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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 5, 2020

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

News & Resources

  • NCAT Accepting Applications for Armed to Farm Training in Georgia
  • 'Orchards Alive' Project Tests Cover Crops for Attracting Pollinators, Other Benefits
  • Georgia Organics Introduces Farmer Fund Accelerator
  • Study Says Not Enough Evidence to Link Wild Birds with Food-borne Illness
  • Organic Farm Location Affects Biodiversity and Profits
  • Research Reveals Pollinator Benefits from Prescribed Burns

Funding Opportunities

  • Western SARE Graduate Student Grants
  • Connecticut Farm Transition Grant
  • Texas Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Soil Health Innovations Conference
  • Urban & Small Farms Conference
  • Indiana Small Farm Conference

News & Resources

NCAT Accepting Applications for Armed to Farm Training in Georgia
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is partnering with Georgia Organics to bring its Armed to Farm (ATF) training to Georgia. Military veterans who want to attend the April 6-10, 2020, training in Athens can apply online until February 28, 2020. ATF allows veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore career opportunities in agriculture. This training is for veterans in the Southeast, with preference given to those in Georgia. The event is free for those chosen to attend; the number of participants will be limited.

'Orchards Alive' Project Tests Cover Crops for Attracting Pollinators, Other Benefits
NCAT is working with a coalition of partners on a project that is exploring the pollinator-habitat and other benefits of cover crops. "Orchards Alive" is a demonstration project on two California pecan orchards, totaling 325 acres. A cover crop mix that includes eight native wildflower species will be evaluated to determine how it affects populations of both pest and beneficial insects such as pollinators, as well as how it affects soil quality and carbon sequestration.

Related ATTRA Publication: Cover Crop (340) in Organic Systems

Georgia Organics Introduces Farmer Fund Accelerator
Georgia Organics has introduced a Farmer Fund Accelerator that combines tailored on-farm investments with a customized coaching program to help selected farmers quickly grow a financially sustainable operation. The Accelerator provides business and financial consultants, marketing and sales experts, loan and leasing coaches, and production consultants, combined with up to $10,000 per farm in the form of paid apprentices, marketing materials, infrastructure and equipment investments, and health insurance premium cost-shares. Applications are due by February 14, 2020.

Study Says Not Enough Evidence to Link Wild Birds with Food-borne Illness
A Washington State University study found little evidence to support a supposed link between wild birds and food-borne illnesses. Although wild bird feces can contain E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter, researchers found only one study definitively linking wild birds to a food-borne illness outbreak. "Farmers are being encouraged to remove wild bird habitat to make their food safer, but it doesn't appear that these actions are based on data," said lead study author Olivia Smith.

Organic Farm Location Affects Biodiversity and Profits
Scientists at Washington State University published an analysis showing that organic agriculture sites had 34% more biodiversity and 50% more profits than conventional agriculture sites, even though the organic sites had 18% lower crop yields. As the fields surrounding the organic farms grew larger, the organic farms' advantage in biodiversity increased, but they became less profitable compared to conventional operations.

Research Reveals Pollinator Benefits from Prescribed Burns
New research from North Carolina State University shows that prescribed burns in longleaf-pine ecosystems can benefit pollinators. Freshly burned longleaf pine forests have more than double the total number of bees and bee species compared to similar forests that have not burned for 50 years, researchers found. Within those burned areas, bee abundance and diversity tended to be greatest at sites that were most recently burned.
Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Western SARE Graduate Student Grants
Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) is accepting proposals from graduate students enrolled full-time at accredited colleges or universities in the Western region, for sustainable agriculture research and education. Proposals must address issues in sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the Western region. Projects are limited to $25,000 and may extend two years.
Proposals are due by February 11, 2020.

Connecticut Farm Transition Grant
The Farm Transition Grant Program offers matching grants up to $49,999 to strengthen the economic viability of Connecticut farmers and agricultural cooperatives. It provides matching funds for the diversification of existing farm operations, transitioning to value-added agricultural production and sales, and developing farmers markets and other venues in which a majority of products sold are grown in the state.
Applications are due by February 17, 2020.

Texas Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Texas state agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, or community-based organizations involved with, or that promote, specialty crops can apply for funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Projects must enhance the competitiveness of a Texas specialty crop industry. Priority issues are as follows: food safety, marketing, nutrition, plant health, and value added/industry development.
Applications are due February 27, 2020.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Soil Health Innovations Conference
March 30-31, 2020
Bozeman, Montana
NCAT, in cooperation with USDA Rural Development, SARE, and Montana State University, is holding the first annual Soil Health Innovations conference. Panelists, keynotes, roundtables, and forums address the hard questions about soil health and the future of agriculture from the standpoint of researcher, industry professional, and producer.

Urban & Small Farms Conference
March 4-5, 2020
West Valley, Utah
Utah State University Diversified Agriculture presents the 8th annual Urban & Small Farms Conference for specialty crop producers engaged in direct marketing, as well as commercial growers who are seeking the most up-to-date research on crop production and pest management. There are also workshops for beginning farmers.

Indiana Small Farm Conference
February 27-28, 2020
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Indiana Small Farm Conference begins with daylong workshops and continues with breakout sessions covering topics ranging from vegetable and livestock production to farm management and marketing. A trade show and poster session are also on the schedule.

>>More Events

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