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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 31, 2008

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

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News & Resources
* Land in Organic Cotton Production Increases
* Videos Highlight Urban Gardening
* Fertilizer Tool Reduces Nutrient Runoff
* California Organic Fertilizer Contaminated by Synthetics
* New Michigan Law Boosts Farm-to-School Programs
* Fair Food Foundation Ceases Operation

Funding Opportunities
* North Central Region SARE Youth and Youth Educator Sustainable
    Agriculture Grants
* Missouri Value-Added Grant Program
* South Dakota Farmers' Market Grower Grant

Coming Events
* Organicology
* Wisconsin Grazing Conference
* NOFA Vermont Winter Conference

News & Resources

Land in Organic Cotton Production Increases
U.S. acreage planted with organic cotton increased for second straight year, according to research compiled by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Analysis of available data found that the total acres planted in organic cotton grew from 8,510 in 2007 to 9,279 in 2008, constituting a nine percent increase. Other survey findings revealed that changes are taking place within the organic cotton market. Organic cotton farmers saw the range in average price they received per pound increase from between $0.85 and $1.25 for organic upland cotton in 2006 to between $1 and $1.50 in 2007.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Organic Cotton Production

Videos Highlight Urban Gardening
"The Urban Side of Green" is a series of online videos produced by Penn State Outreach that discuss the benefits of greening up city landscapes. Part one of the series features an interview with Penn State's Dorothy Blair. Blair, an assistant professor of nutrition, is a longtime advocate of eating locally -- a lifestyle sometimes described as "localvore." Blair has been studying and teaching about global food production system for 30 years. "If you're producing food in a urban area, it's very diversified -- many producers on tiny plots. It's very energy-efficient, and you have people eating food that is good for them--extremely fresh--with the kind of nutrients they might find difficult to obtain because of their low budget," says Blair.

Fertilizer Tool Reduces Nutrient Runoff
A new field tool developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists applies poultry litter to fields in shallow bands, reducing runoff of excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. The tool digs shallow trenches about two to three inches deep in the soil. It then places the poultry litter in the trenches and covers it with soil. Burying the litter significantly reduces the risk of runoff. Litter was applied to bermuda grass forage plots, and then watered the field with a rainfall simulator. When the litter was applied with the new tool, phosphorus and nitrogen runoff were 80 to 95 percent lower than when the litter was applied in the conventional manner.

California Organic Fertilizer Contaminated by Synthetics
Some California organic farmers unknowingly used ammonium sulfate on their farms, reports The Sacramento Bee, when they applied a supposedly organic liquid fertilizer. According to investigation by the Bee, California Department of Food and Agriculture officials learned of the problem in June 2004, but didn't order the product removed from the organic market until January 2007. Another organic fertilizer product was also pulled from the market during investigation in 2007. Organic farmers who used the synthetic-contaminated product, including Earthbound and Driscoll, were not penalized by organic regulators. The story discusses the demand for organic fertilizers, and how they are regulated and tested, in its presentation of the history of this case.

New Michigan Law Boosts Farm-to-School Programs
Newly signed legislation in Michigan will make it easier for schools in the state to purchase locally grown food. According to Michigan Land Use Institute, the legislation reduces bureaucratic obstacles to significant food purchases by public schools and directs the state Departments of Education and Agriculture to help connect schools and farms. Under the new law, Michigan schools can now buy up to $100,000 of local products without developing a formal bid process.

Fair Food Foundation Ceases Operation
The Fair Food Foundation has announced that it is ceasing operation as a grant making foundation. According to the announcement by foundation president Oran B. Hesterman, the funds of the donors to the Foundation were managed by Bernard L. Madoff, a prominent financial advisor who was arrested for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. Due to the loss of funding, Fair Food Foundation is no longer in a position to consider any requests for funding, and is closing down its operation. The organization sought to work with historically excluded urban communities to design a food system that upholds the fundamental right to healthy, fresh and sustainably-grown food.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North Central Region SARE Youth and Youth Educator Sustainable Agriculture Grants
NCR-SARE Youth & Youth Educator Grants are intended to provide opportunities for youth in the North Central Region to learn more about Sustainable Agriculture. Youth grants of up to $400 are offered for on-farm research, demonstration, or education projects by youth ages 8-21. Research and demonstration projects are for hands-on efforts to explore sustainable agriculture issues and practices. Youth educator grants of up to $2,000 are offered for educators to provide programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. The North Central region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Proposals are due January 30, 2009.

Missouri Value-Added Grant Program
The Missouri Value-Added Grant Program provides grants for projects that add value to Missouri agricultural products and aid the economy of a rural community. Grant applications will be considered for value-added agricultural business concepts that lead to and result in development, processing and marketing of new or expanded uses or technologies for agricultural products; and foster agricultural economic development in Missouri’s rural communities.
Proposals are due January 23, 2009.

South Dakota Farmers' Market Grower Grant
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is providing federal funding for current farmers' markets or groups that are interested in beginning a farmers' market. Each applicant may apply for up to $1,000. These federal funds must be matched on a one-to-one basis.
Proposals are due March 15, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

February 26-28, 2009
Portland, Oregon

Organicology is a three-day conference that will study a sustainable food future through in-depth workshops, networking, a trade show, and keynote presentations by the world’s foremost organic food and farming experts. This first-time event is designed for everyone working in the organics industry and is focused on perspective enhancement, skill development, inspiration and celebration. The event is presented by Oregon Tilth, Organic Seed Alliance, the Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association and Organically Grown Company.

Wisconsin Grazing Conference
February 19-21, 2009
Stevens Point, Wisconsin

“Valuing the Past, Growing Our Future” includes a track for beginning graziers, a rumen track and a general track, as well as keynote speakers Joel McNair and Shannon Hayes. A trade show and general sessions on energy independence, Wisconsin's working lands initiative, and growing on grass are also planned.

NOFA Vermont Winter Conference
February 14-15, 2009
Randolph, Vermont

Join NOFA Vermont for “Grow it Here! Innovations Toward Local Food Sovereignty,” a conference offering more than 60 workshops for organic farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and consumers. The conference also features a farmers' market, NOFA Vermont's extensive book table, live music, silent auction, and potluck lunches. The Saturday keynote will be given by Andrew Meyer, founder of The Center for Agricultural Economy and Vermont Soy. The Sunday keynote will be given by Eliot Coleman.

> More Events

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