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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Community and Local Food Resources > Production Resources

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Production Resources

high tunnel

Agricultural producers need a variety of resources to help maximize production. This section provides information on extending the growing season, farming organically, and utilizing university resources like Master Gardeners and Extension. It also includes a variety of risk management and crop budgeting tools for farmers looking to make better financial decisions, and contact information to consult experts, and make connections to improve production. Resources will help fruit and vegetable farmers as well as meat producers.

Featured Videos

Extension Resources for Local Food Producers, Part 2
An introduction to the resources Extension offers and multiple ways to access Extension services.

Extension Resources for Local Food Producers, Part 1
An introduction to the history of Extension and available services for Minnesota farmers.


Agroforestry and Forest Farming | Crop Insurance | Season Extension | Organic | Gardening | Vegetable and Fruit Production | Dairy Production | Meat Production | Risk Management and Budgeting | Other

Agroforestry and Forest Farming

USDA Agroforestry Factsheet (PDF)
United States Department of Agriculture
This document is a fact sheet which provides information about agroforestry and the future of agroforestry.

Agroforestry Practices
Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group
The Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group has formed in order to advance the science, practice, and adoption of agroforestry by landowners and natural resource managers in the Midwest.

How, When, and Why of Forest Farming
Cornell Cooperative Extension
This is a collection of on-line resources which provide an introduction to the principles and practices of forest farming.

Forest Farming
USDA National Agroforestry Center
This link provides information on the cultivation of specialty crops (i.e.: ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, etc.) under the protection of a forest canopy designed to provide optimal shade.

Crop Insurance

Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
United Fresh Summary of key funding and policy highlights from the 2014 Farm Bill regarding crop insurance for specialty crops.

Risk Management Education Funding Available
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Information on how to secure funding for the Risk Management Education Partnerships Program which provide crop insurance education and risk management training.

Report on Specialty Crop Insurance (PDF)
USDA Risk Management Agency
An overview of the work completed by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to develop risk management products for specialty crops farmed by small- and moderate-sized farms.

Organic Crops and Federal Crop Insurance Program (PDF)
USDA Risk Management Agency
This is a 2010 report which discusses Federal crop insurance for certified organic crops.

Season Extension

Deep Winter Greenhouses
University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
This website is a collection of resources about passive solar greenhouse technology.

Cold Climate Greenhouse Resource (9 MB PDF)
University of Minnesota Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
This guidebook highlights the successes and lessons learned by growers across the Midwest who have designed and built cold-climate greenhouses to grow produce during the winter with minimal reliance on fossil fuel-based heat.

Season Extension (PDF)
Southwest Research & Outreach Center — University of Minnesota
This report details research on high tunnel production that has been underway in Southwest Minnesota since 2008. Contains tips on building and operating a high tunnel and ways to improve soil quality and plant fertility.

Minnesota High Tunnels
University of Minnesota
The second edition of Minnesota High Tunnel Production Manual for Commercial Growers is transformed into a website dedicated to furthering high tunnel research. Learn the basics of high tunnels, considerations for building, and how to manage crops and market high tunnel products.

Season Extension
Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service
This site contains a variety of resources, research, upcoming workshops, and more about a variety of season extension strategies.

What is Plasticulture?
Penn State Extension
This site describes the concept of plasticulture — a multi-billion dollar industry that uses plastic materials to improve agricultural productivity. High tunnels, drip irrigation, and plastic mulching are just a few of the technologies summarized. This resource provides a thorough description, examples of which methods work best for certain crops, and a list of related publications and research articles.

Cornell High Tunnels
Department of Horticulture — Cornell University
This site provides the latest news, events, and research on high tunnels. Learn about different types of high tunnel structures; read profiles of suggested fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs to plant in high tunnels; and get tips on creating a successful business and marketing plan. Visit the site's blog to learn about upcoming workshops and webinars to share with community groups.

Cornell High Tunnels Blog
Cornell University
This blog is written by and for high tunnel users and includes stories, production research reports, and links to more resources. Learn about upcoming workshops and webinars.


Organic Risk Management
University of Minnesota Extension
This online handbook helps farmers considering organic production understand the risks associated with organic farming and provides some risk management tips.

Organic Production & Certification
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
This page features links to organic certifiers in the state, an organic farms directory, and other information for organic and transitional farmers and consumers.

North Dakota Organic Advisory Board
This site provides information about certifiers, marketing information, production tips, an online farm directory and more.

National Organic Program
United States Department of Agriculture
This site contains information about the USDA's National Organic Program including organic standards, certification, enforcement, and more.

Beginning Farmer Grows Organic Produce — and a Community
United States Department of Agriculture
This blog post explains various opportunities for beginning farmers interested in going organic, including Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding.

Resource Guide to Organic and Sustainable Vegetable Production
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)
This 16-page summary highlight characteristics of sustainable vegetable production and describe steps to obtaining organic certification. Provides links to a variety of resources for farmers growing vegetables through organic or sustainable practices.


Ask a Master Gardener
University of Minnesota Extension
This "Ask a Master Gardener" tool gives anyone the opportunity to consult experts about gardening questions and receive answers based on the latest research within 48 hours. Inquirers can even upload images with their query.

University of Minnesota Extension
Diagnose plant problems and identify pests and weeds with this gardening diagnostics tool. This site also includes links to general yard and garden information and dates of upcoming classes and workshops hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Ask Extension
North Dakota State University
Use this site to find answers to frequently asked questions about growing vegetables, canning produce, storing food safely, pest control, and more.

Lawns, Gardens, & Trees
North Dakota State University
This site addresses concerns associated with fruit and vegetable gardens including soil testing, growing medicinal herbs and spices for market, vegetable maturity dates, and more. Many of the links provided are printable fact sheets.

Vegetable and Fruit Production

Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Production
University of Minnesota Extension
Learn about commercial fruit and vegetable production in Minnesota and find links to a variety of helpful resources for growing fruits and vegetables commercially in the Midwest. Topics include soil fertility in organic systems, diagnosing nutrient disorders, using manure and compost, and more

A Compact Guide for the Budding Apple Fancier in Northern Climates (PDF)
University of Minnesota Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership
This apple planting guide will be helpful for people interested in growing apple trees in cold climates like Minnesota.

Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers
Purdue University
This planting guide provides information that is helpful for planting a variety of vegetables on a commercial scale in the Midwest.

VegEdge: Vegetable IPM Resource for the Midwest
University of Minnesota Extension
This website provides information on a variety of pests for use in integrated pest management systems.

Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
University of Nebraska — Lincoln
Learn proper harvest and post-harvest handling and storage techniques for a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in this publication.

Dairy Production

Dairy Focus
North Dakota State University
This site contains a variety of articles with topics that are relevant to dairy producers.

Dairy Production
University of Minnesota Extension
This University of Minnesota Extension website contains a variety of different dairy resources including a section on organic dairying.

Dairy Goat Production
Penn State Extension
This article provides information on dairy goat management including sections on marketing, production, nutrition, and a sample dairy goat budget.

Meat Production

Grassfed Beef: The Benefits and Opportunities in Grassfed Beef
Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture — University of Minnesota
This trifold brochure explains grass-fed beef and suggests resources for grass-fed beef producers about pasture, forage, and marketing.

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network
Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN)
NMPAN is a network of producers and organizations that support small meat processors. This site provides resources for local and niche meat producers, farmers, and buyers.

Grass-Fed Beef Notebook
Small Farm Institute
This handbook is a guide for farmers interested in developing a grass-fed beef operation. Find resources related to grazing management, processing, marketing, and more.

Forages for Swine
University of Missouri Extension
This publication outlines the benefits and disadvantages of pasture production of swine. Learn how to maximize these benefits and minimize the liabilities and costs associated with pasture production.

Pastured Poultry Resources
American Pastured Poultry Producers Association
This website includes access to a variety of sustainable poultry articles and resources, including an introduction getting started with pastured poultry.

Did the Locker Plant Steal Some of My Meat?
South Dakota State University
This guide will help determine how much meat to expect from a carcass. Examples are given for beef, pork, and lamb and can help you keep informed about how much your animal harvests should yield.

Risk Management and Budgeting

Ag Risk & Farm Management Library
University of Minnesota
From crop insurance to organic production, this library includes over 1,000 documents relating to a wide variety of agricultural risk management practices.

Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Production Budgets
Iowa State University Extension
This site explains enterprise budgets and how they are useful. Use the free downloadable worksheets and "decision tools" to estimate costs and returns for fruit or vegetable production operations.

Fresh Market Vegetable Budgets
Center for Dairy Profitability — University of Wisconsin
This site contains 24 budgets to calculate vegetable production costs and compare the financial costs and benefits associated with producing different vegetables. Enter farm values to get a report on costs and returns, value of production, break-even yields, and machinery expenses.

Crop Budgets for Vegetable and Berry Growers
University of Vermont Extension
These vegetable and fruit budgets are applicable to farms and gardens across the nation. This resource includes budgets for CSA crop planning, high tunnel crops, small-scale farms, and more, along with an interactive create-your-own budget tool. Links to fact sheets and examples of completed budgets are also provided.

Food Safety
University of Minnesota Extension
This user-friendly food safety resource contains information on preserving and preparing, sanitation and illness, and food safety regulations. The home page displays seasonal resources for quick access. Learning opportunities are available for communities through the online and in-person training courses and workshops.


Minnesota Hops Growers Guide
Mighty Axe Hops
This guide was developed to help growers interested in commercial hops production and gardeners who wish to add hops to their yards.

Addressing Capital and Resource Challenges
Making Good Food Work
This site contains resources from the 2011 Making Good Food Work conference held in Detroit, Michigan. The tools and resources can help access capital for a variety of local food projects.

Local Foods College
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships — University of Minnesota
This site contains recorded presentations about issues related to producing local foods. Videos cover topics like whole farm planning, small fruits production, vegetable production, farm to schools, apple orchards, backyard poultry, and soils and composting.

Food Preservation and Garden to Market
South Dakota State University Extension
This site provides links to various information and courses on food preservation and food safety.

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