The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ben Lilliston, 612-870-3416,

Sow the Seeds Announces Grants to Support Local Food Systems in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa


Sow the Seeds, a project of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy (IATP) in partnership with the Wedge Co-op, announced a series of small
grants today to support farmer education and outreach on season extension for
fruit and vegetable production in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Season extension
strategies like low-tech hoop house/high tunnel structures enable farmers to start
growing earlier in the spring and extend their harvest later into the fall.

"Season extension can be a great opportunity for farmers to diversify their income
while expanding the supply of fresh, locally grown produce," said JoAnne
Berkenkamp, Director of the Local Foods program at IATP. "The organizations
receiving support from Sow the Seeds are some of the region's leaders in helping
build our local food system and strengthen our local farm community."

Generous support from individuals, natural food grocery retailers, the Minnesota
Department of Agriculture and other organizations helped make these awards
possible. The grants ranged from $450 to $5000, with all funded activity to take
place in 2009. More information about Sow the Seeds is available at Funds are being awarded to the following

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI)
PFI will organize a two-day on-farm high tunnel construction workshop. The
workshop will address topics ranging from site selection, site preparation,
orientation of hoop house structures and actual construction. Adam Montri,
Hoophouse Project Manager at Michigan State University, will lead the event.

Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association
The Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, in partnership with the Silver
Creek Institute, will host an on-farm season extension field day. The field day will
be farmer-taught and will showcase season extension options, production
performance, return on investment, and other aspects related to floating row
covers, plastic and other ground mulches, low tunnels and high tunnels.

Growing Power

Growing Power will provide scholarships for five limited resource farmers from
Minnesota, Wisconsin and/or Iowa to attend a Growing Power weekend workshop in
Milwaukee, Wis. The workshops include: Living Biological Growing Systems--An
Innovative Approach to Sustainable Production, Hoop House Construction, Year
Round Production and Marketing.

Land Stewardship Project (LSP)

LSP will host two on-farm workshops in southeast Minnesota. Each workshop will
take place on a farm where a greenhouse is already established or is being built,
and will be followed by facilitated "farmers-for-farmers" troubleshooting
roundtables. Workshop presentations include: Establishing a Budget, Fertility/Soil,
and Design/Construction. The project will also generate a tip sheet for prospective
greenhouse growers and will support post-workshop networking among
participating farmers.

University of Wisconsin - Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (UW-

UW-CIAS will coordinate two 6-hour workshops in Wisconsin on ways to extend the
marketing season by selling storage crops like carrots, potatoes and onions through
the winter. The workshops will cover storage requirements of different crops,
variety selection, post-harvest handling practices for long-term storage, how to
build sound and energy efficient storage facilities, and marketing strategies. The
workshop will feature presentations from growers, along with UW faculty and staff.

Minnesota Food Association (MFA)

MFA will provide technical assistance and training to socially disadvantaged farmers
in rural Minnesota and western Wisconsin on season extension and the use of hoop
houses. MFA's Big River Farms Training Program will deliver three training sessions
between August and November 2009 focused on season extension planning and
preparation, production, and harvest management.

Sow the Seeds was initiated by the Wedge Community Co-op and the Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy to educate and engage members of the public while
supporting local, sustainable food production.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.