Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 15, 2017
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
- On-Farm Solar Electric Publications Released
- Demand for Organic and Non-GMO Grain Outstripping U.S. Production
- Loan Fund for Small-Scale, Sustainable Farmers Launched in Minnesota
- Birch Syrup Production Opportunities Assessed in Report
- Online Agroecology Certificate Program Debuts
- Olives Offer Specialty Crop for Oregon Growers
- Southern SARE Graduate Student Grants
- California State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP)
- Conservation Innovation Grants in New Jersey
- Organic Growers School Spring Conference
- Michigan Agriculture and Natural Resources Week
- Bringing Back the American Small Farm
News & Resources
On-Farm Solar Electric Publications Released
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has released Farm Energy: Solar photovoltaic energy for agricultural operations. The new publication, available free online, discusses usage and installation of solar arrays, as well as economic considerations. A companion publication, Farm Energy: Case Studies – Adding solar electrical generation to a farm with grain drying and electrical heating is also available.
Related ATTRA Publications: Renewable Energy Opportunities on the Farm
Demand for Organic and Non-GMO Grain Outstripping U.S. Production
A new report from CoBank notes that although U.S. production of non-GMO crops has risen, domestic production of organic corn and soybeans remains well short of demand. This led to a sharp rise in organic grain imports in 2016. The report also notes that food manufacturers are finding new ways to incentivize growers for transitioning to organic production, such as free agronomic services and premiums for transitional products.
Related ATTRA Publications: Organic System Plan Template for Crop and/or Livestock Production
Loan Fund for Small-Scale, Sustainable Farmers Launched in Minnesota
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), Renewing the Countryside, and Slow Money Minnesota have announced the launch of a new loan fund for small-scale, sustainable farmers. The Grow a Farmer Fund offers lower-interest loans up to $15,000 in a 20-county region of southern Minnesota. Loans may be used for inventory, supplies, working capital, or machinery/equipment. The fund has grown to nearly $100,000 with donations from more than 250 organizations and individuals.
Birch Syrup Production Opportunities Assessed in Report
Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the results of a project exploring opportunities for regional maple sugarmakers to produce birch syrup. The 10-page PDF report concludes that birch syrup production has the potential to be a profitable enterprise for existing maple producers in Northern New York, given the high price of the syrup. The report suggests that smaller producers could pool their birch sap to make processing feasible.
Online Agroecology Certificate Program Debuts
MESA Farm Centered Learning Network is launching a new open-sourced, online Certificate in Applied Agroecology Program. The certificate course combines academic, scientific, socio-political, and traditional knowledge in seven lessons, giving learners a holistic understanding and application of agroecology. The material is presented in video, audio, visuals, and readings to allow learners to develop their own perspectives and be able to apply theoretical knowledge through interactive on-farm activities.
Olives Offer Specialty Crop for Oregon Growers
Oregon Department of Agriculture reports that olive growers and producers see an opportunity in the state, due to a growing market for olive oil. Olives grown in Oregon's cooler climate may offer unique flavor characteristics. Freezing temperatures are the biggest threat to Oregon olive trees, but varieties grown in Northern Italy and higher altitudes in France may also work well in Oregon. Approximately 15 varietals are currently grown by 15 growers over 50 acres in the state.
>>More Breaking News
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Southern SARE Graduate Student Grants
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is accepting applications for Graduate Student Grants. These grants award a maximum of $16,500 for up to three years of work by PhD and Masters students at accredited institutions in the Southern region. Research projects that address sustainable agriculture issues of current and potential importance to the Southern region are eligible for submission.
Proposal submission deadline is May 5, 2017.
California State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP)
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications for an estimated $3.75 million in competitive grant funding. Grants will provide financial assistance to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water at California agricultural operations. Agricultural operations can apply for as much as $100,000 for irrigation projects that provide quantifiable water savings and greenhouse gas reductions.
Applications must be submitted electronically by March 14, 2017.
Conservation Innovation Grants in New Jersey
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Jersey is accepting pre-proposals for the 2017 state component of the Conservation Innovation Grants program. Projects that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies will be considered for up to $75,000 in funding. Priority topics for projects are listed online.
Pre-proposals must be received by February 24, 2017.
>>More Funding Opportunities
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Organic Growers School Spring Conference
March 10-12, 2017
Asheville, North Carolina
This conference offers practical, regionally appropriate workshops on organic growing, permaculture, urban farming, and rural living, plus a trade show, seed exchange, and pre-conference, on-farm events.
Michigan Agriculture and Natural Resources Week
March 4-11 2017
East Lansing, Michigan
Agriculture and Natural Resources Week hosts more than 50 programs and annual association meetings. Events include Crowdfunding for Beginning Farmers, Michigan Farmers Market Conference, Winter Grower Produce Safety Course, Herbruck's Organic Seminar, Organic Intensives, Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference, Organic Reporting Session, and Sheep and Goats for Small Farms.
Bringing Back the American Small Farm
March 8-9, 2017
West Plains, Missouri
Ozark Farmers Co-op and others present this second annual conference on how to contribute to your regional food supply using whatever land resources are available to you. Learn low input-cost farming with hands-on instruction.
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ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
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