farmers

Connecting Connecticut: A New Podcast from UConn Extension

 

Land-grant universities have provided communities, organizations, farmers and individuals with practical knowledge rooted in research through the Cooperative Extension System since the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. Over the last 107 years a lot has changed with our Extension systems. The program has expanded beyond its agricultural production origin to encompass a wide variety of resources ranging from nutrition to environmental issues and technology.

UConn Extension is no exception to this evolution that the Cooperative Extension System has seen. However, one thing has not changed, in more than a century of working with Connecticut residents, producers, and communities; UConn Extension has always been about connection. Across the board, UConn Extension educators and programs strike at the very core of our 169 cities and towns to make each one of them a better place. Connecting Connecticut, our new podcast, showcases each of our programs through the eyes of those impacted by them.

Connecting Connecticut teaches individuals throughout our state about the programs in their communities. By talking to extension educators, volunteers, researchers, and community members each episode dives into the goals and impacts our programs have here in Connecticut. From learning about coastal resilience and the Connecticut Sea Grant program, looking into the impact 4-H has on the state’s youth and communities, to discussing the importance of volunteers across the Constitution State it is our goal to share the work of UConn Extension, and ultimately our impact on Connecticut.

Join us as we hop from Salisbury to Stonington, visit all eight counties, and talk to all of the wonderful people in between that truly make this state great. Our goal to reach every community, people from all walks of life, and strive for a better tomorrow and we have been fulfilling that mission since 1914. We are chronicling that journey and the people who make it
possible everyday. It is only fitting that in telling our story we do so by Connecting Connecticut.

Article by Zachary J. Duda

Farmland Mixer

Farmland Mixer
Tuesday February 18, 6:30- 8:30 
Over Zoom
If you are a farmer in the state that is looking for land to lease or buy, this is a great opportunity for you to talk to landowners and get other resources from service providers about how to prepare to lease or buy land. To make sure this event has the most impact possible, we are limiting the amount of attendees, so be sure to sign up!  Some attendees will be asked to give a 3 minute pitch for the day of the mixer. Keep in mind that pitch slots are limited, so some attendees will only be permitted to listen. Still, working on your own pitch will be a helpful exercise for talking with farmers and landowners you meet at the mixer!
 

Service providers will also be present on the day of the mixer to answer questions that come up in conversations between farmers and landowners, and to direct you towards resources for taking the next steps. 

If you have any questions about the event, feel free to reach out to Will O’Meara at will@landforgood.org 

farm land mixer ad

Build Your Network Grow Our Future Expands

Words over tomatoesOnce the grueling work of summer comes to an end for farmers throughout the state, there are often opportunities for them to network, build skills, and seek out resources for their farms during the colder months. For Beginning Farmers, one of these opportunities is just around the corner. On December 12th from 2-4pm, the New Connecticut Farmers Alliance (NCTFA) will be hosting it’s semi-annual Build Your Network Grow Our Future event.

Going virtual this year, the zoom event will be an opportunity for farmers who have been in agriculture for 10 or less years to come together to share challenges and strategies, be in community, and connect with service providers that can support their work. Though this typically takes place in person, Will O’Meara of the New Connecticut Farmers Alliance, is still looking forward to participation in the event.

“It’s been a tough year for growers overall – from pivoting our markets to cater to the new needs of Covid, to abrupt changes in land tenure and access, to late and early frosts, and drought to top it off, this season has given us plenty of new challenges. I’m looking forward to connecting on a personal level with other farmers, hearing about how different farms tackled these hurdles, and learning from the community.”

Adding a new component to their gathering this year, NCTFA will be introducing a new peer-learning and peer-leadership opportunity called Farmer Circles that will launch in early 2021. “We seek to strengthen peer support systems among farmers. These professional learning communities can form around content areas, geography, demographic, or anything else – with the belief that a fortified culture of farmer-to-farmer mentorship will strengthen our agrarian resilience,” says Dina Brewster, farmer at The Hickories and Executive Director of Northeastern Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CTNOFA) and one of the team members helping launch the effort.

Modeled to help facilitate community this will be an opportunity to share obstacles and strategies in small, semi-structured, supportive environments during a nine to 12 month period.  Each Circle will choose an issue to focus on that is proposed by the farmers themselves; such as getting clear on farm financials, identifying vegetable disease and pest management during the season, farming during a natural disaster or public health emergency, starting an urban farm, finding and maintaining a strong farm crew, and mental health/wellness for farm families.

A largely autonomous effort, Farmer Circles will have five to eight members with a designated leader and will choose their preferred meeting style. Each leader will continue to connect with NCTFA and CTNOFA throughout the year to obtain resources (like hiring an expert/practitioner to present) and any leadership training they might require. Ideally, these Farmer Circles will help build durable social networks that will support farmers well beyond the one year commitment.

The Farmer Circle concept blossomed through a partnership between NCTFA, CTNOFA, and UConn Extension. Jiff Martin, UConn Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems, noted “Our collaboration in launching the Farmer Circles recognizes that our three organizations have overlapping yet slightly different capacity to reach and support farmer communities of Connecticut.”  Funding for the three year project comes from USDA through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a grant led by Jiff Martin and her team at UConn Extension.

To find out more about Farmer Circles, visit the NCTFA website at https://newctfarmers.com/. To register for the upcoming Build Your Network Grow Our Future event visit bit.ly/BYNGOF. For more information on the beginning farmer grant and other resources available visit https://newfarms.uconn.edu/.

UConn Extension has Stress Management Resources for Ag Producers

UConn Extension has Stress Management Resources for Agricultural Producers

Article by MacKenzie White

 

graphic that says it is okay to ask for help and provides contact information for UConn Extension agricultural stress management resourcesWe understand many of our Connecticut farms and families have been dealing with stress long before this pandemic took place. May is National Mental Health Month, although it may seem like there is nothing to celebrate, reaching out to someone could really help them, and that’s worth celebrating.

Through a collaborative of UConn Extension faculty and staff along with some of our critical partners (Farm Credit East, ACA, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau, CT NOFA, Eggleston Equine, and Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services) we created a resource page to help agricultural producers mitigate some of the stressors they are facing. The page is located at:  http://ctfarmrisk.uconn.edu/agstress.php

We know caring for your crops and animals is hard enough but caring for your own health and wellness in this high-stress profession should be a priority as well for your farm business. Your mental health success is part of your agribusiness success.

It is hard to get the help you need when you don’t necessarily know where to begin. If you are experiencing symptoms of depressing or have suicidal thoughts, ask or reach out for help.

  • Reach out to a loved one
  • Talk to your friends or a medical provider
  • Are you at risk? Need help now? In Crisis call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 211 in CT, or Text “CT” to 741741.
  • In an emergency call or text 911

Making time for self-care can help you manage everyday stress and achieve more energy, have better focus and even reach new levels of productivity. Some self-care steps to take include the following:

  • Eat well
  • Get enough rest
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Exercise
  • Writing in a journal

We have also created a Private Facebook Group for Farmers and Agricultural Service Providers to communicate with one another through this challenging time for all of us. Join the group today at https://www.facebook.com/groups/361718224745725/

We at UConn Extension are working though unable to make farm visits at this time. We do offer assistance via email, phone and virtual meetings. Please let us know if we can help you. Please remember, if you see something, say something!

Agriculture Producer Survey Request

Angie Harris
Agricultural Producers: Please take this five minute survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. The Governor of Connecticut issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order except for essential businesses on March 23, 2020. The Commissioner of Agriculture clarified, per Executive Order 7H, that agriculture businesses are considered “essential businesses”. This anonymous survey will help us to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s agriculture industry. Results will be used to continue developing Extension resources.
 
Take the survey at: bit.ly/Ag_COVID

Solid Ground Farmer Trainings in January

The following Solid Ground Farmer Trainings are scheduled for January.

BF 106: Vegetable Production for Small Scale Farming – January 5th

BF 240: Pesticide Safety for Conventional & Organic Producers – January 9th

BF 270: Welding Basics for Agriculture – January 12th – FULL

BF 110: Growing Crops in Low, High and Movable Tunnels – January 26th

All classes are free, but registration is requested. Email Charlotte.Ross@uconn.edu for more information.