Category Archives: Technical Assistance/Funding

Kate Clancy on food systems

Many of you may know Dr. Kate Clancy’s work on food systems. She has led many a project to diagnose what is working and what is not, including a multi-state project in New England – EFSNE.

Kate was on the UW-Madison campus the week of April 2 and gave a presentation for the Food and the Wisconsin Idea. The session is titled “The systems that feed us and what it will take to change them”. ( https://youtu.be/3yVx9OqKTcA ) The term “food system” is widely used in academia and the nonprofit sector, but what do we really mean by it? Are we really using systems approaches to complex problems that could lead to greater understanding and effective solutions? What stands in our way? I was honored to join Kate on the stage to address these questions. UWEX runs these sessions so that people outstate can join the event as though it is a webniar, or watch the talk on line after the event.

On April 4, Kate was the featured speaker at the Weston Roundtable Lecture speaking on “Building Successful Interdisciplinary Projects” (hotlink to come). Despite widespread acknowledgment that interdisciplinary research (IR) is among the most important ways to drive sustainable development, many collaborations fail, and it has not been embraced by many researchers and institutions. The extensive literature on IR provides guidance on the “ingredients for success”: these elements are illustrated by the experience of a seven-year project – EFSNE – conducted in the Northeast US on enhancing food security in the region. The lecture offers lessons on how to develop and manage robust interdisciplinary projects, and ideas on how to build more IR capacity.

Kate is a food systems consultant, visiting scholar at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.


Making More From Milk

UW-Madison is offering Making More From Milk again this year, and has recently received sponsorships for the course. Wisconsin Farmers Union has agreed to provide full scholarships for 3 of their members, and Compeer Financial’s sponsorship will provide $100 for the first 10 people who register for the course.

The three day event April 23-25 is taught with both lecture-style presentations and visits to farms. Spanish translation available. Topics to be covered:

  • Welcome, introductions, overview of value-added
    ideas and trends, retail visit, local foods restaurant,
    farmer value-added panel
  • Visits to goat and cow milk operations, retail,
    restaurant, cheese, ice cream, bottled milk
  • Branding and marketing – telling your story,
    equipment and supplies, cultures, financial
    resources, grants, food safety, regulations, next steps
  • Optional activity Friday 26 – Cheese making with Cesar Luis
To register go to: http://globalcow.com/making-more-from-milk/


Flood Risk Mapping

The Driftless is prone to flooding, as we all know, and with the rapid snow melt, areas are already experiencing flooding. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, with funding from the US Centers for Disease Control has developed a Flood Risk Mapping Application that you can use to figure out – in real time – what your flood risk is. The tool is intended for use by emergency personnel, city planners, and public health officials. But if you have access to internet services, you can also see forecasted precipitation, areas of flooding and the degree of flooding. It also maps healthcare facilities, socio-economic vulnerability, and areas with electrically-vulnerable people.

Google’s Refresh: Food + Tech

Google wants to better understand the ways that technology can benefit food systems. Skeptical? So was I. But after participating in three meetings, including one in Chicago last week, I am warming to the idea.

Watch the conversation about the future of AI in our food system with former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Food Tank, Google, and Refresh Working Group members. I think you will particularly enjoy the duet between Ali Lange (Google, formerly of the Center for Democracy and Technology), and Don Bustos, a Native New Mexican farmer. Ankita Raturi hit the ball out of the park when she notes that rural US needs stable internet access. This one is worth the watch.

“I think we have a long way to go before we start deploying Siri for farms,” she said. “We need fundamental technical infrastructure right now … very basic building blocks. What are the fundamental pieces we need to build first, and then people can imagine what other tools might be able to do.” –Ankita Raturi

In a first report from the working group, From Soil to Supper, you will see short pieces on how AI is currently in use, primarily for data collection for traditional production, distribution, and retailing. It is my hope that future reports will begin to address power disparities in the food system and the way that data privatization and technology appropriate for small to mid-scale farms is being developed. Something to help farmers anticipate extreme weather, like the Driftless flooding, would be appreciated, I am sure.

And if you have thoughts about food+tech you want me to bring to the table, please post comments below. I would be happy to share your thoughts with the working group at our next meeting.

 

Livestock Compass is Live!

Our new spreadsheet tool designed to help livestock producers calculate their cost of production and marketing…and then make strategic management decisions to improve farm profits…is now available.

Eventually, Livestock Compass will be housed at a new CompassToolbox.com website but that has not been built yet! For now it is available at www.veggiecompass.com

Jim Munsch and John Hendrickson will be doing a training on this tool at the Southern Sustainable Ag Working Group Conference in 2019. Would your group like a training on the tool?

Beginning Farmer School January 11-13, 2019

Planning a small business growing and selling fresh vegetables? Join us for the 2019 Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers, January 11-13. Registration is now open! A limited number of scholarships are available. Click here for more information or to register or contact John Hendrickson (jhendric@wisc.edu)

 

Iowa County Farm Tour and Gulf Seafood Monday October 9, 2017

Join Iowa County’s Uplands Farmer-led watershed group for a cover crops farm tour and seafood lunch

  • 9am         Fazenda Boa Terra produce farm (Lidia Dungue and John Middleton) 6580 State Rd  23, Spring Green
  • 10:15am   Walk to Michael Dollans’ inter-seeded cover crops, State Rd 23
  • 11:15am    Uplands Cheese dairy farm (Scott and Illana Mericka and Andy and Caitlin Hatch), 5023 State Rd 23 N, Dodgeville

The farm tour will be followed by lunch at Uplands Cheese Farm.

Come discuss cover crop practices for fresh market produce, grain and dairy systems. See no-till drilling irrigation, manure management, and other strategies to conserve soil and nutrients. Then enjoy brats and seafood caught by fishermen in the Gulf – whose challenges with nutrient build-up and biological die-off in the Gulf Dead Zone we seek to help through out conservation practices.

There is no fee, but please RSVP by Thursday, October 5 at http://bit.ly/covercroptourlunch or contacting Margaret Krome, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (608) 283-1440, mkrome@sbcglobal.net or Gene Schriefer, Iowa County Extension (608) 930-9850.

Co-sponsored by: MFAI, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, Iowa County Farm Bureau, Iowa County Land Conservation Department, The McKnight Foundation, MOSES, Organic Valley, Savanna Institute, Southwest Badger RC&D, UW Extension, DATCP, UW-CIAS

 

Making More From Milk!

Have you ever thought about adding value to the milk you produce on your farm? This May, join with other farmers to learn about value-added dairy, including visits to retails that specialize in specialty cheeses, and visits to farms that are making cheese and ice cream from their milk. Cow, sheep and goat milk dairies and cheese makers are featured, especially those producing artisan and raw milk cheeses from grass-fed animals.

This is three full days of on-site expert introduction to value-added dairy. The event fee of $695 includes:

  • 3 farm visits,
  • 3 processor visits,
  • 5 retailer visits,
  • 5 seminars with industry experts,
  • 3 lunches,
  • ground transportation to visits,
  • Translation to Spanish.

There are also optional cheese making opportunities on Thursday May 4.

  • Option one – make cheese with an award-winning cheese maker in a small factory setting. $425.
  • Option two – make cottage cheese with professionals from the University of Wisconsin. $525.

The event runs Monday May 1 at 8 am to Wednesday May 3 at 3:30. Seminars are offered in Madison, WI and tours are concentrated in the Fox Valley.

Register at https://fs3.formsite.com/8onTH0/form1/index.html

For more details on the program, go to http://globalcow.com/making-more-from-milk/

Contact Karen@globaldairyoutreach.com to register. 866-267-2879

AppleTalk 2017

AppleTalk: Where Apple Growers Share IPM Ideas                   Now is the time to register for AppleTalk.

We have scheduled a special AppleTalk call with Amaya Atucha, University of Wisconsin Horticulture, to discuss tree phenology and winter injury, breaking dormancy, and nutrition needs for trees. We will also discuss green tip disease management on this call. Unlike our regular Tuesday calls, this call will be on Friday, March 31, to align with Amaya’s availability. The regular AppleTalk season will begin sometime in late April on our regular Tuesday schedule.

What’s new for 2017?

  • 18 conference calls to accommodate a longer season.
  • Registration is now online.
  • AppleTalk podcast. We need your help on this one. The available conference-call services offer either a stream that requires a flash player (not smart phone compatible) or generates a large media file which has to be downloaded. Both of these options are not friendly for smart phones. We are investigating low-cost opportunities that could allow us to take the downloaded file and turn it into a podcast that could be streamed or downloaded. This is not our area of expertise and if you know of a good program or have some ideas, let us know! This seems to be an area where the conference-call technology has not caught up with the times.
  • 2017 fees are set at $150. When AppleTalk began in 2006 it was sustained through several major grants from the US EPA and USDA. Sacia Orchards helped us meet our budget for the last two seasons. Please thank them if you see them. We anticipate this modest increase and the online registration will secure the budget we need to keep improving the quality of AppleTalk and the content we deliver to you. This business expense pays for itself many times over – invest in your management.

2016 AppleTalk participation survey
https://ipminstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/AppleTalk-2016-Survey-Responses.pdf

Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or concerns. We would love to hear from you. Please contact Peter Werts, pwerts@ipminstitute.org, (608) 232-1410 x1002 or Thomas Bernard, tbernard@ipminstitute.org.

Open Source Food Safety

Announcing new open source hub for food safety information

processed cold products

Photo: R. Stone

Open Source Food Safety has launched a new initiative and website opensourcefoodsafety.org for the benefit of regional food systems. Food safety is important to everyone, but the information food-related businesses need to make safe products isn’t always affordable or easy to access. The Open Source Food Safety Initiative is setting out to change that.

A collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Humanities, Underground Food Collective, Sarapis Foundation, and open source software developers, the Open Source Food Safety Initiative aims to make information about food safety free, publicly available, and easy to understand. This project emerged out of a Kickstarter-funded campaign in 2014 that has raised $49,000 to date, and received national press on NPR’s Salt, Eater, and The New Food Economy for its innovative approach to helping food businesses navigate the complex world of food safety regulation.

Normally, this information is copyright-protected and food businesses have to pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to access it. To date, Open Source Food Safety Initiative collaborators have assisted over 20 restaurants and plants with their HACCP plans, thereby bringing the cost of starting a business down and generating for them an estimated quarter million dollars of value.

Now, the initiative’s new website is taking its approach to collaboration around food safety information to the next level. This new hub, www.opensourcefoodsafety.org, hosts Creative Commons-licensed Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans and invites people to share their own plans, commenting on existing plans and adapt plans for their own businesses. The free, familiar, and easy to use online tools makes all this (and more) possible.

“We think this is an incredibly innovative way to help small processors tackle food safety issues,” said Jonny Hunter, project founder and Underground Food Collective co-owner. “We hope processors will not only use this information, but contribute back – strengthening the overall safety of our food system.”

“This project is a delicious example of how widely used free software tools like Google Docs and open source collaboration techniques can be used to improve our food system,” said Devin Balkind, founder of Sarapis Foundation. “This effort not only lowers the cost of starting businesses while increasing the availability of awesome food. It also invites people to imagine other ways food producers can use collaborative technologies to work together and transform their industry.”

Sharing HACCP plans is just the beginning. The Open Source Food Safety Initiative aims to provide food businesses with multi-media guides to navigating food safety regulation, including step-by-step videos that document the process of validating and verifying HACCP plans, interviews with food scientists, and blog posts tackling common food safety issues faced by processors. Their website also hosts a forum for discussion around food safety issues.

Those interested in starting or building a food business, strengthening knowledge infrastructure for regional food systems, or simply invested in the safety of our food system can visit www.opensourcefoodsafety.org to use and modify food safety plans featured on the site, and can share their own food safety plans with others as open source documents by emailing info@opensourcefoodsafety.org

For project updates, subscribe to the Open Source Safety Initiative’s blog, join their Google Group, or check out their Facebook page