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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 24, 2016

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

  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Grants Announced
  • Winter High Tunnel Spinach Has Highest Sugar Content
  • Start to Farm Initiates New Farmer Training in Iowa
  • More Biodiverse Grasslands Provide Higher Level of Ecosystem Services
  • Oregon Hosts First National Conference on Specialty Crop Grants
  • Canadian Researchers Explore Potential of Eco-Buffers

Funding Opportunities

  • Northeast SARE Farmer Grants
  • Laura Jane Musser Fund Rural Initiative
  • Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program

Coming Events

  • The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh
  • Common Ground Country Fair
  • Farm and Food Leadership Conference

News & Resources

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Grants Announced
USDA has announced a new investment of $17.8 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) for 37 projects to help educate, mentor, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. This year's awards will be made in 27 states. The National Center for Appropriate Technology received grants for Building Farm Foundations and Planning for Success: Beginning Farmer Training for Military Veterans in the Intermountain West and in the Northeast.

Winter High Tunnel Spinach Has Highest Sugar Content
Research at the University of New Hampshire has revealed that spinach grown in high tunnels during the coldest months of winter has the highest sugar content. A two-year study focused on Regiment, Space, and Tyee varieties, planted at six different dates to determine the most suitable varieties and planting dates for winter spinach production in New Hampshire in an unheated high-tunnel environment.

Start to Farm Initiates New Farmer Training in Iowa
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is organizing Start to Farm: New Farmer Learning Network, a free, statewide program to provide education and support for beginning and early-career agricultural producers. Multiple groups will be organized throughout the state to discuss production techniques, ways to grow and improve business practices, and farm-management strategies.

More Biodiverse Grasslands Provide Higher Level of Ecosystem Services
A study a published in Nature by more than 60 researchers from numerous universities found that a diverse ecosystem populated by many species from all levels of the food chain provides higher levels of ecosystem services. These include food production, soil development, pest control, climate regulation, and cultural services. Maintaining high levels of diversity among plants, insects, and soil organisms proved more economical and wiser in the long term than destroying biodiversity in any one group to promote short-term gains.

Oregon Hosts First National Conference on Specialty Crop Grants
Oregon is hosting the inaugural meeting of state coordinators of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program this week. The National Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Coordinators Conference provides a national look at specialty crop statistics and new performance measures for those administering the program.

Canadian Researchers Explore Potential of Eco-Buffers
The Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiative research farm is the site of a study on eco-buffers: dense, mixed plantings of native trees and shrubs between cropland and wetland. The eco-buffers are an enhanced version of a traditional shelterbelt, and they provide a range of ecosystem services, including pollinator habitat that results in improved crop yield.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Farmer Grants
Farmer Grants are for commercial producers who have an innovative idea they want to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique. A technical advisor must also be involved. To apply, you must be a commercial farmer in the Northeast SARE region.
Application deadline is November 29, 2016.

Laura Jane Musser Fund Rural Initiative
The Laura Jane Musser Fund encourages collaborative and participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions in a number of civic areas. Programs in Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wyoming may apply. The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or fewer and must be able to demonstrate the rural characteristics of their location. Planning grants up to $5,000 and implementation grants up to $25,000 are available.
Proposals must be submitted online by November 2, 2016.

Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has announced that $250,000 is available to test ideas that could conserve natural resources, enhance profitability, and improve life on the farm. This program funds projects that demonstrate farming methods or systems that increase energy efficiency, reduce agricultural chemical usage, and show economic and environmental benefits. Projects must last two to three years and applicants may receive up to $25,000.
The deadline to apply is December 13, 2016.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh
September 29-30, 2016
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The 2016 Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association (NODPA) Field Days will focus on regenerating our soil, renewing our farms' infrastructures, and refreshing ourselves in order for our farms and families to thrive into the future. There will be workshops on soil, infrastructure, and marketing, as well as policy updates.

Common Ground Country Fair
September 23-25, 2016
Unity, Maine

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association presents an annual event that brings together people from many walks of life, in the spirit of celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine. The event features workshops, exhibits, vendors, and hundreds of talks and demonstrations.

Farm and Food Leadership Conference
September 25-27, 2016
Bastrop, Texas

This conference focuses on the policies and regulations affecting our farms and our food, providing information and tools to help support the growth of the local and sustainable food movement. In-depth pre-conference workshops address how to form a successful co-op, food safety for produce growers, and productive and profitable eco-farming.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

© 2016 NCAT

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Updated ATTRA Publication
Grazing Contracts for Livestock

Question of the Week
What are organic solutions for managing brown rot in peaches?

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Governor's Local Food and Agriculture Summit
October 28-29, 2016
Bozeman, Montana
Registration now open!

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