Jul 17, 2011

Rural Papers No. 239 June-July-August 2011

Table of Contents

Upcoming Workshops, Tours and Events

Nagengast Steps Down as KRC Director

In May, Kansas Rural Center (KRC) Executive Director Dan Nagengast made public his plans to leave KRC by June 30. Nagengast has been Executive Director since 1992.

"After nearly 20 years as Executive Director, I've decided it is time to step back and turn over the reins to new leadership and for a new chapter in my life," stated Nagengast. "I have been thoroughly engaged in the KRC's work of preserving opportunities in farming for Kansans for almost 20 years. I think the key to healthy ecosystems and thriving rural communities is creating the structures that allow many more people to farm. Our reliance on fossil fuel, or chemically based technologies coupled with genetic manipulation, clearly assists agricultural concentration, while ignoring the needs of future generations."

"This was not a decision I made hastily; I let the board and staff know late last year, and the board immediately began to plan for a transition," he continued. "We have a talented and capable staff who will continue to do good work. We have a committed board of directors who will be deeply involved in promoting sustainable agriculture in Kansas and making decisions for the organization's future."

2011 KRC board co-presidents, Marjorie Van Buren, Topeka, and Laura Fortmeyer, Fairview, praised Nagengast for his years of developing KRC as a vital voice in sustainable agriculture in Kansas and for expanding KRC's vision to include a local and regional food system. Fortmeyer and Van Buren agreed, "We are very sorry to see Dan leave, but we understand that he needs to pursue new challenges and opportunities. KRC and all who farm and eat in Kansas owe him a great deal. We wish him and Lynn nothing but the best."

Dan and his wife, Lynn Byczynski, are buying an Italian vegetable seed business or franchise in the U.S., to be run out of Lawrence, Kansas. They spent the month of June traveling and visiting the Italian family who own the company. Dan plans to continue his involvement in many local food efforts and activities in Kansas. Dan and Lynn are also helping a young farm couple in Lawrence get started in farming on their farm, mentoring them in market farming and hoophouse production.

The KRC board has appointed long-time staff person Mary Fund as Interim Director, effective until a replacement is hired. Fund is currently director of KRC's Clean Water Farms-WRAPS Focus Project, editor of KRC's newsletter, Rural Papers, and works on a number of other KRC projects.

The position announcement and application criteria are posted on KRC's website at www.kansasruralcenter.org.

Small Farmer Commentary: Of Goodbyes & Meeting New Challenges

by Mary Fund

I start with an apology for this issue being so late. We have skipped April and May, and shot straight into the summer issue. But as you read in this issue, KRC has big staff changes underway, which contributed to that tardiness. Then came the news of board member Bob Mulch's passing (See below post.) So is it any wonder we are a bit slow with this issue?

Dan Nagengast, Executive Director for twenty years, has moved on to pursue a family business opportunity. April and May were busy with trying to download Dan's brain, not to mention his computer files and physically sorting and moving his records and boxes of KRC history, and working with the board to set up the search process for his successor.

I was appointed Acting Director, which means I am wearing multiple hats, and the editor hat ended up thrown into the corner. But the call for applicants is out, the review process is underway, and we hope to interview and hire Dan's successor by sometime this fall.

Other staff changes include Jason Schmidt, Field Organizer leaving the end of March to farm fulltime. We've hired Lyle Kohlmeier to replace Jason (see page 13), and hired 3 chapter coordinators as we launched the Our Local Food Project this spring.

Mercedes Taylor-Puckett has taken on Dan's local/regional food project responsibilities. Diane Dysart has upped her vigilance in all things related to budgets and reports. Field staff continue working with farmers and organizing workshops and tours, and have smoothly absorbed additional needs, such as helping plan the 2011 Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

So, with this newsletter, KRC is back on track with its obligations. For the remainder of the year, we plan to issue several smaller, more timely issues as we move through the first phase of transition. Wish us luck!

KRC has had only three Executive Directors in its lifetime, so when we choose these individuals, we choose them carefully. And when the board chose Dan twenty years ago, they did well.

Dan took over just before KRC's fortunes took off. Under his leadership we received a multi- year Kellogg Foundation grant which set up the Heartland Network clusters around the state-- a program that greatly expanded KRC's reach into the varied nature of Kansas agriculture. Many of these clusters still exist today-- in varied forms-- as grazing clusters or marketing groups, and for several years they were the nucleus of our Heartland Round-up, an annual sustainable agriculture conference that brought together like-minded farmers, ranchers and consumers from across the state to learn and to share stories of success and failure, to cuss and discuss, and to make plans for the future. Members of those clusters and their offshoots are today the foundation of our farm and ranch supporters.

Dan oversaw our growth into whole farm planning and offering help to farmers in implementing sustainable farming practices in our Clean Water Farm Project. He participated in a high tunnel research project with several land grants way back before hoop houses were cool. He plunged into the wind energy debate in Kansas early on, and traveled the state educating county commissioners and community leaders on the pitfalls of private contracts, and the benefits of community wind.

He initiated regular meetings with KSU's research and extension faculty and other personnel (through the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment) to review common projects and questions, and develop new ways to partner with the university.

Dan served as Co-Chair of then Governor Sebelius' Task Force on Rural Kansas, and was instrumental in the development of the Kansas Food Policy Council, a network of state agency, church and non-profit groups analyzing food issues and accessibility in Kansas and making policy and program recommendations to enhance food security of all Kansans.

And in recent years, Dan led the charge to elevate the importance of local/ regional food production, processing and marketing as economic growth for communities and the state.

In short, there have not been many issues affecting farming, food and sustainable resource use in Kansas that Dan has not been involved in. And he has done it all with grace and humor, including the time he and I both thought we would be tarred and feathered by an audience particularly hostile to KRC's views. (In fact, Dan's sense of humor is why I am lobbying hard to list "a keen sense of humor" as an absolute necessity in the job criteria.)

So thanks to Dan, KRC is well placed to continue tackling many of the critical food and farm issues that face us, and the board and staff will miss his daily presence in our work. But we also know that he will still be in Lawrence, working hard at his new business, and continuing to be involved in local and regional food politics. In fact, we have invited Dan to be our keynote speaker at our November 19 Sustainable Agriculture Conference to summarize all he has learned about food and farming in his twenty years at KRC, and to tell us what the next steps in developing a new and improved food system are.

Thanks for the memories, Dan. And we'll meet you down the road.

In Memory: Robert Mulch May 22, 1941-June 24, 2011

by Mary Fund

We are sad to announce the passing of Robert "Bob" Mulch, Scott City, Ks. Bob was a member of the KRC board from 2000 to 2011, serving on the Executive Committee from 2004-2011, and as board president from 2005-2007. Bob died at the Scott City Hospital on June 24, after a short battle with cancer.

Bob wore many hats in his lifetime including lawyer, diplomat, farmer and judge, - and husband and father. He was also an expert on western Kansas mirages-- a topic that never failed to stimulate conversation and thinking. Bob was born and raised in Scott City. He earned his law degree from Washburn University School of Law in 1963. While in law school, Bob was diagnosed with cancer, but was successfully treated, and recovered. He made a promise to himself that if he survived the cancer, he would travel. So at age 32, he went to work for the State Department and for 8 years he traveled to 35 foreign countries as an Assistant Attorney General for the Trust Territories of Pacific Islands, and lived in Saipan.

At age 40, he returned to help his father with the family farm outside Scott City, raising wheat and milo, and starting a family. He married wife Glenda Roderick in 1981 and they had two sons, Morgan and Evan. But Glenda died in 1998 after a long and serious illness.

Bob devoted himself to raising his sons and serving his community, where he was municipal court judge for 23 years, and active in the Boy Scouts among other community work. Following his wife's death, Bob was instrumental in drawing attention to clusters of cancer and other serious illnesses in the Scott County area, and never stopped lobbying for more research about water quality, health, and possible causes, which is how he came to the Rural Center.

Bob was big on asking questions, keeping an open mind, and searching for truth. I think the Kansas Rural Center gave him a peer group of like-minded people who shared his passion for knowledge and who believed there was a better way to farm and feed ourselves, while taking care of our natural resource base.

He forwarded a lot of e-mails and stories to us, and would frequently call the office with some new information from western Kansas or about disease research findings. But whenever he called we would also shoot the breeze and get caught up on not just KRC_work but our families and our personal lives. I will forever remember his teasing me about my initial skepticism about his "mirage work" (At Bob's funeral service, his sons played a slide show of Bob's photographs of Western Kansas mirages). Sometimes in our conversations, I would pause, not sure if he was pulling my leg or not. Then I'd see that twinkle in his eye and he'd wink, and I knew I had been had.

Bob was a kind and thoughtful man, unafraid to espouse an opinion contrary to conventional wisdom, and not afraid to ask the tough questions. His measured opinions at our board meetings, like in his courtroom-- and both, I am sure, delivered with his keen sense of humor and penchant for innovative thinking-- will be missed.

Cuts to Conservation and Local Food Systems Protested

On June 28th, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and a broad coalition of farm, conservation, wildlife, and forestry organizations representing millions of Americans joined forces for a National Day of Action to protest the huge cuts to farm bill conservation programs and an initiative to support development of local and regional food systems in the House of Representatives Fiscal 2012 agriculture appropriations bill.

The agriculture appropriations bill the House of Representatives just passed slashes $1 billion from mandatory farm bill conservation funding and tells USDA to drop the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. The coalition urged their members to call their Senators and ask them to protect conservation and local and regional food development funding.

"The House measure would slash programs that support farmers who protect the soil and water on which our nation's future productivity depends," said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

"Conservation programs were cut by $500 million in fiscal year 2011 and the House is proposing an additional cut of $1 billion for fiscal year 2012 to the Conservation Stewardship Pro-gram, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Farmland Pro-tection Program, and the Wetlands Reserve Program."

"These cuts are between 20 and 30 percent, and are grossly disproportionate to other spending cuts," noted Hoefner. "The Conservation Stewardship Program cut is particularly egregious as it would require USDA to break contracts the government has signed with farmers who have committed to conservation practices" said Hoefner.

Conservation programs are consistently oversubscribed with long waiting lists of farmers wanting to implement conservation systems. Conservation program spending has been slashed while funding for commodity programs remains untouched in the House-passed bill. "If cuts to mandatory funding are to be made, then everything has to be on the table," said Hoefner.

A provision denying any funding for the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative is a direct attack on new farm and market opportunities, rural job growth and public health. The initiative provides crucial coordination and public outreach to build new income opportunities for farmers producing for the local and regional markets.

"These markets are essential to rural economic recovery and eliminating the Know Your Farmer initiative is shortsighted and extreme," said Hoefner. "Development of local and regional food systems and markets is a job creator and a good investment in public health."

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. The Kansas Rural Center is a member.

Seminar at KDA Highlights Local Foods and the Ks. Economy

The Kansas Rural Center organized a local foods seminar on March 25 for the new Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman, Deputy Secretary Chris Wilson and staff from the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Also in attendance was USDA Farm Service Agency Director Adrian Polanski, USDA Rural Development Director Patty Clark, Greg Pinichello State director of the Kansas Small Business Development Centers, the director of the Beginning Farmer Loan Program and Donn Teske, Kansas Farmers Union President.

The purpose of the seminar was to update these leaders on the opportunities and barriers to expanding local food production in Kansas.

The hope was that the Kansas Department of Agriculture would consider designating a 'Local Foods Coordinator' and develop a local foods advisory council to assist with the development of a Kansas' Local Food and Farm Plan.

Dr. Rhonda Janke, Kansas State University, started the discussion by detailing the production and consumption of local foods in Kansas. Kansans spend $767 million a year on fruits and vegetables but only $32 million (4 percent) of that is grown locally.

Overall, the USDA estimates that an average Kansan spends $2,577 on food annually. That gives us a total of $7.5 Billion spent annually on food by 2.9 million Kansans. Right now there is not comparable data on the dollars spent by Kansans for local meats or local dairy products.

Historically, Kansas had 109,708 farms selling vegetables in 1920 but only 473 in 2007. Kansas had over 140,000 acres in produce in 1910 whereas in 2007 there are only 6,700 acres in vegetables and fruits. Dr. Janke's research shows that it would take just 77,000 acres in Kansas to grow 100 percent of the major vegetables and fruits. Kansas has millions of acres in wheat, corn, soybeans and milo.

Rita York, general manager of The Community Mercantile in Lawrence, gave an overview of the successes and challenges The MERC has faced since it's beginning in 1974. The MERC is the largest natural foods co-op super- market in Kansas. Sales were over $12 million in 2010 with an average of 10,500 customers weekly. The MERC has over 5,200 member owners.

78 percent of the eggs sold at the MERC come from 11 farms. The MERC works with 30 local produce growers but only 8 percent of the MERC's produce is locally sourced. The MERC is working on plans to scale up their purchase of more local foods.

Diana Endicott is the founder and manager of Good Natured Family Farms - an alliance of 100 farms in Kansas and Missouri that sell at the Hen House supermarkets and the Balls Price Chopper supermarkets in Kansas City as well as The MERC in Lawrence.

Sales will top $5 million this year. Their local foods include beef, pork, eggs, cheese, honey, bison, heritage turkeys and produce. By offering a wide variety of local products, they have more leverage in the market and more acceptance by supermarkets. Diana has a federally inspected meat processing plant at Uniontown, Ks. that now processes poultry in addition to the red meats. www.goodnatured.net

Mercedes Taylor-Puckett from the Kansas Rural Center gave an update on farmers markets in Kansas. Kansas now has over 102 farmers markets. By the end of this year, 19 of these farmers markets will have electronic benefit transfer (EBT) capabilities to accept the Vision Card (electronic food stamps).

In 2010, over $29,000 in Vision Card transactions were processed at 13 farmers markets. In 2011, over $500 million in food stamps will be received by 275,000 Kansas' residents. Helping gardeners to scale up production is a major challenge for farmers markets and meeting the growing consumer demand for local produce will take a statewide plan. www.ksfarmersmarkets.org.

The final presenter was the General Manager of the Kansas Organic Producers (KOP), Ed Reznicek. Started in 1974, KOP is a marketing/bargaining cooperative that markets organic grains and other products for about 60 active members from Kansas and bordering states.

The grains include wheat, corn, soybeans, milo, millet, barley, oats as well as alfalfa, clover and other forages. KOP is in the process of purchasing a soybean processing facility in Dubois, Neb. KOP is also a partner in the owner- ship of Central Soy Foods in Lawrence, Ks., which produces tofu, tempeh and soymilk from organic soybeans. KOP sees new opportunities in supplying organic feed for egg production, forage based dairies and soy foods.

There was also discussion of the remaining 58 state inspected meat processing plants in Kansas and their future role in meeting the consumer demand for local, natural meats. While Kansas has 65,531 farms, only 4,326 principal operators (7 percent) are under age 35. 21,062 principal operators (32 percent) are over age 65. The average age of the Kansas' farmer is 57. As some of the older farmers retire, the Beginning Farmer Loan Program could provide one opportunity for beginning farmers.

Market gardening is one option for beginning farmers to start with smaller acreage. Pastured pork and poultry is one other option for beginning farmers getting started and meeting a growing consumer market demand.

Kansas needs a specific 'local food and farm plan' to identify our existing resources at USDA, K-State Research & Extension, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Small Business Development Centers, Beginning Farmer Loan Programs, etc. and to develop, detailed local food goals for Kansas. Paul Johnson monitored the State Legislature for KRC during the 2011 session. His Weekly Updates are archived on KRC's website. Paul also organized the Local Food Seminar at KDA.

Farmers Markets Accepting Food Stamps Expand

Expanding the number of farmers markets accepting food stamps will be possible through a recent Kansas Department of Agriculture grant to the Kansas Rural Center.

Fourteen markets currently participate in the Kansas Farmers Market EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) Program which enables markets to accept food stamps on the Vision Card as well as debit and credit cards for fresh produce and other market products. The KDA grant provides funding for an additional six markets.

The central wireless-point-of-sale system used by the program allows all eligible vendors in a multi-vendor farmers market to sell food products to Vision cardholders without each vendor being separately authorized by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Vision Cards are the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) method for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as the Food Assistance Program in Kansas.

Consumers who receive Food Assistance benefits-as well as debit cardholders-can swipe their cards on the WPOS device at the market information booth. Vision Card-holders receive $1 wooden tokens that are used like cash for most types of food at the market. Tokens can also be used to buy seeds or plants that produce food such as tomato trans-plants or potted herbs. Most participating markets also accept debit cards. Debit cardholders received $5 tokens that have no restrictions.

The Kansas Farmers Market EBT Program began in 2006 with two demonstration sites. In 2009, an expansion project funded by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) added nine markets to the program. Two markets were able to independently launch EBT programs last season. Fourteen percent of Kansas farmers markets now participate in the program.

More than $26,000 in Food Assistance was redeemed at farmers markets in 2010. This represented a 161% increase over redemptions the previous season. Markets also processed almost $30,000 in debit transactions.

One in ten Kansans currently receives Food Assistance and this federal program will infuse more than 400 million food dollars into the state this year. "It is crucial that our local farmers are able to participate in EBT programs," said Mercedes Taylor-Puckett, Farmers Market Project Coordinator for the Kansas Rural Center. "Kansas farmers want to feed Kansans. With the expansion farmers market EBT programs, we are coming closer to the goal of providing access to locally raised agricultural products for all Kansans receiving Food Assistance."

According to USDA Food and Nutrition Service, there were only 1,000 farmers markets throughout the country authorized to accept SNAP benefits in 2010.The actual rate of redemption, as a percentage of all SNAP transactions, taking place at farmers markets needs improvement. Last year only eight thousandths of one percent of all SNAP transactions took place at farmers markets.

According to Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition, the average consumer spends about 25 times more than the average SNAP consumer at farmers markets. "The trend of farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits, as well as the redemption numbers, are going up. We still have a long way to go in leveling the playing field," said Miller.

For a listing of the fourteen markets participating in the Kansas Farmers Market EBT Program, go to: http://www.ksfarmersmarkets.org/news.

Our Local Food Chapters Spark Production and Marketing Networks

The Our Local Food Program, introduced in the March Rural Papers, is off to a running start with 95 members across the three regional chapters located around Wichita, Emporia and the Kaw River Valley.

This program, funded by a Specialty Crop Grant through the Kansas Department of Agriculture, seeks to spur the development of community-based food systems by creating regional networks of local farms, farmers markets, food businesses, agricultural professionals, supportive organizations and businesses, as well as consumers who are committed to increasing the production and sales of fresh, local foods in Kansas.

Recent program developments include the label revision, blog launches and the hiring of Julie Mettenburg as the Kaw River Valley Chapter Coordinator. Consumers are also beginning to spot the Our Local Food banners displayed in members' stalls at farmers markets and at farm stands and U-Pick farms. Business members will begin displaying Our Local Food point-of-sale materials in July.

Eat Local Challenges will also be held in each region. The South Central Chapter hosted its challenge over the Fourth of July week with a kick-off party at the Kansas Grown Farmers Market. Consumers were encouraged to purchase products from Our Local Food members and submit recipes and pictures of their local food experience on Facebook, Twitter, or through email. Those participating in the challenge were entered into a drawing to win some fun local food prizes. Recipes collected during the event will be compiled into an Our Local Food - South Central eBook that will be available free to anyone who signs up to receive the chapter's e-newsletter.

In May, KRC submitted another Specialty Crop Block Grant application to expand the program with a fourth chapter representing the East Central and Southeast regions of Kansas. If funded, the grant would also increase the level of services available to members including consultations with farm and business members to better gauge supply and demand for Kansas-grown fruits and vegetables.

Those interested in joining in the Our Local Food Program are encouraged to contact the chapter coordinator for their region. Membership information and applications are also available on chapter blogs.

To learn more about Our Local Food and to find your chapter, visit http://www.ourlocalfoodks.org/.

Meet Julie Mettenburg- Kaw Valley OLF Coordinator

Julie is a fourth-generation worker on the family farm near Princeton, Kansas, just outside Ottawa. Mettenburg Farm markets grass-fed beef and other products to consumers throughout the Kaw River Valley, including Lawrence, where Julie lives with her husband, Peter Burns, and their two children.

Julie received her bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and began her career as an ag reporter for Vance Publishing Corp. for The Packer newspaper, covering the fruits and vegetables industry; Super Floral magazine, covering the floral industry; and Drovers Journal magazine, covering the beef industry. She continued her media career in New York, eventually managing publications for a major health nonprofit agency. She received her masters degree in political science from the City University of New York.

Several years ago, with grassroots demand rising for naturally raised meats and local foods, Julie and her family saw an opportunity to renew their family farm and began transitioning to a sustainable farm system with direct-sale grass-finished beef.

Developing new sales channels and learning about non-industrial ag systems -- plus seeing a fifth generation gain interest in farming as a career -- has convinced Julie that redeveloping robust local food networks is critical to America's economy and security.

Jul 16, 2011

A New Kind of Barn Raising: Hoophouse 101

On April 2 a work crew of 50 people gathered around a basic frame and boxes and boxes of metal tubing and screws and miscellaneous parts. They came from central Kansas to the far northeast corner of the state to help Dan and Mary Howell construct a hoophouse or high tunnel on their farmstead near Frankfort, Ks.

A high tunnel or a hoophouse, for those new to the terms, is similar to a greenhouse. But it is a framework of hoops of metal or PVC with plastic stretched over the frame with plants grown directly in the ground in beds rather than in containers. Ventilation is passive through roll-up sides and doors on each end, and they are normally not heated in any way except from the sun.

Hoophouses have been springing up all over the country because serious gardeners and market gardeners have discovered the many benefits of growing vegetables and fruits in this climate. As Lynn Byczynski explains, in her book, The Hoophouse Hand-book*, growers are able to plant earlier in the hoophouses, and extend the fall growing season due to the cover. They can grow more delicate crops safe from damaging winds and heavy rains. Quality of the crops is better because watering is controlled through drip irrigation. And growing some of your own food during the dead of winter is even possible.

Although hoophouses were becoming common in and around urban areas as market gardeners adopted the practice to enhance their marketing opportunities, a recent USDA NRCS program, the EQIP Organic Initiative, includes cost-share for hoophouses, which are aimed at reducing pesticide useage and soil erosion, and improving nutrient management, as well as extending the growing season. Many in Kansas have taken advantage of this new practice and opportunity, and hoophouses are popping up throughout the state. The Howell's applied and received cost-share approval to construct a high tunnel. They chose a 30 ft. by 96 ft. model, with sides that roll up and down to provide ventilation.

While Nagengast led the construction work, Carey Rivard of Kansas State University spoke to the group about production possibilities. He stated that hoophouses can produce high value crops per square foot. Specialty crops such as berries do well, but lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers are all cash crops. Cut flowers are also popular. Research is on going as to what works best in what climates and a lot remains to be learned. Markets, though, continue to develop for fresh local produce.

The Howell's are working to develop a customer base, but this first year they are also learning how to operate the structure. Management of a hoophouse is a learning experience; knowing how and when to open it up for cooling, and when to close it down to heavy winds, for instance, and making sure to water regularly.

Dan Howell had the basic frame in the ground ready for the workshop, but the crew on April 2 had to quit short of "pulling the plastic" due to rising winds. Friends got that job done a few days later, and as the photos show, in only six to seven weeks, the Howell's were well on their way to lush, thriving crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.


* The Hoophouse Handbook and the Growing for Market Hoophouse Update are available from Fairplain Publications through Growing For Market at www.growingformarket.com.

Jim Gerrish to Speak at Series of Workshops in Kansas In August

Jim Gerrish, well known Idaho rancher, researcher, grazing educator and co-founder of the Missouri Grazing School will deliver five workshops across Kansas in August. Each presentation will be tailor made for the grasses, forages, rainfall, growing conditions and grazing potential in that area of the state. Topics to be covered include: Getting the Most from Your Pastures, Building a Better Solar Panel, Kick the Hay Habit, and Grazing System Design.

The workshop series is made available due to a grant award to the Kansas Rural Center from the USDA Risk Management Agency. Kansas Farmers Union, Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition, Middle Kansas WRAPS and Kansas SARE are joining KRC as co-sponsors.

Gerrish is author of two books Management-intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming published in 2004 and Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-Around Grazing published in 2010. Jim writes for The Stockman Grass-Farmer magazine. He has over 20 years of beef-forage systems research and outreach while he was on the faculty of the University of Missouri and 20 years of commercial cattle and sheep production on his family farm in northern Missouri.

Besides workshops and seminars, he provides an on-ranch consulting service which helps farmers and ranchers more effectively manage their grazing lands for economic and environmental sustainability. From his present location at May, Idaho, Jim writes a monthly column Grassroots of Grazing for the Stockman Grass Farmer Magazine and is a contributing editor to Beef Magazine.

The schedule for the August 16-20, 2011 workshops featuring Gerrish is:
Tuesday, August 16 - Atwood, Aberdeen Steakhouse;
Wednesday, August 17 - Hays, Whiskey Creek Restaurant Meeting Rooms;
Thursday, August 18 - Garden City, Lee Richardson Zoo, Finnup Center;
Friday, August 19 - Emporia, in conjunction with Beef Fest at Lyon County Fairgrounds.*
Saturday, August 20 - Holton, Evangel United Methodist Family Life Center

Registration and networking among ranchers will start at 9:00 a.m. with the workshop running 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

(*The August 19th Emporia workshop, held in conjunction with Flint Hills Beef Fest, which starts at 7:15 a.m. with a free breakfast and additional speakers; Jim Gerrish will start 10:30.)

Registration costs are $35 for the first registrant per farm or ranch, and $25 per person for additional registrants.

Student registration is $15. For the Emporia meeting, due to being part of the Flint Hills Beef Fest, registration is $10.

To register, click on the link to your preferred workshop. You will be able to register online, and pay by credit card, PayPal account, or send a check to the Kansas Rural Center. You can also print out the registration form and send it along with the check.

If you have questions about registration, contact Mary Howell, KRC at 785-562-8726 or kfu.Mary@gmail.com, or the Kansas Rural Center office at 785-873-3431 or ksrc@rainbowtel.net.

Upcoming Workshops and Tours

Cows, Creek and Cold Cash- $100,00 in Tuttle Creek WRAPS Cost-Share Available

Marshall and Washington County livestock pro-ducers (all livestock species) are invited to an educational and "Cost Share Application" meeting on Tuesday, July 26 starting at 5:30 p.m. The program will feature Kansas State University Livestock and Watershed Management experts including Will Boyer and Herschel George. Speakers will cover solutions to common problems faced by livestock producers, including alternative watering and feeding options that improve water quality.

Experienced specialists will be on site to assist producers in filling out application forms and answering questions. Fundable projects include: buffer and filter strips, relocation of feeding areas, access roads, alternative water development, constructed wind breaks, pipes through dams, tanks below dams, and fencing.

Please bring farm site maps and legal descriptions. $100,000 in Tuttle Creek WRAPS Cost Share Dollars is avail-able. Go to the KRCwebsite for maps of the watershed’s high priority areas.

Supper will be provided at 5:30 PM prior to the meeting at St. Monica/St Elizabeth Catholic Church Hall, 1007 East Avenue, Blue Rapids, Kansas. RSVP by Friday, July 22 to your County Extension Office, Washington, 785-325-2121 or Marysville, 785-562-3531.

For questions contact Mary Howell 785-562-8726, or marshallcofair@g mail.com, or Barbara Donovan 651-247-8292 donovanmn@aol.com.

KFU Sponsors Niche Food Market Farm Tour

Kansas Farmers Union will host a Local Vegetable, Niche Market, and Grazing-Forages Tour on Monday July 25 in Republic County in north central Kansas. The tour will feature three farms that grow food market crops as opposed to commodity crops, and one grass farmer/grazer.

The tour will start at Warren Sutton’s farm, Courtland, with regi-stration at 9:30 a.m. (Sutton believes his farm has the only green bean picking machine in Kansas.) Other nearby farmers featured include Dan Kuhn and Chris Jantzen. Crops grown include green beans, pumpkins, zuchinni, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes , greens and okra. Picking, harvest procedures, cleaning , sorting and warehousing, and marketing avenues will be discussed.

Cary Rivard, KSU Horticulture Specialist, and David Coltrain (River Valley Extension District Horticulture Agent for Clay, Cloud, Washington and Republic counties ) have been invited to participate.

Mid-afternoon the tour will move to Dale Strickler's farm to learn about forages and grazing. Dale’s farm has a wide variety of grasses, legumes and annual forages that create a nutritious mix for his cow/calf enterprise.

Lunch will be served and this will be your only cost for the day. RSVP’s are appreciated to help planning, but are not required. For directions and to RSVP, contact the KFU office at 620-241- 6630 by July 22, or email kfu.mary@gmail.com.

Eastern Ks. Grazing School Set for September 7-8 in Holton

Farmers and ranchers are invited to participate in the second annual Eastern Kansas Grazing School at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Holton on September 7 & 8. The two-day management intensive grazing (MIG) school will be a hands-on learning experience preparing participants to start their own rotational grazing system with forages adapted to eastern Kansas.

Topics to be covered include the science behind grazing, graziers arithmetic, matching livestock and forage needs, pasture layout and design, grazing economics, and fencing and watering designs. Hands-on field exercises and two farm tours will be included. Speakers will include experts from Kansas NRCS, Missouri NRCS and Extension, and Kansas State University. This school is appropriate for both beginner and experienced graziers.

The school will begin at 8 AM and end at 5 PM both days at the Jackson County Fairgrounds located at 5th and Dakota in Holton, KS. A Cattle Body Condition Score Workshop will be held the evening of September 7 at the sale barn in Holton, which will be open to the public and include a free dinner.

The grazing school is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, NRCS, and the Kansas Rural Center. The two-day school is supported in part by a grant to the Kansas Rural Center from USDA Risk Management Agency.

There is a $50 registration fee to cover meals and materials, and the school will be limited to the first 35 farms to register. Registration for the school is due by August 15. For more information and to receive a schedule and registration form, contact Jody Holthaus with the Meadowlark District Extension Office (785)364-4125.

To receive a flyer for the school, email Jason Schmidt with the Kansas Rural Center at jason_schmidt20 @hotmail. com, or go to the Kansas Rural Center website at www.kansas ruralcenter.org.

Farm Aid Comes to Kansas City, Kansas August 13!

On Saturday August 13, Farm Aid brings its annual music concert to Livestrong Sporting Park on the west edge of Kansas City, Kansas!

KRC has been invited to participate in media events and the Home Grown Village, an opportunity for displays and to showcase hands-on activities that give concertgoers a chance to meet farmers, get their hands dirty, and learn how family farmers enrich our soil, protect our water and connect people to our roots.

Farm Aid 2011 will feature Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews with other top artists to be announced. The concert benefits Farm Aid's mission to keep family farmers on the land to guarantee an agricultural system that ensures farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources and delivers good food for all. For more information go to: www.farmaid.org.

Lyle Kohlmeier Joins KRC Staff

KRC announces the hiring of Lyle Kohlmeier, Strong City, Kansas, as our newest Field Organizer in the Clean Water Farms/WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy) Project. Lyle will be working in the WRAPS Watersheds in central and southeast Kansas, including: Twin Lakes, Clarks Creek, Neosho Headwaters, Upper Neosho, Melvern, and Marion WRAPS. He will organize educational workshops and field days, and work one on one with farmers and ranchers to provide whole farm conservation planning assistance, and assisting watersheds with their cost-share programs.

Lyle comes to KRC after retiring from a long career in USDA NRCS, most recently as Resource Conservationist in the Emporia Area Office. There he worked in 24 counties in southeast Kansas. “We think Lyle's background and experience in Kansas agriculture, federal and state conservation programs, and working with farmers makes him an excellent addition to our staff and the WRAPS watershed process,” stated Mary Fund, Acting KRC Director. Lyle joins other KRC part-time field staff Dale Kirkham, Eureka, Ks., Mary Howell, Frankfort, Ks., and Ed Reznicek, Goff, Ks.

KRC’s Clean Water Farms - WRAPS Project is funded through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with U.S. EPA 319 Funds.

KRC Elects New Officers and Welcomes New Members

At the February 2011 board meeting, KRC said farewell to outgoing board president Harry Bennett, Marion, Ks. Harry, who has served on the board since 2006 and as board president since 2008, is moving to Madison, Wisconsin with wife Margy. He will continue to work as a marketing and transportation coordinator for Kansas Organic Producers Marketing Coop. It is sad to see Harry and Margy leave Kansas, but we know their political efforts will continue full throttle in Wisconsin, and we wish them the best!

Our other departing board member is Paul Johnson, who resigned from the board in order to serve as KRC’s Legislative and Policy Watch consultant during the State Legislative session.

Newly elected to the board are Charlie Griffin, Riley, Ks. Charlie served on the board several years ago, and returns to help us as we go through a major staff transition year. Bill Hanlon, Reading, Ks., also joins KRC. Bill brings knowledge of green construction and design through his work in sustainable living programs at Flint Hills Technical College, plus he is involved in the Emporia local food system. Sadly, Bill lost his home to the Reading, Kansas, tornado in May. So he will be putting that knowledge of building and construction to personal use in the coming months.

Marjorie Van Buren, Topeka, and Laura Fortmeyer, Fairview, were elected as Co-Presidents for 2011, with Marjorie bringing an urban consumer perspective and Laura the farmer perspective to KRC’s leadership. Wayne White was elected Treasurer, and Julie Elfving as Secretary.

KRC Notes

Schmidt Leaves KRC to Return to Farm

At the end of March, KRC Field Organizer Jason Schmidt left KRC to return to his family’s farm in south central Kansas. Jason worked part-time as a KRC grazing consultant, working directly with producers and organizing educational workshops around the state. But he decided it was time to return to his parent’s farm and develop his own operation. Jason is now helping with the family dairy and crop farming, but also is developing his own grass based cattle operation and a small herd of Katahdin sheep. Jason continues working with KRC on a very limited basis handling our monthly Grazing Teleconference Calls and organizing the Eastern Kansas Grazing School set for September. Jason was recently recognized by Farm Aid as a “Hero Farmer” and you can read more about Jason on their website at www.farmaid.org. KRC wishes Jason the best of luck!