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CFSA's Grower's Toolbox
Dear Farmer,

At three weeks away, we've got our 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Conference (SAC) on the brain. This issue is jam-packed with conference information and important deadlines, and some exciting toolsnamely the Interactive FSMA Flowchart and Gena's expert tip video on how to raise chicksso we'll get right to it.

In addition to what's below, we wanted you to know:

Karen McSwain, CFSA's Associate Executive Director for Programs
Mark your calendars & save up to $125! 

Our Last Chance discount for CFSAC2019 registration ends Friday, Oct. 25th. After that, we'll only have on-site, full-price registration available.

SAC 2019: Is It Worth It for Advanced Farmers?


There is always something to learn at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference from other advanced farmers. Our presenters offer the most up-to-date research, science, and practical knowledge about soil health, pest and disease management, and growing nutrient-dense foods. Between the pre-conference intensives on Friday and many of the workshops over the weekend, we’ve boosted our advanced workshop content so that SAC is a place where more experienced growers can come together to learn and grow.

Discover the exciting activities & in-depth programming for advanced farmers here.

“SAC is a place where light bulbs have gone off for me. We’re all there thinking hard and we make these amazing connections. It’s where you learn cutting-edge techniques to stay in business as a grower. 

"Should I still go as an advanced farmer? Of course, I gotta go. I don’t wanna miss what the next lightbulb moment could be."

- Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms (has attended SAC since 1986)


Expert Tip: How to Prepare for Chicks
Producing and caring for chickens has always been an integral part of Carolina agriculture. Whether you’re interested in using them for pasture health, egg production, or meat, chickens can be a valuable piece of the puzzle for many diversified farms.

Starting with day-old chicks can be the most economical option for farmers but having the right equipment is pivotal for the successfulness of young birds. If you want to have fresh hens laying for market in the spring, the best time to purchase is now!
Did you know that we've been creating Expert Tips for nearly a decade?
Don't miss our
Expert Tip index!


Is Mushroom Production Right for You?
 by Laura Stewart, Haw River Mushrooms | Monday, Sept. 30, 2019 –

In 2010, when I met my now-husband, Ches, I never dreamed I would be farming, let alone that we would be churning out hundreds of pounds of edible mushrooms each week, three tons a month of spent substrate, and 100 pounds a quarter of mushroom substrate fed vermicompost. It’s been a long and winding road to worms and fungus! The farming methods we use for such intensive production require a lot of labor to control the mushrooms’ access to light, temperature, oxygen, and humidity so that we can provide a yearlong crop. However, as labor intensive as mushroom growing can be in a concentrated agriculture operation, they can be one of the most passive crops possible when grown on logs for outdoor production. This article will share a bit about the many benefits of mushroom cultivation—even if you don’t plan to measure your production by the ton!
Continue reading Laura's post over on our blog.

Want to learn how to inoculate mushroom logs?

Haw River Mushrooms will teach a hands-on, half-day intensive on Friday, Nov. 1 at their farm on how to inoculate shiitake, oyster, and lion's mane mushroom logs. Participants will receive a farm tour, inoculate four logs that they'll get to take home, and get all the details on how to care for the logs (+ how to make more) on their own! Get your ticket now!

How Does SAC Benefit Beginning Farmers?

From gaining knowledge to getting inspired for the year ahead, the Sustainable Agriculture Conference is THE place for new farmers to learn and connect with the sustainable ag community in the Carolinas and beyond. Have you thought about attending, but wondered how the conference might benefit you, if you could afford it, or whether it would be worth your time?

Don't miss our blog post exploring the benefits of SAC for beginning farmers.

"I learned hard truths about what it takes to be a successful farmer from advanced growers and longtime members of the sustainable ag community by attending workshops and speaking with folks who are willing to share their stories and experiences with beginners.

"There’s a certain magic that happens at the conference and it is inspiring to be part of any piece of it."

- Mary Beth Miller, CFSA Education Coordinator & co-owner of Blue Merle Farm

Try Our Interactive FSMA Produce Rule Flowchart

Is your farm or business covered by the FSMA Produce Rule? 

Use our Interactive FSMA Produce Rule Flowchart to find out! This step-by-step online assessment tool guides you through the key questions that determine if you are exempt, partially-exempt, or fully covered by the Produce Rule, and explains how to learn more about the Rule’s requirements. If your farm is exempt, the tool also gives you a downloadable report that meets FSMA’s requirement for you to document an annual review of your exemption status.


Did you know that CFSA has an online FSMA + Food Safety Hub?
FAQs? Videos? Workshops? It's all there.

Six Types of People You’ll Meet at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference

We spoke with beginning farmers, advanced farmers, marketing specialists, and more to hear why attending SAC is valuable regardless of skill set. Here’s what they shared.


Enrolling in the NRCS' Cost-Share Programs: EQIP & CSP
Are you a grower looking to address or improve conservation measures & natural resource issues on your farm? Did you know that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help you do so with financial support and technical assistance? 

The NRCS has two programs to address conservation & natural resource concerns:
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - geared toward fixing existing concerns like soil erosion and water quality issues. The EQIP signup deadline for the Fiscal Year 2020 has not yet been officially announced by the NRCS, but we expect the deadline to be sometime next month. 
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) - rewards good stewardship of natural resources and focuses on improving current practices. Primary areas of concern are soil quality & erosion, water quality & conservation, plant and animal health and biodiversity, wildlife habitat, air quality, and energy conservation. The next signup deadline for CSP will be in May 2020.
If you’re interested in receiving financial support for improving how you manage these natural resources, or financial support to continue to steward them, you should consider enrolling in one of these programs. Learn more about the NRCS’s EQIP & CSP by contacting your local NRCS office
If you’d like to talk to someone at CFSA about these programs, feel free to reach out to Mark Dempsey, CFSA Farm Services Manager, who is also a Technical Service Provider writing Conservation Activity Plans Supporting Organic Transition (CAP138) through EQIP. 




Friday, Nov. 1 | Durham, NC

2019 Sustainable Agriculture Conference
Friday, Nov. 1 - Sunday, Nov. 3 | Durham, NC

Annual CFSA Member Meeting
Sunday, Nov. 3 | Durham, NC

Fundamentals of Food Safety & Building Wholesale Capacity Workshop
Thursday, Nov. 14 | West Columbia, SC

Want more? Stay abreast with CFSA events by subscribing to our events-only monthly digest, The Training Ground.
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The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is on a mission to bring local, organic food to your table from a farmer who shares your values – and we can’t do it without you. Together we are building a regional food system that is good for consumers, growers, and the land.
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