Monday, November 30, 2015

Log-Grown Shiitake Mushrooms Webinar - Dec 16

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri invites you to participate in the Agroforestry in Action Webinar Series.
"Log-Grown Shiitake Mushrooms: A Case Study in Profitable Agroforestry Adoption."

Please join us Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM (CST) for a live presentation by: Steve Gabriel, Extension Agroforestry Specialist, Cornell Small Farms Program.

For more information about the event, visit
Trouble with registration? Copy and paste this link in your browser:
Please register early, as space in the webinar room is limited.

Log-in Instructions
1. Log-in: On the day of the event, please log-in to the webinar room at:
*Please join the session 15 minutes prior to the start of the webinar

2. Listen: Once you have successfully logged into the Adobe Connect webinar, you will hear the webinar audio through your device's speakers or headset. Following the presentation, there will be a Q and A session.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

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 today.

Available for free as either a download or in print, Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects helps farmers make thoughtful changes in cover crop selection and management that support pollinators along with their other goals, such as suppressing weeds, managing nitrogen and improving soil health.

Pollinators provide a critical service in food production. As honey bees continue to suffer from Colony Collapse Disorder, providing pollinators with a healthy on-farm environment is essential. In October, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced $4 million in assistance for Midwestern farmers to plant bee-friendly cover crops, wildflowers and native grasses to help ensure farm productivity.

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects includes information on pollinator and beneficial insect ecology, including details on common cover crop species and their insect attractiveness. It also addresses the limitations of cover crops, describes relevant crop insurance regulations and gives guidance on reducing harm to beneficial insects when cover crops are used in rotation with pesticide-treated crops.

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects can be ordered for use as a handout at conferences, workshops or field days. It was written by Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation staff members, with contributions from the NRCS.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bees and more at the Great Plains Growers Conference

In a little over one month, it will be time for the Great Plains Growers Conference. This is one of the premier conferences for horticulture producers, and it is found right here in northwest Missouri.  Held in St. Joseph, Missouri, the Great Plains Grower’s Conference is put together every year by Extension educators from five states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  The conference will be held on January 7-9, 2016. This will be our 20th annual conference.

This is an exciting conference for anyone growing horticultural crops, with many new ideas presented from growers, researchers, and Extension specialists. The conference is open to everyone, from backyard gardeners to commercial produce growers.  Topics cover not only vegetables, but also tree fruits, small fruits and flowers.  There are also presentations targeted toward organic growers.

The event begins with workshops on Thursday.  Attendees choose a workshop when they register.  Each workshop explores a topic in-depth.

Workshops this year will include topics such as greenhouse & hydroponic production, tree fruits, cover crops & soil health, advanced beekeeping, scaling up your horticultural enterprise, and mushrooms. I will have more details in my next column on the mushroom workshop.

I have been organizing the beekeeping sessions again this year. The Thursday workshop on beekeeping will bring in Dr. Larry Connor.  Dr. Connor has a wide background, including extension apicultural entomologist at The Ohio State University, establishing the Beekeeping Education Service, and finally purchasing Wicwas Press, a major publisher of books on beekeeping.  Dr. Connor is also an accomplished author, with over a dozen titles dealing with bees, beekeeping, queen rearing and pollination.

Dr. Connor will be discussing several topics, including problem recognition with bees, queen management in hives, queen rearing, and plants attractive to bees for nectar and pollen.

The main conference occurs on Friday and Saturday. Before starting the concurrent tracks, we will hear from our keynote speaker, Anthony Flaccavento.  Anthony is an organic farmer from Virginia.  You can read more about him on our conference web site, noted below.

After the keynote, there will be five concurrent tracks to choose from. Topics for this year’s tracks include Market Ready, Tree Fruit, Beginning Organic, Vegetable IPM, and a “mixed bag” track covering technology, equipment, and irrigation.

On Saturday, concurrent sessions include Small Fruit, Advanced Organic, Vegetable Production, Cut Flowers, and Food Safety/GAPS.

There will be many exhibitors available to provide information about seeds, irrigation, horticulture equipment, chemicals, and other topics. Meals, break refreshments, and handouts will be included in the registration fee for the main conference.

The conference will be held on the campus of Missouri Western State University.  For more information about the conference and a registration form, call the Buchanan County Extension office at (816) 279-1691.  You may also register on-line and find additional information on our web site at:
(by Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Midwest Winter Production Conference

The Midwest Winter Production Conference will be held Thursday and Friday, January 21 and 22, 2016.  A link will be provided on the market web site -

Cost - $50 fee for the first registration includes materials, programming and lunches; $35 for additional registrations from the same farm or family includes programming and lunches but no materials. The conference will be limited to no more than 100 attendees.

(Lunches feature the fabulous cooking of Granny Shaffers and includes local produce from the farmers of the Webb City Winter Market. We’ll be eating well!)

Location - same as the last two conferences - Continental Banquet Center, 2802 North Rangeline, Joplin, MO - just south of Webb City

Housing - Comfort Inn, Joplin - ask for the Webb City Farmers Market rate of $75 plus tax or email Eileen to sign up for a home stay at $50 per room (for up to two people), plus $5 per breakfast if desired. All home stay fees go to Webb City Cares, the school district's support program for kids in need.

Materials included with $50 registration: New Seed Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel and the 2016 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers.

A sampling of the presentations:

If you grow it, will they buy it and will you make money doing it?
Economics and marketing for winter grow leafy greens. (Adam Montri) High tunnels and hoophouses have allowed for winter production of leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, but just because we can grow these crops doesn’t mean we can sell them. If we can sell them that also doesn’t mean we are making money on them. This session will focus on production and planning for winter leafy crops, selling and marketing them, and determining prices to make sure you are making money on these leafy greens.

Winter Storage Crop Production and Economics (Adam Montri) Winter storage crops such as beets and specialty turnips add to a farm’s product list but are not always the most economically viable crops to grow in a winter high tunnel. In this session we will focus on summer and fall production of root crops for winter storage. Plant spacing, weeding and cultivation options, when to harvest, winter storage requirements and options, labor needs, packaging and pricing will all be discussed along with how the storage crops help to sell other winter high tunnel grown products.

Integrated Pest Control in Tunnels - a panel discussion including Dr. Jaime Pinero and case studies presented by local high tunnel farmers.

Farmer Symposium - top winter producers from Missouri’s winter markets discuss their favorite winter production tools, crops and techniques. Patrice Gross of Arkansas and Adam Montri of Michigan will join in.

Track choices:

Beginning High Tunnel Production - Shon Bishop and Patrice Gross team up to guide beginners through the basics of choosing and implementing a high tunnel system.

Value added and marketing track:

Marketing Strategies for Winter Sales (Dru Montri) Marketing your product during the winter can require a strategy different from your peak season approach. Learn more about planning, target marketing, building relationships with your customers and communicating with them regularly. After a review of lessons learned from other winter markets, you’ll leave this session thinking about ways to increase your profits and make your winter market more successful.

Adding profit centers to your winter sales:
Tammy Sellmyer - Adding value and expanding your profit through storage crops and dried products. Turn your surplus summer produce into extra winter sales through drying. Make your stand the go-to place for storage crops.

Dan Kuebler - Dan spoke at our first conference about his moveable high tunnel. This year he shares his extensive knowledge about fermenting and pickling and the profit it can add to your winter market sales.

Crops Track:

Garlic, a favorite through the centuries, only seems to get more popular every year - Patrick Byers and Tammy Sellmeyer will discuss the history, background and classification of garlic, as well as production and post-harvest handling of this crop which can add sales during fall and winter.

Jennifer Morganthaler and Marilyn Odneal of Missouri State University - Raspberry Production in High Tunnels - an on-going research project examining the cost benefits and challenges of high tunnel raspberry production, including bag growing.

Farm visit - (Friday afternoon) - The Braker Berry Farm. Greg and Wendy Braker have been winter producers for 3 years with extended season field plantings, a heated high tunnel, as well as an unheated tunnel. In fall of 2015 they added a hydroponic lettuce tunnel. The Brakers sell at three farmers markets and operate a small CSA.

Presenters include
Adam Montri spoke at our 2013 Winter Production Conference. He is an outreach specialist in the Michigan State University Department of Horticulture where he works with farmer throughout the state on high tunnel funding, construction, year-round production, marketing, and economics. He and his wife Dru (see below) own and operate Ten Hens Farm in Bath, Michigan, where they farm outdoors in-season and year-round in 17,900 sqft of high tunnels. They sell their products through a variety of outlets including restaurants, food trucks, an on-farm stand, a year-round farmers market, other farms, a specialty grocery store and a medium-sized distributor.

Dru Montri, who holds a Ph.D. in horticulture, has been director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association since its inception in 2006. Now a 400 member organization, the association gives Dru contacts with farmers markets throughout the state. As a board member of the Farmers Market Coalition board she also has experience with some of the best markets in the country. With her husband Adam, Dru has extensive experience in winter production and winter sales.

Patrice Gros has been a passionate organic farmer since 1995. In 2006,
Patrice started Foundation Farm, a 5-acre USDA certified organic farm in Northwest Arkansas. Foundation Farm follows a no-till/no-machine, low-input system which provides high yields in a beautiful natural setting. On an average year, 20,000 poundss of produce are harvested and sold within a 50-mile radius. Foundation Farm welcomes season-long trainees in its farming school program as well as day-volunteers from nearby communities. Patrice is the author of 3 books describing the essential components of his system, with one focused on winter techniques. Patrice is a founder and board member of the Eureka Springs Farmers Market.

Tammy Sellmyer, with her husband Greg, operate a 25-acres farm just south of Fulton, Missouri. In addition to field crops, the Sellmyers, operate several high tunnels. They sell at the Columbia and the Fulton Farmers Markets, and have a CSA. Their winter sales include a wide variety of storage crops and dried products from produce raised on their farm.

Dr. Jaime Pinero is the Integrated Pest Management Specialist for Lincoln University Cooperative Extension.

Patrick Byers is Regional Horticulture Specialist with the Greene County office of University of Missouri Extension. Patrick has provided educational and hands-on training in all aspect of high tunnel design, construction, and management.  His background includes degrees in horticulture from the Universities of Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas. Over his career of 25+ years he has provided outreach education for producers of fruits and vegetables commercially grown in the Midwest. In recent years he has focused on challenges facing high tunnel producers, particularly those related to long term production in fixed high tunnels.  Patrick has a specific interest in promoting fruit production in high tunnels.

Shon Bishop has been working for Lincoln University Cooperative Extension in the Southwest Region of Missouri since 2011. Currently, he is the Small Farm Specialist for the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program (ISFOP) which serves Barry, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Jasper, and Greene counties. Over the past 5 years Shon has helped many farmers construct their high tunnels while holding workshops open to the public at their farms in Southwest Missouri. Shon implemented the high tunnel construction took kit program of the Webb City Farmers Market recently expanded to kits in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, as well as southwest Missouri. The kits were underwritten by the Missouri Department of Agriculture through a Local Foods Matching Grant, the Missouri Farmers Market Association and the Missouri Vegetables Growers Association. They are available on loan at no charge. Shon also owns and operates Bishop Gardens L.L.C. which sells early season tomatoes and strawberries to the public.

Final details will be available on at on November 1.

The 2016 Midwest Winter Production Conference is underwritten by a Specialty Crops grant from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.  Sponsors include Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and University of Missouri Extension.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

MU Extension Offers "Marketing Local Foods" Workshop in West Plains Dec. 4

University of Missouri Extension will host an interactive workshop focused on growing local food systems and building the road to marketing local foods.

The program will be offered at Howell County MU Extension office in West Plains from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dec. 4. The necessary pre-register can be made by calling the Howell County Extension office. There will be a fee of $10 to help cover the cost of lunch.

Dr. Mary Hendrickson, Food Circles Networking Project director for MU Extension, will share her research about the benefits, challenges, and opportunities emerging in local food networks.  Also presenting from MU Extension will be Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, and Dr. Van Ayers and Tish Johnson, community development specialists.

"This is an opportunity for growers and producers to connect with University of Missouri specialists who offer their expertise. These specialists can also discuss the steps that need to be taken to foster the further development of a localized food system," said Dr. Amy Patillo, community development specialist with MU Extension in Howell County.

According to Patillo, on farm local food systems are generating jobs and strengthening economies statewide.

"It is time we redefine local foods in our community. Join us as we learn about connecting with customers around local foods," said Patillo.

For more information contact Dr. Amy Patillo at the Howell County Extension Office, telephone (417) 256-2391 or online at

Monday, November 16, 2015

Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs

The booming profit potential of organic production has farmers, ranchers and food business owners nationwide switching to organic production. But successfully managing the risky multi-year transition requires careful business planning.

SARE’s new Organic Transition: A Business Planner forFarmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs is the perfect tool to help business owners develop an actionable organic transition plan suitable for management teams and lenders. The Organic Transition Planner explores organic transition strategies and asks critical questions that help you decide whether organic makes sense for your farm or business.

Farmers bring the planning process alive by sharing their personal transition challenges and the business plans that helped them succeed. Minnesota dairy producers Nate and Angie Walter relate that going organic “was a way for us to remain a family farm. We were considering growing the farm (conventionally); getting bigger in hopes of paying off our debt. We knew that might be a losing proposition.” Organic Transition also includes an overview of certification, helpful worksheets and AgPlan, a business planning software program that facilitates the business planning process.

Organic Transition is available as a free download at Print copies can be ordered for $16 plus shipping and handling by calling (301) 779-1007. Discounts are available for orders of 10 items or more.

Organic Transition can be used as a companion to SARE’s popular business planning guide, Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses. Both were written by University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics Research Fellow Gigi DiGiacomo, University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics Professor Robert P. King and Center for Farm Financial Management Associate Director Dale Nordquist.

Organic Transition was developed as part of the Tools for Transition Project, a four-year research program on the economics of organic transition funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, with support from the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. It is published by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Grow Your Farm" Program Starting in West Plains Dec. 1

 "Grow Your Farm" is an educational program offered by University of Missouri Extension that is designed to help landowners interested in farming for the first time and current farmers wanting to start new enterprises.

"Grow Your Farm" includes eight class sessions and two farm tours.

"The course is designed to connect people investing in a farm career with successful farm operators and business experts," said Dr. Amy Patillo, a community development specialist with MU Extension in Howell County.

The course is being offered at the Howell County MU Extension office in West Plains. Classes meet once a week from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting Dec. 1 and continuing through Jan. 26, 2016.

Sessions will focus on business planning and selecting enterprises that can be profitable, based on an individual's skills and resources. Planning a farm, keeping track of finances, marketing farm products and understanding legal issues are a few of the topics addressed.

"This is a unique opportunity for growers and producers to connect with MU Extension specialists in horticulture, agriculture business, natural resources and community development. These specialists can offer their expertise in small farm production, marketing, and increasing outcomes for small farm profitability," said Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with MU Extension who will help with the course.

A fee of $300 per household or operation (for two participants) includes courses and one set of materials. Each additional person per household/operation may attend for $50 per person. This includes the cost of a course notebook, additional textbook, and group sessions with guest speakers, farm tours, and refreshments.

For more information contact Dr. Amy Patillo at the Howell County Extension office by telephone at (417) 256-2391 or online at