Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - July 21, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* New Research Suggests Organic Produce May Have Health Benefits
* Steward of the Land Award Nominations Sought
* Organic Dairy Co-op Opens Environmentally-Friendly Headquarters
* Numbers of Women and Hispanic Farmers Rise
* Ontario Farmers Cut Pesticide Use in Half
* Online Tool Kit Helps Value-Added Grant Applicants
* Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Awards
* Stewardship Assistance on Conservation Easements in New Hampshire
* Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Minigrant
* Vermont Fresh Network Annual Forum
* Local Food for Healthy Children and Profitable Family Farms
* Tour de Farms VI Bicycle Tour
News & Resources
Research Suggests Organic Produce May Have Health Benefits
New research on specific sample groups shows some organic produce may have an added health benefit over conventionally grown counterparts, according to researchers presenting at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo. In her study of organic and conventionally grown tomatoes, Alyson Mitchell, a food chemist at University of California at Davis, found organic tomatoes had higher levels of secondary plant metabolites and higher levels of vitamin C. “In looking at the (California) supermarket varieties of broccoli, we also found significantly higher levels of the flavonoids in organic broccoli,” said Mitchell. As defense mechanisms in plants used to fend off infection and pests, metabolites in the body are thought to offer health benefits including reduced risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease. Flavonoids are metabolites known to act in the body as antioxidants. But researchers also noted that inherent inconsistencies associated with organic farming make general comparisons inappropriate. Building solid evidence confirming the benefits of organic fruits and vegetables over conventionally grown produce is hampered by wide variances in organic farming, ranging from soil and climate differences to variations in crops, seasons and farmer philosophies, said Diane Barrett, also a researcher with the UC-Davis department of food science and technology.
Steward of the Land Award Nominations Sought
American Farmland Trust is accepting nominations for its Steward of the Land Award. The eighth annual award honors farmers working to protect farmland and promote good stewardship on their land. Winners receive a $10,000 cash stipend and a special memento inscribed with the recipient's name . Nominations are due November 1, 2004.
Organic Dairy Co-op Opens Environmentally-Friendly Headquarters
Organic Valley will celebrate the nation's organic family farmer and rural America during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sat., July 31 to mark the completion of its new $5.9 million green design headquarters in LaFarge Wisc. The 49,210 square-foot building features state-of-the-art energy efficiencies including an energy recovery system that swaps cool and warm air within the building; day lighting that uses natural light to reduce the need for electric lighting; and solar-powered parking lot lights. Various recycled materials, sourced from local businesses, are incorporated into the structure. The building's frame incorporates recycled steel, and fly ash, a byproduct of aluminum casting, is used for the drywall. Insulation is made with recycled cloth, similar to the material used for blue jeans. LaFarge created a Tax Increment Financing district through which it provided $1.5 million for the new headquarters' infrastructure, including a $750,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The USDA facilitated Organic Valley's $2.8 million "Business & Industry Loan." Organic Valley also received a pass-through loan from Vernon Telephone cooperative, which Vernon Telephone received from USDA Rural Development.
Numbers of Women and Hispanic Farmers Rise
Even though white males still dominate farmer demographics, USA Today reports on increasing numbers of women and Hispanic farmers who are entering the profession. As numbers of small farms increase, and demand for locally produced food rises, some minority farmers are finding the niche they need to begin and succeed in farming. The article credits several factors with the rise in the number of women and Hispanic farmers, including the aging of the traditional farmer population, love of the land, desire for improved quality of life, a growing market for specialty farm products, and new farming methods that don't necessarily depend on brawn. The article features numerous examples of women and Hispanic farm entrepreneurs.
Related ATTRA Publication: July-August 2004 ATTRAnews
Ontario Farmers Cut Pesticide Use in Half
Farmers in the Canadian province of Ontario have reduced their pesticide use by 52 percent since 1983, says a periodic survey released by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF). According to a press release on CNW Telbec, the surveys completed every five years have shown a consistent decline in agricultural pesticide use, as measured by total active ingredient, due to advancements in education, science, integrated pest management (IPM), and biotechnology. "Ontario farmers are utilizing every mitigation strategy possible to control pests in an environmentally and economically sustainable way," said an OMAF spokesperson. Large declines in insecticide and fungicide use on fruit, in particular, are credited to increased adoption of IPM and alternative pest control strategies such as border sprays for migratory pests, mating disruption, alternate row spraying, and pest monitoring.
Online Tool Kit Helps Value-Added Grant Applicants
Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center is offering a free online tool kit to help farmers and ranchers prepare applications for USDA Value-Added Producer Grants, due July 30. The Tool Kit is designed to help producers complete the forms and create the narratives that applications require, and features guidelines, proposal templates, samples of previously funded proposals, and "tips for success." VAPG funds are authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill and are intended to boost rural development by advancing opportunities for agricultural producers to launch value added enterprises. Grants up to $500,000 may be awarded through the VAPG program, with matching funds required.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Awards
The World Hunger Year is a partner in the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Awards program, which distributes cash grants ($5,000 maximum award) to outstanding grassroots organizations in the United States that have moved beyond charity to creating change in their communities. Organizations selected as Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award winners are judged outstanding for their innovative and creative approaches to fighting domestic hunger and poverty by empowering people and building self-reliance. Applications are due August 15, 2004.
Stewardship Assistance on Conservation Easements in New Hampshire
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in New Hampshire is looking for applicants to provide Stewardship Assistance on Conservation Easements acquired under the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). Applicant(s) will be responsible for establishing a communication link with each conservation entity that holds FRPP easements and facilitating the completion of annual monitoring reports. Approximately $20,000 is available for funding in FY 2004. Proposals must be received by August 6, 2004 at 4 p.m.
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Minigrant
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (M-AITC) is pleased to offer a Minigrant Program for educators during the 2004-2005 school year. M-AITC is a public/private partnership serving K-12 education with a goal of helping to increase the understanding of agriculture among students and educators. This M-AITC Minigrant Program offers cash awards to help educators more effectively integrate agriculture and the "food system" into their regular curriculum. Grants of up to $200 will be awarded for budgeted expenses to provide for an original and creative activity or program. There are three deadlines for new school year applications: September 15, 2004 and January 15 and March 15, 2005.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Vermont Fresh Network Annual Forum
August 9, 2004
The 2004 Vermont Fresh Network Forum and Dinner, "Cultivating the Farm to Table Connection" will feature renowned culinary educator, author and host of America's Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball as keynote speaker. The program highlights the strong partnerships between chefs and farmer-producers that make both Vermont's landscape and cuisine unique and sustainable.
Local Food for Healthy Children and Profitable Family Farms
August 20, 2004
This day-long conference looks at the farm-to-table connection, including health benefits of local food, and keeping value on the farm.
Tour de Farms VI Bicycle Tour
August 22, 2004
The Morris Farm Trust organizes the annual "Tour de Farms" bicycle tours of farms and farmstands, celebrating the many social, economic, environmental, and health benefits of cycling and eating locally-produced foods. Rides ranging from 15 to 100 miles begin at the Morris Farm and wend along some of the most scenic roads in midcoast Maine. The tour includes rest stops at farms and historic sites en route. It is followed by an afternoon barbecue at the Morris Farm featuring produce and meats from the farms visited on the ride.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/cgi-bin/event/calendar.cgi.
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Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web
site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National
Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant
from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural
Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT
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