SA Newsletter Issue 1 2017


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Sustainable Agriculture Newsletters Archive

College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Volume 25, Issue 1 — 2017

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Articles in this issue:




The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association are pleased to announce a new Local Food Fact Sheet Series to support sales of food by farmers and others in local food systems. Find them online here:

There are six fact sheets in the series. Four of them cover options for sale of products and regulations that apply to each option for red meat, poultry, eggs, and produce. A fifth fact sheet, “Aggregation of Farmers’ Produce,” deals with sale of produce from multiple farms. The sixth, “Approved Water Supply for Rural Food Businesses,” provides information about options for food businesses that are not on a municipal water supply.

These new fact sheets complement a set of existing fact sheets offered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and University of Minnesota Extension, which are also linked to the web page given above. The previous fact sheets are primarily for buyers of local food, and focus on local foods that are “approved source” for purchase by food businesses. The new fact sheet series is primarily for farmers and sellers of local food. These six new fact sheets provide a more comprehensive look at ways that locally grown foods can be sold, including sales to individual consumers. They have been reviewed for regulatory accuracy by MDA, MDH, and Extension staff.

Creation of the new Local Food Fact Sheet series was achieved with the support and assistance of Minnesota’s Local Food Advisory Committee (LFAC).  The intent of this advisory committee is to provide a non-adversarial setting where issues relating to local food can be raised and discussed, information can be shared and problem-solving between Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health, and the local food community can take place. Find more information about LFAC here:

Questions about the fact sheets or LFAC? Please contact the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture:, 612-625-8235, 800-909-6472.


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Attention Minnesota fruit and vegetable farmers!  If you’re hiring new farm crew members, or if you’re wondering how to train them before sending them into the field for harvest, MISA has a new set of resources for you:

“Pack Shed Rules” is an employee handbook, an employer checklist of training topics, and a set of pack shed posters to help you and your employees communicate with each other about harvest-to-sale handling practices.

Good fruit and vegetable handling practices from field to buyer help to ensure the quality and safety of produce leaving your farm. Some of the practices and the reasons for them are not obvious. Employees may neglect good practices if they don’t understand the basic principles of handling vegetables for safety and quality. Farmers who are well-versed in both theory and practice may forget to share their wealth of knowledge with new employees.

Pack Shed Rules can help on both counts. Give employees the short, easy-reading manual and ask them to sign the statement in the back when they are confident they understand the concepts. Use the employer training checklist to remind yourself of how much you know, and what you need to share with your employees. Hang the posters in your pack shed to help yourself and employees remember important points, such as which vegetables to harvest early in the morning and which ones will experience chilling injury if kept too cold.

Pack Shed Rules materials were developed by a farmer with input from several experienced Minnesota vegetable farmers.  MISA is very pleased to offer these materials for free download online:

Professionally printed and bound copies of the 18-page employee handbook are available from MISA at $2/copy. Poster sets printed on 11” x 17” heavy-duty paper are available for $3 per set; this includes the Harvest Order, Storage, and Harvest Tools posters. Versions of these posters with blank lines for you to fill in yourself are also available at the same price of $3 per set. The 4-page employer checklist will be included free with any order.  Download an order form here:

Or contact the MISA office at, 612-625-8235, or 800-909-6472 to place an order.


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North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) has announced the 2017 recipients of farmer-rancher grants, including four Minnesota farmers:

  • Stanley Smith of Lewiston, MN was awarded $6,008 for the project, “Does Open-Pollinated Corn Have a Place on Today’s Organic Farm?”
  • Phenhli Thao of The Hmong Minnesota Agriculture Cooperative in Brooklyn Park, MN was awarded $19,350 for the project, “The Hmong Minnesota Agriculture Cooperative’s Aggregation and Value-added Program.”
  • Lee Thompson of Lane Ridge Farms in Nicollet, MN was awarded $6,650 for the project, “Integrating Cover Crop Seeding and Strip Tillage into a One Pass System.”
  • Jacquelyn Zita of Women’s Environmental Institute in North Branch, MN was awarded $15,000 for the project, “Building a Virtual On-Line Food Hub for Small Scale Sustainable Farms in Rural Areas.”


Partnership Grants are a fairly new NCR-SARE program that funds projects led by agricultural professionals and involving groups of farmers. In Minnesota, Nick Mabe with The Good Acre in Falcon Heights, MN was awarded $30,000 for the project, “High Tunnel Immigrant Farmer Training and Demonstration Plot.”

More information about these projects as well as farmer-rancher and partnership projects from other states in the region can be downloaded from this web page:

It’s not too soon to start thinking about applying for the next round of Farmer-Rancher grants. Coming up with a good project idea and then crafting it into a proposal takes time. The next NCR-SARE Farmer-Rancher and Partnership grant calls for proposals will be issued in August. The Partnership grant proposals will be due in October, and the Farmer-Rancher proposals will be due in December. A sample Call for Proposals is available at the web link shown above, as well as links to tips for preparing an application.

If you are interested in applying for a SARE Farmer-Rancher grant, a Partnership grant, or any other type of SARE grant, Minnesota’s SARE co-coordinators are available to answer questions and discuss ideas. Contact Kate Seager at, 612-625-8235; or Wayne Martin at, 612-625-6224.


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North Central Regional Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) is pleased to announce that Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant of Greenview, Illinois, Ferd Hoefner of Takoma Park, Maryland, and Margaret Krome of Madison, Wisconsin are being honored as 2017 NCR-SARE Heroes. The NCR-SARE Hero Award was established in 2012 to recognize individuals who have provided 1) service to NCR-SARE and/or national SARE, 2) leadership in sustainable agriculture locally and regionally, and 3) lasting impacts on sustainability in the North Central region.

Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant served as the Resource Planner and Coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program for the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources (1987-1992), the Executive Director for the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Network (1992-1994), the Co-Coordinator of the University of Illinois Agroecology Sustainable Agriculture Program (1994-2006), and as the University of Illinois Extension Specialist for Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture, providing statewide leadership for educational programming (2006-2011). She co-founded the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings Program, which continues to train new farmers.

Ferd Hoefner has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture community for more than 30 years, with a focus on federal policy and advocacy. For nearly a decade he represented Interfaith Action for Economic Justice and the Interreligious Taskforce on U.S. Food Policy, during which time he helped to pass the Agricultural Productivity Act which provided the initial, early authorization for the LISA program, SARE’s forerunner. He was a policy consultant for Bread for the World, the Center for Rural Affairs, Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies, the Land Stewardship Project, the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, the Presbyterian Church, and the U.S. Catholic Conference, among others.

Margaret Krome has spent thirty years developing programs and policies supporting sustainable agriculture. After serving as an agro-forester in the Peace Corps, in Cameroon, Krome went to Wisconsin for graduate work, then worked for the Wisconsin Rural Development Center (1986-1995). She joined the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) in 1995, where she continues to work today overseeing their policy program, including her work on the annual campaign to fund federal programs supported by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Krome helped develop the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the UW-Madison’s Pesticide Use and Risk Reduction program, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, and the state's farm-to- school program, among others.

More about the NCR-SARE Heroes awards and how to nominate someone for the award:

Ferd Hoefner and Margaret Krome are also featured in a new oral history project housed at the University of Minnesota. Read on:


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Ron Kroese has spent the last 18 months serving as a Senior Fellow in the University of Minnesota’s Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems.  Through a series of video-recorded interviews, his oral history project is documenting the formation and evolution of what today is known as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), including the federal policy reforms NSAC and its allies have achieved over the last three decades.

To date, the archive includes 21 interviews, along with a written transcription of each session. They are available and can be accessed by going to:

Mr. Kroese is conducting additional interviews over the next 10 to 12 months and when completed they will be added to the collection.

For more information contact:  Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) - 411 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Buford Circle, Saint Paul, MN  55108;  612-625-8235;


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As we head into the busy summer season on the farm, here are some resources to help keep farm children and visitors to the farm safe:

National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety is based at the Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, WI and is a national leader in protection of children who live, visit, and work on farms. Resources including fact sheets on various aspects of farm safety and statistics on child injury and death on farms:

Child Farm Safety Blog from Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES): The blog is a collaboration between MOSES and the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. The blog covers topics such as “What makes tractors so dangerous for children?” and “Making playtime safe on our farm.”

Agritourism Safety from Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH), based at the University of Minnesota. The website has downloadable handwashing posters, other signage and videos about preventing illness from animal contact, and videos and webinars to help farmers train themselves in setting up safe agritourism events.


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Rob King, former MISA Board Member and long term collaborator, recently retired from his work as Professor of the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. King’s research focused on organic and sustainable agriculture and on management issues facing food retailers, farmer cooperatives, and farmers. He recently finished a multi-year research project on the economics of transition to organic field crop and dairy production and a pilot study on the healthfulness of food distributed through food shelves. Dr. King coauthored with Gigi DiGiacomo the popular Building a Sustainable Business guidebook which has over 25,000 copies in print. He also served on the NCR-SARE Administrative Council.  Thanks for all of your contributions Rob!


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Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen's new cookbook "Savory Sweet:  Simple Preserves from a Northern Kitchen" is an amazing resource for those looking for new ways to preserve food.  The recipes are creative -- carrot lemon marmalade with ginger and cardamom, anyone? -- to just plain fun -- caramel apple butter with lemongrass!  This book shows ways to preserve food that don't take up your entire day but can show ways to extend the short growing season of our northern climate.



Check MISA’s calendar for information about upcoming farm tours, workshops, and other events happening throughout the summer:

The MISA News Blog features posts about courses and workshops, grant and scholarship opportunities, jobs, internships, volunteer gigs, and programs and sales opportunities for farmers.

MISA’s Facebook page is regularly updated with new resources and event notices: 

If you want to stay thoroughly up to date on sustainable agriculture and local food events and opportunities in Minnesota, join the Sustag listserv:



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.

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