Food Chains showing on campus March 12

Havens Center on the UW-Madison campus will screen Food Chains,  a film by Sanjay Rawal at the Union South Marquee Cinema, Wednesday March 12, 7 pm.

Jose Oliva of the Food Chain Workers Alliance and Gerardo Reyes of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will lead a discussion following the film.

Union South is located at 1308 W. Dayton Street.  This event is free and open to the public.

Remember that National Farmworkers Awareness Week is March 23-29.


Midwest School for Beginning Grape Growers

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, March 29-31, 2015

You bring your interest and hopes for your own vineyard business. We expose you to what you need to know and plan for as you plant grapes and grow.  This intensive, three-day course gives you a realistic picture of what it takes to start and operate a successful vineyard business—including capital, management, labor and other resources. Topics covered include market assessment and profitability, site selection and soil preparation, variety selection, pest management, economics, equipment and labor needs.

What do we offer?

  • A unique program that combines knowledge from experienced growers and regional experts.
  • Learn essential concepts in vineyard management and what it takes to succeed in the business.
  • Spend extended time with experienced growers and gather invaluable tips and practical know-how.
  • Network and learn from fellow growers and entrepreneurs.

Program highlights
This class affords the opportunity to immerse yourself into the realities of grape growing with a team of instructors who share your enthusiasm. We do more than scratch the surface on topics such as variety selection and pest management; rather, we take a deeper dive to expose you to the information and tools required to launch a successful vineyard business. Our goal is to start you on a path toward a sustainable and profitable business. Over the three days we will discuss the joys and challenges of operating a farm business in addition to growing grapes in the Midwest.

Is this workshop right for you?
This course is intended for people who are serious about starting an orchard business in the Midwest. To learn more about this school, contact John Hendrickson at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, UW-Madison, (608) 265-3704 or

WHEN: March 29, 30 and 31, 2015
TIMES: 10–4:30 Sunday; 8–4:30 Monday; 8–2:30 Tuesday
LOCATION: Madison, WI (details provided after you enroll)
COST: $375

For more information and application materials contact:

John Hendrickson
Phone: (608) 265-3704

Grant writing workshops in March

The UW-Extension Community Food Systems Team (Carrie Edgar, Erin Peot, & Andrew Bernhardt) is partnering with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and will be leading three Grant Writing Workshops for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Foods Promotion Program (LFPP) at three locations around the state –

  • March 3:   Eau Claire County UW-Extension, 227 1st Street West, Altoona, WI 54720
  • March 4:   Brown County UW-Extension, 1150 Bellevue Street, Green Bay, WI 54302
  • March 6:   Dane County UW-Extension, 5201 Fen Oak Dr. Madison, WI 53718

Each workshop will run from 10am – 3pm and all workshops are free (including free lunch) but you must register.

Register at:

Please register at least a week prior to the event so that we can get accurate counts for lunch.

This is a great opportunity to refine your own project idea and learn about these great grant programs!

Learn more about this event at:

Aronia meeting March 19-21

The Midwest Aronia Association will be holding their 2015 conference, open to both members and non-members, in Moline, IL, March 19-21.  MAA focuses on education and communication.

The conference and other benefits of membership is not limited to those who have a common business interest in growing aronia.  Anyone who has an interest in learning about and promoting aronia as a socially and environmentally sustainable alternative can enjoy membership benefits for $25 annually.  Academic non-voting membership includes students, teachers, instructors, institutions and members of the general public at large.

To learn more about the mission of MAA, how to become a member, and details about the annual conference, please visit   With the conference location nearby, and the wide range of speaker topics, this would be a good time to consider participation in the MAA annual conference.

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium February 25-26th

We are busy working on all the details that go into making a conference a success. Below is the agenda for the Symposium. We hope you can join us!

To register, go to

If you can’t join us in person, eOrganic is live streaming events in the Radisson Ballroom and will be posting the other events. To register, go to

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium

The Radisson, La-Crosse, WI

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

12:00-1:00pm Registration
1:00-1:30pm Welcome and introduction (Radisson Ballroom)Bill Tracy, University of Wisconsin; Jim Riddle, Ceres Trust; Brian Baker, independent consultant
1:30-3:00pm Concurrent workshop session 1

  • Farming Systems: Seeing the Big Picture (Radisson Ballroom)
    • Stephane Bellon, French National Institute for Agricultural Research;Organics in 3D: diversity, dynamics and design of organic agriculture
    • Mathieu Ngouajio, USDA-National Institute for Food and Agriculture; Enhancing functional diversity in organic agriculture: The contribution of NIFA’s organic program
    • Aurelie Cardona, French National Institute for Agricultural Research; Collaboration between farmers, extension agents, wholesalers and consumers to design suitable sustainable and organic systems.
    • Michelle Miller, University of Wisconsin, moderator.
  • Organic Seeds: What is at Stake? (Minnesota)
    • Alexandra Lyon, University of Wisconsin; Seed Needs and Challenges: Interviews with Wisconsin Organic Vegetable Growers
    • Lisa Schlessinger; University of Illinois; Pollen Drift: Reframing the Biotechnology Liability Debate
    • Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance; State of Organic Seed: Results of a Survey
    • Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance, moderator, Certification Requirements and Quality Standards.
3:00-3:30pm Break and poster viewing (coffee, tea and refreshments provided)

Concurrent workshop session 2

Organic Research: An International Perspective (Radisson Ballroom)

  • Brian Baker, independent consultant; A Comparison of European and North American organic agriculture research policies
  • Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University; Lessons from Italy: Policies and Provisions to Facilitate the Transition to Organic Farming
  • Marc Tchamitchian, French National Institute for Agricultural Research; Research and development integration to foster Organic Farming in France.
  • Jim Riddle, Ceres Trust, moderator.
  • Plant Breeding for Organic Farmers 1: Back to the Future (Iowa)
  • Walter Goldstein, Mandaamin Institute; Breeding high nutritional value corn for organic farmers. 
  • Adrienne Shelton, University of Wisconsin; Collaborative Release of an Organic Open-Pollinated Sweet Corn (Zea mays L.) Variety
  • Lisa Kissing Kucek, Cornell University; Participatory Breeding of Wheat, Spelt, Emmer, and Einkorn for Organic Farming.
  • Bill Tracy, University of Wisconsin, moderator.
  • Biological Control: Working With Nature (Illinois)
  • David Lowenstein, University of Illinois at Chicago; Natural enemies and biological control of lepidopteran brassica pests in urban agriculture.
  • Alex Stone, Oregon State University; Contans as a tool for organic white mold management
  • Ken Johnson, Oregon State University; Biocontrol of fire blight: why a yeast represents a new paradigm is disease suppression
  • Eric Carr, Rodale Institute; Deploying microbes as a seed treatment for protection against soil-borne plant pathogens.
  • Alisha Bower, IPM Institute of North America, moderator.
5:00-6:00pm Reception, light meal and poster presentation in the lobby by the Radisson Ballroom
6:00-7:00pm Chuck Benbrook, Washington State University
The Benefits of Organic Agriculture: Evidence Based Results
Keynote in the Radisson Ballroom



Thursday, February 26, 2015

8:00-8:30am Registration and networking
8:30-10:00am Concurrent workshop session 3

  • Holistic Livestock Care and Feeding (Minnesota)
  • David Bane, DVM, Sydney, IL; Measurement of biomarkers in food animals to assess animal inflammation and wellness
  • Annie Donoghue, USDA-ARS, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Organic Poultry: Developing Natural Solutions for Reducing Pathogens and Improving Production
  • Jennifer MacAdam, Utah State; Enhanced forage intake and milk production on birdsfoot trefoil pastures in the western US
  • Jim Riddle, Ceres Trust, moderator.
  • Soil Health: Back to Basics (Radisson Ballroom)
  • Anna Cates, University of Wisconsin; Long-term Tillage, Rotation, and Perennialization Effects on Particulate and Aggregate Organic Matter
  • Robert J. Kremer, USDA-ARS, Columbia, Missouri; Soil Health Improvement in an Organic Orchard Production System in Northwest Missouri
  • Stuart Grandy, University of New Hampshire; Increased microbial efficiency and growth drive soil organic matter increases in organic cropping systems.
  • Alex Stone, Oregon State University, moderator.
  • Organic Markets: Quality and the Consumer Connection (Illinois)
  • Kathryn Boys, Virginia Tech; Export opportunities and import competition: Improving understanding of international markets for US organic farm and processed products.
  • Bradley Heins, University of Minnesota; Effect of Growth, Meat Quality, Profitability, and Consumer Acceptability of Organically Raised Dairy-Beef Steers.
  • Kitt Healy, University of Wisconsin; Variety trials for direct market quality and flavor.
  • Brian Baker, independent consultant, moderator.
10:00-10:30am Break and poster viewing (refreshments provided in Radisson Ballroom lobby)
10:30-noon Concurrent workshop session 4

  • Farming Systems: Putting it all Together (Radisson Ballroom)
  • Erin Hill, Michigan State University; Quantifying the impacts of cover crops on organic dry beans
  • Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin; Implementing cover crop-based reduced tillage in small scale organic vegetable production.
  • Rachel Weil, University of Wisconsin; Comparison of Labor Needs for Field Production, Harvest, and Packing on Organic Diversified Vegetable Farms in the Upper Midwest.
  • Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Foundation, moderator.
  • Plant Breeding for Organic Farmers 2: Creative Partnerships and Emerging Varieties (Iowa)
  • Ruth Genger, University of Wisconsin; Building a healthy organic seed system for potatoes through farmer-researcher partnerships.
  • Sara Turner, Texas A&M University; Evaluation of carrot (Daucus carota, L.) for traits related to early seedling establishment and canopy growth at different planting densities in organic systems
  • Phillip Simon, University of Wisconsin; The CIOA (Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture) Project: Location and Genetic Background Influence Carrot Field Performance and Flavor
  • Bill Tracy, University of Wisconsin, moderator.
  • Economics of Organic: The Bottom Line (Minnesota)
  • Timothy Delbridge, University of Minnesota; The Barriers to Organic Transition: Impacts and Policy Solutions
  • Tom Kriegl, University of Wisconsin; Comparing Feed Costs of Different Dairy Systems (Mainly Wisconsin) From 1995 to 2010
  • Carolyn Dimitri, New York University; The Organic-Conventional Yield Gap.
  • Brian Baker, independent consultant, moderator.
12:00-1:00pm Lunch – Radisson Ballroom
1:00-3:00pm Listening session 1: Identifying Research Needs and Gaps (Radisson Ballroom)Facilitators: Brian Baker, independent consultant; Jessica Shade, The Organic Center; Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Jim Riddle, Ceres Trust; and Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Center.
3:00-3:30pm Break (refreshments provided)
3:30-5:00pm Listening session 2: Strategic Planning and Bridge to MOSES Organic Farming Conference (Radisson Ballroom). Facilitators: Brian Baker, independent consultant; Jessica Shade, The Organic Center; Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Jim Riddle, Ceres Trust; and Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Center.


Friday, February 27, 2015

6:00-8:00pm Listening session 3: Presentation from OARS Planners and Further Input (LaCrosse Center Room C). Facilitators: Brian Baker, independent consultant; Jessica Shade, The Organic Center; Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Jim Riddle, Ceres Trust; and Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Center.



Posters in the lobby of the Radisson Ballroom:

  • Tessa Peters, UW; New methods for participatory development of sugary enhanced sweet corn varieties.
  • Tom Kriegl, UW; The Financial Performance Of Dairy Systems Across the U.S.A.
  • Abbe Hamilton, Penn State; How organic farmers maximize the ecosystem service provisioning potential of cover crops in the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Keefe Keeley, UW; Woodland grazing management and hardwood silvopasture in the upper Midwest.
  • Virginia Moore, UW; Cover Crop Adoption on Organic Vegetable Farms in Wisconsin.
  • Jessica Davis, Colorado State; Evaluation of an On-Farm Bio-Fertilizer Production System Using Cyanobacteria.
  • Timothy Delbridge, University of MN; An Analysis of Crop Insurance Alternatives for Organic Crop Producing Farms.
  • Andy Petran, University of MN, Extending the Season for Organic Strawberry Production in the Midwest

Moving Solar Forward – 1/23, Eau Claire

Danielle Endvick, Communications Director, 715.471.0398,
Sarah Lloyd, Special Projects Coordinator, 608.844.3758,

‘Moving Solar Forward’
Farmers Union State Convention to open with focus on renewable energy

CHIPPEWA FALLS – A pre-convention workshop, “Moving Solar Forward,” will kick off the Wisconsin Farmers Union 84th annual State Convention Jan. 23-25 at The Plaza Hotel in Eau Claire.

The workshop, from noon to 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, will feature two tracks, one covering on-farm and household solar installations and another on community and group solar projects in the state.

“We know that building a renewable energy infrastructure in our rural areas is essential for the viability of farming, agriculture and rural communities in the future,” said WFU President Darin von Ruden, “so we are bringing together farmers, rural residents and folks working in energy and renewables for an active conversation on plans and strategies.”

Track one will consider the steps necessary to assess, design, finance and install a solar system at a farm or residence. Presenters will provide case studies and lead a workshop activity for each participant to work out a task list, timeline and financing opportunities for the project they are considering. Speakers will include Josh Stolzenburg, North Wind Renewable Energy; Eric Udelhofen, H&H Solar; Zeus Stark, Next Step Energy; Brenda Heinen, USDA Rural Development; and Paul Dietmann, Badgerland Financial. Attendees to this track are asked to bring their own energy bills for a hands-on activity.

Track two will include a strategic roundtable on a collaborative push for solar in Wisconsin, with specific cases presented, including logistics and financing mechanisms for group solar purchases and community solar projects.  Speakers include Peter Murphy of Riverwest Cooperative Alliance; Dave Maxwell of Vernon Electric Cooperative, Doug Stingle of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and Lynn Thompson from the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, as well as invited lenders.

The workshop will kick off with an overview for all attendees on the “State of Solar in Wisconsin” by Michael Vickerman of RENEW Wisconsin. Both tracks will gather for a final general session sparking discussion on strategy and a work plan for moving solar forward together in Wisconsin.

The cost for the workshop is $15 for WFU members and $30 for nonmembers, which includes lunch. To register, call the WFU State Office at 715-723-5561 or send a check, payable to Wisconsin Farmers Union, with the printable registration form available at

WFU calls for farmers to be considered part of the energy solution, rather than the problem, with a focus on establishing clean, independent energy policy. Many WFU members have taken the initiative to install solar energy systems to support their farm operations, but the group recognizes there is much work yet to be done.

“Solar power is a shining American success story, with a solar system being installed in the U.S. every 3 minutes, on average; however solar installations in Wisconsin are not keeping pace with the rest of the country, and there is much to do to increase clean energy adoption in the Badger State.” said Midwest Renewable Energy Association Development Director Doug Stingle, who will be among roundtable participants during the workshop. “Working with farmers and homeowners, businesses and others to highlight the benefits of solar – including job creation, local control and energy freedom – we can push Wisconsin forward.”


Weathering the Climate: Michigan’s work on fruit and extreme weather

We look to MSU for a lot of expertise on fruit production that is simply not available in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinios or Iowa. The most recent issue of MSU’s Futures magazine includes an eight page story about extreme weather and its affect on the Michigan fruit industry.

The story goes into detail about March 2012 abnormal temperatures and subsequent drought, and the bitter cold of last year’s winter, including some of the new strategies that fruit growers are using to take some of the risk out of growing fruit in extreme weather conditions. One we haven’t talked about much is to delay bloom.

The article discusses apples, peaches, wine grapes, small fruits, turfgrass, turkeys and wheat. It talks about the Enviro-weather automated weather stations (74 in Michigan, and 6 in Door County. Talk to Matt Stasiak if you want to put one in your Driftless orchard). In fact, the winegrape growers held an all-day conference on this topic and have posted the presentations here. Hint: many of the presentations apply to fruit generally.

The article also shares highlights from a new book “Climate Change in the Midwest: A synthesis report for the National Climate Assessment”. It is intended for educational purposes on college campuses, and also to help industry stakeholders make informed decisions. You can download the book free-of-charge.

Reunion Friday, December 5

In celebration of our 25th year on the UW-Madison campus working on sustainable agriculture, CIAS invites all of you who we’ve worked with over the years to join us December 5th for a reunion.

This event will be held from 2:00-5:30pm on Friday, December 5, at the Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton. Our Driftless partners play an important role in shaping CIAS, and we hope you can join us.

At this reunion we plan to share memories, catch up with acquaintances, and celebrate our past, present and future. Light refreshments will be served and there will be plenty of time for conversation. This event is free and open to the public. While no RSVP is necessary, please feel free to call or email if you can join us or if you have any questions: 608-262-8018,

The Holy Wisdom Monastery (formerly St. Benedict Center) is located at 4200 County Highway M, Middleton, WI 53562.

Thank you for your involvement with CIAS. We look forward to seeing you on December 5th.

Benbrook to Keynote Organic Agriculture Research Symposium

Researcher Chuck Benbrook will be the featured keynote speaker at the first Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS), to be held February 25 and 26 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The title of his speech is “The Benefits of Organic Agriculture: Evidence Based Results.” The symposium will be on the theme of building a solid foundation for organic agriculture to provide healthy food for the future in a sustainable and ecologically sound way.

Benbrook is at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources where he leads the program Measure to Manage: Farm and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health (M2M). He recently published “Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition: A United States-Wide, 18-Month Study”  in PLOS ONE on December 2013. See also major findings and other information.

The two day Symposium, immediately preceding the Organic Farming Conference,  is intended to provide farmers and other practitioners results from current and on-going research. Panels and posters will feature organic farming systems, seeds and breeds suitable for organic farming, care and feeding of organic livestock, the economics of organic agriculture and the biological control of pests and diseases of organic farms. Panelists will include experts in organic farming and food systems with national and international reputations, as well as up and coming researchers who are taking fresh and innovative approaches to the daunting challenges that face agriculture.

The OARS will also conduct a listening session on the research priorities that organic farmers are particularly encouraged to attend. Outcomes of the listening session will be used to advance the research, innovation and technology transfer. The conference is hosted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems and Department of Agronomy, and sponsored by The US Department of Agriculture’s Organic Research and Education Initiative, The Organic Center and Ceres Trust.

For more information and to register for the event, visit the OARS website:



Agriculture, Food & Beverage Industry Cluster Analysis

Doesn’t it seem like there is a lot going on in the Driftless around food and drink? Well, the economic development folks think so, too.

MadREP wrote a comprehensive industry analysis for the Madison Region’s Agriculture, Food & Beverage (AFB) sector examines the cluster in a way that identifies its potential comparative advantages. The analysis includes information on food & beverage manufacturing employment and establishments, agricultural production and employment, support industries and supply chain considerations, human capital, and cluster positioning. The report is authored on behalf of MadREP by Matt Kures of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Center for Community and Economic Development.

MadREP wrote and submitted an application to the federal government’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) for the Madison Region’s Agriculture, Food & Beverage (AFB) sector. The document serves as a regional business model for the AFB industry, including $200+ million worth of active and potential projects, industry and workforce data, supply chain, infrastructure, R&D, and capital assessments.

For more on MadREP’s work, go to: