Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Federal Funding Guide Released for Sustainable Agriculture Practitioners

Producers, landowners, NGO’s, and researchers who are seeking resources to help them reach their sustainable agriculture goals need look no further than the recently updated Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities Guide. The 86-page guide covers 63 programs, which coincide with changes reflected in the 2014 Farm Bill.  It provides a one-stop reference for governmental resources, information, and financial assistance on topics ranging from investment opportunities in agricultural entrepreneurial ventures to technical assistance and grant funding for renewable energy projects, and everything in between. Each program entry provides a description, eligibility requirements, application process information and resources, in addition to websites, agency contact information, and project examples if available.

Andrew Bernhardt, a University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension staff member and Wisconsin SARE Coordinator observes: "This guide is the single most valuable resource at the workshops we do around Wisconsin to help people access programs that can offer resources for their sustainable agriculture-related farms and businesses.  It's efficiently put together, which makes it very easy to use, and always gets terrific reviews from participants."

“The Guide”, as it is colloquially known, pertaining to the 2014 Farm Bill is the culmination of a partnership between the National Center for Appropriate Technology, The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, with support from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, The McKnight Foundation, Farm Aid, and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.

Julia Sampson, Executive Assistant at Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Arkansas, states “The clear and comprehensive layout of the Guide provides the user with simple explanations of the myriad of federal program available to farmers, ranchers, and community food groups. The Guide serves as an excellent foundation for those interested in learning more about federal programs.

Over the years, and throughout its many iterations, the guide has amassed quite a bit of fanfare and praise from users and practitioners across the country.

Lorna Donaldson, a Tennessee farmer and national sustainable agriculture enterprise consultant says, “I use these wonderful Guides with start-up nonprofits all over the country.  The Guides are especially valuable because most groups I work with aren't familiar with federal programs.  It's great having something that's so concise and also helps people understand how to go and look for additional resources."

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is a non-profit organization with the mission to nurture the ecological, social and economic resiliency of food and farming systems through education, research, policy, and market development.


"Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities provided me with concise, comprehensive, well-organized and user-friendly information on federal grant programs," says Midwestern regional food systems entrepreneur Mary Holland, who attended the first of this year's statewide grant-writing workshops in Wisconsin.

To download a free copy of Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities as well as order paper copies please go to: http://bit.ly/1sLLerq

Interested parties can also call The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) at 1-800-346-9140 for free hard copies of the guide.

For those who find programs within the guide that they are interested in exploring a bit further, please feel free to contact Michael Fields Agricultural Institute’s Grants Advisor Deirdre Birmingham for additional assistance on grant applications and grant planning/writing.

Deirdre Birmingham
MFAI Grants Advisor

Grants Advising Website: http://www.michaelfields.org/grant-advising-resources

Monday, November 24, 2014

USDA Announces Availability of Whole-Farm Revenue Protection

USDA Risk Management Agency has announced that the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance policy is now available for the 2015 crop year. The policy allows producers to insure 50-85% of their whole-farm revenue and makes crop insurance more affordable for fruit and vegetable growers and organic farmers and ranchers. Contact a local insurance agent for more information about the program.

Learn more: http://www.rma.usda.gov/policies/2015/wfrpfactsheet.pdf

Monday, November 17, 2014

The December Farmer-to-Farmer breakfast is one you will not want to miss.
We have invited Paul Muller of Full Belly Farm to talk with us about farm economics, scale, and sustainability. It should be a very interesting and enlightening conversation. Flyer with more details is attached.

Farmer-to Farmer Breakfast,
Wednesday, December 3rd 7 AM at
Loomis Vet Hall, 5945 Horseshoe Bar Rd in Loomis

Our Specialty Crops programs staff will be preparing the breakfast, so we need to know how many will be attending
Reservations and pre-payment are required.  Cost is $10 per person.
Please make your reservation by 11 AM Monday, December 1st. Reservations are online at http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=14184 and payment is by credit card.

Breakfast is at 7 AM, Paul will talk around 7:45 or 8 AM, then we'll have a discussion.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Work with Say Hay Farms!

Say Hay Farms is a certified organic farm in Yolo County, CA, entering its fifth season. We currently raise a diversity of vegetables on more than 20 acres plus 800 laying hens, 5 acres of almonds, and an acre of oranges for providing high quality produce to our CSA, farmers’ market, and wholesale customers in the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Bay Area. 

We are a people-focused farm intent on operating a great workplace with serious and skilled farmers.  We do not have a separate harvest crew and management.  Instead, our small size allows us to focus on leveraging each person’s unique skills while sharing the responsibility of harvest, marketing, and day-to-day management of the farm. We are seeking seasoned farmers to join our tight crew and help us grow.

Activities include:
·      Harvest, wash, pack and grade crops for our CSA, farmers’ markets, and wholesale customers.
·      Transplant crops.
·      Cultivate and weed crops.
·      Basic irrigation using buried drip and sprinkler pipes.
·      Raise and care for laying hens – including brooding, feeding, monitoring, cleaning coops plus collecting, washing, and packing eggs.
·      Drive box trucks, pickups, and small tractors in our fields, between properties, and when making deliveries in busy cities. 
·      Educate our customers and provide an excellent experience when participating in sales and deliveries.
·      Light construction.
·      Actively help to improve our systems as we grow into a new space.

Desired Skills & Qualifications:
·      Two or more years experience on a production vegetable farm, including harvest duties.  This includes repetitive heavy lifting of up to 50 pounds.
·      Demonstrated understanding of vegetable crops.
·      A natural ability to hustle, move quickly, and enjoy working hard.
·      A desire to understand the economics of small farming.  Experience a plus.
·      Team player with a positive attitude and good sense of humor who can also work independently.
·      Ability to assess, plan, and organize.
·      Basic mechanical skills necessary to operate vehicles, tractors, and farm equipment.
·      Willing to make a 2-year commitment.

The Farmer position is salaried and competitive, with 2 weeks of paid vacation.  The average workweek is 50 hours - more in the summer, less in the winter. 

·      Email a resume highlighting your field experience to sayhayfarms@gmail.com
·      Answer the question, “Why do you want to work at a small farm like Say Hay Farms?” and give a brief description of your agricultural career goals.
·      A timeline of your availability.
·      Please include 2 farm references.

If your application seems like a good fit, we will contact you to schedule a phone interview.  After that, we ask for a field trial day.  For this reason, local applicants are prioritized. 
If offered a position, we have a 60-day probationary period that is hourly wage.  At the end of 60 days, we will mutually assess whether you are a good fit for a salaried position on our team.

This is a unique, excellent opportunity for those who have owned a small farm or would like to own a small farm and appreciate the economic difficulty of fresh-market organic farming to join a collective of skilled professionals who love what we do.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Roots Farm Program Manager

The Sacramento office of the International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org)  has posted for a Program Manager to run their Sacramento New Roots refugee farming program. The position will be responsible for planning and implementing the various components of their program including nutrition education to refugee families, development of community garden sites, and the establishment of our urban farm in partnership with Sacramento farm to fork restaurants. Please pass along the link to anyone you feel might be interested in applying.

New Roots Program Manager:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Newly Revised Publication Details Federal Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Program

Federal programs can be a helping hand for people who want to develop innovative, sustainable, enterprises in agriculture and the forestry. A newly updated publication, Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities: A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development, is a one-stop guide to find the details about those programs and how to apply for them.

The programs detailed in the publication cover a variety of areas:

 Natural Resources Conservation and Management

 Sustainable Ranching and Farming Practices

 Value Added and Marketing Innovations

 Nutrition and Consumer Food Access

 Economic Development for Farms, Small Businesses, and Communities

 Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation

The publication provides a description along with eligibility and application requirements for each of nearly 70 individual programs. They range from grants and loans to technical assistance and informational resources.

The programs can help farmers, entrepreneurs, community developers, private landowners,  conservationists, as well as private and public organizations whether they are for-profit or nonprofit.

“I use these wonderful guides with start-up nonprofits all over the country,” said "Lorna Donaldson, a Tennessee farmer and national sustainable agriculture enterprise consultant. “The guides are especially valuable because most groups I work with aren't familiar with federal programs. It's great having something that's so concise and also helps people understand how to go and look for additional resources."

The publication is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was produced in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). USDA agencies and programs that provided major support for the publication include Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), U.S. Forest Service; and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities: A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development, is available as free download on the NCAT’s ATTRA program website at www.attra.ncat.org. Paper copies also can be purchased from the website for a small handling fee.

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 Farm Internships Available Mountain Bounty Farm, Nevada City, California

Contact: John Tecklin

Email: info@mountainbountyfarm.com 

Website: http://www.MountainBountyFarm.com 

General Description: At Mountain Bounty Farm we grow 16 acres of mixed vegetables and fruit for our local 500+ member CSA and Farmers Market. Our thriving small farm is nestled in the beautiful Sierra foothills, surrounded by forest and a short distance from the scenic Yuba river. Since 1997, Mountain Bounty Farm has grown into a successful and inspiring cornerstone of the local community. The farm is known for its top quality produce, cutting edge farming techniques, and fun work environment. We have an amazing veteran crew and welcome newcomers. For more information about the farm and for internship application materials and information please see our website: www.MountainBountyFarm.com

Internship Starts: April 1
Internship Ends: mid November
Number of Interns: 5

Meals: Interns are responsible for their own meals and have full access to all farm produce including eggs and fruit.

Skills Desired: Prior farm experience is preferred, but not a requirement. Successful candidates usually have experience with some type of outdoor labor and/or a strong athletic background. We are also looking for people who are serious about farming as a career. This is a top notch training opportunity for someone who is ready to take on the challenge. We are looking for people who are organized, curious, outgoing and personable, wacky and fun, and very motivated. Applicants should be able to work hard and fast in all weather (it can be cold and wet here in spring and fall, and summer temps are very hot) do heavy lifting, repetitive grasping, standing, bending, and lots of walking. Although we keep the work varied, farming is inherently challenging. Ideal candidates are committed to the farming lifestyle and all that it entails. Must appreciate palindromes.

Educational Opportunities: The majority of the educational component comes through the experience of working directly on the farm: learning by doing. Over the years we have developed a successful system that is also relatively simple and elegant. As an intern, you get the benefit of our many years of learning -- passed along to you. Interns are also, to the extent they are individually ready, gradually given more and more responsibility. We believe that being allowed to take charge of something important, and also being allowed to make mistakes, is one of the richest and most effective ways to learn. Additionally, each intern is responsible for a project of their own: managing chickens, irrigating crops, greenhouse care, farmers markets, etc. Toward the end of the season, we occasionally take field trips to other farms in the area. And periodically we take time to sit down after work for intern directed Q and A discussions (topics like “farm business management”). We love to teach and are stimulated by people who are excited about learning. Long hours in the field provide the perfect opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t, as well as plenty of discussion about why.

Stipend: $1,000/month plus housing and produce (includes vegetable, fruit, and eggs)

Housing: Interns share a common furnished kitchen/bathing/hangout facility complete with a stove, refrigerator, sink and couches. Each intern has their own small private cabin (cozy, but no electricity or heating) in a shady grove at the edge of the fields.

Internship Details: Interns are a core element of our farm crew (total 12-14 people including interns) and participate in all farm activities from greenhouse work to harvest, delivery, and farmer’s markets. Interns work closely with the farm managers to maintain this complex and dynamic vegetable farm. This includes driving tractors, seeding, transplanting, lots of weeding and other crop care, irrigation, harvest, washing and packing produce, driving deliveries, and small amounts of animal and fruit tree care. Interns work 5 days a week (Mon-Fri), 8+ hours a day and are also responsible for doing one CSA delivery per week, twoSaturday farmers markets per month, and occasional minor irrigation duties after hours. We average a 40 hour work week over the season, with slightly shorter weeks in spring and fall, and slightly longer weeks at the height of summer. Internships at Mountain Bounty are challenging, highly sought after, and immensely rewarding. The vast majority of Mountain Bounty alumni go on to either work at other farms or start their own farms. Interns who excel in their first season may be offered management positions and permanent employment here at Mountain Bounty.