I’ve written frequently about my passion for local foods. Recently, I learned about a series of sessions called Local Foods College that will provide an overview on specific local foods topics for the novice or established farmers who want to learn more. This looks like a great collection of classes.
The point of these seven sessions is to increase the production of local foods in the northwest region by building production and business management skills. Starting on Tuesday, January 24, Local Foods College takes place each week until Tuesday, March 13. Each session starts at 6:00 pm and takes place via ITV at the University of Minnesota Crookston, Bemidji State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Northland Technical College – Thief River Falls, Clearwater County Courthouse and Central Lakes College, Staples. In addition, other locations are being considered. The classes and their schedule are as follows:
January 24 Whole Farm Planning, Nutrient Cycles and Interactions : learn about nutrient cycles and interactions and how to use them properly within your production model.
January 31 Soils and Composting: learn the basics of soils and how to compost yard and garden wastes.
February 14 Vegetable Production & Planning Your Market Garden: learn the basics of vegetable production, including site selection, water needs, seed selection, garden layout, and how to deal with the harsh weather conditions in NW MN.
February 21 Starting and Managing an Apple Orchard : learn about site selection, rootstock,varieties, orchard layout, pests, diseases, pruning, orchard floor and post-harvest management, and finances.
February 28 Small Fruit : the focus will be on strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and other small fruit; learn about soils, plant spacing, growthmanagement, fertility and harvest.
March 6 Backyard Poultry (for beginners and the more experienced; focus is on chickens): session covers terminology, breeds, feeding, common problems, housing, dealing with predators
March 13 Farm Business Management & Farm to School : learn how to identify your local foods market, promotion, business planning, the how-tos of Farm-to-School programs and how to find, learn and connect with the resources.
For more information call 888-241-0781 or visit http://www.rsdp.umn.edu/Northwest. The cost is only $10 a person per session or $50 for the whole series and you can bring a family member or business partner with for no additional charge. The Local Foods College is sponsored by the University of Minnesota, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), North Central SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education), Health Reform Minnesota (Statewide Health Improvement Program [SHIP]).
For anyone who has considered raising chickens in your backyard, growing more of your own food, starting to compost or setting up a Farm-to-School program in your town these classes look like they fit the bill perfectly. Maybe you made a New Year’s resolution to live a more green life or maybe not. At the very least, here’ s a chance to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of local foods.