Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - August 24, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* USDA Announces Web Soil Survey
* New Publication Spotlights Farm to School Education Programs
* Researchers Test Flower Varieties
* Vertical Farms: the Agriculture of the Future?
* Sustainable Fisheries Movement Affects Aquaculture Market
* Connecticut Enacts Farmland Protection Legislation
* Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Northeastern Region
* Wisconsin Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Grants
* Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation Agricultural Diversification Projects
* National Workshop on State and Local Food Policy
* CSU Specialty Crops Program Field Day
* Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference
News & Resources
USDA Announces Web Soil Survey
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new Web Soil Survey site that provides public access to the national soils information system. The Web site allows viewers to define a particular geographic area and print, save, or download soils information for that area. Users can also explore the designated location for specific information on soil suitability in relationship to usage. A customized report can then be delivered to users via print, CD, DVD, or other media. With the launch of this Web site, traditional printed and bound soil survey maps will slowly be phased out.
New Publication Spotlights Farm to School Education Programs
A new publication of the Community Food Security Coalition focuses on educational activities that complement local food purchasing in schools. Titled Feeding Young Minds: Hands-on Farm to School Education Programs, the booklet provides profiles of experiential education programs around the country that help connect kids to their food supply. According to the CFSC blurb, programs "range from cooking classes in New Mexico, to school fundraisers in Ohio, to kindergartners tasting watermelon radishes in Pennsylvania. Each program is unique, yet offers insights and possibilities of what can be achieved when farm-fresh products in the cafeteria are linked with experiential education activities." The booklet is available from the CFSC Web site for $10 plus shipping.
Researchers Test Flower Varieties
Researchers at Penn State are testing cut flower varieties so they can make recommendations to farmers, reports The Public Opinion. The studies have been going on for about ten years, with current work funded by a multi-year SARE grant. The researchers say their work is particularly important now, because cut flowers can play an important role in agricultural diversification, and in helping new farmers get started with a profitable enterprise that doesn't require much land. Key characteristics for cut flowers are those that are easy to grow, attractive, long-lasting, and don't produce much pollen. This study focuses particularly on zinnias and sunflowers.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Cut Flower Production
Vertical Farms: the Agriculture of the Future?
As the human population continues to increase and as more people migrate to urban centers, how will our food production systems need to change in order to feed the world's population? With approximately 80 percent of the world's arable land already in use, Dr. Dickson Despommier and his students at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health are proposing an innovative solution: the vertical farm. The Columbia team envisions the vertical farm as a multi-story intensely managed indoor farm, capable of producing traditional greenhouse crops, as well as pigs and fowl, year-round. In an essay titled " The Vertical Farm: Reducing the impact of agriculture on ecosystem functions and services," Despommier lays out the advantages of vertical farming and says one of the best reasons to pursue it may be the promise of restoring ecosystem services and functions. The Vertical Farm Web site includes plans, designs, links, and the most recent report by Despommier's students, The Living Farm: Energy Requirements.
Sustainable Fisheries Movement Affects Aquaculture Market
Vancouver Magazine recently carried a piece on a chef-led movement toward more sustainable fish consumption. The article points to two prime concerns in fish consumption: species that are endangered by overfishing, and environmental impacts of coastal aquaculture. While shellfish aquaculture has received a nod of approval for little environmental impact, salmon farming in particular has raised concerns about contaminating water with waste and spreading disease to wild fish. The article points out that one alternative is raising fish in land-locked operations in tanks. Waste can than be used to fertilize fields and grow other crops.
Connecticut Enacts Farmland Protection Legislation
In July Connecticut gained new legislation hailed as one of the most important pieces of legislation in support of agriculture in recent memory, says the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. Senate Bill 410 (now Public Act 05-228) "An Act Concerning Farm Land Preservation, Land Protection, Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation" creates a permanent fund to conserve the state's farmland and open space, preserve historic buildings and construct affordable housing through a $30 surcharge on the documents that record real estate transactions. The dedicated funding stream is expected to raise about $26 million a year, with an estimated $6.5 million going to each of the four areas - preservation of farmland, conservation of undeveloped forest and other open space, protection of historic buildings and landmarks, and construction or renovation of affordable housing.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/news/.
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Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Northeastern Region
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Competitive Grants Program supports projects that develop individual pest control tactics, integrate individual tactics into an IPM system, and develop and implement extension education programs. Proposed projects must address the pest management needs expressed by stakeholders, benefit the Northeastern region, enhance environmental quality, and have a high likelihood of being implemented because of economical, environmental, or human health advantages. Letters of Intent are due October 7, 2005.
Wisconsin Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Grants
The Wisconsin 2005 Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) Grant program invites proposals for grants in three categories. The GLCI is a national effort begun in 1991 to help landowners improve the ecological and productive condition of the Nation's private grazing lands, the economic condition of farmers and ranchers, and the social well being of rural communities. The three categories include: (1) Technical Service Provider (TSP), (2) Education and Demonstration, and (3) Research in managed intensive grazing. The TSP and Education and Demonstration grant applications are being managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Approximately $522,580 is available for these two grants. Applications must be postmarked by September 23, 2005. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems is coordinating grant applications for the third category, Research grants. Approximately $340,649 in research funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications for Research grants must be postmarked by October 14, 2005.
Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation Agricultural Diversification Projects
The Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation seeks to help create and enhance economic opportunities for Ohio's tobacco farm families and their rural communities. Cost share funding is available for agricultural diversification projects, expansion, commercial agribusiness, or value-added agriculture. A business plan is required.
additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/funding/.
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National Workshop on State and Local Food Policy
September 8-9, 2005
Des Moines, Iowa
Drake University Agricultural Law Center is pleased to host the third annual National Workshop on State and Local Food Policy. The theme of the 2005 conference is "Creating Opportunity through Joint Producer Initiatives." Many small farmers that raise specialty crops or niche products can mitigate risk in agriculture by joining together to develop the skills and the capacity to move beyond direct consumer sales into larger institutional and commercial markets. The National Workshop will highlight operational and legal issues related to these efforts, including financing, ownership and control, and risk management techniques.
CSU Specialty Crops Program Field Day
September 12, 2005
Fort Collins, Colorado
All growers, master gardeners, extension agents, researchers, and other interested parties are welcome to this free field day, including exhibits of fruit and vegetable crops and presentations on pest management options, heat stress, and the lettuce bolting study. They will also give an update on a study examining whether health benefits of nutritionally superior vegetables can be important to market competitiveness of small farms, and if organic or conventional management practices results in differing nutritional and market value of these crops.
Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference
October 6-9, 2005
The conference will feature over 40 workshops, networking, field trips and skill-building sessions, local food and culture, and much more.
events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/.
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