SHARING LEADERSHIP IN SUSTAINABLE AG EDUCATION
What are the characteristics of an exceptional leader you have known
personally? This question was one of many discussed at two Shared
Leadership, Shared Responsibility workshops, funded by the North Central
Sustainable Agriculture Training Program (SARE-Chapter 3).=20
Broad coalitions have been formed to conduct sustainable agriculture
education. These coalitions depend on small groups, task forces and ad hoc
teams to accomplish the work. Leaders of these groups have requested ideas
on how to build partnerships.=20
This year Extension educators from throughout the 12-state region shared
their experiences in setting up state sustainable agriculture training
projects. Participants asked the presenters questions on the design and
implementation of programs, as well as the challenges they faced and lessons
learned. Other topics covered at the workshops were:
Approaches to Whole Farm Planning
PLANETOR Version 2.0
Holistic Resource Management
Financial Analysis for Sustainable Agriculture
Implications of the 1996 Farm Bill on Sustainable Agriculture
Entrepreneurship and Marketing Products from Sustainable Agriculture=
The Walworth County Lakeland Agricultural Complex (Wisconsin) and
Carrington Research Extension Center (North Dakota) were chosen as the sites
for this summer's workshops because of their agricultural programs and high
involvement with the farming community. The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping
Systems Trial compares the production, profitability, and environmental
impact of six different cropping systems that range from high to low levels
of purchased inputs and crop diversity. The complex was the site of heated
debate in 1995 when county board supervisors introduced a resolution to sell
the farm's assets and rent the land. However, a group of supporters joined
forces and saved the farm and its educational activities.
The Carrington Center has been the focal point of North Dakota's effort on
application of sustainable agriculture in the field. Current research
includes irrigated and dryland crop production, groundwater quality, beef
cattle integration with crop production, and indoor recirculating
aquaculture systems. The center is also an integral part of the community,
which is an important region for grower-owned processing and marketing
businesses. Participants toured the sites and interacted with local farmers.
In total, 116 people from 11 states attended the workshops.
Lest the reader be left with the impression of all work and no play, there
were activities that fell into the education-entertainment category. In
Wisconsin the group watched Rural Voices, which combined theater, music, and
the spirit of a turn-of-the-century Chautauqua to portray modern farm life
in the Midwest. In North Dakota small groups learned about teamwork when
they were given newspapers to wad, masking tape, and string and told to
build a Tower of Nonbabble that was as tall as possible and self-supporting
(sustainable)=97without uttering a word to each other.
Future regional plans include condensing the resource notebook into a
manual for wider distribution. The theme for the 1997 workshops is Linking
People with the Land, and three workshops will be held in Kansas, Ohio, and
Minnesota. Contact Heidi Carter at the CSAS office for more information on
the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Training Program.
Submitted by Heidi Carter and Charles Francis
WHAT IS COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE?
Community supported agriculture (sometimes called community shared
agriculture) is an approach to food production and marketing that brings
producers and consumers together for common benefit. Generally there is a
contract for one growing season where the farmer agrees to supply a basket
of vegetable products each week for a fixed subscription fee for the entire
season. Some producers deliver these to the customer or to a common pick-up
point, while others distribute the baskets from the farm. Many CSAs are
certified organic production systems, although some use conventional
pesticides and fertilizers. Depending on what vegetables or other products
are provided, a membership or subscription may cost from $200 to $500 per
season. Some CSAs provide half shares for single or elderly people who only
require half as much produce.=20
Buying a membership in a CSA involves the consumer in the total food
production and distribution system. Although there is guarantee of fresh
produce, often produced without chemicals, there is no assurance that a
given vegetable will be available in a given week, depending on weather and
how many consumers share the harvest. The customer may get more vegetables
for the same investment as compared to shopping in the market, or may get
fewer if the season is a difficult one for growing. In either case, the
consumer is participating in the food production system, investing in the
field process and reaping the benefits through fresh, local produce. For
more information we suggest the following references (contact for current
Rowley, Tamsyn, and Chris Beeman. 1994. Our Field: A Manual for Community
Shared Agriculture. CSA Resource Centre, c/o MVCA, Box 127, Wroxeter,
Ontario, N0G 2X0, Canada.
Groh, Truagher, and Steven McFadden. 1990. Farms of Tomorrow: Community
Supported Farms. Farm Supported Communities. Bio-Dynamic Farming and
Gardening Association, Inc., Box 550, Kimberton, Pennsylvania 19442.
U. of California. 1995. Making the Connection: the CSA Handbook for
Producers. UC Coop. Extension, Attn: CSA Handbook, 11477 E. Ave., Auburn, CA
95603, (916) 889-7385.
Van En, R. Basic Formula to Create Community Supported Agriculture. CSA
Indian Line Rd., RR#3, Box 85, Great Barrington, MA 02130.
Submitted by Charles Francis
ORGANIC FOOD SALES CLIMB
Organic food product sales continue to grow rapidly in the U.S., according
to a recent article in Alternative Agriculture News (July 1996). The article
cites more organic food producers and expansion by retailers among the
reasons for increased sales. Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA)
chapters in Nebraska reflect this trend.
Sales in the U.S. are greater than $2 billion for the second year in a row
(Natural Foods Merchandiser, June 1996). According to this report, sales
have increased more than 20% each year for the last six years due primarily
to a wider consumer base, more acreage in organic crops, and greater
acceptance by mainstream customers. In addition to small, beginning
enterprises, there is interest in organic certification and sales by larger
family and corporate farms.
A recent survey by the Organic Farming Research Foundation shows that
organic farmers rely on a range of marketing outlets, including direct
on-farm sales, farmers' markets, community supported agriculture, grower
cooperatives, retail stores, restaurants and wholesale distributors. The
majority of survey respondents stated that lack of information about organic
production (71%) and uncooperative or uninformed extension agents (59%) were
significant barriers to production when they began organic farming.
According to the survey, organic farmers are most interested in research
regarding the relationship of growing practices to crop quality and
nutrition, the relationship of crop rotations to fertility and pest
management, and consumer demand for organic. (See Resources to order=
A new group focused on production and marketing of specialty crops was
recently formed in eastern Nebraska. Keith and Jo Lutnes (1210 3rd St,
Columbus, NE 68601, 402-562-8711) are currently coordinating this group that
is among the sponsors of the August 24th field tour (see accompanying
article). Several vendors at the Lincoln Farmers' Market are certified
organic producers, and others advertise their production practices as
"pesticide free." The August 24 field day will provide an opportunity for
consumers and potential organic producers to learn more about this important
and growing market.
Submitted by Charles Francis
WHY SHOP AT FARMERS MARKETS?
Laurie Hodges in the UNL Horticulture Department provides this list of
benefits from shopping at farmers markets:
Freshness and quality. Often harvested just hours before the grower leaves
home, this freshness is evident in appearance, flavor and nutrient content.
Variety. Available are a wide variety of produce, herbs, fresh flowers and
organically grown crops.
Availability. Farmers' market produce is often available sooner than that
from home gardens due to practices used by professionals that lead to early
Price. With no "middleman" the price is often less than retail outlets,
and prices for "seconds" can be negotiated.
Variable quantities. Customers wishing to take advantage of the height of
the season by canning or freezing their purchases can arrange for larger
amounts at reduced prices.
Social effects. Customers enjoy talking with growers about their=
Local benefit. Dollars are kept in the local community.
A booklet describing Nebraska farmers markets and roadside stands by region
is available from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Promotion and
Development Division, 1-800-422-6692 or 402-471-4876.
REMINDER: SPECIALTY FOOD PRODUCTS FIELD DAY
While the format and title have changed slightly from the article in our
May-June newsletter, the focus remains the production and marketing of
fruits, vegetables and other food products for the August 24 field day in
Lincoln and the surrounding area.
The day will begin at 8 a.m. at the Farmers' Market in Lincoln (8th & Q)
where vendors will visit with the group about their operations. At 10 a.m.
the program will move to the Lancaster County Extension Office where
participants will interact with producers and university specialists. At
noon there will be a bring-your-own lunch supplemented with donations from
Farmers' Market vendors. After lunch participants will travel in their own
vehicles to Martell, Firth, Crete, and Beatrice to see farms that produce
goat cheese, organic and conventional fruits and vegetables, and organic
herbs. There is no cost for the program, nor is registration required. For
more information contact the CSAS office.
Did You Know...
The U.S. exported $1.1 billion worth of fresh vegetables last year, up 17%
Did You Know...
According to an article in The Furrow (Spring 1996), there are now 500
community-supported agriculture programs in North America
CONGRESS PASSES FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT
A pesticide reform bill could become the first major environmental bill
enacted into law this year. The bill passed the House on July 23 and the
Senate the following day. The President is expected to sign the legislation.
The Food Quality Protection Act (H.R. 1627) would amend the nation's two
major pesticide laws: the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA), which governs the registration of pesticides with EPA, and the
Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which directs EPA in setting
pesticide safety levels in foods.
In summary, the bill revises the Delaney clause, which bans carcinogenic
pesticide residue in processed foods, and requires EPA to set a uniform
pesticide tolerance for raw and processed foods that is "safe," which the
bill defines as a "reasonable certainty of no harm." The bill also includes
provisions requiring EPA to consider special risk factors for children when
setting tolerances and distribute more consumer information on pesticides.
Calling the bill a victory for farmers and consumers, Secretary Glickman
said the bill resolves the long standing problems posed by the Delaney
clause, provides enhanced protection for infants and children, and includes
common sense regulatory reform. "Farmers would benefit in two major ways
from enactment of this legislation. The bill also offers incentives to
provide growers, particularly minor crop producers, with new pest management
tools. And, by strengthening pesticide laws, the bill would also positively
impact consumers' confidence in the safety of the foods they purchase for
their families," Glickman stated. =20
Sources: EPA Legislative Update, 7/26/96; USDA news release, 7/23/96
INTEGRATED FARM UPDATE
Composting: the process and economics
For the past four years composting of livestock manure from the beef
feedlot, dairy and sheep units at the UNL Agricultural Research and
Development Center has been an integral part of the Integrated Farm.
Previously manure was treated as a waste and applied on fields closest to
the units, but after considerable research on the advantages and
disadvantages of composting, it was decided to use it as the method of waste
management on the Integrated Farm.
While composting requires additional land for a compost site, labor, time,
specialized equipment and careful management, it has many advantages.
Composting reduces fly and odor problems associated with stockpiled and land
applied manure, stabilizes nitrogen which provides flexibility for land
application, reduces volume of manure hauled to the field, and kills weed
seeds and pathogens.
Beef feedlot and sheep manure is hauled directly to the compost site in
spring and early summer from the pens and placed in windrows where it is
turned for aeration an average of four times before the composting process
is complete. Dairy manure is hauled to the site each day and stored in an
earthen holding pit until it can be mixed with residue. The dairy manure is
generally very wet (80-90% moisture) and requires the addition of a drier
bulking material before it can be composted. Waste residues such as spoiled
silage, old hay, straw, haylage, and feedstuffs are hauled to the compost
site where they are mixed with the dairy manure in a spreader, placed in
windrows, and turned an average of ten times. The composting process
requires 4-6 weeks for the beef manure and 8-12 weeks for dairy manure,
depending upon moisture content.
At the Integrated Farm we are producing approximately 3000 tons of compost
annually from the livestock units. Equipment needed for composting on this
scale includes a large pay loader, pull-type compost turner, and compost
spreader. Costs for turning the compost, hauling it to the field, and
spreading the compost range from $3.50/ton to $6.00/ton for composted beef
feedlot manure. Costs for composted dairy manure are generally $2.00/ton
higher due to the mixing of the manure with residue and extra turning
required. In 1995, nutrient content of composted feedlot manure was 11.1 lbs
N/ton and 12.3 lbs P2O5/ton, while composted dairy manure averaged 12.75 lbs
N/ton and 20.8 lbs P2O5/ton. Based on current fertilizer prices, the value
of beef and dairy compost would be $5.09 and $7.61/ton, respectively.
Currently compost is being used as a phosphorus source on fields that test
low for that chemical, particularly under irrigation and for alfalfa
production. This is reducing the amount of purchased phosphorus on the farm.
Submitted by Gary Lesoing =20
Did You Know...
An exhibit at Mount Vernon shows how George Washington experimented with
crop rotation, organic fertilizers, soil amendments, and a dung repository,
which may have been one of the country's first dedicated composting=
FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: SARE AND NRI
The Administrative Council for the North Central Region (NCR) Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program has issued its 1997 Call=
Preproposals for research and education/demonstration projects. Priority
- Emerging Issues
- Integration and Diversification of Farming Systems
- Sustainable Livestock Systems
- Food Systems
- Environmentally Sensitive Land and Water Resources
- Environmentally Sound Management Practices
The deadline is September 13. For more information or an application packet,
contact the NCR SARE Program office, 402-472-7081.
Deadlines have been announced for the next round of funding for the USDA
National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program. Of particular
interest to readers of this newsletter are the categories of
Forest/Range/Crop/Aquatic Ecosystems and Weed Science (Nov. 15), Assessing
Pest Control Strategies (Jan. 15), and Agricultural Systems (Feb. 15). More
information is available at the URL=
UNL faculty wishing to pursue the possibility of submission of an
interdisciplinary proposal to SARE or NRI through the CSAS should contact
either Charles Francis or Pam Murray. We can offer assistance with
conceptualization, putting together a project team, proposal development and
UPCOMING INTEGRATED SYSTEM PLANNING WORKSHOPS
The pilot workshop for training Nebraska Cooperative Extension and Natural
Resources Conservation Service employees in sustainable agriculture took
place in Lincoln in February and March 1996. Based on feedback, the planning
committee has revised the workshop and will offer it at the research and
extension centers as follows: South Central, Oct. 8-9; Panhandle, Oct.
21-22; West Central, Oct. 29-30; Northeast, Nov. 13-14. For more information
contact Victoria Mundy, coordinator of these events, 402-254-2289, e-mail:
CALL FOR PAPERS ON WIND EROSION
Wind Erosion: An International Symposium/Workshop Commemorating the 50th
Anniversary of the USDA's Wind Erosion Research at Kansas State University
will be held June 3-5, 1997 in Manhattan. Scientists, engineers and
conservationists are invited to present papers and/or attend sessions
related to the occurrence, measurement, and prediction and control of wind
erosion and related processes and consequences. Submit abstracts by December
31 to: email@example.com or symposium abstracts, c/o USDA, ARS Wind Erosion,
Throckmorton Hall, KSU, Manhattan, KS 66506. More information and an Intent
to Participate Form (due by September 30) is available at URL
PLAN FOR A NEW SUSTAINABLE FARM PUBLICATION
The New Farm was a practical agricultural magazine from Rodale Institute
that ceased publication last year. A group of interested people is working
toward establishing an information resource on practical farming and policy
evaluation for those involved in sustainable agriculture. The group includes
an editorial director from Rodale and others who are well experienced in
this publishing environment. With support from the Wallace Genetic
Foundation and the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, the
coordinators of the Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing are assembling
a mailing list of potential subscribers for the replacement publication.
This committee is anxious to have names and addresses of people who are
interested in the publication. If you want to be on this list, send your
name and address to: Christopher Shirley, 609 S. Front Street, Allentown, PA
18103, 610-791-9683, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preliminary Results of the 1995 National Organic Farmers' Survey. April
1996. $10. Organic Farming Research Foundation, PO Box 440, Santa Cruz, CA
95061, 408-426-6606, email@example.com.
Monitoring Sustainable Agriculture with Conventional Financial Data. $7 (MN=
6.5% sales tax). In this 30-page publication, Dick Levins presents four
indicators to evaluate the sustainability of farming operations. Using farm
records or tax reports, farmers can transfer numbers to work sheets provided
in the book, and thus evaluate their sustainability. Land Stewardship
Project, 2200 4th St., White Bear Lake, MN 55110, 612-653-0618.
Weeds: Control Without Poisons, 1996. $20 + $2 s&h. Describes weed and soil
ecology and provides information for identifying many North American weed
species. Stresses that careful weed identification can provide important
information about soil, plant health and water availability, and discusses
how this information can enable farmers to improve crops and control weeds
without relying on herbicides. Acres, U.S.A., PO Box 8800, Metairie, LA,
70011, 504-889-2100 or 1-800-355-5313.
Vegetable Farmers and Their Weed Control Machines (75-min video). $10
(payable to UVM Extension). Nine farmers demonstrate various cultivation
implements. Highly recommended by our UNL vegetable specialist. UVM Center
for Sustainable Agriculture, 590 Main St., Burlington, VT 05405-0059.
1996 National Organic Directory. $34.95 + $6 s&h (CA add $2.75 sales tax).
Community Alliance with Family Farmers, PO Box 464, Davis, CA 95617,
916-756-8518 or 1-800-852-3832.
Agroecology in Action, 1996 (Video). $15. Teaches agroecological principles
with several Latin American agroecological farmers. Miguel Altieri, 1050 San
Pablo Avenue, Albany, CA 94706, 510-642-9802, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century, 1996.
$53.95. National Research Council. Discusses health, environmental and
consumer concerns about conventional chemical-intensive agriculture, and
describes framework for knowledge-intensive, ecologically based pest
management system. Recommends integrating range of cultural and physical
strategies in order to improve whole farm system, rather than approaching
soil, pest, water and other issues separately. Discusses ways to facilitate
timely flow of information to farmers, pest control workers and extension
agents, and suggests ways to improve regulatory oversight of new pest
control measures. National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20418, 1-800-624-6242.
1996 Center Progress Report. Free. Leopold Center details 15 of its recent
research and education projects. Leopold Center, 209 Curtiss Hall, Iowa
State U., Ames, IA 50011, 515-294-3711, email@example.com.
Contact CSAS office for more information:=20
Aug. 24 -- Specialty Food Products Field Day, Lincoln, NE
Sep. 5-6 -- The Groundwater Foundation's Fall Symposium, Boston, MA
Sep. 7 -- Festival of Color (featuring native plants and grasses), Ithaca,=
Sep. 10-13 -- National Small Farm Conference, Nashville, TN
Sep. 15-19 -- 7th National Bioenergy Conference, Nashville, TN
Sept. 18-21 -- The EcoAgroForestry Century Conference, Dermott, AR
Oct. 2-3 -- Community Food Systems: Sustaining Farms and People in the
Emerging Economy, Davis, CA
Oct. 7-11 -- International Conference on Ecological Engineering, Beijing
Oct. 20-21 -- Groundwater Foundation annual water festival workshop,
Nebraska City, NE
Oct. 26 -- Cancer and Pesticides Conference, Laurel, MD
Nov. 1-2 -- Profit from Diversity, Small Farm Trade Show & Seminars,
Nov. 3-8 -- American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN
Nov. 11-16 -- 14th International Symposium on Sustainable Farming
Systems, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nov. 13-15 -- Composting Council's Seventh Annual Conference, Arlington, VA
Pam Murray, Coordinator
Center for Grassland Studies and
Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems
PO Box 830949
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68583-0949