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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - October 21, 2015

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

  • Cover Crops Offer Low-Cost, High-Quality Grazing, Iowa Study Shows
  • Study Will Assess Risks and Benefits of Wild Birds on Organic Farms
  • Farm to School Census Reveals Program Benefits
  • Minnesota's 2015 Greenbook Tells Sustainable Agriculture Stories
  • Veggie Videos Support Farm to School Efforts
  • National Survey of Organic Farmers Results to Guide Research Agenda

Funding Opportunities

  • Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans and Grants
  • Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program
  • New York Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Sustaining Our Iowa Land (SOIL)
  • Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network's Regional Food and Farm Forums
  • NGFN Webinar: National Food Hub Survey 2015

News & Resources

Cover Crops Offer Low-Cost, High-Quality Grazing, Iowa Study Shows
Two research reports by Practical Farmers of Iowa show that farmers with access to cover crops have a high-quality, low-cost source of cold-weather feed that can extend the grazing season, reduce the amount of hay needed, and let pastures rest longer in the spring. Reports on the farmer-conducted projects "Grazing Cover Crops on Corn Ground" and "Grazing Cover Crops for Winter Feed" are available online.
Related ATTRA Publication: Integrating Livestock and Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income

Study Will Assess Risks and Benefits of Wild Birds on Organic Farms
Researchers from Washington State University, University of California Riverside, and Oregon State University have received an OREI grant from USDA for a study that will assess the risks and benefits of wild birds on organic farms. This study will determine what types of insects the birds are eating, as well as the types of pathogens and parasites they carry. The research will inform the development of food safety guidelines using evidence-based information.

Farm to School Census Reveals Program Benefits
Preliminary USDA Farm to School Census data for school year 2013-2014 indicate that strong farm to school programs can offer a number of economic, educational, and nutritional benefits. Census data indicate that schools purchased nearly $600 million worth of food locally in school year 2013-2014, a 55% increase over school year 2011-2012. Nationwide, more than 42,000 schools have farm to school programs. Nearly half of respondents indicated that they plan to increase local food purchases.

Minnesota's 2015 Greenbook Tells Sustainable Agriculture Stories
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has published the 2015 Greenbook, featuring 19 stories about sustainable agriculture research and demonstration projects taking place on crop, livestock, fruit, and vegetable farms. The annual publication highlights projects funded by the state's Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant program.

Veggie Videos Support Farm to School Efforts
The UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and partners have launched a series of five culinary training videos for school cafeteria staff titled "Chop! Chop! Culinary Skills for Wisconsin-Grown Produce in School Meals." Each video includes an introduction to a crop, culinary skills needed to prepare it, suggestions for how to incorporate it into the school menu, and nutrition information.

National Survey of Organic Farmers Results to Guide Research Agenda
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) reports that more than 1,000 farmers from across the United States participated in its recently completed National Survey of Organic Farmers. Preliminary results show that research on weed control (especially field bindweed and Canada thistle), building soil health and fertility, and coping with water management during drought and flooding are major priorities for U.S. organic farmers.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans and Grants
REAP provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. Grants cover up to 25% of total eligible project costs, and combined grant and loan guarantee funding is available for up to 75% of total eligible project costs.
Applications for grants of $20,000 or less are due by November 2, 2015.

Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program
NIFA's Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program is accepting applications for three kinds of grants: (1) Community Food Projects; (2) Planning Projects; and (3) Training and Technical Assistance Projects. The maximum Community Food Project award in a single year is $125,000 and the maximum award over four years is $400,000. The maximum Planning Project award is $35,000 for the total project period of a maximum of three years.
Applications are due November 30, 2015.

New York Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program
A new $1.4 million Climate Resilient Farming grant pilot program is making funding available to New York agricultural projects that develop and implement best management practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and perform carbon sequestration. Additionally, funding is available to projects that help agricultural producers prepare for and better manage the impacts of climate change. County Soil and Water Conservation Districts will apply for the competitive grants on behalf of farmers.
Applications are due by December 14, 2015.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Sustaining Our Iowa Land (SOIL)
November 19-20, 2015
Des Moines, Iowa

Drake University Agricultural Law Center and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will host Sustaining Our Iowa Land (SOIL): Past, Present, and Future Soil and Water Conservation Policy. The conference will bring together individuals and organizations working to protect Iowa's soil and water resources to consider the roles that policy and law play in shaping stewardship efforts.

Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network's Regional Food and Farm Forums
November 17, 2015
Africatown Community, Alabama

This is the third of four Regional Food & Farm Forums convening farmers, gardeners, community leaders, and good-food advocates to "cross-pollinate" and learn from one another. Topics covered range from those specific to on-farm production to intersecting issues such as environmental justice and community economic wellbeing.

NGFN Webinar: National Food Hub Survey 2015
November 19, 2015
Online

Join the National Good Food Network to learn the latest from an in-depth survey of a significant number of U.S. food hubs. This survey, designed by Michigan State University's Center for Regional Food Systems, in cooperation with the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration, is the definitive word on food hubs in the United States.

>> More Events

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