VABF

Virginia Association for Biological Farming

Opportunities & Actions

This page is regularly updated with opportunities of interest to our members.

5/21/15: Organic Certification Cost Share Program Now Fully Funded!

Certified farmers, handlers and processors in all 50 United States (and some territories) are eligible for 75% of certification fees (up to $750) for each certified scope. The refund is available for 4 certification scopes: crops, livestock, handling (processing) and wild crops. Certified entities could receive up to $3000 for all 4 scopes. More Details.

5/5/15: Farmers Wanted for Buckwheat Trials

VABF is partnering with VSU and VT on an evaluation of Buckwheat. VABF is organizing the farmer testing of buckwheat as a cover crop. We seek 4-5 experienced VABF growers to evaluate buckwheat as part of their production systems. More Details

5/5/15: Congressman Robert Hurt to Host Agriculture Roundtables

Join Congressman Robert Hurt at an Agriculture Roundtable for growers, producers and suppliers for a discussion about issues and concerns that impact agriculture in Virginia’s 5th District. The meetings will be held as follows:

  • Wednesday, May 6th:
    8:00am: Mildred’s Meals, 109 E 5th Avenue, Kenbridge, Virginia 23944 RSVP Lauren.andrews@mail.house.gov
  • Thursday, May 7th:
    10:00am: Lord Fairfax CC – 6480 College St, Warrenton, VA 20187 RSVP scott.leake@mail.house.gov
    2:30pm: Lumi Juice, 1822 Broadway Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902 RSVP scott.leake@mail.house.gov
  • Friday, May 8th:
    8:00am: The Colonial Restaurant, 8790 Wards Road, Rustburg, Virginia 24588 RSVP Anna.turpin@mail.house.gov
    2:30pm: The ODAC on Route 29 RSVP Anna.turpin@mail.house.gov

04/17/15: Seven Springs Farm Apprenticeship Program 2015 – involves hands on experience on their 125 acre sustainably managed farm located in Floyd County, Va.

04/6/15: 7 Springs is hiring 2 positions

Seven Springs Farm Organic Farming and Gardening Supplies in Floyd County, VA is now hiring 2 full time positions: Sales Coordinator and Operations Manager. The Sales Coordinator manages the flow of inbound phone sales and customer service and is also involved in outside sales and warehouse activities as needed. The Operations Manager will supervise and participate in all customer service, shipping and receiving functions of the company. See website for details: www.7springsfarm.com

04/03/15: Farmer Market Vendors Needed at USDA Farmers Market Washington DC-Application Due April 9

See details here: USDA Farmers Market 2015-2016 Rules(2)

03/30/15: Fundraising for to Support Organic Vegetable Crop Breeding and Variety Evaluation in Virginia

Common Wealth Seed Growers LLC in Louisa County is planning a number of vegetable crop breeding and variety evaluation trials to address some of the toughest challenges that organic farmers and gardeners face in our region.  For example:
Have you struggled to grow cucumbers, melons, or winter squash, only to watch vines die from downy mildew (DM), bacterial wilt (BW) or other diseases year after year? Edmund Frost and co-workers at Common Wealth Seeds have worked for several year with a nationwide network to evaluate existing varieties and develop new varieties with enhanced resistance to these diseases, combined with satisfactory yields and excellent flavor.  In addition to evaluating the most promising varieties from 2013 and 2014 trials in Virginia, Edmund will be making crosses to develop disease resistant cucumber and melon, and will begin the fifth year of selection of a DM resistant butternut derived from a cross between ‘Walthan’ butternut and ‘Seminole’ pumpkin, a powerhouse combination.  (To wit: an accidental F1 cross of those two varieties that came up in my garden in 2013 yielded 110 lb of superbly flavored, if oddly shaped, squash from a single hill of just three plants – and the last one we ate the following June was still at peak flavor.)
Are you looking for lettuce varieties that can take the heat and yield well in our summers?  Common Wealth Seed Growers plans to field-test a dozen varieties that have shown promise for summer production.
Do you wish that sweet corn were not quite so hard to grow organically?  Do you worry about GMO contamination of sweet corn seeds?  Common Wealth Seeds will evaluate several promising open pollinated and hybrid varieties for flavor, earworm resistance, and performance under organic management – and will test the seeds for presence of GMO genetic material before doing a seed increase.
Have you gotten frustrated trying to grow your own vegetable protein only to watch your dry beans turn to mold in autumn rains just before they reach full maturity?  I sure have!  But Edmund is looking forward to testing some promising varieties for mold resistance, earliness, and performance in an organic system.
Last but not least, are you worried about the increasing concentration in the seed industry, the narrowing of the genetic base in major food crops, and farmer disempowerment by seed patenting?  Combine this with the worrisome fact that public crop breeders themselves have become an endangered species, and this is indeed one of the greatest long term threats to our food system.  However, there has been an inspiring counter-trend in recent years – some of the few remaining plant breeders at land grant universities have worked with farmer breeders and seed savers to evaluate older varieties and develop new ones for regional adaptation, disease and pest resistance, and responsiveness to organic production systems.  Beginning about a decade ago, Cornell received a grant for a little under $1 million to establish the Organic Seed Partnership, a network of over 200 farmer breeders working with several universities to develop about 25 new farmer-ready varieties over a five year period.  (That might sound like a lot of money, but it is about 1000 times as  cost-effective as genetic engineering – one GMO variety may cost over $50 million to develop!)  Other farmer-breeder networks, such as the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, continue this vital work in vegetables as well as field crops like corn and wheat.
Common Wealth Seed Growers is one of Virginia’s leaders in this nationwide movement to reclaim our seeds.  See attached Word file to learn more about their plans for the 2015 growing season, and their fund-raising campaign to support this vital work.  They need just $15,000 to conduct variety evaluations for 11 crops and to do this season’s work on four vegetable breeding projects. If you are interested in contributing to their fundraising efforts, then please donate here: https://rally.org/f/48QCS0rXARA

3/23/15: August 2013 Plant Breeding Listening Session Results

USDA’s Plant Breeding Roadmap was announced last week by Under Secretary Woteki, and it is now posted on the web page of USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS).  This page is found at  http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=OCS.     The direct link to the Roadmap document is http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-roadmap-plant-breeding.pdf.    The Plant Breeding Roadmap was developed by the interagency USDA OCS Plant Breeding Working Group (PBWG), including ARS, NIFA, ERS, FS, and NRCS; and draws on extensive stakeholder input.

3/16/15: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)
This is USDA’s largest competitive research grants program, and it includes a significant emphasis on plant breeding and genetics and publi cultivar development. Although it is not specifically an organic ag research program, the priority areas include a lot of sustainable ag related priorities, including plant breeding and public cultivar development.

For more information, see NSAC blog on the 2015 AFRI program and Requests for Application at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/afri-2015-rfa/.

To find the current Requests for Applications for specific programs, visit the AFRI web page at http://www.nifa.usda.gov/program/agriculture-and-food-research-initiative , scroll down to Related Content and the list of Related Funding Opportunities, and click on the item of interest.

3/16/15: Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)
Pre-applications due March 30
Full applications (invited on the basis of evaluation of pre-applications) are due July 2
This program funds large integrated research and extension projects on specialty crops (fruit, vegetables, nuts, herbs, cut flowers, nursery stock) for both organic and conventional production systems
For more information, including the 2015 Request for Applications, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/specialtycropresearchinitiative.cfm

3/16/15: Organic Research and Extension Initiative: Application Deadline April 30
OREI offers $17.5 million in USDA funding in 2015 for research, education, and extension projects specifically for USDA certified organic farming systems.  Over the past 10 years, OREI has funded a lot of excellent research and outreach projects on top organic producers’ priorities including soil quality and nutrient management; weed, pest and disease management; and farmer-partricipatory projects on crop breeding and genetis for organic systems, including variety evaluation, crop breeding and public cultivar development.
Details at this link.

3/16/15:Organic Transitions Program (ORG)
USDA funding for research, education, and extension projects focusing on:
The environmental benefits of organic and transitioning-to-organic production systems, including,
Projects that seek to develop effective new cultural practices, organic-compatible materials, or integrated strategies as alternatives to substances that the National Organic Program plans to phase out (e.g., antibiotic sprays for fire blight control in apple and pear; methionine nutrition for poultry; or Chilean sodium nitrate for a quick N fix). For more on this program visit the NSAC blog at:
http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/grassrootsguide/sustainable-organic-research/organic-transitions-research-education-and-extension-program/

3/13/15: Tricycle Gardens Looking for Farm Manager

Tricycle Gardens is seeking a dynamic and energetic Urban Farm Manager to oversee the organization’s urban agriculture sites. The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of organic and sustainable growing practices, season extension techniques, four season farming and enjoy sharing their knowledge with farm visitors, fellows, workforce development participants, students and volunteers. Experience farming in an urban environment is a plus. More Information

3/10/15: National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation

Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops – whether or not they use cover crops themselves – in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. The results, which will be released this summer, will help growers, researchers, agricultural advisors, ag retailers and policymakers more effectively address questions about cover crops and learn about best practices.
Take online survey now

3/6/15: Do you Grow Vegetables or Fruits?  If so, Your Opinions Are Needed! 

As a farmer in this region, your help is needed! Please tell us about your preferences when it comes to how you market your fruits and vegetables? A survey is being conducted between Virginia Tech, NC State University, and other local universities to better understand the marketing methods, needs, and preferences of our area’s fruit and vegetable farmers. Your answers will be anonymous and will provide important information on the challenges and tradeoffs that fruit and vegetable farmers consider before entering into agreements with buyers.

Please share your thoughts and opinions by completing our online survey. As thanks for sharing your opinions, enter to win 1 of 5 $150 pre-paid Visa gift cards!

Link to survey:   http://tinyurl.com/my23rgf

2/13/15: Make Sure Your Farm or Ranch Counts!
The National Agriculture Statistics Service wants to hear from you. NASS conducts a census of all agricultural operations every five years with sampled surveys occurring between censuses. Whether small or large, your agricultural operation is important to gain a complete measure of U.S. agriculture. Take the survey here.

2/12/15: Kickstarter from VABF Member!
Paul Meyer of the Virginia Vegetable Company is upcycling 2 large Tyson chicken coops into high tunnels in Powhatan, Virginia. Watch his video and be a part of his progress,

2/9/15: Survey of farm owners and managers growing vegetables or fruit

The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland is conducting a nationwide survey of vegetable and fruit growers to better understand how the FDA’s proposed rule on produce safety under the Food Safety Modernization Act will impact them. The survey is intended for farm owners and managers growing vegetables or fruit. It takes about 10 minutes to complete, and we do not collect any identifying information about participants or farms. The survey will remain open through March 2015.

As an incentive to take our survey, participants have the opportunity to enter a drawing for a free Apple iPad after completing the survey. Survey Link. Password: VABF

12/9/14: Strawberry Creek Farm for Sale – Strawberry Creek Farm owner, Warren Landis, is passionate about natural and chemical free farming. He is on the broad of directors for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming, has been a speaker at the Masters Gardener Association of Danville and the Henry County Master Gardeners and has been featured on GoDanRiver.com and Comcast Channel 10 “Know Your Farmer”. Warren Landis invites you to participate in the Certified Naturally Grown experience by buying this farm. Call 434-432-1133 or email him at strawberrycreekfarm@hotmail.com. See strawberrycreekfarm.wordpress.com for more info.

2015 Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) Farm Fellowship: AMI is seeking inspiring individuals to participate in the fifth cohort of their AMI Farm Fellowship (formerly the AMS Fellowship). Applications are available at www.alleghenymountainschool.org. The deadline to submit your application is January 15, 2015.

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