July 22, 2020
Kent Solberg brings his expertise in energized fencing to Dirt Rich. Energized fencing is a psychological, rather than a physical barrier for livestock. Because of their portable nature, they are easy to modify, expand, and can be ideal for a rental scenario. They can be less costly than a barbed wire or woven wire fence as well. Kent details the key considerations for energized fencing, the components of an energized fence (braces, line posts, wires, energizers, gates), and how to ensure that the fence will work properly. Those interested in gaining hands-on experience with fencing will want to check out our schedule of upcoming in-person workshops around Minnesota. Kent’s key considerations for energized fencing:Energized fence is a psychological barrier rather than a physical barrier.The class and diversity of livestock you are managing (cattle & hogs are easiest, poultry, sheep, and goats can be more difficult)Terrain and topographySeason of the yearWho owns the property? And who owns the fence?Where are the property boundaries?What are legal considerations (state laws, local ordinances)? Kent Solberg - SFA Senior Technical AdvisorKatie Feterl - SFA Multimedia Coordinator and Development AssistantReach out to Kent, Katie, or any other member of the SFA team here. Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.
July 15, 2020
It’s about that time to plant for late season grazing. Kent Solberg and Doug Voss discuss the biological benefits of grazing complex cover crops (nicknamed “biological primers”), and walk you through the process of designing a seed mix that will fit the unique context of your farm.As we know, things can change rather quickly, and remaining adaptable and having a “plan B” is always helpful. Sharing experiences with other producers in your area can help give you ideas and learn what might work best (or not at all!) on your farm. Other resources mentioned in this episode include:NRCS Offices Green Cover Seed Smart Mix CalculatorMidwest Cover Crop CouncilSFA Soil Health PageReach out to Kent, Doug, Katie, or any other member of the SFA team here.Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.
July 8, 2020
Garlic harvest is upon us! This specialty crop is growing as a premium product in Minnesota markets and pantries. Today we chat with Jerry Ford, a seasoned garlic grower who fell into it in 2002 and hasn’t stopped since. He walks us through his harvest and post-harvest processes, shares the conservation history of the fourth-generation Living Song Farm, and throws in a few garlic jokes for good measure.A longtime local champion of garlic, Jerry also directs the Minnesota Premium Garlic Project, a collaboration between SFA and the University of Minnesota Extension RSDP. Throughout the year, you can also find him preparing for the Minnesota Garlic Festival, for which he is also the director.Garlic growing resources and upcoming events can be found on the Minnesota Premium Garlic Project webpage. Garlic growers are also invited to join the Upper Midwest Garlic Growers networking group, which you can also connect with on Facebook.While the Minnesota Garlic Festival isn’t happening live in-person this year, you will still be able to buy local, gourmet garlic from Minnesota growers. Stay tuned to the festival webpage for a forthcoming Garlic Grower Directory, and on Minnesota Garlic Fest social media for more fun updates.Jerry Ford - SFA Network CoordinatorKatie Feterl - SFA Multimedia Coordinator and Development Assistant
July 1, 2020
“To Clip, or Not to Clip?” SFA Soil Health Team staff Kent Solberg and Doug Voss give some clarity to this question. Clipping can be a wonderful management tool to build resilience in your pasture and boost animal performance, but depending on the context of your particular pasture, it may not be the best option. Kent and Doug discuss considerations, and the importance of keeping your management plans flexible to change.You can reach out to Kent, Doug, or our other staff with questions on the SFA staff page.Get in touch with Katie with ideas and feedback at Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.
June 24, 2020
Growing in a covered space seems to be a trend for many local vegetable growers and there is good reason in our northern climate. To help measure the soil health both inside and outside of a caterpillar tunnel, farmers can use a soil health report card with four easy soil health tests.SFA Crow River Chapter member Sarah Lindblom takes this on in her new project: La Vie en Rows. Using a Mill City Farmers Market Next Stage Grant, she constructed a caterpillar tunnel at her farm in Buffalo, Solar Fresh Produce. She has some recommendations to share on the construction process, using an infiltration test, and on occultation, a soil-health building tool that keeps the soil covered...with tarps.Throughout the season, she'll be reporting back with her experiences and a "soil health report card" from inside the tunnel on the SFA website. Read the first report and follow along here. Get in touch with Katie with ideas and feedback at Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.
June 17, 2020
Even midway through June, it’s not too late to start growing some of your own food this season. Growing a garden in your yard, your windowsill, and at any other scale can be empowering. Kent Solberg, SFA’s Senior Technical Advisor, returns to the show to share some tips and advice for growing in a manageable and rewarding way this summer.Kent’s Top Tips for Starting a Garden:You don’t need to buy a lot of fancy equipment, or even have a lot of space to start growing something.Plant food you like to eat!Keep it simple, start small and manageable.Grow a few things well.Start a compost pile.Kent’s Top 4 Things to Grow:Potatoes (especially russets): You can grow in old garbage cans or feed sacks. Easy to grow a lot in a small space, and easy to store. All you need is a cool, dry space.Beans (particularly dry beans): Depending on the variety, you can eat fresh or let them mature and store them in a jar. Beans climb trellises and are a great option for vertical growing and container gardening.Butternut squash (open pollinated variety): Can be trellised, grown or started in a container. Like potatoes, you can simply store them in a cool, dark place. Seeds can be saved for next year from an open pollinated variety.Sweet corn or field corn (open pollinated variety): You don’t need a combine! You should have at least four rows wide to allow for pollination. Sweet corn can be eaten fresh or dried to save seed for next year. Field corn can be dried and later ground for corn meal  in a coffee grinder (think of the corn bread!). Plenty of other vegetables or cover crops can be grown in between the rows, you could even grow the Three Sisters.Resources mentioned in this episode:Charles Dowding Youtube ChannelSFA’s Upper Midwest Garlic Growers Networking GroupMinnesota Premium Garlic ProjectGet in touch with Katie with ideas and feedback at Hosted by Katie Feterl, produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.
June 10, 2020
Theresa calls up Troy to learn more about the NRCS's role in soil health work in Minnesota, how he sees livestock fitting into the picture, and how he wound up moving here from Texas. From a standpoint of land resiliency and the pandemic at large, Troy makes it clear that "we've always got to be in a healing mode, because there's always something that's going to break it down. That's just ecology."Troy Daniell, Minnesota State Conservationist of the NRCSTheresa Keaveny, Executive Director of the Sustainable Farming Association
May 22, 2020
Dirt Rich's debut features farmer, grazier, and SFA’s Senior Technical Advisor, Kent Solberg. Kent reflects on the “reset” nature of the pandemic, the challenges farmers and our agricultural system face, and the opportunities to move forward. Hosted by Katie Feterl, produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.
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