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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink What are some resources for advertising and finding sustainable agriculture jobs?

Thank you for contacting ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. There are many organizations and websites that have classified sections and list sustainable agriculture jobs. The following are just a few of the resources that may be helpful to you as you advertise or search for employment.

ATTRA's Sustainable Farming Internship and Apprenticeships list

You can use the Sustainable Agriculture Organizations and Publications list to find newsletters in which to advertise your position (or land or equipment, etc.) Most of them have classified sections. The list is found here:

Another option for those seeking jobs or wanting to post jobs. Job Listing

New Farm does have a classified section on their website here:

EcoFarm Sustainable Ag Job List -
Contact Allie Quady at

Jenny's Update, which comes out weekly with news and jobs in sustainable agriculture, email Jenny Huston;

Community Food Listserve - for subscribing, and posting guidelines, see

UC Davis Sustainable Ag listserve - you have to be subscribed to post.

Onion Grassroots Network at

HighCountry News at

Good Food Jobs at

Depending on how far you want to reach, and if you want to pay for classifieds:

In Good Tilth, Oregon Tilth's bi-monthly magazine has a great classified ad section, but it costs money:

Sustainable Ag Education Association website--could be another worthwhile resource:
(click on "job postings" at top of page)

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Permalink What information can you give me on starting a farmers market and EBT options for markets?


Answer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information regarding starting a farmers market and EBT options for markets. I will address your questions in separate sections below.

Starting a Farmers Market:
Texas has specific requirements to become a certified farmers market. The application packet can be downloaded in PDF format at the following link:

If you have any questions, e-mail or call (877) 99GO-TEX.

If you are truly interested in starting a full-fledged farmers market, my second suggestion is to form a steering committee, if you have not already. The New York State Farmer’s Market Association has information on how to do this in their publication “Step by Step guide for Establishing a Farmers Market Association” (PDF/111KB).

The steering committee could be made up of consumers, farmers, and community leaders. Once you have formed a steering committee to help guide the process, you can begin planning, which can be quite extensive. I have listed below several publications (available online) that should be helpful in your planning process. They are from different state efforts, but all of them have relevant information that will be helpful to you. I would suggest that all steps in the planning process be written down and formal bi-laws be drafted to prevent any type of legal problems that might occur in such a situation. Refer to Neil Hamilton’s “Farmers Market Rules Regulations and Opportunities.” This is an older publication, but many of the considerations Hamilton discusses still apply.

The USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service has grants available. The USDA AMS Farmers Market Web site has information on grants and other farmers market related news and information. Information on both of these entities is listed below.

Starting an EBT Project at your Farmers Market:
As you may well know, EBT is an acronym for Electronic Benefit Transfer and it is now the only means in which retail establishments (including farmers markets) can accept SNAP benefits (formerly the food stamp program.) SNAP benefits now come on a card and in order for a market to accept them they must become authorized by the Food and Nutrition Service and buy machinery that can process the cards. Providing a machine that accepts SNAP benefits is a tremendous opportunity to provide low income residents with healthy local food and increase sales for vendors, however it starting a SNAP program is without its challenges.

Becoming authorized can be difficult for farmers market as they do not fit into the typical retail model of most grocery stores, but change is on the way. There will be a new application process specifically for farmers markets starting in November 2011. Until then, you have to apply as any retail establishment through the Food and Nutrition Service. The application can be accessed at the following link:

Another limiting factor for starting a SNAP project is the start up and administrative and start-up costs associated with such a project. A wireless machine to accept SNAP (and debit and credit cards) typically costs between $800 and $1200. There are also transaction costs associated with these machines. It helps to have funding to help defray the costs of a machine, transaction costs and the extra staff person required to swipe cards and maintain proper records. Occasionally state Health and Human Services programs will fund this project. There are funding possibilities with USDA Farmers Market Promotion program grants and private donors.

The Montana farmers market EBT manual, “How to Accept SNAP Benefits at your Market” details the procedures and ways to address the challenges mentioned above. Please refer to this for procedures, sample budgets, and funding opportunities. This manual is for Montana farmers markets, but many of the principles still apply. You can access HTML and PDF copies of this manual, among other information at the following location.

Also, the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service has recently written a manual with a national focus titled “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Farmers Markets: A How-To Handbook.” The complete document can be accessed at the following link:

Hamilton, Neil. 2002. Farmers Market Rules Regulations and Opportunities. The National Agricultural Law Center. University of Arkansas School of Law.

Eggert, Dianne. Step by Step guide for Establishing a Farmers Market Association. Farmers’ Market Federation of NY and Dept. of Agriculture and Markets.

Thilmany, Dawn. Planning and Developing a Farmers Market: Marketing, Organizational and Regulatory Issues to Consider. Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Colorado State University. February 2005.

USDA-Agriculture Marketing Service
Phone: 202-787-1966 or toll free at 877-703-0552
The AMS farmers market section has information for starting a farmers market on the right tab of their web site.

Farmers Market Coalition
The Farmers Market Coalition is a not for profit that works with farmers markets on a national level. Their web site has a wealth of resources on starting a farmers market and EBT/ SNAP program at farmers markets.

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Permalink I'm interested in no-till weed suppression. Where can I get more information about roller-crimpers?


Answer: The mechanical roller-crimper is a tool that "rolls down" and "crimps" the stalks of cover crops for no-till weed suppression. Mechanical suppression of cover crops for no-till production can be accomplished through various kinds of mow-down and rolling/slicing/crimping techniques. These non-chemical methods of killing cover crops are appealing as an alternative to chemical-kill methods using synthetic herbicides.

The roller-crimper is a round drum with protruding blunt metal blades arranged in horizontal, angled, or spiral patterns. Roller-crimpers are most commonly rear-mounted and pulled behind a tractor or draft animals, but they can also be front-mounted and designed to fit most any type of "vehicle." This includes 4-wheelers. In fact, my colleague and I easily designed and built one that is pulled by hand. The idea is to bend the cover crop plant over and crimp the stem every 6 to 7 inches along its length. Any tool that does this has a good chance of being effective.

When the roller-crimper is pulled through a high biomass cover crop—such as wheat, rye, oats or oilseed radish—the cover crop is flattened and "crimped" by the heavy drum with metal strips. The purpose of the metal strips is to crimp or crush the stems of the cover crop rather than cutting or chopping the stems; this simultaneously prevents re-sprouting and slows down decomposition of the no-till mulch. No-till crops are seeded or transplanted in the same direction of the flattened and crimped cover crop, which slowly senesces and dies out over the course of several weeks, leaving high residue no-till mulch.

The drums are designed to be filled with water for added weight. The amount of water added varies depending on the size of the roller as well as the field conditions it will be used on. In other words, different field conditions will require different amounts of added weight.

The timing of the roller-crimper field operation is critical to gain effective kill of the cover crop. Cereal-based cover crops should rolled at the "anthesis" (flowering) stage of growth or later—in the milk or soft dough stages of growth, a period which corresponds to the mid-spring planting season shortly after the last frost-free day. Growers can refer to charts published by the Extension Service on the Feekes or Zadoks scale of crop growth to gain a clear understanding when anthesis, milk, and soft dough stages occurs (1–2).

The Rodale Institute, Kutztown, PA, is spearheading research on roller-crimper equipment designs and on-farm trials using roll-down, no-till production systems. The Rodale Institute has published several noteworthy articles and updates on their roller-crimper research project, including photos which are all located on their web site: This site also contains AutoCAD drawings of their design. Below you will also find the contact information for Buckeye Tractor Company, located in Ohio. Buckeye Tractor Company manufactured the 3-point hitch for front-mounting the roller-crimper for the Rodale Institute.

Thus far I am aware of two equipment manufacturers in the United States that supply roller-crimpers: I & J Mfg. in Pennsylvania, and Bigham Brothers Mfg. Co. in Texas (3-5). These roller-crimpers can be custom-made according to any width a farmer might need, based on tractor, 4-wheeler, or draft animal team size, and field layout. According to I & J Mfg., their 10.5 foot roller for a tractor mount weighs 1,600 lbs. empty and 2,400 lbs filled with water. In addition, farmers are using various brands of stalk choppers, roller harrows, cultipackers, bed rollers, and land rollers, either factory-made or custom modified, to accomplish the same function of rolling down cover crops for no-till production.


  1. Wheat Growth Stages and Associated Management (e.g., Feekes scale)
    Ohio State University Extension

  2. Growth and Development Guide for Spring Wheat (e.g., Zadoks scale)
    University of Minnesota Extension

  3. Buckeye Tractor Co.
    P.O. Box 97, 11313 Slabtown Road
    Columbus Grove, Ohio 45830
    419-659-2082 Fax

  4. I & J Manufacturing
    5302 Amish Road
    Gap, PA 17527
    717-442-8305 Fax

  5. Bigham Brothers, Inc.
    P.O. Box 3338
    Lubbock, Texas 79452
    800-692-4449 Toll-Free
    806-745-1082 Fax
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Permalink What is the proper temperature and length of time needed to sterilize landscape fabric?


Answer: As a guideline, to completely eliminate pests, maintain 158°F or higher for 30 minutes, or 140°F or higher for one hour. It might be difficult to get your greenhouse to that temperature without incorporating another form of solarization, such as black plastic bags.

Most often just leaving the fabric exposed to sunlight can destroy organisms through UV exposure. Both sides of the fabric need to be exposed to sunlight and need to be clean (i.e. without dirt clods and debris).

In a greenhouse the UV rays are partially blocked by either glass or plastic. I would encourage you to spread out the landscape fabric outside in the direct sunlight for several days on each side, to ensure that the entire fabric is exposed to UV.

Stapleton, C.L. et al. 2008. Soil Solarization for Gardens and Landscapes.
University of California IPM Program.

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Permalink How can goats be used for vegetation management?


Answer: These are some of our favorite resources on the subject of vegetation management with goats.

Two chapters from the Targeted Grazing Manual (available on-line and by ordering from the American Sheep Industry) regarding information for providers of land enhancement. These are written by providers with years of experience. The handbook is available for the low cost of $25 and includes the material in both printed form and on a CD. Copies can be ordered by calling ASI at 303-771-3500, ext. 32 or by email at

Langston University has an on-line handbook for goat production, that includes a chapter on Goats for Vegetation Management, by Steve Hart. This one is mostly for those using goats to control weeds on their own place.

The Livestock for Landscapes website includes a list of providers of prescribed grazing services. A CD called Goats! For Firesafe Homes and Wildland Areas by Kathy Voth is also available via the website. ($25). Articles included from the Handbook are:
• Business Planning and Marketing (7 pages)
• Goat Calculator (4 pages)
• Managing a Goat Work Force (3 pages)
• Steps for Starting (4 pages)
• Contracting Considerations (5 pages)
• Decision memo
• Ponderosa Park Vegetation Treatment
• Supplemental Specifications for Chaparral Vegetation Treatment Maintenance, Using Goats
• Camp plan

An article about Kathy Voth's Firesafe Project, In: Fire Science Brief, Issue 34. January 2009.

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