Posts Tagged ‘Dakota Rural Action’

South Dakota Local Foods Conference & GAPs Training Nov. 11-12

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture, Dakota Rural Action, Buy Fresh Buy Local SD, and the SD Cooperative Extension are all teaming up to hold a South Dakota Local Foods Conference, November 11th and 12th at the Huron Events Center in Huron, SD.

Friday break-out sessions include discussions on farmers markets, high tunnels, value-added, food safety, farm to school, and Buy Fresh Buy Local. Saturday focuses on GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) training–good for all producers, but especially important for producers looking to sell to institutions or through distributors.

Contact Alison Kiesz at the SD Dept. of Ag for more information or to register: (605) 626-3272 or

Spaces Still Available for Farm Beginnings in Sioux Falls!

Farm Beginnings is a farmer-led training and support program offered by Dakota Rural Action that provides participants an opportunity to learn first-hand about low cost, sustainable methods of farming and offers the tools to successfully launch a farm enterprise.

The course runs from fall through spring, with participants meet two Saturdays per month to learn about farm planning, financial planning, resources, marketing, and more. The next course starts in November, and applications are being accepted now!

Anyone interested in developing or transitioning their farm enterprise can and should apply. Participants can be of any age, do not need to own land, and prospective, beginning, part-time, and full-time farmers are welcome!

Participants come with a wide array of sustainable farming interests and experience, including:
Cattle, hogs, goats, poultry, and other livestock
Dairy Vegetable and fruit production
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets
Fiber production
Specialty products like value-added foods

The size and scale of production ranges from very small (just a few acres or a small urban plot) to large (hundreds or thousands of acres in production). Experience levels range from no experience farming to currently owning and operating their own farm.

To find out more about Dakota Rural Action’s Farm Beginnings course, visit their website.

Also be on the lookout for Farm Dreams workshops being held this winter through Land Stewardship Project and Dakota Rural Action on both sides of the Minnesota-South Dakota border.

DRA Small Farms Committee to Meet with Health Department on Clarifying Rules for Direct Farm to Consumer Sales

Members of the Dakota Rural Action Small Farms Committee (myself included) will be traveling to Pierre on Monday, December 7 to meet with representatives with the State Health Department, Department of Agriculture, and Extension in order to help clarify existing food safety regulations for direct farm to consumer sales.

The meeting is part of a DRA Small Farms Committee campaign to help locally-based producers and farmers market vendors and managers to better understand and implement the food safety regulations at their markets and farmstands, and to avoid conflicts such as those that occurred at the Black Hills Farmers Market in the 2009 season.

Additionally, the meeting represents a first step in working with the state agencies to draft a South Dakota “pickle law” that helps small producers sell directly to consumers at farmers markets, farm stands, and from their home businesses without undue legal and administrative burdens.

It is my hope that the rules clarification can help to pave the way for legislation that supports our growing local and regional food systems in the state by allowing us to provide consumers nutritious, affordable, and widely available local foods without sacrificing safety.

If you are a producer, farmers market manager or vendor, or a supporter of local foods and you have questions or comments about food safety and/or local food sales and processing in South Dakota, please feel free to share them with me either in the comments below or by e-mailing me at organicpeas(AT)hotmail(DOT)com.

And, by the way, your membership in Dakota Rural Action supports projects like this one that help producers of local foods in South Dakota.  Why not join today?

Heading for the Coteau

At the last minute, I had a change of scheduling with M so that he’ll be up north for Summit’s annual celebration of how crazy their weather is (a.k.a. Fog Fest) this weekend and down here for a longer weekend to celebrate USD’s homecoming (with parade and chili cook-off) and Native American Day (Columbus Day for you folks outside SoDak) next weekend.

I had not previously even considered the possibility of attending the Dakota Rural Action Annual Meeting at the Buffalo Ridge Resort in Gary, SD.  That’s not to say I didn’t want to or think I ought to, only that I considered it an impossibility.

All that changed two days ago, and now I’m scrambling to tie up loose ends to head out this afternoon.  Since Gary is fairly close to Summit, I may end up catching part of Fog Fest on Saturday afternoon–I’d hate to miss the Adult Blindfolded Lawn Mowing Team Competition, after all.

Out at the farm this morning–well I’m glad I had two thick wool layers on.  It is miserable–cold, windy, and rainy.  I couldn’t help feel a little odd picking the tiny cukes still being produced by my plants.  That seems like something you do in summer, not with winter nipping at your heels.

I also pulled the rest of the melons (only two, I’m afraid) and the last three neck pumpkins out of the garden.  Back at the house, dish-washing was in order, and the three little boxes of cherry tomatoes that didn’t sell at market yesterday needed to be processed in some way to keep the fruit flies from a meal.

Of course, I’ve written extensively about those tiny Coyote tomatoes, and how I’ve been making the extra effort to pick them with their little stems intact to keep them from splitting.  It’s not a big deal to remove those stems if you’re eating them one at a time, but when you’re cooking them en masse–Oy Vey.

H and I also tested the specific gravity of our batch of Concord grape wine this morning, and we couldn’t resist taking a little taste as well.  Nothing you’d want to drink a lot of at this point, but certainly alcoholic!

With about an hour to go before I planned on hitting the road, there’s still a lot to do (and here I sit writing this post!), but I think I’ll make it out at a reasonable time to hit the barbeque tonight.  So long as my little light truck doesn’t get blown off the road!

Beginning Farmer and Rural Community Workshops

Beginning Farmer and Rural Community Workshops

Beginning Farmer Workshops on Available Farm Bill Programs

When and Where:
Tues., July 14th – Yankton
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m
Yankton Area Arts/G.A.R Hall
508 Douglas

Tues., July 14th – Brookings
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Co!  onwood Bistro
Brickwood Plaza
1710 Sixth St

Wed., July 15th – Sioux Falls
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Landscape Garden Center
26971 Minnesota Ave
(3/4 mile south of 69th and

Refreshments Provided!

Sponsored by The Center for Rural Affairs
and Dakota Rural Action

RSVP : Call Virginia  at  402-687-2103, Ext 1017 or email
For more info:

Farm Beginnings Training Program in Brookings

From the Dakota Rural Action Press Release:

“Farm Beginnings” Training Program Offered in Brookings

Dakota Rural Action is now accepting applications for Farm Beginnings®, a farmer-led training and support program that will be held in Brookings beginning this October.  Farm Beginnings provides participants an opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming and gives them the tools to successfully launch a profitable farm enterprise.

Deadline for application is August 31, 2009, and class size is limited.  To learn more about the program and receive an application, contact Dakota Rural Action at (605) 697-5204 or email

“Farm Beginnings would benefit anyone interested in building a solid and sustainable business plan,” says Sarah Trone, a small-scale organic food producer and farm-to-table restaurateur from Brookings, who serves in a leadership role for the course.  “Whether farmers are just at the dreaming stage of a farm business or well established and looking to grow in fresh ways, Farm Beginnings offers participants the opportunity to establish a solid foundation for their agricultural endeavor.”

“It’s exciting that farmers can help other farmers get started in the business,” says Rebecca Terk, who operates a small vegetable farm near Vermillion and will serve as a course presenter for the program.  “There’s a growing demand for local produce, meat, eggs, and other products and there’s simply not enough farmers to meet that demand.  This program can help get new farmers started where there is a strong and growing market for their products.”

Farm Beginnings participants learn goal setting, financial planning, business plan creation, alternative marketing and innovative production techniques.  Classes are taught by local farmers and agricultural professionals and held twice a month from October 2009-March 2010 in Brookings.   From April-August participants have the opportunity to take part in on-farm education components including skill sessions and farm tours, as well as connect with established farmers for additional mentorship if desired.

Kristianna Gehant, a garlic and egg producer from Astoria, took the Farm Beginnings course in Minnesota last year.  “Participating in Farm Beginnings helped focus our goals for the farm and gave us the tools to plan a profitable enterprise.  As our operation grows, we continue to reference the whole farm plan we developed, and the Farm Beginnings network of experienced farmers continues to be a great asset when we need advice or feedback on production questions. Farm Beginnings gave us a valuable foundation to build our farm enterprise.”

A fourth generation farmer from Marion, Larry Eisenbeis became involved in bringing the course to South Dakota because he has witnessed a lack of new people pursuing farming as a career.  “Farm Beginnings can help provide answers for folks who are looking for new ways to make a living with the resources we have in this place.  This course helps farmers conscientiously make plans and formulate goals. Because it’s farmer-led, participants build on the real-world experiences of established farmers, and farmers in return have the opportunity to mentor the next generation.”

Farm Beginnings® is an established curriculum developed over a decade ago by the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project that is now replicated in several different states, including IL, NE, ND, and NY.  Dakota Rural Action has adapted the curriculum to meet the needs of South Dakota farmers.

Dakota Rural Action is a grassroots family agriculture and conservation group that organizes South Dakotans to protect our family farmers and ranchers, natural resources, and unique way of life.

CONTACT:    Heidi Urlacher, Organizer, Dakota Rural Action, 605/697-5204,

Dakota Rural Action

PO Box 549

Brookings, SD 57006

Phone: (605) 697-5204

Fax: (605) 697-6230

SD Local Foods on the ‘Net!

Exciting news for South Dakota local foodies–Dakota Rural Action has put their incredibly useful SD Local Foods Directory online.  It’s searchable, too!

Visit the online version of the South Dakota Local Food Directory here.

By the way, may I ask why YOU aren’t a member of Dakota Rural Action? Support their great work on behalf of small farms and local producers by donating here!