28 July E-News



Glow in the Dark Hope for Hemlock Trees in Appalachia?

News from Insect biocontrol consultant Dr. Richard McDonald

It turns out the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) has blood that is fluorescent chartreuse (yellow-green like antifreeze color) under a regular blacklight. It also turns out that the predator poop glows bright orange.  (NOTE:  the scientific article with photos showing this phenomenon is a very large file, about 6Mb – contact Dr McDonald if you would like to see it)

So we can use these colors and others to determine the amount of predator activity on adelgids and show that predators are doing a good job of controlling HWA at the older release sites now.

In general, Laricobius nigrinus is ‘generally’ saturated in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancy counties now. Basically 45 miles in every direction from Grandfather Mountain as beetle central.

Trees have been regrowing for the past 4 to 5 years in lots of spots. There are also dispersed Lari populations in Alleghany, Ashe, and Wilkes counties that will go log scale reproduction in the next couple of years.

We have also been releasing the native summer predator (to the Pacific Northwest) called Scymnus coniferarum; we need several years of releases and studies just like with Lari before we crack this nut and get establishment too.

Richard C. McDonald, Ph.D.
Symbiont Biological Pest Management
194 Shull’s Hollar
Sugar Grove, NC 28679
(828) 297-BUUG (2884) Phone
email: drmcbug@skybest.com


Late Blight Information from One of Our Readers


Regalia biofungicide / plant defense stimulant available on line in gallons

Regalia is available straight from the manufacturer in gallons. They also had the best price I found, $72/gal online, with $12 shipping.  The 2.5 gallon size has hardly any price break. But shipping may be less per gallon for the larger size.

I called customer service, they assured me gallons were in stock, that my order would go out tomorrow and should be here on Friday.

There is a link at bottom right of page to buy online.

Some other good news from Virginia State U / Virginia Cooperative Extension:

USDA Organic Certification Cost Share funds available

Good Morning All!
        Hope you are enjoying your summer in good health.  With organic farm sales increasing, many producers are considering becoming certified organic.  If you are working with producers considering organic certification, please review and share the following letter regarding USDA funding to reimburse eligible growers and processors in Virginia for 75% of their 2014 certification costs up to a maximum of $750 per category of certification. The funding is through the National Organic Cost Share Program 2014.  If you have any questions please contact Mr. Kent Lewis, Director – Domestic Sales & Market Development at 804-371-6098 or kent.lewis@vdacs.virginia.gov.    


Dr. Theresa J. Nartea, Assistant Professor
Extension Specialist-Marketing & Agribusiness
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Virginia State University
P O Box 9081, Petersburg, VA 23806
Email:  tnartea@vsu.edu     Phone:  804.524.5491



Midsummer Sustainable Gardening Workshop

Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center, Catawba, VA
Wednesday July 30, 2014 – 6:00 -9:00 pm 

This three-hour workshop is focused on sustainable management of a mid-summer garden, with special attention to challenges of the season, which may include:
        Identifying and managing plant diseases
        Managing weeds
        Meeting plant needs 
        Attracting beneficial insects to manage pests
        Effective use of row cover during the warm season
        Tricks for starting fall crops in the heat of summer

The workshop will be held in the gardens at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center and will identify examples of weed, pest, disease, and other common problems, and discuss strategies for dealing with them. 

Registration fee is $36.  Register on line at http://www.cpe.vt.edu/reg/msgw/ by Monday July 28 – or contact Josh Nease or Erin Burcham.

Directions: from Interstate-81, take exit 141 in Salem, take VA 419 towards 311 north (away from downtown Salem), turn right onto Rt 311 north.  Go about 6.7 miles.  About a quarter mile past the Appalachian Trail crosswalk enter the small village of Catawba, turn right onto Keffer Road, then immediate right onto Catawba Creek Road toward Catawba Hospital, pass post office, and come into the Catawba Sustainability Center on your right.
For more information, please contact Josh Nease at jnease@vt.edu or Erin Burcham at 540-767-6145 or erinb1@vt.edu




Position Open- Veteran Farmer

Temple Hill Farm in Ivy, Virginia – Inquiries received through September 15, 2014

Seeking a Veteran-Farmer to establish farm business on 41 acres in central Virginia, west of Charlottesville. Applicant shall have recent military experience with an honorable discharge, be drug-free and have a comfort level with small-scale farming. Owner will consider options for farm production from vegetables to small-scale livestock, farmed organically or as close to natural as possible. Ideas for alternate enterprises are also welcome: native plant production, beekeeping, medicinal and culinary herbs, mushroom cultivation and/or farmed flowers.

Please note:  This is not a farm manager listing, rather an opportunity for a young, willing farmer to build a farm business on land under a long term agreement for it’s use. See attached flyer for full details! 

Please send cover letter, resume and 2 references (name, phone, and email) to:
Laura Farrell, templehill1790@gmail.com.

E-News; July 6th


Blackberry Growers Meeting

Cole Berry Farm

July 9, 2014, 9AM to 11 AM
Jeff and Joey Cole have been growing and marketing blackberries for 25 years. They manage a 15-acre farm growing blackberries, raspberries & grapes. Jeff & Joey will share with you their growing & marketing experience. This informal meeting is for all growers interested in berry production & marketing. Please email your RSVP to:
This is a FREE event and open to the public made possible by a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Revitalization Project.  The Cole Farm is located at 3067 Asbury Church Rd, in Vernon Hill, VA 24597

Workshop Date Change: Disease and Insect Pest Management

Charlottesville, VA – Wednesday July 10, 2014, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Bellair Farm, 5375 Bellair Farm Road in Charlottesville, VA 22902 is hosting a workshop on disease and insect pest management, sponsored by  the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville.

Join the pest experts as we take a close look at disease and insect issues facing common vegetable crops in Central Virginia. Improve proper identification and learn integrated pest-management skills to effectively control the bad guys (stinkbugs anyone?!) and take advantage of the good guys (thank you wonderful wasps and ladybeetles!). A majority of the workshop will take place in Bellair Farm‘s fields as attendees will get a hands-on lesson in proper pest and disease management.

Jim Hankins, Director of Fauquier Education Farm and Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program Agent, and Dr. Anton Baudoin, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology at Virginia Tech, will lead attendees through insect and disease identification using live and photographed examples. Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Loudon County, a renowned vegetable farmer with more than 40 years of experience in farming, teaching, and consulting, will discuss preventative measures and control applications. Attendees will leave the workshop confident in their ability to know how to look for potential pest or disease issues, identify the cause, and properly manage the issue to minimize potential damage to crops.

This workshop is hosted by Local Food Hub’s partner producer Bellair Farm, and is conducted via a partnership between Local Food Hub and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Registration is $20 and includes a locally-sourced lunch provided by Bellair Farm.  This educational opportunity is supported in part by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

For questions, contact Director of Grower Services Adrianna Vargo atadrianna@localfoodhub.org.

RSVP: Click here to sign up for this workshop and purchase tickets. 

Sorry for the confusion.  I hope you still have time to register.


Using Compost and Cover Crops in Specialty Grain Production

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 – 6  8 pm
All-Farm Organics William Hale, Owner Louisa County, VA

All-Farm Organics is a small commercial bulk compost operation in rural Central Va. It is also a 25 acre certified Organic specialty grain and seed farm. Production of both compost and cover crops is essential to soil health, as well as direct cash income, in the system Hale has been developing over the last decade. Come see what was once a profitable tobacco farm, then depleted hayland, and now a combination of crops and practices that are returning this diversified grain farm to profitability. Exchange insights and observations on crops, practices and equipment while walking the fields and looking over machinery – mostly from the 1970s – enabling one man to produce high value seeds, grains, and soil amendments.

Admission to tour is $15.00 for all VABF members and $20.00 for non-members. (Attendees can join VABF at the farm tour site or at VABFarming.org) All proceeds benefit the work of VABF: educating about, advocating for, and promoting organic and biological farming and gardening.

249 Bakers Branch Lane Louisa, VA 23093

Driving Directions: Off of Interstate 64, West of Richmond, take Exit 148, State Rt 605/Shannon Hill Road. Turn North onto Rt 605/Shannon Hill Road. Continue for 3.4 miles. Take a sharp right onto State Rt 640/East Old Mountain Road. Continue for 1.1 miles. Turn Left onto State Rt 754/Bakers Branch. Continue 0.5 miles to the end of the road. Proceed on the dirt driveway, bearing right, and then up a hill. Continue until the 249 house address marker on the left. Parking will be visible at that point.

Contact aardemajanet@gmail.com with questions.
Rain Date: Wednesday, July 23, 2014


ASD Farm Summer Tours and Suppers

July 20, 3:00 – 7:00 pm – Floyd, VA

Appalachian Sustainable Development is presenting a summer farm tour series, featuring local farms in Southwest Virginia.  Farm Food will be providing local meals for some of the tours.  Details on the attached flyer.

Tour Dates

Spring Ridge Farms
Monday, July 21st Monday, July 21st
5:00—8:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.

Roffey Cattle Co. Roffey Cattle Co.
Monday, July 28th Monday, July 28th
5:00—8:00 p.m.

Double Y Livestock Double Y Livestock
Monday, September 22nd Monday, September 22nd
5:00-7:00 p.m.

Porter Valley Grass Farm Porter Valley Grass Farm
Monday, September 29th Monday, September 29th
5:00-8:00 p.m



New Market for Autumn Olive Berries

NC State University Extension confirms late blight on potato in eastern NC

The Southwest Virginia Autumn Berry Association is working to provide farmers with equipment and education regarding autumn olives and connecting farmers to a market for the berries.  For more information, see attached flyer.

E-News; Jul 1st


Workshop: Disease and Insect Pest Management

Charlottesville, VA – Wednesday July 10, 2014, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Bellair Farm, 5375 Bellair Farm Road in Charlottesville, VA 22902 is hosting a workshop on disease and insect pest management, sponsored by  the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville.

Join the pest experts as we take a close look at disease and insect issues facing common vegetable crops in Central Virginia. Improve proper identification and learn integrated pest-management skills to effectively control the bad guys (stinkbugs anyone?!) and take advantage of the good guys (thank you wonderful wasps and ladybeetles!). A majority of the workshop will take place in Bellair Farm‘s fields as attendees will get a hands-on lesson in proper pest and disease management.

Jim Hankins, Director of Fauquier Education Farm and Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program Agent, and Dr. Anton Baudoin, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology at Virginia Tech, will lead attendees through insect and disease identification using live and photographed examples. Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Loudon County, a renowned vegetable farmer with more than 40 years of experience in farming, teaching, and consulting, will discuss preventative measures and control applications. Attendees will leave the workshop confident in their ability to know how to look for potential pest or disease issues, identify the cause, and properly manage the issue to minimize potential damage to crops.

This workshop is hosted by Local Food Hub’s partner producer Bellair Farm, and is conducted via a partnership between Local Food Hub and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Registration is $20 and includes a locally-sourced lunch provided by Bellair Farm.  This educational opportunity is supported in part by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

For questions, contact Director of Grower Services Adrianna Vargo atadrianna@localfoodhub.org

RSVP: Click here to sign up for this workshop and purchase tickets.

Plenty! Farm and New Barn Celebration

July 20, 3:00 – 7:00 pm – Floyd, VA

Plenty! is a unique non-governmental non-profit food bank that accepts donations of sound fresh suprlus produce from local farmers and distributes the food to low income, elderly, and disabled residents of Floyd County who would otherwise have a hard time obtaining fresh, nutritious food.  Plenty! has been in operation for several years, and has been a source of hope and inspiration for those facing food insecurity and those seeking to help them out.

This year, Plenty! has taken a major new step – starting a farm at Elephant Curve just three miles north of downtown Floyd, specifically to grow and distribute fresh food to those in need.  This June, they also moved their office and packing shed to this location.

Now, Plenty! is throwing a party to celebrate this new and expanded phase of their work.  This event, from 3 until 7 pm on Sunday July 20, offers good food, good music, and great company to share the celebration.  Directions: from the county’s one traffic light in downtown Floyd, at the intersection of Rt 8 and Rt 221, take Rt 8 north for three miles, turn onto Elephant Curve Road on your  left, and proceed to the farm.  From Christiansburg or from I-81, take Rt 8 (exit 114 on I-81) south for about 17 miles, and take a hard right onto Elephant Curve Road.

Questions? Contact McCabe Coolidge or Karen Day at 540-357-4657 or -5657.

FarmFest 2014

Sunday July 20, 2014 – Glade Road Growing, 2351 Glade Road, Blacksburg, VA

Co-sponsored by New River Land Trust and Monkey House Concerts.  Farm tour at 5:00-6:00 pm; music at 6:30 – 10:00 pm.  Tickets ($10) available through New River Land Trust  P.O. Box 11057  Blacksburg, VA  24062-1057 (540) 951-1704, www.newriverlandtrust.org.  All proceeds benefit land conservation in the New River Valley region.


Midsummer Sustainable Gardening Workshop

-presenter Mark Schonbeck

Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center  -Wednesday, July 30, 2014,  6:00 to 9:00 pm

This three-hour workshop is focused on sustainable management of a mid-summer garden, with special attention to challenges of the season, which may include:

  • Identifying and managing plant diseases
  • Managing weeds
  • Meeting plant needs
  • Attracting beneficial insects to manage pests
  • Effective use of row cover during the warm season
  • Tricks for starting fall crops in the heat of summer

The workshop will be held in the gardens at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center and will identify examples of weed, pest, disease, and other common problems, and discuss strategies for dealing with them.
To register, visit http://www.cpe.vt.edu/reg/msgw/Registration deadline is July 28.  For more information, please contact Josh Nease at jnease@vt.edu or Erin Burcham at 540-767-6145 or erinb1@vt.edu.


21st Annual Southeastern Permaculture Gathering 

Celo, North Carolina –  Friday August 1 – Sunday August 3 ?
Pre-gathering Workshops Thursday, July 31st

Hello Friends and Family!  We are excited about this year’s gathering happening  August 1st- 3rd, 2014. Our theme will be “Time for Change” and together we’ll explore how making changes can actually make our lives more meaningful. . .

Earlybird Registration from Fri to Sun is  only $115.
Check out our Thursday workshops for an extra $60
We have a Youth Program & Children under 10 are free
Work trades and Scholarships are available
Contact Kimchi Rylander at registrar@southeasternpermaculture.org or phone 828 669 7552.  Southeastern Permaculture Gathering,www.southeasternpermaculture.org





Late Blight in the Area: protect your crops

NC State University Extension confirms late blight on potato in eastern NC

I received the following notice a few days ago.  You might be wondering if it can indeed be “late blight” if it arrived in eastern NC at the beginning of summer.  However, I have seen it up here in Appalachia on one occasion at the end of June, attacking potatoes mostly.  It was a wet, stormy year, and in some areas (including mine at the time) hail stressed the plants, and they regrew but then contracted the late blight.

I have long contended that the two major blight diseases of solanaceae should not be called early blight and late blight, but “regular blight” (=Alternaria solani = early blight, usually causes irregular brown spots with concentric rings on lower leaves, moves gradually up the plant, causing partial yield reductions; it can be slowed down by applications of copper fungicide and Serenade biofungicide); and “malignant blight” (Pytophthora infestans = late blight, grayish roundish spots anywhere on the plant, visible mold growth during damp conditions, spreads extremely fast, ususally incurable once symptoms appear – some strains can be stopped in their tracks if a spate of hot, dry, sunny weather takes place, but the recent strains seem more impervious to heat and dryness).

The pathogen spores travel on the wind and with weather fronts, especially on mild, wet days.  Because prevailing summer winds are generally from the south and southweset, with an occasional blast from the northwest when a cold front (often with thunderstorms) passes, those of us west of eastern NC may be at less risk – unless either a tropical storm (coming from southeast) or a retrograde front (from the northeast or due east) sweeps over NC moving inland.  Those of you located north and east of the outbreak are at most immediate risk.

In any case, following is the recent alert, from eastern North Carolina where late blight has occurred on potatoes.

Late blight was confirmed yesterday on a potato crop in eastern North Carolina. Growers throughout the state are encouraged to actively scout potato and tomato crops (both are susceptible) and take steps now to protect their crops.
More information plus control recommendations can be found at North Carolina Cooperative Extension s Plant Pathology Portal at http://go.ncsu.edu/n7hmjg
If you think you have late blight please contact your county Extension agent.

It has been reported that weekly sprays of copper fungicide + Serenade (Bacillus subtilis) biofungicide can protect crop from late blight so long as the sprays are started before the disease arrives in the field.  So, if you have high value crops to protect, and especially if you live near or north/east of the outbreak area, it might be a good idea to begin this protocol. Even those of us who are not “downwind” might want to consider takeing this step, especially here in Appaachia where it has been mild and showery – excellent conditions for the disease.

Serenade and two formulations of copper fungicide suitable for USDA certified organic production are available through Seven Springs Farm, www.7SpringsFarm.com.

New USDA Resource for Beginning Farmers


From Dr. Kim Niewolny, VA Tech, Director of the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program

Today USDA continues its commitment to the future of agriculture by unveiling www.usda.gov/newfarmers, a one-stop shop for new and beginning farmers entering agriculture. It’s a practical, workable tool that will help farmers and ranchers of tomorrow tap into the range of USDA resources today. Featuring direct links to USDA programs and services, as well as case studies about how USDA support is being put to work to for America’s agriculture future, usda.gov/newfarmers is a welcome new resource.

New and beginning farmers and ranchers are as diverse as American agriculture itself.  They are veterans entering agriculture after their military service and immigrants new to the country. They are farmers returning to the  land after long absences and  young people taking on their first jobs. They are professionals entering agriculture in their post-retirement years, and new couples raising  tomorrow’s farm families.

USDA defines beginning farmers as those who have been farming for less than 10 years.  This new web site and all USDA services for new and beginning farmers are provided for farmers all along the gamut from explorers / aspiring farmers (not yet farming, looking into the possibility, want to farm or are in a decision process whether to start a farm, where, and how), new farmers (first couple of years), and those who are in the process of refining their farming systems and stratgies as they become more established (up to 10th year in production).

Many of you on this e-mail list may find yourselves somewhere along this spectrum of beginning farmers – and you may find the new USDA site as well as current USDA services very helpful.. Also, do availa yourselves of the services of the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program,

Read the press release from USDA for more information.  Visitt www.usda.gov/newfarmers and see what there might be that could help you in your endeavors, and help spread the word!

National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) Working with USDA to maximize benefits to begining farmers from the new initiatives

Finding Affordable Farmland cited as Key Hurdle for Aspiring Farmers

On June 25, the one-year anniversary of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) announced the availability of a document that articulates principles and recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to consider as it implements conservation programs under the 2014 Farm Bill that address the nexus between climate change and agriculture.

USDA has launched a climate change initiative, which includes new Regional Climate Hubs and science-based guidelines for cover crop management, among other new tools and programs.  NSAC has recently submitted recommendations to USDA regarding ways that existing programs such as the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program can be utilized to help farmers improve the resiliency of their farming systems to the erratic weather precipitated by climate change, and also to make a greater contribution toward mitigating climat change (e.g., through conservation and organic/sustainable practices that improve net carbon sequestration into the soil).

Read more at NSAC’s blog post http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/farm-bill-climate-recs/ and press releasehttp://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/climate-recs-press-release/ .

Petition to FDA to provide GMO content information on food labels

My mobile phone company, Credo Moble, is promoting a petition campaign to get FDA to provide food label information regarding the GMO content or freedom-therefrom as part of a new update / reform of food labeling requirements. I signed the petition – it took less than a minute, as most on-line petitions do.  If you see eye-to-eye with this petition, here is a chance to weigh in – you do not have to be subscribed to this phone company to participate

Tell the FDA: Include GMOs on Nutrition Facts labels

Dear Mark,
In an effort initiated by Michelle Obama, the Food and Drug Administration is updating the look and content of the Nutrition Facts labels on the food we buy, but there’s one critical and glaring omission: the new plan doesn’t include labeling of genetically modified food.
It’s no surprise. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, and others are spending a lot of money to prevent labeling of GMOs. Some members of Congress, whose campaigns are backed by the Koch brothers, are even working to ban mandatory labeling of GMOs at the federal level.
But now we have a real shot at convincing the FDA to include GMOs as part of this food labeling update. That’s why I started my own campaign on CREDOMobilize.com, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to the FDA, says the following:
Add specific information about genetically modified organism (GMO) content to Food Nutrition Facts labels and one of the two following blanket statements, as applicable: “Contains one or more GMOs” OR “Does not contain any GMOs.”
Sign the petition: Tell the FDA to include GMOs on Nutrition Facts labels.
Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. In fact, more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling of GMOs, but the United States is one of the only industrialized countries in the world without mandatory GMO labeling laws. Some states like Vermont have already passed laws requiring GMO labeling, but with this FDA action, all consumers in every state would know whether or not their food contained GMO ingredients.
The FDA has extended the comment collection period to August 1, so this is our chance to convince the federal government that nutrition labels must include GMO information.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition urging the FDA to include GMOs on Nutrition Facts labels?

Thank you for your support.
James Fleming



Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – grants and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications

Deadline: July 7

Through REAP, the USDA is providing $12.4 million in renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants for eligible farms and other rural businesses.  For renewable energy and energy efficiency system grants, the minimum grant is $2,500 and the maximum is $500,000.  For energy efficiency improvement grants, the minimum grant is $1,500 and the maximum grant is $250,000.  Applicants can also apply for a combination grant and guaranteed loan (loan applications are due July 31 – see below).

DETAILS: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/reap-funds-available/

USDA Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Renewal Signup

July 11- September 12

If you enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service during the 2009-2010 Enrollment Period, you have an opportunity to renew your contract later this summer. Renewal enrollment opens July 11, and continues through September 12.  To learn more, visit http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/csp-renewal/


Risk Management Education Partnerships Program

Deadline: June 30

This is a competitivee cooperative partnership agreement program that provides crop insurance education and risk management training.  It aims to help agricultural producers identify and manage production, marketing, legal, financial, and human risk.  The program prioritizes educating producers of crops currently uninsured under Federal crop insurance, specialty crops, and underserved commodities, including livestock and forage.  It also prioritizescollaborative outreach and assistance programs for limited resource, socially disadvantaged, new and beginning and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers.

DETAILS:  http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/risk-management-ed-funding/

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

Deadline for pre-proposals July 14

This newly-created conservation partnership program is now accepting applications!  It was created by merging the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), and Great Lakes Conservation Initiative (GLCI)).  For fiscal years 2014 and 2015, nearly $400 million will be available through RCPP.   RCPP allows for partnerships of farm and conservation organizations working with state and federal agencies to deliver federal farm bill conservation assistance to farmers to help tackle specific natural resource and environmental concerns in a specific state or region.  NOTE: groups like VABF, ASD, and Local Food Hub qualify as a farm organization and could be eligible for RCPP – as organic specialty crop producers, some of working hilly land in the Appalachian and Piedmont regions, we do have specific natural resource challenges, and it might be fruitful to team up with Natural Resources Conservation Service.  If this stimulates ideas  on the part of some of you reading this, check it out, and let me know.

DETAILS: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/rcpp-apf/


Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP)

Deadline July 15

LFLP is a new initiative that will prrovide technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community’s economic action plans.  A team of ag, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with the selected communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet their specific needs.  $650,000 has been invested in the program.  All communities in the United States are eligible to apply, and particular consideration will be given to areas in the Appalachia and Delta regions.  This looks like a real opportunity for our region.  

DETAILS:  http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/local-food-technical-support/

Funds Available to Monitor Smith Creek Conservation Success

Application deadline July 18, 2014

If you are located in the Smith Creek watershed, and have implemented or would like to implement conservation practices such as cover crops, buffers, and field borders to protect water quality and enhance the watershed, the Virignia office of NRCS is now offering funds to support on-farm comparison trials of fields without and with conservation practices and their impact on the watershed.  See attached Word document (Smith Creek Conservation) for more information, or contact Harrisonburg District Conservationist Cory Guilliams at 540-433-2901, ext. 118, or Strasburg District Conservationist Mike Liskey at 540-465-2424, ext. 108. To learn more about NRCS’ programs, initiatives and services in Virginia, contact your local NRCS office or visit us online at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov/.   

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – Guaranteed Loans

Deadline July 31

Through REAP, the USDA is providing $57.8 million for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loans.  The minimum guaranteed loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum amount of a guaranteed loan to be provided to a borrower is $25 million. Applicants can also apply for a combination grant and guaranteed loan (see grant info in July 7 section).

DETAILS:  http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/reap-funds-available/

Position Open:  Agriculture Teacher at Floyd County High School

Floyd County High School is looking for an agriculture teacher to begin this upcoming school year. This position will require a person who is or will be eligible for an Agriculture Education endorsement from the state of Virginia with either a Technical Professional or a Collegiate Professional license. For more information, and to apply, please refer to: http://www.floyd.k12.va.us/employment/job-opportunities

Questions about this position or about the current agriculture program at the high school?  Contact:  Joe Tesauro, Agriculture & Life Sciences Teacher, Floyd County High School, (540)745-9450 x5698, or e-mail tesauroj@floyd.k12.va.us.

NOTE: Over the past year,, the Floyd County public high school has been re-envigorating and expanding its agriculture program under theleadership of their new agriculture teacher, Joe Tesauro, himself a sustainable vegetable farmer.  The goals of the program are to train new farmers, teach  others how to grow their own food, provide a lab that techers can use to teach related subjects, provide advanced students an opportunity to conduct independent research and learning projects, and teach basic work-readiness skills.  They have set up an aquaponic lettuce operation and are developing a high school farm for hands-on learning which has already become a major and popular part of the ag curriculum at the high school.  Those of you who receive the VABF print newsletter – look forward to a more in-depth article in the Third Quarter issue later this summer.

Joe just contacted me to let me about the above position open.  The new agriculture teacher who will work alongside Joe to continue to build this exciting hands-on sustainable ag program – only one of two such programs in public schools in Virginia.

Upcoming Farm Tours, Listening Sessions and Events




VABF Farm Tour: Brightwood Vineyard and Farm

Sunday, June 8 1-3:30

Brightwood Vineyard and Farm is starting their 13th season, harvesting 52 weeks these past years including through the arctic chills of early 2014 in unheated hoop houses. Their vegetables and berries are Certified Organic and they are committed to inspiring new farmers and consumers to improve the health of their community through education about and production of nutrient-dense food. They are especially proud of their current and former apprentices and appreciate their commitment to farming in all its forms, healthy food, and healthy communities. Please join us to see the farm through the eyes of the owners and the apprentices.
Topics Include
– Diversified small scale integrated farm enterprises: plants, animals, value added products, and people, using biological/organic methods 
- Farm Apprentices and WWOOFers 
- Links between nutritious food and health
Admission to tour is $15.00 for VABF members and $20.00 for non-members. (Attendees can join VABF at any farm tour site.) No pre-registration or RSVP – meet us at the farm and be ready to learn and be inspired! The farm is located 30 miles from Charlottesville; driving directions can be found on their website. All proceeds go to VABF. Complete 2014 VABF Farm Tour schedule found here


Value Added Producer Listening Session


June 9th 2014 8:30-10am
Center for Educational Partnership (6200 Sheridan St Riverdale, MD 20737)

Are you a small food producer, mid-sized food business, value-added farmer, or caterer interested in selling food or expanding your business in Prince George’s County, MD? We want to hear from you!
Join the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council for a discussion: “Removing the barriers for craft & value-added food production in Prince George’s County”.  Light refreshments will be provided.  RSVP here.
Contact pgfoodcouncil@gmail.com for more information.


Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute

The Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute invites you to join the next class of leaders! Our leadership program consists of three-day sessions in six different locations around Virginia to focus on current and difficult 
environmental issues. We use a proven mix of mini-lectures, experiential role plays and exercises, stakeholder panel discussions and field trips on specific environmental hot topics to build your competencies in environmental issues, collaborative problem solving, and leadership. Applications are due June 13, 2014.
Read more about our program on our website.
Also, please be aware that it is now possible, after many requests, to 
attend just one of the six sessions as “single session” attendee.  More information and the application information can be found here.
For questions, please contact Program Manager Kelly Altizer – 434-924-6569kaltizer@virginia.edu 


Backyard Poultry Workshop 

Saturday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 12 

Cost for the workshop is $10 per person and includes brunch and a complimentary copy of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. Harvey Ussery, author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, and Molly Sharp, owner of Hanover County-based Fiddlesticks Farm, will speak on backyard poultry production.
Registration is required and will be capped at 40 participants. Interested persons must register online or call the Hanover-Caroline SWCD office at  (804) 537-5225, ext. 102.
For more Information, contact Pattie Bland – ppbland@hanovercounty.gov  (804)537-5225 x115


Fauquier Farmscaping Workshops

June 25th, 6 to 8 PM

Please join us at Fauquier Education Farm for this exciting workshop on using Farmscaping techniques in your garden to create the best possible habitat for all the good bugs out there. These beneficial insects naturally prey on a wide variety of garden pest, and all they will ask of you is to
mix the right kinds of flowering plants with your crops. Working with nature is a lot smarter and cheaper than fighting against it.
Contact Jim Hankins, Coordinator of The Fauquier Education Farm, if you
have any questions: 804.892.4492

E-news Update



USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces Agricultural Conservation Easement Program  (ACEP) Signup

Signup Deadline for Virginia is June 6

On Thursday, May 1, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Department is now accepting applications for FY 2014 financial assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).  Applications must be submitted by the individual state deadline or June 6, 2014, whichever is earlier.

The 2014 Farm Bill created ACEP by combining the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), and Farm and Ranch land Program (FRPP).  The Farm Bill divides ACEP into two components: a wetland easement component, which largely mirrors the former WRP, and an agricultural land easement component, which is intended to retain the purposes and functionality of GRP and FRPP.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will make $366 million available for conservation easements through ACEP this year, though it has not yet determined how much of the $366 million will go toward wetland easements versus agricultural land easements.  The 2014 Farm Bill leaves that determination to the Department rather than including it in statute.

Under the agricultural land component, funds are provided to eligible entities to purchase easements to protect working farms and ranches and to conserve grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrub land. NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement, except 75 percent for grasslands of special environmental significance. Priorities include preventing conversion of productive farmland to nonagricultural uses, protecting land devoted to growing food, grassland acreage that will expire from the Conservation Reserve Program in the coming year.

Under the wetland easement component, funding is provided to landowners for the purchase of long-term or permanent easements to restore, protect and enhance wetland values and functions on eligible wetland that has been in agricultural production.  Priorities include protecting habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife, and wetland acres that will expire from the Conservation Reserve Program within one year.

To enroll land through agricultural land easements, eligible partners, such as land trusts and local agencies, should talk with their NRCS field office about developing an easement proposal.  To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, landowners may apply directly at their NRCS field office at any time.

For more information on ACEP, you can visit the NRCS page or download the NRCS fact sheet.; or the NSAC blog post at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/2014-acep-sign-up/, or the Virginia NRCS web page on the program, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/va/newsroom/releases/?cid=STELPRDB1252547 .

 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Application deadline June 12, 2014

The news here is that the BFRDP has been reinstated at a robust funding level, and the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program (VBFRCP), originally launched with BFRDP funding, is now applying for additional BFRDP funding to continue and expand its program, which helps aspiring and beginning producers in Virginia to learn about whole farm planning, sustainable production practices, marketing, business management, and offers mentoring and other learning / training opportunities, as well as a “certified farm seekers” program to help aspiring farmers gain access to farmland. The VBFRCP includes over 25 partners (farms, nonprofit organizations like Virginia Association for Biological Farming, SustainFloyd, and Appalachian Sustainable Development, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and other agencies.  

VABF and SustainFloyd intend to continue their whole farm planning training programs under the new grant, assuming that we receive funding.

For more information on the VBFRCP, visit www.vabeginningfarmer.org, or contact the program coordinator, Dr. Kim Niewolny at Virginia Tech, tel: 540-31-5784, email niewolny@vt.edu

For more information on the BFRDP and this year’s request for applications, visit http://sustainableagriculture.net/ blog/2014-bfrdp-rfa/ – links to additional information including the Request for Applications is available at this site.


Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program

Application deadline June 20, 2014

On May 8, Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that an expanded Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, funded by the 2014 Farm Bill, has now issued a Request for Applications, with a deadline of June 20.  From National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/ release-time-to-apply-for-local-farm-and- food-grants-and-loan-guarantees/ : 

“[The May 8 announement] recognizes the skyrocketing consumer demand for locally-grown food, one of the fastest growing sectors in American agriculture. Secretary Vilsack announced the initial implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill’s expansion of the popular Farmers Market Promotion Program into the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). FMLFPP and its predecessor program have been championed by NSAC for over a decade. The scaling up of the program in the 2014 Farm Bill was part of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) with a host of co-sponsors.”

“For small and mid-sized family farmers, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program helps boost income and scale up to bigger markets,” said Eugene Kim, Policy Specialist with NSAC. “Additionally, this program strengthens the infrastructure necessary to help get products to market, long identified as a key missing ingredient for meeting consumer demand for local food.”

Under the request for applications released today, $15 million is available for grants for direct-to-consumer outlets like farmers markets, community supported agriculture, pick your owns, agritourism, and other forms of direct marketing; another $15 million will be available in grants for local and regional food enterprises that are not direct farmer-to-consumer markets. Under both parts of the program, the fundamental goal of FMLFPP is to develop new marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers.

The Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers FMLFPP, posted the Request for Applications (RFA) for $15 million in grants for direct-to-consumer outlets on their webpage shortly after the Secretary’s announcement.  The RFA for the $15 million in grants for local and regional food enterprises has been posted on a different AMSwebpage.  Applications are due June 20, 2014
For more information on the FMLFPP, visit http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/ local-food-funding-open/

Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan Local Food Enterprise Program Reach Extended

From National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

In addition to FMLFPP, Secretary Vilsack announced the availability of $48 million in loan guarantees for local and regional food enterprises through the Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan Program (B&I) with the addition of an important clarification to help extend the program’s reach to help more farmers in rural areas. Federal loan guarantees are particularly important for start-up businesses in emerging sectors like local and regional food where commercial and other lenders are new to the sector and business models.  Applications for these loan guarantees are accepted on a rolling basis.  Applicants should refer to the B&I webpage and contact their local Rural Development office for details.

Through a provision championed by NSAC, the B&I program includes a minimum five percent reservation of funds for local and regional food enterprises, a reservation that this year equals $48 million or more in loan guarantees. The local food provision was enacted in the 2008 Farm Bill and reaffirmed in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The new B&I notice from USDA clarifies that, in addition to B&I projects located in rural areas, USDA will consider loan guarantee proposals from food aggregation and distribution facilities that are located in non-rural areas, so long as those entities benefit local and regional farmers and help increase access to high quality food in high poverty areas.

This allows aggregation and distribution facilities to be located nearer to the ultimate consumer market, thereby improving the economics of the business and increasing economic returns to the farmers supplying the market.

“NSAC applauds USDA for enhancing the program in this manner,” said Greg Fogel, Senior Policy Specialist with NSAC.  “We believe it will result in more farmers and related rural food businesses being assisted by connecting them to growing consumer markets for local and regionally produced food products.”


 Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program offers Technical Assistance Grants and Loans

Applications deadline June 30, 2014

On Tuesday, May 20th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in the Federal Register aNotice of Funding Available (NOFA) totaling approximately $25.5 million for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) for fiscal year 2014.  Of this amount, USDA expects to make approximately $1.5 million available for microlender technical assistance grants and $24 million available for loans.  The anticipated award announcement date is September 1, 2014.  According to the NOFA, MDOs may borrow a minimum of $50,000 and a maximum of $500,000.

RMAP is a USDA Rural Development program created by the 2008 farm bill that provides grants and loans to intermediary Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs), who in turn help rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises­very small rural businesses with 10 or fewer employees­with training, technical assistance, and microloans for business development.  MDOs can include nonprofit entities, Indian tribes, or public institutions of higher education.  They must provide access to capital and have a demonstrated record or plan to provide or facilitate access to capital and related services to microentrepreneurs.  According to yesterday’s USDA press release, “the RMAP program has provided $52 million for 257 projects to support very small business enterprises” since 2009.

The recently passed 2014 Farm Bill provides RMAP with $3 million in mandatory funding per year, which was sufficient to generate the program level of $25.5 million for FY 2014.  In addition to the funding available under yesterday’s NOFA, in the next two months, USDA will use carry-over funding from previous years to fund existing technical assistance projects and annual MDO grants.

While RMAP did receive mandatory funding–also known as direct spending–from the 2014 Farm Bill, it did not receive any discretionary funding in FY 2014.  Unlike mandatory funding, discretionary funding does not come directly from the farm bill.  Rather, it is appropriated on an annual basis, and is under the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committees as opposed to the Agriculture Committees.  Currently, Congress is considering the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which NSAC argues should provide an appropriation of $3.3 million in discretionary funding for RMAP loans and grants in FY 2015.

The deadline for submitting an RMAP application is Monday, June 30, 2014, and application materials must be sent to sent to the applicant’s local USDA Rural Development State Office.

The application form, checklist, and NOFA for the current RMAP funding round are available here.

For additional details on the FY 2015 appropriations process, please check back on the NSAC blog or sign up for regular NSAC updates under “Stay Connected” on our homepage.

NOTE: if live links to the Notice of Funding Availability and other vital information about the program do not work or are not visible in the above text, visit the NSAC blog post with this information and lives links at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/ rmap-funds-available-may-2014/


Risk Management Education Partnership Program

Applications deadline June 30

The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), operating through the Risk Management Agency (RMA), has announced available funds totaling approximately $2 million for the Risk Management Education Partnerships Program.  The deadline for applications is June 30, 2014.

The Risk Management Education Partnerships Program is a competitive cooperative partnership agreement program that provides crop insurance education and risk management training.  It aims to help agricultural producers identify and manage production, marketing, legal, financial, and human risk.

The program prioritizes educating producers of crops currently uninsured under Federal crop insurance, specialty crops, and underserved commodities, including livestock and forage.  It also prioritizes collaborative outreach and assistance programs for limited resource, socially disadvantaged, new and beginning and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers.

The minimum award for a cooperative partnership agreement is $20,000 and the maximum award is $99,999.  The awards will be distributed on a competitive basis up to one year from the date of the award.

Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, State Departments of Agriculture, State Cooperative Extension Services, Federal, Sate or tribal agencies, groups representing producers, community-based organizations, colleges and universities, faith-based organizations, and similarly appropriate partners.

For the 2014 fiscal year, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) Board of Directors are seeking projects that:

(1) address one or more of the Priority Commodities (uninsured crops and livestock, under-insured crops and livestock, and specialty crops)
(2) provides Crop Insurance Education on current federal crop insurance policies; or
(3)  address one or more of the five areas of risk ­ Production, Legal, Financial, Marketing, or Human Risk.

Among the specifically mentioned as topics for which projects are being sought are:

  • AGR/AGR-Lite insurance or the newly proposed Whole Farm revenue insurance product;
  • organic production practices and organic price selection;
  • specialty crops;
  • pasture, rangeland, and forage insurance;
  • recordkeeping practices;
  • reaching producers in Strikeforce states or Promise Zones; and
  • translating risk management brochures into Spanish, Hmong or Navajo language.

In contrast to last year’s RFA, the new RFA does not include a wide variety of conservation risk reduction strategies, including cover crops, irrigation management, erosion control, and conservation approaches to returning Conservation Reserve Program acres to production.  Also excluded were last year’s priority for farm and food safety eduction for farmworkers as well as local food and value-added marketing.

Only electronic applications will be accepted, and they can be submitted here.


 Food Safety Training

June 10th, Greenesville, VA

See attached flyer for more information about educational training on “Enhancing Food Safety At the Market”.

In Memory of Porter Knight

PORTER KNIGHTKNIGHT, Porter A.C., 28, of Ashland, Va., died on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Since September 2012, Porter was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay. He worked as an environmental conservation project volunteer, collaborating with Paraguayans to address local environmental issues. Porter was a graduate of Patrick Henry H.S. in Ashland, Va., received his undergraduate degree in environmental science from Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va. and his master’s degree in environmental science and engineering from Virginia Tech. Porter was a volunteer fireman, a natural resources specialist at the Virginia Department of Forestry and, as a trained wildfire firefighter, volunteered to help fight wildfires in Virginia. He also designed and coordinated the installation of a sanitation system to provide clean drinking water in Puerto Rico. Porter was an outdoorsman, who loved fishing, hunting, hiking and wood working. He was also a chainsaw operator, welder and avid motorcyclist. He is survived by his parents, Mary and Jonathan Knight; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Porter Knight Memorial Fund:https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=SPF-PKF. Donations may also be made by mailing a check to Peace Corps, Office of Gifts and Grants Management, 1111 20th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20526. Checks should be made out to Peace Corps, and reference Porter’s Memorial Fund in the memo line or by calling 202-692-2170. Donations may also be made to the West Richmond Church of the Brethren, 7612 Wanymala Rd., Henrico, Va. 23229-4339.


From Our Director:


Dear VABF Community, 

It is with a heavy heart that I recently informed our Board of Directors that I must leave this wonderful position leading VABF. I love this organization, this group of people, the mission, and our work. However, it has become clear that my young children need more of my attention than they are currently getting. As difficult as it is, I simply have to remove something from my professional life. 
I want you all to know I remain committed to and passionate about VABF. The past two years of service as E.D. have been wonderful, enriching, and enlightening. I have met so many amazing people in all sectors of our organic food system. I have been inspired by very diverse farmers and consumers alike. It has truly been an honor, and if my life logistics were different, I would be poised to enthusiastically continue moving this organization forward. However, my role must shift and I am settling into peace with this reality. 
We are, therefore, now accepting applications for the position of Executive Director. I am confident that we are in a good place to attract a qualified candidate. I will orient and train the selected individual, as well as lend my assistance with conference as I am able. I would also like to continue to serve VABF as a member of the Board of Directors in the future. 
Please see our website for our notice of this position availability and share this email and link widely so that we can be sure to spread the word to all who may be qualified for and interested in the position. We will accept applications through the end of May and plan to place the new individual very soon thereafter. 
I am optimistic that VABF will continue to thrive, assist producers, educate the public, train new farmers, and advocate for the work of organic and biological farming and gardening. Here’s to our next chapter together! 
All my best, 
Janet Aardema
VABF Executive Director


From Our President:

Dear friends;
It is with regret that I inform you of the resignation of Janet Aardema, our Executive Director.  She will be with us in her current capacity through the end of May, but after that only an as-needed basis to orient our next ED into the programs and duties ongoing in our organization.
I am sure you share my sense of loss at this turn of events.  Since coming aboard only two short years ago Janet has exhibited talent, dedication, and capability that exceeded every expectation.  She started out by having to rescue the 2013 Biological Farming Conference on the untimely and tragic passing of Andy Hankins.  Since then, she not only orchestrated the enormously successful 2014 Conference, but she put VABF on a path of solvency, accountability, and organizational efficiency that was desperately needed.  In addition, she represented us in the larger community to a degree that provides VABF with an unprecedented standing as the leading voice for organic farming and horticulture in our state.
Unfortunately, the demands of a young family have proven to be incompatible with the nominally part-time but truly consuming nature of the job.  Please join me in support of her decision to make her family the priority at this time.
Now we need to find someone to fill those shoes and take us even further on the path which has become critically important not only to us, but to the future of our Old Dominion.  I am sure there is someone out there who can do it and do it surpassingly well.  We will be advertising for the position right away.  Janet will be instrumental in the selection process.  Do not hesitate to let her know if you have a good candidate in mind.  We can turn this loss into a gain if we work together with energy, goodwill, and wisdom. 
 We are well positioned to make a difference in the soils, food, and communities in our work for organic and biological farming and gardening. Thank you for your commitment to achieving those goals.  Be well, do good, stay in touch.
-William Hale
VABF President, Board of Directors

Beginning Farmer Applications, Farm Training for Veterans, and Upcoming Workshops



Soil Fertility Management Workshop

Thursday, April 24, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Stultz Center, Rm 131, PVCC (501 College Drive, Charlottesville VA)

Join the Local Food Hub for an in-depth workshop on building and maintaining soil fertility using organic methods, while furthering your understanding of the underlying chemical, biological, and physical properties of a healthy soil.
In his capacity as the Operations Director for the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville, Todd Neimeier has worked alongside city residents to nurture a series of highly productive urban vegetable plots, improving community access to fresh, local food. Along the way, he has learned more than a thing or two about managing soil health.
In this three hour workshop, Todd will discuss basic fertility management (tillage,mineral and biological amendments, cover crops), practical soil chemistry, and how to use a soil test to calculate amendment application rates.
Todd’s focus on hands-on management techniques and intensive, diversified production makes this workshop relevant for the small-scale producer and serious home vegetable gardener. 

Cost is $15; free for partner producers
To register, go to the Local Food Hub website.
If you have further questions, please contact adrianna@localfoodhub.org


Free Webinar with Focus on Urban Farming Viability

April 29, 1 p.m. EDT

Local food was once considered to be in the purview of consumers and small-scale producers. Recently, policymakers, including those residing in cities, began embracing local food systems as a solution to a myriad of urban problems, including lack of green space and a dearth of healthy food availability. As part of this shift in policy, cities and other jurisdictions have embraced production in the urban environment.

But at the local and state levels, such policies are often based on a vision of how food might be grown in a city, and do not consider the feasibility or viability of such ventures. Nor do the policies consider how much of a contribution urban farms might make to urban food supplies.  
The question of how much food urban farms can supply is critical, given the small amount of land devoted to farming in urban areas. A further complicating factor is that many urban farms have claimed nonprofit status and often act as more as educational facilities rather than as commercial farms.  

The webinar “Urban Farms: Commercial Farms or Socially Minded Operations?” will provide an analysis of the differences between nonprofit and commercial urban farms, and is based on research conducted by researchers at NYU, Penn State, and NCAT-ATTRA. Funding for this study was provided by National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 2012-68006-30177.  Participants will be Carolyn Dimitri, Associate Professor of Food Studies at NYU Steinhardt and Andy Pressman, National Center for Appropriate Technology Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ATTRA website at www.attra.ncat.org
The cost is free!  To Register, go online at  https://attra.ncat.org/urban_farms


Organic Orcharding 101 Workshop

Saturday, May 3, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at Vintage Virginia Apples

Michael Phillips has spent more than 20 years growing apples on his 1880’s New Hampshire farmstead, quietly debunking the commonly held belief that his favorite fruit can’t survive without pesticides. For a fruit that consistently makes the top 10 list of fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide use, this is no small feat.
Here in Virginia, where 18,000 acres are in commercial apple production, we could stand to learn a thing or two from Michael! And now you’ve got your shot: Vintage Virginia Apples is hosting Organic Orcharding 101, taught by none other than Michael Phillips himself.
Sign up for this class and you’ll get a comprehensive exploration of orchard health strategies that make disease and insect challenges doable for organic growers. The day will consist of a fun mix of lectures and hands-on time with trees, with many opportunities to ask questions. Cost is 130$ and lunch is included.
And did we mention the class takes place at Vintage Virginia Apples? You just know the day will end in the tasting room at Albemarle CiderWorks…
Te register and for more information, visit Albemarle Ciderworks website.


Strawberry Twilight Invite

From Service to Stewardship: A Workshop for Veterans on Farming with Heritage Breeds of Livestock and Poultry

Friday, June 6th – Saturday, June 7th
Stoneridge Events Center, Warrenton, VA 20187

Join Virginia Cooperative Extension, The Livestock
Conservancy, and the Farmer Veteran Coalition on June 6-7,
2014, for a two-day intensive workshop that will help transform
today’s veterans into tomorrow’s farmers. This one-of-a-kind
workshop will educate and train America’s service men and
women on the skills necessary to steward some of America’s
most historic and endangered farm animals.
Friday’s program will include a full-day classroom session
featuring local farmers speaking about a variety of topics. On
Saturday, attendees will select a track and visit local, successful
small farm operations where they will get an up-close look at the
realities of heritage breed farming. Over the course of the two
days, veterans will learn how to:
· Get started with livestock
· Choose and raise Heritage poultry
· Farm with heritage sheep
· Select and raise Heritage cattle and hogs
In addition, veterans will be introduced to the marketing aspects
of raising heritage breeds.
Cost is $95.  For more information, visit  www.LivestockConservancy.org 





Upcoming Virginia Small Farm Outreach Program: The 43,560  / USDA Field Day

The planning has begun, save the date!

The event will take place at the VSU Randolph Farm on June 12, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 1 PM.  Registration will open at 8 AM.  Mark your calendars!


High Tunnel Growers Sought for Survey

The answers collected will be used to determine where high tunnel produce is being sold, the possible benefits to the farm, as well as conservation on a wider scale.  Additional information about the project is attached.  Follow this link to fill out the survey. 
Participants will also be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Johnny’s.


Reinstated USDA Beginning Farmer Program Issues Call for Proposals

Proposal Deadline June 12

The 2014 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) Request for Applications was posted today!!!  
For 2014, $19.2 million is available for grants through the program.

NIFA posted the RFA on their website which has  also has  wealth of information about the program including notice of two upcoming webinars on the BFRDP
·       UPCOMING Webinar – General RFA introduction, April 30, 2-4pm (EST)
·       UPCOMING Webinar – For applicants with special audiences (includes veterans, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and farm workers), May 6, 2-4pm (EST) 
NIFA uses three grant types to offer awards: Standard Grants, Educational Enhancement Team , and  Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse.  

Please share this with Non-profit Sustainable Ag organization representatives and University researchers and extension personnel who are actively interested in training new producers in sustainable agriculture methods from production to marketing and business management.  The timeline is quite tight, and we want the best ideas out there to be represented in the applications submitted this cycle.

For more information and reflections from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), who were instrumental in designing and lauching the program through the 2008 Farm Bill, see the blogpost at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/2014-bfrdp-rfa/.

Upcoming Farm Tours and Workshops


Radical Roots Farm Tour and Plant Sale

Keezletown, Virginia
April 19th 10am-4pm

Radical Roots Farm is hosting a tour of their five-acre market garden with water catchment swales, food forest, permanent raised beds and of course an abundant plant nursery.  Certified Organic vegetable and herb potted plants for sale from 10 am-4 pm with free farm tour at2:30. Additionally a class on Organic Gardening for Success (offered through the Friendly City Food Coop) will be offered at 1pm


Broadfork Farm and Spring Farm Tour and Plant Sale

Chesterfield, VA
April 26, 2:00 – 5:00pm (guided tour at 3:00)

Tours describe our Certified Naturally Grown farming practices, including permanent raised beds on contour, high-tunnel cultivation, cover crops, farm-scale composting, bio-intensive planting, organic soil management, mulch for weed-suppression and other weed management practices, pest management, and macro- and micro-nutrient management.
See Broadfork Farm’s Events Page for more information. 


Sustainable Gardening Training Series with Mark Schonbeck

Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center
May 3July 30, and October 4

The Catawba Sustainability Center presents the Sustainable Gardening Training Series with Mark Schonbeck. These workshops will provide support to gardeners and small farm producers throughout the growing season by addressing common issues and practices at the beginning, middle, and end of the growing season. Held at the Catawba Sustainability Center, each workshop will be composed of a classroom session and field session.

Saturday • May 3 • 2 – 5 p.m.

Preparing for Planting: Planning, Soil Amendments, Seedlings and Direct Seed, Planting in the Gardens at Catawba, and much more.

Wednesday • July 30 • 6 – 9 p.m.

Midsummer weed and pest management, Planning for fall crops, and much more.

Saturday • October 4 • 2 – 5 p.m.

Caring for the fall/winter garden, preparing the soil for winter, and much more.

About the Instructor

Mark Schonbeck has done sustainable agriculture research, consulting, and technical writing for more than 25 years. His areas of experience include organic vegetable production, soil and nutrient management, soil test interpretation for organic systems, cover crops, mulches, sustainable weed management, and soil and resource conservation. He does one-on-one consulting with farmers and gardeners, including soil test interpretation and nutrient management from an organic viewpoint, as well as crop rotation, cover cropping, and weed management. Schonbeck edits The Virginia Biological Farmer, the quarterly 12-page newsletter of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF), and helps maintain a homestead garden for a small community of 15 people. He also does volunteer work in policy education and advocacy for family farms and sustainable agriculture, and serves as policy liaison between VABF and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Registration Fee (includes materials and instruction): $100
For more information and to register, visit: http://www.cpe.vt.edu/gardening/
Please spread the word! For a program flyer, please respond to this email.

Events, Position Announcements, Farm Loans

Accessing Credit for New Farmers and Ranchers
Google+ Hangout hosted by Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden  – Tuesday April 1, 2014 – 4:00 pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014: On Tuesday, April 1, Agriculture Deputyy Secretary Krysta Harden will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss types of agricultural credit and ways to access them in support of new farmers and ranchers. Accessing credit is often cited as a top concern for beginning producers. The discussion will cover credit and financial options from USDA as well as outside partners including the Farm Credit Council. The Hangout will also feature farmers and ranchers who have successfully accessed credit from these sources as they describe their experiences and offer advice to others. USDA is soliciting discussion questions via social media using #NewFarmers.

Participants include:
        Gary Matteson, Farm Credit Council, Vice President for Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach
        Chris Beyerhelm, USDA’s Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Chief
        Shirley Malek, goat and sheep cheese producer in Gilmanton, N.H.
        Megan Kinsey, a squash, grape, and corn farmer in Sunnyside, Wash.
        Matt and Jolene Nierling, beginning farmers who operate a dairy operation in northeast Iowa

How to participate:  Live on the USDA Google+ page or on www.usda.gov/live . Add your questions in advance or share your story on social media by using the #NewFarmers on Twitter, Google+, YouTube or Facebook.

Beginning Beekeepers Workshop
April 3, 2014, 6PM – 9PM at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center
April 5, 2014, 9AM – 2PM at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center

About the Workshop: This two-session class will prepare the beginning beekeeper for a successful season. The first class is a three-hour, classroom-based session that provides the student with a strong foundation of beekeeping knowledge. The second session includes instruction with both classroom and field-based modules. The fee for the 8-hour workshop is $99 and includes materials and lunch on Saturday.

Topics Include: History of the Hive and Honeybee; Honeybee Biology; Necessary Equipment; Honeybee Pests and Diseases; Laws and Regulations; African Honeybees; Pollen and Nectar Sources; and Harvesting Your Honey

About the Instructor: Known as the “Bee Whisperer” of the Roanoke valley, Mark Chorba has kept honeybees in the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas for the past 20 years. As a certified Virginia Beekeeper, Chorba has taught beekeeping to hundreds of new beekeepers throughout Southwest Virginia. He is the 2013 president of the New River Valley Beekeepers Association, which is currently the largest beekeeper association in Virginia. His dedication to apiculture provides the community a reliable resource of information about honeybees through presentations, community events promoting the honeybee, and beekeeping in general. Chorba resides on his small farm in Copper Hill in Floyd County where he maintains more than 25 colonies of honeybees. He also tends to adjacent apiaries in Montgomery, Franklin and Roanoke counties.

Register Online by April 1 at

For More Information, visit: http://www.cpe.vt.edu/sustainable/index.html
Or contact Josh at 540-553-2311 or jnease@vt.edu



Soil Conditioning workshop
Shalom Farms, Goochland, VA – Saturday April 5, 2:00 – 4:30 pm

This year, why not commit to making your garden and its soil the ‘Best That It Can Be’?  The living, breathing soil ecosystem is a key factor in determining your garden’s production. Join us next Saturday for the Center for Rural Culture’s third workshop in the 2014 Homestead Series – “Soil Conditioning”. 

The workshop takes place at Shalom Farm, 1033 Rock Castle Road, Goochland, VA 23063. Steve Miles (farm manager) will lead the program. He’ll discuss composting rules and techniques as well as green manures and cover crops. Next, Becky Lillywhite will lead a discussion on Vermiculture and how to use this process to add fertility and structure to your garden soil.

Finish up your day as our instructors help you make your own worm composter (all materials supplied) to take home and start producing worm castings to add to your soil.

The program fee is $ 25.00 per person.  Make plans today for this wonderful day of hands on learning and discussions.  At the end of the program, you can tour Shalom Farms and see why they are considered one of Virginia’s best organic farms.

Click on the link below to get more information about this program or go directly to “Register Now”.  Questions? Contact the CRC Program Chairman atstu5012@yahoo.com

Get more information
Register Now!

Raising Chick for Eggs &/or Meat Production Workshop 
Blacksburg, VA – Saturday April 12, 10 am – 3 pm

This workshop, presented by Local Concepts LLC with Glade Road Growing, offers everything you ever wanted to know about raising chicks for egg and/or meat production.  We will tour Glade Road Growing’s chicken production and view a variety of equipment used both for homesteading and small-scale business production.  Topics covered include everything from buying birds, brooding, housing, fencing, nutrition, lighting, diseases, eggs, and more.  Also enjoy a farm-fresh style lunch of local foods prepared by Fare Palate. 

The workshop will take place at Glade Road Growing FArm, 2351 Glade Road, Blacksburg, VA.

Registration for the workshop costs $65. Click here for online registration.

For more Information contact Christy Gabbard at Christine.gabbard@gmail.com or 540-558-8010
Visit the workshop facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/763575343653179/

Position Open:  Policy Specialist
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, DC

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has opened a search for a new Policy Specialist in Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition.  This  Policy Specialist will work with a dynamic and inspiring team at NSAC’s headquarters on Capitol Hill, developing policy strategies related to family farm and sustainability issues, with specific reference to farm programs, crop insurance, livestock market competition issues, and federal agricultural research and extension policy.  See attached position announcement for details, including resposnbilities, qualifications, and how to apply. 

Farm Loan Program Modifications Create Flexibility for New and Existing Farmers and Ranchers Alike
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Increased Opportunity for Producers as part of the New Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014 ? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today annouunced increased opportunity for producers as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill. A fact sheet outlining modifications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Loan Programs is available here.

“Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are the engine of the rural economy. These improvements to our Farm Loan Programs will help a new generation begin farming and grow existing farm operations,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Today’s announcement represents just one part of a series of investments the new Farm Bill makes in the next generation of agriculture, which is critical to economic growth in communities across the country.”

The Farm Bill expands lending opportunities for thousands of farmers and ranchers to begin and continue operations, including greater flexibility in determining eligibility, raising loan limits, and emphasizing beginning and socially disadvantaged producers.

Changes that will take effect immediately include:
         Elimination of loan term limits for guaranteed operating loans.
         Modification of the definition of beginning farmer, using the average farm size for the county as a qualifier instead of the median farm size. 
         Modification of the Joint Financing Direct Farm Ownership Interest Rate to 2 percent less than regular Direct Farm Ownership rate, with a floor of 2.5 percent. Previously, the rate was established at 5 percent. 
        Increase of the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership down payments from $225,000 to $300,000.
         Elimination of rural residency requirement for Youth Loans, allowing urban youth to benefit. 
        Debt forgiveness on Youth Loans, which will not prevent borrowers from obtaining additional loans from the federal government.
        Increase of the guarantee amount on Conservation Loans from 75 to 80 percent and 90 percent for socially disadvantaged borrowers and beginning farmers.
        Microloans will not count toward loan term limits for veterans and beginning farmers.

Additional modifications must be implemented through the rulemaking processes. 

Visit the FSA Farm Bill website for detailed information and updates to farm loan programs.


National Organic Standards Board Call for Nominations
Nominations Deadline April 15, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pleased to invite nominations from qualified individuals to serve on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from January 2015 to January 2020. Applications are due by May 15, 2014.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a Federal Advisory Committee that provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on the implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act. NOSB members are volunteers and come from across the organic community. Each member is appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to a five-year term. 

In the Federal Register Notice for this announcement, USDA announces its intent to renew the NOSB’s charter, and seeks nominations for the following seats on the NOSB:

  • Individual with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation
  • Organic Producer who owns or operates an organic operation
  • Organic Handler who owns or operates an organic handling operation
  • Retailer with significant trade in organic products

Committee member duties include:

  • Attending committee meetings (travel paid by USDA)
  • Participating in bi-monthly subcommittee conference calls
  • Reviewing materials and/or recommend changes to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
  • Advising the Secretary on other aspects of the USDA organic regulations 

Written nominations must include a cover letter, resume, and an AD-755 Application Form and must be postmarked on or before May 15, 2014

More Information:

For more information: Visit NOSB Nominations Webpage