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NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 9, 2011

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

Help Us Help Farmers Manage Risk

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) recently received grants to conduct six USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) projects in different regions of the country. The projects will provide training to assist farmers and ranchers with diverse specialty crop and livestock operations on smaller acreages in lowering their risks by exploring crop-insurance alternatives, market diversification, and financial planning. NCAT is looking for farming organizations that would like to sponsor workshops or other training opportunities under these projects in any of the following states: Maine, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

News & Resources

  • Study Compares Affordability of Farmers Markets with Supermarkets in Southeast
  • ARS Studies Use of Biochar to Improve Soil Qualities
  • Seventy–eight Percent of U.S. Families Say They Purchase Organic Foods
  • University of Minnesota Reports on Canola Cover Crop Research
  • Online Apple-growing Resource Offered
  • Better Cotton Initiative Aims at Making Cotton More Sustainable

Funding Opportunities

  • Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
  • P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet
  • Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network Demonstration Farms

Coming Events

  • New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference
  • Tri-State Fruit and Vegetable Growers Symposium
  • Fearless Farm Finances Training

News & Resources

Study Compares Affordability of Farmers Markets with Supermarkets in Southeast
SCALE, Inc. undertook a survey and analysis of 24 farmers markets in six states in Appalachia and the Southeast during September and October 2011. The study found that farmers markets were the same or less expensive overall than supermarkets 74% of the time on the range of items chosen.

ARS Studies Use of Biochar to Improve Soil Qualities
ARS scientists are evaluating biochar—charred biomass created from wood, other plant material, and manureto see if it can be used to enhance soil qualities. The research team found that biochars produced from switchgrass and hardwoods increased soil moisture storage, and biochar made from poultry litter greatly increased soil levels of available phosphorus and sodium.
Related ATTRA Publication: Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture

Seventy–eight Percent of U.S. Families Say They Purchase Organic Foods
Seventy eight percent—more U.S. families than ever before—say they are choosing organic foods, according to the Organic Trade Association's newly released 2011 U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study. Four in ten families indicate they are buying more organic products than they were a year ago.

University of Minnesota Reports on Canola Cover Crop Research
The University of Minnesota has posted a website reporting on its research into canola as a cover crop for pre-emergence weed/disease suppression. The site reports on a study to determine the effectiveness of several pesticide-free methods of killing canola to maximize weed suppression in the production of strawberries, pumpkins, and fresh-market new potatoes.

Online Apple-growing Resource Offered
A new online resource about growing apples and apple production is available from eXtension.org. Researchers and extension educators from several universities have provided information to help apple growers select rootstocks and cultivars, locate tree nurseries, plan and manage planting, identify and manage diseases and pests, and more.
Related ATTRA Publication: Apples: Organic Production Guide

Better Cotton Initiative Aims at Making Cotton More Sustainable
The Better Cotton Initiative is trying to fundamentally shift how cotton is grown by focusing on three objectives: decreasing the environmental impact of cotton; improving labor standards; and increasing the economic livelihood for farmers. The initiative involves major apparel retailers, who are tracking the cotton they use to ensure its sustainability.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Cotton Production for the Humid South

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
This program will assist community-based organizations, higher education institutions and eligible tribal entities in providing outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Applications are due by December 12, 2011.

P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet
EPA requests applications for the P3 competition, open exclusively to teams of undergraduate and/or graduate students attending U.S. colleges, universities and other post-secondary educational institutions. EPA considers projects that address challenges from a wide range of categories: agriculture, built environment, materials and chemicals, energy, and water.
Applications are due by December 22, 2011.

Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network Demonstration Farms
The Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network is proud to announce a new program to promote and support demonstration farm sites around the state. Ten demonstration farm sites will be sponsored with mini-grants of $2,500.
Applications are due by November 15, 2011.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference
December 13-15, 2011
Manchester, New Hampshire
This event will include more than 25 educational sessions over three days, covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crops as well as various special topics.

Tri-State Fruit and Vegetable Growers Symposium
December 2, 2011
Sioux City, Iowa

Growers can choose from a variety of fruit/vegetable production and marketing sessions led by university extension horticulture specialists and experienced local growers. Topics include fruit trees, aronia berries, grapes, ethnic vegetable varieties, organic insect and pest control, and community supported agriculture strategies.

Fearless Farm Finances Training
December 9-10, 2011
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Join Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) for a two-day training that will help you develop a comfort and an understanding of the basics of farm financial management.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

© 2011 NCAT

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New Publication
Composting: The Basics

Question of the Week
What can you tell me about liquid copper as an organic fungicide?

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