New Case Study Series Targets Beginning Farmers in Sustainable Agriculture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9 February 2011 CONTACT: Sarah Stai, 651-492-0414, sarah@ecosmithconsulting.com; Helene Murray, 612-625-0220, hmurray@umn.edu The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) recently launched an online series of case studies that provide beginning and transitioning farmers with a unique virtual resource.  The “Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” project uses photos, videos, and narratives to integrate personal stories of profiled farmers with detailed information on their practices.  The case studies also include technical assistance via extensive tips and links to finance, production, and marketing resources.

The first case study features Laura Frerichs and Adam Cullip of Loon Organics, based in Hutchinson, Minnesota.  They produce organic vegetables sold through farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture, and wholesale clients. A second case study is underway, featuring Cindy Hale and Jeff Hall of Clover Valley Farms in Duluth, Minnesota.  They raise pastured poultry and hogs, produce herbs in a passive greenhouse, and use integrated pest management to grow apples in new and restored heritage orchards. Case study users have had the following comments: * I will save this, share it and refer to it often.  It's everything I ever wanted to know! * Makes me want to do it, but also has me thinking more realistically. * No one can tackle everything at one time, so it’s nice to be able to review and concentrate on different parts when needed. * The many links and resource tips really help to equip the reader with tools to take the information a step further.  It helps to inspire when you can use the information to help yourself. “I approached MISA with this project idea because I am a beginning farmer myself,” says Sarah Stai of EcoSmith Consulting.  “There are lots of sustainable agriculture resources online, but I still felt like I was reinventing the wheel and craved in-depth examples of individual farmers.” Stai manages the project in collaboration with MISA and with support of advisors from University of Minnesota Extension, Renewing the Countryside, the Land Stewardship Project, and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.  “Internet technology allows us to offer ‘virtual tours’ of real farms that new producers may not be able to visit in person, while also providing efficient access to essential resources that might otherwise be overlooked,” says Stai. The “Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” project is located at http://sustagprofiles.info. Site visitors are encouraged to provide feedback on the project by taking a 5-minute survey that provides data for fundraising efforts and gives case study users a say in what topics get covered next.

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