vabiofarming

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees


Leave a comment

Market Workshop, New Farm Bill, GMO Comment Period, Conferences

Events

Independence Farmers Market Winter Workshop 

March 1st 2014

 

The workshop will be held upstairs in the Historic 1908 Courthouse located at the intersection of Highways 21 and 58 in downtown Independence, Virginia.
 
We are pleased to have local experts teaching these classes and sharing their knowledge.
 
This is the second in a series of four free workshops sponsored by the Independence Farmers Market and Virginia Cooperative Extension. The workshops are targeted to backyard gardeners, commercial growers, ranchers or new farmers that wish to grow food for retail, direct sales, and wholesale markets. Speakers will introduce attendees to the techniques and practices that have been successful across the Appalachian Region. Attendees will also be connected to a larger network of growers, buyers and resources to help them with their farming needs.
 
We hope you will plan to join us for all of them and enjoy a day full of information and tasty local food.  Seeflyer for more details.

 

VSU Small Farm Outreach
VA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program

Developing A One Page Farm Business Plan

March 5th 2014
10 AM to 1:30 PM
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Boxed lunch generously provided by Farm Credit

Charles City County Recreation Center
8320 Ruthville Rd. Providence Forge, Va.
It’s time to get professional about your growing agricultural business and join us for this work-shop on writing your own One Page Business Plan. Farm Credit of the Virginias will guide you through this important step as you turn your small farm dream into a healthy sustainable business.  More info found here.  
 
Please RSVP by
Feb. 28th
To
Mark Klingman
mjklingman@vsu.edu
804 524 5493

 

7th Annual Virginia Berry Conference

March 13, 2014  8am -4:30 pm

VSU, Gateway Dining Hall 
Petersburg VA
See attached for details. (1) (2)

 

Berry and Vegetable Programs

A couple of day events at Virginia Tech that may be of interest.  See attached.

 

 

Updates

2014 Farm Bill Passed and Signed into Law

Yes, folks, after well over two years,  we at last have a Farm Bill Reauthorization for the next five years.  Key programs that have been stranded without funding since September of 2012 – including Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP – original funder of Virginia Beginning Farmer Coalition Program), Organic Research and Extension Initiative (which has funded a 5-year multistate project to develop organic controls for the brown marmorated stink bug), the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (which supports SNAP benefit access to farmers markets, among other local food initiaties).  These have all received robust funding.

The downside is that the 2014 Farm Bill missed a huge opportunity to adopt substantive reforms to commodity subsidy programs – reforms that had received strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

Thank you for all you have done over the past couple years during the long and often intense grassroots campaign around Farm Bill issues.  

Following and attached are additional information, analysis, and reflections from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) regarding this new Farm Bill, and our next steps toward a more sustainable federal ag policy.

Sincerely,
Mark

Dear All,
The President has signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law.  Yes, that’s right, we have a new, five-year farm bill.  It took us a long time to get to this point (remember when this bill was called the 2012 Farm Bill?!), and the final bill is a mixed bag, but because of your tireless advocacy efforts there are bright spots to build on in our shared effort to build a better food and farm future.

We made an infographic (attached jpg file) to help illustrate some of the big wins and losses in the final bill.  But what’s most important to know is this:  these wins are thanks to you.  

As just one example, you stood up for the “stranded programs” in the farm bill – a set of innovative, job-creating programs that were stripped of all funding in 2013.   Thanks to your thousands upon thousands of persistent calls, emails, and letters, Congress listened.  The new Farm Bill invests over $1.2 billion over the next five years into once-stranded programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, National Organic Certification Cost Share, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and many others.  These programs will create jobs through food and farming, invest in the next generation of growers and in sustainable growing methods, rebuild rural communities, and increase healthy food access.  

You’ll see some losses on the list, too – and, frankly, they’re big ones.  You joined us in calling for critical reforms, including common-sense, bipartisan subsidy payment limits, but unfortunately Congress caved completely, despite intense grassroots pressure.  But we won’t give up – and nor should you!  We’ll double down this year – and the next, and the next – to keep fighting for better food and farm policy, including meaningful reform.

We will need advocates like you to help make sure the roll-out of this farm bill really works on the ground, and that its investments reach the hard-working farmers and families across our nation who need it most.  Plus, there’s more on the horizon this year that matters for farmers and eaters, including annual funding negotiations in Congress for critical food and farm programs and the FDA’s in-progress Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

Are you ready to help us keep up the fight?  Take a look at the infographic here, learn more about the sustainable agriculture community’s wins and losses in the bill [link to take action page, which will direct folks to blog posts, etc], and share this image with your friends and family [share tool].  

We couldn’t have achieved any of this without you – and our work together is not yet done.  Thank you for everything – we can’t wait to keep working with you in 2014 and beyond! 

Thanks for all you do,

Sarah and Shavaun, The NSAC Grassroots Team

Tell USDA: 

“Agricultural Co-existence” Must Include Protecting Organic and Non-GMO Farmers Against GMO Contamination!

In November, USDA posted a notice  in the Federal Register, asking for  public comment on “Enhancing Agricultural Coexistence” among organic, non-GMO conventional,and GMO crop farmers.  The FR notice includes four  questions about education, communication, and outreach aimed at improving mutual understanding – but the questions evade the most important issues: 

  1. How to prevent contamination of organic and non-GMO crops by GMO pollen or seed
  2. How to protect organic and non-GMO farmers from market and financial losses resulting from GMO contamination beyond their control
  3. How to fairly compensate organic and non-GMO farmers in the event that they suffer losses from GMO contamination

Have  you experienced GMO contamination of your organic or non-GMO crops by GMO pollen from a neighboring farm, resulting in financial losses?
Have you incurred additional expense in order to protect your crops from GMO contamination?
Have you been forced to change your cropping plan, or otherwise restrict your production options because of GMO crop production on nearby farms?

If any of these is true for you, your stories are vital to our efforts to inform the USDA about the actual extent and seriousness of GMO contamination in organic and non-GMO crops.  In addition to submitting your story and comments to USDA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) would like to hear your story.  Contact Mark by e-mail (mark@abundantdawn.org), or call NSAC at 202-547-5754, and ask to speak with Ariane or Sarah.

Even if you did not answer “yes” to the above questions, but are concerned about this issue, send your comments to USDA by March 4!   Urge USDA to address GMO contamination directly and frankly, and to compensate affected farmers fairly.

For more information, and to submit comments, visit http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/usda-requests-public-input-on-agricultural-coexistence , or see How to Comment section below.  If you would like to submit anonymous comments, NOC includes a link to do so.
 

Background and More on the Issues

 In 2011, USDA re-convened the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), which made recommendations in five major areas regarding agricultural “coexistence” – compensation, stewardship, education and outreach, research, and seed quality.  

Some of these recommendations included investigating an appropriate compensation mechanism for dealing with economic harm caused by GE contamination such as the possibility of offering crop insurance to organic and non-GMO farmers.  Other recommendations focused on identifying ways to foster communication and collaboration among those involved in all sectors of agriculture production, including conversations among neighboring farmers regarding planting dates to prevent cross-pollination. To access all AC21 documents go to: http://tinyurl.com/AC21DOCS

USDA is asking for input on more than a dozen questions about education, collaboration, and outreach. The department seeks input on coexistence practices, and, specifically, how the department can support communication between farmers. 

As discussed above, USDA’s questions are missing the point – we need to guide them back to the heart of the matter!

And, asking organic and non-GMO farmers to purchase crop insurance to  protect themselves from GMO-related losses is like asking pedestrians to carry additional insurance in case they are injured by a motor vehicle!  Those who own, use, and beneft from GMO crop technology should shoulder the burden of compensating non-GMO farmers for such losses.

GMO contamination is posing an especially severe and growing burden on the organic and non-GMO crop seed sector.  Crops most likely to be affected are corn (including sweet corn, popcorn, and heirloom flour and ornamental corn, as well as grain and silage corn); soybean (including edamame as well as grain and forage soybean), canola (which may cross with closely related brassica vegetables), and cotton.  In addition, USDA has recently approved commercial production of GMO sugar beet (which will cross with table beet, leaf beet, and chard), and alfalfa.  

Organic and non-GE farmers and handlers have shouldered the burden of contamination for too long. USDA must use its authority to:

  • Prevent GMO contamination 
  • Fully investigate the state of contamination in our seed and food supply
  • Reform the current regulatory framework overseeing GMOs 
  • Reject the proposal to force organic and other non-GMO producers to purchase more crop insurance to protect themselves from contamination
  • Address the broader economic and environmental issues related to “coexistence” and contamination 

 

How to Comment

Comment ONLINE at: Regulations.gov and search for: APHIS-2013-0047-0061

Submit SNAIL MAIL comments to: Docket No. APHIS–2013–0047, Regulatory Analysis, and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station, 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238. 

Farmers & Handlers: If you would like to send an ANONYMOUS COMMENT outlining your experiences and costs, please go to: http://tinyurl.com/AC21Story 

Questions?  Call Liana Hoodes, NOC ED at (914) 443-5759 or email Liana@NationalOrganicCoalition.org

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Group Organic Certification, Conferences, Manager Position and Farm for Sale

Opportunities

Appalachian Harvest Seeks Growers for Group Organic Certification Through QCS

Interested Growers will operate under the following parameters:

 

  1. Growers must be located no more than 2.5 hours drive time from the Appalachian Harvest packinghouse facility in Duffield, Virginia and/or no more than 2 hours from the ASD main office in Abingdon, Virginia. 
  2. Production is limited to certified organic winter squash, organic red & green cabbage (fall only) and organic pie pumpkins. These products will be certified for sale through Appalachian Harvest.
  3. A maximum of 20 growers will be permitted to participate in the Group Certification Program. This will be accomplished on a first come, first served basis.
  4. Appalachian Harvest will source the seeds for the growers, and growers will purchase these seeds from Appalachian Harvest. Appalachian Harvest will seek approval from QCS prior to purchasing seeds under the Group Certification effort.
  5. Appalachian Harvest will visit each farmer 2 times during this production season: (1) pre-planting and/or planting phase, (2) during harvest and/or upon completion of harvest.
  6. Appalachian Harvest will hold monthly training sessions and a variety of 1:1 training sessions to complete required QCS Organic Certification documentation with each farmer to be submitted no later than May 15, 2014 to QCS.
  7. Only utilizing inputs approved for this group certification effort. List available on request and by participation in group effort.
  8. Each producer utilizing the Grower Group Certification will maintain a 3 ring binder noting the following: organic certification application, MSDS for applicable inputs, and a calendar of farming events (planting dates, pest management, harvest, etc). These binders will be provided by Appalachian Harvest.

Growers participating in this Group Organic Certification effort will receive the benefits of:

  1. Selling the winter squash, cabbage, and pie pumpkins at a premium organic price.
  2. Paying a reduced rate for organic certification of these products.
  3. Being GAP mock audited without the cost of USDA GAP certification.
  4. Guidance and support from Appalachian Harvest staff.

 

Farm For Sale

136 acres. Rapidan area Madison VA. Woodlands and fields no herbicide/pesticide used, pond, river access, 4 bedroom brick house excellent condition. $798,000. Call Jefferson L&R 540-948-5050
 

 

General Manager Position Opening

Future Harvest – Chesepeake Allainace for Sustainable Agriculture – January 2014

The General Manager is the steward of Future Harvest CASA’s assets and mission in a time of transition.  The General Manager is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s performance; job responsibilities include overseeing/performing all day-to-day operations of Future Harvest CASA.
 
This role reports to the Board of Directors, and directs the organization’s resources in the accomplishment of goals defined by the Board.  S/he also represents FHCASA to funders, partner organizations, members, and other external constituents.  Tasks included in the successful direction of the organization will include, but not be limited to:
 

Administration and Management Tasks

  • Oversee and coordinate human resources, including Future Harvest CASA’s staff and contractors
  • Successfully manage the organization’s financial resources to the annual budget
  • Create and interpret financial statements and budget projections for quarterly board meetings, working with contract bookkeeper and Board Secretary
  • Work with staff to develop and track program budgets, including several grant-funded programs
  • Ensure accuracy, timeliness and completeness of all necessary filings (with the assistance of Board Treasurer and Secretary)
  • Identify funding needs and sources, draft funding requests, and report to funders as required
  • Serve as point of contact for Board of Directors and Board committees, including the committee overseeing the plan of merger with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)
  • Work with Board to conduct merger activities
  • Serve as manager of FHCASA’s annual Conference, with the support of the Conference Committee and Chair

External Relations Tasks

  • Maintain relations with current funders and partner organizations
  • Actively work with board on grant writing and fundraising efforts
  • Attend meetings within the sustainable agriculture community on behalf of FHCASA
  • Staff occasional FHCASA programmatic events (e.g. Field Days, trainings, panels)
  • Oversee visual identity and messaging of FHCASA
  • Review and approve all external communications (e.g. newsletters, brochures, press releases)

Part-Time salaried position. Will require 20-30 hours/week. $30,000 salary with holidays, sick and vacation days. Submit cover letter and resume tofutureharvestcasa@gmail.org

 

Events

Northern Piedmont Specialty Crops School, 2014

Person County Cooperative Extension Center, 304 S. Morgan Street, Roxboro, NC 27573
Friday, March 7, 2014 – 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

 

The program emphasizes high tunnel production and economics. Topics include: getting started in high tunnel production, maintaining high productivity under cover, high tunnel temperature and irrigation management, cropping systems and crop economics in the high tunnel, and innovative production and marketing of asparagus.

Pre-registration by February 28 is required. Registration is $25 for the first person in famil / business, and $15 for each additional person. For more information, call Carl Cantaluppi, Granville County Extension, 919-603-1350, e-mail <carl_cantaluppi@ncsu.edu>
 

7th Annual Virginia Berry Conference

Save the date: March 13, 2014  8am -4:30 pm
Virginia State University, Gateway Dining Hall 
Petersburg VA
More details coming soon

 

CSA Farms Face Increasing Pressure From New Food Distribution Models

CSA Online Conference Aims to Give 
Small Farmers the Tools to Keep Pace

The number of farms providing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs exploded during the 2000s as the demand for fresh, local food surged. As this trend became impossible to ignore, many other companies stepped up to the plate to market local food. In 2014 and going forward these small-scale family farms face pressure from huge companies like Wal-Mart that have embraced local food, venture capital backed technology companies, and a multitude of smaller local food hubs.  

To survive this onslaught of competition, CSA farmers need to work together to share best practices and promote true, small-scale localized farm options.  CSA farmers also need to work together to chart the future course of CSA in order to keep the concept fresh and relevant in the years that come.  The 2014 CSA Expert Exchange (www.csafarmconference.com ) is an online conference co-presented by Small Farm Central and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) that brings CSA farmers from across the United States and Canada together to discuss topics important to the success of CSA now and into the future.  

“Joining a CSA farm is still the most direct way to support a small-scale, family farm growing high-quality produce, but there are now many options vying for the local food dollar. CSA farmers must be at the top of their game to produce the highest quality food and continue to articulate why CSA is so important for both the farmer and the eater. This is why we organize the CSA Expert Exchange: to learn from the best and brightest.” – Simon Huntley, Founder of Small Farm Central and former CSA farmer.

“The ‘Know your farmer. Know your food’ mantra is not one that will soon be pushed to the wayside. As consumers continue to push for that greater connection and understanding of their food and the environment in which it is produced, the demand for local food rises. CSA programs, by their traditional roots, provide just that – a genuine opportunity to know one’s food and the hands that produced it. The CSA Expert Exchange offers a platform – a network – for like-minded farmers and supporters to gather, to learn, and to be inspired to keep fighting the good fight.”  – Karla Pankow, Bossy Acres

This year’s CSA Expert Exchange will occur live on March 6th and 7th, 2014.  The first day will be an evening session focusing on beginning CSA farmers running from7pm until 9:30pm EST.  The second day will cover a variety of topics relevant to CSA farmers of all levels of experience beginning at 11:00am EST and running until3:30pm EST. Nationwide, the conference is expected to engage between 250-300 CSA farmers. The conference will be accessible via any web browser; attendees will be available to watch video of presenters, view powerpoint slides, and interact via chat to ask questions. The fee is $70 for both days and registration is open at csafarmconference.com

Presenters include:
– David Liker of Gorman Farm, Columbia, MD 
– Chloe Diegel and Alex McKiernen from Robinette Farms, Martell, NE
– Karla Pankow of Bossy Acres, Northfield, MN
– Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons
– Chris Brockel of FairShare CSA Coalition
– Pam Dawling of Growing For Market and Twin Oaks Community, Louisa, VA
– Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm, Middle Granville, NY

 

About PASA

With over 6,000 members, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is one of the largest and most active sustainable agriculture organizations in the U.S. Through educational programs and regional marketing assistance for farmers, advocacy, and public outreach, PASA seeks to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. PASA’s hallmark event, the Farming for the Future Conference, draws thousands of participants from more than 30 states and six countries each February. For more information, visit pasafarming.org.
 

About Small Farm Central

Small Farm Central is a leading technology provider to small-scale farms across the U.S. and Canada. Started by an former CSA farmer, Small Farm Central provides farm websites, CSA member management services, and more to help increase the economic sustainability of small-scale farmers by creating professional and engaging experiences for the farm’s customers. Small Farm Central’s Member Assembler technology is built to manage the office side of the CSA from online member signup and payment processing to box packing and delivery logistics.  For more information, visit smallfarmcentral.com.
 
 

 

Biology of Soil Compaction Webinar

Jim Hoorman – Extension Educator, Cover Crops and Water Quality, Ohio State University 
February 11, 2014 2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific
60 Minutes

Join the Webinar
Save to Calendar

Lean about the root cause of soil compaction – lack of soil organic matter and biological activity caused by heavy tillage – and mitigation techniques to improve soil function for agricultural production. Mitigating negative impacts of compaction can only be solved by improving habitat for microbes, allowing them to build soil aggregates. Most producers view soil compaction as a consequence of heavy equipment compressing the soil, resulting in restricted root growth, poor soil aeration, and poor drainage. Often overlooked is the loss of soil organic matter caused by tillage and the destruction of habitat favorable for soil microbes necessary to build soil aggregates and increase soil organic matter. Key to building soil micro and macro-aggregates are mycorrhizal fungi with their hyphae and organic glues that serve as the foundation for soil aggregates. Overcoming soil compaction can only be achieved by applying soil health management principles that minimize soil disturbance, increase soil microbe diversity, keep a living root growing, and maintain residue cover. 
 

Gaining Access to Farmland:  Economic Considerations of Farm Leasing

Presenter: 
Dr. Gordon Groover, Extension Economist Farm Management
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

Summary:    When someone thinks of a farm lease, the first thought usually is, “how much will I pay or get paid?” This often occurs before the tenant or landlord have even meet or discussed any terms. However, the main thought process should quickly shift to, “how can we reach a fair and beneficial arrangement for farmland and improvements?” Focusing on price does ground the process on financial terms yet it “short-circuits” the process of systematically discussing the contributions each is providing to ensure a viable arrangement. For example, what kind of land and improvements can be offered by the land owner?  What kind of experience, skills, management, machinery, and/or livestock can be offered by the land seeker?  These types of questions are a sample of what needs to be analyzed to achieve a fair lease arrangement. This webinar will focus on basic economic considerations of leasing, establishing a negotiation range, and valuation of assets and other inputs supplied by the leaseholder and/or landlord— together designed to help farmers address those important farm leasing questions.  

To participate in this webinar, please go to:
http://connect.ag.vt.edu/econleasing/


Leave a comment >

Opportunities

Appalachian Harvest Seeks Growers for Group Organic Certification Through QCS

Interested Growers will operate under the following parameters:

  1. Growers must be located no more than 2.5 hours drive time from the Appalachian Harvest packinghouse facility in Duffield, Virginia and/or no more than 2 hours from the ASD main office in Abingdon, Virginia.
  2. Production is limited to certified organic winter squash, organic red & green cabbage (fall only) and organic pie pumpkins. These products will be certified for sale through Appalachian Harvest.
  3. A maximum of 20 growers will be permitted to participate in the Group Certification Program. This will be accomplished on a first come, first served basis.
  4. Appalachian Harvest will source the seeds for the growers, and growers will purchase these seeds from Appalachian Harvest. Appalachian Harvest will seek approval from QCS prior to purchasing seeds under the Group Certification effort.
  5. Appalachian Harvest will visit each farmer 2 times during this production season: (1) pre-planting and/or planting phase, (2) during harvest and/or upon completion of harvest.
  6. Appalachian Harvest will hold monthly training sessions and a variety of 1:1 training sessions to complete required QCS Organic Certification documentation with each farmer to be submitted no later than May 15, 2014 to QCS.
  7. Only utilizing inputs approved for this group certification effort. List available on request and by participation in group effort.
  8. Each producer utilizing the Grower Group Certification will maintain a 3 ring binder noting the following: organic certification application, MSDS for applicable inputs, and a calendar of farming events (planting dates, pest management, harvest, etc). These binders will be provided by Appalachian Harvest.

Growers participating in this Group Organic Certification effort will receive the benefits of:

  1. Selling the winter squash, cabbage, and pie pumpkins at a premium organic price.
  2. Paying a reduced rate for organic certification of these products.
  3. Being GAP mock audited without the cost of USDA GAP certification.
  4. Guidance and support from Appalachian Harvest staff.

Farm For Sale

136 acres. Rapidan area Madison VA. Woodlands and fields no herbicide/pesticide used, pond, river access, 4 bedroom brick house excellent condition. $798,000. Call Jefferson L&R 540-948-5050

General Manager Position Opening

Future Harvest – Chesepeake Allainace for Sustainable Agriculture – January 2014

The General Manager is the steward of Future Harvest CASA’s assets and mission in a time of transition.  The General Manager is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s performance; job responsibilities include overseeing/performing all day-to-day operations of Future Harvest CASA.

This role reports to the Board of Directors, and directs the organization’s resources in the accomplishment of goals defined by the Board.  S/he also represents FHCASA to funders, partner organizations, members, and other external constituents.  Tasks included in the successful direction of the organization will include, but not be limited to:
Administration and Management Tasks

  • Oversee and coordinate human resources, including Future Harvest CASA’s staff and contractors
  • Successfully manage the organization’s financial resources to the annual budget
  • Create and interpret financial statements and budget projections for quarterly board meetings, working with contract bookkeeper and Board Secretary
  • Work with staff to develop and track program budgets, including several grant-funded programs
  • Ensure accuracy, timeliness and completeness of all necessary filings (with the assistance of Board Treasurer and Secretary)
  • Identify funding needs and sources, draft funding requests, and report to funders as required
  • Serve as point of contact for Board of Directors and Board committees, including the committee overseeing the plan of merger with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)
  • Work with Board to conduct merger activities
  • Serve as manager of FHCASA’s annual Conference, with the support of the Conference Committee and Chair

External Relations Tasks

  • Maintain relations with current funders and partner organizations
  • Actively work with board on grant writing and fundraising efforts
  • Attend meetings within the sustainable agriculture community on behalf of FHCASA
  • Staff occasional FHCASA programmatic events (e.g. Field Days, trainings, panels)
  • Oversee visual identity and messaging of FHCASA
  • Review and approve all external communications (e.g. newsletters, brochures, press releases)

Part-Time salaried position. Will require 20-30 hours/week. $30,000 salary with holidays, sick and vacation days. Submit cover letter and resume tofutureharvestcasa@gmail.org.

Events

Northern Piedmont Specialty Crops School, 2014

Person County Cooperative Extension Center, 304 S. Morgan Street, Roxboro, NC 27573
Friday, March 7, 2014 – 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

The program emphasizes high tunnel production and economics. Topics include: getting started in high tunnel production, maintaining high productivity under cover, high tunnel temperature and irrigation management, cropping systems and crop economics in the high tunnel, and innovative production and marketing of asparagus.

Pre-registration by February 28 is required. Registration is $25 for the first person in famil / business, and $15 for each additional person. For more information, call Carl Cantaluppi, Granville County Extension, 919-603-1350, e-mail <carl_cantaluppi@ncsu.edu>

7th Annual Virginia Berry Conference

Save the date: March 13, 2014  8am -4:30 pm
Virginia State University, Gateway Dining Hall
Petersburg VA
More details coming soon

CSA Farms Face Increasing Pressure From New Food Distribution Models

CSA Online Conference Aims to Give
Small Farmers the Tools to Keep Pace

The number of farms providing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs exploded during the 2000s as the demand for fresh, local food surged. As this trend became impossible to ignore, many other companies stepped up to the plate to market local food. In 2014 and going forward these small-scale family farms face pressure from huge companies like Wal-Mart that have embraced local food, venture capital backed technology companies, and a multitude of smaller local food hubs.

To survive this onslaught of competition, CSA farmers need to work together to share best practices and promote true, small-scale localized farm options.  CSA farmers also need to work together to chart the future course of CSA in order to keep the concept fresh and relevant in the years that come.  The 2014 CSA Expert Exchange (www.csafarmconference.com ) is an online conference co-presented by Small Farm Central and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) that brings CSA farmers from across the United States and Canada together to discuss topics important to the success of CSA now and into the future.

“Joining a CSA farm is still the most direct way to support a small-scale, family farm growing high-quality produce, but there are now many options vying for the local food dollar. CSA farmers must be at the top of their game to produce the highest quality food and continue to articulate why CSA is so important for both the farmer and the eater. This is why we organize the CSA Expert Exchange: to learn from the best and brightest.” – Simon Huntley, Founder of Small Farm Central and former CSA farmer.

“The ‘Know your farmer. Know your food’ mantra is not one that will soon be pushed to the wayside. As consumers continue to push for that greater connection and understanding of their food and the environment in which it is produced, the demand for local food rises. CSA programs, by their traditional roots, provide just that – a genuine opportunity to know one’s food and the hands that produced it. The CSA Expert Exchange offers a platform – a network – for like-minded farmers and supporters to gather, to learn, and to be inspired to keep fighting the good fight.”  – Karla Pankow, Bossy Acres

This year’s CSA Expert Exchange will occur live on March 6th and 7th, 2014.  The first day will be an evening session focusing on beginning CSA farmers running from7pm until 9:30pm EST.  The second day will cover a variety of topics relevant to CSA farmers of all levels of experience beginning at 11:00am EST and running until3:30pm EST. Nationwide, the conference is expected to engage between 250-300 CSA farmers. The conference will be accessible via any web browser; attendees will be available to watch video of presenters, view powerpoint slides, and interact via chat to ask questions. The fee is $70 for both days and registration is open at csafarmconference.com.

Presenters include:
– David Liker of Gorman Farm, Columbia, MD
– Chloe Diegel and Alex McKiernen from Robinette Farms, Martell, NE
– Karla Pankow of Bossy Acres, Northfield, MN
– Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons
– Chris Brockel of FairShare CSA Coalition
– Pam Dawling of Growing For Market and Twin Oaks Community, Louisa, VA
– Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm, Middle Granville, NY

About PASA

With over 6,000 members, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is one of the largest and most active sustainable agriculture organizations in the U.S. Through educational programs and regional marketing assistance for farmers, advocacy, and public outreach, PASA seeks to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. PASA’s hallmark event, the Farming for the Future Conference, draws thousands of participants from more than 30 states and six countries each February. For more information, visit pasafarming.org.

About Small Farm Central

Small Farm Central is a leading technology provider to small-scale farms across the U.S. and Canada. Started by an former CSA farmer, Small Farm Central provides farm websites, CSA member management services, and more to help increase the economic sustainability of small-scale farmers by creating professional and engaging experiences for the farm’s customers. Small Farm Central’s Member Assembler technology is built to manage the office side of the CSA from online member signup and payment processing to box packing and delivery logistics.  For more information, visit smallfarmcentral.com.

Biology of Soil Compaction Webinar

Jim Hoorman – Extension Educator, Cover Crops and Water Quality, Ohio State University
February 11, 2014 2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific
60 Minutes

Join the Webinar
Save to Calendar

Lean about the root cause of soil compaction – lack of soil organic matter and biological activity caused by heavy tillage – and mitigation techniques to improve soil function for agricultural production. Mitigating negative impacts of compaction can only be solved by improving habitat for microbes, allowing them to build soil aggregates. Most producers view soil compaction as a consequence of heavy equipment compressing the soil, resulting in restricted root growth, poor soil aeration, and poor drainage. Often overlooked is the loss of soil organic matter caused by tillage and the destruction of habitat favorable for soil microbes necessary to build soil aggregates and increase soil organic matter. Key to building soil micro and macro-aggregates are mycorrhizal fungi with their hyphae and organic glues that serve as the foundation for soil aggregates. Overcoming soil compaction can only be achieved by applying soil health management principles that minimize soil disturbance, increase soil microbe diversity, keep a living root growing, and maintain residue cover.

Gaining Access to Farmland:  Economic Considerations of Farm Leasing

Presenter:
Dr. Gordon Groover, Extension Economist Farm Management
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

Summary:    When someone thinks of a farm lease, the first thought usually is, “how much will I pay or get paid?” This often occurs before the tenant or landlord have even meet or discussed any terms. However, the main thought process should quickly shift to, “how can we reach a fair and beneficial arrangement for farmland and improvements?” Focusing on price does ground the process on financial terms yet it “short-circuits” the process of systematically discussing the contributions each is providing to ensure a viable arrangement. For example, what kind of land and improvements can be offered by the land owner?  What kind of experience, skills, management, machinery, and/or livestock can be offered by the land seeker?  These types of questions are a sample of what needs to be analyzed to achieve a fair lease arrangement. This webinar will focus on basic economic considerations of leasing, establishing a negotiation range, and valuation of assets and other inputs supplied by the leaseholder and/or landlord— together designed to help farmers address those important farm leasing questions.

To participate in this webinar, please go to:
http://connect.ag.vt.edu/econleasing/