Thursday, January 29, 2015

Conservation Stewardship Program Deadline February 27

Farmers and Ranchers have until February 27 to apply for funding this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

J.R. Flores, state conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), says CSP, which is administered by NRCS, helps private landowners and NRCS broaden the protection of natural resources on Missouri farms and ranches.

“CSP is a way of motivating farmers, ranchers, and private forest managers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land to adopt higher levels of stewardship,” Flores said. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, farmers and ranchers are able to achieve a sustainable landscape while increasing the productivity of their operations.”

Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve soil health, air quality, wildlife habitat, and water quality and quantity. It also encourages them to conserve energy.
Flores said CSP producers are conservation leaders who show how science-based conservation and technological advancements can improve the environment and farming operations at the same time.

The 2014 Farm Bill brought changes to CSP including an expanded conservation activity list that will offer participants greater options to meet their conservation needs and protect the natural resources on their land. These enhancements, include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing, and planting wildlife-friendly and pollinator friendly habitat.

Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices. As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available through the NRCS website to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

For more information, contact a local NRCS office or visit the Missouri NRCS website:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Web Marketing for Farmers Market Sales

Do you have facebook likes? but struggle with getting customers to the market?

This 6-week course, "Web Marketing for Farmers Market Sales" focuses on the whole life-cycle of the farmers’ market customer, from online interest to the committed weekly customer. Attend for free by email and leave with an actionable, measureable marketing plan for 2015!

This course has been built with both farmers and farmers’ market managers in mind.   The course includes an online community, filled with the best marketers in farmers markets, to discuss the weekly marketing assignment and as a resource for you as you implement your plan.
Registration closes Feb. 13th!

Web Marketing for Farmers Market Sales: A Free 6-week Course
·               Week 1: 6 Steps to the Perfect Farmers Market Customer
·               Week 2: Interest and Capture
·               Week 3: Engagement and Sale
·               Week 4: Form the habit and upsell
·               Week 5: Farmers market loyalty programs
·               Week 6: Create a measureable 2015 marketing plan

Each week will include an exclusive video interview with an innovative farm marketer for inspiration.

Here is Jim, President of the Western Wake Farmers Market in North Carolina talking about how his "mood driven" post one bad weather market morning drew out his customers. The extended interview with Jim and five others like it will be included with the course.  Interviews with expert farmers market marketers

About the host, Simon Huntley
I have worked in and around farms my whole life. Over the last eight years, I have operated Small Farm Central which provides technology and marketing services to over 800 farmers and markets across the U.S., Canada, and internationally. My experience with farm marketing is driven by the work I do with Small Farm Central's clients, but I have also worked farmers markets as a farmer vendor, so I know the daily struggles of selling at the farmers market.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Apply to be an EarthDance Apprentice in 2015

Join EarthDance for a free informational session about their Farm & Garden Apprenticeship at Schlafly Bottleworks Tuesday, February 10th, from 6-7:30 pm. Hear from former apprentices & learn about the program's benefits. (For example, we accept AmeriCorps Awards & VA education benefits, & your participation can count as college credit.)

You can apply via our website here. Applications are due Sunday, February 15th at 12 pm.

What is the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship?
You might be looking for a career in farming, or simply interested in learning more about where your food comes from & how to grow it. The program (9.5 hours/week from April-October for $700) offers weekly classes on topics from methods of propagation to food preparation, field trips to local farms, a share in our Community Supported Agriculture, networking opportunities with leaders of the local good food movement, & the chance to make good friends down in the dirt.
Questions about the program? Contact Apprenticeship Coordinator Tori Dahl at or call us at 314-521-1006.

Why Apply to be an Apprentice?
"Working and growing with a dedicated group of motivated, environmentally-conscious consumers has been a rewarding experience. At EarthDance we cultivate food and friendship." - Penelope Beache, Class of 2011

The Apprenticeship in Pictures
You can view photos of Apprentices getting down in the dirt & working at market, as well as some field trip adventures here, or follow EarthDance on Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at our apprentices around the farm.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Growing Growers

Are you a grower or an aspiring grower who is looking for learning opportunities in sustainable farming?
-          Apprenticeships on local farms for aspiring growers
-          Workshops covering market farming and related topics
-          Farm tours of successful local farming operations
-          Networking through our Email listserv and apprenticeship
-          Specialized trainings for growers
Growing Growers is a collaborative effort of K-State Research and Extension, Univ. of Missouri Extension, Lincoln Univ. Cooperative Extension, the Kansas Rural Center, the KC Food Circle and Cultivate KC. We work to increase the production of local food by helping new and existing producers grow their businesses.

2014 Workshop Series

Feb 24 from 4-7 pm – Farm Start-Up/Accessing Land/On-Farm Crop Storage (Kansas City, KS)

March 17 from 4-7 pm – Plant Propagation (Belton, MO)

March 14 and March 15 – Good Agriculture Practices & Food Safety Modernization Act (Kansas City, MO)

March 31 from 4-7 pm – Diversifying Markets: Farmers Market, CSA, Wholesale and Farm to School (Kansas City, MO)

April 7 from 4-7 pm – Spotted Wing Drosophila (Lawrence, KS)

April 12 from 9-2 pm – Building and Managing Healthy Soils (Kearney, MO)

May 12 from 4-7 pm – Postharvest Handling & Food Safety (Kansas City, KS)

June 2 from 4-7 pm – Farm Equipment & Drip Irrigation (Olathe, KS)

June 14 from 9-2 pm – Introduction to Small Fruit Production (Kingsville, MO)

July 12 from 9-2 pm – Insect, Disease, and Weed Management (Lawrence, KS)

July 21 from 4-7 pm – Low-till/No-till Cropping Systems (Kansas City, MO)

Aug 9 from 9-2 pm – Farm Business Management (Kansas City, MO)

Aug 25 from 4-7 pm – Introduction to Cut Flowers (Kansas City, MO)

Sept 22 from 9-2 pm – Scaling Up/Packaging & Grading (Lawrence, KS)

For more information on the programs, click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How Your Food Gets The 'Non-GMO' Label

Demand for products that don't contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.

Now many food companies are seeking certification for products that don't have any genetically modified ingredients, and not just the brands popular in the health food aisle. Even Cheerios, that iconic cereal from General Mills, no longer contains GMOs.

"We currently are at over $8.5 billion in annual sales of verified products," says Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, an independent organization that verifies products.

To receive the label, a product has to be certified as containing ingredients with less than 1 percent genetic modification. Westgate says that's a realistic standard, while totally GMO-free is not. She says natural foods stores began the process of defining a standard, involving other interested players along the way, including consumers. Now, General Mills is just one of the big food companies selling non-GMO products.

Sales of food labeled as non-GMO ballooned to over $3 billion in 2013, according toThe Wall Street Journal.

"Interestingly, with all of this traction in the natural sector," Westgate says, "we're increasingly seeing more conventional companies coming on board and having their products verified."

But how does a company get into the non-GMO game? It might call FoodChain ID, a company in Fairfield, Iowa, that can shepherd a firm through the process. It's one of the third-party auditors that certifies products for the Non-GMO Project.

"We start looking at ingredients, and we identify what are all the ingredients," says David Carter, FoodChain ID's general manager. "And of course, the label itself doesn't always identify all of those. So we need to be sure that we have a list of all the processing aids, the carriers and all the inputs that go into a product."

Next, FoodChain ID figures out where each ingredient and input came from. If there's honey in cookies, for example, the company will have to show that the bees that make the honey aren't feeding near genetically modified corn. When there's even the smallest risk that an ingredient could contain a modified gene, DNA testing is in order.

FoodChain ID has a lab where a machine can extract the DNA from ingredient samples in order to analyze it. If that test finds no evidence of GMOs, the ingredient can go in the cookies. Carter says he can barely keep up with the number of inquiries coming in from companies that want certification.

"The demand is now very, very high, and it has been for probably over a year in particular," Carter says.

To date, FoodChain ID says it has verified 17,000 ingredients from 10,000 suppliers in 96 countries.
It may take hundreds of dollars for some products to get a non-GMO label, depending on how many ingredients are already verified as being GMO-free and how many are not.

But even with the rising demand, non-GMO products make up a small fraction of the marketplace. More than 90 percent of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. contains genetically modified traits. And those two crops are ubiquitous in processed foods like packaged cookies. Still, if the current trend continues, it seems likely that more farmers will consider planting non-GMO crops.

Various companies sell non-GMO seeds, but they can be more difficult to find. Plant breeder Alix Paez hopes his central Iowa seed company, Genetic Enterprises International, can help fill that market niche.

"We are a very small company," Paez says, "so our strategy is to find niche markets for farmers that are looking for non-GMO products."

Farmers pay a premium for seeds that are genetically modified to withstand pests, or engineered to tolerate popular herbicides, making it easier for farmers to use those chemicals to kill weeds. Paez and his wife, Mary Jane, hope to develop seeds than can achieve the same yields without those expensive, patented traits. This past season, they grew test plots on a farm in Boone County, Iowa, which they harvested this fall with an ancient red Massey Ferguson combine.

Paez studies the effectiveness of each hybrid seed variety. It's slow and meticulous work. But the careful data collection is key to determining whether a new, non-GMO hybrid can be competitive in the marketplace.

"One of the main things is yield," Paez says. "Stand-ability, consistent performance, disease tolerance — things like that."

If these seeds make the grade, farmers could potentially save some money. And their grain might fetch a premium, especially as demand for non-GMO animal feed grows. Because the only way to end up with non-GMO certified meat is to raise animals on non-GMO feed.
(by Amy Mayer is a reporter based at Iowa Public Radio in Ames, Iowa. This story comes to us from Harvest Public Media, a reporting collaboration focusing on agriculture. A version of this post originally ran on the Harvest website.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

19th Annual Greenhouse Growers' School

The Missouri State Florists Association and University of Missouri Extension announce the 19th Annual Greenhouse Growers’ School (presented jointly with MLNA ‘Nuts and Bolts’ Event).

The Growers' School will be held on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at the Bradford Research and Extension Center, 4968 Rangeline Road, Columbia, MO  (From U.S. 63 travel east on Rt. WW to Rangeline and turn right)


8:30     Registration/Coffee and donuts

9:00     Using humor & technology for your business, employees & life
            Panel discussion: Sandi Hillermann-McDonald, Susan Mertz & Scott Rood

10:15   Break

10:30   New bedding plants for 2015, Derek Schrof, Ball Seed Company

11:30   Lunch (furnished), various program updates will be presented during lunch.

Concurrent sessions in the afternoon—your choice of topics.

Room A – Greenhouse

1:00     Growing “my way”, Steve Sapp, Strawberry Hill Farms

2:00     Greenhouse pest control, Andy Seckinger, OHP, Inc.

3:00     Break

3:15     Plant nutrition, David Trinklein, MU Plant Science
Room B – Nursery/Landscape

1:00     ‘Beeologics’--Healthy Bees, plants & planet, Jerry Hayes, Director of Beeologics, Hummert International

2:00     Landscaping for pollinators, Jim and Val Duever, MO State Beekeepers Association

3:00     Break

3:15     Pests to be aware & prepare, Collin Walmsley, MO Dept. of Agriculture

4:15     Closing discussion—door prizes

Registration is $30 per person (includes lunch and break items) payable at the door.  For additional information contact: David Trinklein, MU State Extension Floriculture Extension Specialist, 573/882-9631.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

National Webinar on New Whole Farm Revenue Protection Policy

There's a new crop insurance option now available for diversified farmers - Whole Farm Revenue Insurance - and an upcoming webinar will help farmers understand whether it's right for them.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) are holding a webinar on January 21, 2015, at 2:00 pm Central time to discuss the Risk Management Agency's new Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) insurance policy.

The webinar will feature presentations from all three organizations on what WFRP is, how it works, and which farmers it may work for.  The presenters will also take question about the policy.

Paul Wolfe, Policy specialist with NSAC, will talk about the history of whole farm insurance and the differences between WFRP and the AGR and AGR-Lite.

Jeff Schahczenski, Agriculture Policy and Funding Research Director with NCAT, will talk about the WFRP application process and cover examples of how Mid-Western farms could use WFRP.

James Robinson, a Research and Policy Associate with RAFI-USA, will talk about the claims process and the potential benefits of WFRP for specialty crop growers.

This new WFRP policy replaces the AGR and AGR-Lite policies, which provided much less coverage than the new WFRP, and is meant to cover all of a farmer’s crop and livestock insurance needs under one policy.

The new product will be available for the coming crop year in most of the United States except for the sates of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and some counties in California.

Join us on Wednesday, January 21st, 2014, from 2:00 – 3:30 pm CST.  Presentations will last until approximately 3:15 pm, with the remaining time for Q&A.  Registration is free and open to the public here:  Webinar Registration  More information on WFRP can be found on RMA’s WFRP website and from NSAC.

About the Webinar Speakers:

James Robinson, Research and Policy Associate, RAFI. James’ risk management research was presented at the Agriculture and Applied Economics Crop Insurance & Farm Bill Symposium in both 2013 and 2014. James currently serves as co-chair of NSAC’s Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee. Prior to working at RAFI, James was a Graduate Intern for the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture and a Research Assistant for the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly. James holds a BA in Political Science from LaGrange College and a MS in Political Science from Florida State University.

Paul Wolfe, Policy Specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has worked on sustainability and food issues in the United States Senate for over 8 years. He holds a J.D. from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from Gonzaga University. Paul has spent the last six years working for Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  Prior to that he was the Senior Policy Analyst for the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, where he contributed to the Commission’s final report and led its Congressional education efforts.  He previously worked for Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD).

Jeff Schahczenski, Agriculture Policy and Funding Research Director and an Agricultural Economist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Jeff has extensive knowledge of whole farm revenue, organic, and specialty crop insurance and has provided more than 20 workshops and webinars nationwide on crop insurance topics. Jeff in an early Risk Management Agency (RMA) supported project developed the Adjusted Gross Revenue Wizard, which assisted farmers in evaluating what is now, in part, the basis of the Whole Farm Revenue Protection product discussed in this webinar. Jeff has over 28 years of experience in sustainable agriculture development and farming. He holds an MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a MS in Political Science from the University of Florida.

Contact: Paul Wolfe, 202-547-5754, Jeff Schahczenski, 406-494-4572, James Robinson, 919-542-1396.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference

The Missouri Organic Association’s (MOA) 2015 Conference will be held February 5-7 in Springfield, MO. This is the 6th year in sequence, and will offer discussions and share research and experiences about organic and sustainable production.

MOA’s mission is to provide local, organic and sustainable family farms with the tools they need to be successful farming businesses, while educating the general public about why they should support local farmers.

This conference is open to everybody- producers and consumers alike. MOA welcome farmers and all those concerned about independent food sources, the rising health issues in children, supporting sustainable family farms, environmental issues and solution-based philosophies of biological and organic growing practices.

Events will include 54 workshops, with varied content: grain production, livestock production, vegetable production, high-tunnel small fruits and vegetable production, sustainable living skills, culinary and medicinal plants, and a whole lot more. In addition, there will be a GMO Plenary- a full day panel workshop.

The conference price is $175 for all 3 days and a single day pass is $75. An Early Bird Special discount is available until January 25th, which includes a Buy 1 registration at full price, Get the 2nd registration at ½ price. After the Early Bird deadline of January 25 is over, the Buy 1- Get 2nd at ½ price will disappear and all ticket prices increase by $20.

To view the website and get details about speakers, access:

Hotel reservations are available at a special MOA Conference block price at The University Plaza Hotel, Springfield, MO.  Be sure to mention the MOA conference block.

What’s included in a 3 day pass?

Thursday includes your choice of 6 educational sessions, including a full informative workshop conducted by Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange.   Thursday evening includes the MOA Expo 2015 Grand Opening as well as a “Savor the Flavor” Reception Dinner in which attendees are invited to taste the flavors of MOA Farmers, Retailers, Microbreweries and Wineries. Thursday also includes the MOA Live Benefit Auction to help fund the MOA Conference.

Friday includes choice of 6 educational sessions as well as the GMO Plenary with Robyn O’Brien and a Food Policy Workshop.    Friday Evening attendees will enjoy the MOA Cochon15 & MOA Top Chef Challenge, featuring St. Louis Chef Josh Galliano of The Libertine and Springfield Chef Wes Johnson of the Metropolitan Farmer butchering pasture based hogs with a live auction of the pork products with the proceeds going to MOA and “Feed My Peeps”, a non-profit organization formed to feed the hungry in St. Louis.   The MOA Top Chef Challenge 2015 will feature Tops Chefs from the 4 cities of Missouri:  Columbia- Walker Claridge of Broadway Brewery; STL- Chef Rex Hale of 360 St. Louis, Chef Wil Pelly of In Good Company & Sanctuaria, and Chef Jen Ryan of Gateway Garlic Urban Farm; KC- Michael Foust of The Farmhouse; and Springfield- Chef Paul Trout of Chateau on the Lake. This event has generated great interest in the past from both the top chefs who are competing for the title and from the participants who get to taste the foods and judge the final MOA Top Chef 2015!  Friday evening includes a Banquet Dinner of local organic and sustainably produced foods. Following dinner, attendees may choose between a screening of GMO OMG, or Live Music and Dancing with Dallas Jones.

Saturday includes your choice of 6 educational sessions as well as our Saturday Brunch with keynote speaker Joseph Simcox, “The Botanical Explorer” of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds who will be challenging us to save our local foods by saving and planting native heirloom seeds and working together to develop local food systems.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reduce Storm Damage to Your Greenhouses

Nature seems to be getting more violent in recent years with frequent earthquakes, increased numbers of hurricanes and record breaking snowstorms.  Insurance damage claims have increased considerably.  The International Building Code has revised upward its wind and snow loading requirements for some areas of the U.S. 

Each year there are reports of greenhouses that have been damaged by weather and natural events.  Greenhouse design is different than conventional farm buildings in that the structural profile has to be small to allow maximum light to reach the plants. Most farm buildings are over designed to handle severe weather conditions.

Damage to greenhouses can include racking of the frame, bending of the hoops, broken glass or torn plastic and uplifted foundation posts.  Preparation ahead of time can minimize the damage.

Wind loading
Wind forces that act on a greenhouse are influenced by numerous factors including the basics wind speed, building orientation, exposure, height and shape of doors or vents that may be open.  The wind passing over a greenhouse creates a positive pressure on the windward side and a negative pressure on the leeward side.  These can combine to create a force that wants to collapse or overturn the building.  An 80 mph wind can produce a pressure of 16 pounds per square foot (psf).  For example, the 10’ by 100’ sidewall of a gutter-connected greenhouse would have to resist a 16,000 pound force.

Wind can also create a force similar to an aircraft wing that wants to lift the greenhouse off the ground.  An 80 mph wind blowing perpendicular to the side of a 28’ x 100’ hoophouse can create a lifting force of 220 pounds per foot of length or 22,000 pounds of uplift on the whole structure.  When you consider the total weight of materials and equipment in the greenhouse is about 6000 pounds, the foundation must have a withdrawl resistance of about 300 pounds each.  This is why building inspectors frequently require that the posts be surrounded by concrete.

Although you have no control over the force or direction of severe winds, here are a few tips to help minimize storm damage:
  • Check the area for loose objects.  Anything that can be picked up and hurled through the glazing should be secured or moved indoors.  Metal chimney (stove pipe) sections should be secured with sheet metal screws.
  • Inspect for dry or weak tree limbs that could fall on the greenhouse.
  • Close all openings including vents, louvers and doors.  The effective force of the wind is doubled when it is allowed inside the building.  The wind on the outside puts a pressure or lifting force on the structure.  The wind inside tries to force the walls and roof off.
  • On air inflated greenhouses, increase the inflation pressure slightly by opening the blower’s intake valve.  This will reduce the rippling effect.  Check to see that the plastic is attached securely and that any holes are taped.
  • Disconnect the arm to the motor on all ventilation – intake shutters and tape the shutters closed.  Then turn on enough exhaust fans to create a vacuum in the greenhouse.  This will suck the plastic tight against the frame.
  • Windbreaks can reduce the wind speed and deflect it over the greenhouse.  Conifer trees (hemlock, spruce, pine, etc.) in a double row located at least 50’ upwind from the greenhouse can reduce the damaging effects of the wind.  Wood or plastic storm fencing can be used as a temporary measure.
Snow loading
Snow that accumulates on a greenhouse can put significant weight on the structural members.  Snow loads vary considerably from 0 along the southern coastline to more than 100 pounds per square foot in Northern Maine. Local building codes specify the design snow load.

Snow can be light and fluffy with a water equivalent of 12” of snow equal to 1” of rain.  It can also be wet and heavy with 3” equal to 1” of rain.  Snow having a 1” rain water equivalent will load a greenhouse with 5.2 psf.  This amounts to 6.5 tons on a 25’ x 96’ greenhouse.

The following are a few pointers to consider before the next snow season:
  • The foundation piers or posts should be large enough to support the weight of the building including crop and equipment loads.
  • All greenhouses should have diagonal bracing to keep it from racking from the weight of the snow or force of the wind.
  • Collar ties and post connections should have adequate bolts or screws.  This is a weak point in some greenhouse designs.
  • Allow 10’ to 12’ between individual greenhouse for snow accumulation and to prevent sidewalls from being crushed in.
  • When building new hoophouses, consider using a gothic design that sheds snow easier.  In hoop shaped houses, install 2” x 4” posts under the ridge every 10’ when heavy snow is predicted.
  • The heating system should be large enough to maintain 60ºF to melt snow and ice.  It takes 250 Btu/hr per square foot of glazing to melt a wet snow falling at a rate of 1”/hour.  Heat should be turned on in the greenhouse or under the gutter several hours before the storm begins.
  • The plastic should be tight and inflated to at least 0.25” water pressure.  This can be checked with a monometer. Any cracked or broken glass should be replaced.
  • Energy screens should be retracted to allow heat to the glazing.
  • A standby generator should be available with adequate fuel for the duration of the storm to power heaters, fans and blowers.

Selection of greenhouses that meet the International Building Code and good construction techniques are important considerations when building new greenhouses.  A little preparation before a storm can minimize damage from severe weather events.
(by John W. Bartok, Jr.)
(photo by Ted Carey, KSU Extension)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool

What does cover cropping cost? What are the economic benefits? How do the costs and benefits change over time?  Have you been trying to figure out if cover crops are worth it financially?  Then check out this webinar with Missouri NRCS’ own Lauren Cartwright, Agricultural Economist, along with Bryon Kirwan, Illinois NRCS State Economist.  Lauren and Bryon created an easy to use and understand excel program for farmers.

The webinar will take place on January 22nd at 1 pm and will last for 60 minutes.  To join, log into

This webinar will provide a high level overview that focuses on the producer, uses a “partial budget” and short-term and long-term analyses. The presenters will run/demonstrate a cover crops decision support tool with a scenario showing the data input process and the tool outputs. Key variables will be changed to show how such changes impact the results.

This webinar is presented by the USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center. Contact Holli Kuykendall, Ph.D., National Technology Specialist, for more information about this webinar.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Farm Commons Webinars

Farm Commons will be hosting 11 webinars in 2015.  Farm Commons works directly with farmers to help them with business legal issues that hinder farmers from achieving their goals.

Our 2015 Webinars:
  • Hosting Safe, Legally Secure Farm Events
  • Adding Value Without Adding Legal Liability To Farm Products
  • Farmland Leases Built to Last: Content and Legal Context
  • Food Safety Liability And Regulations For The Farm
  • Sales Contracts for Farm Produce: Why and How
  • Making Employment Law Work For Your Farm
  • Farm Sole Proprietorships, LLCs, S Corps, C Corps, and Coops: Which? Why? How?
  • Going In-Depth With CSA Farm Law
  • Getting Farm Work Done Legally With Interns, Apprentices, And Volunteers
  • Financing A Farmland Purchase: Legal basics for traditional and non-traditional farmland purchases
  • Efficiently Manage Your Farm’s Risks With Insurance   
Farmland Leases Built to Last: Content and Legal Context
Leasing farmland is so commonplace farmers may not think twice about the lease itself… until things go wrong. Don’t let misunderstandings with landowners hinder your farm. Prevent problems with a strong lease that addresses water usage, equipment access, payment strategies, dispute resolution procedures, long-term concerns, and termination processes, plus more. Negotiating tactics and various laws affecting farmland leases will be on the agenda.
Monday, January 19th at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Food Safety Liability and Regulations For The Farm
We’ve been hearing all about the upcoming regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act. But, as important as it is, farm liability for food safety goes beyond this new law. A food safety incident has potentially disastrous implications for any direct-to-consumer farmer. We’ll talk about how a food safety incident plays out, from lawsuits to recalls and contract breaches. Most importantly, we’ll talk about ways to protect farmers.
Tuesday, January 20th at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Sales Contracts for Farm Produce: Why and How
Everyone loves local food! Consumers, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and child care facilities are buying more and more product. No matter the size of the buyer, a good relationship between buyer and farmer is key to making these sales profitable over the long-term. The right sales agreement- a written one that addresses ordering, cancellation, and payment terms- can help keep everyone happy. Learn how and why farmers should pay attention to the "terms" of their sales and strongly consider writing down sales agreements.
Monday, February 2nd at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Making Employment Law Work for Your Farm
Employment law is probably the single most complex legal concern for farmers. Especially for the diversified farm, navigating farm and non-farm employment law is no walk in the park. This webinar will break down federal minimum wage, workers’ compensation and overtime, plus migrant worker laws. (They apply to more than just migrant workers!) Worker-exchange programs, independent contractors, employment manuals, injury liability, discrimination and a host of other concerns round out the discussion. Checklists and flowcharts will help make the process easy.
Tuesday, February 3rd at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Farm Sole Proprietorships, LLCs, S Corps, C Corps, and Coops: Which? Why? How? (Advanced)
Many farms operate as a sole proprietorship but growing numbers of farmers are choosing an LLC instead. Learn what an LLC or corporation can and cannot do to protect the farm business. A any solid business entity also needs managing paperwork. Learn what an operating agreement or bylaws can do for the farm and what to write into them. We’ll also discuss options for cooperative ventures, entity structures to pass on the farm business, and some tax aspects of business entities.
Monday, February 23rd at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Going In-Depth With CSA Farm Law (Advanced)
In this webinar, farmers will get in-depth tools to move forward on managing sales, drop-site, volunteer, and worker share matters. We’ll also discuss some of the more unique CSA programs like farmers’ market pre-pay programs and multi-farm cooperative CSAs. Farmers who’ve already attended one of Farm Commons’ basic CSA law programs will get a lot out of this advanced session.
Tuesday, February 24th at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website

Getting Farm Work Done Legally With Interns, Apprentices, And Volunteers (Advanced)
CSA is an incredibly unique relationship between farmer and customer. But, this means it also has unique legal dynamics. CSA farmers who critically analyze their membership agreement, drop sites, and farm event programs beforehand set themselves up for success. Learn how an attorney sees CSA and what you can do to protect your farm. This webinar will also discuss risks with farm volunteer programs and buying the right insurance.
Monday, March 2nd at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Financing A Farmland Purchase: Legal basics for traditional and non-traditional farmland purchases (Advanced)
Finding money to purchase land and capital is a huge issue for many farmers. Bank loans, land contracts (aka contracts for deed), and family financing offer some solutions. The legal language behind promissory notes, security agreements, land contracts, and mortgages isn’t just “boilerplate.” Farmers will learn the basics behind these documents. Farmers are also exploring new opportunities such as crowdsourcing funds from farm customers, friends, and members. To avoid costly fines, farmers must pay attention to the state and federal securities laws that affect these opportunities. This webinar will give farmers knowledge of the legal basics when financing farmland.
Monday, March 23rd at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website!

Efficiently Manage Your Farm’s Risks with Insurance (Advanced)   
Insurance is vital to build a resilient farm but it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. What’s a farm liability policy and is it the same as a property/casualty policy? How does it work with a homeowner’s policy? Is workers’ compensation required and how does it work? If that isn’t enough, we also have to think about commercial policies for value-added products and farm events. Crop insurance is also important- we’ll learn about the latest and most affordable options. Find the right policies for you with this webinar.
Tuesday, March 24th at Noon, Central. (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern)  Register now at our website

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Marketing Your Products: Turning Samples into Sales

Providing product samples is a great way to help increase sales at your farmers’ market booth or farm stand.  However, it is also important to do it in a way that does not give away all your product (and therefore profits!) and that also will provide a safe product that meets regulatory requirements.

A webinar on Marketing Your Products: Turning Samples into Sales will be held January 20th at 11 am.  You will learn how to choose which products to sample, how to control costs in sampling, and generally how to make the most of sampling. Lorin Fahrmeier, with Fahrmeier Farms in Lexington MO, whose family sells a large amount of produce and other products through their farm stand and at farmers markets will provide insight from her extensive personal experience on how to turn sampling into sales. Londa Nwadike, MU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist, will also present some practical ideas on how to do sampling safely and also meet regulatory requirements.  

To join the webinar:
Go to about 10 minutes prior to the start time. Click on "Enter as a Guest" and type your name in the space provided, then click on "Enter Room." For best results, we suggest you use Firefox or Internet Explorer as your web browser. Prior to participating in this Adobe Connect event, please go to the following URL to confirm ability to log on to the Connect server:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Free Webinar to Feature Urban Farmers Discussing Strategies for Managing Risk

Urban farmers face many risks in producing safe and affordable food.  Some of the risks are common to all types of farming; however, many are unique to the urban setting, including zoning regulations, access to water, and managing contaminated soils.  While many cities in the U.S. are working to address some of the needs of urban farmers, profitability remains a challenge.

A free January 15 webinar, “Managing Risks on an Urban Farm,” will focus on the risk management strategies of two urban farms and how they have overcome several of the barriers facing urban farmers today. The webinar is being presented by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and NCAT's ATTRA program and is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), 2012-68006-30177.

Title: Managing Risks on an Urban Farm
Cost:  Free
Date: January 15, 2015
Time: 11 a.m. Central Standard Time
To Register:  Go online at
Moderator Andy Pressman; NCAT
Andy Pressman is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with the National Center for
Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and NCAT's  ATTRA Program. He has a background in small-scale intensive farming systems and works in the fields of organic crop production, local food systems, and urban farming.  Andy and his family also operate Foggy Hill Farm, a small diversified family farm and CSA located in southern New Hampshire.

Farm Manager Greg Maslowe; Newton Community Farm
Greg Maslowe is the Farm Manager of Newton Community Farm (NCF). NCF is located
in Newton, MA, a city of 80,000 just on the outskirts of Boston. The farm occupies 2.25 acres and uses intensive methods to grow vegetables and a small amount of fruit on one acre. NCF supports an 80-share Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, a weekly farmers' market, a 5-day per week on-site farm stand, and donations to local food pantries and shelters.  For more information, visit Newton Community Farm's website.

Farm Manager Eric McClam;   City Roots Urban Farm
Eric McClam is the Farm Manager of City Roots Urban Farm, located in downtown Columbia, SC. City Roots is a 2.75 acre USDA Certified Organic farm that produces microgreens year round and operates an aquaponic system and a large scale compost operation and grows over 125 varieties of fruits and vegetables. City Roots sells directly to restaurants, through a CSA program, farmers markets, and hosts on-farm events.  City Roots earned the International Downtown Association’s Pinnacle Award in 2010 for their revitalization of a brown field site.  For more information, visit City Roots' website.