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Read All About It! The First Three Field Days of the 2017 Season

By Sarah Petri, Farmer Training Program Assistant

The 2017 season has begun and Upper Midwest CRAFT (UM CRAFT) has already facilitated three successful field days on a variety of topics! 

Farm Profitability

For the first UM CRAFT Field Day of the 2017 season, John Hendrickson’s topic of Managing for Profitability (with the added bonus of an equipment demonstration from Alabama-based Oggún Tractor) gathered on Tuesday, April 4th at Stone Circle Farm in Reeseville, WI. 

The day began with an in-depth 2-hour discussion that delved into the many facets of profitability and how to improve the profitability of a farm business. Topics ranged from the importance of setting goals to current challenges in the marketplace, and John spoke extensively on reliable recordkeeping tools and techniques to help farmers track their profitability and statistics.  Following the discussion, the group partook in a potluck lunch before heading out onto the farm for a tour where John showed them his most relied-on pieces of equipment, including his paper pot planting system and aluminum-frame harvest cart. The day wrapped up with an equipment demonstration by Oggún Tractor in which they operated their version of an Allis-G tractor with off-the-shelf parts and open-source designs. 

Wholesale

Our second UM CRAFT Field Day of the year took place at Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks in Niles, IL on Monday, April 17th. Cohosted by Irv Cernauskas (Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks) and Peter Seely (Springdale Farm), the day focused on the topic of wholesale and how to make it work for a farm business. Irv tackled the topic from the perspective of the buyer and Peter offered insight from the perspective of the grower, a combination that allowed attendees a well-rounded view of wholesale, its pitfalls and challenges, opportunities and resources, and market strategies. The day continued with a tour of Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks’ facility before wrapping up with a potluck lunch and casual conversation.

Nightshades

It was an unseasonably chilly day on Tuesday, May 2nd as UM CRAFT Members gathered for our third field day of the season at Natural Farm Stand in Richmond, IL. Gary Gauger hosted the day with the assistance of his wife Sue Rekenthaler and their two farm hands, Tyler and Kevin, and spoke about the production of nightshades with a focus on tomato cultivation.

The day began in Gary’s workshop where he raises his tomato seedlings, a cozy space heated by a wood-burning stove and furnished with a 6-foot cactus. Before heading out onto the farm for a tour, the group made their introductions and Gary led a discussion on seed saving and soil health. After the hard rains of the previous week, the fields were too wet to walk in, so Tyler drove the wagon to Gary’s propagated greenhouses, compost piles, and vegetable fields where participants learned about his use of corn screenings as a heating method, using sawdust and wood shavings in his compost, and other growing techniques used on Natural Farm Stand. The field day ended with discussion and a potluck in the workshop where everyone warmed up and enjoyed each other’s company.

The Farmer Training team at Angelic Organics Learning Center wants to thank all the farmers who have agreed to host UM CRAFT field days this year. We are excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us! Check out pictures from the first three field days in the slideshow below, and make sure to look at the 2017 Field Day Schedule for future dates and topics. 

Managing for Profitability Field Day hosted by John Hendrickson at Stone Circle Farm.Managing for Profitability Field Day hosted by John Hendrickson at Stone Circle Farm.Managing for Profitability Field Day hosted by John Hendrickson at Stone Circle Farm.Wholesale Field Day hosted by Irv Cernauskas and Peter Seely at Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks.Wholesale Field Day hosted by Irv Cernauskas and Peter Seely at Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks.Nightshades Field Day hosted by Gary Gauger at Natural Farm StandNightshades Field Day hosted by Gary Gauger at Natural Farm StandNightshades Field Day hosted by Gary Gauger at Natural Farm StandNightshades Field Day hosted by Gary Gauger at Natural Farm Stand