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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 8, 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.

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News & Resources

  • Rutgers Offers Information on Ultra-Niche Crops
  • Steam Treatment Improves Food Safety for Melons
  • Herbicide Injury Images Collected in Database
  • Texas Research Exploring Spinach Varieties for Organic Production
  • Study Identifies Best Timing for Cover-Crop Crimping
  • Research Study Seeks Input from Organic Growers

Funding Opportunities

  • Minnesota Food Hub Grant Program
  • Methyl Bromide Transition Program
  • Oregon Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • New England Farm to Institution Summit
  • Local Foods Impact Conference
  • Combined Season Extension and Commercial Strawberry Production Field Day

News & Resources

Rutgers Offers Information on Ultra-Niche Crops
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station's Ultra-Niche Crops for the Progressive New Farmer project is providing information on high-value crops that can be grown on 10 acres or less. The project goal is to teach new and beginning farmers about the cultivation, marketing, and business management of 10 ultra-niche crops. To date, resources are available for cut flowers, winter high-tunnel lettuce, and strawberries.

Steam Treatment Improves Food Safety for Melons
USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists have shown that a relatively inexpensive, commercially available steam cleaner designed to remove wallpaper and clean outdoor grills can rid cantaloupes of E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. The method is more effective than existing washes and chlorine treatments. It produces sufficient heat to kill surface pathogens, but not enough heat to damage the fruits. It also may sanitize watermelons, honeydews, cucumbers, and baby carrots effectively.
Related ATTRA Publication: Specialty Melon Production for Small and Direct-Market Growers

Herbicide Injury Images Collected in Database
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service has posted an Herbicide Injury Database that offers images of plant responses to herbicides. The database is searchable by herbicide group, herbicide, plant, or plant and herbicide together. The database contains images of herbicide injury to vegetable and field crops, as well as trees and flowers.

Texas Research Exploring Spinach Varieties for Organic Production
Researchers at Texas A&M are screening various spinach varieties to identify those with improved nitrogen-use efficiency, as a first step toward developing cultivars adapted to production in Texas. The Texas study is using more than 300 spinach variety samples from around the world, planting them in both organic and conventional fields.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Specialty Crop Production In Texas: A Grower's Handbook

Study Identifies Best Timing for Cover-Crop Crimping
A three-year experiment in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania explored the best times and methods for crimping cover crops, reports the American Society of Agronomy. Researchers planted hairy vetch-triticale and cereal rye cover crops, followed by cash crops. Generally, letting the cover crop grow longer produced the best results, but each cover crop was different.

Research Study Seeks Input from Organic Growers
A research study being led by New York University needs the input of organic growers nationwide. The purpose of this study is to gather information about the characteristics and opportunities to measure or increase biodiversity in organic farming in the United States.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Minnesota Food Hub Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation Food Hub Grant Program. This one-time program is offering grants intended to stimulate purchases of locally grown and raised foods. For-profit and not-for-profit food hubs and other alternative community-based food distribution businesses may apply for grants to develop or update their business plans, conduct feasibility studies, or create marketing plans. Grants are also available for equipment purchases or physical improvements.
Proposals must be submitted by April 19, 2017.

Methyl Bromide Transition Program
Colleges and universities may submit applications to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for projects to support the discovery and implementation of practical pest management alternatives for commodities and uses affected by the methyl bromide phase-out. The program focuses on integrated commercial-scale research on methyl bromide alternatives and associated extension activity that will foster the adoption of these solutions. An anticipated $1.8 million is available.
Applications are due April 25, 2017.

Oregon Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for approximately $1.6 million expected to be available to agriculture industry associations, producer groups, processors, commodity commissions, non-profits, for-profits, and local government agencies in Oregon. Funding priorities are identified online.
Proposals must be received by April 4, 2017.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

New England Farm to Institution Summit
April 5-7, 2017
Leominster, Massachusetts

This event will convene representatives from institutional facilities, along with their food supply-chain partners and farm-to-institution advocates, to maximize collective impact and overcome challenges to buying more local food. The summit will feature programming that focuses on farm to school, farm to campus, and farm to healthcare.

Local Foods Impact Conference
April 3-4, 2017
Washington, DC

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, in partnership with The George Washington University, will host this conference to explore how to best measure the impacts of local food investments, improve coordination across USDA agencies, and evaluate the extent to which disparate local food investments are complementary and reinforcing. The conference is free and open to the public, with livestreaming keynotes.

Combined Season Extension and Commercial Strawberry Production Field Day
April 4, 2017
Crystal Springs, Mississippi

Mississippi State University and the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production present this free day-long event. Activities will include presentations and demonstrations on strawberry culture and management and on tools to extend fruit and vegetable growing seasons by several weeks in the spring and fall. Pre-registration is required; e-mail keithmdp@yahoo.com.

>>More Events

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Cover Crops

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March 15, 2017
Van Buren, Arkansas
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