This blog is for Polk County Florida small farms and pesticide applicators as a method of communication and sharing information. This blog is administered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension Polk County Extension Agent, Mary Beth Henry.
Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.
News & Resources
Rodale Institute Reports on Alternatives to Black Plastic Mulch
USDA Releases Guide on Procuring Local Food for Child Nutrition Programs
New Publications Provide On-farm Organic Plant Breeding Instruction
New Info Sheets Explore Silvopasture on CRP, Windbreaks on Organic Farms
Food Consumers Prioritize Sustainability and Local Food, Says Survey Report
Montana Farm to School Video Released
Methyl Bromide Transitions Competitive Grant Program
Tennessee Specialty Crop Block Grant
National Value-Added Agriculture Conference
Open Gate On-farm Learning Day
Encouraging Pollinators, Beneficial Insects, and Other Good Guys
News & Resources
Rodale Institute Reports on Alternatives to Black Plastic Mulch Researchers at Rodale Institute have been working to develop a cover crop mulch system in which herbicides are not necessary for weed suppression. Rodale Institute has published Beyond Black Plastic, a 24-page guide that looks beyond plasticulture and evaluates the effects of different mulch systems on soil quality and fertility, weed control, yields, and waste production, as well as profitability for small to mid-size vegetable farms.
USDA Releases Guide on Procuring Local Food for Child Nutrition Programs USDA Food and Nutrition Service's Farm to School Initiative has released Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs. The 120-page guide covers procurement basics, menu planning, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally. Examples illustrate the many mechanisms available for districts to procure local food.
New Publications Provide On-farm Organic Plant Breeding Instruction Organic Seed Alliance has announced the release of four organic plant breeding manuals that walk farmers through the methods of breeding new crop varieties on their farms. Introduction to On-farm Organic Plant Breeding provides farmers with an overview of basic genetics, farm-based experimental design, and breeding techniques appropriate for organic farms. Three other guides, How to Breed Carrots for Organic Agriculture, How to Breed Sweet Corn for Organic Agriculture, and How to Breed Tomatoes for Organic Agriculture, are also available for free download.
New Info Sheets Explore Silvopasture on CRP, Windbreaks on Organic Farms The USDA National Agroforestry Center has released two new Working Trees Info Sheets that are available online in PDF. Can windbreaks help with organic farming? looks at how agroforestry buffers can be used to help organic farmers maintain the integrity of their products. The second two-page Info Sheet, Is converting CRP to silvopasture right for you?, explains an option that landowners with expiring CRP land may want to consider.
Food Consumers Prioritize Sustainability and Local Food, Says Survey Report The 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker reported results of a survey of more than 1,000 adult food shoppers. The survey showed that 77% of shoppers consider sustainability when deciding what food products to buy, while 74% looked for locally produced food, 69% considered animal welfare, and 67% prioritized non-GMO food.
Montana Farm to School Video Released Lake County Community Development Corporation and Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center have released a short documentary video about farm to school and its positive economic effects in western Montana. Through key interviews, the seven-minute online video Local Farms, Local Kids tells the story of each step local food takes in the journey from the farm to the school.
Mortgage Lifter Beekman 1802 Mortgage Lifter Sauces will divide $13,264 between four promising, small American farms to help them grow into medium-size farms. One $10,000 "Lift" and three $1,088 "Mini-Lifts" are offered. The Mortgage Lifter program is open to any agricultural business that fits the USDA definition of a Family Farm and has been in operation for three years. Applications will be judged on a combination of the feasibility and innovativeness of the applicant's plans, as well as their potential for success. Entries are due by April 22, 2014.
Methyl Bromide Transitions Competitive Grant Program USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications from colleges and universities for the Methyl Bromide Transition Competitive Grants Program. The program focuses on integrated commercial-scale research on methyl bromide alternatives and associated extension activity that will foster the adoption of these solutions. Grants up to $500,000 are available. Applications are due by May 6, 2014.
Tennessee Specialty Crop Block Grant The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, and industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for funding. Proposals are due May 8, 2014.
National Value-Added Agriculture Conference May 13-15, 2014 Baltimore, Maryland The conference theme is "Enhancing Food Security and Rural Viability through Innovative Food System Practices and Opportunities." The event celebrates the 10th anniversary of the MarketMaker program and offers a unique opportunity to discuss timely subjects in rural development and food security.
Open Gate On-farm Learning Day May 17, 2014 Pescadero, California Holistic Management International is presenting a series of farm/ranch workshops, each hosted by an experienced Holistic Management practitioner and featuring numerous innovative and sustainable agricultural topics and practices. This event focuses on "Resilience through Dry Times."
Encouraging Pollinators, Beneficial Insects, and Other Good Guys May 17, 2014 Live Oak, Florida UF/IFAS Small Farms Academy offers this day-long workshop on insect identification; birds, bats, and pollinator habitats; cover cropping and trap crops; insect collection and identification; and plants with extra floral nectaries.
Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA - was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.
ATTRA Webinar Register now for our April 29 webinar on feasibility and viability of urban farms. This webinar provides an analysis of differences between nonprofit and commercial urban farms, based on research by NYU, Penn State, and NCAT-ATTRA.