SA Newsletter June 2004

Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter

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Sustainable Agriculture Newsletters Archive

College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences
Volume 12, Issue 4 – June 2004

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Take a farm country tour or vacation this summer

How about something different for a vacation this year? Something a little bit off the beaten path? Try some agri-tourism! There are lots of ways to get a little agriculture mixed in to a weekend trip or a longer vacation. The many agri-tourism opportunities in Minnesota and surrounding states are not only interesting and fun, but delicious, too!

Any road trip can be made memorable by a stop at a pick-your-own berry patch, found all over Minnesota. Start out with strawberries in June, move on to raspberries in July, and blueberries in July and August. You can map out a berry route with the Minnesota Grown directory, online at Use the “Search” feature to find the kind of berry and the region of your choice. You can request a free print copy of the directory from Paul Hugunin at 651-297-5510.

How about a farm tour? Minnesota farm tours feature everything from apples to petting zoos and pumpkins to bison. You can see spinning and weaving demonstrations, taste fresh apple cider, take a hayride, or even find your way through a maze laid out in a crop field! Country Heritage Adventures, in southeastern Minnesota, features nine farm tours that showcase diverse farming operations. You can find all the details online at, or call 507-282-6604 to request information. Western Minnesota Prairie Waters promotes ten farm tours in the western part of the state. Call toll-free, 866-866-5432; or visit You can also find statewide tours in the Minnesota Grown directory, which has 61 different farms listed in the “Farm Tour” category.

If history is your passion, step into Minnesota’s rich agricultural past with a visit to the Oliver H. Kelley farm in Elk River. The Kelley farm is a National Historic Landmark; and is also a “working” 1860s-era farm with staff members attired in period clothing. Try your hand at churning butter and making soap, or watch the farmhands work with horses and oxen. Find information about the farm at, or call 763-441-6896.

Don’t forget the Farmers Markets! Minnesota has 59 of those, so you are never far from truly fresh vegetables. Many Farmers Markets also feature fruits, meats, eggs, honey, maple syrup and baked goods. How can you improve on a camping trip to the lake? By stopping at a Farmers Market to pick up fresh sweet corn and raspberries. Search on “Farmers’ Market” on the Minnesota Grown directory to find the markets near your route.

Wherever your travels take you, plan a little time to enjoy what Minnesota’s farm country has to offer—and have a delicious summer!

Sustainable agriculture educational opportunities for youth, youth-at-heart

Do you know of a 4-H club, scout troop or other group that needs terrific hands-on educational activities? You may know a child who is looking for an interesting summer day camp, or perhaps your whole family would enjoy a unique learning experience. Here’s a short list of what Minnesota’s sustainable agriculture community has to offer.

Gale Woods Farm. Located on Whaletail Lake near Minnetrista, the farm offers learning activities to groups of all ages. Choose from a selection of courses, or work with the staff to custom-design a course. Farm animal demonstrations, spinning and weaving, seed planting, composting and more happen at Gale Woods Farm! The farm also offers fishing, canoeing, and hiking. Find all the details online at, or call 763-559-6700.

Harvest Moon Community Farm. The farm offers monthly “Creative Art and Wellness” workshops, with projects incorporating natural materials found on the farm. The workshops are designed for teenagers and adults, but child care is available for younger children. Children have a chance to explore nature trails and interact with farm animals under the guidance of a camp counselor. For details, visit, call 651-433-4358, or e-mail

North House Folk School. Located in scenic Grand Marais on the north shore of Lake Superior, North House includes courses on sustainable living, homesteading and building techniques suitable for farm buildings. School groups can visit and take part in a custom-designed learning experience:, 218-387-9762,

Oliver H. Kelley Farm. The farm is a step back in time to the 1860s. Age-appropriate group tours are available for elementary school children, and there’s a special program for home-schooled children. Children can learn about farm animals, the roles that family members had on the farm and how agriculture changed during the 1800s. There are also educational programs for older children and adults:, 763-441-6896

Jewetts receive ‘Farm Family of the Year’ award

Joe and Jane Jewett, Palisade, have been recognized by the University of Minnesota as the “2004 Farm Family of Aitkin County,”

The Jewett family is among some 60 farm families from throughout Minnesota who are being recognized by the university. They were honored at a noon luncheon in mid-May, and will also be honored in August at Farmfest, located near Redwood Falls.

The Jewett family, Joe, Jane, and daughters Selket, and Sigrid, is the third generation to farm the land cleared by Jane’s Norwegian immigrant grandfather. Jane and Joe direct-market both beef and pork. Jane raises a herd of 10 to 12 Black Angus-Hereford cross cows. She does spring calving, and calves and cows live on pasture through the summer. The cows eat hay out on pasture all winter. Jane sets out hay bales on the pasture in a grid pattern in the fall and fences around the bales.

Through the winter, she moves fences and feeder rings to give the cows two bales at a time. The cows use the waste hay at the bottoms of the eaten bales as bedding, and spread their own manure. Grass and clover grows up lush and thick through the mulch layer by the middle of the following summer. Calves are weaned in the fall and spend the winter in a pen, then are turned out on pasture the following summer.

Jane also buys weaned feeder pigs in the spring, and feeds them during the summer. The pigs live in a pole shed and a fenced pasture area. During the summer the pigs root up the pasture and spread their own manure on it. The following year, the growing pigs are put on a different pasture area, and the previous year’s pig pasture becomes a vegetable garden.

Jewetts’ young daughters, Selket and Sigrid, have an egg enterprise. Between the two of them they own 15 laying hens, and they sell eggs to the neighbors and to their grandparents.

Joe is the third generation to operate the logging business started by his grandfather, Leo Jewett, in Swatara. He works alone in the woods, cutting pulpwood, which he sells mostly on contract to Sappi (formerly Potlatch). He also sorts out the higher quality saw logs, or “bolts,” and sells them to producers of pallet lumber. The highest quality logs are sold for furniture-grade lumber or veneer.

Joe saws some lumber for the wood carving market. Some of the carving wood is sold wholesale, to carving instructors or suppliers. The Jewetts attend a few carving shows in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin to sell wood directly to carvers. They have had some success as well in selling carving wood through their Web site,

Both Jane and Joe have off-farm employment. Jane works 25 percent of her time for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) at the University of Minnesota. Her job includes keeping the MISA website up-to-date, answering requests for information, writing articles for the Sustainable Agriculture newsletter, and helping out with other publications. Joe works during the spring fire season as a “smoke chaser” for the DNR-Sandy Lake station.

The University of Minnesota units cooperating in this award include the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, the Extension Service; the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station; and the College of Veterinary Medicine. This article was adapted from the Aitkin Independent Age.

Organic Research in Northwestern Minnesota

Hans Kandel began conducting organic wheat and oat variety trials in northwestern Minnesota in 2002, in response to the many certified organic producers in the area. With locations in Comsotck and Fertile, MN, and in conjunction with North Dakota State University researchers, preliminary results indicate that under organic conditions, modern varieties were better than or equal to older cultivars in both grain yield and grain quality. For more information about these research projects, you can contact Hans Handel,, 218-281-8688.

Even better, you can catch a few of the organic tours in northwestern Minnesota this summer and talk to Hans in person.

Wednesday June 23rd. Organic Bus Plot Tour. Starting in Red Lake Falls. Chickling vetch, compost trial, organic wheat and oat variety testing site, soybean seeded in standing rye and Sustainable Farming Members’ fields will be visited. Organized and sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension Service and Lake Agassiz Sustainable Farming Association.

Wednesday July 7th. Organic Plot Tour. Soybean seeded in standing rye near Moorhead and the Lynn Brakke Farm (Comstock) with organic wheat, oat, and soybean variety test site as well as commercial organic farms will be visited. Organized and sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension Service and Lake Agassiz Sustainable Farming Association.

Upcoming Events

LSP Field Days continue throughout the summer. To attend a field day you are asked to RSVP by calling LSP’s southeast Minnesota office at 507-523-3366 or the western office at 320-269-2105. LSP members can attend these field days for free. The fee for nonmembers is $5 per person and $10 per family. If you choose to become a member of LSP the day of the tour, an immediate benefit will be free admission.

Field days and locations:

  • Wednesday, June 16, Minneiska, Minn.—Organic milk production using managed intensive rotational grazing; grassland bird responses to intensive rotational grazing with Melissa Driscoll

  • Saturday, June 19, Kerkhoven, Minn.—Pasturing hogs and dairy heifers

  • Saturday, June 26, Madison, Minn.—Pork and organic crop production

  • Thursday, July 15, Prairie Farm, Wis.—Community Supported Agriculture vegetable production and profitability; what it takes to be a successful beginning vegetable farmer

  • Saturday, July 31, Wykoff, Minn.—Low-cost, appropriate technologies for small farmers; Community Supported Agriculture vegetable production

June 8-9th Rural Communities Adapting to the New Century: 2nd Annual Symposium on Small Towns, University of MN, Morris. Visit (click on Symposium) or call 320-589-6451.

June 8-9th Effective Grazing Workshop Morris, MN. Sponsored by the West Central Research and Outreach Center and the Land Stewardship Project. Preregistration is required. The registration charge is $100. For more information and registration form contact Jean Spohr, 320.589.1711, or

June 9th Prairie Horizons Farm Pasture Walk, 10 AM-Noon, rural Starbuck, MN. Luverne and Mary Jo Forbord are converting cropland into pasture and establishing a rotational grazing system on both native prairie and recently established pasture. This pasture walk is free and open to the public (Registered participants of the June 8th and 9th Effective Grazing Workshop will attend the pasture walk as part of the grazing workshop curriculum).,Contact Mary Jo Forbord, 29731 302nd St Starbuck, MN 56381,, 320-760-8732

June 12th Raising Cattle and Timber for Profit: Making Informed Decisions about Woodland Grazing. Crow Wing County. Call Mike Demchik for directions at 218-828-2332. The field day will be held in the Leader, MN area.

June 16th Organic Short Course for Ag Professionals in Southwest Minnesota Information: 507-752-7372

June 18th-20th Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair, Custer, WI. Cost: $15 - $25. See for details and registration, or call 715-592-6595. Special Saturday bus between Minneapolis and the Fair for $50 (and free admission).

June 21st-24th Get That Grant: Grant Writing from Conception to Completion, St. Cloud, MN, sponsored by the Minnesota Association of RC&D Councils and presented by Community Systems of Bozeman, Montana. Cost is $675; scholarships available to those who qualify. Contact Three Rivers RC&D, Workshop Registrar, for registration information at 507-345-7418 x5.

July 9th Using a 24' x 48' Deep Bedded Nursery Hoop Barn for Nursery Age Pigs. Sunburg, MN. Please contact Trent or Jennifer Nelson, 320-366-3587 or MDA's ESAP program at 651-296-7673 for more information.

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.