Posts Tagged ‘Land Stewardship Project’

Thinking about getting into farming? Farm Dreams is a good place to start


I meet all kinds of people who want to get into farming–whether it’s someone who wants to expand a backyard garden or cultivate a field for vegetable production, raise chickens to market eggs and meat, or get into larger pastured livestock production, organic grains, fiber, dairy, you name it! It seems like everyone has a “farm dream.”

But moving those dreams toward reality is a big step. How to get started, time, access to land, money, markets,–all those questions can cause a person with a farm dream to put it back on the shelf with a sigh–and without action.

Truth is, we need more farmers on the land to provide for an ever-growing demand for locally and regionally produced farm products and to strengthen our rural communities and economies. We need you and your farm dream!

Every year, Land Stewardship Project holds a couple of workshops that are helpful for exploring the aspirations of would-be farmers with a vision but without a clear idea of how to start down the path. The Farm Dreams workshop “…is the first step in planning an educational path toward farming and is designed to help people who are seeking practical, common sense information on whether farming is for them,” says Nick Olson, a Farm Beginnings instructor.

This year, the class is being held in Clinton, Minnesota (my fair city!) on Sunday, January 8th from 1-5pm. Class size is limited and the deadline is fast approaching, so pre-registration is required. The class costs $20 for LSP members and $40 for non-members, and it’s probably the best investment of time and money a farm dreamer can make.

Click HERE for the Farm Dreams workshop press release on the Land Stewardship Project website. For more information on the workshop (and to register), contact Nick at (320) 269-2105 or nicko@landstewardshipproject.org.

Hope to see you there!

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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
Grains
Fiber production
Specialty products like value-added foods
Flowers

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.

Local Foods in Big Stone County


Big Stone County from city-data.com

I have some exciting news to share this morning: I have been offered the position as Healthy Foods Organizer in Big Stone County, Minnesota.

The position is administrated by Land Stewardship Project, an amazing organization that promotes good stewardship of the land and sustainable farming and communities.  The job focuses on developing and promoting local foods production and infrastructure in the area and working to ensure social justice in the food system.

Regular readers of my blog know that I have long been working on these issues in the Vermillion area and in the state of South Dakota as a whole–focusing much of my free time toward these efforts while, at the same time, teaching English online for the University of South Dakota.

Considering all that needs to be done, I’ve often wished that I could devote myself full time to this effort–to working on all the things that there’s just not enough time to tackle when you’ve got that “day job.”

I’ve often thought, if I just had a little more time, I could help those dairy producers whose contracts were dropped to form their own cooperative.  I could devote myself to getting the WIC and senior citizens coupon programs going.  I could work more closely with local grocers and restaurant owners and schools to get local foods on their shelves and in their menus.

Basically, I thought–if local foods organizing could be my full-time job, think of all that could be accomplished!

Well, it looks like local foods organizing is about to become my full-time job, and I’m so excited, I might just burst.

Another perk of this position is that it puts me two hours closer to my son.  It’s in an area where I already have some friends and contacts.  I met a few more local producers on the South Dakota side of the border while I was in the area interviewing for the position last Friday–got to pet some gorgeous Nubian goats and Holstein calves, too.

I’m confident that the local foods movement in this area can and will do just fine without me–it’s never been just me moving things forward–there are producers and supporters all over this and other areas and all over the state who have done just as much as I have–even more.  I’m just the one who never shuts up about it.

There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes that I have nothing to do with except to say, “right on!”

You may remember the whole itinerant merchant issue with our farmers market and the city a few months ago–but what you may not know is that while I was working very publicly on that issue, a couple of our other board members were writing a $65,000 FMPP grant that I was only marginally involved with.  It wasn’t me that secured the current fairgrounds market location, either–that was another member of the market board.

I do hope that within a few years, the state of South Dakota or some other local or regional organization can find the funds to do what Land Stewardship Project is doing in Minnesota (and other organizations and states are doing elsewhere).  I think it’s coming–it’s just a matter of time.

For now and the foreseeable future, I’m going to do my best to achieve an exponential learning curve and apply my skills–and get some new ones–on the Minnesota side.  I’m hoping to have at least a little garden prepped there this fall to plant my garlic in while my gardens here are put into cover crop for the time being.

And I can’t wait to put my kayak in some of those Minnesota lakes!


Farm Beginnings Program


I have been working with Dakota Rural Action on implementing a program to get more individuals and families growing and producing here in eastern South Dakota.

The Farm Beginnings program, developed by the Land Stewardship Project, includes classes, mentorship, and farm tours/skill lessons to help beginning farmers learn how to get growing/producing, and focuses on sustainability and profitability in farm enterprises.

We talk a lot about how difficult it is for young people (or even not-so-young people) to transition into farming.  This is one method that has proven successful in other states where it has been implemented.

I have been drafting a letter to my past CSA members and farmers market customers asking for support.  While I don’t make a habit of using my mailing list to solicit donations, Farm Beginnings is a program that could really make a diffference in the number of sustainable family farms and the availability of local food in our region.