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Southern SAWG Newsletter  Volume 6, #1
  January 2010
Dear Friends,
 
At the beginning of each new year, Southern SAWG presents a conference that brings you the best in practical tools and training, along with new ideas for farming enterprises, and for developing healthy sustainable food and farming systems. Most of us agree on the importance of sustainable agriculture, and as it turns out, sustainable ag is poised to play a significant role in what may be the most pressing issue for our future: climate change. Be sure to join Dr. Timothy LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute, for a special pre-conference presentation where he will share compelling evidence that organic and sustainable farmers are the new heroes in the fight against global warming.
 
We are also excited to be hosting two important pre-conference events that are focused on community-based and non-governmental organizations. These events will provide opportunities to meet with managers of USDA grant programs, learn about funding opportunities, and network with sustainable agriculture and community food systems leaders from throughout the South.

To top off the full plate of classroom sessions, field trips, special events, and intensive courses, we will close with a fabulous Taste of Tennessee dinner, featuring our own Hollis Watkins as keynote speaker. Hollis is a life-long activist in both the civil rights and sustainable agriculture movements, with a unique perspective on the potential we now have to bring about real change in our food system, and the parallels between the civil rights and sustainable agriculture movements. As one of the founders and leaders of Southern SAWG, Hollis will remind us how far we have come, and inspire us to keep up the good fight.

Happy New Year, and see you in Chattanooga!
 
--Your friends at Southern SAWG
IN THIS ISSUE
Two Important Conference Deadlines This Week
Can You Afford to Miss This Conference?
Add Value to Your Chattanooga Trip with Pre-Conference Events
We Want Your STUFF! Donate to the Southern SAWG Silent Auction
Pre-Conference Summit of CBOs, NGOs, and USDA Program Managers
Networking Session: Organizations Banding Together for Strength
Farmers: The New Climate Change Heroes
USDA Launches 3-Year High Tunnel Pilot Project for Farmers
Get the Dirt on the Conservation Stewardship Program
American Grassfed Association Conference February 4-6, 2010; Lexington, KY
Georia Organics Annual Conference February 19-20, 2010; Athens, GA
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Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga, TN
January 20-23, 2010
Southern SAWG Conference

We're looking forward to seeing you all very soon in Chattanooga. You're planning to attend this big event, right?  
 
Two Important Conference Deadlines This Week
 
Make conference lodging reservations immediately. While our room blocks have already been released, the good news is that our hotels will extend our group discount rate to you if rooms are available and if you tell them you are with Southern SAWG. Currently the Marriott has no more rooms available at our discount rate on Thursday and Friday nights, so plan to stay at the Sheraton Read House or the Chattanoogan. Both of these hotels are just a couple of blocks from the convention center and on the free electric shuttle line. Click here for lodging details.
 
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 is the cutoff date for pre-registration for the conference. Click here to register online or download the registration form. You can pre-register using our online registration system through the end of the day on January 6, 2010. 
 
If any pre-conference events are sold out, it will be indicated on the registration form online. No registrations will be taken via phone or e-mail, and no registration will be processed without payment. If you are mailing in a registration form and payment, no express mail is necessary--just regular mail, postmarked by January 6, 2010 will get you pre-registered. 
 
You can still register on-site if you don't get pre-registered by January 6. Just come on to Chattanooga and we'll take your registration there.
Can You Afford To Miss This Conference? money in lettuce
 
If you're still trying to decide if you can afford to attend, consider how much you can learn at the conference that will save you money and help you increase profits next season. This conference will provide you with the practical tools and solutions you need to be successful in your farming enterprise, your community foods projects and your advocacy and outreach work, just when the economy dictates you need it most.
 
This is no ordinary conference. Just look at all this event provides: sustainable production and direct marketing information for horticultural and livestock producers; enterprise management lessons; funding resources for organizations and producers; information on new federal farm programs for small-scale and organic producers; community food systems development information; and the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most innovative of your peers from across the region.
 
Considering how much you can learn at the conference and put to use right away, combined with our reasonable fees and great lodging rates, this really is the best investment of the year!
 
To see the entire conference program with all of these great offerings, click here.
 
Again, if you don't get to pre-register by Wednesday, January 6, just come on to Chattanooga and register on-site. You'll be glad you did.
Add Value to Your Chattanooga Trip
 
Don't forget that we have a great lineup of pre-conference intensive courses and field trips and the opportunity for in-depth learning from some of the very best in the field. 

Intensive Course:
  • Start-Up Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing Short Course
  • Hoophouse Production and Marketing Short Course
  • Management Intensive Grazing of Beef Short Course
  • Community Supported Agriculture Short Course
  • Farmers' Market Management Short Course
  • Sustainable Pest Management for Your Vegetable Crops Mini Course
Click here to learn more about these excellent courses and the expert presenters. 

Field Trips: Devon cow
  • Organic Livestock, Vegetables and Row Crops
  • Diversified Sustainable Livestock
  • Diversified Sustainable Vegetables and Fruits
  • Organic Vegetable, Fruits, and Plants SOLD OUT!
  • Community Food Initiatives
Click here to learn more about these outstanding field trips.

And remember these special pre-conference offerings:
  • Special Training for Agricultural Professionals
  • Special Meeting of USDA Program Managers with Organizations
  • Special Networking Session - Organizations Banding Together For Strength
Click here to learn more about these learning opportunities.
conf. auction basket We Want Your STUFF! 
 
New (or nearly new) farm related items such as tools, implements, bulbs, fertilizers, pest controls, nonperishable foods, handcrafted goods, labor or services, B&B weekends or even gift certificates are being sought for our silent auction. Got something to donate? We want it! Our silent auction helps us raise funds to support Southern SAWG's important year round work. Your donations are much appreciated. But please be kind to our coordinators and let us know you will make a donation at your earliest convenience by sending a completed silent auction donation form. Knowing in advance what items we'll have in the silent auction will greatly reduce the time it takes to set up the auction on-site. Click here for a copy of the form.
 
Looking forward to seeing you all in Chattanooga!
Pre-Conference Summit of CBOs, NGOs, and USDA Program Managers
January 20 - 21, 2010
 
In this time of unprecedented public interest, media attention, and White House support, opportunities abound for the sustainable agriculture and community food systems movements. During this special 1 day workshop, leaders of organizations working with farmers or local food systems will meet with USDA program representatives to discuss federal funding options and to participate in dialogue. There is no cost to attend, but participants must register separately for this meeting.
 
The deadline to apply has been extended to January 11, and there are still funds available for travel stipends, which will be considered on a first-come first-served basis. Click here for more information and an application form or contact Julia Sampson.
 
Networking Session: Organizations Banding Together For Strength
Thursday afternoon, January 21, 2010
 
Get together with organization leaders in the sustainable agriculture and community food systems immediately prior to the Southern SAWG conference. This informal discussion session is for participants to share ideas about how to survive these tough times and how to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities we now have to move our agendas forward. 
 
What is the status of our movement? What current needs are we addressing, and which ones are we missing? Can greater communication or collaboration help us? Come prepared to pitch ideas, build partnerships, offer suggestions, and learn. Let's build on our strengths and take advantage of this wave of public attention to grow this sustainable agriculture movement and achieve our goal of robust and vibrant food systems in every Southern community.
 
No registration is required; you are welcome to attend whether or not you attend the CBO/NGO/USDA Summit. Click here for more information or contact Julia Sampson. Join us!

Farmers: The New Climate Change Heroes

We know that agriculture contributes to climate change, and we're already seeing the impacts of climate change on agriculture. Can we do anything about this? According to Dr. Timothy J. LaSalle, CEO of Rodale Institute, organic and sustainable agriculture may very well be crucial to solving these complex problems.

Dr. LaSalle will be Southern SAWG's guest for a special pre-conference presentation "Ready to be a Hero? We Have the Power to Change the Relationship between Climate Change and Agriculture" on the evening of Thursday, January 21, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

LaSalle, a leading expert on climate change and agriculture, is an outspoken advocate of regenerative farming as the key to addressing the global challenges of famine prevention, global warming, and human nutrition. He describes agriculture as "an undervalued and underestimated climate change tool that could be one of the most powerful strategies in the fight against global warming."

In the Thursday evening session, LaSalle will describe how sustainable farming practices reduce the negative impacts of agriculture on our climate. In a recent conversation with Southern SAWG e-News, Dr. LaSalle said he plans to focus on the vast potential of soil carbon sequestration, and about what he describes as the outliers, "the ones who are putting away more carbon than anybody imagined, as the leaders, as the ones showing us the way, and therefore, the planet's potential future."

His message is clear. "Regarding the question of soil carbon sequestration, we absolutely need to stop relying on others to carry this idea and message forward. With each of us knowing what we can do with soil, particularly in the real organic and sustainable understanding of how you build it back, and how much carbon we can get back in there-we need to be talking more with our policy-makers and legislators personally." He pointed out that this approach is especially timely after the ineffectual 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. "I am talking about how we change farm policy from one that enforces or rewards the degrading nature of heavily chemical based high-input agriculture, to flipping that on its head." said LaSalle. "Changing it to one that rewards something that actually changes the track of climate change, that actually changes the way our land is being lost and the way our waterways are being degraded and polluted with toxins such as Atrazine and Roundup."

Timothy LaSalle is described in the Huffington Post as having challenged audiences around the world, including Al Gore's Generation Management Investment, the United Nations Environment Program, and the National Wildlife Federation. We look forward to his challenging us at his Southern SAWG pre-conference presentation. Are you ready to be a hero?

Dr. LaSalle's presentation on Thursday, January 21, is open to anyone who wishes to attend, including the general public, and is being offered free of charge. Click here for more information.

USDA Launches 3-Year High Tunnel Pilot Project for Farmers
 
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has created a new Interim Practice Standard for high-tunnel construction. The new standard will enable growers to include plans for high tunnel production in their applications to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), including the EQIP Organic Initiative.
 
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the pilot project as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way. Merrigan showcases the opportunities available for producers in a video posted on the USDA's YouTube channel, which shows high tunnels being installed in the White House garden.
 
"There is great potential for high tunnels to expand the availability of healthy, locally-grown crops--a win for producers and consumers," said Merrigan. "This pilot project is going to give us
real-world information that farmers all over the country can use to decide if they want to add high tunnels to their operations. We know that these fixtures can help producers extend their growing season and hopefully add to their bottom line."
 
The 3-year, 38-state study will verify if high tunnels are effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season, increasing yields, and providing
other benefits to growers.
 
Financial assistance will be provided through the through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the EQIP Organic Initiative, and the Agricultural Management Assistance program. NRCS will fund one high tunnel per farm, which can cover as much as 5 percent of 1 acre.
 
Participating states in the South are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. To sign up or learn more about EQIP assistance for high tunnel projects, contact your local NRCS office.
Get the Dirt on the Conservation Stewardship Program
 
For those who are interested in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), but have been unable to get basic, understandable information, a Farmer's Guide to the CSP is now available. The 17-page Farmer's Guide is available online and gives farmers the basic eligibility requirements, an overview of the enrollment process, and application steps. The guide also answers frequently asked questions specific to beginning farmers, organic farmers, farmers participating in the EQIP organic initiative, and tips for all farmers on how to maximize their points and payments.
American Grassfed Association Conference: Grazing America
February 4-6, 2010
Lexington, KY

 
Featuring information on growing your grass-fed business: smart risk management and high-quality marketing, plus From Farm Gate to Customer's Plate: butchery and cooking sessions with some of America's best butchers and chefs. Click here for information and to register.

Georgia Organics' 13th Annual Conference: Reclaiming Agriculture
February 19-20, 2010
Athens, GA

 
Featuring Carlo Petrini, founder of the international Slow Food movement, and many other great speakers, sessions, and farm tours. Click here for more information and to register.


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Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.