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winter landscape
Photo courtesy Eric Christian
It was an incredibly busy fall here at NCAT Southeast! As winter progresses and we start a new year, we're reflecting on all the work we did in 2019. From conference presentations and hands-on workshops to videos, publications, and podcasts, it's been our pleasure to share practical information that can help our clients and colleagues. Please keep in touch and let us know how we can help you this year. We're looking forward to what's to come in 2020!

Current Topic: Feeding Ruminants in the Winter

Goat and sheep being fed hay

Ruminant producers who are feeding hay during the fall and winter have a lot on their plates. For tips on keeping small ruminants healthy and happy during the cold months, listen to NCAT Livestock Specialist Linda Coffey's podcast interview with Ruminant Nutritionist (and her husband) Dr. Ken Coffey. The Coffeys have been raising sheep together for more than 30 years. They share strategies for feeding, managing hay waste, assessing hay quality, protecting hay from winter weather, and nutrition. The episode is available here, or on your favorite podcast app.

Linda also filmed Ken demonstrating how to use a core sampler to take hay samples, which you can send to a forage testing lab for analysis. Click here to view the video.

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Do you feed round bales in the winter? Many who do unroll them for their livestock for a variety of reasons. NCAT Soil Specialist Nina Prater recently filmed her husband Jeremy on the family farm, Windset Ranch, demonstrating how to unroll a round bale for beef cattle. Jeremy also talks about ways hay can benefit your pastures. Click the image at right to watch the video.

For more resources on winter feeding, see the recent ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Question of the Week, "Should I provide supplemental feeding to sheep during the winter?" and the Livestock and Pasture section of ATTRA's website.



Armed to Farm Update

September and October brought the final two Armed to Farm trainings of 2019. NCAT teamed up with the US Botanic Garden (USBG) to conduct Armed to Urban Farm in Cleveland, OH, September 9-13. This was the second Armed to Urban Farm that NCAT has conducted in partnership with the USBG. Twenty-two veterans attended, with a majority of them coming from the Great Lakes Region and other parts of Ohio. Morning classroom sessions took place at the beautiful Cleveland Botanical Garden. During the classroom sessions, guest presenters talked about urban soils, cooperatives, legal issues, food safety, and beekeeping. Representatives from USDA-NRCS and USDA-FSA, and USDA Rural Development spoke about their programs. NCAT Northeast Regional Director Andy Pressman presented on whole-farm planning, goal setting, urban soils and small-scale intensive vegetable production. NCAT Southeast Regional Director Margo Hale led a session on recordkeeping. During the farm tours, participants learned about compost management, season extension, aquaponics, intensive vegetable production and urban wine production. They also had the opportunity to put new plastic on a high tunnel and got their hands dirty helping farms prepare for fall plantings and cover crops. It was an amazing week and a fantastic group!

Armed to Farm

NCAT Southeast's Nina Prater traveled to Geneva, New York, for an Armed to Farm 2.0 presented in partnership with Cornell's Small Farms Program. The "2.0" trainings are reserved for veterans and their spouses or farm partners who have already attended an Armed to Farm. At the 2.0, the attendees receive more in-depth training on business planning, marketing, and production topics. Ellen Polishuk, a well-known sustainable agriculture educator and author of Start Your Farm, spent a morning talking about farm financials and recordkeeping with the group. Nina also presented about farm recordkeeping, as well as about soil health. The group divided up into three tracks for farm visits—fruits and vegetables, livestock, and agroforestry—so that participants could focus on the enterprises most relevant to their farms. Bringing the alumni together again for more learning, support, and fun makes for a great week.

NCAT's Armed to Farm team has eight trainings on the calendar for 2020! Stay tuned for announcements about the application periods for those trainings. Follow us on Facebook or sign up here to receive email notifications.

Visit our website to learn more about Armed to Farm - Sustainable Agriculture Training for Military Veterans.



Certified Naturally Grown Workshop

NCAT Horticulture Specialists Guy Ames and Luke Freeman led this three-hour workshop on October 24 in Fayetteville, AR. This workshop was part of NCAT's EPA Environmental Education project "Environmental Education on the Farm." They had planned to hold the workshop outside, but cold, rainy weather forced them to find an indoor location. Luke began the workshop with an introduction to the USDA Organic Program and an overview of the requirements. Guy then spoke about why he has chosen to certify his orchard as Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) and shared information about the program. The main focus of the afternoon was going through the CNG Inspection Worksheet with Jenni, one of the incubator farmers who is part of the EPA project. Guy and Luke have been working with her to help get her incubator plot CNG certified. There were many new growers in the audience, along with market gardeners, beekeepers, and ranchers.

For more on Certified Naturally Grown, see Guy's blog post here.



Orchard Planting and Maintenance Workshop

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On Dec. 14, Guy led a workshop on proper planting techniques and first year care for apple trees. The workshop took place at the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Prairie Grove, AR. This Civil War battlefield park maintains a community orchard on its grounds, but the orchard's aging trees have been in decline. This workshop focused on planting some new, historically appropriate trees. It was open to anyone, and one person drove from Ozark, AR (some 70 miles one way) and another from Springfield, MO. The weather was dismal, but we had many willing hands and made quick work of it!

Click the image at right for a short video of Guy at the workshop, demonstrating how he uses pieces of window screen to protect young trees from apple tree borers. For more on borer control, see Guy's blog post Battling Borers in Organic Apple Production. You can also check out the ATTRA - Sustainable Agriculture publications Apple Insect Pests Identification Sheet and Apples: Organic Production Guide.



Electric Deer Fence Workshop

electric deer fence workshopPhoto courtesy Colin Massey, Washington County Extension.

Luke Freeman hosted a workshop at the incubator farm in Fayetteville, AR to demonstrate the use of the solar-powered electric deer fence. Luke built the fence with help from Extension specialist Kenny Simon and County Agents Ryan Neal and Colin Massey. The workshop was an opportunity to use the fence as a teaching tool for the broader community. Kenny was the main presenter. He talked about electric fence components and how to set up and operate an electric fence configuration to exclude deer. Ryan presented on food safety considerations with wildlife and fresh produce. It was a short two-hour workshop, but participants were able to ask a lot of questions and familiarize themselves with the 3-D deer fence configuration. Kenny is an excellent educator and did a great job of explaining how the electric fence works and all the components needed. If you couldn't make the workshop, we'll have a video of the demonstration available soon! Stay tuned to our Facebook page, where we'll post a link.


Southeast Staff Out and About

 Margo at farmer veteran coalition
  • Margo was invited to be the morning speaker at the Vets4Ag Summit in Russellville, AR, on Nov. 14. Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, and the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs have teamed up to create Vets4Ag. It is a state-wide initiative to connect with and support farmer veterans in Arkansas. This day-long summit brought together farmer veterans and a whole host of agency and support personnel, nonprofits, and congressional staff. The Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture, Wes Ward (Marine veteran), and Arkansas Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Nate Todd (Army veteran) attended. Margo spoke about her background in working with farmer veterans and how veterans are an asset to agriculture. There were panel discussions about issues facing farmers and programs/resources available to farmer veterans. The lunch speaker was Adrian Sopshire, an Armed to Farm alum.

  • Margo also attended the Farmer Veteran Coalition Stakeholders Conference in Austin, TX, in November. This was the largest FVC conference ever, with 500 attendees. She networked with farmer veterans, USDA agency staff, Extension, and nonprofits from all over the country. She promoted the Armed to Farm Program and shared information about our trainings coming up in 2020. She was excited to see at least 16 Armed to Farm alumni there and had a great time catching up with them.

  • Linda and Dr. Temple Grandin
  • Linda spoke at the Missouri Livestock Symposium in Kirksville. She reports: "This is a huge conference, although I don't have a head count, probably 2000 people attended over the course of the Friday-Saturday event. There were concurrent sessions on Saturday for beef cattle, forages, horses, sheep, meat goats, healthy habits/stock dogs, women in ag/horticulture, and farm management. I presented about animal health at 9:00 a.m. in the sheep room; 11:00 a.m. in the goat room; and about livestock guardian dogs at 2:00 p.m. in the stock dog section. There were 50 people in my sheep talk, probably 30 in the goat section for my talk, and about 50 in the livestock guardian dog one. I attended Temple Grandin's keynote address Friday night ("Educating Different Kinds of Minds"), bought her book Guide to Working with Farm Animals, and got it autographed!

Read more about livestock guardian animals in Linda's blog post here.



Upcoming Events

NCAT staff members will participate in the following events:

Southern SAWG Conference
January 22-25, 2020
Little Rock, AR

Developing an Ozarks Green Thumb
March 21, 2020
Mountain Home, AR



New ATTRA Resources


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Pruning for Organic Management of Fruit Tree Diseases by Guy Ames

Managing Soils for Water: How Five Principles of Soil Health Support Water Infiltration and Storage


• Margo talks with Lauren Stine about her successes and challenges in A Beginning Farmer Tells Her Story.

• Linda interviews fellow NCAT staffer Dave Scott and his wife, Jenny, in two episodes about Direct Marketing Meat. In Part 1, Dave and Jenny tell their farm story and talk about marketing. In Part 2, they cover processing.

Listen to these and many other podcast episodes here or on your favorite podcast app.


• Guy's Pruning Fruit Trees: An Introduction and Pruning Fruit Trees: Tools and Tips will help you get your fruit trees in shape this winter.



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If you have questions about sustainable agriculture production or marketing, using renewable energy on your farm, or how to become certified organic, call ATTRA. We're here to help!
1-800-346-9140 or 1-800-411-3222 en Español.

ATTRA - A National Sustainable Agriculture Assistance Program - is developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.



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Contact NCAT's Southeast Office:
20 E. Spring St., Ste. 101
PO Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 442-9824
(866) 442-6085

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Copyright © January 2020
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

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