Monday, September 30, 2013

Mid-Missouri Browsing Academy

Lincoln University Cooperative Extension is sponsoring the Mid-Missouri Browsing Academy on Monday, October 7, 8:00 a.m. - Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 5:00 p.m., at Lincoln University's Alan T. Busby Farm, 5124 Goller Road, Jefferson City, Missouri.  Topics covered range from low stress livestock handling to business management.

This workshop is based on the California and Tennessee browsing academies. A number of topics will be covered including low stress livestock handling, brush ecology and   management, nutrition, reproduction, herd health, timber management, fencing and business management.

Attendees will receive hands-on training and gain advanced information on land enhancement using goats to control invasive vegetation.

A detailed, educational, hands-on, two-day seminar featuring:

  • Mr. Mark Kennedy, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Grazing Lands Specialist
  • Dr. An Peischel, Tennessee State University Extension.
  • Dr. Dusty Walter, University of Missouri, Director of Natural Resources Management

The cost for the workshop is $75 per person. Preregistration with payment is required.

Registration is limited to the first 20 participants. The registration fee covers the cost of many items that will be provided such as: meals, a flash drive containing a “Small Ruminant Toolbox,” a goat management wheel, Famacha© training and card, and a notebook that contains numerous reference materials.

The registration deadline is Tuesday, October 1, 2013, please use the registration form attached to the flyer here. For more information or scholarships, please contact: Vonna Kesel phone: (573) 681-5312, or email: or visit our LUCE Small Ruminant Program webpage.  No walk-in registrations will be allowed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Agroforestry: Where do we go from here?

This is the last in a five set series by Tim Baker on Agroforestry.

For my past several columns, I have described the five practices of agroforestry. Some people may be interested in pursuing some of these practices on their land. You may be a livestock producer, wanting to try silvopasture or add a windbreak for winter protection of your cattle. Or perhaps you are a row crop farmer, who sees a developing problem along a riparian corridor. A narrow mixed planting of trees, shrubs and native grasses might be just what you need. Maybe a windbreak is in your future for crop protection or other uses. And some folks, no doubt, are thinking of some forest farming products so they can put that woods on their back forty to good use, further diversifying their income.
Pine straw research at HARC

The web offers some great information, if you choose a reliable source. To help you with that, check out my web page that provides links to various agroforestry centers around the country. You can find this page here

Often, I am asked if there is any type of financial assistance in developing agroforestry practices on your land. Yes, there is. Many government agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service offer cost-share assistance to help you implement these practices. They can usually help you with the design as well.

Many Extension Specialists also have an interest in various agroforestry topics and are willing to help. We are in the process of developing some meetings on agroforestry. The first opportunity will be on the Saturday of the Great Plains Growers Conference, which will be January 11th, 2014.

Further Extension meetings are still in the planning stage. If you are interested, please give me a call and I’ll add you to our mailing list.

If you want to see agroforestry practices first hand, field days are conducted annually at our MU Agricultural Experiment Stations. The premier stop for agroforestry would be our Horticulture and AgroforestryResearch Center, located at New Franklin, MO.

Their web site describes it best: “This 665 acre farm includes several experimental fruit and nut orchards; forest farming, riparian buffer, silvopasture, alley cropping, and windbreak demonstrations as well as forage shade trials; flood tolerance trials; biofuel trials; pine straw production trials; greenhouses; five lakes and ponds and one of Missouri's oldest brick homes, the Thomas Hickman House. The farm, set in the beautiful, rolling Missouri River hills, is also the U.S. National Arboretum Midwest Plant Research and Education Site.”  Field days are usually held in October.

If you have missed my earlier columns on agroforestry, they may be found on my web site.

Finally, let me state that I’m here to discuss your situation and desires.  We have literature on the various agroforestry practices that I can give to you for further reading.  I’d be happy to visit with you at any time.  You can reach me at 660-663-3232.
(by Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forest Farming

This is the fourth in a series of five from Tim Baker on agroforestry.

The last agroforestry practice that I would like to discuss is forest farming. This practice involves growing crops that tolerate, or even require, shade beneath a forested overstory.

There are a lot of plants that require shade to do well. Many medicinal herbs require shade, such as ginseng, goldenseal, or bloodroot. There are established markets for many of these crops.

There are food crops that can be produced in shade as well. Wild leeks are grown in forested settings in some parts of the country. Honey can be considered an agroforestry product when hives are placed under trees.  Many trees provide a good nectar flow at certain times of the year.

Mushrooms are a great agroforestry food product.  Shiitake mushrooms, for example, can be grown on logs, in the shade. These log-grown mushrooms are in high demand in gourmet restaurants and other food outlets.

What about ornamental products for the craft market?  There are plenty of such items that are grown in the woods. Willow twigs, various vines, ferns, and even pine cones are good examples. In some parts of the country, pine straw, which comes from baled pine needles, is harvested to sell to homeowners to use as mulch for ornamentals. It can be a good market.

Some understory trees can be grown for nursery stock. Dogwood is a good example, although counties in the northern part of our Northwest Extension Region won’t be able to grow it since it’s too cold up here.

Really, when you think about it, only you imagination limits you. I know of one person who collects blossoms from wild plum trees (and other species) and distills their essence into a natural perfume.  It’s amazing!

Specialty woods are another interesting market. I know of one landowner who found high-value, desirable trees, and harvested them himself. He then cured the wood, and sold it to wood workers for a good price. That’s an excellent example of a value-added product.

Then there are those situations where you plant a food-producing “forest” yourself. Pecans are a good example, although large-scale pecan plantings should not be attempted north of Highway 36. A new tree crop for Missouri is chestnuts. Dr. Michael Gold, Professor of Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, has been working with these at the MU Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center (HARC) at New Franklin, MO. They make an impressive orchard.

Paw Paw
Other woody species may be planted for fruit. One experimental planting at HARC is looking at pawpaws. A recent development in Missouri is the growing acreage planted to elderberries. There are some plantings of aronia as well.

While all of this may sound fascinating, remember that you have to sell your products. It all comes down to marketing. Some people have been quite successful.

In my final agroforestry column, I will tell you about some resources that may help you get started in any agroforestry enterprises you may wish to start.  I’ll also mention some Extension meetings that we are planning for the future, to help you learn more about the interesting field of agroforestry.
(by Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Alley Cropping and Windbreaks

This is the third of five in a series on agroforestry by Tim Baker.

Continuing my series on agroforestry, I would like to discuss two more of the five agroforestry practices, alley cropping and windbreaks.

Alley cropping involves the planting of crops in between trees. Of course crop plants require sunlight. And trees block sunlight.  So how does this make sense?

I’m not suggesting that a farmer start planting trees in his prime agricultural land. But there are situations where a landowner may find alley cropping attractive.

Say, for example, that a landowner has decided that he wants to plant trees of some kind. Perhaps he lives far enough south in our Northwest Extension Region that he can plant pecans. There is good money in pecans, but they take a long time to start producing income.  What do you do in the meantime?

In this situation, alley cropping makes sense.  While the trees are still small, you can plant agronomic or horticultural crops and produce a good income. As the trees get larger, the role of alley cropping as an income producer may diminish. But that’s to be expected.

When I lived in southeast Missouri, I knew a peach grower who practiced alley cropping. He would plant new peach trees, and for the first several years he would plant soybeans in between the trees.  This worked very well.  One year he even planted tomatoes between the rows of peach trees.  This was certainly an interesting combination, to say the least.

So if you have long-term goals involving a tree plantation or orchard, think alley cropping in the meantime.

Everyone is familiar with the concept of windbreaks.  Trees are planted in such a way to prevent wind from affecting an area in an undesirable manner.  The classic example would be trees planted around the homestead to break the worst of winter’s wind and keep everyone inside the house a bit warmer.

But windbreaks can do much more. As mentioned in my column discussing silvopasture, windbreaks can provide winter shelter for livestock. In some instances, this may be a life or death situation, but even when the weather isn’t that bad, it can still keep your livestock more comfortable in cold temperatures.

Windbreaks can also prevent wind-blown soil erosion. A well-designed windbreak can substantially slow down the wind’s velocity. That will help keep your soil where you want it… in your field.

At the same time, it can protect crops. I have seen this first hand in southeast Missouri, where sandy soils can literally sand-blast crops, thus slowing plant growth and reducing yields.

Windbreaks can also be useful in snow management, as a living snow fence. A properly designed windbreak can spread snow evenly across a field, for example.

When you design a windbreak, you have to consider several factors. What kind of trees and other vegetation will you use?  How dense should they be?  Which way are they oriented? How high should it be to protect an area?

Next time, I will discuss the fifth and final agroforestry practice, forest farming.

(by Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Riparian Forest Buffers and Silvopasture

Last week, Tim Baker introduced the topic of agroforestry. This is his second post.

Since agroforestry has five areas of interest, I thought I would go into a little more detail on these practices over my next few columns. This week I would like to discuss riparian forest buffers and silvopasture.

Riparian forest buffers involve the use of trees, shrubs, warm seasons grasses, and other plants to protect the areas next to streams, lakes, or other wetlands. There are several advantages of using a correctly-designed riparian forest buffer.

First of all, is the obvious reduction of erosion.  At a recent training that I attended, there were many photos shown of areas where farmers were losing parts of their fields to stream erosion. In the more serious cases, engineers might be needed to design streambank bioengineering or other structures to correct the problem.

The better approach is to try to stop that kind of loss before it gets started.  A good riparian forest buffer will have trees with strong root systems that help stabilize soil near the stream. As you move away from the stream, you will use smaller woody species such as shrubs. And further away, next to your crop or pasture, will be native grasses and forbs. With a system like this, wildlife habitat and water quality will be improved as well.

A riparian forest buffer system can reduce flood damage. Woody buffers reduce the flood water velocity, and help keep debris from entering cropland.

Finally, there is an opportunity to introduce species that produce income. Nut crops, berries, or even craft materials can be grown in a riparian forest buffer.

Silvopasture involves the use of animals in combination with trees and forage in a designed rotational grazing system. Turning out livestock into a forest setting without proper management is not considered silvopasture. Silvopasture uses good management under a designed plan.

Silvopasture practices may be initiated by establishing trees into existing pasture, or by establishing forages into existing woods that have been thinned to increase light penetration. For many producers, silvopasture systems can be a good supplement to their existing pastures. When used properly, they can reduce stress and improve weight gain on your livestock, as well as provide products from the trees.

On a recent field trip, a good example of how a silvopasture system works was described by Dr. Michael Gold, Professor of Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. In research at an MU Experiment Station, Dr. Rob Kallenbach  had found that cattle spending 25% of their time under a rotationally grazed silvopasture system, and the rest of their time under regular rotationally grazed pasture, actually outperformed livestock that spent 100% of their time on pasture under rotational grazing.  This is because cool season grasses actually grow better in a well-designed silvopasture setting in hot weather. At the same time, the livestock found the shade to be less stressful in hot weather. This translated into higher weight gains. In addition, the trees offer a windbreak for winter weather. Eventually, the trees in that system will be harvested for lumber. Now that’s a well-designed system, I think.

Tomorrow Tim will continue with the third of the five agroforestry articles.
(by Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Legal Guide for Farmers Selling Direct

Even though this is directed to Illinois specifically, it brings to light thoughts and concepts on what you as Missouri farmers should find answers for as well.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) just released a legal guide for farmers wanting to sell directly to consumers, restaurants and others. The guide is intended to be an introduction to the legal framework surrounding agriculture for beginning and current farmers who are interested in being part of the fastest growing sector of their industry – direct farm marketing of vegetables, fruits, meats and other products. Specific to Illinois, the guide is a handy reference on topics like taxing, zoning, liability insurance, cottage food laws, and regulations that pertain to specific foods.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance first published a legal guide for farmers interested in direct farm marketing in 2003. Changes to the laws and rules regarding food, such as the passage of the Cottage Food Act, compost reform, and federal Food Safety Modernization Act, demanded an update. “The University of Illinois Extension provided publication assistance for the guide. 

The new guide can be accessed at ISA's website under the resource section or by clicking here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Strawberry Trial

Size is compared to a quarter.
A trial to compare matted row strawberry varieties was initiated May 11, 2012, with the planting of 8 different matted row strawberries at the land lab at John Wood Community College in Quincy, IL. Varieties included: Galletta, AC Wendy, Earliglow, Honeoye, Daroyal, Darselect, Donna, and Jewel. The objective was to compare standard early (Earliglow), mid (Honeoye) and late (Jewel) season varieties with newer varieties.

Standard tillage and fertility practices for matted row strawberry production were followed, and bare root dormant plants were set on May 11.  Plants were spaced 18” apart in rows 4’ apart with a row length of 20’. There were 4 replications. During the course of the summer of 2012, standard practices were followed: flowers were removed, weed control was used (herbicides as well as hand weeding), and trickle irrigation was provided when necessary throughout the summer.  At the end of November straw was spread.

Straw was removed on April 9, 2013, and a Captan/Topsin fungicide program was followed at regular intervals.  A cooler-than-normal spring followed, and harvest did not begin until June 6.  A 6-foot length of row was harvested, and yields were extrapolated to a per-acre basis.

The cool spring delayed straw removal as well as first harvest. The harvest season was somewhat short, with the first picking of the early-maturity berries on June 6, and the last picking of the late season varieties occurring on June 27. Six foot of row was harvested, and the plants were picked very clean, much cleaner than commercial operations would have allowed for in some instances (the last two pickings of the early maturity varieties required 80-100 berries to fill a quart box). Very little disease or insect pressure was noted.  After the final picking, renovation included fertilizing and tilling to narrow the beds. Trickle irrigation was used as necessary throughout the summer.
More detailed information on results is available here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

EarthDance Accepting 2014 Apprentices

Do you daydream about the farming life? Does your love for heirloom tomatoes border on obsession?

Are you secretly convinced that earthworms make the best pets? Most important: Are You Ready to Get Your Hands Dirty?

Then apply to join EarthDance’s 2014 Farm & Garden Apprenticeship!

The apprenticeship consists of hands-on training in farming and gardening techniques, weekly classes on topics such as soil stewardship, organic pest management, preserving the harvest, and more. Additionally, apprentices make monthly visits to neighboring farms and gardens, to gain inspiration and network with agricultural professionals.

Increased access to fresh produce is a benefit as well—apprentices take home a share of the harvest each week. The program is a time commitment of 9.5 hours per week, and tuition for the program is $750. Some full and partial scholarships are available. Application instructions are available here. Want to learn more about the program? Read more here.

Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the farm while the 2013 program is still in progress, through early November. You are welcome to schedule a tour or a volunteer opportunity. To set up a date, please contact Matt Lebon:

For questions about the program, email

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Introduction to Agroforestry

(This is the first in a series of information about agroforestry.  Check back each Monday for the next one.)

Agriculture, when taken as a whole, can be a very complex system. We tend to isolate our thinking in terms of our specialty.  I am a Horticulture Specialist.  We also have agronomy, livestock, Ag business, and Ag engineering specialists, all studying some concentrated aspect of agriculture.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I really like the specialist system. But sometimes we need to think in terms of agriculture as the system that it is.  Not only are we raising crops and livestock, we have environmental concerns that we must deal with. How does one practice affect another? At the same time, we have to make money, or the whole system fails for us.

I’ve always been interested in agroforestry, because it takes a systems approach to agriculture. Agroforestry involves the intentional integration of trees with other aspects of agriculture.  There’s not only a place for foresters in agroforestry, but also row crop, livestock, and even horticultural producers. They all work together in designing a system, depending on the needs and desires of the landowner.

There are five practices that agroforestry concentrates on.  These include riparian and upland buffers, silvopasture, alley cropping, windbreaks, and forest farming. I will be going into depth on these practices, but for now, let me give you a short introduction to each of them.

Riparian  forest buffers deal with areas along stream banks and other waterways. They may be designed with trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs, to prevent erosion. There are good examples where farmers who were losing cropland to streams designed a good riparian buffer and stopped their losses. In extreme cases it may take some engineering practices to help stabilize the stream bank.

Silvopasture refers to the integration of livestock and pasture under trees. Note that this is not simply turning the livestock out into the woods. It is truly a well-designed rotational grazing system, benefiting both the trees and the livestock. I’ll go into more detail in a future column.

Alley cropping refers to the practice of planting crops in between rows of trees. Now it may seem counterproductive for a farmer to plant trees in a field, and in most cases this is not what a farmer wants or needs. However, sometimes it makes sense. In the early years, crops are harvested between the rows of trees. As the trees mature, nut or other crops and/or lumber may be harvested from them.

The practice of creating windbreaks brings engineers into our agroforestry equation. We are all familiar with windbreaks around the homestead to keep the temperatures a bit warmer and save on the utility bill. But windbreaks can also protect crops.  They can divert snow, or place it where you want it.

The final agroforestry practice is forest farming. This is where the horticulturist really comes into play.  There are many shade-tolerant crops which can be grown within a forest. Some of these are quite valuable. Many of us are familiar with the high dollar medicinal crops such as ginseng. But you can also grow mushrooms and other edible crops. Or, your entire planting may be of woody species that produce food, such as nut crops or elderberries.

Agroforestry practitioners may design a system working with woodland that already exists on your farm. Or it may mean planting trees to accomplish your goals.

You may only be interested in establishing a better environment for wildlife.  Or perhaps you have always wondered what to do with those woods on your property, other than harvest some firewood to stoke your stove with.  Maybe there’s actually a way to make money with that forested land you own.

If you are interested in learning more about agroforestry, I would recommend the upcoming field day at the MU Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center at New Franklin.  The date will be October 5, 2013.
(by Tim Baker, MU Horticulture Specialist, NW

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pearls of Production: Women in Agriculture Conference

Pearls of Production: Women in Agriculture is a new program designed to provide a leadership and hands-on training opportunity for women in­volved in livestock production in Missouri. The program is designed to reach women who are playing larger roles and making key decisions in livestock production on the farm.

The event will take place November 8–9, 2013 at MU Bradford Research Farm just east of Columbia, MO.

November 8, 2013

Pearls of Production Topics
  • Connection between Food and Human Health
  • Genomics in Today’s World
  • Consumer’s Demands on Meat Products
  • Political Advocacy Impacts on Animal Agriculture in Missouri
  • Standing Up for Agriculture
  • Animal Agriculture: A Federal and State Perspective
  • Being Active in Your Community and Associations
  • Livestock Production General Topics
  • Technologies to Make Your Life Easier
  • Marketing, Leasing and Banking 101
  • Business of Animal Health Products

November 9, 2013

Hands-on Demonstrations where participants will select one half-day demonstration.

  •                   Reproduction Techniques
  •                   Farrowing Management
  •                   Crate side Necropsy

Small Ruminants
  •                   Herd Health and Quality Assurance
  •                   Parasite Management
  •                   Hoof Trimming
  •                   Kidding and Lambing

  •                   Beef Quality Assurance Certification
  •                   Beef Cattle Reproduction

  •                   Basic Forage ID and Physiology
  •                   Forage Production and Fertility
  •                   Pasture Monitoring
  •                   Cover Crop Plants
Conference Fees (includes meals and refreshments)

$75 Early registration (Must be postmarked by October 8, 2013)

$100 Regular registration (beginning October 9, 2013)

For further information click here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Understanding Nonverbal Communication

When selling direct to consumers, nonverbal communication is important.

Waving "Hi" to a neighbor; slouching in a chair; looking intently into the eyes of a loved one. These are all ways that we communicate without using words.

Nonverbal communication takes many forms and can convey diverse meanings. However, its significance is often overlooked. Nonverbal communication can actually convey more meaning than verbal communication. Researchers estimate that at least 60 percent of the impact of a conversation or message comes from nonverbal factors such as eye behavior, gestures, posture and voice.

Your relationships with customers can be enhanced by not only having an awareness of the ways messages are conveyed non-verbally  but by taking steps to improve your nonverbal communication. Consider the following suggestions from Successful Nonverbal Communication, by Dale G. Leathers (1986):

·         Try to sustain eye contact with customers when serving them or having a conversation with them. Avoid shifting your eyes too much, or looking down or away from customers.
·         Keep hands and elbows away from your body. When listening to customers nod your head and smile. Avoid fidgeting, hand-wringing and touching your face.
·         Keep an open and relaxed posture. Lean forward slightly. Avoid crossing your arms and standing rigidly.

·         Speak at an appropriate volume and rate. Vary your pitch. Avoid speaking in a monotone, using too many pauses and "ahs," and repeating words.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Field Day for “Small Ruminants on Limited Acreage” is Sept. 28 in Stella

A field day concerning “Small Ruminants on Limited Acreage” will be conducted on Saturday, Sept, 28, 2013, from 10 am to noon at the farm of Tou and Mai Her, 26175 Redbud Road, Stella, Mo.

According to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension, the event will feature hair sheep that have been on one acre for the summer.

“Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss factors affecting small ruminants such as sheep and goats on small acreage. Youth are also invited and will have activities,” said Pennington.

This is a joint venture with University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and Crowder College Department of Agriculture.

“This field day will provide producers or potential producers with an opportunity to learn about sheep and goats on small acreage, fencing for the animals, and soil tests and forages for the sheep and goats. ” said John Hobbs, county extension staff chair in McDonald County. “The field day is designed to show producers how they can make a little extra money on small acreages on the farm that might not otherwise be used.”

For more information, contact Dr. Pennington or Verna Simkins at the Newton County Extension Center, (417) 455-9500. There is no charge for the field day. Advanced registration is requested so speakers know how many handouts to have but registration is not required to attend.

To find the farm from Stella, go one mile north on Hwy O and then right (east) on Redbud Road for one mile.

(By David Burton, MU Writer)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshops

Due to the low number of registrants for the Jefferson City SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshop on Thursday, Sept 12th, it has been cancelled.

Cancellation of workshops occur when the registration number is low.  I know many of you plan on attending and do call ahead of time.  Others aren't sure if they can make it so they wait until the day of the event and are a walk-in registrant.  This works ok if the workshop has plenty of registrants to hold the workshop.  But if pre-registration is low and you are a walk-in and when you get there no one is there, please don't get too upset.

The rest of the workshops for grant writing are listed below.  So please pre-register!  If you have a laptop, bring it with you.  The plan is to get you started on your proposal while at the workshop.

September 17 – Warren County Extension Center, Warrenton – 10 am - 3 pm
Contact to register – Janet Hurst, 660-216-1749

September 19 – Ray County Senior Center, Richmond – 7-9 pm
Contact to register – Susan Jaster, 816-589-4725

October 2 – Sikeston – 4-9 pm
Contact to register – Catherine Bohnert, 573-681-5174
October 25 – Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon – 4-9 pm
Contact to register Shon Bishop, (417) 846-3948

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal at You can find more information about sustainable agriculture at .

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Young Entrepreneurs Hatch Nation's Largest Free-range Chicken Operation

Here a chick. There a chick. Everywhere a chick chick.

Flocks of mid-Missourians are crowing about the brown eggs sold by two Centralia brothers who started their business when the older brother was in first grade and inspired by a University of Missouri Extension 4-H project.

Dustin and Austin Stanton of Stanton Brothers shared their story of how they hatched a large business with teen would-be entrepreneurs attending Summers @ Mizzou’s Build-a-Business Camp recently.

Dustin is a junior in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Austin is a 17-year-old junior at Centralia High School.

In 1999, Dustin’s first-grade class hatched baby chickens through MU Extension 4-H’s “Hatching Chicks in the Classroom” program.

Names were drawn for the lucky winner who would take home the baby chicks that were incubated and hatched.

Dustin brooded when another classmate won the chicks, so badly that his uncle bought him six chicks. His love of chicks hatched a business. By 2007, he had 500 chickens. It is now a 12,000-poultry operation, the largest free-range operation in the nation.

At the crack of dawn, the brothers begin feeding the free-range Hy-Line, Bovan and Tetra chickens. It’s a daylong job to gather, wash and box the eggs, which they transport to retail outlets in mid-Missouri, college residence halls, nursing homes and grocers. They also sell their eggs at the Columbia Farmers Market and are the sole supplier for Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville.

They grind 5-7 tons of feed weekly from milo grown on the farm that has been in their family since before Boone County was an actual county. Their parents operate a 1,200-acre grain and cattle operation and help with the egg operation as needed.

Dustin does marketing while Austin handles production and technical duties. Working and living together might cause some brothers to cry fowl, but the Stantons feather their nests with competitive fun.

Because their operation has grown so much, they now have two part-time employees and are building a state-of-the-art facility that offers automation of egg gathering, washing and packaging.

When the new 40-by-200-foot facility is finished, chickens can lay their eggs on angled, elevated nests so that the eggs will roll to a conveyor belt that carries them to automatic washing, grading, sorting and packaging machines.

They hope the automation increases production levels and makes their processes less labor-intensive. Their job is not “sunrise to sundown.” They say it is “sunrise to whenever the job is done,” and some days that might be midnight or later. They spend vacations combing the country for new equipment and learning how to improve their already successful business.

The Stanton brothers have had many successes, and many failures, along the way, including first picking a breed of chicken that is a “meat” chicken. They have consulted University of Missouri Extension specialists and learned through FFA and college courses.

They plan to stay on the family farm after they finish school because they think it is important to produce quality food locally and efficiently.

They want to preserve the rural way of life they and their fine-feathered friends enjoy. Now that’s something to crow about.
(by Linda Geist, MU Writer)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rodale Institute’s Your 2 Cents Grant

The Rodale Institute Your 2 Cents fund unites producers, consumers, researchers and educators to launch the next generation or organic farmers.

Funding priorities include:
·       Scholarships to students of organic agriculture
·       Support for new organic farmers
·       Help veterans establish new careers in organic farming
·       Research projects on organic agriculture

Your request for support must fit into one of these our categories.

Please not that only certified organic farms and farmers are eligible for support.

Grant Guidelines
Rodale Institute’s Your 2 Cents grant making considers support for highly motivated individuals as well as well-managed non-profit organizations who address significant issues within the organic community.

It is recommended that grant requests be as specific as possible.  Specific projects are more likely to receive support than requests for general operating support.  This fund is not intended to provide sponsorship for events of any kind.  Award amounts vary based on the project but range from $1,000 to $10,000.

Examples of strong asks for each of the following categories include:
·       Scholarships to students of organic agriculture
o   Preference is awa4rded based on a students’ background, focus and demonstrated passion for organic agriculture
·       New organic farmers and veterans establishing new careers in organic farming
o   Project specific asks are preferred (i.e. greenhouse improvements or upgrades, livestock purchase, etc.)
·       Research projects on organic agriculture
o   Due to funding limitations, specific small research projects are preferred.

Click here to download the application.  Applications are due by October 11, 2013.