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Community supported mini school set, Dec. 2-3

By Staff | Nov 12, 2010

BOONE – Those who have considered community supported agriculture as a way of farming, have a chance to learn more about it.

Registration is now open for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s CSA Mini School being held Dec. 2-3 at the Des Moines Y Camp, 1192 166th Dr., in Boone.

PFI is bringing together three CSA experts to share their experiences farming under this model, in which share holders shoulder part of the operating expenses upfront and then share in the harvest later.

This proven and popular farm model provides some benefits that selling exclusively at Farmers Markets does not, according to workshop coordinator and PFI’s Director of Horticulture Sally Worley.

Using the CSA model, share holders become “guaranteed” customers. This reduces the risk of unsold product and provides steady income. Health conscious and environmentally conscious consumers like CSAs as well because they know the source of their food and how it is being grown, Worley said.

The first day of PFI’s CSA Mini School will be geared toward beginning farmers. Programming on the second day is appropriate for both beginners and seasoned CSA farmers.

This workshop is free for PFI members and $35 for non-members. Meals and lodging are provided.

Attendees will be staying in bunk-style cabins with restroom facilities.

To register contact Sally Worley at sally@practicalfarmers.org, or call (515) 419-9551, X-304 by Nov. 22.

“This workshop is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about CSAs, to see if community supported agriculture could be right for individuals and to gain ideas for making existing operations more efficient,” Worley said.

“This workshop will be invaluable to both new and seasoned CSA farmers.”

Guest speakers

Guest speakers for the workshop include:

Chris Blanchard, Rock Spring Farm, Decorah, IA

Rebecca Graff, Fair Share Farm, Kearney, MO

Margaret Marshall, Featherstone Farm, Rushford, MN

About the presenters

Chris Blanchard owns and operates Rock Spring Farm, on the state line between Decorah, IA, and Spring Grove, MN. Rock Spring Farm offers CSA shares to 200 shareholders, and provides herbs and vegetables to natural foods grocers and a wholesale distributor in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Decorah. In 2009, Rock Spring Farm celebrated its 10th anniversary. He also co-directs the Organic Farming Conference, and provides consulting and education to farmers and others. Chris credits much of the farm’s success to planning and careful attention to the numbers. He attributes most of the farm’s failures to those times when the planning and attention weren’t careful enough!

Rebecca Graff and her partner, Tom Ruggieri, grow a diverse array of vegetables, fruits and herbs for a 120-member CSA in Northwest Missouri. Fair Share Farm is working toward the goal of sustainability by using organic growing practices and solar-powered machinery. The Fair Share Farm CSA builds community through member participation in the production and distribution of produce.

Margaret Marshall, CSA Manager at Featherstone Farm, Rushford Village, MN. Margaret’s involvement with Featherstone Farm began in 2007 when she joined a core group of shareholders in supporting the farm in its recovery from that year’s floods. In 2009, Margaret began working fulltime for Featherstone managing the Farm’s CSA program and leading efforts to solidify the farm’s organizational structure. Located in southeastern Minnesota, Featherstone Farm has grown its membership every year since its inception 14 years ago. It presently has 860 summer shares and 270 winter shares. It also sells produce to grocery stores and restaurants in the region.

Practical Farmers of Iowa includes a diverse group of farmers and non-farmers. Corn, soybeans, beef cattle and hay are the top enterprises for PFI farmers, although many have a variety of other operations, including fruits and vegetables. PFI’s programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences and more. For more information, call 515.232.5661 or visit HYPERLINK ““http://www.practicalfarmers.org/”>www.practicalfarmers.org/www.practicalfarmers.org.

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