SA Newsletter Spring 2015

Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter

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Sustainable Agriculture Newsletters Archive

College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Volume 23, Issue 1 — Spring 2015

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The Bush Foundation announced its 2015 Community Innovation Grant recipients on May 27, and MISA is very pleased to announce that we were awarded a grant for $109,000 to work on the regulatory system for local foods in Minnesota. Discussions about simplifying and streamlining the way that food licensing happens have been taking place within MDA and MDH, and in Local Food Advisory Committee meetings over the past couple of years. MISA and the LFAC will use the Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant as a way to push that work forward, and to provide space and support for the regulatory agencies to engage with farmer and community groups in the process.

What we hope to accomplish:

  • An improved climate for the community of farmers and local food entrepreneurs trying to understand and comply with food regulations
  • An increased focus on food safety by both regulators and the local food community.
  • Less complex and more efficient licensing and inspection activities for food entrepreneurs.
  • Improved support for regulators to do education and outreach work.

If you are interested in following this effort over the coming year, from July 2015 through August 2016, please make frequent visits to the Local Food Advisory Committee web page: e/index.htm
Updates will be posted there. You can also submit comments and questions via this online form: committee

More about the Bush Foundation: 90


This publication was released by the Minnesota institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) in January 2015. It was written by Megan O’Hara during her recent tenure as a Senior Fellow in the School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems. “There is burgeoning interest in Minnesota and nationwide in small-scale and localized food businesses,” said Helene Murray, Executive Director of MISA. “It is our hope that this publication helps people navigate these complex issues.”

The Guide describes the health, economic, and environmental reasons for this growth in small-scale food manufacturing and food service businesses and highlights diverse examples – from a granola bar manufacturer to a farmers’ market to a food truck – of people finding innovative ways to overcome obstacles and bring unique foods and dining experiences to their communities. The main focus of the Guide is on the regulatory framework for food businesses, which can be confusing and intimidating to those seeking to start a business. Ms. O’Hara notes, “The growth of many small food enterprises has created challenges for local and state regulators to enforce existing food code and statutory requirements, many of which were written and developed in a different era.”

The 54-page book explains how federal, state, and local authorities interact to regulate food businesses in Minnesota. It includes specific information about food facilities requirements, licensing, training and certification of employees, zoning, building code, and inspections; as well as state and county-level inspector contact information. The Guide will be a valuable aid to food entrepreneurs who need to deal with complex regulatory systems in order to be successful.

“A Guide to Regulations for Local Food Entrepreneurs” is available online as a PDF on the MISA website: ex.htm. Print copies are available; call the MISA office at 612-625- 8235 or 800-909-6472; or email to to request a print copy.


North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) is pleased to announce that more than 70 grant projects were selected to receive a total of almost $1 million through these NCR-SARE grant programs, which offer competitive grants for farmers and ranchers and educators who are exploring sustainable agriculture in America’s Midwest. Five Minnesota projects were awarded grants:

Farmer/Rancher Grants:


  • Rodrigo Cala of Shared Ground Farmers' Co-op in Saint Paul, MN was awarded $20,999 for the project, “Immigrant Farmer High Tunnel Project.”
  • Nancy Lunzer of Bear Street Ranch, LLC in Ogilvie, MN was awarded $7,477 for the project, “Intensive Rotational Grazing with Sheep on Riparian Land to Target Invasive Reed Canary Grass and Common Buckthorn.”
  • Diane Wilson of Dream of Wild Health in Minneapolis, MN was awarded $7,500 for the project, “Native Youth Plant a Bee Meadow.”


Youth Educator Grant:

  • Laura Hedeen of Minnesota Food Association in Marine on St Croix, MN was awarded $2,000 for the project, “Big River Farms Youth & Family Engagement Program - a Project of the Minnesota Food Association.”

Partnership Grant:

  • Robin Moore of Land Stewardship Project in Montevideo, MN was awarded $29,870 for the project, “Shifting Local Trends with Cover Crops and Short Season Corn.”

The Partnership Grant program was new for 2015. It is intended to foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture. Partnership grants are funded for up to 24 months with a $30,000 limit per application; and an agricultural professional is the applicant and the principal investigator.

More information about the NCR-SARE grant programs is available here:

Read the complete press release that includes information about grant recipients in other states in the region: Releases/NCR-SARE-Announces-Award-Recipients-for-Farmer-Rancher-Youth- Educator-and-Partnership-Grant-Programs


The Harvest-to-Table Vegetable Handling presentation was developed and delivered by Lisa Baker of Bakers’ Acres LLC; Laura Frerichs of Loon Organics, Inc.; and Joan Olson of Prairie Drifter Farm. It showed up at almost every major sustainable, organic, or specialty-crop focused farmer conference in Minnesota this past winter; as well as at four all-day workshops. In case you missed it, the presentation and the accompanying handouts are all available online:

Topics covered include: respiration, harvest, cleaning & cooling, packing area infrastructure, sorting & grading, storage, packing & packaging, transport, and display & point-of-sale. The main focus is on ways to minimize deterioration, maximize shelf-life, and offer consistently high- quality and safe produce to customers. The presentation complements GAPs workshops offered by Annalisa Hultberg and Michele Schermann. If on-farm food safety plans and preparing for a GAPs audit is your main interest, there are several of those workshops being offered around Minnesota in June, July, and August. Find out more about GAPs workshops here:

If you are interested in hosting either the short or the long version of Harvest-to-Sale Vegetable Handling at your location this coming fall or winter, please contact MISA to begin planning for that:, 612-625-8235 or 800-909-6472.


Three people have been appointed to the position of School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agriculture Systems in the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.The Chair represents a unique opportunity for leaders in the academic, business, farming, government, and non-profit sectors of agriculture, rural development, and related fields to contribute to and help shape the future of rural Minnesota. The Chair is intended to serve as a catalyst for innovation and progress on agricultural and rural issues within the college and state, and can be filled by individuals or project teams that rotate through the position, serving flexible, varying-length terms as appropriate for their proposed activities. This effort is coordinated by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

The new appointees are:

Lee DeHaan of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, who will be working to build Kernza™ (intermediate wheatgrass) production and markets in Minnesota. Kernza is a perennial grass, part of a family of plants called “wheatgrass” because of the similarity of their seed heads to those of annual wheat varieties. DeHaan’s objective for the position will be to build and strengthen collaborations among researchers, farmers, food processors, and local food networks in order to establish commercial production of Kernza, based on market pull from local food networks. Information learned will be put to use in his ongoing plant breeding efforts and will be used to expand local markets for Kernza. Support for this effort is also being matched by The Land Institute, the Forever Green Initiative and Green Lands Blue Waters collaborators.

Jack Hedin of Featherstone Farm in Rushford, Minn., who will be identifying mechanisms that would work to make farm land accessible in Minnesota, taking into account the needs of both farmers and landowners. He intends to interact with the numerous groups in the region working on this issue, including the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust (TCALT,) Renewing the Countryside, Farmers Legal Action Group, and the Hmong American Farmers Association.

Mark Ritchie will be working to link the resources of CFANS and the sustainable agriculture community in Minnesota to the upcoming global forum, the 2015 Milan Expo. The theme of this year’s Expo is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The U.S. State Department is creating a powerful U.S. presence at the 2015 Expo by partnering with local, state and national leaders in sustainable food systems in the design and operation of the U.S. national pavilion. They have contracted with the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center to build and manage the U.S. exhibit in Milan. Ritchie, the former Minnesota Secretary of State, will provide coordination among Minnesota-based efforts and resources of the U of MN.

Find out more about the Endowed Chair program and here:


Forever Green is a University of Minnesota and USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) initiative to develop new crops and cropping systems that will keep soil covered year-round, increase the efficiency of agriculture by keeping land productive for a greater part of each year, have significant soil health and water quality benefits, and benefit the agricultural economy in Minnesota. This work, spearheaded by Dr. Don Wyse and Dr. Nick Jordan, has been funded by a variety of federal research grants as well as the Minnesota State Legislature. It is currently a $5.4 million effort spanning 13 major research project areas that are generating basic and applied cropping systems information; new crop germplasm; and food, feed, fiber, and energy products using the new crops. Some of the crops included in this research effort: sylphium, perennial sunflower, field pennycress, camelina, intermediate wheatgrass, hazelnut, winter barley, hairy vetch, and winter pea. There are also ongoing research efforts focused on cover crops, biomass production, and forages. MISA is helping to coordinate development of a new website to showcase the Forever Green work. In the meantime, more information about research areas is available in this document: 2015.pdf


The Minnesota Farmers Market Association offers the 2015 Minnesota Farmers' Market Manual; completely rewritten and full of the latest information regarding operating and participating in today's vibrant Minnesota farmers' markets. Chapters include:

  • Starting A Farmers' Market
  • Organizing Your Farmers' Market
  • The Structure of Your Farmers' Market
  • The Governance Structure of Your Farmers' Market
  • Managing Your Farmers' Market
  • Financial Management of Your Farmers' Market
  • Food Safety and Food Licensing
  • Building A Vendor Base
  • Food Assistance Programs That Benefit Your Farmers' Market
  • Obtaining Financial Resources for Your Farmers' Market
  • Promoting Your Farmers' Market
  • Risk Management and Insurance for Your Farmers' Market


Not only does the Manual go into detail about these subjects, it includes hundreds of links to resources and information from local markets, state agencies, and national leaders, organizations and markets. Order your print or digital copy through the Minnesota Farmers Market Association website:


Don’t forget to check the MISA calendar to find lots of summer field days, workshops, open houses, and other events:; click on the “Calendar” tab.



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.