• 27May

    USDA Begins Issuing Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Market Report
    USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began releasing a new National Monthly Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Meat Report on May 13, 2015. With this market report, USDA aims to assist farmers and ranchers who are considering converting and those already producing grass-fed lamb and goat products. In addition to market commentary, the new report includes prices for wholesale grass-fed lamb and direct-to-consumer grass-fed lamb and goat.

    Grants Support Organic Dairy Farm Succession Initiative
    Land For Good (LFG) has launched an initiative aimed at successfully transferring working organic dairy farms in New England to next-generation farmers. LFG received grants from Clif Bar Family Foundation and Organic Valley’s Farms Advocating For Organics Fund to support the initiative. Project partners will conduct farmer focus groups and work with farms on transfer planning.

    Yale-Led Study Says Healthy Soil Helps Buffer Impacts of Global Warming 
    In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of researchers showed that a healthy and diverse soil community can buffer natural ecosystems against the damaging impacts of global warming. This study showed that in healthy soils with a diversity of small soil animals, the animals fed on microorganisms, helping control the potential for increased carbon emissions from decomposition and limiting feedback effects.

    Farmers Market Pricing Study Shows Competitive Prices
    A comparison in West Central Minnesota found that farmers market prices during peak growing season were highly competitive with regional grocery store prices. The study will help vendors and farmers market organizers with pricing strategies. Information on how market vendors can apply the study findings is contained in the final report, available online in PDF.

    Tree Fruit Pest and Beneficial Insect Search Tool Online
    A new search engine for tree fruit diseases, insect and mite pests, and beneficials is now online at the Michigan State University Integrated Pest Management website. Searches can be conducted by name or category. The search engine currently covers tree fruit crops and expansion to other crops is planned for the future.
    Related ATTRA Publication: Apple Insect Pests Identification Sheet

    Broccoli Production Proving Viable on East Coast
    Cornell has released a study showing that new regional production of broccoli in the eastern United States is economically viable. The economic analysis found that although production costs are higher in the east, transportation costs would be lower. A challenge for eastern producers is finding broccoli varieties that withstand the region’s heat and humidity. The Cornell project also includes testing to identify suitable varieties.

    >> More Breaking News

  • 26May

    Millions Still Available to Help Farmers Purchase Land
    With less than five months remaining in the current fiscal year, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) still has nearly one billion dollars available for farm loans to help family farmers across the country buy land.  With the average for FSA real estate loan size being $182,000, this remaining funding could translate to nearly 5,000 more farmers who could use an FSA loan to purchase farmland…

    Funding Available to Build Food Safety Training Infrastructure
    On Monday, the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a request for applications (RFA) to establish Regional Centers for food safety training, education, outreach, and technical assistance.  This new program targets the entities most vulnerable to the new food safety requirements; namely, small and mid-sized farms, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and small fruit and vegetable wholesalers…

    Upcoming Deadlines for Federal Farm and Food Programs
    NSAC has compiled a list of upcoming deadlines for federal food and farm grant applications and grant assistance workshops. If you farm or work with farmers, consult the list below and share it with those you know.  The next few months are critical to ensure timely and successful completion of applications…

    Organizations Defend Rural Development Funding in 2016 Appropriations
    On Thursday, May 14, the Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development (CRRD) delivered a letter urging the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees to support key rural development programs during the FY 2016 appropriations process…

    White House Pollinator Strategy Released
    On Tuesday, May 19, the White House Pollinator Health Task Force released the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.  The strategy report details the history of pollinator decline and lays out the goals for action by Federal departments and agencies in collaboration with public and private entities…

    Strategic Economic and Community Development Rule – Open for Comment!
    On Tuesday, May 19, the USDA published an interim rule on the Strategic Economic and Community Development program. This rule, which goes into effect on June 19, sets aside up to 10 percent of funds appropriated to a handful of Rural Development programs to focus some of the program funding on regional projects rather than a single community development plan…

    Programs in Action: Building Viable Speciality Industries with SARE
    The SARE program is a farmer driven research, education and extension grants program designed to help advance sustainable agriculture across the country.  With an increased national focus on finding ways to better support the next generation of farmers, we are highlighting two SARE success stories featuring female farmers whose research grants helped to launch new farm-based industries in their regions…

    New Research: Organic Systems Provide More Market and Ecosystem Value than Conventional Farms
    A newly-published study comparing organically-managed and conventional farmland in New Zealand found that organic fields consistently provide more value per acre in the production of beans, peas, barley and wheat.  The study calculated and compared the value of both “non-traded ecosystem services” and the market value of crops produced on matched pairs of ten organic and ten conventional farm fields…

  • 25May

    In the past we’ve delved into a world of chickens and ducks on the farm. For beginning farmers, chickens are an easy bird to master with ducks following closely behind. What if instead of these two birds it is turkeys you prefer? Raising turkeys on the farm can be done in much the same manner as other poultry animals with a few care and maintenance modifications, giving you birds that dress out between 12 to 28 pounds depending on the breed you choose.

    Speaking of breed, the first step in raising turkeys is to decide which breed is ideal for your farm and family. Once your research is done and breed preference is determined, turkeys can be ordered via postal mail from hatcheries. This gives you access to a wide range of birds that you may not be able to find locally, although local acquisition is possible. Checking the bulletin board at your local feed store is a good place to find turkey chicks, or poults, for sale or post that you are looking for some. Should that not pan out, however, you can always fall back on the post office to deliver them right to your door.

    Some of the more popular turkeys for farm raising include:

    1. Bourbon Red turkeys are a heritage breed that are red, black, and white in color and medium-sized. They forage heartily and are named for Bourbon County, Kentucky from where they originated.

    2. Midget White turkeys are small in size and quick to grow. Traditionally found in grocery stores, they are favored for intimate family gatherings.

    3. The Narragansett turkey is black, gray, tan, and white in color and hails from Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Though in the past this bird was much heavier, it is presently seen in a weight range of 14 to 23 pounds.

    4. Standard Bronze turkeys are likely the most popular breed of turkey today. They are a larger bird that dresses out at up to 28 pounds, therefore making it a good selection for large families and holiday gatherings.

    5: Eastern Wild turkeys, though small, are favored for their robust and rugged nature. The problem with this breed, however is that they are actually illegal in some states so it is necessary to check local laws before adding this bird to your farm.

    Photo: Curbstone Valley

    Photo: Curbstone Valley

    Once your chicks arrive, it is important to keep them in an area where they will be warm and dry. Turkey chicks need to be fed an un-medicated chick food that is safe for turkeys (check the bag for details) and provided easy access to fresh water. In many cases, turkeys will need to be shown where to gain access to food and water at a young age, so be vigilant about their condition to ensure they are getting the food and water that they need.  As they grow, you can add other foods to their diet such as corn and oats but continue to assure all foods your turkeys eat are un-medicated. Given the chance, turkeys will free range just as chickens do, foraging about on your farm.

    It will become possible for turkey chicks to fly so it may be necessary to clip their wings in order to keep them on your farm. Wing clipping will need to be repeated every month or so in order to keep birds grounded. This has a downside in that it makes them vulnerable to predation when young, but as they grow in size they become less likely to be preyed upon. Until they are of a decent size, they can be kept in a coop at night, and eventually moved to a pen with other livestock to help keep them safe.

    Upon reaching 20 weeks of age, most turkeys are ready for the table. At this age, their meat will be at its most appetizing point of tenderness while still giving you a large enough bird to make processing worthwhile. It is possible, however, to allow them to continue to grow beyond this point, but do keep in mind that there will come a time when they may become aggressive as in the case of nesting hen or sexually mature toms. The decision on when to process birds is up to the individual.

    If having large poultry birds in your farm freezer appeals to you, raising turkeys could be the ideal way to achieve that. Not only are they beautiful to look at and tasty on the plate, but they provide valuable pest control services in much the same manner a chicken would. If you want turkey on your table at more than just Thanksgiving, adding such birds to your farm is the way to go.

  • 24May

    Upcoming Webinar: Incubator Land Management and Teaching Ecological Land Use
    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 1PM-2:30PM EST
    Presented by NIFTI and the Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (ALBA)

    This Webinar will feature:

    Nathan Harkleroad, Outreach and Education Program Manager at ALBA, who will share how ALBA defines sustainable land management, and how this informs farmer policies and plays out in farmer practices. Nathan will discuss the challenges and lessons learned while implementing a sustainable land management plan with 40 farmers on 150 acres. He will also cover how sustainable land use is incorporated into ALBA’s farmer education curriculum.

    Dr. Peter Walker, Dean of the Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University, who will focus on how Chatham incorporates farm and woodland into the campus and educational agenda at Eden Hall, Chatham University’s brand new, 388 acre fully sustainable campus. His presentation will describe just what it means to be a sustainable campus, how Chatham is trying to integrate the farm into the teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurial agenda, and what Chatham hopes to do in the future.

    Eero Ruuttila, Technical Assistance and Incubator Farm Manager at New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, who will present on fertility management on the incubator site, including specific strategies that he has developed over his 35 year career as an organic farmer and organic food advocate. He will also discuss approaches and challenges related to planning for and teaching long-term soil/fertility management with multiple farmers that have finite time on the farm site.

  • 23May

    Multi-pronged plan to bolster bees

    WASHINGTON — The federal government hopes to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making more federal land bee-friendly, spending more money on research and considering the use of less pesticides. Scientists say bees — crucial to pollinate many crops — have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, disease, and pesticides. The federal plan is…
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    Urban farmers want reseach farms

    WASHINGTON — About 80 percent of Americans now live in urban areas, and more and more of us are growing food in cities as well. But where’s an urban farmer to turn for a soil test or when pests infiltrate the fruit orchard? Increasingly, they can turn to institutions that have been serving farmers in rural areas for more than…
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  • 22May


     Journalist Steven McFadden announced publication this month of a new ebook, Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.

    CSA BookOver the last three decades many thousands of people in all parts of the world have come to recognize in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) a vehicle for approaching land, food, labor, environment, and community in a healthier way. According to the USDA, as many as 12,000 new CSA farms have been established in the USA since 1986, directly linking people with the farmers who grow their food. Many thousands more CSA farms have taken root around the world.

    Now – in an era with increasing shadows of environmental catastrophe – it’s time to expand exponentially the CSA vision and reality. The opportunity is before us to establish hundreds of thousands of CSA farms in nations around the world, and to thereby employ a proven, egalitarian model to address the radically changing circumstances in our environment, climate, economics, and social relationships.

    Awakening Community Intelligence lays out the vision, and sounds a call to action.

    You can learn more at this link: http://chiron-communications.com/?p=2115

    McFadden has been writing about CSA since its inception in the USA in the late 1970s. The author of 15 nonfiction titles, he is co-author of the first two books on CSA:Farms of Tomorrow and Farms of Tomorrow Revisited. His other books include The Call of the LandProfiles in WisdomClassical Considerations, and an epic nonfiction saga of contemporary America, Odyssey of the 8th Fire.

  • 21May

    As an apprentice on Swallowtail Farm you will have the opportunity to learn about small scale, ecologically aware farming on a nascent family farm. We are not certified organic, but we do not use any chemicals or synthetic substances on our food or our fields. We are aspiring toward biodynamic; we have a philosophy that is focused on the holistic nature of farming and aim to create harmony within our farm.  By no means are apprenticeships easy. They require hard work and long hours in the field, but offer the important benefit of being a part of the inner workings of the farm. The focus of our apprenticeship program is to work alongside folks with an earnest desire to learn about farming. Ideal candidates are self-motivated and looking for agricultural training with a community purpose.

    The main responsibility of apprentices will be to master planting, harvesting, processing and marketing of produce for CSA, wholesale & Market sales.

    Swallowtail Farm in Florida

    About The Farm:
    Swallowtail Farm is a small diversified family farm located 20 miles NW of Gainesville Florida. We raise organically grown vegetables on a seven acre plot on a 30 acre farm for a 200 member CSA, farmers markets, local restaurants, and farm to table dinners. We also grow cut flowers, arranged with love by Mariana for bouquets, events and wedding. We raise a flock of laying hens,bee hives, katahdin/gulf coast cross ewes, heritage breed hogs, jersey & dexter milk cows, and two livestock guard dogs/love bug lap dogs. Our goal is to be as diverse and sustainable as possible and we are constantly striving to meet these ends. We are just getting started with a small scale dairy operation. We are milking, making cheese and  starting a small dairy CSA.  CSA is the pumping heart of our farm and the community we create around it is our life blood. We love our CSA people.

    For additional information and to apply, click Read More –> Read more »

  • 20May

    The 106th annual meeting of the Northern Nut Growers Association will be held in La Crosse, Wisconsin on July 26th – 29th, 2015.

    The meeting will be held in the Cartwright Center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Lodging is available on-campus in Reuter Hall or at the Radisson Hotel located approximately 1 mile from the Cartwright Center.

    Discounted registration rates are available for NNGA members, students, and early registrations.

    To learn more, and to register, go to http://www.nutgrowing.org/meetinfo.htm

  • 20May

    Do you know beginning farmers or ranchers struggling to find startup funds to start a food or agriculture business? $145,000 is up for grabs in the 2016 Farm Bureau Challenge, a business competition for rural entrepreneurs. Help beginning farmers and ranchers compete for startup funds, hone their business plans and promote their businesses nationally. The competition begins June 1, but you can review the application today at StrongRuralAmerica.com.

    For more information, visit the website or email Morgan Slaven at morgans@fb.org.

    Farm Bureau Challenge

  • 19May

    Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is a non-profit organization that strengthens farms and engages the community to build the local food economy. Our programs include the Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown®marketing campaign, educational activities for the public, technical assistance trainings and workshops for farmers, and programs to expand market options for farmers and increase access to local food for all communities in our region.

    Job Opening:  Financial Manager - Status:  Part-time Position (75%, 30 hours/week)

    Time Frame:  Review begins 5/20/15, position open until filled


    The Financial Manager performs all maintenance and analysis of accounting records according to generally accepted accounting principles and performs grants management tasks for CISA. This position collects, compiles, records, and prepares data and standard and customized reports necessary for decision-making as requested. The Financial Manager is also responsible for tracking all grant deadlines, preparing grant-related paperwork, preparing regular unfunded expenses reports, and tracking accounts payable and accounts receivable.

    More details here: http://www.buylocalfood.org/about/people/job-opening/

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