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Weekly Harvest Newsletter


Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 31, 2010

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
* USDA Seeks Food Safety Comments
* Solar Water Pumping Guide Available
* Heirloom Vegetables Tested at the Kerr Center
* Marketing Farm Products to Schools in Michigan
* New Publication Offers Information on Energy Efficiency for Swine
   Production
* Community Food Security Conference Seeks Proposals


Funding Opportunities
* Garden Crusader Award
* Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program
* Organic Education and Outreach Grant


Coming Events
* Crop Rotation Webinar
* Farm-Scale Biodiesel Webinar
* Farm to Cafeteria Workshop



News & Resources

USDA Seeks Food Safety Comments
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it is seeking comment on proposed measures to enhance food safety. The proposed rule would implement a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill and is a priority for the Food Safety Working Group (FSWG). Comments regarding the adopted regulations must be received on or before May 24, 2010, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov , or by mail to: Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474.

Solar Water Pumping Guide Available
A guide (PDF/312KB) to choosing a solar water pump for remote (off-grid) applications has been published by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. For this guide, agricultural engineer Brian Vick and colleagues drew on the ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory’s 31 years of testing stand-alone water pumps. The laboratory is located near Bushland, Texas. Vick found that for pumps with motors rated less than 1,500 watts, solar is usually the best choice. With current technology and costs, wind power or a hybrid wind/solar pump is usually best for power needs of 1,500 watts or more.

Heirloom Vegetables Tested at the Kerr Center
Older “heirloom” crop varieties are beginning to make a comeback. Two new reports detail the performance of heirloom squash and tomatoes at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, a nonprofit educational foundation in Poteau, Oklahoma. During the 2009 growing season, the Kerr Center tested 14 heirloom varieties of squash, and 16 of tomatoes. The squash trial (PDF/475KB) rated varieties for yield and date of first harvest, and the report details several other characteristics. Results reported from the tomato trial (PDF/370KB) include yield, date of first harvest, and marketability, along with comments on best use and other aspects.

Marketing Farm Products to Schools in Michigan
Interest and participation in local food purchasing is growing among Michigan food service directors, but more farmers with a wider variety of products available for more of the school year are needed to meet this demand. Marketing Michigan Products: A Step-By-Step Guide provides tools and information to prepare farmers to access school markets. Reviewed by farmers and an advisory committee, the Guide includes tools to help farmers address food safety, make insurance decisions, understand school food funding, link with local schools and Farm to School resources, and prepare marketing packets and school food bid documents.

New Publication Offers Information on Energy Efficiency for Swine Production
Efficient fans are essential for proper ventilation of livestock production facilities. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension explains the factors farmers should consider when selecting or upgrading fans for hog buildings. "Energy Efficient Fans for Swine Production" (PDF/1.69MB) is part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the Farm Energy Conservation and Efficiency educational initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers’ awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy.

Community Food Security Conference Seeks Proposals
The Community Food Security Coalition is now accepting proposals for Workshop and Networking sessions at our upcoming conference "Food, Culture & Justice: The Gumbo That Unites Us All" in New Orleans, LA from October 16 - 19, 2010. Proposals are due April 30.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Garden Crusader Award
The annual Garden Crusader Awards program was established to honor individuals who are improving the world through gardening. These enthusiastic men and women are gardening beyond their own backyards to grow food for the hungry, beautify their communities and help friends and neighbors discover the rewards of gardening. Cash prizes and gift certificates will be awarded to winners.
Proposals are due June 1, 2010.

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program
The purpose of the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program is to provide grants for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to individuals with disabilities who are migrant and seasonal farmworkers, as determined in accordance with rules prescribed by the Secretary of Labor, and to the family members who are residing with such individuals (whether or not such family members are individuals with disabilities).
Proposals are due May 17, 2010.

Organic Education and Outreach Grant
Organic Farming Research Foundation will fund the development of educational opportunities and materials that are:
  1. Pertinent to organic agricultural production or marketing; and
  2. Aimed at organic producers and/or those considering making the transition to organic certification.
OFRF will also accept proposals to fund activities that promote information sharing among organic agricultural researchers and organic farmers and ranchers.

Proposals are due May 17, 2010.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Crop Rotation Webinar
April 6, 2010
The webinar will highlight key findings from the crop rotation planning initiative, and summarize important considerations for rotation planning.


Farm-Scale Biodiesel Webinar from NCAT
April 8, 2010
Farm-Scale Biodiesel Production: Taxes and Financial Incentives will help you learn about federal and state fuel excise taxes that apply to biodiesel. The webinar will be presented by NCAT biodiesel specialist Al Kurki and National Agricultur
al Law Center staff attorneys Shannon Mirus and Rusty Rumley.

Farm to Cafeteria Workshop
April 7, 2010
Baxter, Minnesota

Come and join others like yourself who want to learn how to bring wholesome, locally grown foods into K-12 schools, universities, hospitals, and other institutions within Minnesota. This networking and planning workshop aims to inspire and inform farmers, distributors, food service directors, schools, institutions, parents, school board members, administrators, teachers, wellness committees, rural and economic development specialists, Extension educators, Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) coordinators, non-governmental organizations, and other community experts to build support for Farm to School in the Minnesota.


> More Events

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