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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 28, 2007

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

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News & Resources
* Florida Beekeeper First to Receive Local Producer Loan from Whole Foods
* New Website Features Iowa Foods
* Marketing Local Food Handbook Available
* Web Forums are the New Coffee Shops for Ag Producers
* Report on Food and Agriculture in Oklahoma
* Farmers Working for Organic Food in Hospitals

Funding Opportunities
* Connecticut Farm Reinvestment Program Grant
* Take Action: Healthy People, Places, and Practices in Communities Project
* Noyes Foundation Grants for Sustainable Agriculture

Coming Events
* Introduction to Organic Pasture Management
* Taking Your Sales to the Next Level
* National Farmworker Conference

News & Resources

Florida Beekeeper First to Receive Local Producer Loan from Whole Foods Market
David Rukin, of Buzzn Bee, has been chosen as the first recipient of Whole Foods Market's local producer loans. The south Florida beekeeper will use the low-interest loan to buy equipment and increase his product line. The loan is part of Whole Foods Market's new initiative to provide $10 million in loans each year to small, local agricultural producers. "Whole Foods Market's intention is to support local agriculture all over the United States," said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. "We are going to 'walk our talk' with financial support for farmers and other producers in close proximity to our stores. We believe this financial assistance of $10 million a year can make a very significant difference in helping local agriculture grow and flourish across the United States."

New Website Features Iowa Foods
Riki Saltzman has developed a website about place-based Iowa foods. These are food products with strong ties to where and how they are grown or processed. "Place-based foods have a unique taste that often has to do with an ecological niche and/or the ethnic or regional heritage of their producers," Saltzman said. Saltzman developed the site with the support of a $10,000 grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which also funded her initial research, the Iowa Foodways Project: Taste of Place. The project began in 2005 when Saltzman started surveying the state to identify a variety of foods and the people who produce them. The goal is to document foods that can be distinguished as uniquely Iowan by their historical, ethnic, ecological or geographic heritage.

Marketing Local Food Handbook Available
The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) recently released a handbook, "Marketing Local Food," designed to help Minnesota farmers explore the options for marketing local foods. The handbook discusses various marketing systems and also includes farmer profiles and further resources. The book is available by contacting MISA at 800-909-6472 or misamail@umn.edu.

Web Forums are the New Coffee Shops for Ag Producers
Online message boards and chat rooms are replacing rural coffee shops and feed mills as places for farmers to talk farming and trade tips as more of rural America goes online, CNN.com reported recently. "You get the best thinkers in agriculture," Ohio farmer Ed Winkle said of the forums. "You're mixing such a diverse group of people -- from different areas, from different backgrounds, different experiences, different ways of farming." Fifty-one percent of U.S. farms have Internet access, according to a July 2005 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up from 48 percent in 2003. More than two-thirds of them, however, still use dial-up modems to connect, CNN reports. Popular sites include the Internet division of Farm Journal Media, www.agweb.com and Des Moines, Iowa-based www.agriculture.com, where visitors spend an average of 11 minutes perusing the offerings. Both sites are free access and advertising supported.

Report on Food and Agriculture in Oklahoma
The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture released Closer to Home: Healthier Food, Farms and Families in Oklahoma. This report looks at food insecurity in Oklahoma. It also explores the benefits of self-reliant, community food systems. This report is meant to increase the public understanding of Oklahoma's food system and to increase discussion on what can be done to make the fields and tables healthier.

Farmers Working for Organic Food in Hospitals
Farmers in Minnesota are leading a farm-to-institution effort that would replace bland, low-nutrition foods in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools with healthy, locally grown and organic foods. Several hospitals—including the Mayo Clinic—have expressed interest in including more organic and locally grown foods to their patient menus and cafeterias, and some have already begun, according to this piece in the Winona Daily News. For others, barriers such as higher costs, a lack of supply, and current systems already in place are making the switch difficult.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Connecticut Farm Reinvestment Program Grant
The Farm Reinvestment Program (FRP) provides funds to be used for the expansion of existing agricultural production facilities or expansion into new production areas and site improvements related to such expansion or diversification. The grants will be awarded on a competitive and merit basis with those having a complete application and excellent business plan being rewarded. The farmer is required to match or exceed the amount of the grant being requested.
Applications are due April 30, 2007.

Take Action: Healthy People, Places and Practices in Communities Project
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Public Health and Science, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the Regional Health Administrators are requesting proposals from community-based organizations and others to evaluate the impact of a unique set of healthy lifestyles activities in local settings that support the President's HealthierUS initiative. As part of the Take Action: Healthy People, Places and Practices in Communities Project, the proposed activities should address one or more of the four parts of the President's HealthierUS initiative: 1) be physically active, 2) eat a nutritious diet, 3) get preventive screenings, and 4) make healthy choices/avoid risky behaviors.

Not-for-profit, community-based organizations including faith-based groups, after school programs, coalitions and others are encouraged to submit proposals. The one-year project period will run from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. Funding for these activities will be between $2,000 and $5,000 and a national evaluation of the project will be conducted.

Proposals are due March 30, 2007.

Noyes Foundation Grants for Sustainable Agriculture
The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation is committed to promoting a sustainable society by strengthening individuals, institutions, and communities. The foundation makes grants in the areas of sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities. The objective for grants addressing sustainable agriculture is to help build a system of food and fiber production that sustains the environment and benefits people. Priorities include: strengthening the capacity of organizations promoting sustainable agriculture; improving agriculture policies and practices at the state, regional, and national levels; demonstrating the agricultural and economic feasibility of sustainable agriculture, its social benefits, and its ability to strengthen rural communities and reduce the distance between producers and consumers. The geographic focus emphasizes the northeast, the southern U.S., and the Rocky Mountain West. The foundation makes grants to not-for-profit organizations. A letter of inquiry may be sent to Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, 6 East 39th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or email: noyes@noyes.org.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Introduction to Organic Pasture Management
March 29, 2007
Grafton, Massachusetts

Organic dairy farmers and advisors will discuss organic rotational grazing systems, management intensive grazing systems, pasture fertility and soil health. Sponsored by NOFA/Mass and Baystate Organic Certifiers, with support from Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm. Contact: Kate Rossiter, NOFA/Mass Organic Dairy Coordinator, at (413) 625-0118, or Don Franczyk, Baystate Organic Certifiers, at (978) 297-4171.

Taking Your Sales to the Next Level
March 30, 2007
Post Falls, Idaho

Rural Roots offers this day-long workshop to increase your farm marketing skills. Workshop topics will include identifying your target market, maximizing direct market sales, and increasing the quality of your products.

National Farmworker Conference (PDF)
April 1-4, 2007
San Antonio, Texas

"Sowing the Seeds of Success: Harvesting the American Dream" is the theme for the National Farmworker Conference, which has a special Latino Farmers and Ranchers track. The event addresses Latino-related issues as well as farmworker programs and services.

> More Events

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