Health and Local Food Systems

How do we improve our citizens' health if we don't improve our local food system? We should not let the large, integrated food system coop the progress made by those working on our local food system. Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation North Carolina says they are just starting to understand how the two concepts of local and health can achieve healthier communities. ...
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Iowa Choice Harvest

Click on the picture above to watch the ABC News Channel 5 broadcast of Iowa Choice Harvest Product Types: Frozen sweet corn, sliced apples, whole asparagus About Iowa Choice Harvest Iowa Choice Harvest LLC formed in 2013 with 24 member owners. 60% of our member owners are Iowa producers and 40% are Iowa non-producers. "Our mission is to connect customers with earth-conscious Iowa farmers," Huber says," who grow high quality fruits and vegetables." Our plant is located in Marshalltown, Iowa and we began processing sweet corn in August. Our company purchases crops from Iowa farmers at their peak of ripeness and then flash freezes it to maintain the highest quality taste possible. Our sweet corn this year was harvested and frozen on the same day. The sweet corn seed was non-GMO seed and was raised by one producer. Our apple product comes from six orchards in Iowa. Our producers may use integrated pest management practices on their farms. We do not add any additives...
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Inside the Nation’s Largest Conservation Program – Part III

Inside the Nation’s Largest Conservation Program – Part III   This blog post highlights participation of beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as well as organic and transitioning-to-organic farmers and ranchers in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and looks at trends in program participation unique to these categories of farmers.     CSP rewards farmers, ranchers, and foresters for how they grow what they grow.  The program has enrolled over 58 million acres of crop, range, and private forest land between 2009 and 2013 in advanced conservation.  This is the third and final part of a three part series.  Earlier posts looked at overall enrollment and at conservation enhancements.   Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers NSAC pays particular attention to how federal programs impact beginning farmers and ranchers as well as socially disadvantaged producers across the country.  The data here provide an overview of how CSP impacts these farmers and ranchers and compares their participation to the general farmer population enrolled in the program.   Between 2009...
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CSP Sign Up Extended Until February 7

CSP Sign Up Extended Until February 7   The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the deadline for applications to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).   Farmers and ranchers interested in enrolling in CSP now have until February 7 to submit their initial applications to NRCS. The original deadline was January 17, which gives producers an extra three weeks to get into their local NRCS office and submit the initial application to enroll. NSAC has issued an Information Alert (PDF) with information on the timeline and process for applying to enroll in CSP, including application ranking criteria and other helpful information.   About the Conservation Stewardship Program CSP is an innovative working lands conservation program that rewards farmers and ranchers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce.  In the first five enrollment years for CSP (2009-2013), approximately 46,000 farmers and ranchers have enrolled nearly 60 million acres of farm and ranch land.  That land is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts valued at $804 million a year.   NSAC periodically analyzes...
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Free webinars from the University of Illinois Extension

The University of Illinois Extension is hosting some free webinars that may be of some interest. You can attend these webinars from the comfort of your home, on your home computer. For those that can’t attend during the day, they will all be archived for viewing at a later date.   Topics for this years’ webinar:   Jan. 16- Organic overview Jan. 23- Pumpkins Jan. 30- Small scale composting Feb. 6- Organic insect management Feb. 13- Organic disease management Feb. 20- Organic weed management Feb. 27- Asparagus production March 6- Orchard insect management March 13- Orchard management March 20- Orchard disease management March 27- Ethnic markets.   There is no cost to attend these sessions. You must register to receive the log on instructions. Our home page allows you to register for any of our programs, simply select “winter webinar series” at web.extension.illinois.edu/abhps   They also have the previous years’ webinars archived for your viewing. These are available on our home page, under the “Local Food Systems and Small Farms” icon. Topics are varied and most will cover some...
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Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Workshops Scheduled for Spring

AMES, Iowa—Along with the increasing consumer interests in buying locally grown foods come food safety expectations from buyers. Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP, certification can be used by fruit and vegetable producers to meet buyer requirements for food safety.  Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will hold GAP workshops this fall for farmers who sell directly to consumers and those considering sales to retail foodservices. The one-day workshops are offered as Level 1: KNOW and Level 2: SHOW. Level 1 is training for growers who provide food to consumers through community–supported agriculture or farmers’ markets, or are considering retail foodservice sales. Training covers good agriculture best practices and market considerations. Level 2 workshops guide farmers in the development of a written farm food safety plan. Farmers considering sales to retail foodservices such as grocers, restaurants, hospitals and other institutions, and those interested in adding value to fresh produce and selling products in a convenience form will have the tools to demonstrate GAPs...
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