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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 22, 2014

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.

Harvesting Clean Energy
February 4-6, 2014

Hear from leading experts and practitioners about the steps to successful clean energy projects that can help you cut costs and diversify revenue for your farm or other business. Learn how you can improve efficiencies and produce clean energy, feedstocks, and co-products for yourself and for market. Click here to register for the 2014 Harvesting Clean Energy Conference in Helena, Montana.

News & Resources

  • New 'Soil Health Tool' Soil Test Offered
  • Organic Enterprise Budgets Released for the Carolinas
  • Alyssum Improves Pest Control in Lettuce
  • Perennial Grass Considered as Biofuel Alternative
  • Sonoma County, California, to Become Sustainable Wine Region
  • PASA and Future Harvest-CASA Plan to Merge

Funding Opportunities

  • Fund-a-Farmer Grant
  • Tennessee Farmers Market Capital Development Program
  • Oregon Specialty Crop Block Grants

Coming Events

  • New England Meat Conference
  • CSA Expert Exchange Online Conference
  • Greenhouse Tomato Short Course

News & Resources

New 'Soil Health Tool' Soil Test Offered
The new USDA-ARS Soil Health Tool is now available from at least three commercial soil labs: Brookside Labs (Ohio), Ward Labs (Nebraska), and Woods End Labs (Maine). The Soil Health Score combines five measurements of soil's biological properties to indicate the overall health of the soil system. "CO2 rate," "microbial active carbon," and "water soluble carbon" are used as indicators of biological factors linked to soil's intrinsic nutrient-supply powers.
Related ATTRA Resource: Alternative Soil Testing Laboratories

Organic Enterprise Budgets Released for the Carolinas
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has released 10 online enterprise budgets for organic fruit and vegetable production specific to the Carolinas. Interactive Microsoft Excel budgets are an important tool in helping producers make decisions about what crops to grow, how much to grow, and how to allocate their resources to meet production goals.
Related ATTRA Publication: Planning for Profit in Sustainable Farming

Alyssum Improves Pest Control in Lettuce
USDA Agricultural Research Service horticulturist Eric Brennan has found that randomly interspersing alyssum plants throughout rows of organic lettuce helps maximize visits by hoverflies that prey on lettuce pests. In California studies, Brennan evaluated how alyssum biomass and flower production varied with planting density and how competition between lettuce and alyssum affected both plants.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Perennial Grass Considered as Biofuel Alternative
Michigan State University research published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences says that when factors other than yield are considered, perennial grasses score higher than corn as biofuel alternatives. MSU researchers compared corn, switchgrass, and mixes of native prairie grasses and flowering plants. Methane consumption, pest suppression, pollination, and bird populations were all higher in perennial grasslands.

Sonoma County, California, to Become Sustainable Wine Region
Sonoma County Winegrowers has announced that Sonoma County is committed to becoming the nation's first 100% sustainable wine region. A three-phase program to be completed within the next five years includes education and training, independent certification, and plans for future improvement.

PASA and Future Harvest-CASA Plan to Merge
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and Future Harvest-CASA have announced plans to merge in 2014. The groups intend to launch a comprehensive educational initiative to address the needs of the sustainable farming community throughout their combined service area of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and the Washington, DC, area.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Fund-a-Farmer Grant
The Fund-a-Farmer Project awards grants for projects that help family farmers transition to pasture-based systems, improve the marketing of their humane products, or more generally enrich the conditions in which the farm animals are raised. Fund-a-Farmer will provide 15 grants of up to $2,500 to qualifying livestock and poultry farmers.
Applications must be postmarked by May 1, 2014.

Tennessee Farmers Market Capital Development Program
This program provides assistance for the establishment or improvement of farmers markets in Tennessee. Grants of $10,000 to $100,000 are available to qualified farmers markets on a 50% matching basis.
Applications are due by March 7, 2014.

Oregon Specialty Crop Block Grants
Oregon Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for grants to enhance the competitiveness of Oregon's specialty crops. Eligible non-profit organizations, local, government entities, for-profit organizations, industry trade associations, producer groups, and commodity commissions can submit proposals.
Concept proposals are due by February 24, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

New England Meat Conference
March 7-8, 2014
Concord, New Hampshire

The goal of the New England Meat Conference is to enhance the production, processing, and marketing of sustainable, nutritious, humanely raised, and delicious meat from New England farms and processors by providing educational and networking opportunities for meat producers, processors, and consumers.

CSA Expert Exchange Online Conference
March 6-7, 2014
Online

The first day of this two-day online conference will focus on issues relevant to beginning farmers and those just getting started in CSA. The main event on March 7 will consist of sessions on topics such as marketing and social media, legal issues surrounding CSAs, crop planning, and CSA coalitions.

Greenhouse Tomato Short Course
March 4-5, 2014
Raymond, Mississippi

Expert speakers will present seminars relevant to the production of greenhouse tomatoes. Special topics this year will include components of the greenhouse system, alternative heating options, marketing, alternative crops, and pest management.

>> More Events

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Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives
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.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA - was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

© 2014 NCAT

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Producer Spotlight
Honeyhill Farm

Question of the Week
What are some organic-friendly ways I can manage the staggering weed problem in my banana crop?

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ATTRA Webinars
Last chance to register! Join NCAT, NSAC, and USDA experts January 23, 2014, for New USDA Cover Crop Termination Policy.

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