This page is regularly updated with opportunities of interest to our members. If you have something of interest to share with our members, please send the announcement to Jacqueline Moyer. There is no charge to VABF members.
Are you a Virginia resident with conference management experience and a passion for sustainable farming? Take a look at this part time position for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming!
One spot available!
There is one more position available on our 6 strong farm crew. If you are ready to take your farming interest to the next level, this is the place. Requires a commitment for the full season: April 1-Oct. 31st. Send in your application today. Apply here.
Virginia Food Works is a non-profit organization that works with existing and prospective producers of value-added foods, providing expertise and guidance on the steps involved from product development to final production. Their mission is to implement programs that will strengthen the capacity of Virginia food producers to enter and succeed in value-added food manufacturing and sales, thereby providing Virginia residents with access to safely-processed, nutritious local foods throughout the year. Details.
Application deadline April 14
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has issued a call for proposals for Specialty Crop Block Grants. Applications will be accepted from organizations that seek to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in Virginia. Specific project topic areas include:
- Enhancing food safety throughout the specialty crop distribution chain including Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Good Handling Practices, Good Manufacturing Practices, and cost sharing for small-scale operations.
- Specialty crop research including conservation and environmental outcomes, developing new and improved seed varieties, pest and disease control, and organic and sustainable practices
- Increasing nutritional knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
- Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;
- Developing local and regional food systems and improving food access in underserved communities.
On February 26, 2016, the USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA) announced a new initiative to help organic producers establish up to 20,000 acres of buffers, borders, and other conservation practices on or near organic crop fields through the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP). The initiative offers cost share and rental payments for CCRP practices tailored to the needs of organic producers, helping them to meet USDA organic requirements such as creating buffers against chemical spray drift or GMO pollen drift, providing beneficial habitat, or conserving biodiversity. Payments will take into account the cost of organic seeds and plants for establishing conservation buffer plantings. Details.
Contact your district NRCS office to fill out initial application by this date – the contract details can be worked out later
Once again, I want to draw your attention to the new opportunity offered to smaller, diversified farms by this year’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). With a contract minimum of $1,500, the CSP can offer smaller farms a substantial hand-up in improving crop rotations, cover cropping, livestock grazing practices, habitat plantings, and other ways to enhance soil health, water quality, resource conservation, and long term productivity and health of your farm ecosystem. Details.
2/26/16: Paradox Farm is looking for 2 Interns (Lexington)
Paradox Farm is looking for 2 interns for the 2016 growing season. We are a Certified Naturally Grown farm of 125 acres located just Southwest of Lexington, Virginia. We grow for two farmers markets (I am the Market Manager of one of them), a CSA, and restaurant sales. Our two 30 x 96 High Tunnels provide for season extension and year round production. Our number one crop is future farmers! Details Here.
2/23/16: Experience with Organic No-Till System?
Know anyone who has experience with planting vegetables after rolling down the cover crops (organic no-till system?). Reza Rafie at VSU would like to hear from you as VSU gears-up research on this technique. Contact email@example.com.
Appalachian Sustainable Development is looking for a dynamic person to fill the following positions: Rooted in Appalachia Roadshow Assistant and Local Food Sales and Delivery Driver. There are two positions so people can apply for just one or both. Job descriptions are here. Applications are due by March 10.
2/22/16: Organic Farm Sales in Virginia
In 2014, Virginia had 167 organic farms producing $41.3 million in organic products. This includes both certified organic farms and farms exempt from certification. Of the organic farms identified in the 2014 Organic Survey, 139 were certified organic farms and 28 were exempt. Certified and exempt farms together accounted for 28,412 acres of organic production in 2014. More Information
2/10/16: Farmstead Ferments has a job Opening for a Fermentation Artist (Scottsville)
Farmstead Ferments is looking for a full time Fermentation Artist/Team Member to join our rapidly growing team.
Who we are: Farmstead Ferments is a small farm and value-added operation located in Scottsville, VA. We create raw, naturally-fermented foods and beverages made by hand in small batches featuring sustainably-grown, fresh ingredients procured from our own gardens as well as from local farmers.
1/27/16: Positions Open at Manakintowne Specialty Growers & Virginia Growers (Powhatan)
There are three positions available at Manakintowne Specialty Growers and six available at their food hub, Virginia Growers. Pop on over to the Manakintowne website for details!
Seeking knowledgeable and experienced new farmer/grower in Powhatan or Petersburg. I want someone who has been involved with a community garden, urban farm, VSU, your own farm, ex. I’m seeking an independent person who has small farming experience and skills. For right person this farm gig would include fair living allowance, housing, and CSA produce box. This is a full-time management level position in which you must be very motivated to be a part of a growing brand and farm business.
Do you love to weed, transplant, harvest, package, irrigate, deliver lettuce, work at a farm stand, wave at passing drivers, be on a cooking show, and be a part of an urban farm? Then introduce yourself to me immediately.
Send resume / referrals for your volunteer farming experiences to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be working in Powhatan and Petersburg so you will need reliable transportation. Some carpooling available mostly during the summer. This is predominantly a 6-8 month position, but opportunity to stay on board year round. For more information learn about my farm at www.vafarmer.com.
1/26/16: Brightwood Vineyard and Farm Seeks Intern
Brightwood Vineyard and Farm is a diversified, sustainable crop and livestock farm located in the Northern Piedmont of Virginia 35 miles north of Charlottesville. Our business focus: Inspiring new farmers and consumers to improve the health of our community through production and appreciation of nutrient-rich food. Skills Desired: Open mind, desire to learn through doing, attention to detail, curiosity about farming, willingness to work hard. Internship Details: Interns assist with all aspects of our diversified farm from Plants, Animals, Value Added Products, and People; greeting both B&B guests and customers. Interns participate in planning, planting, field maintenance, harvest, farmers markets, wholesale and on farm sales. Our staff also helps to prepare for our winter CSA season, as production continues year round but on a more limited scale. Daily chores include regular animal care (sheep, donkeys, goats, chickens, family cow, working livestock guardian dogs). We tailor the experience to the interests of the Interns as much as we can, within the needs of the farm. Accommodation: Our Interns live in yurts on the farm property. See pictures of the farm on our website http://brightwoodvineyardandfarm.com. Shared bath in lower level of main house. Interns share the kitchen with us and eat in the main house and assist with cooking and cleanup. Everyone is expected to cook for the group at least once a week learning to complete the cycle from field to table. Stipend: $200 per week, plus meals and accommodation. Work is 5 1/2 days per week, including Saturday farmers Market. Days off are negotiable around the picking schedule. Approximately 50 hours per week. Please contact Susan Vidal; email@example.com; 540-717-2165
1/15/16: Plenty! Farm is hiring a Farm Manager (Floyd, VA)
Plenty! is a non-profit organization whose mission is to nourish community and preserve Floyd county traditions by encouraging neighbors to grow and share food. The Plenty! Farm is home to the Plenty!Fresh Food Bank as well as the center for several food sharing programs and educational gatherings. Plenty! values freshness in produce and programs, generosity in giving and receiving and welcomes all those in need of improved access to nutritious food. The farm rotates 2 acres and a 2,100 sq. ft. high tunnel through mixed vegetable production using organic management. Applicants must possess 2 years of farm work experience or 1 year of farm management experience. Tractor experience and good driving record required. The farm manager will work with 2 interns and interact closely with Plenty!’s Executive Director. Applicants should demonstrate a strong interest in food production as it relates to food security, nutrition access and community. Applicants need to be friendly, have strong communication skills, be willing to interact with the public and work with volunteers of all ages. The position opens Jan. 1, 2016. For details and application information please visit www.plentylocal.org or call 540-745-3898.
Plenty! is hiring 2 Interns for the 2016 season (Floyd, VA)
1/2/15: Sunflower Flats in Lexington, VA is Looking for an Intern
Sunflower Flats in Lexington, VA is looking for an Intern for the 2016 growing season (March – October): “We can offer a room in a comfortable house, produce, and a weekly stipend of $150/week for 20 – 30 hours of labor/week on the farm. The house you will be staying in is close to our farm and is located on an intentional, ecological community which has other opportunities available for volunteering, learning, and some paid labor work. We are a small, multigenerational family run farm, using only organic and biological methods. We grow a wide variety of produce and sell through Farmers Markets, local Restaurants and stores, and the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville (an organization which buys produce from many small local farms in order to have enough volume to sell to schools, hospitals, etc.). Please contact me if this sounds like it could be a good fit for you! Emma Parent (540)460-4333 or firstname.lastname@example.org”
“Twin Springs Farm is a small produce and berry farm in Central Virginia located in beautiful Nelson County. We are 45 minutes south of Charlottesville Virginia. We grow year-round utilizing two high tunnels. We sell our produce through two farm markets, CSAs, on-farm sales, and wholesale. We sell to restaurants and specialty stores in Nellysford and Charlottesville Virginia. Our Farm’s mission is to produce the highest quality nutrient dense produce using sustainable biological farming practices. We are looking for an experienced full-time farm assistant/manager. Willing to consider couples.” Details. Contact Twin Springs Farm.
11/23/15: 15 Acres in King William County, VA for Lease
Approximately 15 acres of tillable land in King William County, VA (approximately 20 minutes northeast of Mechanicsville, 30 minutes east of Ashland and 45 minutes northeast of Richmond) available for lease for sustainable agriculture uses. Land was farmed conventionally for 30+ years with corn and soybeans, but has lain fallow for 2 years. Modest or alternative lease terms (including barter and creative partnerships) considered. Please send inquiries to Carolina Lugo.
FIELD MANAGER for the 2016-17 seasons. This is a full-time position beginning February 1st 2016. A 2 year minimum commitment. 4 weeks of leave time, food share, housing option available. Salary: $22k/year.
- Be an advocate for organic food and Riverstone Organic Farm.
- Experience in the growing of certified organic vegetables. Familiarity with the certification process, audits, growing and harvesting, soils management, OMRI, GAP, etc.
- Experience executing a seedling plan, greenhouse operations, preparing and following a crop plan, fertilization plan, cover-cropping, QC guidelines, weed, pest and pathogen control etc.
- Skillful at managing people and developing relationships. Being a good communicator, teacher and coordinator for the field staff, customers, visitors, other managers and with the farm owners. Possess the flexibility and temperament to be a good team player.
- Experience operating and caring for farm equipment; tractors (30-50 HP), trucks, cultivators, irrigation systems, greenhouse equipment, etc.
- Possess basic computer skills, manage data and coordinate with our bookkeeper, do purchasing and manage the logistics of harvesting, packaging and delivery of products.
- Be willing to work hard and set a good example for others.
Visit Riverstoneorganicfarm.com for more info about what we are growing and growing into.
FARM WORKERS : They will be posting additional jobs for field hands for the 2016 season. Assistance with housing may be available. They are always interested in enthusiastic workers who live in, or feel a pull towards, this area.
The farmer in residence will assist the Manager in all farm operations at Shalom Farm – a 6-acre nonprofit community farm project in rural Goochland County, Virginia. In addition to food production, the farm offers an outdoor learning experience for thousands of volunteers and visitors each year. The farmer in residence will also lead visitors and volunteers in farm tours and work. The scope of the residency may broaden to include engagement in food access and food entrepreneurship programs in low-income neighborhoods of Richmond. The farmer in residence’s involvement in off-farm food access activities will be determined by his/her interest and the needs of the organization. Read More.
Farmer Residency dates: March to end of November 2016
Hours per week: 40
Compensation: Modest living stipend, housing, and farm produce provided
Location: Goochland, Virginia, 23063, United States
To apply for this position, please send cover letter, resume, and 2-3 references to Missy Botha at email@example.com. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until January 1, 2016.
Head Gardeners/Work Coordinators will be responsible for the management of 3 acres of Innisfree Community vegetable gardens and for providing community members, including adults with special needs, to have meaningful, task appropriate involvement. More details here.
10/23/15: Upcoming Permaculture Events:
October 31st, 9am – 12pm: The Permaculture Homestead: Farfields Farm in Afton, VA is teaming up with C’ville Foodscapes. Plants in the Permie Homestead: Tour our Medicinal & Edible Plant Nursery and Vegetable garden while you learn how to create the conditions to successfully cultivate your own!. More details.
November 11th-15th: The Regrarians Earthworks Practicum is a five day course on the design and implementation of Regenerative Earthworks with none other than the world-renowned permaculture designer Darren J. Doherty, head of the Regrarians team and good friend and collaborator of local celebrity Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. This workshop will be held at Farfields Farm in Afton, VA and they will be offering up the grounds for attendees to camp. More information available here. You can also access the information here at the Brown Paper Tickets page: http://earthworkspracticum.bpt.me/
10/23/15: NSAC INTERN POSTINGS
National Suystainable Agriculture Coalition is recruiing for two internship openings at NSAC! They are now hiring for their winter/spring paid, full-time Grassroots and Policy Intern positions. Both postings are online here (with all instructions, etc).
10/14/15: Grow Your Soil – Live Workshop: Cost-Effective Tools to Create Lush Plants
Compost Tea, Biological, Bio-Enhancing Amendments & Microscopy Training
When: October 23-25, 2015
Where: Gladstone, VA
Contact Name: Vail Dixon
Contact Phone: (434) 983-8000
Workshop details & registration information: www.grow-your-soil.com
Are you ready to unlock your soil’s FULL productive potential?
Do you want to demystify how to grow healthy plants – and bridge the soil, plant, gut HEALTH connection?
Want to learn how you can add biology in easy and cost effective ways that fit into YOUR growing system?
Attend a three-day hands-on, intensive workshop and learn how to integrate important principles from the Soil Foodweb, Permaculture and Holistic Management to UNLOCK the Secrets of your SOIL.
Day 1 – The Foundations & Principles of Biological Soil Building – Streamline Your System by Using Nature’s Principles
Day 2 – ORGANIC BIO-Friendly Tools to Transform Your Farm
Day 3 – Microscope Training
Please visit www.grow-your-soil.com for additional workshop details & registration information.
10/9/15: Help with 2016 VABF Conference
Conference is coming!! You can be involved!
Silent Auction, Promotion, Design/Programs, Kids Program, Author’s Book Table, Preconference Lunch and AV-Coordinator
These coordinating team positions require considerable time the next several months prior to the conference. They are volunteer positions; in exchange for your responsibility the volunteer gets free registration and lodging.
To learn more, contact Conference Coordinator, Sue Ellen Johnson.
We will need volunteers during the conference too!
To volunteer during the actual days of the conference please contact: Jennifer Wills.
Renew Richmond is seeking a part time Farm Manager, with experience working with urban youth and communities. We are open to new and creative ideas to advance our organization and are looking for an innovative Farm Manager to bring our garden game to another level! Applicants must have farming knowledge, skills in classroom management, as well as basic awareness and understanding of issues facings communities located in food deserts, especially minority populations. Cultural Competency is key when working with communities of color and when attempting to transfer knowledge of food systems, food justice, and food access. More info here.
The Wallace Center is currently seeking proposals submissions to lead sessions at the National Good Food Network’s 2016 National Food Hub Conference taking place in Atlanta, Georgia from March 30-April 1, 2016. Proposals submission are due October 25, 2015. More info here.
In 2014, Virginia had 167 organic farms producing $41.3 million in organic products. This includes
both certified organic farms and farms exempt from certification. Of the organic farms identified in
the 2014 Organic Survey, 139 were certified organic farms and 28 were exempt. Certified and
exempt farms together accounted for 28,412 acres of organic production in 2014. Of the $41.3 million in organic sales, $33.4 million or 81 percent came from crop production. Livestock and poultry animals totaled $2.2 million or 5 percent, and $5.7 million, or 14 percent came from sales of livestock and poultry products such as milk and eggs. More info here.
10/2/15: Vacancy on USDA Advisory Panel
One of the newest members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has resigned from the 15-member advisory body to the USDA. In addition to needing a replacement, USDA is currently in the process of selecting five new board members to replace the individuals whose terms expire at the end of 2015. To fill the new vacancy on the NOSB, for an environmental/resource conservation representative, the USDA just published details on the appointment process in the Federal Register. Interested individuals can find the application information here.
9/15/15: Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
by Jonathan R. Latham, PhD
Synopsis in Jonathan Latham’s own words: I am a scientist who once made and
used GMO crops for research. Twenty years of experience has taught me
important lessons about them. One concerns the lack of scientific integrity of
GMO risk assessments. Careful study of the documents shows that applicants
(mostly companies) are gaming the system in numerous and interesting ways; at
the same time, government regulators are allowing them to do so. None of this
would matter if GMOs were inherently safe, but they are not. They even have
dangers that are rarely discussed, but which should be more widely known.
These two understandings have led me to conclude that no GMO currently on the
market would pass an honest risk assessment, even by the rather low standards
that most national regulations and laws require.
9/15/15: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out)
by Jonathan Latham, PhD
Synopsis: Although hailed as great investigative reporting in many quarters, a new front page article (NY Times Sept 5th) by reporter Eric Lipton left out the most important elements of the story. Some were left out from the main article, others from the email trails linked to in the article. Some of these facts Lipton could not reasonably be expected to have known (though it seems he didnt investigate far). But others he should have, including that the “Nina Fedoroff”, who played a prominent role in the emails he examined, was the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and that senior administrators at Cornell were in on the PR activities of their academics. Yet both these important facts were omitted entirely. Numerous others were buried as the article focussed instead on little academic fish. This article is the story Lipton should have written.
9/14/15: FSMA Webinars
FDA is conducting a number of webinars around the new rules that have been released: Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food. The schedule and info for signing in is here.
8/26/15: Horticulture Instructor – #ED010 Greensville Correctional Ctr – Virginia
$49,788 – $69,824 a year
Position provides individual and group instruction to male offenders at Greensville Correctional Center. Provides effective Career and Technical Education instruction in the horticulture trade area; to assist assigned students to complete the required competencies for that trade area; demonstrate effective classroom or lab management; ensure that the lab is operated in compliance with all aspects of safety management; and to maintain accurate and current records for assigned students. Successful candidate will maintain classroom, equipment and inventories; ensure compliance with all DOC regulations; maintain accurate records and submit timely reports; and manage and supervise aides and students in classroom. Details.
The Farm Production Assistant position at Sharondale Mushroom Farm is an entry-level position with opportunity for advancement. The production assistant will work with the farm team in all aspects of mushroom production from preparation of growing medium to sales. We seek an individual who knows how to work, and is interested in supporting, promoting, and developing local food and mushroom culture. This is a full-time, hourly wage position. More information here.
8/21/15: For Sale: Mechanical Weigh Sizing Machine
We have had a spare mechanical weigh sizing machine for many years. The machine sorts out ten different sizes by weight from 100 grams to 500 grams. Each Staten is individually adjustable and is suitable for soft or delicate fruit. There is an auto loader and has padded receiving tables. We have never had to use this machine since our computer controlled machine has been so reliable. Contact: PAUL ESTABROOK, Virginia Gold Orchard, 540 291 – 1481
Future Harvest CASA’s Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) provides a comprehensive, year-long training program for beginning farmers ready to start their own operations. The program combines classroom learning with in-the-field training, under the guidance of an experienced farmer trainer.
The BFTP is now accepting applications for the 2016 season. The deadline for applications is October 9, 2015. Our goal is to equip the brightest new farmers in the Chesapeake region with the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to start a successful farm.
Your comments and ideas on Organic Farming research need to be heard. VABF is part of a national effort focusing on research that helps develop better organic farming methods. Our own Mark Schonbeck has been closely involved in the initiative. Click on the link and please complete the survey today! And let us know what you think!
7/8/15: Call for Abstracts (Poster Presentations) at 2015 Urban Agriculture Summit
Please see the attached call for abstracts (poster presentations) for the upcoming Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit (VUAS) to be held on October 22-23, 2015, in Richmond, Virginia. The poster session is intended to highlight work related to urban agriculture, including but not limited to topics such as urban food systems, food deserts, food security, and urban economic development. Plan to participate and/or distribute the flyer.
§ Title Submission: July 15, 2015.
§ Abstract Submission: July 30, 2015.
§ Notification of Decision on Poster Abstract: August 15, 2015.
§ Final Abstract Submission: October 1, 2015.
Visit Smith Meadows — a diverse, grass-finished production operation that markets much of their livestock product through the leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC. Come hear the story of how this farm was transformed over the last 20 years by Forrest Pritchard, the well-known farmer and author of “Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets Local Food” and “Saving the Family Farm.” More details.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thursday, May 7th:
10:00am: Lord Fairfax CC – 6480 College St, Warrenton, VA 20187 RSVP email@example.com
2:30pm: Lumi Juice, 1822 Broadway Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902 RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org
- Friday, May 8th:
8:00am: The Colonial Restaurant, 8790 Wards Road, Rustburg, Virginia 24588 RSVP Anna.email@example.com
2:30pm: The ODAC on Route 29 RSVP Anna.firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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 email@example.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.