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Local Foods College

An interactive distance learning opportunity for gardeners and farmers interested in community-based food systems.

colored collard stalk and leaves

Local Foods College (LFC) is a FREE online webinar series available to anyone interested in strengthening food systems. Sessions typically run from late-January through mid-March. All sessions are recorded and made available to view on our webpage following the live online session.

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2017 Local Foods College Sessions

garden growing inside high tunnel

Crop Disease Management in a High Tunnel
January 24, 2017
Presenter: Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension

Environmental conditions within a high tunnel differ from field conditions. As a result, some plant disease problems are suppressed and others are increased. Prevention and sanitation play an important role in disease suppression in these high input production systems. Learn how to manage plant disease problems through manipulation of the crop, the environment, and the pathogen.

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About the Presenter: Michelle Grabowski
Michelle has been working as an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension since 2006. She studied plant pathology at Michigan State University and North Carolina State University. Her work focuses on common diseases of horticultural crops in Minnesota. She works with home gardeners, commercial fruit and vegetable growers, lawn and landscape professionals, arborists, and other members of the green industry. Michelle shares information through online publications, hands on workshops, classes, and other educational programs. She focuses on identification and management of current and emerging plant disease problems.

UMN Plant Disease Clinic
What’s wrong with my plant? Online Diagnostic Tool
Cornell Vegetable MD list of Disease Resistant Varieties
Midwest Vegetable Production Guide
Managing diseases in high tunnels

What did you think about the session?
Fill out a short evaluation to let us know what you thought of this session and how we can improve future Local Foods College offerings.
Session 1 Evaluation

Harvested vegetables

Postharvest Handling
January 31, 2017
Presenter: Lisa Baker, Baker's Acres

This session will cover a set of Harvest-to-Sale resources created by Laura Frerichs (Loon Organics), Lisa Baker (Bakers' Acres), and Joan Olson (Prairie Drifter Farm) for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. Topics covered will include harvest techniques, cleaning and cooling fresh produce, packing area infrastructure, sorting and grading produce, transportation of fresh produce, and more.

About the Presenter:
Lisa Baker is the owner of Bakers’ Acres, a 15-acre certified organic farm in Avon, MN, that grows vegetables for a 70-customer CSA and produces small-volume wholesale beef, poultry, and eggs. Lisa began farming in 2012 and has increased production each year. She works with the Sustainable Farming Association, Sprout, MISA, and the Minnesota Street Market food and art co-op during the winter.

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Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) Handouts

What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the Postharvest Handling webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 2 Evaluation

Family of 4 sheep in grass

Sheep on a Small Farm - A Natural Fit
February 7, 2017
Presenter: Travis Hoffman, UMN Extnesion

Dr. Travis Hoffman will conduct a presentation on opportunities for sheep and lamb production with small operations. American consumers continually want to know more about where their food comes from. As entrepreneurs with an emphasis for local foods, we can provide the solution for producing lamb and wool that garners premiums and meets the expectations in a changing marketplace. Are you ready and prepared to shine as a sheep producer and capitalize on local lamb and wool products?

About the Presenter: Travis Hoffman
Dr. Travis Hoffman is the new sheep specialist for University of Minnesota Extension and also holds a joint appointment with North Dakota State University Extension. He was an instructor in meat sciences in the Department of Animal Sciences at South Dakota State University since September 2015. Prior to that, he was the Colorado beef quality assurance coordinator, a joint appointment for Colorado State University and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Livestock Association and Colorado Beef Council, for 7 1/2 years. Travis has taught several sheep-related courses and authored or co-authored numerous articles on sheep industry topics. His background and knowledge contribute greatly to extension programs in both North Dakota and Minnesota.

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What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the Sheep on a Small Farm - A Natural Fit webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 3 Evaluation

Two men testing soil in a harvest-ready soybean field

Soil Health as a Win-Win for Sustainable Management and Adaption to Severe Weather Events
February 14, 2017
Presenter: Jessica Gutknecht, UMN Dept. of Soil, Water, and Climate


About the Presenter: Jessica Gutknecht
Dr. Gutknecht's research focus is in understanding ecosystem scale processes through the lens of soil microbial ecology. Soil microorganisms play an important role in soil quality and ecosystem function, depending both on local microbial adaptation and on interactions with plants and other soil biota. Basic characteristics of soil microbial community growth, composition, and activity can be important indicators of soil quality, sustainability, and soil recovery to disturbance. She is especially interested in how soil microbial community dynamics can inform our understanding and management of ecosystems for adaptation and sustainability to global change and other human influences.

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Dr. Gutknecht's Lab Web Page

What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the Sheep on a Small Farm - A Natural Fit webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 4 Evaluation

Canned food on a picnic table

Cottage Food Law
February 21, 2017
Presenter: Suzanne Driessen, UMN Extension

The 2015 Cottage Food Law allows individuals to make food items that do not require refrigeration, in their private home, for direct sale to an end customer. Cottage food preparation is a not licensed or inspected by a governmental entity. Before selling foods, the cottage food operator must take training and register the cottage food operation with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

About the Presenter: Suzanne Driessen
Suzanne Driessen is an Extension food safety educator in her 19th year at the University of Minnesota. Suzanne develops and teaches food safety programs for consumers and the food industry. Her most recent efforts include the Safe Food Product Sampling and Food Safety for Cottage Food Producers courses.

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MN Cottage Food Law Fact Sheet
Non-Potentially Hazardous Foods Fact Sheet

What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the MN Cottage Food Law webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 5 Evaluation

Man watering plants with a hose

Ag Lending Perspectives- Considerations for Farmers
February 28, 2017
Presenter: Betty Berning, UMN Extension

Going to meet with a banker can be intimidating and the lending process can seem mysterious. Take the mystery and nervousness out of this process! In this session, you'll learn how to prepare to meet with your lender and understand what a lender looks at when analyzing a loan. You'll leave with more confidence and a greater understanding of what you need to do to secure financing.

About the Presenter: Betty Berning
Betty Berning is an Agricultural Business Management Extension Educator. Betty grew up on a dairy farm in Central Minnesota. She received her B.S. in Agricultural and Food Business Management at the University of and M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Penn State University. Prior to working in Extension, Betty worked for AgStar Financial Service, Penn State University, and General Mills. Her current programming focuses on labor management and women in agriculture. She also teaches financial management and farm estate and transition planning courses.

Watch the session

U of M Extension Agricultural Business Planning
USDA Grants and Loans for Farmers

What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the Ag Lending Perspectives- Considerations for Farmers webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 6 Evaluation

Person in grey shirt holding Buttercup Burgess seed bag

Seed Saving
March 7, 2017
Presenters: Shirley Nordrum, UMN Extension/Leech Lake Tribal College and Tammy Bellanger, White Earth Tribal & Community College Extension Coordinator

Many of the foods you eat today originated in the Americas. Indigenous peoples shared these bounties along extensive trade routes for centuries before any sea barring travelers stepped foot on the shores of the Americas. Stories of Ingenious contributions to the history of the world’s foods have never been told. In seeking the truth of our ancestral foods and the health of our White Earth, Leech Lake and Red Lake community members, we have undertaken seed saving initiatives and will share their journeys and stories with you in this session.

Shirley Nordrum

Shirley Nordrum

About the Presenters:
Shirley Nordrum is a Local Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota. She is the founder and former Director of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe’s Environmental Department.

Tammy Bellanger has served as the White Earth Tribal & Community College Extension Coordinator from 2010 to present. She is responsible for coordinating all Extension activities, teaching youth development workshops, and overseeing the gardening and greenhouse activities.

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What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the Seed Saving webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 7 Evaluation

Three roaming chickens

Raising Poultry for Fun or Profit
March 14, 2017
Presenter: Wayne Martin, UMN Extension

All over the USA, more and more people want to raise poultry- whether standard or heritage breeds of birds, in urban backyard settings, or on small farms that seek to improve profitability by selling eggs or broilers. This short course is designed to help the class participants raise poultry (mainly chickens) successfully, whether as a backyard hobbyist or as a small commercial operation. We’ll discuss the very basics of getting started with chicks, of finishing broilers and managing laying hens. Breeds, nutrition, housing, and predators, all will be included in the discussion. Links will be provided to other source materials, and all participants are encouraged to continue to ask questions as they begin to produce poultry for fun or profit.

About the Presenter: Wayne Martin
Wayne Martin grew up on a diversified family farm in Iowa that produced forage, grain, and livestock. He farmed with the family for several years before venturing west to study Political Science at the University of Washington in Seattle.

A two year stint in the Peace Corps followed, working in Ecuador as an Extension Educator focusing on Livestock. He continued to work for Peace Corps after returning to the states, as a recruiter in the Minneapolis office, which required traveling to colleges and universities in Minnesota and Wisconsin to speak with people young and old about the Peace Corps experience.

After obtaining a M.Ed. in Agricultural Education, he worked with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture as an Alternative Swine Production Specialist, from 1999-2008.

Since 2008, Wayne has been with the University of Minnesota Extension, as an Alternative Livestock Systems Specialist. He works with farmers who tend to operate at a smaller scale, and who have varying levels of experience in livestock production and marketing. He provides information on all domestic species to them on an individual basis and in group settings, through farm visits, workshops, field days, etc. Given the growth of urban agriculture and the interest in urban poultry production, he also works with hobbyists who raise a few birds in the back yard, and with community groups to develop regulations about poultry keeping. He is based on the St Paul Campus but covers the state of Minnesota.

Wayne has also taught short courses on Extension Education Programming in Bulgaria and Poland, and recently gave a presentation on sustainable agriculture in Beijing, China.

Watch the session

University of Minnesota Extension Small Farms YouTube Page
Poultry your Way
Prior Local Foods College Poultry Session
Urban Agriculture and Backyard Chickens Issue Brief

What did you think about the session?
If you participated in the Raising Poultry for Fun or Profit webinar or if you watch the recorded webinar, please take a few minutes to evaluate the session:
Session 8 Evaluation

Previous Recordings

To access previous years' session recordings, please visit our Session Archive.


For more information, please contact Linda Kingery
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