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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 5, 2011

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events


News & Resources

Chefs Pick 'Local' as Top Restaurant Trend of 2011
The National Restaurant Association asked more than 1500 chefs, all members of the non-profit American Culinary Federation, to predict the top restaurant trends for 2011, and the resounding answer was local, reports delish. The top ten trends identified were:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Sustainability
4. Nutritionally balanced children's dishes
5. "Hyper local," such as restaurants with their own gardens and chefs who do their own butchering.
6. Children's nutrition
7. Sustainable seafood
8. Gluten-free food and being food allergy conscious
9. Simplicity/back to basics
10. Farm/estate-branded ingredients

Study Reveals Major Decline in Bumble Bees
The first in-depth national study of wild bees in the U.S. has uncovered major losses in the relative abundance of several bumble bee species and declines in their geographic range since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. The new study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We have 50 species of bumble bees in North America. We've studied eight of them and four of these are significantly in trouble," said University of Illinois entomology professor Sydney Cameron, who led the study. The national analysis found that the relative abundances of four of the eight species analyzed have declined by as much as 96 percent and that their surveyed geographic ranges have shrunk by 23 to 87 percent.
Related ATTRA publication: Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees

Wheat Growing Expected to Adapt to Climate Change
A new study shows that since 1839, North American wheat crops spread into regions with even wider temperature and precipitation differences than will arise over the next century as a result of climate change, reports Discovery News. This analysis by economist Alan Olmstead of the University of California, Davis, and economist Paul Rhode of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, suggests it will be possible to adapt to new wheat-growing conditions. The pair used a county-by-country record of wheat production in North America from 1839 to 2007 to document how wheat-growing conditions changed over time. They found that in 2007 the median annual temperature norm for areas of wheat production was 6.6 degrees Fahrenheit colder than in 1839, and that average precipitation was halved. Although U.S. wheat production may adapt successfully to climate change, Stephen Baenziger of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln expresses two concerns: first, that the future may bring not just warmer, but more variable, conditions, and second, that conditions may be much more difficult in other parts of the world. "I'm optimistic about wheat production in the U.S.," he said. " I'm far less optimistic about what it means when it gets hotter and drier in sub-Saharan Africa."

Study Experiments with Best Way to Turn Parking Lot to Garden
An Ohio State University expert on intensive small-scale horticulture has started a three-year study comparing three ways to maximize fruit and vegetable production in empty, abandoned parking lots: in giant-sized pots, in raised beds on top of the blacktop, or in trenches cut right through the asphalt. Joe Kovach's study could boost the use of abandoned urban land. It could help people who live in urban food deserts grow more of their own tomatoes, spinach and other fresh produce. Kovach wants to see if depaving only the trenches is a simpler but still-productive option than depaving; if waist-high pots are easier to tend than ankle- or knee-high raised beds; and what sort of freezing, drying or overheating problems might come up in any of the systems. The study area also includes an urban polyculture demonstration site featuring "ecologically designed" mixed-crop plots that maximize biological diversity, minimize pest problems and earn the equivalent of nearly $100,000 an acre a year.

Plant Density Gene Could Increase Biomass Value
Scientists at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have uncovered a gene responsible for controlling key growth characteristics in plants, specifically the density of plant material. Denser plants have more biomass without increasing the agricultural footprint, meaning farmers and ranchers can produce more plant material from the same sized field. Plants that have increased density hold great potential to be used to produce biofuels, electricity and even advanced materials, like carbon fiber. Research targeting plants that are grazed by animals has historically focused on reducing lignin production within the plant. However, increasing lignin in non-food crops, such as switchgrass, may be desirable for increasing the density of the biomass and producing more feedstock per plant and, therefore, more per acre. This research was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Michigan Plans First Culinary Tourism Conference
The Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance, a partnership between the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Travel Michigan and the Michigan Restaurant Association, will hold a conference entitled "Creating Michigan Culinary Destinations" on January 10, 2011 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. This one-day event will bring together a diverse range of Michigan businesses in an effort to network and share ideas to promote, enhance and celebrate Michigan's many culinary assets. Culinary tourism is defined as "the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences." According to the Travel Industry Association, culinary tourism is a growing trend of the travel market as people are increasingly planning their travel around authentic, educational and entertaining food and beverage experiences.

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Funding Opportunities

Conservation Innovation Grant--Greenhouse Gas
For the purpose of this CIG funding, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks to stimulate the application of greenhouse gas benefiting practices on agricultural land. The grantee would secure the participation of agricultural producers, determine baseline values of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or carbon sequestration, verify the implementation and maintenance of GHG benefiting practices, and determine GHG benefits (additionality) so that these benefits can be successfully registered in a commonly recognized carbon registry. Beyond this, successful applicants will develop linkages between these registered carbon credits with existing or newly emerging market structures. NRCS intends to make funding available through its regular EQIP program to contract directly with participating producers to incentivize the application of GHG benefiting practices. NRCS will accept applications for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years, submitted to NRCS from eligible entities including federally recognized Indian tribes, State and local units of government, and non-governmental organizations and individuals. Applications are accepted from all 50 States, the Caribbean Area and the Pacific Islands Area.
Applications are due February 11, 2011.

Federal State Marketing Improvement Program
FSMIP provides matching funds on a competitive basis to assist eligible entities explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the U.S. marketing system. FSMIP funds a wide range of applied research projects that address barriers, challenges, and opportunities in marketing, transporting, and distributing U.S. food and agricultural products domestically and internationally. Proposals from state governments and institutions of higher learning may address issues throughout the marketing chain including direct, wholesale, and retail. Proposals may involve small, medium or large-scale agricultural entities but should potentially benefit multiple producers or agribusinesses. Proposals that address issues of importance at the State, multi-State), or national level are appropriate for FSMIP. Proprietary proposals that benefit one business or individual will not be considered for funding. FSMIP also seeks unique and innovative proposals on a smaller scale that may serve as pilot projects or case studies useful as models for other States. Of particular interest are proposals that reflect a collaborative approach between the States, academia, the farm sector and other appropriate entities and stakeholders. FSMIP funds of up to $100,000 may be awarded for projects of 1 to 2 years' duration.
Applications are due February 17, 2011.

EPA Region 10 Strategic Agricultural Initiative
States, U.S. territories or possessions, federally recognized Indian tribal governments and Native American Organizations, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions, local governments, individuals, and international entities are eligible to apply for Strategic Agricultural Initiative grants to promote the transition to reduced-risk pest management practices in agriculture to protect human health and the environment. Projects may not exceed $140,000 per award. Project activities should support the adoption of reduced risk pest management practices, and/or ecologically based Integrated Pest Management through Education, extension, demonstration, or studies in Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington).
Applications must be received by February 21, 2011.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

New Mexico Organic Farming Conference
February 18-19, 2011
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Join Farm to Table, NMDA, NMOCC, and NMSU for the Southwest's premier conference for Organic Agriculture. OFRF's Jane Sooby will keynote. The event includes 36 workshop sessions on organic production and marketing, over 40 exhibitors, health fair and delicious organic luncheon.

Healthy Farms & Rural Advantage Conference
February 18-19, 2011
Columbus, Nebraska

Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society hosts a wide range of speakers covering interests ranging across the spectrum at this annual conference -- from production to marketing to conservation in farming & beyond. Keynote speakers this year are Chuck Hassebrook, the executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, and Abe Collins of New World Security.

GrassWorks Grazing Conference
February 13-15, 2011
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Join your fellow graziers, neighbors, colleagues and friends at the 2011 GrassWorks Grazing Conference. The theme, "Grounded in Grazing," reflects this year's focus on soil as well as the down-to-earth nature of the event and its participants. The agenda includes keynote speakers, a farmer showcase, and a tradeshow.

>> More Events

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Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

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