MISA is a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Sustainers’ Coalition.

NCR-SARE Hires Rob Myers to Coordinate PDP Program

The NCR-SARE program would like to welcome Rob Myers to the NCR-SARE staff. Myers has been hired as the Professional Development Program (PDP) Coordinator for the program, replacing Interim PDP Coordinator Linda Kleinschmit and her predecessor, Paula Ford. The PDP coordinator provides leadership for the region’s professional development effort. Myers will work closely with Linda Kleinschmit, who will continue in her role as PDP Associate Coordinator.

Myers did his graduate work at University of Minnesota, obtaining M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy. Following completion of his Ph.D., he served as a Congressional Science Fellow, working on the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. He then spent five years as a faculty member in agronomy at University of Missouri, subsequently serving as national director of SARE from 1995-97. He grew up on a family farm in central IL and attended Illinois State University as an undergraduate in agricultural science.

Myers will be based in Columbia, MO, where he was previously founder and director of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, a nonprofit organization working on crop diversification and agricultural sustainability.

Web Resources for Sustainable Management Practices For Perennial Weeds

An NCR-SARE project at the University of Illinois sought to increase farmer knowledge and awareness and improve farmer's skills in managing perennial weeds using integrated management approaches. The project was conducted on sustainable and organic farms in Illinois and surrounding states.

Perennial weeds, such as Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) or field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), threaten the sustainability of farms in the Midwest. They can establish from seed or extensive, deep creeping roots, and are vigorous and very competitive against annual crops. Based on farmer input and university research, this project is designed to develop and disseminate information on Canada thistle management for use on sustainable and organic farms.

The project objectives were to: 1) expand a farmer-based research and co-learning network; 2) develop effective and sustainable systems for perennial weed management; and 3) disseminate information and foster farmer adoption of site-specific sustainable best management practices.

The project researchers sought to integrate tillage, mowing, cover crops, decision-making tools, and biocontrol approaches applied on a site-specific basis.

For a list of on-line resources related to Canada thistle biology and control, click HERE.

See how the 2008 mini-grants turned out. Seven farmers from Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri participated.
See how the 2009 mini-gran
ts turned out. Fifteen farmers from Illinois participated.

In 2010, 16 farmers were chosen to participate in the project -- 14 in Illinois, one in Iowa and one in Wisconsin. The participating farmers were chosen through a mini-grant program developed specifically for this project. Check this site for progress reports as farmers begin testing sustainable weed management practices on their farms.

Alan Fennell, Sterling, IL
Andrea Hazzard, Pecatonica, IL
Thomas & Janet Jablonski, Blackstone, IL
Brad Long, Saybrook, IL
Todd and Julie McDonald, Manteno, IL
Greg & Janet Morse, Putnam, IL
Kristen Kordet, Stoughton, WI
Dave Campbell, Lily Lake, IL
Bryan Wagner, Findlay, IL
Paul St. John, Sugar Grove, IL
Ray Fox, Waterman, IL
Tracy Doonan, Reynolds, IL
Wayne & Ryan Wangsness, Decorah, IA

To read more about the research conducted for this NCR-SARE Research and Education project, visit the SARE online reporting website at http://sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewProj&pn=LNC07-282