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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 17, 2020

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.

News & Resources

  • Study Looking at How Local Food Systems Respond to Pandemic
  • Forum for the Future Offers Roadmap for Scaling Regenerative Agriculture
  • Study Shows Soil Health Benefits of Cover Crops for Vegetable Farmers
  • Nutrient Density Research Project Invites Participation
  • Agroforestry Boosts Pollinator Numbers, Research Shows
  • International Meta-Analysis Shows Intercropping Increases Yields and Decreases Fertilizer Use

Funding Opportunities

  • Feed the Need Mini-Grant
  • Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant
  • Tennessee NRCS Urban Conservation Project

Coming Events

  • A New Era for Food and Climate: Driving transformative actions
  • Battleground to Breaking Ground Virtual Agriculture Business Workshop Series
  • Do the Numbers: Organic Dairy

News & Resources

Study Looking at How Local Food Systems Respond to Pandemic
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with the University of Kentucky, Colorado State University, and Penn State University, as well as 16 trade associations, to conduct a national study on the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on local food systems. The year-long study is collecting production and marketing strategies and innovations that will be shared via webinars, fact sheets, and other resources.

Forum for the Future Offers Roadmap for Scaling Regenerative Agriculture
The international sustainability nonprofit Forum for the Future has released Growing Our Future, a roadmap for scaling regenerative agriculture in the United States. Key opportunities to scale regenerative agriculture appear in the new report, as well as barriers to scale, along with a seven-point plan to help overcome them and drive transformational change, and specific recommendations for how different actors can enable this transition. The 37-page report is available free online.

Study Shows Soil Health Benefits of Cover Crops for Vegetable Farmers
A University of Florida study showed the soil health benefits of cover crops as a green manure for vegetable farms. The two-year study explored the benefits of using cover crops such as cow pea and sunn hemp on eight Florida farms. The soil health benefits included increased organic matter and increased water-holding capacity, decreased soil pH, and increased soil protein content.
Related ATTRA Publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas

Nutrient Density Research Project Invites Participation
The Small Grains Partner Program is a collaborative effort focused on connecting soil, plant, and human health to improve the nutritional quality of food. Organic and/or conventional farmers can submit soil and grain samples for free and answer some questions about practices used in growing the crop. Participants will get a detailed report on the levels of protein, polyphenols, minerals, and antioxidants in their grains and total carbon, respiration, pH, and mineral content of their soil. Interested farmers are invited to fill out a quick online intake form to begin the program.

Agroforestry Boosts Pollinator Numbers, Research Shows
Research by the University of Reading provides evidence that agroforestry increases wild insect pollinator numbers and increases pollination. The research team found that agroforestry sites had double the number of solitary bees and hoverflies compared to single-crop fields, and 2.4 times more bumblebees. Solitary bee species richness increased tenfold at some sites. These increases in wild insect pollinators resulted in more pollination.

International Meta-Analysis Shows Intercropping Increases Yields and Decreases Fertilizer Use
A meta-analysis of 226 studies, led by Wageningen University & Research, showed that intercropping can significantly increase yields while reducing fertilizer inputs. Intercropping appears to give a 16-29% larger yield per unit area than monocultures in intensive agriculture under the same circumstances, while using 19-36% less fertilizer per unit product. Researchers noted that these results applied to intensive agriculture as well as low-input agriculture.
Related ATTRA Publication: Companion Planting & Botanical Pesticides: Concepts & Resources

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Feed the Need Mini-Grant
The Future Harvest "Feed the Need" Fund was created to help farmers weather market changes caused by the pandemic and to help address hunger by providing food access. The program will award cash mini-grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 to farmers, with a minimum of 50% of mini-grants awarded to Black, Indigenous, and other farmers of color. Grant award recipients will have the flexibility to participate in this effort using the tools and means that work best, from sliding scales on CSA orders and home deliveries to providing produce to local food banks and pantries. Eligible applicants are vegetable, fruit, meat, and dairy producers in Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, West Virginia, or Delaware. Priority will be given to Future Harvest members.
Applications are due by July 15, 2020.

Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant
The Montana Department of Agriculture has Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grants available to aid small and medium-sized meat processors responding to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. Examples of eligible expenses include, but are not limited to, equipment and infrastructure that increases processing and/or storage capacity, costs associated with becoming State or Federally inspected, and other business adaptation and diversification activities. Total funding available is $2 million, with a maximum award of $150,000.
The application deadline is July 2, 2020.

Tennessee NRCS Urban Conservation Project
Tennessee NRCS is looking to partner with likeminded natural resource conservation partners on urban conservation projects to build pollinator habitats, establish gardens for food production, and establish seasonal high tunnels to extend the growing season. Anticipated funding available in FY 2020 will be a total of $150,000 for up to 20 agreements ranging between $4,000 and $9,000.
Applications are due by July 3, 2020.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

A New Era for Food and Climate: Driving transformative actions
June 25, 2020
Online
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security presents a global event to spark action to transform food systems to avert a food and climate crisis in the time of COVID-19. "A New Era for Food and Climate: Driving transformative actions" is a full-day, around-the-world virtual relay event.

Battleground to Breaking Ground Virtual Agriculture Business Workshop Series
June 23, 25, and 30, and July 2 and 7, 2020
Online

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas AgrAbilty, and the Compatible Lands Foundation are presenting a five-part virtual workshop series for military veterans, beginning farmers and ranchers, and others.

Do the Numbers: Organic Dairy
June 24, 2020
Online
Learn how to make grass-based dairy work for you, as part of the virtual Organic Field Days series from MOSES. Thelma Heidel-Baker and Ricky Baker of Bossie Cow Farm host this event focusing on the management and economics of a grass-based, organic dairy.

>>More Events

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© 2020 NCAT

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Updated ATTRA Publication
Cole Crops and Other Brassicas: Organic Production

Question of the Week
How can I add value to farm products to reduce my risk?

Ask an Agriculture Expert
Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Soil Health Principles—Application and Results of Investing in Your Soils
June 23, 2020
Learn more about this free webinar

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