NCR-SARE Farmers Forum to Take Place at Wisconsin's 15th Annual Midwest Value Added Agricultural Conference
The 15th Annual Midwest Value Added Agricultural Conference (MVAAC) is taking place January 23-24th, 2014 at the Hotel Mead in Wisconsin Rapids. This year, the MVAAC will include an NCR-SARE Farmers Forum with presentations on hop production, using medicinal herbs as alternative cash crops, using forest biomass to create a wildflower nursery, and eliminating buckthorn with goats. Here is more information about the NCR-SARE Farmers Forum presentations:
- Eliminating Invasive Buckthorn with Goats, an Ecological and Habitat Restoration Study, presented by Kim Hunter,of Fossil Ridge Farm; The Green Goats. Fossil Ridge Farm consists of six and a half hilly acres - mostly mixed grass, weedy pastures with some wooded sections and a thick understory of invasive woody vegetation. Major invasives include: buckthorn, honeysuckle, thistles, curly dock, burdock, and tansy. One of the main goals was to determine the time it took for the goats to defoliate invasive brush, concentrating on buckthorn. The second goal was to determine how long it would take the defoliated brush to regrow leaves. The third goal was to create a strategy for using goats to remove brush and restore native or pasture habitat, concentrating on a rotation grazing method. Kim was able to create strategies for clearing or controlling the spread of buckthorn and other woody invasive plants by using goats alone or as a follow up to mechanical cutting.
- Developing a Wildflower Nursery for the Restoration Market Using Forest Biomass By-Products as the Garden Foundation, presented by Cindy Ramseyer. Cindy’s forest farm is located in the Driftless Area, unglaciated land that spans parts of Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Of 24 total acres, six acres is used for their wildflower farm, vegetable garden, and home. They manage 1/2 acre of organic raised bed gardens for both wildflower starts and produce. Eighteen acres of forest is managed using sustainable forestry standards under a management plan that extends into 2026. Each management area is treated as a unique part of a larger system. They use minimal herbicides in invasive species removal and implement prescribed fire in the woodland components of their forest lands. From the byproducts of these practices they generate a source of lumber for woodworking, firewood for heat, and wood chip mulch for gardening
- The Viability of Growing Organic Medicinal Herbs as Alternative Cash Crops for Wisconsin Farmers, presented by Brian Fontaine. This project researched twenty-six medicinal crops as potential alternative cash crops for Wisconsin farmers. The herbs were grown organically on certified organic land in small (1/20th to 1/10th of an acre) plots.
- Producing Quality Local Ingredients for the Craft Brewing Industry, presented by Carl Duley of Buffalo County UW-Extension. Carl’s project developed recommendations for the hop producing industry on hop quality, training dates, and fertility recommendations; and for the malting barley industry on quality malting barley production, variety recommendations, and disease prevention.
The NCR-SARE SARE Farmers Forum is an event that gives farmers, ranchers, and other grant recipients the chance to share information about sustainable agriculture practices while discussing the impact of their SARE grant funding. The MVAAC is including the Farmers Forum as an opportunity to promote farmer-to-farmer learning in the North Central region. Register for the Midwest Value Added Agricultural Conference including the SARE Farmer Forum online at http://www.RiverCountryRCD.org/valad.html.
A second NCR-SARE Farmers Forum with even more presentations will be held February 15-16, 2014 in Granville, Ohio, in conjunction with the 35th Annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference. For more information, see their website www.oeffa.org
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC08-737, Eliminating Invasive Buckthorn With Goats, An Ecological and Habitat Restoration Study, FNC09-763, Filling the Niche and Closing the Loop: Developing a Wildflower Nursery for the Restoration Market Using Forest Biomass By-Products as the Garden Foundation, FNC07-681, The Viability of Growing Organic Medicinal Herbs as Alternative Cash Crops for Wisconsin Farmers, and FNC10-801, The Wisconsin Hops Harvest Partnership: Demonstrating the Feasibility of using Small-scale, Cooperative Harvesting Systems to Enable Sustainable Commercial Hops Production in Wisconsin .