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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 30, 2008

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
* Online Courses Offered for Organic Agriculture Certificate
* Maryland Legislation to Bring Local Food to Schools
* High Tunnel Bramble Grower Resource Now Online
* Oregon Food Processors Opt for 'Middle-way' Certification
* Washington Working to Bring Local Foods to Schools
* ABC's of Organics Video Online

Funding Opportunities
* Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant Program
* Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund
* Western SARE Research & Education Grants

Coming Events
* Aquaponics and Tilapia Aquaculture Short Course
* Adding Value to Dairying Field Day
* Strolling of the Heifers

News & Resources

Online Courses Offered for Organic Agriculture Certificate
Washington State University, which offers a Graduate Certificate in organic agriculture, will now make its certificate program available through online distance learning courses, according to The Grower. Admission to WSU is required to enroll in courses and to earn the certificate, though participants may apply as non-degree seeking students. The program includes a range of courses available through distance learning, as well as an "on ground" practicum or professional internship in organic agriculture.

Maryland Legislation to Bring Local Food to Schools
Legislation near becoming law in Maryland would help bring local foods to school cafeterias, according to an Associated Press story. Schools have been prevented from purchasing food grown by local farmers by bidding rules and limited by food preparation ability. The new legislation would establish "Maryland Homegrown" week in cafeterias: a small introduction to local foods. It also encourages farm field trips to teach students about local food, and connects schools purchasers with Department of Agriculture marketers. Meanwhile, schools aren't the only place in Maryland where local foods are drawing attention. The Baltimore Sun reported recently on growing farmers' market, CSA, and restaurant demand for locally grown dairy products, meats, and produce. These growing markets are helping farmers connect with an appreciative audience for their products.

High Tunnel Bramble Grower Resource Now Online
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program just uploaded the new High Tunnel Raspberries and Blackberries guide to its website. Researchers at Cornell and Pennsylvania State universities have published the guide on the latest and ongoing high tunnel research in the Northeast. The guide includes sections on site selection; the types of tunnels; construction; plant selection; tunnel, crop and pest management; early and late season extension techniques; and budgeting. High tunnels can extend the fruit season and help growers gain much higher prices for their fruit.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Organic Culture of Bramble Fruits

Oregon Food Processors Opt for 'Middle-way' Certification
Some food processors in Oregon who are interested in letting the public know that their products are sustainably grown have developed a new certification program, according to Oregon State University Extension Service News. Oregon State University Extension and the organization Food Alliance helped NORPAC, a farmer-owned cooperative of 165 farms, and the largest fruit and vegetable processor in the Willamette Valley, develop a voluntary certification system. The system includes four performance standards: soil and water conservation, responsible pest management, safe and fair working conditions, and wildlife habitat conservation. Developers call the program a "middle way" between conventional and organic production, that emphasizes sustainability and stewardship.

Washington Working to Bring Local Foods to Schools
Washington's new "Local Farms-Healthy Kids" legislation is designed to improve nutrition in school food programs and support state agriculture, says an article in The News Tribune. The law provides $570,000 in school nutrition grants to help purchase state-grown produce. Food service operators say there may be challenges in implementing an ideal program, however. Since some school food programs are losing money, even an added grant may not put local produce prices within reach. Meshing cafeteria needs with local growing seasons, and preparing the fresh foods, may be additional challenges for schools. Supporters counter that the measure is meant to be an important first step in a long process of encouraging local food purchasing.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

ABC's of Organics Video Online
A recent presentation on the basics of organics by Jim Riddle, the University of Minnesotaís Organic Outreach Coordinator, is available online as a video from the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating/Southeast Library System. In the video, Riddle explains the basic requirements for certification of organic crops; summarizes some recent research findings about the benefits of organic production; and presents a few helpful web resources. The video may be viewed in 10-minute clips, or in its entirety.

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant Program
The Northeast SARE Professional Development program funds projects that help Cooperative Extension educators and other agricultural professionals get and use the knowledge needed to help farmers move toward greater sustainability. The program emphasis is on training the trainers, disseminating sustainable practices and technologies, advancing new training strategies, and developing an educational infrastructure that is directly linked to the practice and improvement of agricultural sustainability. Project impact must occur within the Northeast SARE region, which is made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington D.C. A pre-proposal is required.
Proposals are due May 31, 2008.

Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund
The Farmers Advocating for Organics (FAFO) fund provides a way for the organic farmers of CROPP Cooperative to identify and support key issues facing the organic marketplace and organic agriculture. The FAFO Farmer Committee accepts proposals from organizations seeking funding for particular projects or programs dedicated to furthering organic education, organic farming or product research, and advocating for organic standards or policies. FAFO is open to funding both small and large scale projects with a suggested budgetary guideline being $5,000 - $50,000 per year. In addition, FAFO has established a Small Grant Fund for individuals and organizations seeking grants that amount to less than $5,000. Small grant proposals will be reviewed monthly. There are two funding rounds in 2008, with proposal deadlines of June 1 and October 1.

Western SARE Research & Education Grants
R&E grants fund projects that typically involve scientists, producers, ag support agencies, nonprofit organizations and others in an interdisciplinary approach. Grants average around $150,000 in size. Proposals must include both research and education elements. The application process includes a pre-proposal. Western SARE encompasses Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Micronesia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Proposals are due June 13, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Aquaponics and Tilapia Aquaculture Short Course
June 15-21, 2008
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

This 7-day course will provide in-depth knowledge of the principles and practical application of the systems that have been developed at the University of the Virgin Islands. Participants will be introduced to a variety of system designs that maintain water quality by various solids removal techniques and by hydroponic plant culture (aquaponics), a suspended growth process (biofloc tank culture) or fixed-film nitrification. Fish production instruction will be conducted using both the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and red tilapia. Hydroponic plant production will focus on vegetables, culinary herbs and ornamental flowers.

Adding Value to Dairying Field Day
June 19, 2008
Baltimore County, Maryland

Join Future Harvest at one of its popular, informative free field days. Bobby Prigel will give a tour of Belleview Farm, focusing on his successful rotational grazing strategies, organic management and his plans for expansion into value-added enterprises.

Strolling of the Heifers
June 6-8, 2008
Brattleboro, Vermont

The theme of this yearís agricultural celebration is "Live Green!" To transform the publicís concern about global climate change into civic action, the weekend's festivities will focus on protecting the environment. Events on the agenda include a celebration of women in agriculture, farmers' market, local food meals, and farm tours.

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Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives Available Online
Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

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