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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 5, 2012

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

News & Resources

  • Researchers Study Biochar Impact on Prairies
  • Articles Explore Climate Change and Agriculture
  • NWF Releases Roadmap for Increased Cover Crop Adoption
  • Oregon Guide Offers Best Practices for Outdoor Poultry Slaughter
  • Baltimore Urban Farm Plan Underway
  • Teams to Convene in New York to Tackle Universal Meat Industry Challenges

Funding Opportunities

  • Veteran Scholarships for Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
  • New York Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) for Grassland Protection and Management
  • Minnesota Value Added Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
  • EcoFarm Conference
  • Farming at Metro's Edge

News & Resources

Researchers Study Biochar Impact on Prairies
Iowa State University is examining how biochar affects natural ecosystems. Preliminary results from the first two years of research suggest that biochar has a positive effect on plant and soil biodiversity, but mycorrhizae diminish. A related experiment is applying biochar to Sun Gold cherry tomatoes on an organic vegetable farm. The Leopold Center website has two new videos about the biochar experiments.
Related ATTRA Publication: Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture

Articles Explore Climate Change and Agriculture
Outreach, an online magazine published in conjunction with the UN conference on climate change in Doha, Qatar, features numerous stories on the relationship between agriculture and climate change. Specific titles include "A New Climate-Friendly Food System," "Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: A prerequisite for coping with climate change," "Livestock and Climate Change: Intensification is not the answer," and "Public-Private Partnerships: A key to stimulating action for mitigation in agriculture."

NWF Releases Roadmap for Increased Cover Crop Adoption
National Wildlife Federation has released a new report, Roadmap for Increased Cover Crop Adoption. Farmers, scientists, extension specialists, and policy experts met to discuss what they saw as the biggest barriers to expanded cover crop adoption. The "Roadmap" they developed is the first step toward achieving the goal of 100 million acres of cover crops by 2025. The report identifies five main categories of barriers and opportunities to increase cover crop adoption.

Oregon Guide Offers Best Practices for Outdoor Poultry Slaughter
Oregon State University Small Farms Program has available A Best Practices Guide to Open Air Poultry Slaughter, a 10-page publication in PDF. This guide is not a manual for how to slaughter and process poultry, but it will help poultry processors of any size to operate in a safe, sanitary, and environmentally sound way. It addresses topics such as wastewater disposal, personal hygiene, the processing site, and pathogen control.

Baltimore Urban Farm Plan Underway
Baltimore's Office of Sustainability identified 35 potential urban farm sites and the city called for applicants with farming experience who would sign five-year leases at $100 per year and commit to working with neighborhood residents. The city accepted 10 proposals. The first of these farms is 1.5 acres on 75 contiguous vacant lots. Big City Farms will supply materials and training, while Strength to Love II, a faith-based nonprofit, will supply labor. They expect that Strength to Love Farms will eventually grow more than 150,000 pounds of fresh produce a year, to be sold and distributed locally.
Related ATTRA Publication: Start a Farm in the City

Teams to Convene in New York to Tackle Universal Meat Industry Challenges
Food+Tech Connect, GRACE Communications Foundation, and Applegate are bringing together technologists, entrepreneurs, creatives, policy experts, non-profit leaders, and industry executives December 7-9 in New York to develop technologies and tools that help democratize meat. Teams will tackle a number of specific challenges: how to better source GMO-free feed, the impact of consolidation on rural communities, access to markets, and improving food labeling. Winners will be awarded up to $2,500 and marketing services to help them continue working with stakeholders to bring their products to fruition.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Veteran Scholarships for Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
Through a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant, the University of Arkansas and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) are partnering to offer military veterans scholarships to attend Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's annual "Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference." (See "Coming Events" below.) The scholarships cover registration.
The deadline to apply for scholarships is December 14, 2012.

New York Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) for Grassland Protection and Management
This state program funds projects on private property that will help at-risk species that depend on unique grassland ecosystems to survive. Eligible private landowners interested in offsetting the decline in grassland bird habitat and populations will be able to apply for technical advice and financial incentives of $110 or $113 per acre per year to conduct the prescribed site management.
Applications are due by January 15, 2013.

Minnesota Value Added Grant Program
This grant program administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture supports Minnesota agricultural producers and processors in expanding markets for Minnesota products. Applications that have a meat processing or Farm to School component, or are addressing a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) or similar food safety plan, will receive priority. Two types of grants are awarded: business planning and equipment purchases.
Proposals must be received by December 31, 2012.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
January 23-26, 2013
Little Rock, Arkansas

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group presents this annual conference. Pre-conference events include intensive short courses, field trips, and mini courses. The general conference offers 62 sessions that provide organic and sustainable production and marketing information for commercial horticultural and livestock producers, enterprise management and farm profitability lessons, farm policy education, and community food systems development information.

EcoFarm Conference
January 23-26, 2013
Pacific Grove, California

The annual EcoFarm Conference is the oldest and largest gathering of ecologically sustainable agriculture advocates in the West. The conference offers myriad opportunities for participants to network with colleagues and discover the newest ecological agricultural research and techniques. This year's theme is "Feed the World You Want to Live In."

Farming at Metro's Edge
January 11, 2013
Rockville, Maryland

Focused on two neighboring counties in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, this conference will gather together farmers, consumers, citizen advocates, government agencies, and other interested parties. Participants will discuss the current state of agriculture in Frederick and Montgomery counties and identify obstacles and opportunities that exist for sustainable agricultural productivity in the region.

>> More Events

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Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA - was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project 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.

© 2012 NCAT

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