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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 7, 2019

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

  • Montana and Maine Eaters Embark on Local Food Challenges in August
  • Case Studies Show Soil Health Practices Increase Farm Profitability
  • Short Films Showcase Soil Health Efforts in Colorado's San Luis Valley
  • California Seeks Input on Priorities for Specialty Crop Grant Program
  • Remote Sensing Documents Conservation Practices
  • Portable Sniffer Technology Identifies Plant Disease

Funding Opportunities

  • Specialty Crop Multi-State Program
  • Wisconsin Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant
  • Minnesota Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education Grants

Coming Events

  • Organic Growers School Harvest Conference
  • Soil Health Journey Bus Tour
  • How Not to Start a Goat Dairy: Lessons Learned & Models for Success From a Veteran, Female Farmer

News & Resources

Montana and Maine Eaters Embark on Local Food Challenges in August
The Montana Local Food Challenge is inviting Montanans to eat local food every day for the month of August. People who sign up to participate in the challenge, and special focus challenges each week of the month, become eligible for local food prize drawings. Meanwhile, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is asking individuals to pledge to eat all local and organic foods for one day, one week, or the month of August.
Related ATTRA Publications: Local Food Systems

Case Studies Show Soil Health Practices Increase Farm Profitability
American Farmland Trust (AFT), in partnership with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has released four case studies showing that healthier soil on farmland brings economic benefits to farmers and environmental benefits to society. The two-page case studies focus on corn-soybean production in Illinois and Ohio, almond production in California, and a diversified rotation (sweet corn, alfalfa, corn for silage or grain) in New York.

Short Films Showcase Soil Health Efforts in Colorado's San Luis Valley
The Soil and Water Conservation Society has released two short films that showcase the efforts of farmers and conservationists in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Soil Health in the West: The San Luis Valley features the work of farmers, ranchers, and their conservationist partners to efficiently use limited water resources and reduce soil erosion. Conservation Professionals: Inspiring a Movement highlights the lasting impact that NRCS conservationist Mike Collins had on the landscape and his community.
Related ATTRA Tutorial: Soil Health

California Seeks Input on Priorities for Specialty Crop Grant Program
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is seeking public comments on the program priorities for the 2020 Special Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). Through a two-phase competitive solicitation process, the SCBGP awards funds to projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of California specialty crops. Comments may be submitted at public listening sessions or via email through August 16, 2019.

Remote Sensing Documents Conservation Practices
Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS), a tool that analyzes remotely sensed images of the landscape, provides conservation-practice adoption data on a regional scale. OpTIS identifies and quantifies the proportion of cropland that is managed with conservation tillage practices and winter cover crops each year. The first data release showed that adoption of winter cover crops in the Corn Belt is growing, and use of conservation tillage practices for corn and soybeans remains steady.

Portable Sniffer Technology Identifies Plant Disease
North Carolina State University announced that researchers have developed portable sniffing technology that plugs into a smartphone to detect plant diseases in the field. The device works by sampling the airborne volatile organic compounds that plants release through their leaves. The tool could help farmers quickly differentiate between plant diseases with similar symptoms, right in the field.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Specialty Crop Multi-State Program
The Specialty Crop Multi-State Program administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service offers grants to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The program funds collaborative, multi-state projects that address the following regional or national level specialty crop issues: food safety; plant pests and disease; research; crop-specific projects addressing common issues; and marketing and promotion. Funds are competitively awarded to participating State departments of agriculture.
Organizations must submit applications to participating states by September 1, 2019. Participating states must submit applications to AMS by October 1, 2019.

Wisconsin Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant
Wisconsin farmer-led groups can apply for 2020 Producer-Led Watershed Protection matching grants up to $40,000 per year. Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will award grants to producer-led groups that focus on ways to prevent and reduce runoff from farm fields and farmsteads. Applicants must be groups of at least five farmers in the same watershed.
The application deadline is August 23, 2019.

Minnesota Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education Grants
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is taking applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education Grants. The MDA will award up to $374,000 to eligible institutions to increase the use of Minnesota grown and raised foods through planning and feasibility studies, or equipment purchases and physical improvements.
Applications must be submitted by November 7, 2019.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Organic Growers School Harvest Conference
September 6-7, 2019
Swannanoa, North Carolina
The Organic Growers School Harvest Conference offers affordable classes on organic growing and sustainable living. The conference features eight stand-alone, one-day workshops including Wild Foods, Medicine Making, Hemp Farming, and Forest Farming.

Soil Health Journey Bus Tour
September 7, 2019
Ellendale, Minnesota
Freeborn Area Soil Health Team presents a free coach bus tour showcasing three farmers improving soil health by using reduced tillage and cover crops. Discussion will include the economics of management, pros and cons of change, equipment modifications, nutrient management, and soil health demonstrations.

How Not to Start a Goat Dairy: Lessons Learned & Models for Success From a Veteran, Female Farmer
September 9, 2019
Olympia, Washington
At this Tilth Alliance afternoon Farm Walk, Rachael Taylor-Tuller and Matthew Tuller of Lost Peacock Creamery share how they came to be farmers, why they landed on a goat dairy, and how they are working to create a sustainable business model.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Pruning for Organic Management of Fruit Tree Diseases

Question of the Week
Can mulching help manage weeds in wheat?

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Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Selecting Vegetable Varieties for Butte
August 20, 2019
Butte, Montana
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