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Since it was opened in 2010, NCAT's office in downtown San Antonio has served as a launching pad for projects throughout the Southwest. We strongly support organic farming, local food, and community energy planning in our region. We take a special interest in economically vulnerable people. And we're starting a new water conservation initiative. Welcome to the first issue of our newsletter.

—Mike Morris, Southwest Regional Office Director

What's Happening in the Southwest Region

SOAR Project Reaches New Heights

Under the direction of our friends at the University of Texas-Pan American, the year-old SOAR Partnership (Subtropical Organic Agriculture Research) has already helped launch four new certified organic facilities, while giving students real-world research experience on South Texas farms. In October Mike Morris attended a dedication ceremony for the new Agroecology Garden on the UTPA campus. And in November NCAT staff member Rex Dufour came out from California to lead a workshop on scouting for insect pests. Funding comes from the Organic Transitions program of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. More information is available on the SOAR website or Facebook page.

Feasibility Study Kicks into High Gear

At an award ceremony on November 20, Mr. Paco Valentin, Texas State Director of USDA Rural Development, awarded NCAT a Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $87,330 to conduct an Organic Food Hub Feasibility Study. NCAT will define the operational requirements of an organic produce hub serving the entire state of Texas.


Texas Organic Initiative


In August we completed the first phase of our Texas Organic Initiative: a long-term effort to expand the organic sector in Texas agriculture. Activities to date have included workshops, webinars, and a meeting between organic farmers and H-E-B, the largest grocery chain in Texas. Funded by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program as administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Local and Organic Food Comes Downtown

Water in Soil
Since the spring of 2013 NCAT has been working closely with San Antonio Metro Health and My Father's Farm (Seguin, Texas) to organize deliveries of local and organic produce to workplaces around San Antonio. This Farm to Work pilot project has grown rapidly, and now includes all City of San Antonio Downtown Operations personnel, the main office of CPS Energy, and a number of hospitals and private employers. The delivery system has been essentially self-supporting from the beginning, but San Antonio Metro Health provided critical funding support to NCAT in the early stages, to lead planning and educational efforts.

Storing More Water in the Soil

Water in Soil
Our project "Adapting to Long-Term Drought" will get underway in the Pedernales River Basin in central Texas in early 2015. This new project will show landowners how to increase the water-holding capacity of their soils through adaptive grazing management practices that make soils healthier: higher in organic matter and teeming with fungi, bacteria, earthworms, and other living organisms. We are grateful to the Dixon Water Foundation for supporting this project.

Welcome Justin!

Justin Duncan

Justin Duncan has joined our staff as a sustainable agriculture specialist. Justin has a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Prairie View A&M University and a Master's degree in plant breeding from Texas A&M University. He has spent years "figuring out the nuts-and-bolts of successful organic farming in the humid South, concentrating mainly on sweet potatoes, strawberries, niche market ethnic crops, and drought mitigation techniques."

Connect with NCAT's Southwest Office:

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118 Broadway
Suite 524
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 265-3905

Upcoming Events

Staff from the Southwest Office will attend and speak at the following events:

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

January 14-17, 2015
Mobile, Alabama

More info »

Farm Aid's Texas Drought Summit

January 29, 2015
San Antonio, Texas

Scholarships Available!

More info »

The Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Conference

January 30-31, 2015
San Antonio, Texas

More info at or phone (512)656-2456.

Fort Bend Regional Vegetable Conference

February 5, 2015
Rosenberg, Texas

More info »

New Mexico Organic Farming Conference

February 20-22, 2015
Albuquerque, New Mexico

More info »

Texas Certified Farmers Markets Association

February 28, 2015
Fredericksburg, Texas

More info »

Have a farming of energy question? Call our ATTRA toll-free English language hotline at 800-346-9140 or the Spanish-language ATTRA hotline at 800-411-3222.

We routinely publish news and events as they are happening on our Regional Page on the NCAT website. Bookmark it to keep up to date!

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Copyright © January 2015
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

NCAT mailing address:
118 Broadway
Suite 524
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 265-3905

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