YOUNGBERG SPEAKS AT ANNUAL MEETING
In his keynote presentation at the NSAS Annual Meeting, Dr. Garth Youngberg
of the Henry A. Wallace Institute commented that he has learned more about
sustainable agriculture from people in Nebraska than any other state in the
Union. An abundance of knowledge and ideas were shared at this year's Annual
Meeting, thanks to a tremendous turnout of NSAS members and other sustainable
Youngberg challenged the sustainable agriculture community to chart a path
for the future of American agriculture and decide what we really want, not
only from the government but for our own farms, landscape and communities.
"It's not enough to say what conventional agriculture is doing wrong," said
Youngberg, "but we have to say what we as a community can do right and
develop this broad vision."
To renew hope in rural communities, Youngberg believes that local
communities and governments must be empowered and that there must be
widespread, genuine citizen participation in civic affairs and community
efforts. Although we may not be able to return to the days of threshing
bees, rural citizens can re-learn how to work together for the greater good
rather than simply working alone for individual gain.
Prior to Youngberg's presentation, Jim Bender was honored with the
Agricultural Stewardship award for his pioneering contributions in
sustainable agriculture and conservation.
Five new members were elected to the NSAS Board: John Ellis (York), Darlene
Fletcher (Avoca), Troy Kash-Brown (Lincoln), Carl Kemper (Crete), and Morton
Stelling (Lincoln). Outgoing board members Lowell Schroeder, Warren Sahs,
Kris Thorp, Dave Welsch and Carol Speicher were thanked for their years of
service to NSAS. The Board will elect new officers at its next regular
meeting on April 11th.
A raffle and silent auction raised over $600 to help cover Gary Young's
medical expenses. Gary is awaiting a liver transplant. The Young family
wishes to thank everyone who contributed to this effort.
Many thanks to the volunteers who helped with registration, videotaping and
the auction/raffle, and for the generous donations which helped make this
year's Annual Meeting a success.
BENDER ACCEPTS NSAS AWARD
Jim Bender of Weeping Water was honored for his work in soil and water
conservation and ecological farming with NSAS's 1996 Agricultural Stewardship
Award. Dr. Warren Sahs presented this award to Bender at the Annual Meeting.
Bender is one of Nebraska's leading sustainable agriculture practitioners.
He has farmed without insecticides or herbicides since 1980, and stopped
using synthetic fertilizers in 1987. His main goal for his 642-acre farm is
to conserve soil and water, and he uses waterways, terraces, and organic
farming practices to achieve this goal.
In addition to farming, Bender has authored numerous publications, including
his 1994 book Future Harvest: Pesticide-Free Farming, published by the
University of Nebraska Press. He works with Amnesty International and the
American Civil Liberties Union in Nebraska.
Bender accepted the award on behalf of every dedicated person in the state
of Nebraska who has helped the progress of the sustainable agriculture
movement. He recognized some of his own heroes in sustainable agriculture who
were present at the NSAS meeting.
SUSTAINABILITY GOES BEYOND THE FIELD
Despite the bitter cold, 47 people attended the NSAS Western Conference in
Ogallala on Feb. 3.
John Gardner, agronomist and director of the Carrington Research Extension
Center in Carrington, North Dakota, offered a challenging keynote speech on
"Farming Beyond the Field: Our Role in the Community."
Gardner believes that it is important for farmers to go beyond sustainable
production practices and to get involved with their communities in a dynamic
way. Direct marketing to the consumer, farmers' markets, community supported
agriculture, and farmer cooperatives are some of the ways Gardner sees this
connection being made.
"For large groups of farmers, and particularly prairie farmers, cooperatives
offer one of the best ways that we can create a new role in the community and
re-establish our role as stewards, the caretakers of the land, the producers
of food," Gardner said.
Farmer poet Terry Jacobson came down from North Dakota with Gardner and read
some of his poems during lunch. Cris Carusi, Ray Weed, and David Hansen also
Conference attendees came from Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas. A visiting
professor from Moldova, Boris Boincean, provided an Eastern European
"This was a quality conference, thanks to the time and knowledge that the
workshop presenters and people from North Dakota shared with us," said Jane
Sooby, NSAS Western Organizer.
SHARED VISIONS - FARMING FOR BETTER COMMUNITIES
by Victoria Mundy
Communities, marketing skills, beginning farmers, profitability,
environmentally-friendly production practices. Sustainable farmers in
Nebraska and Iowa have a lot more in common than corn and soybeans!
The Nebraska IMPACT Project is one of 18 projects across the United States
that encourage sustainable agriculture with the support of the W.K. Kellogg
Foundation. Shared Visions in Iowa is another Kellogg-supported project.
Shared Visions producers work together in groups. They decide what their
communities and farms need - they really develop a shared vision for the
group. Then they go to work to make the vision happen. People from the
University of Iowa, the Practical Farmers of Iowa, and the Leopold Center for
Sustainable Agriculture help the 14 Shared Visions groups in Iowa.
Several groups concentrate on marketing. The Farm Fresh CSA draws most of
its members from rural Benton County. In 1995, they had 22 members, who
received vegetables and apples. They discovered that door-to-door deliveries
took too much time, so this year they'll make a change or two in the produce
The Central Iowa CSA draws members from around Ames, Iowa. Members receive
vegetables, of course. But this CSA also links consumers to local sources of
meat, eggs, honey, even baked goods and fiber products. They hope to do more
of this in 1996.
The Eliza County group is developing a directory of farmers who have
products for sale. In order to be listed in the directory, producers must
meet certain standards. For example, they must have a plan for
sustainability. The directory will be widely distributed.
The Franklin County group is in the very early planning stages of producing
antibiotic-free pork. The market potential is good, but they have lots of
work left to do as they figure out production practices, labelling laws, and
Other Shared Visions groups concentrate on alternative crops and innovative
production practices. There are two beginning farmer groups. One group uses
HRM as a planning tool. Some groups concentrate on management-intensive
There's a lot more happening with Shared Visions than will fit in one
column! For more information about any of the Shared Visions groups, contact
the NSAS office.
These folks sound about as busy, committed, and excited as our own IMPACT
Project people. And that's another thing that sustainable farmers have in
common no matter where you are.
IMPACT GROUPS DEVELOP ON-FARM PROJECTS AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
by Victoria Mundy and Cris Carusi
This fall and winter, eight IMPACT groups developed on-farm projects and
educational programs for local sustainable agriculture issues and practices.
The groups will do their projects during this growing season.
Enhanced Quality of Life (EQUAL), Bow Valley: General support for education
and community outreach
EQUAL is a rural women's group. This is their second year together. They
address quality-of-life issues for their communities and farms. The group
will use IMPACT funds to hold classes and workshops which will build
leadership in their community. The women also plan to learn about sustainable
agricultural production practices and home-based business development. This
winter, they completed a feasibility study for a day care in Bow Valley.
Specialty Growers, Eastern Nebraska: Growth, Awareness and Development
The Specialty Growers are beginning their first year as an IMPACT group.
These producers grow organic vegetables and herbs. Their goal is to
increase consumer awareness of the positive qualities of high-quality organic
food. Their project funding will support public tours of vegetable and herb
farms, a strategic planning session, and publication of outreach materials
like brochures and member packets.
Custer County Sustainable Agriculture Society, Custer County: Solar Powered
Underground Walk-in Cooler
This group is interested in using renewable energy resources to support
local food systems. In their second year as an IMPACT group, they will
develop an experimental solar-powered refrigerator. Later they will construct
a large cooler, based on what they learn in designing the prototype. Local
vegetable growers will be able to use the cooler. The group will hold a
public demonstration of the refrigerator and sustainable farming practices.
Northeast Nebraska Farmers, Northeast Nebraska: Direct Meat Marketing
This group's goal is to enhance farm profitability and increase the demand
for sustainably-produced commodities. They will direct-market chemical-free
beef and other meat to customers in northeast Nebraska and nearby areas.
They will use IMPACT funds to develop a marketing plan and to create a legal
marketing entity for their group, which has been together for a year. Market
development will include educational materials for customers.
Hoofmasters, Hartington and Bow Valley: Legume Interseeding Study
The Hoofmasters' goal is to increase the profitability of their dairy and
beef operations by improving forage management on their farms. They have
worked together for a year, and enjoy using management-intensive grazing
systems. They will use IMPACT funds for on-farm demonstrations of legume
establishment in cool-season grass pastures.
Fordyce Organic Growers (FOG), Fordyce: Compost and Weed Control
These farmers raise organic grain. They want to learn more about
alternative methods of weed control, and compost production and use. They
will use IMPACT funds for equipment to try different kinds of mechanical weed
control on their farms. They will experiment with angora goats to control
leafy spurge in pastures. They will also demonstrate a home-made compost
turner. This group is in their second year with the IMPACT Project.
Pastured Poultry Producers, Adams County: Pastured Poultry Production and
Members of this group raise small lots of broilers on pasture, with
supplemental grain feeding. They market the chickens directly to local
consumers. The producers enjoy increased profits, while customers receive
excellent-quality food. IMPACT funds will be used to purchase equipment for
on-farm poultry processing. This is the second year that these producers
will work together to produce, process, and market their chickens.
Tekamah CRP Demonstration Project, Tekamah: Pasture Management for Eastern
Members of this group work with forage-livestock systems for CRP land. They
want to demonstrate that management-intensive grazing systems are a
profitable alternative to row crops, particularly for young or beginning
farmers. They will also have on-farm demonstrations of different management
options in forage systems. This is their second year with IMPACT.
NEW IMPACT GROUPS EXPLORE SUSTAINABLE FARMING IDEAS
by Wyatt Fraas and Jane Sooby
Ag Internet Club
"Our group can have a very positive impact on the economic development of
the Nebraska farming community," says Diane Becker of the Ag Internet Club.
The club organized to improve members' farming practices, marketing
abilities, and business profitability through learning computer skills.
Group members include farmers and businesspeople in rural Madison County.
A key objective for the group is to train each other in electronic
communications such as the Internet, World Wide Web and electronic mail. The
club plans to meet monthly at school computer labs or members' homes to learn
new techniques, try equipment or software, and share what they've found in
their on- line explorations. They plan to subscribe to computer discussion
groups on grazing and sustainable agriculture, to develop advertising pages
for group members on the World Wide Web, and to sponsor local telephone
access numbers for their communities. They have already published a directory
of agricultural Internet addresses for topics such as weather forecasts,
market reports, and farmer discussion groups.
"Keeping up with technology and having the latest information available to
us immediately is a vital concern," said farmer Linda Renner.
The Ag Internet Club has intense interest from local Extension Educator
Chris Carlson, who specializes in rural development. "The enthusiasm for
this group," he says, "is one of the best I have seen in 25 years of
Legumes Anonymous is the latest addition to the IMPACT roster.
This group out of Alliance, NE, wants to experiment with interseeding
legumes into their grain crops. So far there are five members: a couple that
farms organically, a younger farmer who raises sheep and crops, a
conventional farmer, and an Extension educator.
D. Chris Bartels and his wife Susan are interested in interseeding black
medic into their winter wheat and millet as a source of nitrogen, organic
matter, and cover. Another member will try planting vetch between corn rows
in his garden.
The group received approval at the IMPACT Steering Committee meeting in
Broken Bow on March 16.
PREVENT POLLUTION WITH NATURAL HOUSECLEANING
by Victoria Mundy
You can clean your house clean. There are natural alternatives to ammonia,
bleach, and commercial cleaning products, to which many people have allergies
or bad reactions. Some products can damage septic systems and contamimate
water sources. Some products are just plain hazardous, especially for
children. Natural alternatives might not work in every cleaning situation,
but the more you use non-toxic, inexpensive, natural cleaners, the more
you'll reduce risk around the house.
Borax, for example, is a naturally-occurring mineral marvel. One-quarter
cup of borax in the laundry wash cycle will whiten, brighten, and soften
fabrics. It'll make detergent more effective, since borax is a water
softener. No more chlorine bleach or chemical fabric softener!
Use 1/2 cup borax, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 2 gallons of hot water for
cleaning away mold and mildew. Rinse the area well. Use 1 teaspoon borax, 3
tablespoons white vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap, and 2 cups water in a
spray bottle for a mild disinfectant and appliance-shiner. Very hot water
will dissolve the borax better. Add a little borax to dish rinse water, to
chase away spots.
You can buy boxes of borax at the grocery store, but put borax powder in an
air-tight container at home. Borax will soak up moisture from the air and
turn into an inconvenient lump if you leave it in the box.
Baking soda is another powerful natural cleaner. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda
down the drain, and follow it with 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let it sit for at
least 15 minutes and then flush the drain with hot water. You'll hear the
cleaning happen, as the mixture will hiss and bubble for quite a while!
Use 1/3 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup borax, 1 teaspoon vegetable-oil-based
liquid soap, and a little water to make a gentle scouring paste for
porcelain, pots, and pans - rinse well. Don't use this paste on aluminum!
Clean aluminum pots by simmering citrus fruits in them for an hour or so.
If you're lucky enough to have pretty sterling silver, polish the tarnish
away with white toothpaste. Anywhere you'd use a commercial window/glass
cleaner, use 1/8 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. For
really greasy windows, use cola - yes, soda pop! Rinse well.
I've tried these things in my house and I'm a fussy housekeeper - these
recipes work. I got the ideas from Annie Berthold-Bond's book Clean and
Green, published by Ceres Press. For more cleaning ideas, or information
about getting the book, call the NSAS office. Happy housecleaning!
filters through a
dissolves the last
A stream awakens,
tallgrass gospel choir
dance across the
start of this
- Cris Carusi
shadow of a lace curtain shimmers
on my wall
to night breeze music
hanging on the line outside
dance under a new moon
- Tim King, Long Prairie, MN
New CRA Publications Announced
The Center for Rural Affairs has announced two new publications. Financing
Beginning Farmers: An Evaluation of Farm Service Agency Credit Programs
includes a complete evaluation of USDA Beginning Farmer Loan Programs. This
publication is free.
From the Carcass to the Kitchen: Competition and the Wholesale Meat Market
offers a hard-hitting look at the components of meat marketing and what they
mean for farmers. This publication costs $10.00. To request either
publication, contact the Center for Rural Affairs, PO Box 406, Walthill, NE
68067; (402) 856-5428.
SARE Farmer Grant Applications Due Soon
The North Central Region SARE plans to award up to $200,000 this year
through a competitive grant program to producers and producer groups
addressing sustainable agriculture and marketing issues. Individual producers
can apply for up to $5,000 and groups of producers can apply for up to
$10,000 for the one-year farmer grants. Applications for this program are
available from the NSAS office. Completed proposals are due on May 1st.
Extension Educator Victoria Mundy can help farmers prepare their proposals.
Please call NSAS at (402) 254-2289 to request an application or to talk with
CRP Options Outlined in Land Use Guide
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension has published a booklet on CRP
issues and options: CRP Land Use Guide. This booklet outlines key issues that
producers will face when their CRP contracts expire. It also points out
available options for CRP land going into production. To obtain a copy of
this booklet, contact your local extension educator.
Enroll Now for Sustainable Ag Course
The University of California, Davis will once again offer its summer course,
Sustainable Agriculture: Principles and Practices. This intensive, hands-on
course runs for eight weeks, from June 24 to August 16, for approximately 25
hours per week. The fee for the course is $613.00.
This class examines sustainable agriculture in the field and classroom.
Lectures, laboratories and discussions are combined with practical field
experience and numerous field trips.
For information, contact Mark Van Horn, Student Experimental Farm,
Department of Agronomy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616; (916)