Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 24, 2012

Farm Focus in Brief: 11/24/2012


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Grow Benzie classes

BENZONIA — Grow Benzie will present two seminars from agricultural specialist Craig Schaaf in December.

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, "Building a Living Soil" will focus on the necessity of building a living, mineralized soil using compost and minerals to nurture the soil which in turn nurtures the plants. Techniques for making compost will be discussed as well as the benefits of adding various amendments to soil to enhance minerals in produce.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Schaaf will present "Business Model for a Small Farm." He'll explore the basics of starting a business, targeting farmers, but with value to anyone contemplating a startup.

Both begin at 7 p.m., following a potluck at 6. Those attending are asked to bring a dish to pass, drink and table service. Donations of $7 per single or $10 per family are requested.

To register or for more details, contact Deb Query at 882-9801or 882-9510 or email

Grow Benzie is located at 5885 M-115, Benzonia.

Water workshops

EAST LANSING — Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are working together to provide workshops about water policy, well-to-well water conflict and online water use reporting.

Large capacity water users are those with the capacity to pump 70 gallons per minute of water from one or more wells or surface water pumps on the same or adjacent properties. Large-capacity water users are required to register proposed large water withdrawals prior to well or system construction

Meetings are being offered at these locations from 9 a.m. to noon followed by optional computer training: Monday, Dec. 10, Branch Area Career Center, Coldwater; and Tuesday, Dec. 11, MSU SWMRC Center, Benton Harbor.

There is no cost to attend, but advance registration is requested by calling 269-467-5522.

USDA surveys farms

LANSING — The United States Department of Agriculture is conducting three major surveys to determine 2012 crop acreage and yields, along with hog inventories.

The 2012 Row Crops County Agricultural Production Survey, the December Agricultural Survey and December Hog Report will be used to establish final 2012 crop acreage, yield and production estimates, as well as winter wheat and rye seedings, grain stocks and hog inventories and farrowings. Estimates of acreage, yield and production of corn, soybeans and dry beans by county will also be set using the data farmers provide.

Approximately 4,000 Michigan farmers are being contacted for their 2012 acreage and production data. Most can expect a questionnaire in the mail. Those who don't respond will be contacted by phone or in person. Completing surveys online is also an option.

Farmers' individual reports are kept confidential and summarized to set county, state and national estimates of crop production.

MSU receives grant

EAST LANSING — Michigan State University researchers plan to use a $7.8 million grant from the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help African nations improve sustainable farming.

The money will be used to help guide efforts to intensify needed farming methods in Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

During the next four years, a team will work with 10 African universities, institutes and government ministries on the effort.

In 2008, Michigan State University used a $4 million Gates Foundation grant to analyze the region's agricultural marketing and trade systems.