Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Updates 12.23.15 -Happy Holidays from SARE

Commercial Kitchen Survey

A doctoral candidate at Colorado State University is conducting research to identify challenges and opportunities around emerging businesses surrounding commercial kitchen use. Consider taking part in her survey and contributing to this data: Commercial kitchen survey; Food Businesses survey.


Focus on the South: Local Food Systems Feeding the Economy

The local food movement is catching up in the South as organizations, producers and small businesses increasingly develop their local food economies. With help from grants from the USDA's Local Food Promotion and Farmers Market Promotion Programs, local food systems are emerging as a means for both community and economic development. Projects are allowing areas of Appalachia to transition away from extractive industries and to open markets for small-scale farmers in Georgia. Read the full story by Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.




New SARE Bulletin Promotes Pollinators Using Cover Crops

new bulletin from SARE that will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address your other resource concerns.


New Organic Transition Business Planner from SARE

SARE's new Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs is the perfect tool to help business owners develop an actionable organic transition plan suitable for management teams and lenders.




USDA Whole Farm Revenue Protection

January 11, 2016, 11:00AM

The 2014 Farm Bill directed USDA's Risk Management Agency to develop tools that support farm diversification. The new Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program offers important new protections, which provide a financial safety net to cover economic losses due to weather or low market prices. By tying coverage to revenue and diversification, the streamlined application and whole farm coverage is more attractive to farms of all sizes, both organic and non-organic, as well as specialty crop producers, including those who grow canning crops or direct-market. This program is also useful for all types of diversified cash grain and/or livestock producers. Register here.


Soil and Water Sensors for Agriculture –Theory and Issues

January 14, 2016, 11:30AM

The presentation will cover the types of sensors available, the operational theory of each sensor type, and explanations, with examples, of how the physical theory of operation dictates the limits of sensor calibration and performance, and of sensor representativeness in given soils. This webinar is presented by the USDA NRCS West National Technology Support Center. Register for the webinar here.


GroupGAP: USDA's New Cooperative Approach to Farmer Food Safety Certification

January 20, 2016, 3:30-4:45PM

GroupGAP is a new service (available Spring 2016) from USDA to audit farmers to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Small farmers are feeling the pressure to get third-party certified as more buyers are requiring GAP certification, and as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) puts them under new regulatory oversight. Come hear the experience of a few of the trailblazers –Groups who have already received GroupGAP certification at this webinar. Register here.


Resources & Research


The Economics of Local Food Systems

This publication is a literature review of production, distribution, and consumption of local food written by a graduate student of the University of Minnesota. Although this was originally distributed in 2014, it is still a great resource for understanding the markets and economics of the local food system.


Discover How to Support Pollinators with Cover Crops

Cover crops can do a lot for your farm. To learn how they can support a thriving community of pollinators and beneficial insects—which in turn can improve crop quality and yield—check out SARE's new 16-page publication, Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects. Download the bulletin here.


UF/IFAS Researchers Evaluating Flower Injury Damage to Strawberries

Strawberry growers have become increasingly concerned about flower thrips damage. Yet, the relationships between numbers of different thrips species to injury and yield loss have not been determined. UF Researchers are conducting experiments to address these gaps in knowledge. Learn more about their research here.


Organic Certification Made Simple

In this multi-part video series, farmers discuss their firsthand experiences with obtaining organic certification—and why they decided to pursue it. Small video segments show viewers how the USDA organic regulations translate to practices on the ground by following a direct market farmer on his journey through the organic certification process. The video also provides a step-by-step overview of organic production requirements and the process of organic certification—by farmers, for farmers. Find the videos here.


Cold Protection Tips for North Florida Vegetable Farmers

Although most of our cold weather occurs in January and February, we can expect our first frost around the second week of November.  It is important for fruit and vegetable farmers to use multiple means of cold protection.  Investing in cold protection infrastructure can go a long way to ensure your fruits and vegetables survive our chilly North Florida winters. Learn more here.


Conferences & Workshops


Transforming Food Access Summit

January 11-13, 2016 in Atlanta, GA

Nutrition incentives have played a transformational role in providing affordable access to healthy fruits and vegetables for hundreds of thousands of low-income consumers. From national policy makers to community-based organizations engaged in incentive programs and local and regional food supply chains, attendees will take away practical and innovative tactics to improve access to healthy food. To learn more about summit objectives and registration, please visit their website.


AGRItunity Conference & Trade Show

January 23, 2016 in Lecanto, FL

A conference and trade show celebrating 10 years of growing your chances for agricultural success in west-central Florida. View the full program here.


Growing Farm Profits In-Service Training

January 26, 2016 from 9:30AM-5:00PM

Come to our day-long Growing Farm Profits In-service Training in Lexington, Kentucky on January 26, 2016, right before the 25th Annual Southern SAWG Conference. Free to Agricultural Professionals. Here's just a taste of what we will cover: 

·      Differences between profit management and financial management 

·      Drivers to profitability 

·      What data really needs to be tracked 

·      Evaluating profitability of various crops and various markets 

·      Analyzing data to determine the impact of decisions

Register here.


2016 Tri-State Cucurbit Meeting

January 27, 2016, Marianna, FL

This educational workshop will provide the latest research information for commercial growers of watermelons, cantaloupe, squash and other cucurbits. This is a sponsored event, with no registration fee, but we do ask that you RSVP: by phone 850-482-9620, or email Matt Lollar at See the full agenda and flyer here.


Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's Farming for the Future Conference

February 3-6, 2016, State College, PA

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) hosts their 25th annual Farming for the Future Conference: Farming in a Changing Climate. The Conference will bring together over 2,000 farmers, processors, consumers, students environmentalists, and community and business leaders in over 100 80-minute workshops, a variety of trainings, and a trade show featuring 80 vendors. Registration opens this month. Find out more about PASA's annual Conference, Farming for the Future.


2016 Sustainable Farming Association Annual Conference

February 13, 2016 St. Joseph, MN

The Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) of Minnesota works to support the development of sustainable farming systems through farmer-to-farmer networking, innovation, demonstration and education. SFA's annual Conference will be held at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Register early to be a sponsor or exhibitor or contribute suggestions for new topics or ideas that you'd like to see to the planning committee. Find out more about the work Sustainable Farming Association is doing and register for their conference.


2016 National Food Hub Conference

March 30-April 1, 2016 in Atlanta, GA

This is the only national conference with a laser-like focus on the success of food hubs. Remember to write this conference into your grant requests (contact us if you would like assistance in budget estimation). Contact us if you are interested in becoming a 2016 sponsor. Early bird registration is now open! Register now.


SAVE THE DATE: 3rd Regional Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference

April 1-2, 2016 in Fort Myers, FL

Stay tuned for more information about this conference.


8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

June 2-4, 2016 in Madison, WI

Save the date for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, a biennial event hosted by the National Farm to School Network that will convene more than 1,500 people working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Registration will open Feb. 15, 2015.


SAVE THE DATE: Cover Crop Conference

July 18-19, 2016, North Carolina

Mark your calendar for a two-day comprehensive cover crop conference for the South! ASSARE Cover Crop Conference will be held in North Carolina, July 18-19, 2016. More information....


SAVE THE DATE: 7th Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference

July 29-31, 2016 in Santa Cruz, CA

Save the date for 7th Annual SAEA Conference, an annual conference hosted by the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. This year's theme is "The Ecology of Food Systems" and highlights the growing demand for inclusive and critical approaches to sustainable agriculture and food education at the postsecondary level. The 2016 conference will emphasize issues of social justice and equity. Registration will open soon. Email for more information.


SAVE THE DATE: National Small Farm Conference

September 20-22, 2016 in Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia State University will host the 7th Annual National Small Farm Conference in collaboration with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the USDA. The Conference will feature strategies for small farmers and ranchers to enhance farm income and stories from small farm activities. Registration for the Conference will open in early 2016. Save the date!


Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises Events Calendar

Various Dates

The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a thriving Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises (SFAE) Extension Program. This program offers many different workshops at various locations around the state.

For a complete list of events, workshop details, and registration information, visit the SFAE Events Calendar. Check back frequently for updates on opportunities near you!


Funding Opportunities


Organic Farming Research Foundation Accepting Research Proposals 

Deadline: February 8, 2016

Priorities for this year's research include projects related to soil health, with emphasis on water management; creating new organic farmers and ranchers and transition of producers to organic systems including education and training; livestock production, especially breeding for organic systems, diseases and pasture management; and small grain production, especially related to creating a diverse rotational system. Read the full Request for Proposals here for greater details about the grant and apply here.


Growing Farm to School: Partnering with Farm Credit

Farm Credit is partnering with National Farm to School Network to support their efforts to increase local food purchases and bring agriculture education to schools. Here is a helpful FAQ on who Farm Credit is and why your organization should consider a partnership with Farm Credit.


USDA-AMS Specialty Crop Multi-State Program

Deadline: January 14, 2016

The USDA announced that they will make $3 million available for the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program. The program is a competitive funding opportunity for State departments of agriculture to fund collaborative, multi-state projects that address regional or national specialty crop issues. Projects may include: food safety, plant pests and disease, research, crop-specific projects addressing common issues and marketing and promotion. 


USDA Rural Development's Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program

The 2014 Farm Bill requires USDA to set aside at least five percent of Business and Industry (B&I) program loan guarantees for projects that focus on local food business enterprises. Details on how to apply for local food funding through the B&I program are available on the Rural Development website. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The B&I program has the authority to fund local food infrastructure in urban areas as long as the project supports farm and ranch income and expands healthy food access in underserved communities.


USDA Microloans Available for Small Farmers

The Microloan Program, available through USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), is a relatively new option to help beginning farmers get started, or to assist existing small farms in expanding their operations. Farmers may borrow up to $35,000 with limited collateral requirements, and have up to seven years for repayment. Find our more information here


National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grants

More information on any of the grant programs listed can be found at


Grant Program

Due Date

Small Business Innovation Research Program – Phase II


Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)



Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program

Whole Foods Market is providing up to $10 million in low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


League of Environmental Educators in Florida ­Grants List

This website gives a great list of grants available for various types of community and classroom projects. Really worth perusing. Due dates vary by grant.



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