The latest news regarding sustainable agriculture and related topics of particular interest to Iowa is now available online in the Leopold Center's monthly newsletter for March 2014. Here are the articles you can access, just a click away:
LOCAL FOOD CONFERENCE: You can register online for the Iowa Local Food Conference that will be held Tuesday, April 8 in Ames. Theme is "It's Your Business! Expanding Opportunities in the Iowa Food System." Separate tracks will look at the sustainability of food hubs, importance of processing centers and shared kitchens, and marketing strategies to help grow your food-related business. Register here.
URBAN AG AND SOIL: As interest in growing food moves to urban areas and empty parking lots, Leopold Center Director Mark Rasmussen suggests a good place to start is to test the soil. The soil may hold residual chemicals and other pollutants that need to be removed or treated before growing food. To help pave the way for green development, the Leopold Center is funding three new urban agriculture projects in 2014. Read more about it here.
HURRAY FOR OUR STUDENTS!: The Sustainable Agriculture Student Association or SASA received one of Iowa State's Excellence in Sustainability Awards during a recent symposium. SASA was nominated for its efforts to grow and provide fresh produce to Ames' Food at First free meal program, where members have volunteered since 2012. Congrats!
TRENDING NOW—COVER CROPS: There are plenty of opportunities to learn about cover crops. Iowa Learning Farms and the Iowa Cover Crops Working Group have scheduled four indoor workshops and a field day this spring (yes, spring is coming!): March 25 in Osage, March 26 in Chariton, April 3 in Malcom, April 8 in Arcadia and April 9 in Oakland. Be sure to sign up. Other resources are linked from the Iowa Cover Crops Working Group page.
MUSIC VIDEOS FOR KIDS: A romance between hydrogen and oxygen, an ode to prairies, and dogs asking us not to pollute: all are set to music in the latest round of resources from Water Rocks! The Leopold Center is among the partners for this educational campaign to help young people appreciate Iowa's water resources. The Water Rocks! team sees music as an important connector between agriculture and the environment as well as learning and fun. To watch the videos or request a free classroom visit, go to the Water Rocks! website.
FIVE-YEAR CENSUS: The number of farms in the United States went down by 4.3% from 2007 to 2012, according to preliminary data released by the USDA. Iowa had 88,631 farms, the third highest number (behind Texas and Missouri). See more results on the USDA Census of Agriculture website.
FARM BILL FOLLOW-UP: Promotion of farmers markets will see a boost in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program, created by the 2008 Farm Bill, will receive increased funding, as well as the Specialty Crop Block Grant program that has been used by farmers eager to get into niche markets. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has written a series of articles about the new farm bill and its impacts.