SA Newsletter June 2003

Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter

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Sustainable Agriculture Newsletters Archive

College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences
Volume 11, Issue 6 – June 2003

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Four Are Named Senior Fellows in Agricultural Systems at the U of M

Four Minnesotans have been named senior fellows in the School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota. The fellows and their projects are:

  • Steve Morse  and Debra Elias Morse, who will work to develop economically viable enterprises based on perennial plant products. Their work is part of an effort to launch a University-based initiative on large-scale adoption of perennial cropping systems in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The long-term goal is to reduce run-off into the Mississippi River (and ultimately the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico), improve farm economic viability, stabilize rural communities and improve diet and human health.

  • Steven is a former deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota state senator. Debra is an agricultural consultant, and previously worked for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA).

  • James A. (Jim) Riddle  will work with University of Minnesota researchers to help address issues and challenges faced by organic livestock producers. He will analyze organic policy and give presentations regarding the new USDA National Organic Standards.

  • As endowed chair, Riddle will analyze European organic agriculture polices, and make recommendations for Minnesota and the U.S. Several European countries now have over 10 percent of their land farmed organically, and Italy alone has more than 40,000 organic farms. "I will examine the various policies to determine what has worked and what hasn't, and make recommendations based on the successes," Riddle said. Riddle is a consultant and organic policy specialist. He also is chair of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Organic Advisory Task Force and secretary of the USDA's National Organic Standards Board.

  • Beth Waterhouse  will focus on exploring the creativity of the adult children whose parents were involved in the early stages of the sustainable agriculture movement. She will interview 18 to 25 young people about their views on farming, the food system and rural communities. "Over the past twenty years…I have heard (many farmers) say that their decision to go to sustainable farming has helped them stay in farming. Furthermore, they say this has helped their children experience farming as a creative, responsible lifestyle to which they would consider committing."

  • Waterhouse has recently been involved as a writer in two book projects, "Renewing the Countryside," 2001; and "The Farm as Natural Habitat," 2002. She is also a teaching specialist with the College of Natural Resource's Environmental Ethics course at the University of Minnesota.

"The work of these senior fellows will provide new insight into economic options for perennial plant products, the impact of the new organic standards and the effect of sustainable agriculture on the children of producers," says Helene Murray, director of MISA. The chair program identifies major issues in agriculture and selects individuals and teams to occupy the chair for lengths of time that vary from one month to a year. Funding from the School of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota (SAUM) Alumni Association, the Minnesota Legislature and the University of Minnesota created the endowed chair in 1995.

The goal of the chair is to extend the School of Agriculture's legacy in providing agricultural leadership in Minnesota. The chair is managed by MISA, with support from board members of the School of Agriculture Alumni Association. For more information, call MISA at (800) 909-6472 or check their website at

Minnesota Grown Directory Available from MDA

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering consumers a free guide to products sold direct from the farm. The guide is designed to help people find delicious and fresh Minnesota Grown foods, as well as places to find high-quality landscaping plants and fun family outings. The 2003 Minnesota Grown Directory lists information about farmers' markets, berry patches, orchards, nurseries, Christmas tree farms, specialty meat providers and other direct-marketing farms and markets.

The 2003 guide lists more than 500 Minnesota farms and markets, from Crookston to Caledonia. It also includes great recipes, a produce calendar and schedules for both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Farmers' Markets. This year's guide also offers the opportunity to win unlimited rides at Camp Snoopy and a free family vacation for four to Sugar Lake Lodge, near Grand Rapids.

For a free Minnesota Grown Directory, call the Minnesota Office of Tourism at 1-888-TOURISM. Larger quantities of the guide are available to groups by calling (651) 297-8695 or 1-800-657-3878. The directory is also available at The website directory allows you to search and sort by product, and geographically to locate producers in your area.

'COOL' Session Scheduled for U of M St. Paul Campus June 24

Interested in the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and how it will impact your business? The place to be on June 24 is the Earle Brown Continuing Education Center on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota.

USDA representatives will be on hand to answer questions and address concerns about COOL from 1-4 p.m. Producers, packers and retailers are encouraged to attend, says Deb Roeber, meat quality and safety specialist with the U of M Extension Service.

Implementation of COOL was one of the main initiatives of the 2002 Farm Bill and will apply to beef, pork, lamb, fish, perishable agricultural commodities and peanuts. Program implementation of COOL is the responsibility of the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS).

In compliance with the regulation, retailers will be required to maintain an auditable record system, with a verifiable trail. Records must be kept for at least two years. As such, a person engaged in the business of supplying a covered commodity to a retailer must make information available to the retailer indicating the country-of-origin.

What does this mean for you? Join us on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus to find out. For more information on COOL or the informational session, contact Deb Roeber at (612) 624-2405 or

Organic Farmers, Handlers Eligible for Certification Cost-Share Funds

Minnesota was the first state in the U.S. to offer an organic cost share program. Now, under the terms of the 2002 Farm Bill, federal dollars are available. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is administering the cost-share program with funds from USDA.

New this year: both certified organic farmers and certified organic handlers (processors, distributors, retailers, etc.) are eligible for payments. Applicants are eligible for 75 percent of total direct costs for certification, with a maximum of $500 per farm or company. Organic farmers who also hold a processing certificate are eligible for two payments, but must submit two separate applications.

The MDA will accept completed applications for the 2002/2003 program until Nov. 15, 2003. Please note that the program is contingent on MDA receiving adequate funding from USDA.

Application materials are also available on the MDA organic website at You can also contact Meg Moynihan at (651) 297-8916 or to request an application, ask questions about the program or check the status of your application.

The Ecology Bus Is Unique in North America

The Ecology Bus is a mobile environmental learning center. It's both a classroom and a laboratory and is unique to all of North America. Operated by a talented and experienced staff of scientists and teachers, it provides environmental and natural science educational services to schools in southern Minnesota.

The Ecology Bus is also available to interested groups and organizations for tours or as a mobile experience for programs or workshops they may wish to conduct. The Ecology Bus is a project of the Prairie Ecology Bus Center (PEBC), headquartered in Lakefield, Minn. For more information, visit or call 507-662-5064.

--By Dennis Wilcox

Wilcox is a professional filmmaker and writer from Northfield, Minn., (507) 645-1636 or He is also chair of the board of PEBC.

Kingfield Neighborhood Association Market Opens June 15

This is the Kingfield Neighborhood Association's third year of sponsoring and organizing a small neighborhood market in Minneapolis. It provides an opportunity for local farmers to sell their products and allows their neighbors access to locally grown produce and other goods within walking distance from their homes.

The market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, starting June 15 and running through mid-October. It is located between 42nd and 43rd Streets on Nicollet Avenue in the parking lot of the Time Warner station.

Currently, the market has approximately 15 vendors. Some, however, offer seasonal products, and thus are not at every market. We are looking to add food vendors and are particularly interested in anyone who might have poultry, cheese, eggs, plants, herbs or vegetables (particularly organic). They are also interested in value-added products, such as vinegars, jams and jellies.

The cost of participating in the market is $50 for the season, or $15 for a single day. If interested, please contact Kingfield's NRP project organizer Liz Gibson-Gasset at (612) 823-5980 x3 or e-mail

-- By Liz Gibson-Gasset

A Letter from Mother Earth…

Dear Children,

Why are you doing this to me? You are polluting me and destroying me. I gave you this place to live, but you need to take care of me. So please stop wasting and start reusing. I can understand that you have some waste, but landfill after landfill? I can't take the toxins any longer. Please stop! I am alive too, you know. You are my children, I respect that and now you need to start respecting me too.

Mother Earth

--By Bryan T. Markhart, 6th grader, Central Middle School, White Bear Lake, Minn.

Calendar of Events, 2003

These events are sponsored by numerous organizations. More information is available on MISA's website: Also check the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota's website at

June 10. Beef, Sheep and Poultry Production Field Day, Bellingham, MN. Contact Amy Bacigalupo, (320) 269-2105.

June 12. Organic Short Course for Ag. Professionals, Plainview. Contact Roger Lenzmeier, (507) 281-1959, ext. 4.

June 14. SFA Dairy Tour, Cokato. Contact Connie Lahr, (320) 963-3690.

June 18. Summer Field Day, Southwest ROC, Lamberton. Contact (507) 752-7372.

June 22. Livestock Field Day, Elgin, MN. Contact Karen Stettler, (507) 523-3366.

June 24. Chickling Vetch - A New Green Manure Crop, Dan Juneau, Red Lake Falls, (218) 698-4222 or Meg Moynihan, MDA, (651) 297-8916.

June 26. From Soil to Table, Morris, MN. Contact LSP, (320)269-2105.

June 26. Grazing and Haying Field Day, near Spring Valley, MN. Contact Dan Miller, (507)346-2261.

June 28. Pork, Poultry and Organic Crops Production Field Day, Madison, MN. Contact Amy Bacigalupo, (320) 269-2105.

July 9. Treating Field Runoff through Storage and a Gravity Drip Irrigation System for Grape and Hardwood Production, Tim Gieseke, New Ulm, (763) 682-3646 or Mark Zumwinkle, MDA, (651) 282-6204.

July 11. Summer Field Day at West Central ROC, Contact (320) 389-1711.

July 15. Wild Herb Walk, Hutchinson, MN, Contact Connie Lahr, (320) 963-3690

July 17. Blueberry Field Night, Staples, MN. Contact U of MN Central Regional Partnership 1-877-977-7778.

July 29-31. Upper Midwest Grazing Conference, Midway Best Western, Lacrosse, Wis., (563) 583-6496.

What we're about

This newsletter is supported by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA). It's also supported by 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). MISA is a partnership between the Sustainer's Coalition and the University of Minnesota College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences (COAFES).

Send story ideas to the editor: Jack Sperbeck, 405 Coffey Hall, 1420 Eckles Ave., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, (612) 625-1794, fax (612) 625-2207, e-mail: Other editorial board members: Helene Murray, (612) 625-0220,; and Bill Wilcke, (612) 625-8205, Please send address changes directly to: Bill Wilcke, Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering, 1390 Eckles Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108.

Also check MISA's home page at

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.

The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.