Oral Histories of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

Check out this series of interviews Ron Kroese has worked on during his stint as Senior Fellow in the University of Minnesota’s Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems.

Ron’s oral history project is documenting the formation and evolution of what today is known as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), including the federal policy reforms NSAC and its allies have achieved over the last three decades.  Twenty one are currently available here:  https://www.misa.umn.edu/publications/sustainableagoralhistoryarchive

Come back later if you like these because he will be adding more down the road!

A bit about Ron from UMN’s website…  “Prior to retiring from The McKnight Foundation in early 2015, Ron served for nine years as a program officer and program director for the Foundation’s Mississippi River Program. He currently is a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture’s Endowed Chair Program where he is conducting a video archiving project. The project features interviews with people who played key roles over the past three decades in the formation and development of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Before coming to The McKnight Foundation, he served as executive director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership, a coalition of nonprofit groups focused on strengthening Minnesota’s environmental and conservation policies.  In 1982 he co-founded the Minnesota-based sustainable agriculture organization, Land Stewardship Project, serving as executive director for 11 years.”



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New Times, New Tools: Cultivating Climate Resilience on Your Farm

Laura Lengnick, author of Resilient Agriculture, will be at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 2– 5 pm to discuss her book and look at PFFC as a case study of resilience in the face of climate change.  She will discuss how we can meld two areas of her experience and expertise, climate change in agriculture and storytelling, to help others understand what lies ahead and how we can respond to it.  Copies of her book will be available for purchase, and we’ll have some local food snacks available as well. Around 4 pm we’ll wind it up and go forward with our ideas to make our responses to climate change accessible and important to our customers and the greater public.

Laura’s visit is hosted by U of I’s Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery.  PFF is located at 4410 N Lincoln Ave, Champaign, IL 61822

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UC Davis Student Farm is seeking a new director

Just heard about this GREAT JOB at UC Davis’s Student Farm (SF).  But first.. the fact that they are seeking a new director means that Mark Van Horn, has retired –  I just have to take a minute to acknowledge his contributions to agriculture education and the farm.  If you want to remember or get to know Mark please check out this link from his visit to U of I- In it he reflects on some of his work.  https://vimeo.com/6971886 !  Prospective applicants might enjoy his reflection on the farm’s 30 year history.

Also, check out this info on an award Mark recently received.   http://asi.ucdavis.edu/blog/posts/student-farm/mark-van-horn-receives-on-farm-educator-award-named-in-his-honor‘-  THANKS MARK!!

Info about the SF Director-  ‘will lead the continued development of the SF as a learning community where students from many disciplines work to create, maintain and explore sustainable food systems on a 20+ acre farm. A key component of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI), the SF has served UC Davis students and faculty and the public with educational, research, and outreach opportunities focused on sustainable agriculture and food systems for 40 years. Each year over 400 students engage in staff- and faculty-mentored experiential learning through which they come to understand sustainability through the soils, crops, climate, and community in which they work and within programs ranging from backyard garden scale to mechanized crop and compost production

The SF Director provides intellectual, academic, and community leadership to the SF and has primary responsibility for overall vision and administration as well as the programs’ educational, research and public service functions.  The Director collaborates with staff and students to ensure the SF learning community collectively develops and achieves it short-term and long-term goals focused on just and sustainable agriculture and food systems, experiential learning, and student leadership and empowerment.”
Recruitment period:
Open date: December 1st, 2016
Next review date: February 21st, 2017
Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.
Final date: November 14th, 2017
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.

Job is located on the UC Davis campus in Davis, CA.
See a full job description and apply for the position here.<https://recruit.ucdavis.edu/apply/JPF01344>
Learn more about the Student Farm <http://asi.ucdavis.edu/programs/sf> and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.<http://asi.ucdavis.edu/homepage>

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Nutrient Mgt and Water Quality Jobs and Univ Minnesota

Hey, check it out.  There are three tenure track and one non-tenure track positions available at the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota. These positions are in nutrient management and most have a direct emphasis on water quality.  Some of these positions have a January date for application, but they have not begun the review process for any of the positions yet so get your applications in!

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International Law and Agroecological Husbandry

Check out this new book from John Head, Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor of Law at KU, has written “International Law and Agroecological Husbandry: Building Legal Foundations for a New Agriculture.” The book first outlines the “extractive agriculture” system the modern world has used for the last few centuries and its unsustainability. Head then explores the prospects for transitioning to a system that could produce grains perennially and achieve adequate yields to feed the world while reducing problems such as climate change and soil degradation.

More here: https://news.ku.edu/2016/10/06/law-professor-outlines-legal-international-steps-necessary-transition-global-sustainable

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Feed the future jobs

Check out these jobs with the feed the future team-  many close soon so act fast


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Obama Admin to Advance Soil Sustainability

obama-soilOn Monday Dec 5 the Obama Administration Announced New Steps to Advance Soil Sustainability-

the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in collaboration with Federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, is announcing new steps to work towards the long-term health and sustainable use of one of America’s most important natural resources: its soil. OSTP is also releasing today a Federal framework for soil science, developed in collaboration with more than a dozen Federal agencies, with input from approximately 80 stakeholders from academia, industry, non-profit organizations, and the agricultural community.

Soil is essential to human life. Not only is it vital for providing most of the world’s food, but it also plays a critical role in ensuring water quality and availability; supports a vast array of non-food products and benefits, including mitigation of climate change; and sustains the biodiversity needed for ecological resilience. These roles make soil essential to modern life. Thus, it is imperative that everyone—city dwellers, farmers and ranchers, land owners, and rural citizens alike—take responsibility for caring for and investing in our soils. Given their importance, soil must be protected from degradation, as the alternative is the loss of an array of important ecosystem services.

The new actions being announced today aim to advance scientific understanding of soils so that land managers and farmers are better able to care for them and maintain their ability to support food security, climate mitigation, ecosystem services, and public health. These actions focus on three key areas:

  1. Promoting interdisciplinary research and education, to answer key questions on rates of soil genesis and erosion, the role of soils in bioenergy production, the development of advanced soil sensors, and research to better understand non-agricultural soils.
  2. Advancing computational tools and modeling, to improve analytical capacity and develop a robust predictive framework in studying soil properties, including pursuing a more sophisticated understanding of soil-carbon fluxes and the potential for soil-carbon sequestration.
  3. Expanding sustainable agricultural practices, to ensure farmers and ranchers have the information and tools they need to protect and enhance agricultural soils and ensure global soils can continue to provide food security and climate benefits for future generations.

For more info on initiatives click here https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/05/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-new-steps-advance-soil

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Keeping Organic Soil-Centric or Can it Get Fishy?

The first organic standard was developed by the Soil Association so it is not surprising that  was founded on the premise that “organic systems are soil based”.  Developments in new technologies, demographics, and consumer interest in locally grown food has driven interest in urban production systems including vertical farms that produce food using hydroponics (these rely on soil-less media or nutrient solutions). Even though the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommends against inclusion of hydroponic systems within the list of organic production systems allowed in the U.S., USDA’s NOP has certified numerous hydroponic operations.  Many of the suppliers are not domestic and the produce would not be allowed to be certified as organic in the countries where it is grown (Mexico, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Holland, England, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and most other European countries prohibit hydroponic production to be certified or labeled as organic). Not surprisingly members of the organic community are pushing back against vertical farms that have sought and received USDA-backed organic certification.   http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/11/12/organic-farmers-fight-usda-defend-their-turf/hatKOH0ClfmbqyMMwemHBJ/story.html


Not everyone is opposed to the idea.  Most efforts to separate what might or might not be acceptable focus on the biology of the growing media- advocates are arguing in favor of systems that include enough organic matter and attendant microbial life to support plant growth.  Advocates for organic soil-less production system concentrate on aquaponics that integrate fish culture with plant production systems.  https://aquaponicsassociation.org/the-aquaponics-association/2016/8/31/sustainable-organics-why-aquaponics-and-hydroponics-make-sense

Chicago is home to the largest organically-certified aquaponic vertical farm so this will be a case to watch as the organic standard evolves along with other sustainability certification efforts.. http://www.ecowatch.com/inside-the-nations-largest-organic-vertical-farm-1882108269.html





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Local Grains Field Day at Janie’s Farm Sept 10

If you are interested in local grains or tasty beer, bread or other foods made from them you will want to attend the Illinois Organic Growers Association field day that will take place at Janie’s Farm on Sept 10. You can learn about exciting on farm selection trials that Harold and Ross Wilkins are carrying out with the aid of Allison Krill and Fred Kolb and learn from Bill Davison,  U of I extension, and Frank Kutka, founder and co-coordinator of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Farm Breeding Club, about participatory breeding.  The lunch, featuring locally sourced ingredients, will be prepared by Hendrick House.  If we are lucky there will be a bread demo featuring locally grown wheat!Local Grain DS 2

To register look here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/illinois-local-grains-and-local-markets-tickets-26641236656

Photo credit: Ben Halpern

If you are really into this you will also want to attend the  ‘Illinois Local Grains and Local Markets’ workshop on the U of I campus that is taking (8.00-12.00) place Sept 9 in the ACES library.  Presentation by Frank Kutka and Julie Dawson will showcase participatory breeding efforts taking place in other regions to get us thinking about what might be. This event is for researchers and anyone else including breeders in the region, bakers and brewers who want to source locally produced grains, and farmers interested in conducting trials, that is interested in going with the grain.

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Illinois Organic Growers Fest at Gray Farms Was GREAT

Am truly sorry for you if you missed the third IOGA fest that took place last Saturday at Gray Farms in Watseka IL.  It was an absolutely perfect summer evening on a beautiful farm.

gray headerIn addition to Marty and Crystal’s actual parents, several of their extended-farm family members (farm mentors) and childhood friends (their musical family) were in attendance along with other fabulous guests.  These guests included new friends who are beginning farmers that have, like the Grays, benefited from Farm Beginnings programs! (there are several excellent programs in the state, if you want in on the action google ‘arm beginnings Illinois’ to find a program near you!).   We also got to learn about the Kankakee and Watseka farmers markets from organizers and vendors serving those venues.  Moving the IOGA festival around the state has been a great way to connect with different pockets of our Illinois organic community.  The farm tour was wonderful – you know the crops looked great and the farm was immaculate.  A highlight for me was Marty’s enthusiasm for the new lives the old buildings are experiencing as the farm enterprise grows.  After a wonderful meal we were treated to music provided by the Gray family, Crystal, Aya and Marty, (Aya brought down the hose)

and the flood of unbelievably talented friends (Steve Swigart, Stacy Beam, Mike Speiser, Ross Williamson and Darren Grigsby)

Thanks so much to U of I’s Agroecology and Sustainable Ag program and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (IOGA coordinator Lindsay Miller!) for making this Illinois Organic Growers Association festival possible.  If you did miss it, again I am sorry for you, you might plan on participating in the IOGA crop cycle tour Sept 10!

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