Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Raising Backyard Chickens Does Require Some Basic Knowledge

Interest in keeping chickens in the backyard as a source of eggs and meat is on the rise among both urban and suburban dwellers according to Jess Lyons, a small flock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Chickens can help with pest control around the yard and be fun to watch but they do have some requirements that are not widely known.

For starters, Lyons says owners need to be aware of basic brooding needs in the first three to four weeks of a chick’s life. These include clean water, quality chick starter feed, clean litter (pine or cedar shavings are recommended) and a circular confined area to keep the chicks from wandering from the heat source.

Owners also need to provide a building large enough for proper air circulation but small enough to keep chicks from getting too cold in winter. Providing chickens with outside runs will reduce the building space needs if the pen area provides shade.

“For home flocks, plan to have a minimum of two feet of floor space per adult chicken, more space usually simplifies management. Housing should provide easy access to feed and water and provide nesting areas for hens in egg production,” said Lyons.

Although not mandatory, it is also a good idea to provide perches. These allow birds to stay off the floor, particularly as they roost at night and this will provide training for young layers to jump up into their nest when they begin egg production.

“Manure tends to accumulate in greatest concentration under the roost area keeping the rest of the bedding material cleaner. Allow six to 10 inches of linear perch space for each chicken housed,” said Lyons.

Manure will tend to build up most under the roosts and around feeders and waters. These areas will need the most attention and frequent cleaning.

Lyons says it is also important to provide nest boxes as furnishings for a hen house so she has a secluded place to lay eggs. Commercial or homemade boxes both work.

Box height and width should be 12 to 15 inches by at least 12 inches deep or more for heavy breed hens. One nest box is required for each four to five hens. Place nest boxes no less than 18 inches above the floor. Very heavy hens may need lower nests and lower roosts.

Add at least two to three inches of clean, dry shavings to reduce egg breakage and minimize the number of soiled eggs.

Another essential consideration is the water needs for poultry. If inadequate water is available, not only will eating decrease, but so will egg production and growth.

“Fountain-type drinkers are affordable and easily moved. Water should be changed frequently in order to prevent bacterial growth, over-warming in summer or freezing in winter,” said Lyons. “It is a good idea to also provide at least two or three additional drinkers as a buffer against spillage or leakage.”

Poultry owners also need to make sure that feed is not stale, rancid or moldy. This can cause disease or nutritional deficiencies if consumed.

“Plan to purchase new feed at least every two months, feed the appropriate feed for the age of your chickens, and follow feeding instructions available from the feed tag,” said Lyons.

Always store feed away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight and protect it from rodents.

Feeders come in a variety of sizes and designs and different sizes are needed depending on whether you are feeding young chicks or adult chickens. Feeders should also be raised off the ground and protected from moisture, wild animals and free-flying birds.

It is common for egg production to decline during very hot or very cold weather, and hens lay fewer eggs as they get older. Most hens will also go out of egg production and lose feathers during a molt. It is a process that owners need to understand, along with the role of roosters.

“Hens do not need roosters present to produce eggs. Increasing day length, not the presence of males, stimulates egg production. A rule of thumb is that four to five hens will supply two to four eggs per day during their production cycle,” said Lyons.

But most importantly, urban and suburban dwellers raising chickens need to be good neighbors by keeping chickens confined to their property and properly disposing of used poultry litter.

“Although chickens pose a relatively low risk of giving disease to humans, there are a few infections that can be transmitted back and forth. Proper care and handling of eggs and processing of poultry carcasses are critical to avoid problems,” said Lyons.

For more information, contact Jesse Lyons at (573) 882-0247 or visit the nearest county MU Extension Center for guide sheets on the topic of raising poultry.
(by David Burton, MU Civic Communication Specialist)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Webinars on the Specialty Food Business

Mark your calendars! The eXtension Entrepreneurship webinar series is back for the fourth season. All webinars will air monthly on the second Thursday at 2:00pm (ET); 1:00pm (CT); 12:00pm (MT); 11:00am (PT).

On Thursday, September 9, 2010 we open with a three-month series on specialty food businesses. September’s topic will be Starting Right in Specialty Foods. Join Brian Norder, Director of the Vermont Food Venture Center for an informative session on what it takes to start and grow a specialty food business. Brian has over a decade of experience assisting entrepreneurs in all phases of food-related business development.

On October 14 the webinar will focus on the importance of branding and will feature specialty food business owners Judith Moore of the Charleston Cookie Company and Robin Rhea, Slather Sauce. The

November 11 webinar will conclude this series with a look at Culinary Tourism, an emerging niche that combines agriculture, specialty food and tourism. This presentation will feature a panel of Extension specialists working on Culinary Tourism initiatives.

No pre-registration is required and there is no fee to participate. About 10 minutes prior to the start time simply go the Adobe Connect Pro meeting room. You will be presented with a login screen that has an "Enter as Guest" option. Enter your full name then click "Enter Room" to join the conference. You will be able to hear the audio directly from your computer’s speakers.

Newcomers to online learning are welcome!

Friday, August 27, 2010

High Tunnel Building Workshop

What: High Tunnel Building Workshop at Happy Hollow Farm with Liz Graznak and Norm Kilmer of Morgan County Seed

When: Tuesday Sept. 28th (Rain Date, Thursday Sept. 30th, same time)
Program introduction and discussion begins at 9:00a.m. and will take about ½ hour. Then the hands on work begins! We anticipate concluding about 4PM. (Stay as long as you can; we’ll understand if you need to leave early) Norm says, ‘bring a cordless drill and socket set if you have one’. (Have it fully charged.  Any other obvious hand tools are welcome). We’ll break for ¾ of an hour or so about noon for a delicious organic lunch. Please bring water bottles as it has been plenty hot this summer and we don't want anyone to get overheated.

Where: Happy Hollow Farm, a certified organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm in Jamestown, MO. The address is 17199 Happy Hollow Rd.

Click here for the Google map link

Why: Happy Hollow Farm received EQIP money thru the NRCS Organic Initiative this year to put up a high tunnel. This would be a great opportunity for other recipients (current and especially future) of this grant money to get some hands on experience for how to erect a high tunnel from start to finish. What to consider, what didn't you think of, what kind of tunnel to put up (because there are so many different styles out there), how to customize the tunnel to fit your needs, etc., etc.

Liz and Norm are both members of MVGA (Missouri Vegetable Growers Association).  MVGA is sponsoring a portion of the cost of lunch.

We need to know you are coming! Please RSVP by Sept. 24th to - Virginia Morrison, 573-378-5358 

Also sponsored by MU Extension and LU Extension
Morgan County Extension Center
Morgan County Seeds
Missouri Department of Ag
Moniteau County NRCS

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Organic Certification Reimbursements

The NOP administers a cost-share program for certified organic producers and handlers. After receiving certification, participants may be reimbursed up to 75% of costs related to organic certification, not to exceed $750 annually. They must comply with NOP regulations for organic production or handling and have received certification or renewed their certification within the established timeframe. This is a great opportunity for organic operators to offset the rising cost of certification, and it can also make certification affordable for those who wish to enter the organic market.

How to Apply

The current funding cycle ends September 30th, 2010, so individuals seeking reimbursement should work with their state agencies and certifiers to submit a complete application as soon as possible. Eligible producers and/or handlers can find the contact for their state program on the website below. The Missouri contact is:

Bart Hawcroft
Missouri Dept. of Agriculture
P.O. Box 630
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0630
P: 573-526-6666
F: 573-751-2868
E-mail: bart.hawcroft@mda.mo.gov

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cheesemaking Classes

Cheesemaking classes in Hermann: Cheesemaking 101 begins August 31 in Hermann, MO at the Dierberg Star Lane Winery, 338 E. First Street. 6:30 p.m. -8:30 p.m.

There will be five weeks of hands on instruction. Class participants will make Farmer Cheese, Brie, Cheddar and Mozzarella.

Cost for the class is $200 which includes: Cheese molds, thermometer, recipes and other supplies. Preregistration is required.

Contact Janet Hurst at 660-216-1749 or Learn more about the classes at http://www.cheesewriter.com/

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NCR-SARE Announces 2010 Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals

The 2010 North Central Region - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals is now available.

Farmers and ranchers in the North Central Region are invited to submit grant proposals to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible.

Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration. Grants can range from $6,000 for individual farmers up to $18,000 for groups of 3 or more farmers. NCR-SARE expects to fund about 50 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region with this call.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal.

Proposals are due on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. at the NCR-SARE office in Jefferson City, MO.

Potential applicants with questions can contact Joan Benjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator, at 573-681-5545 or 800-529-1342. A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. We make slight revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most recent call for proposals.

NCR-SARE has funded more than 700 farmer rancher grants worth more than $4,300,000 since the inception of this program.

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants. The Missouri State Sustainable Agriculture Co-Coordinators are KB Paul and Debi Kelly.

There will be 4 SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshops in October.  If you are thinking about submitting an application, you may want to attend one of the workshops.  Be on the lookout on this blog for more details about these upcoming workshops.

Oct 5 - Hillsboro
Oct 6 - Eldon
Oct 9 - Kansas City
TBD - Southwest Missouri

Monday, August 23, 2010

Missouri's Ag Women Called to Branson

Women from throughout Missouri who are involved in some aspect of agriculture are invited to come together September 13-15 in Branson, site of the 16th Annual Missouri Women in Ag Conference.

The conference, with a "Growing in Harmony" theme, will include a tour of the College of the Ozarks, a higher-education environment in which students couple curriculum with hands-on farm production, industry and managerial work experience.

Conference participants also can choose among workshops covering a variety of topics, including: an overview of state and federal programs that provide technical and financial assistance; financial trust basics; awareness of Homeland Security issues associated with the agricultural community; farm-management skills; growing, preserving and using organic herbs; archery; and other optional networking sessions.

Conference speakers will provide insight for achieving greater independence and a healthier lifestyle.

"The Women in Ag conference is a good opportunity for women to learn what's going on in other parts of the state relative to agriculture," says Amanda Cook, conference chair. "The program focuses on the interests of women, especially in relation to agro-business and specialty types of agriculture."

Cooks says feedback from participants of past Women in Ag conferences indicates healthy social benefits as well.

"The conference is an excellent opportunity for women to network, reconnect and learn from one another," she says. "When the participants leave the conference and head back home, it's like they are taking a number of new friends along with them -- women with similar lives and concerns who can be called upon at a moment's notice."

The 2010 conference is partially sponsored by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the USDA's Farm Service Agency. Registration is accepted until August 12.

For more information, contact Lyn Hines at (417) 468-4176, ext. 3.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Grocery Co-op Ends Food Drought in Inner City

It used to require a car trip or a bus ride, but now shopping for fresh produce in the inner city only requires a short walk for Nadia Russell and her children.

As they picked out the apples, tomatoes and other produce that they would eat for the week, the Russell family took advantage of one of the first grocery stores of its kind in the St. Louis area.

Old North Grocery Co-op opened its doors, closing up a food availability concern for neighborhood families.

“The nearest supermarket is just a few miles away, but if you don’t have a car like 41 percent of the people in this neighborhood then getting to that supermarket takes quite a lot of time,” said Kara Lubischer, a University of Missouri Extension Community Development Specialist.

MU Extension helped the co-op work toward its opening last month with economic development resources and assistance. Its focus groups found that residents typically rode 30 to 40 minutes by bus to reach the nearest grocery option, which creates what researchers call a “food desert” in the middle of urban America.

Now they can walk to get healthy food in minutes.

“You’re in the city but you have the best of both worlds with a grocery store like this,” Russell said. “People are just so used to buying what’s affordable, what’s cheapest, and that usually meant buying everything in a package, but this store helps change that.”

Prices are affordable and produce is either grown in the adjacent community garden or shipped in from farms within a 100-mile radius.

Sean Thomas, director of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, said the grocery store is a final step to provide food for five adjacent neighborhoods. Its addition hopefully will assist the economic rejuvenation here, convincing families and businesses to move back to the area.

“If people are here shopping for watermelon and green peppers they may also pick up something else if there are other stores here,” Thomas said. “Until now residents were taking their dollars out of the neighborhood to buy groceries, but this keeps them right here circulating where they live.”

It adds another option to a farmers market started four years ago and the community garden launched last year. Any resident can shop at the store, but they can take more ownership of their food by paying a one-time $80 membership per household. This earns them a 10 percent discount, an ownership share in the store and the opportunity to vote on the store's board of directors.

oking demonstrations further strengthen the connection between the store, the farmers market and the community garden, which grew more than 1,300 pounds of healthy produce in 2009 that it sold at below market rate prices to the community.

All this bodes well for the health of the neighborhood, especially in a year where First Lady Michelle Obama has been touring the country lauding healthy food choices to combat childhood obesity.

“This is a unique model to closing the food gap," Lubischer said. "We hope that this model really gets replicated and that we’re able to share the success of this project with other communities.”

video release is also available.  (by Roger Meissen)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2010 Tomato Festival

Come join others at the University of Missouri's Bradford Research and Extension Center's Tomato Festival.

Thursday, September 3rd 2009, 4 - 7 p.m.

For the past four years the Bradford Research and Extension Center has hosted a "Tomato Festival". Each year we grow over 50 different kinds of tomatoes that include popular garden types and the old varieties that our grandparents grew (heirlooms). We also have a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes. We also grow a wide assortment of over 30 types of peppers that range from the mild bell peppers to the flaming hot haberneros.

In early September of each year we invite the public out to sample the different tomatoes. We also invite several different restaurants including Campus Dining to bring a taste of their salsas made from the different tomatoes and peppers. In 2007, Nadia Narvarette-Tindall grilled some of the different peppers for the participants to sample. Participants also enjoy talks given by MU Faculty on tomato and pepper culture including staking and mulching.

The event is free.  Call Thresa Chism or Tim Reinbott at 573-884-7945 for more information.

Bradford is located 4968 Rangeline Road, Columbia, MO 65201.  Visit http://aes.missouri.edu/bradford/ for more info and driving directions.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Use of Plant Analysis for Evaluating the Nutrient Status of Perennial Fruit Crops (Part 2)

Submitting Plant Samples for Analysis

Do not include plants affected by insects, disease or pesticide damage. Where a deficiency is suspected, take samples from normal plants in an adjacent area as well as from the affected area. It is important to take a soil sample from each area. Comparing soil and plant analysis results can greatly assist in the interpretations. Collected plant tissue is very perishable and requires special handling to avoid decomposition. Therefore, fresh plant tissue should be placed in clean paper bags left open; partially air dried if possible or kept in a cool environment during shipment to the laboratory. Wash dusty plants before air-drying. Fresh plant samples should not be placed in closed plastic bags unless the tissue is either air-dried or bag and contents are kept cool. Air-drying of fresh plant tissue can be done by placing the plant tissue in an open, dry environment for 12 to 24 hours. Air dried samples can be placed in a clean brown bag or envelope and mailed to the lab. Request a complete analysis of each plant sample including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), copper, iron, zinc, manganese and boron. The University of Missouri soil and plant testing lab offers this service for $25 per sample. Information on submitting samples to the lab and sample information forms can be obtained from the lab’s website

How and When to Sample Perennial Fruit Crops?
Crop - Stage of Growth - Plant Part/Location on Plant - Number of Samples or Plant Part

Apples - July 15 – Aug. 20 - Fully-expanded leaf from middle of current terminal shoot – 40 leaves detach petioles

Brambles – Aug 1 – Aug 21 – Select the most recent fully expanded leaf of blade of each primocane – 40 leaves, detach petioles

Fruit Trees (peach, nectarine, plums, ets.) - July 15- Sept 1 - Select shots at eye level from around the outside of the tree. Select shoots that make a vertical angle of 45-60 degrees to the ground. Remove 1 or 2 leaves from the mid portion of current season’s growth. - 30 leaves and petioles

Grapes - At full bloom - Petiole from leaf opposite to basal fruit cluster - 40 petioles

Raspberries - First week in Aug - Leaf 18 inches from tip - 30 leaves

Strawberries - Mid Aug - Mature leaves from new growth at flowering - 20 leaves

(by Manjula Nathan, MU  Extension Associate Professor)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Use of Plant Analysis for Evaluating the Nutrient Status of Perennial Fruit Crops (Part 1)

Plant analysis has proved to be a very effective means of predicting fertilizer needs for perennial fruit crops. It has been used as a diagnostic tool for many years. To determine nutrient deficiencies, most growers rely primarily on visual symptoms, plant tissue analysis and soil analysis. Plant analysis and soil testing go hand in hand. A soil test provides an index of the nutrient that is potentially available for the crop. Plant analysis tells how much of that potentially available nutrient is actually taken up by the plant.

For perennial fruit crops (blueberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, peach, nectarine, etc.,), plant analysis is the best way by which to monitor the plant’s nutrient needs. Plant analysis can be used to fine tune the efficiency of a fertilizer program before nutrient deficiency symptoms occur and is very useful in improving the fruit quality and yield. Fertilization practices can be monitored by sampling leaves or petioles during mid season and making adjustments for the following year.

Foliar samples for perennial fruit crops are typically taken once the plants start bearing regular crops. Plant tissue sample is taken from plants when the nutrient levels in the leaves are relatively stable.  The analysis and interpretations are of little value without the use of standard and consistent sampling procedures. In general, plant samples for perennial fruit crops are taken at mid-season. Usually the leaf plus petioles or just the petiole alone is sampled for plant nutrient analysis. If the level of the nutrients falls outside the optimum range, the corrective measures should be taken. Optimum nutrient ranges are based on samples collected at a particular growth stage.  Since the results of the plant analysis will be compared to known standards, it is important that parts of plants are sampled at a certain stage of development.

The leaf nutrient concentrations vary throughout the growing season. The general nutrient status of grape vines and orchards should be evaluated annually. This will help in evaluating the response for applied fertilizer.   (By Manjula Nathan, MU Extension Associate Professor)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Farmers Asked to Participate in Survey on Urban Soils

Kansas State University seeks input in developing educational resources.

“Each soil has had its own history. Like a river, a mountain, a forest, or any natural thing, its present condition is due to the influences of many things and events of the past.”  Charles Kellogg, The Soils That Support Us, 1956.

Even in an urban plot of land, soil is a complex, living organism that gives to and takes from the environment around it. In urban areas, however, the soil’s interaction with its past and present environment, especially contaminants, may have an impact on what and how we can grow in that soil. The quality of urban soils, or their ability to function for a particular use such as a seed bed, may be negatively impacted by pollutants from previous land use. Just as we know that a soil’s texture, organic matter, compaction, etc. can impact plant growth in that soil, so does the presence of contaminants. A better understanding of soil quality specific to urban areas is necessary to ensure human and environmental health in our communities, especially as more gardeners and farmers utilize land that was previously vacant or a residential or industrial lot.

A better understanding of soil quality issues is essential to ensure the health of our soils, growers, consumers, and environment. As a graduate student at Kansas State University, I have decided to make urban soil quality the topic of my Master’s thesis. The principal goal of my thesis is to provide informational and technical resources on urban soil quality to growers, land managers, extension personnel, and community groups. These resources may include booklets, web-based materials, workshops, and technical assistance.

Before developing these resources, we need to recognize what urban growers know and want to know about soil quality and contaminants. That is why I am seeking help this summer from urban growers throughout the country. I have created a short survey to learn more about the experiences and resource needs of urban growers on the topic of urban soil quality. The more I know about your interest in, and experience with, soil-quality issues, the more beneficial the educational and technical materials will be. So please take a moment and participate in the brief survey. Urban growers, community gardeners, land owners and managers are all encouraged to respond. If you have any questions please contact me at the email or phone number listed at the end of this article.

This survey is part of an ongoing larger project titled “Gardening Initiatives at Brownfields Sites” funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (see Healthy Foods from Brownfields?, Urban Grown, February 2009.). The overall objective of this larger project is to enhance the use of brownfields sites (vacant, abandoned property, the reuse of which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance or contaminant) in an environmentally, socially and economically beneficial manner. Drs. Ganga Hettiarachchi (Department of Agronomy, KSU) and Sabine Martin (Center for Hazardous Substance Research, KSU) are leading the project, and Dr. DeAnn Presley (Department of Agronomy, KSU) along with many others, is also collaborating.

(By Ashley Raes Harms, araes@ksu.edu or 785-532-5098)

Friday, August 13, 2010

11th Central Missouri Vegetable and Greenhouse Farm Tour on Sept. 1st

Wednesday September 1st, 2010 - Rain or Shine

Meet at the Central Missouri Produce Auction to visit 3 nearby growers of quality fresh produce.

Schedule: (you are welcome to arrive up until noon)

10:00 AM Gather; visit ‘on your own’ the auction

11 until noon Pick up a lunch box compliments of MO Vegetable Growers Association

12:15 PM A few words from the tour sponsors

12:30 Leave to the first farm*

* Tour will conclude about 3:30 (about one hour per farm). Choose from one of two tour routes. See details below.

Some tour features:
• Green bean picker demonstrated (weather permitting)
• Used ornamental greenhouse structure moved to farm for soil grown tomato system with drop down side walls
• New packing/sorting facility shown (GAP compliant?)
• Growing vegetables for your own stores
• 2 million BTU wood fired boiler

Sponsored by:
Morgan County Ext. Center, Missouri Department of Ag, Central Missouri Produce Auction, Morgan County Seeds, University of Missouri Extension (MU Extension)

To get your complimentary lunch………….
A RSVP is needed by Aug. 30th; provide a name and how many will be in your group. To James Quinn Phone 573-634-2824; e-mail QuinnJa@missouri.edu.

Located on Highway E, 12 miles south of US 50 or 10 miles north of Versailles. Central Missouri Produce Auction, 37808 Highway E Fortuna MO 65034 Auction Facility - 660-337-6227 (Auction days only)

Directions to the farms will be provided the day of the tour.  Closest is ½ mile away & the furthest just a tad over 10 miles.

Tour A
Irvin Martin (First stop/new grower to this tour)
Irvin has been using a Pixall green bean picker for a couple of years. He successively plants green beans throughout the growing season. Weather permitting the green bean picker will be demonstrated. Bring a bag, as what is picked can’t be stored for the next auction. Rumor has it MVGA is buying the beans!

Paul Shirk (was on the 2008 tour)
Paul inquired early in 2010 about how to make a new packing/grading/sorting facility ‘GAP’ compliant. So James Quinn resourced what looked reasonable on the web and sent him a ‘packet’. Trouble was, it was probably over 200 pages. Paul will show you what he has come up with. GAP is short for ‘good agricultural requirements’ and is a voluntary program. Some large buyers are asking their growers to become GAP certified. There were no fixed rules or designs for a farm facility like this, but a lot of recommendations for how to meet GAP requirements.

Philip Shirk (Third stop/new grower to this tour; yep, Paul’s brother)
Philip got a new toy this winter, a 2 million BTU wood fired boiler that is wood chip fired (we say a 1 million version of this at Harvey Zimmerman’s last year). Philip needed a larger unit to heat 12,000 sq ft of greenhouse ornamentals and 3,000 sq ft of greenhouse tomatoes. Philip also grows 2,200 mums. For field crops he has ‘a little bit of everything’ for their on farm store sales. He produces some field tomatoes for the auction and as well as a pumpkin field about ½ mile away from the farm place, which will shown last. Paul and Philip have 2 other brothers growing produce, with all the sons learning from their father, Eugene. Eugene’s place is right next door, and if we’re lucky he’ll join us too.

Tour B

Ronald and Denise Nolt- Nolt’s Farm Market (First stop/new grower to this tour)
The Nolts have 3 stores which most of their more than 20 acres of vegetables are used to supply. They buy as needed from the auction to round out their needs, as well as sell surpluses. They grow a variety of vegetables, including sweet corn, melons, tomatoes, and a number of others. They also produce fall mums. Their farm is just to the west of the auction with the fields visible from the dock.

James Leid (Second stop/was on the 2008 tour)
James was one of a number of growers who picked up some greenhouse structures from Dix Nursery, which was a very large spring plant supplier until a couple of years ago. He brought the structure back and produced tomatoes in it this year. James is one of a just a few growers to sell strawberries at the auction. He has a variety of field vegetables. This year he tried some herbicides with residual activity against germinating weeds- Sandea in the row middles between black plastic beds & Command around some pumpkins.

Irvin Martin (Third stop (repeat from first stop of Tour A)
Irvin has been using a Pixall green bean picker for a couple of years. He successively plants green beans throughout the growing season. Weather permitting the green bean picker will be demonstrated. Bring a bag, as what is picked can’t be stored for the next auction. Rumor has it MVGA is buying the beans!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Extending Harvest With Succession Planting

As the summer wears on, our motivation to plant a garden probably is inversely correlated with the outside temperature.  However, August is an ideal time to plant vegetables for fall harvest. Vegetables maturing in the fall often are of better quality than those harvested in late spring or summer because of the cooler fall temperatures. By using the technique of succession planting we can provide for fall vegetables while at the same time making efficient use of our garden space. Working in the cooler temperatures of early morning or late evening will make the task more enjoyable.

Succession planting simply means that as one crop is harvested and removed from the garden, a second is planted in the area vacated. The same crop may be repeated or a different crop may be planted, depending on the date and/or food preferences of the gardener. Succession planting extends the supply of produce from the garden late into the year and helps to make optimum use of valuable garden space by growing two crops instead of one in a given area.

There are three classifications of vegetables that make good candidates for succession planting at this time of the year: 1) those that are damaged by frost but mature quickly before frost occurs; 2) those that mature relatively rapidly but can withstand a light frost; and 3) those that mature more slowly but can withstand freezing temperatures without severe damage.

Bush beans, bush cucumbers and summer squash are examples of the first classification vegetables. If planted in late July or early August, there is a good chance that these species will mature before frost, although fall gardens are always a gamble because of the unpredictable nature of the weather. If an exceptionally early fall with very cool nights should develop, production may be very poor even though frost has yet to occur.  However, if the fall is warm and long, late plantings of these species can be productive and rewarding.

Those vegetables that can withstand light frost and still be planted in August (group 2) include beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, lettuce (leaf and bibb types), spinach, Swiss chard and potato. Late potatoes, as a rule, are not very productive and do not store well. However, they often make a satisfactory crop of small, “new potatoes” when used as a succession crop. Seed potatoes that were left over from the spring may be  planted; do not plant potatoes recently harvest from a spring crop.

Vegetables that can be planted in August that are able to withstand fairly low temperatures (group 3) include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and turnips. All but kale and turnips should be set out as transplants. Seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower planted directly in the garden will not mature before killing temperatures unless fall temperatures are atypically warm with very late killing low temperatures.

Fall garden peas can be very tasty but planting them in August is a gamble. In many cases peas do not have adequate time to develop in the fall before they succumb to freezing temperatures. Edible-pod (snow) peas are the best choice for fall peas since they produce pods that can be consumed at various stages of development.

The process of succession planting is fairly simple. When a crop is removed, it is very important to rid the area of plant debris as much as possible. This will help to eliminate insects and disease inoculum. Also, till the soil lightly and add a general purpose, garden fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or 12-12-12. If the soil has been productive the application of additional fertilizer might not be necessary. Growth must be rapid in succession plantings in order for them to mature before killing temperatures.  Therefore, a side dressing of nitrogen after the seedlings or transplants have become established can be helpful.

Since insect populations have had the opportunity to develop throughout the growing season, they represent a significant challenge for succession plantings. Removing the plant debris from the previous crop is helpful but regular monitoring still is required. Early intervention using integrated pest management (IPM) practices is recommended when significant populations of insects are detected.

Diseases, especially those that favor warm temperatures and moist conditions, can be less of a problem for succession plantings, especially if the fall is relatively dry. Again, regular monitoring should be practiced since there are diseases that thrive in cool, moist conditions.

Vegetables require between one and two inches of water per week. Although plants tend to transpire less water in the cooler temperatures of the fall, adequate moisture is still a concern and irrigation may be necessary during dry periods. If the soil has been allowed to dry out between the removal of the previous
crop and succession planting, make certain there is adequate moisture to support seed germination.

Finally, the use of frost protection measures such floating row cover can extend the growing season for those crops injured by frost. Floating row cover is a translucent, spun polyester material that traps the soil’s latent heat underneath it when it is spread over plants. It offers several degrees of frost protection and, since it is translucent, it can be left in place for days during periods of cold weather. It is relatively inexpensive and can be used for several years if care is taken when it is removed and stored.

Succession plantings can be challenging and there is risk involved. However, delaying the harvest of the last vegetables of summer late into the year tends make those of us who are avid gardeners feel that spring can’t be too far away.  (by David Trinklein, MU Horticulture, Associate Professor)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thinking About Farming in 2011? Start Now.

On an urban farm, August is not too early to be planning for March.

Okay, so it is 100 plus degrees outside. Your garden is wilting in the heat, your tomatoes are getting sun scald and the blister beetles are soaking it all in, glorying in the good food and the pleasant company of so many other beetles. What better time to escape from this year’s challenges though, and begin to think about next year’s urban farm business?

An urban farm business can be as big or small as you choose. We define an "urban farmer" as someone who is growing food to feed other people, people outside of their own family and immediate circle of friends. Generally, that involves selling the produce at any volume whether it's $50 a week or upwards of several thousand. It may also include a farm/garden that is growing food to be donated--growing food to feed strangers (who will hopefully become friends through the process).

Now is the time to start wrapping your mind around next year’s production and sales plans if you are going to be starting a new farm business. If you have a piece of land you own or an empty lot you’ve been eying, you are going to want to get access to that land soon; one of the best things you can do for an urban soil that hasn’t been grown on before is get a good plowing done on it (after hauling out as many of the foundation stones as you can) sometime in October or early November. You want the soil to be ridged deeply enough that erosion won’t be a problem, but with lots of soil surface exposed for winter freezing and thawing to begin loosening up the structure and make it workable in the spring.

If you want to do no-till farming, start looking for hay or straw bales to start laying down so the good bacteria and fungi they harbor can have some time to mellow out the soil underneath while the mulch is smothering any grass or weeds. Most urban soils are low in organic matter and consequently low in all that good soil life that makes vegetables grow. Unless you are fortunate in having that fine river bottom land that can be found in some Kansas City neighborhoods, urban farming means consistent and long-term efforts to build the soil up with good organic matter and to loosen its structure so roots, water, air, and nutrients can move through. And it is never too early to get started.

It’s also a good time to start putting your plans on paper. What will you be growing? To whom will you be selling? If you want to exercise your new rights in Kansas City, MO, to sell on-site, start talking to your neighbors to get them excited about the possibility of really fresh food bought from someone on their block. If you want to sell at markets, visit them now to see what market might fit your farm personality and goals. Talk to some of the vendors and learn about how the market works from their perspective.

KCCUA staff want to help you become an urban farmer--you can email or call us and we’ll visit your site with you and talk with you about how to get going. There are other resources out there, too, like KC Community Gardens, County Extension, and neighborhood associations who like to see people like you make the neighborhood a healthier place. In Wyandotte County, the Land Bank is putting together a program to make empty lots more available to folks who want to garden or farm on them. Kansas City, MO, owns a lot of empty land, too, and is starting to incorporate the idea of urban agriculture into planning for the city. It may look like a hot and miserable summer out there, but really, it is just seven months out from the start of next year’s growing season! So be thinking about your next steps and have fun planning your 2011 urban farm venture now.  (by Katherine Kelly, Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Beginning Farmer Workshop: Selling Directly to Consumers

I've posted this before but here is the agenda for you to look and hopefully get you excited about signing up for this Beginning Farmers Workshop. 

August 18, 2010 – 3:30 to 8:30 pm
Columbia, MO

Everything you wanted to know to start selling your farm products directly to consumers! What direct market channels work best for you? What are chefs and consumers looking for when they buy local products? What good sales techniques will make your produce sell quickly? How do you make your booth at the farmers’ market really stand out? How can simple food safety and post-harvest handling practices ensure the quality that keeps customers coming back?

Tour the Wednesday Columbia Farmers’ Market and taste great local products!

What will you learn?

By the end of this workshop you will be able to:
• Explain five qualities that make produce taste great and look visually appealing
• Describe a counselor approach to selling your local products successfully
• List three ways to merchandize your product at farmers’ markets
• Describe the importance of correct post-harvest handling procedures
• Employ basic food safety techniques for your farm

Workshop Agenda:

3:00 pm Registration

3:30 pm Welcome to the Workshop – Mary Hendrickson

3:50 pm Explore the Columbia Farmers’ Market

4:20 pm Return to the ARC for sessions

4:25 pm Discussion of the market tour

4:35 pm Evaluating Direct Market Channels – which one works best for you? – Mary Hendrickson

Discussion of the pros and cons of different direct marketing channels including farmers’ markets, CSAs, selling to restaurants etc.

5:10 pm Flavors of Local Food – What are Customers Looking for? Mike Odette, Sycamore, and they will be catering as well.

6:00 pm Post-Harvest Handling and Food Safety – What Do You Need to Know? – Jim Quinn
• Tips on basic post-harvest handling practices for produce and basic strategies to ensure food safety

6:45 pm Successful Sales Strategies for Local Foods – Mary Hendrickson
• Everyone can learn to be a good salesperson – but how. This session emphasizes the counselor approach to sales and explains the four basic steps to being good salespeople. We may have a role play here on good vs. bad salespeople

7:30 pm Merchandizing Your Products Successfully – Caroline Todd, Columbia Farmers Market
• How do successful farmers’ market vendors arrange their products? Package their products? Draw folks into their stalls? This session will cover the basics of setting up good farmers’ market stalls.

8:15 pm Closing, Evaluations

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Conservation Reserve Program Offers Pollinator Habitat Incentives

New rules passed by the USDA now offer incentives for the establishment of pollinator habitat through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The limited time program sign-up, which opens today to new enrollments, provides one of the largest pollinator conservation opportunities ever in the United States.

The CRP program, first established in 1985, is the largest private landowner conservation effort in the United States with up to 32 million acres eligible for enrollment through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Program participants take highly erodible land out of crop production, and establish permanent vegetation to protect topsoil and provide wildlife cover. Contracts which run 10 to 15 years provide annual rental payments on enrolled land, and cost-share assistance for establishing vegetative cover.

New rules which are now  in effect offer priority ranking for land enrollments that include pollinator-friendly wildflowers and shrubs.

Under the current CRP enrollment system, landowners who want to participate are ranked to prioritize enrollments that offer the most conservation benefits. To receive a higher score on the pollinator ranking criteria, participating farmers must plant at least 10% of the CRP acres in wildflower parcels (or at least one acre for CRP enrollments less than 10 acres in size).

The addition of a pollinator habitat incentive for CRP has been promoted by numerous wildlife and pollinator conservation groups in recent years, and the new ranking system now offers one of the largest potential habitat creation opportunities of its kind ever for native bees, butterflies, and managed honey bees, all of which have experienced significant decline in recent years due to habitat loss and other factors.

In developing the new CRP technical requirements, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) worked closely with Dr. Marla Spivak, a leading honey bee researcher based at the University of Minnesota, and the California-based advocacy group, Partners for Sustainable Pollination. Now, as the enrollment period for new CRP contracts begins, the NRCS is working with the non-profit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to develop wildflower seeding recommendations for states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon. Those recommendations will focus on selecting native wildflower species that are abundant pollen and nectar sources, and that are most likely to thrive in their respective regions.

Rural landowners who are interested in more information about CRP, including the current sign-up period which ends August 27th, should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers and other agricultural producers to use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. As in past CRP general signups, eligible offers will be ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). This formula-driven system evaluates each tract of land according to its environmental values and challenges and how the landowner chooses to offer it into the program. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits) and cost.

A series of landowner educational meetings will be hosted by Quail Forever, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the USDA FSA to provide information on wildlife habitat considerations that can be implemented. There is no charge for participating and there is no need to register. Each session will begin at 7:00 pm. More information and directions can be found online on the Missouri Quail Forever website.

Meetings locations and dates are:

• Columbia, University of Missouri Bradford Research and Extension Center, Aug. 9

• St. Louis, Powder Valley Nature Center, Aug. 10

• Kirksville, MDC Northeast Regional Office, Aug. 11

• Cameron, Cameron Community Building, Aug. 12

• Cass County, location to be determined (see website), Aug. 13

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Congratulations to Molly Rockamann with EarthDance

Farmer Jane: Molly Rockamann -- EarthDance FARMS:  Building collaborations between food, farming, dance, art and music.

By Temra Costa

“I came to realize food and farming were at the intersection of everything I was passionate about - social justice, nutrition, environment, education, cultural traditions.”  ~ Molly Rockamann

Molly Rockamann will forever be remembered as the apprentice at UC Santa Cruz’s Farm and Garden Program that made “Farm Grease, The Musical,” happen. This 28 yr-old farmer grew up playing in the racks of her grandmother’s costume shop and with a family that made variety shows a priority at nearly all functions. So it’s not surprising that Molly continues to weave art, dance, and music into her farm in Ferguson, Missouri.

EarthDance FARMS (Food, Art, Relationships & Music…Sustainably) is a 14-acre gem that started growing food for the farmers market of Ferguson in 2008. It expands a little each year both in number of farmers and in food produced. The apprenticeship style of learning and teaching is something that Molly brought home from her travels. The program has more than doubled in its second year - from twelve to 30 - with support of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. (The state applies for Specialty Crop money from the USDA and redistributes to local organizations.) A unique attribute of the EarthDance apprenticeship program as they are open to any age. This year’s group ranges from fifteen to 65. They also just started their first foray into CSA growing their program by starting with the apprentices. For the 2011 growing season, they’re planning to start with 75 people.

Read the rest of this exciting story on the Rodale Institute's online newsletter.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Conservation Field Tour

The Jefferson Institute will host a Conservation Field Tour at the Jefferson Farm, 4800 New Haven Road, Columbia, MO from 8:00 to 10:30 am on Thursday, August 12.

This tour will include speakers on the following topics: soil conservation and water quality, rain gardens, permeable parking, establishing wildlife habitat (including for quail), and pond management. 
Visitors will be able to take a one hour wagon tour to hear the speakers and see various demonstrations at the Jefferson Farm. or take a self-guided tour around the farm. The program will be of interest to rural landowners, farmers, and other individuals interested in conservation. Visitors may come for any portion of the time period listed above.

In addition to conservation demonstrations, the Jefferson Farm has demonstrations of over 250 varieties of economic plants, including vegetables, fruits, grains and oilseeds, and bioenergy crops. For more information, call 449-3518 (mornings are best).

Monday, August 2, 2010

West Central Missouri Farm Tour

Missouri Vegetable Growers Association and University of Missouri Extension invite you to the West-Central Missouri Farm Tour on August 10th starting at 4 pm, rain or shine.

Learn from other growers, share ideas, and promote good practices.  Evening Snack Provided!

RSVP Before 8/3 to: 816-270-2141 or batesma@missouri.edu

Tour begins at Buckeye Acres at 4 pm.

Bring a bottle of water and dress for the weather. Carpooling is encouraged.

The farms on the tour stops are:

Buckeye Acres, 91 NE 600th Road, Warrensburg, 660-624-1054
  • Since the early 1980’s
  • Greenhouse for transplants
  • 1 acre high tunnel
  • U-Pick blueberries
  • CSA and Farmer’s Market

Wood Mood Gardens, 20987 Hwy. 20, Higginsville, 660-584-3552
  • Organic since 1994
  • Variety Vegetables
  • Raspberries
  • Pears

Beckner’s Orchard, 8560 Apple Tree Road, Lexington, 660-232-4044

  • Peaches
  • Sweet Corn
  • Asparagus

Fahrmeier Farms, 9364 Mitchell Trail, Lexington, 816-934-2472

  • Commercial Vegetable Production
  • Haygrove High Tunnels
  • Produce Packing Shed
  • Vineyard & Winery

Contact Marlin Bates, Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension at:

(816) 270-2141 or batesma@missouri.edu