SA Newsletter Fall 2012

Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter

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Sustainable Agriculture Newsletters Archive

College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Volume 20, Issue 4 — Fall 2012

Do you have a story you would like featured in the Sustainable Agriculture newsletter? Send your submission to and we’ll consider adding it to an upcoming newsletter.

– from Marie Flanagan, NCR-SARE, St. Paul

The North Central Region-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) is pleased to announce that William F. Wilcke is the first person to receive the “NCR-SARE Hero Recognition” due to the great credit, visibility, and leadership he has brought to the NCR-SARE program in his long career of service to sustainable agriculture and its people and communities.

Wilcke served as the Minnesota State SARE Coordinator from 1996-2004, and was also elected to the NCR-SARE Administrative Council.  He was a founding member of the Northwest Regional Development Partnerships Board, co-chaired the University of Minnesota’s Small Farm Task Force, served on the Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force, and was a board member of Compatible Technology International. He served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) from 1994-1999, and provided interim leadership as Acting Administrator from 2000-2002.  In 2002, he became the NCR-SARE Regional Coordinator and remained in that position until disability forced him to give up the position in 2010. He retired in fall 2011 and established a graduate fellowship to perpetuate his interest in sustainability and to guarantee the future professional work of the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering.
Read more about Bill Wilcke and the NCR-SARE Hero Recognition online at


Minnesota Department of Agriculture “AGRI” Grants for Value-Added Agricultural Enterprises
– from MDA news release, Nov. 16, 2012.

Minnesota agricultural producers and processors can now apply for grants to implement value added projects to their operations. A total of $700,000 in funding was made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI), established by the legislature to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will distribute the funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and by increasing market access and food safety.

The grants will be distributed in two rounds. Round one applications must be received by the MDA no later than 4:00 p.m. on December 31, 2012. Round two applications must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on March 1, 2013.  Applications are available at For more information, contact David Weinand, MDA grants administrator, at 651-201-6646 or  For more information about the program:

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Sustainable Ag Demonstration Grants 
--from Jean Ciborowski, MDA, Nov. 14, 2012

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program will award up to $100,000 in 2013 for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects. The MDA is now accepting applications for the grant program which promotes environmental stewardship and conservation of resources and strives to improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas.

Grant applications are available on the MDA website at or by contacting the Agricultural Marketing and Development Division at 651-201-6012.
Completed applications must be received by MDA no later than January 11, 2013.


Model CSA Contracts

FarmCommons is an Illinois-based organization that provides legal services to sustainable farmers.  Along with the burgeoning interest in CSA farming, they note that there are emerging legal issues:  “From accident liability at drop-sites to employment issues for worker shares or the ramifications of a low-production season, the CSA community needs to address these issues to preserve the wonderful social and financial benefits of a CSA.”
FarmCommons offers templates that CSA farmers can modify to meet their own needs:

Model Membership Agreement
Model Worker Share Agreement
Model Volunteer Liability Waiver

Templates are a free download at this link:
In addition to model agreements, the documents also include straightforward explanations of when and why to use these types of agreements, and suggestions for how to adapt them to particular situations.  These are great resources not only for traditional vegetable CSA farms, but for any farm offering shares, work-shares, or drop-sites for products.

Farmers’ Guide to Organic Contracts
--from the Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG) website,

The Farmers’ Guide to Organic Contracts can assist farmers with all types of agricultural contracts, but the guide’s primary purpose is to serve farm operations certified as organic under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) regulations.

The Guide provides a lot of specific, practical advice on things to watch for -- and things to watch out for – in contract language. The twelve chapters cover topics such as contract ground rules; contracting for price, quantity, quality, transportation, delivery, and storage of product; how contracts interact with National Organic Program rules; and dispute resolution.

Ordering information for print copies as well as free downloads are at this link:

New Farmer’s Guide: Cultivating Success at Farmers Markets

Shelly G. Keller and Randii MacNear of the Davis, CA Farmers Market wrote and published this guide in order to address the needs for training and marketing assistance that they saw among the hundreds of farmers they have worked with. 
The guide includes basic, down-to-earth information that a farmers’ market vendor needs to know to be successful:  how to present yourself to a market manager, how to set up an attractive display and signage, how to manage customer expectations and become a trusted supplier, getting along with managers and other vendors at the market, and a variety of other topics that beginners need to learn and that established vendors need to remember.

The Guide is a 1.3 Mb PDF file, and is a free download at this link:

“Pack ‘N Cool” Mobile Refrigeration for Produce
- from the Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) has developed a new mobile cooling unit for farmers. The 5’ x 8’ refrigerated trailer – called the “Pack ‘N Cool” – is designed to keep fruits and vegetables at ideal temperatures during transport to and from farmers markets or as they’re harvested in farm fields.  Keeping fresh-picked fruits and vegetables cooler for longer preserves quality and extends the shelf life of the produce.
The Pack ‘N Cool utilizes CoolBot temperature technology to maximize the output of a basic window air conditioner unit. The CoolBot adapter interfaces with the AC unit, which typically bottoms out at 60 F, to generate temperatures as low as the 30s in the trailer.

A construction manual and budget, plus other supporting documents, are available for free download:
Mobile Refrigeration Solution


No need to experience cabin fever this winter!  There is a very full slate of excellent workshops and conferences coming up in December, January, and February.  Please check the MISA calendar for additional events and field days, and for more detailed information about the events listed below:  Calendar Contact MISA for more information about these events:  call 612-625-8235 or 800-909-6472; or email to:

December 6:  Wholesale Success with Produce workshop and Farmer-Buyer Networking at Gale Woods Farm, Minnetrista, MN.  Atina Diffley will teach post-harvest handling; attendees will receive free Wholesale Success manual published by Register online on the MISA site:

December 12 & 13:  Midwest Value-Added Agriculture Conference at LaCrosse Center in LaCrosse, WI.  Keynote speakers are John Ikerd, Laura Jackson, and Francis Thicke; plus many presenters on a wide variety of topics.  Conference information and registration materials are on the River Country RC & D website:

January 4:  Wholesale Success with Produce workshop and Farmer-Buyer Networking at Beltrami Electric Co-op in Bemidji, MN.  Same great topics, teacher, and free Wholesale Success manual as the December 6 version; register on the MISA website:

January 10:  WinterWorkshops at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, MN.  MISA will again offer an all-day “Selling Meat” workshop; also featured will be an all-day session on cattle genetics and half-day sessions on soil health and growing specialty mushrooms.  For a brochure, call 651-201-6616 or email

January 10 & 11:  Midwest CSA Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus.  Workshops and plenaries will address all aspects of CSA farming plus the larger CSA movement in the Midwest. Register on the Wisconsin Farmers Union website:

January 11 & 12:  Minnesota Organic Conference at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, MN. Keynote speakers will be Jim Riddle and Gary Zimmer plus many other excellent presenters and, as always, phenomenal local and organic food.   More information at or call 651-201-6012.

January 17 & 18:  Upper Midwest Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, MN.  This is the premier conference and trade show for commercial produce growers in Minnesota and neighboring states. Contact the Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association at 763-434-0400 for more information.

January 24 – 26:  Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS) 34th Annual Winter Conference at the Ramkota Inn in Aberdeen, SD. Information on the NPSAS website:

January 26:  Wholesale Success with Produce workshop and Farmer-Buyer Networking at the Community Resource Bank in Northfield, MN.  Same great topics, teacher, and free Wholesale Success manual as the Dec. 6 & Jan. 4 versions! Register on the MISA website:

February 2 & 3:  8th Annual Immigrant & Minority Farmers Conference at the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters Event Hall, St. Paul, MN.  The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) and the Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women of Minnesota are the main organizers of this event; register on the MFA website:

February 15 & 16:  Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) of Minnesota Annual Conference, at the Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. So many informative sessions, farmer networking, & chef demonstrations are planned that they had to add a day! More information on the SFA website:

February 21: Pre-MOSES Conference “Organic University” at LaCrosse Center in LaCrosse, WI. Full-day, in-depth courses presented by farmers, professors or agricultural professionals who are experts in their fields. Registration opens Dec. 3 on the MOSES website:

February 22 & 23:  24th Annual MOSES Organic Conference, at LaCrosse Center in LaCrosse, WI.  Six workshop tracks with over 65 topics offered; plus trade show. Registration opens Dec. 3 on the MOSES website:


In addition to all of the great workshops listed above, the University of Minnesota Extension Farm-to-School Program with the assistance of many collaborators statewide will be offering eight regional Farm-to-Cafeteria workshops this winter and spring.  These are currently being organized and planning teams are coming together for two metro-area locations plus locations in northeast, central, west-central, northwest, southwest, and southeast Minnesota. 
If you would like to join a workshop planning team, please contact Sarah Eichberger at  Watch the MISA website and calendar, and the Sustag listserv, for more information about these workshops! Subscribe to Sustag.



This newsletter is supported by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) - a partnership between the Sustainer's Coalition and the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS); the University of Minnesota Extension Service; the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCRSARE) Professional Development Program (PDP); and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

Send story ideas to MISA, 411 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Circle. St. Paul, MN 55108, 612- 625-8235, fax (612) 625-1268, e-mail: Editorial board members: Helene Murray, 612-625-0220,; Beth Nelson, 612-625-8217,; Jane Jewett,; and Kate Seager, (612) 625-8235, Please send address changes directly to: Kate Seager,, MISA, 411 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108. You can find more University of Minnesota Extension Service educational information at Also check MISA's home page.

Our mission statement: To help bring people together to influence the future of agriculture and rural communities to achieve socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable farms and communities.To stimulate thinking and discussion about sustainability, we try to present items that reflect different points of view. This being the case, we aren't promoting and don't necessarily agree with everything we publish.