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New MDA grant program for farm downpayment assistance

Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Rural Finance Authority (RFA) is offering matching funds up to $15,000 for qualified farmers to purchase their first farm. Funding will be available using a first-come, first-served application process. Who is eligible? Individual (LLCs, partnerships, non-profits, and other businesses not eligible) Minnesota resident Earn less than $250,000 annually in gross agricultural sales First time owning farmland Will provide the majority of labor and management on the farm Will farm the land for at least 5 years You can learn more about the program on MDA's website. MDA is also hosting two informational webinars. Interpretation will be available in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. RFA is happy to provide additional interpretation if requested one week before each webinar. Please send requests and other questions to or 651-201-6316 Tuesday, December 6, 2-3 p.m. Join Zoom Meeting: Meeting ID: 813 17
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Winter Trainings for food safety - includes farmer/ buyer networking sessions

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Winter is a great time to update your knowledge and skills for your farm, including on-farm food safety topics. There is a lot of increased interest in farm to school, food hubs and retail and these markets often require food safety training and education, a food safety plan, and sometimes a GAP audit. A  Produce Safety Mini Grant  will be available through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture that will be open in February 2023, and the certificate provided via this training can also be used for this application.  New this year! All in-person trainings will include a bonus farmer/buyer networking event after the GAPs training to connect local farmers and buyers, hosted by Renewing the Countryside. The farmer/buyer networking will be a facilitated connection time to meet prospective buyers and talk about potential connections for sales to these markets. Agenda for all in-person trainings: 10:00am - 2:00pm: GAPs training (for fruit

Is my farm covered by FSMA? Reminders about the FSMA law for food safety

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Food safety is a critical part of all produce farm operations to protect your customers from foodborne illness, and your farm from potentially being involved  in a foodborne illness outbreak. As a reminder, the Produce Safety Rule is a federal law and is part of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that was passed in 2015. The rule sets, for the first time, science-based standards for growing fruits and vegetables for human consumption.  Fruit and vegetable farmers that grow, pack, harvest and/or hold produce and that do not qualify for an exemption or exclusion are required to comply with the Rule. While food safety is important for all farms, the FSMA Produce Safety Rule regulations only apply to some farms.  Your farm will fall into one of three categories under the Produce Safety Rule:  Not Covered  / Exempt from the rule If your farm’s adjusted average annual produce* sales during the previous 3-year period were less

Winter 2022 climate resilience cohort

Climate change is making our farms and our farm planning more unpredictable. It is becoming increasingly important to address climate change considerations in our land management planning and decision-making. This winter, join the Land Stewardship Project, UMN Extension, and Laura Lengnick of Cultivating Resilience for a four-part training series targeted to specialty crop growers. Through this series, you will be guided through a five-step process of Whole Farm Planning for Climate Resilience in order to: Learn more about the potential impacts of increasing climate variability and change on your agricultural operation. Evaluate climate risk management options that best support your farm and family goals by reducing risks and capturing new opportunities associated with changing climate conditions. Make a plan to implement selected climate resilience strategies and evaluate their effectiveness over time. This four-part series will give you tools to incorporate climate cha

Broccolini variety trial results

This summer, Lizbeth Salamanca, a visiting student from Oregon State University, trialed four different broccolini varieties on the Student Organic Farm (SOF) on the Saint Paul of the University of Minnesota. Broccolini is a cross of broccoli and gai lan choy, made by the Sakata Seed Company, and released in the early 1990s. We’re examining broccolini as an alternative to broccoli, which can only be harvested 1-3 times a season, and is susceptible to pests such as black rot and swede midge, a new insect pest of brassicas. The four broccolini varieties tested in Lizbeth’s trial were: BC1611 Happy Rich Melody Sweet Stem All seeds were sourced from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Lizbeth collected data on overall yield, earliness, bolting, and pest problems. All varieties were transplanted into slightly raised beds with drip tape and white plastic mulch on May 17, 2022. Lizbeth also calculated an enterprise budget to determine how much the SOF needed to charge buyers in order to make a profit.

Hot water treating seeds: what is it and when to do it

Marissa Schuh, horticulture Integrated Pest Management Extension educator, and Natalie Hoidal, vegetable Extension educator As farmer's market and CSAs wrap up, attentions turn to relaxation.  This is also a time of year when some farms choose to save and hot water treat seeds.  Is hot water treatment right for your farm? A sous vide helps keep water at a steady temperature. It is the most advanced piece of technology needed to use hot water to treat seeds. Photo: Marissa Schuh, UMN Extension. If you’ve been disappointed by seedborne diseases when saving your own seeds, hot water seed treatment is one way you can reduce the chance that these diseases show up. Diseases that are thought to be seedborne include bacterial spot , bacterial canker , and black rot, among others. This process needs to be performed very carefully, as you can kill seeds if directions aren’t followed to the letter. The Ohio State University has good videos and fact sheets about how to hot water treat your

Two opportunities for growers interested in wholesale markets

Are you a farmer who sells produce? Are you thinking of selling wholesale? Have you tried selling wholesale and think it might work for you? UMN Extension and our partners at MISA, Renewing the Countryside, and the UMN horticulture department have two opportunities to support growers:  1. Wholesale Readiness Training program for produce farmers: Sign up to join a regional farmer group with in-depth training, coaching, and one-on-one assistance to build skills and develop individual plans to launch or expand a wholesale produce enterprise. Regional farmer groups will form in January 2023 and the project will continue through June 2024. Farmers who complete the training and develop written enterprise plans will be eligible for $500 mini-grants to support their transition into or expansion of wholesale sales. This training is for growers with at least one year experience growing produce for sale as a farm owner or manager. Participants should be interested in pursuing wholesale production