Tag Archive for: Organic

Stipends Available for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers to Attend

The National Center for Appropriate Technology, along with nationally recognized organic leaders, will offer an Organic Academy Road Show (OARS) training at the Mansfield Convention Center in Great Falls, Montana, on December 6 and 7, 2023. Beginning farmers and ranchers in the Northern Great Plains will have the opportunity to explore regenerative, certified organic production systems for livestock, grains, oilseeds, and pulses.

Thirty stipends for beginning farmers and ranchers are available for up to $200 each to defray the costs of attending. There is no registration fee, but registration is required. Online registration is available at NCAT.ORG/EVENTS.

This event will host intensive training sessions and one-on-one technical assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers. Topics will include developing an organic system plan, the economics and markets for organic products, considerations when transitioning an operation, working with an organic consultant, and more. There will be time for questions and crowdsourcing ideas with experienced organic farmers and ranchers including Nate Powell-Palm, Doug Crabtree, Margaret Scoles, and others. Thursday’s session will conclude with a tour of an organic processing facility. The event schedule can be found here.

This series of educational opportunities is not just another farming training,” said Doug Crabtree and Anna Jones-Crabtree of Vilicus Farms in Montana.It is about leveraging training to further build the network of beginning organic producers who are farming and ranching at a scale that will have a tremendous impact on land stewardship across the Northern Great Plains.”

OARS attendees who are farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic can also apply for a complimentary two-day conference pass to the Montana Organic Association Conference, December 8-9, 2023, also at the Mansfield Convention Center.

The OARS sessions are part of the three-year federal Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program, Preparing a Resilient Future, in partnership with the Montana Organic Association, Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, Center for Rural Affairs, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, International Organic Inspectors Association, North Dakota State, and University of Wyoming.

The project targets medium to large-scale field crop and livestock operations, unlike most programs focused on beginning farmers and ranchers. This project was selected in a national competition under the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s popular summer gardening and market-farming workshop series begins May 21 with a practical look at preparing an organic garden.

NCAT operates a high-altitude urban demonstration farm in Butte through its Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training program (SIFT) that is focused on food production for the good of the community. NCAT staff will host the free monthly Saturday workshops from 10 a.m. to noon. RSVP for the SIFT Series events here.

The workshops will be held at NCAT’s SIFT farm, located at 3040 Continental Drive in Butte.

The May 21 workshop will be a hands-on lesson in composting basics, including organic potting mixes, organic soil amendments, cover crops, and mulching methods. It also will cover scheduling planting throughout the growing season and the importance of “hardening off” plants – allowing them to transition from an indoor environment to what can be a challenging growing environment in the Butte area.

The workshop is being held in conjunction with Montana Tech’s Earth Month and the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program.

The other workshops on tap throughout the summer include:

June 25Analyzing your Soil and Creating a Management Plan: This workshop will include methods to analyze soil types, conduct water infiltration tests, and review soil tests. It will look at management strategies to address the needs of the soil and develop a plan to meet those needs. The workshop will address tillage and the degradation of soils; irrigation and soil water-holding capacities; and custom cover crop mixes to meet soil needs.

July 2. Benefits of Increasing Biodiversity: This workshop will focus on how building more biodiverse ecosystems can be beneficial by increasing pollinator habitat, bolstering integrated pest management, and mitigating risk in cropping strategies. The workshop will include planting drought-tolerant native species and touring SIFT’s native hedgerow.

August 13. Harnessing the Sun’s Energy for Season Extension in Southwest Montana: In conjunction with the 11th Annual Montana Clean Energy Fair, which will be held at NCAT’s headquarters, SIFT will be holding an open house and tour. Topics will include high-tunnel construction and solar passive greenhouses, as well as the costs, construction, and functions of useful season-extension tools for Southwest Montana. Visitors will learn about using the resources readily available to operate a sustainable farm.

September 10. Choosing Varieties to Grow in Butte: This workshop will include NCAT’s annual taste test of successful varieties of fruits and vegetables grown as a trial on the SIFT Farm. The discussion will include timing, growing tips, and seed selection for high yields in Butte. A discussion of seed saving basics for a resilient farm and garden is also planned.