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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 20, 2013

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.

Join the NCAT Team!
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking a Community Outreach Coordinator/Regional Director to work helping minority and underserved communities become healthier, more self-sufficient, and energy-conscious while helping to improve environmental conditions for all. The position will be located at a new NCAT office in Jackson, Mississippi. Applications will be accepted through April 8, 2013, or until suitable candidates can be identified. NCAT also has openings for a Poultry Specialist, a Horticulture Specialist, and an Agronomy/Cropping Systems Specialist. Application information is available at the NCAT website.

News & Resources

  • USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Departing
  • Chicago Mayor Launches Urban Farming Network
  • Research Working to Improve Organic Produce Safety
  • Farm Organizations Ask FDA to Extend Comment Period on Proposed Food Safety Rules
  • Sustainable Agriculture Sourcing Tool Available
  • Midwest Vegetable Production Guide Released

Funding Opportunities

  • NCR-SARE Graduate Student Grant
  • Idaho Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
  • Maine Conservation Innovation Grants

Coming Events

  • The Resilient Farmer: Organic Market-Farming for Uncertain Times
  • Nevada Indoor Agriculture Conference
  • University of Tennessee Organic Crops Field Tour

News & Resources

USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Departing
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will depart the agency. In a statement, Vilsack acknowledged the vital role Merrigan has played in the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and cited her advocacy for a strong National Organic Program.

Chicago Mayor Launches Urban Farming Network
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Growing Power have launched Farmers for Chicago, a new program that will make available up to five acres of vacant lots owned by the City of Chicago for urban farming activity and help expand the supply chain for neighborhood-level food production. Local nonprofits will be able to install food-growing equipment on the lots and train up to 25 people in urban farming. The training will provide skills necessary to succeed at food commerce, including growing and packaging fruits and vegetables and distributing them to retailers.

Research Working to Improve Organic Produce Safety
Scientists at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and North Carolina State University are working together to improve the safety of organic produce with a study, "Alternative Post-harvest Washing Solutions to Enhance the Microbial Safety and Quality of Organic Fresh Produce," that began last fall. The goal of the project is to provide safe, alternative, sustainable, and effective treatments to reduce foodborne illnesses caused by E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella contamination in organic produce. The group hopes to provide effective treatments in the form of alternative organic antimicrobials such as organic essential oils added to postharvest wash water.

Farm Organizations Ask FDA to Extend Comment Period on Proposed Food Safety Rules
Over 270 organizations, food businesses, and farms have written a letter to FDA requesting an extension of the comment period for two major proposed food safety rules, reports USAgnet. The groups seek more time to assess the effects of the rules on family farms and small food businesses. Unless extended, the public comment period will close May 16, 2013.

Sustainable Agriculture Sourcing Tool Available
A new open-source tool, Sustainable Sourcing of Agricultural Raw Materials, a Practitioner's Guide, aims to give managers a step-by-step roadmap on how to build and roll out sustainable agriculture sourcing strategies effectively, reports Environmental Leader. Developed by Swiss-based business school IMD, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, and five other global organizations, the guide provides key questions to help companies prioritize which agricultural raw materials they want to source sustainably.

Midwest Vegetable Production Guide Released
The Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers is a regional publication from Purdue University Extension. The guide is offered for sale in print, or for free online. Topics include soil, transplants, diseases, production, and specific crop recommendations. The guide includes chapters on organic vegetable production and on reduced-risk pesticides/biopesticides.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

NCR-SARE Graduate Student Grant
Graduate students enrolled at colleges or universities in the North Central region can submit proposals for up to $10,000 to fund sustainable agriculture projects that will be part of their educational programs. NCR-SARE expects to fund about 15 projects in the 12-state North Central Region.
Proposals must be submitted by May 9, 2013.

Idaho Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has announced the competitive solicitation process to award Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds. ISDA is seeking proposals from eligible non-profit organizations; local, state, and federal government entities; for-profit organizations; and universities for projects that aim to enhance the production and competitiveness of Idaho specialty crops. The average grant amount is between $50,000 and $100,000.
Application deadline is April 5, 2013.

Maine Conservation Innovation Grants
NRCS has announced that up to $200,000 is available in Maine through Conservation Innovation Grants for new technology or approaches. NRCS is seeking applications from Maine farmers; landowners; state, tribal, and local government entities; and non-governmental organizations. Projects must involve at least one agricultural producer who is eligible for the EQIP program.
Applications must be received by April 1, 2013.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

The Resilient Farmer: Organic Market-Farming for Uncertain Times
April 27, 2013
Poteau, Oklahoma

This workshop at Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture will demonstrate innovative approaches to building soil fertility for sustainable market farming. Topics will include cover cropping, green manures, rotations, composting, compost tea, organic no-till, bermuda grass suppression using cover crops, and the soil food web.

Nevada Indoor Agriculture Conference
April 24, 2013
Las Vegas, Nevada

The Nevada Indoor Agriculture Conference is cohosted by the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development and Seedstock. The conference will focus on sustainable technologies as well as economic opportunities associated with Controlled Environment Agriculture and the increase in local food production and security that could result from pursuing such endeavors.

University of Tennessee Organic Crops Field Tour
April 24, 2013
Knoxville, Tennessee
This annual tour, hosted by the University of Tennessee East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, will highlight current research projects and discuss organic crop production techniques and recommendations. Topics will include irrigation systems for high tunnels, soil fertility, and weed and disease control.

>> 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.

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© 2013 NCAT

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