Monday, October 31, 2011

19th Annual Small Farm Today Trade Show and Conference

The MO Beginning Farmer Program will have an exhibit at this conference.  Come by and say hi.

November 3-5, 2011
Boone County Fairgrounds
Columbia MO

General Admission (no charge for children 12 and under)
1 day - $10; 2 days - $15; 3 days - $20

Short Courses Registration in addition to General Admission
$35 each or 2 for $65; 3 for $95; 4 for $125; 5 for $150; 6 for $170; 7 for $180

For questions call 800-633-2535.

Thursday, November 3, 2011
Show hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Short Courses
10:30 am-1:00 pm - Mob Grazing, Robert Kinkead, DVM
1:30-3:00 pm - Legacy Beef,  Mark Mahnken
3:30-5:00 pm  - Flame Weeding in Agronomic Crops, Dr. Dogos & Stevan Knezevic

9:15–10:15 am - Keynote address: Making Your Farm Energy Efficient—An Ecological Model for Today’s Farmer, Francis Thicke (Iowa)
10:30-11:30 am - Cover crops, Liz Sarno (Nebraska)
11:45 am-12:45 pm - Recent Developments in Sustainable Research, K.B. Paul & Debi Kelly
1:00-2:00 pm - Aquaculture, Chuck Hicks
2:15-3:15 pm - Soil, Sanjun Gu
3:30-4:30 pm - Successful Small Farmers, Kelly Klober

Farmers Forum
10:30-11:00 am - Growing, Processing, and Selling Omega-9 Canola Oil, Dan & Bonnie Blackledge
11:00 am–12:00 pm - Diversifying With Small Fruits (Elderberries, Blackberries and Blueberries), Tim Malinich
12:00-1:00 pm - Cover Crop Tillage Practices to Enhance Nutrient Availability and Crop Yield, Tim Kimpel
1:00-1:30 pm - On-Farm Bio Char Production for Use as a Soil Amendment, John Topic
1:30–2:00 pm - Forage Diversification with Hogs, Andrew Rider
2:00–2:30 pm - Species Diversification through Rotational Grazing, Graham Rider
2:30-3:30 pm - Comparing Prairie Grass & Small Grains Straw Mulch for Vegetable Crops, Tony Ends
3:30-4:00 pm - Using Commercially Available Mycorrhizae Inoculant to Enhance Growth of Small Berry Bushes, Cathy & Patricia Hanus
4:00-4:30 pm - Healthy Farms Healthy Kids in Nebraska, William Powers
4:30-5:00 pm - Labor Saving Practices for Small Produce Farms, Kevin Cooley

Friday, November 4, 2011
Show hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Short Courses
8:30-10:30 am - Asset Protection, Dale West (Nevada)
11:30 am-2:00 pm - Economics & Success of Movable High Tunnels, Mike Bollinger & others
2:30-4:00 pm - Community Supported Agriculture, Liz Graznak

8:30–9:30 am - Simple Things for On-Farm Research, Liz Sarno (Nebraska)
9:45–10:45 am - Soils & Compost, Roger Kropf
11:00 am–12:00 pm - Prime Pork Hog Production, Kelly Klober
12:15–1:15 pm - Urban Composting, Billy Polansky
1:30–2:30 pm - TB
2:45–3:45 pm - Organic Ag and Non-GMOs Ken, Roseboro (Iowa)
4:00–5:00 pm - Laying Flock Basics, Kelly Klober

Farmers Forum
9:00–9:30 am - Scaling Up Production by Improving Worker Comfort and Efficiency in Conservation Tillage Organic Seed Garlic Production System, Dan & Julie Perkins
9:30-10:30 am - The Coney Garth: Managing breeding does (meat rabbits) on 100% grass, Julie Engel
10:30–11:30 am - Why It's Cool to Mulch with Wool, Katie Charlton-Perkins with Melinda O'Briant
11:30 am-12:00 pm - Forest Farming: wild foods, wildflowers, wild stock, sustainable firewood & timber, Cindy & Charles Ramseyer
12:00–12:30 pm - Aronia Berry as a Sustainable Crop for a Sustainable Future, Andrew, Cindy & Vaughn Pittz
12:30-1:00 pm - The Aquaponic Journey of a Lifetime, Ryan & Jenny Marcelo
1:00-2:00 pm - Extending the season and increasing quality of produce with low tunnels, year-round, Curtis Millsap
2:00-3:00 pm - Green Manure vs. Brown Manure in an Organic Vegetable System, Mark Quee and others
3:00-4:00 pm - Subsurface Drainage Installation as an Integrated Fruit Tree Planting Practice, Barry Short
4:00-5:00 pm - Preventing Parasitic Infestation of Yellow Perch in Small Farm Production Facilities, Bill West

Saturday, November 5, 2011
Show hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Short Courses
8:30-11:00 am - Soil Amendments, Ralph Voss
11:30 am-2:00 pm - TBA
2:30-5:00 pm - How to Grow and Graze High Energy Plants to Maximize Animal Performance, Greg Judy

8:30–10:30 am - Two-Wheel Tractors, Joel Dufour (Kentucky)
11:00 am–12:00 pm - Grazing, Greg Judy
12:15–1:15 pm - Food Safety, Patrick Byers
1:30–2:30 pm - Low-Cost Cattle Panel Hoophouses, Jennifer Grabner
2:45–3:45 pm - Small Farm Advocates, Dr. John Ikerd
4:00–5:00 pm - An Overview of Urban Agriculture, Billy Polansky

Farmers Forum
9:00 am - Cow Taxi: using noncontiguous pastures for dairy grazing, Karen Lubbers
9:30-10:30 am - Pasturizing My Pigs: Integrating pigs into my family’s farm, Lydia Gioja
10:30–11:00 am - Growing Biomass Crops in Iowa, Randy Kasperbauer
11:00-11:30 am - A Five Part Plan to Bring to Life a More Sustainable School Garden, Sarah Holmes
11:30 am-12 pm - Sharing the Buzz: Beekeeping and plants to attract them, Thomas Bubenzer
1:00-1:30 pm - Small Hive Beetle Control in Bee Hives, John Nenninger
1:30-2:30 pm - Permaculture Design and Practice for Small Farmers, Stephen Moring with Maryam Hjersted
2:30–3:30 pm - Designing & Building a Polyculture Food Forest Garden: Year One, Michelle Ajamian
3:30–4:30 pm - Experiments in Regional Staple Foods Production and Processing, Brandon Jaeger
4:30-5:00 pm - Chickamore Urban Poultry Project, Christine Allen

Meetings free with admission
12:00–1:00 pm - Missouri Organic Association Meeting (Farmers Forum area)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Online Learning Community Offers Support to Farmers Starting Out

Missouri Beginning Farmers webinars get second life in online archive.

Where can you find conversations about pasture-raised chicken and organic farming next to talks on soil and social media? Online.

The Missouri Beginning Farmer Program’s Online Learning Community from University of Missouri Extension lets everyone learn from experienced farmers. More than a year of archived workshops, webinars and discussions are now free online, allowing individuals to use expert information at their convenience.

“It’s farmers learning from farmers,” said Mary Hendrickson, who runs the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program for MU Extension. “People like to talk to others with lots experience and great information and who can say, ‘I’ve been there before and had these problems.’ It’s a great way to bring both the farmers' experience and all the expertise we have in MU Extension to the table together.”

Fall offers farmers a perfect time to learn new techniques and strategies as they turn their eyes toward planning for next year. For beginning farmers, this can mean tackling new areas of farming.

“It’s not just animal production or vegetable production, but it’s also food safety, financing and marketing,” Hendrickson said. “It’s kind of horizontal learning, with people learning from others with the same kind of experiences. We’re really there to help facilitate by pulling it together in this one spot.”

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program identifies producers skilled in specific areas to present webinars. MU Extension specialists provide extension guides and other information to complement presenters’ information. Those presentations, participant discussions and related documents are then archived by topic and date. Online forums moderated by MU Extension specialists allow participants to bounce ideas off each other.

These resources help beginning farmers create a support network that novices and experts alike find valuable. They connect via Facebook, the Missouri Beginning Farmers blog and through the webinar archive forum.

“Networking is key for many of these folks because it’s easy to think you’re alone in this world with all these crazy ideas or get discouraged because you’re trying to farm but don’t have experience,” said Debi Kelly, Missouri Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education co-coordinator and MU Extension Beginning Farmers guru.

Missourians of all ages and experience levels attend the face-to-face workshops. Online participants range from people in their 20s just starting out in farming to traditional farmers transitioning to organic produce, and older individuals looking to put their land to good use.

Beginning Farmers webinars bring these people together from across the state, saving time and money for producers.

“They love not having to leave home, how they can get access to really good information without driving a long way,” Hendrickson said. “This online community helps us reach a more diverse and dispersed audience, but keeping a high-touch atmosphere is why we integrate aspects like the online forums to make it as interactive as possible.”

This encyclopedia of farming knowledge will expand as new webinars happen each month. Participant ideas guide the selection of future speakers and topics. Presenters share challenges and tribulations experienced on their farms.

“They talk about their successes but also share their failures in their farming enterprises, because learning about people’s failures is just as important to those starting out,” Kelly said.

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program began in 2009 and is funded through a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant. Through its online and in-person workshops, the program hopes to serve an ever-growing number of people who are exploring how to put their land to work for them, whether as a full-time business or as a source of supplemental income.

Find more about the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program. A link to archived webinars is on the right.

To download broadcast-quality audio, click here.

Log in with the name of your news organization (password/registration not required). For questions regarding the audio download site, contact Debbie Johnson at 573-882-9183.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Future Farming Families

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant #FNC02-428– Ida Thurman, Pembroke Township, IL

Objective: To teach young people hands-on, socially responsible agricultural systems, including free-range poultry, pastured pork, rabbits, and worm production, and community gardening.

Results: My family – which includes husband John and nine children – runs L & R Farms in Pembroke Township in Illinois. Our 20-acre operation strives to grow nutritious foods to feed our family, and educate the public about sustainable agriculture. We have used sustainable organic methods of livestock and vegetable production for home consumption and as a way of life. We began retail marketing in 1999 on-farm and at the Kankakee County Farmers Market.

Our livestock production includes grass fed/rotationally grazed cattle and goats, pasture pork, and range-fed poultry, turkey, geese, duck, and rabbits. The pesticide/ herbicide-free vegetable production includes a rotation of melons, squash, peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, greens, potatoes, and pumpkins. We also grow and cut grass hay.

We believe it’s key that older farmers share their knowledge with younger ones. We used our SARE funding to provide members of 4-H and Realistic Opportunities for Youth (ROY) a safe place to learn hands-on, socially responsible agriculture. They learned details of our livestock operations.

ROY is an initiative in which youngsters who participate in the Youth Garden are taught by older youth about gardening. Those who serve as youth leaders often become 4-H members. Youth leaders learn sustainable agricultural systems, whether at L & R Farms or while visiting neighboring farms. Several youth leaders created gardens for senior citizens and the disabled. They also had an option to participate in the community garden and then sell the produce they planted, weeded, and harvested at the local farmers markets. Within ROY they experienced seed saving, learned to prepare the foods they were growing in the Youth Garden, and exchanged recipes. They also took part in community service activities – delivering food, mowing lawns, and raking leaves for seniors and the disabled. Youth who participated not only were viewed as positive members of our community; they also learned to care about someone, or even something, other than themselves.

Long-term, this project seeks to make small-scale agriculture affordable again in a region once dominated by family farms, including a number owned by African-Americans. The project and a collaborative effort from Pembroke Farming Family, a Project Partner of Heifer International, continues to provide some participants marketing opportunities at the Hopkins Park/Pembroke Farmers Market, Kankakee County Farmers Market, and the City of Chicago Farmers Markets. These opportunities reward limited-resource farmers’ efforts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comparing the Market Viability of Two Methods of Shiitake Mushroom Production (Seasonal vs. Year-Round Production on Logs)

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant #FNC02-417 – Earnest Bohner, Lampe MO

Objective: To explore the feasibility of expanding an existing shiitake mushroom operation to offer a year-round supply to customers.

Results: We began our farming operation, Persimmon Hill Farm, in 1982 with the planting of two acres of highbush blueberries. Later we added more blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, apples, and shiitake mushrooms. We are primarily a you-pick farm, but we also sell products such as jams, berry-flavored barbecue sauces, butters, biscuit mixes, and other items wholesale to some retailers and do some mail-order sales through

We produce log-grown shiitake mushrooms indoors. About 3,000 logs are inoculated each year; logs can be used for three to four years.

Logs are taken indoors in baskets that contain 60 logs each, soaked in tanks of water in our fruiting building and then placed in racks where they fruit. Then, they’re removed and placed in the “laying yard” until their next fruiting. The water tanks are in the floor of building.

The fruiting building is about 14 feet square and has a hoist that reduces labor while soaking the logs. The fruiting racks have trolleys that allow for easy access for loading and harvest.

In addition to selling mushrooms to retail customers, we have a weekly wholesale route for upscale restaurants and grocery stores in the Springfield and Branson region during our primary harvests in the spring and fall.

The fruiting building has allowed us to expand our production to make our shiitakes available to restaurants year round. By doing so, we’re building our business by promising restaurants a steady supply that they can rely on to feature in their menus.

Our new, larger facility was constructed using well proven energy conservation techniques. It also allowed for more labor-efficient production.

We are producing more usable mushrooms with this new facility, but just as important, we’re better able to control the production pace and quality. Growing mushrooms indoors also reduces waste because it reduces weather related damage.

Our production costs per pound dropped significantly. We also noted mushroom quality was improved through the new fruiting process. When using seasonal production, we could produce during six months of the year; now we can produce year-round. While initial capital expense for the building was significant, our increased profits have recouped those costs.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New webinars on Marketing Organic Produce, Organic Transplants, Food Safety and Hops Production

Join eOrganic and Michigan SARE for a series of 4 free webinars on marketing organic produce, organic transplants, food safety, and hops production in October and November! All webinars are open to the public, and advance registration is required. Save the dates and register now at for the following webinars at or at the links below. All are being offered on A Tuesday at 2 pm eastern time. See below of exact dates.

This is for Tuesday (today) at 2 pm. Plan for Marketing Your Organic Products, by Susan Smalley, Michigan State University: October 25, 2011 at 2PM Eastern Time. Register at

Root Media and Fertility for Organic Transplants, by John Biernbaum, Michigan State University: November 1, 2011 at 2PM Eastern Time. Register at

Tracking Your Produce—For Your Business and Health, by Colleen Collier Bess, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources: November 8, 2011 at 2PM Eastern Time. Register at

Starting Up Small-Scale Organic Hops Production, Rob Sirrine, Michigan State University and Brian Tennis, Michigan Hop Alliance: November 15, 2011 at 2PM Eastern Time. Register at

Find the updated eOrganic webinar schedule and listen to recordings of past presentations at

Funding Now Available for Underserved Urban and Rural Areas to Grow More Fresh Foods

Up to $5,000 in grant funding available through Department of Ag’s Local Foods Matching Grant Program.

Bell Demonstration Garden
in St. Louis
Missouri Department of Agriculture announced that funding is available for urban and rural organizations to help underserved populations increase access to fresh foods. Through the development of production infrastructures, direct distribution venues, education programs, workforce development and expanding the understanding of the importance of agriculture and where food comes from, more Missourians will be able to enjoy locally-grown fresh foods in their cities and neighborhoods. Up to $5,000 in grant funding is available to each qualifying organization through the Department’s Local Foods Matching Grant Program.

“As we travel the state, you quickly realize that some people don’t have the access to local foods that so many of us take for granted. Through grant programs like these, we are able to connect resources to those ready to make a difference in their communities,” said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. “We hope these funds go a long way in helping areas promote agriculture through farmers’ markets, community gardens and to establish partnerships in their communities that will bring more fresh foods to the table.”

The one-time competitive grants are targeted to:

• Assist farmers’ markets, urban/community garden expansion efforts and youth initiatives related to promoting agriculture,

• Establish or expand partnerships with urban/community gardens, youth initiatives and farmers’ markets,

• Encourage agricultural production to combat hunger, poor nutrition and obesity, and

• Provide training and develop skills to the next generation of agricultural producers.

Funds must be used for the creation of a farmers’ market, the expansion of an urban or community garden, to promote local food efforts and/or youth initiatives that combat hunger, poor nutrition and obesity in collaboration with community gardens or farmers’ markets.

For an application or to learn more click here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

MO Beginning Famers Program Survey

If you participated in any of our workshops, webinars or Grow Your Farm courses within the past two years, please fill out this survey that will evaluate the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program.  Your answers to this survey will help us know how we are doing with our program as well as help us to plan a better program for you in the next years.  The survey can be found at  It will take about 10 minutes.  We appreciate your time in helping us make these programs better!  Thanks!

Pasture-Raised Heritage Breed Turkeys

SARE Youth Grant #YNC08-001– Will King

Objective: To hatch and raise my own turkeys out of my existing birds, to market my birds to various ethnic groups that come to our farm to buy livestock and poultry, and to cook one of my birds and do a taste test and survey about how the bird tasted compared to store-bought turkey.

Results: Raising heritage turkeys outdoors on pasture reduces stress and is a healthier environment for them. They’re better adapted to outdoor life. Before receiving this grant, I had two different varieties of heritage breed turkeys, but had not tried to raise any on my own. When my original turkey hens started laying eggs, I put them in an incubator. I also put eggs under broody chicken hens and, toward the end of the laying season, let two turkey hens set on a clutch of eggs.

None of the incubated eggs or those under the chickens hatched. Two eggs under the turkey hens hatched, but neither poultry lived past day one. I’ve since learned that to increase hatchability of eggs, I need to increase the feed protein level from the 16 percent I was feeding to 20 percent. I need to make sure eggs cool to 50 degrees before putting them into an incubator, and to keep setting turkey hens where the hatchlings can’t wander off and get chilled.

Since none of my eggs hatched, the only young birds I had were the 16 Royal Palm turkeys I bought with the grant money. I’ve kept back a Royal Palm tom and four Royal Palm hens to use as breeders.

I processed a pasture-raised heritage breed tom, which my mother served at two Missouri Extension Council dinners. I surveyed those attending. They said they thought it tasted better than a store-bought turkey. Most said they’d be willing to pay a little more for a local, sustainably raised bird.

There is demand for this type of product. I am going to try this project again, and will be printing a sales brochure, and planting disease-resistance dwarf fruit trees in my turkey pasture.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Growing and Marketing for a Winter CSA in Central Missouri

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant #FNC07-668 - Jennifer Graber, Ashland MO

Objective: To develop a community supported agriculture business growing and marketing cool-season greens and vegetables from October through April in central Missouri, experimenting with unheated greenhouse and cold frame designs.

Results: Central Missouri has a variety of commercial growers providing fresh, organically grown local produce for wholesale and retail buyers during the typical growing season of April through October. However, there are few options for area consumers to buy such produce during the off-season of November through March, so virtually all fresh greens and vegetables must be trucked in.

At Wintergeen Farm, our small family operation on about five acres west of Ashland in Boone County, MO, we established a winter community supported agriculture (CSA) venture on about two acres. We tested four styles of unheated greenhouses and cold frames: 1) standard hoop houses, 2) hoop houses made from cattle panels, 3) low tunnels over raised garden beds, and 4) standard wooden cold frame boxes. We grew more than 30 crops through the winter, including several varieties of greens, root crops, herbs, and more.

We had eight families for the 2008-09 seasons, and 16 families signed up for 2009-10. Each family paid $15 for a large box of produce, which was available weekly from October through December and every other week in January and February. We struggled this past season with a cold, cloudy, wet, fall and winter that slowed production.

Overall, though, many of the crops were surprisingly cold hardy, surviving even through two weeks in January when high temperatures didn’t get out of the single digits. Results from the first two seasons have encouraged us to continue with these efforts. No difference in seedling germination, growth, productivity, or survival was noted among the different greenhouse and cold frame designs. The only differences were in building and maintenance costs and ease of operation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Know Your Costs of Production on the Farm

How can a producer know if the operation is profitable if he or she doesn’t have an accurate accounting of all the costs associated with the operation?

It is an important question to consider according to Dr. Gordon Carriker, agriculture business specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Carriker says what many producers overlook is that the tax collector does not care if they earn $1 per hour or $100 per hour for the time they spend working and managing their farm. That’s a decision the producer has to make and using enterprise budgets is a good way to determine the economic profitability and feasibility of the farm enterprises.

“I am amazed at the willingness of producers to work on their own farm for less than a reasonable wage. As an economist, I look past accounting profits -- the profits that the IRS is interested in for taxes -- and look at all costs including opportunity costs and thus economic profit,” said Dr. Carriker.

There are several things a producer can do to help them determine their production costs according to Dr. Carriker.

First, determine what the enterprise is: for example a cow/calf enterprise ends when the calf is weaned (producing a calf) for later sale; a backgrounding/stocker enterprise begins (producing beef or breeding stock) when the calf is kept for growing.

Second, get a sample enterprise budget. Some very good ones are available through the University of Missouri Extension website:

Third, keep track of all production costs. This includes “sweat” labor time as well as “thinking” labor (management) time. “This is the biggest opportunity cost producers tend to overlook. Management time is more valuable in the market place than physical labor time,” said Carriker.

Fourth, account and allocate costs to the appropriate enterprise. If a farm truck is being used one fourth of the time as the family truck, one fourth of the time for a crop enterprise and one half the time for a livestock enterprise, do not allocate all the truck fuel and maintenance costs to the livestock enterprise.

Fifth, do not forget to allocate ownership -- sometimes referred to as fixed costs -- to an enterprise. These include insurance, depreciation and taxes on capital items.

Sixth, do not be overly optimistic or pessimistic about expected revenues. “A good practice is to look at a few sale prices, say a low, medium and a high sales price, for the product being sold,” said Dr. Carriker.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

River Hills Purebred Poultry Marketing Alliance Research Project

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant #FNC07-687 – Paul J. and Kelly Harter, Kelly and Phyllis Klober, Nathan and Sarah Price, Mark and Michelle Wagstaff of Silex, MO

Objective: Local farmers supplying eggs to the River Hills Poultry Project Alliance (RHPA) project have been maintaining laying flocks and producing eggs for years, but the market for those eggs has been limited by the lack of a delivery system to connect producers and consumers. The project seeks to develop a marketing approach for both eggs and live chicks to expand opportunities for the alliance’s producer members, who specialize in heirloom poultry breeds.

Results: Four families operating small poultry operations in east central Missouri specialize in heirloom poultry breeds such as Orpingtons and Delawares, which used to be common on family farms but now are considered rare and endangered. These birds are hardy and well-adapted to the traditional, natural production methods these small farmers prefer.

Initially, the alliance conducted surveys on breed preferences, existing ventures, marketing methods and outlets, and seed stock sources and pricing. The surveys showed a preference for classic, heritage breeds; a desire for better seed stock; and a strong interest in buying from farmers rather than commercial hatcheries. One factor the surveys didn’t initially reflect is that many of the farmers supplying table eggs use hybrid layers primarily, while farmers maintaining flocks for both table eggs and baby chicks are using heirloom breeds. This information represents the reality of certain trends that currently exist among small producers, each having specific goals and management systems.

The alliance’s local table egg marketing efforts, headed up by Mark and Michelle Wagstaff, have moved beyond the initial grant support and were self-sustaining in 2009, with a steady supply of 300 dozen eggs every week provided to customers in the St. Louis, MO, area. Deliveries for the 2010 season have increased to over 500 dozen per week. While many Community Supported Agriculture ventures require customers to pick up their goods, the alliance provides weekly deliveries, which has led to increased orders from RHPA.

The increased success of the table egg market has enabled the alliance to solve one of its initial challenges – the high cost of shipping egg cartons. Now that the alliance is buying in bulk, its supplier is waiving shipping costs.

Interest in locally produced poultry and eggs is even higher than the RHPA expected. Urban consumers have been especially interested.

A second portion of the project – the shipping of live chicks – is already underway in earnest in 2010, with an initial order for 25 Delaware chicks sent to a buyer in Tennessee. Individual RHPA members have started websites to encourage sales ( Local chick sales have been steady, with customers willing to pick up orders themselves, enjoying a farm visit in the process. This type of “hands-on” approach brings buyers and producers together on a personal level, something that is missing from the majority of chick orders today.

Plans for 2010 and 2011 also are to develop a local hatchery for heritage breeds.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beekeeping Webinar Tonight

Walk-About Acres
demonstration hive

Join the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's Monday webinars this evening from 7-8:30 pm.  Art and Vera Gelder from Walk-About Acres will conclude this 3 webinar series.  The topic this evening willl be on Basic Beekeeping and in particular, the care of the hives and any diseases the hives and bees might contract and how to treat those diseases.  To join the meeting to and sign in as a guest.

Remember, if you have missed any of the webinars from the past 8 months, they have all been archived and can be found at the Online Learning Community.

Brambles and Sassafras Agroforestry

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant #FNC99-281 by Brian Schweiss, Macon, MO

Objective: To develop an agroforestry system with several blackberry and raspberry varieties to serve as a source of annual income, and to grow sassafras trees to reduce sunscald damage to fruit, and to serve as a source of supplementary income.

Results: I tilled several 5-by-200 foot rows for 50 plants each of three blackberry varieties, and another 50 plants each of three raspberry varieties. Each plot was mounded to improve drainage, and brambles were planted down the center of the rows.  Each row was mulched, trellised, pruned, and mowed to improve weed control and irrigation efficiency.  Approximately one-half acre was planted.

Brambles were well established.  I installed irrigation and applied minimal pesticides. Only the Illini Hardy blackberry produced consistently over the two years of the project. I decided production wasn’t worth the time and expense it was taking from me. The market in my small town wasn’t sufficient, and people weren’t  willing to pay the right price for the type of berry they were getting. I sold 23 quarts and made $69; the 50 plants I purchased cost $100, so that left me without a profit.

I made no profit on the sassafras. I learned sassafras trees do not transplant well, and they did not grow well.  The project was extended one year to gather data on berry harvests and allow for sassafras planting.

I manage and sell trees on my Foxtail Farm, which is 37 acres, about half of which is forested. I work with the green-certified nonprofit Tree Farm, which certifies that trees harvested come from properly managed land. I now am working to regenerate oak on my property. I view my forestry project as profitable, and as an investment. I do not make an annual profit from it, but every 10 years I have a timber sale, and profit from that. I select harvest certain trees, and leave the others for more growth, to be harvested later.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Started in Organic Farming Workshop

A workshop on “Getting Started in Organic Farming” will be held Nov 29-30th in Hillsboro, MO.  The workshop will start at 10:00 am with registration and end at Noon the next day.  The workshop will be held at Hillsboro Community Building (at Fairgrounds - 10345 Business Highway 21).
Have you considered farming organically but want to know how to manage fertility, control weeds and insects, comply with regulations? Come to this workshop to learn:
  • How to manager insects, weeds and diseases in organic production
  • Basics of managing soil fertility organically
  • The latest on organic regulations, including g how to keep good records
  • Where to find certifiers
  • What federal and state resources are available for organic growers
  • Plus you’ll get to tour a successful organic farm!

Featured presenter for this workshop is George Kuepper from the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Poteau, OK.

George has over 30 years of experience with sustainable and organic agriculture. He has worked mostly in the non-profit sector as a researcher, educator, producer, and consultant, including an earlier stint with the Kerr Center in the late 1980s. Before rejoining Kerr Center, he worked for NCAT (the National Center for Appropriate Technology) on the ATTRA Project and served as NCAT's Midwest Office Director in Lewis, Iowa. There he focused on organic agriculture, specializing on compliance, certification, and transition issues. George is currently responsible for developing Kerr Center's intern program, for reviving organic horticultural demonstrations on the ranch, and for reviewing and updating Kerr Center's technical publications and information packets.

Workshop Registration:
Contact the Jefferson County Extension Office at 363-797-5391. Cost of the workshop is $25 for those who preregister by Nov 18th and includes educational materials and food. Registration limited to 30 participants. Walk-ins accepted but cost $30 with no food guaranteed. Click here for the registration form.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

October issue of Ag Opportunities

The October 2011 issue of Ag Opportunities is now available online.  If you've missed the October webinars on Basic Beekeeping, they have been archived and can be found at the Online Learning Community.  Topics for the newsletter include:

October Webinar - Basic Beekeeping

Online Learning Community

Upcoming Missouri Beginning Farmers Program Workshops

19th Annual Small Farm Today Trade Show and Conference

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants

SARE Youth and Youth Educator Grants

Grants and Assistance



2011 Green Hills Farm Project Farm Walks

Small Engine Repair Workshop for Small Farmers

Lincoln University Cooperative Extension's Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program is offering a workshop on small engine repair.

Date: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Time: 12:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Location:  Beacon of Hope Church Farm, 1315 East Walnut Street (Hwy 58), Raymore, Missouri 64083

Do you ever feel at the mercy of your machinery? Did you ever wish you could do your own repairs and maybe save a few dollars?  We would like to help empower you to understand the basic mechanics of your machinery and the maintenance you can do to keep your equipment healthy and running smooth.

Time will be split between "classroom" learning and hands-on.

Some topics we will cover:
-Basic maintenance
-Lubricants for engines
-Lubrication of machine chassis

You will learn the difference between equipment that has a 'bowl' type carburetor and why that setup is generally more reliable than equipment with a 'diaphragm' carburetor.

Please feel free to bring your small equipment. Different brands have different needs and we can demonstrate that with the various equipment that is brought.

If anyone has a 2-stroke engine, weed eater or anything that will start and only idle but will not rev-up, especially please bring that, along with some fresh fuel mix.

This workshop is FREE, but be sure to register to ensure your seat. Limited to 30 people.

To register or to get additional information, contact Katie Nixon at (816) 809-5074

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Accelerating the Acceptance of Alternative Foundation in Honeybee Frames

I will be running a series of reports from past SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant recipients.  Most of these recipients will be presenters at the Farmers Forum on November 3-5 in Columbia MO at the National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference.

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant #FNC06-595 by Grant F.C. Gillard from Jackson, MO
Modern apiculture, in an attempt to
manage the honeybee for greater
productivity and improved health,
has adapted square boxes (hives)
with parallel slats across the top which
are called “frames.”

Objective: To explore and evaluate different approaches to frame technology used by beekeepers in an attempt to reduce costs and labor to make the practice more economically viable.

Results: Conventional beekeepers use movable wood frames to manage their bees. Pioneered in 1860, the techniques are little changed.  Unfortunately, these frames are expensive, require special tooling, are labor-intensive to assemble, and require frequent replacement because they are so susceptible to damage from a variety of sources.

Recently developed plastic frames solve some of these problems, but bees have been reluctant to accept them. This project sought to resolve those concerns.

My hives are located on a dozen farms in Cape Girardeau County. I market honey through farmers markets and a ouple of retail grocery stores.

We evaluated several types of plastic foundations for the honeybee hive, comparing them to the conventional approach, which uses a wax foundation, and evaluated management practices needed to accelerate bees’ acceptance of the plastic foundation.

Our research showed it’s almost impossible to get bees to establish hives on plastic foundations, but it is possible, with intensive management practices, to get already established hives to adapt to them. Adding more wax to the plastic foundation proved to be highly beneficial.

Many beekeepers may find the additional management challenges of getting bees to use plastic frames are not worth the eventual savings in costs, especially since most beekeepers don’t depend on it for their livelihood.

However, the benefits of plastic foundation include its reusable nature, which saves time and energy, not to mention the resources of wood and fuel to make and ship the replacement parts of the wood frames.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Organic Farm Tour in Northeast Missouri

The Missouri Organic Association will be hosting a farm tour on October 15, 2011. The tour will start at 10:00 am at Blue Heron Orchard, 32974 220th St, Canton, MO.  The farm is owned by Dan Kelly and Cherie Sampson.  There will be two guest speakers at the farm tour.

Blue Heron Orchard's unique
 'agritecture', a straw-bale and
timber frame cold storage building
for our apples. Constructed in 2001.
Blue Heron Orchard has practice organic farming since 1990 when the trees went into the ground.  We became the first certified organic apple orchard in the state of Missouri in 1990.  Building and understanding the orchard and the land that nourishes it take time.  Finding the balance and respecting the forces that keep the ecosystem whole is a commitment to the land.  Blue Heron Orchard is located in northeast Missouri on a Mississippi River bluff 30 miles north of Hannibal.

Large, predaceous wasps as potential pest control agents will be discussed by Dr. Joe Coelho is an Associate Professor of Biology at Quincy University, where he teaches courses in ecology, environmental science, zoology, botany and other topics. Both an educator and a scientist, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Riverside in 1984 and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1989. While he has authored papers on cultural entomology, most of his research focuses on the ecology and evolution of wasps. Known as a mad scientist and adventurer, Coelho is also an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer. Coelho combines an understanding of natural history with a passion for photography in his public speeches.

Predaceous wasps are seldom considered among methods of biological control. However, several common species are caterpillar specialists and have the potential to reduce a variety of garden and orchard pests. Two types of wasps will be highlighted in this slide/lecture presentation. The carpenter wasp, Monobia quadridens, is a widespread, solitary wasp that preys mostly on pyralid larvae. It has a long season and is easily cultivated. Paper wasps (Polistes spp.), though more aggressive, are generalists on a wider range of prey. A social species, they are also easy to encourage in desired areas. Advantages and disadvantages of each type, as well as means of boosting their numbers, will be described.
Prairie burning as an aid for
insect control in the orchard.
The other speaker will be Joel Gruver. He will be speaking about Joel will be discussing with hands on experiencing orchard floor management. He will also be touring the vegetable gardens and high tunnels answering questions and pointing out the various considerations for soil health in the various alternative growing areas of Blue Heron Orchard. Blue Heron Orchard is a certified organic farm specializing in apples but has a broad diversity of alternative vegetable crops through the four seasons.

Dr. Joel Gruver discovered his fascination with crops and soils at a young age on his family's homestead in rural Maryland. His formal education includes a BS in Chemistry from Principia College (Elsah, IL), an MS in Agronomy from the University of Maryland (College Park, MD) and a PhD in Soil Science from North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC). He has taught courses related to soil science and agroecology at Tufts University, Principia College, North Carolina State University, Central Carolina Community College and Western Illinois University where he is currently an assistant professor and director of the WIU Organic research program. Joel is a continuous student of the art and science of soil management and enjoys helping farmers and gardeners to translate scientific concepts into practical applications.

The price for the farm tour will be $10.00 per person. It will include a light lunch and beverages.  To RSVP call 73-655-4291.  Click here for directions to the farm.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beginning Beekeeping Webinar Tonight

Join us this evening from 7-8:30 pm to learn about the basics of getting started in beekeeping.  Art and Vera Gelder from Walk-About Acres will be leading us in our webinar.  They are experienced beekeepers, members of the MO State Beekeeping Association and have given numerous beekeeping classes at their farm.

When: Monday October 10th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

When: Monday October 17th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Program Survey

Hello folks. Sorry for not posting for a few days. It's been quite busy around here and I just needed a few days away. As beginning farmers with chores and tons to do, I'm sure you can appreciate needing a short bit of time away.

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program is asking for your input on a survey monkey we put together. We are looking for information about our program and your participation in it. We hope this survey will help us to better serve your needs in the future. Please take a few minutes to go to and fill out the survey.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Managing Short Feed Supplies

Feed supplies in many areas are tighter than normal. A “show of hands” crowd survey at a recent meeting had producers estimating this year‟s hay crop reduced between 10 and 50 percent of normal. With the on-going drought in the southern U.S., hay demand and prices continue to increase, thus winter feed costs appear to also be on the rise for local producers.

If producers are short of feed right now, the best way to reduce feed needs is to wean spring-born calves. This reduces cow dry matter intake by 1.5 to 2.5 pounds per day and also reduces their energy and protein needs. Additionally, weaning cows before they lose too much body condition means they won‟t have to add as much weight over the fall and winter, thus accounting for additional feed savings.

We have several feed resources at our disposal. Many producers chopped corn for silage. Due to reduced grain yields and potential nitrate issues, I am recommending sampling corn silage for nutrient content and nitrate concentration. In addition to forage nutrient analysis, many commercial laboratories can also do a quantitative nitrate test. If nitrate concentration is a concern in the silage, it can be limit fed without problems, but the concentration must be known in order to safely feed the silage.

An often underutilized feed resource is grazing crop residues. It may be cheaper to repair fences and haul water to cattle on corn stalks this fall than to buy hay. One note of caution with grazing corn stalks damaged by windstorms is that producers may need to strip graze the fields to prevent cows from overeating corn if there has been substantial ear loss. Assess the level of corn left in the field before turning out cows.

If winter annuals have been seeded, they can provide late fall grazing and early spring forage for grazing or hay.

Stockpiled fescue pasture will be valuable this year. The amount of grazing days provided by stockpiled pasture can be extended by strip-grazing the pastures. Portable electric fences can be placed to allow animals a week or less grazing area. After a few days to a week, advance the fence away from the watering source. There is no need to put up a back fence, since there will be no regrowth in the late fall and winter months.

Finally, buying or selling hay needs to be done on a weight basis, not a per bale basis. At $40 per bale, a bale weighing 1,100 pounds sells for $72.73 per ton while a bale weighing 1,300 pounds sells for $61.54 per ton. That $11.19 difference per ton is either lost revenue or unnecessary expense depending on whether you are selling or buying the hay.

Source: Gene Schmitz, MU Extension Livestock Specialist

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First Southern Missouri Sheep and Goat Field Day in Bolivar Oct. 15

University of Missouri and Lincoln University are teaming up to host the first annual Southern Missouri Sheep and Goat Field Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Polk County Fairgrounds in Bolivar, Mo.

The program includes a wide variety of educational topics (for both beginning and experience producers), as well as live demonstrations and hands on activities outside.

“Here in southern Missouri we are getting more and more calls for information about sheep and goat production,” said Wesley Tucker, agriculture business specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Polk County. “There is simply more profit potential in sheep and goats than most other enterprises that can use our local resources.”

Of course, producers have to be willing to put in more labor as well as an investment in facilities.

“Through this event we hope to provide producers with practical management tips they can use to focus on improving the profitability of their own sheep and goat operations,” said Tucker.

Topics to be covered will include: breeds of sheep and goats, stretching limited forage supplies, vaccination and deworming (including Famacha), foot rot management, selection of breeding stock, producer panel on profitability, foot trimming and hoof care and cograzing of livestock species.

“The live demonstrations and hands on activities are going to provide an excellent way to learn. It’s not often you get to listen while the industry experts show you animals and point out what to look for and what to avoid when selecting breeding stock, or how to diagnose foot rot or properly trim hooves,” said Tucker.

The cost of the entire day is only $5 per person and includes lunch for the first 100 people who preregister.

For more information, or to register, call the Polk County Extension Center at (417) 326-4916.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Webinar - Beginning Beekeeping

In the month of October, the MO Beginning Farmers Program's webinars will be on beekeeping.  Honeybees are the main pollinators in agriculture.  They pollinate up to 85% of the plant food we eat.  Join Art and Vera Gelder from Walk About Acres as they share their beekeeping knowledge and experience with us.  Art has given many beginning beekeeping workshops.

Meeting Name: Beginning Beekeeping - Art and Vera Gelder
When: Monday October 3rd, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

When: Monday October 10th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

When: Monday October 17th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest