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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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new farmers

Returning to Roots, Young Couple Invigorates Family Farm with Focus on Sustainability

May 7, 2012 |

Josh and Sally Reinitz, Owners of East Henderson Farm

When Josh met Sally at the University of Minnesota, both had a somewhat romantic idea of family life on a farm.

Josh was born on a dairy farm, but by the time he was eight-years-old, his family had given up farming and sold off much of the 160-acre homestead, holding on to just 40-acres. His memories of farming were fuzzy glimpses of afternoons hunting for frogs. Sally describes her childhood self as “a typical city girl.” Although she had spent some time visiting her grandparents’ old farm, most of her ideas of farming came from reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books in her Minneapolis bedroom. Read More

Wanted: Farmers

April 13, 2012 |

The following is a guest post from Dan Allen, the CFO of Farmscape Gardens, a Los Angeles-based organic garden installation and maintenance company that since its founding has become the largest urban farming venture in Southern California.

Urban farming has a dirty secret: the vast majority of garden plots in backyards, schoolyards, community gardens, rooftops and vacant lots are in a state of disrepair. Weeds outnumber thriving vegetables, soil nutrient levels are depleted, and irrigation is irregular at best.

This reality clashes squarely with the presentation of urban farming by journalists, academics and activists. The noble objectives of these urban farming projects means that those covering urban farming tend to overlook the harsh reality that most are neglected, ravaged by pests and withered from irregular irrigation. Read More

New Case Study Released on Beginning Farmers in Sustainable Agriculture

March 27, 2012 |

News Release – ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture has released the second case study in an online series that provides beginning and transitioning farmers with a unique virtual resource.

“Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” is a project that uses graphics and narratives to integrate personal stories of profiled farmers with detailed information on their practices. Read More

The Professionalization of Urban Agriculture

February 24, 2012 |

The following is a guest post from Roxanne Christensen, Co-creator of SPIN-Farming, an online learning series on small plot commercial farming that has helped hundreds of new farmers get started in business throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Roxanne Christensen, Co-creator of SPIN-Farming

Sustainability has gone beyond a buzz word among policymakers, planners, and politicians and is now spurring plans for significant changes in how U.S. cities function. Producing food for residents within city borders has become a cornerstone of these plans. Some cities are considering or have actually implemented initiatives that require meeting a percent of their food needs through local food producers. This has very positive implications for entrepreneurial urban farming. But so far, what urban agriculture has been most successful at growing are non-profits.

Currently, urban agriculture is a movement driven by advocates who take pleasure in food growing as part of a lifestyle, or activists who are passionate about combating the negative effects of our industrial food system. Urban “farms” are social programs that happen to grow food, and urban “farmers” are non-profit employees. Ironically, a point that has gotten lost amid all our zeal to reconnect with the source of our food is that farming is an occupation. It requires talent, training, knowledge and business savvy. It is no different than any other highly skilled profession. Read More

USDA Announces New Online Portal to Provide Assistance for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

February 16, 2012 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleNews Release – WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2012 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA’s National Agricultural Library, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, announced Start2farm.gov, a new online portal that helps provide assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers. The portal includes links to training, financing, technical assistance and other support services specifically for beginning farmers and ranchers as well as successful case studies about new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Read More