Beginning farmers have plenty to glean from MI Ag Ideas to Grow With

Join hundreds of fellow farmers February 19 through March 1 during MI Ag Ideas to Growth With virtual conference.

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The MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference is an annual event held during Michigan State University’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Month celebration and draws in over 900 participants each year. This year’s conference will be held Feb. 19 through March 1. Michigan State University Extension educators coordinate the educational offerings for this event. Visit MI Ag Ideas to Grow With for more information and to register for sessions.

With over 40 educational sessions to choose from, the event is rich in learning opportunities. Depending on what you grow, there are a variety of sessions on field crops, animal agriculture, irrigation and water, solar, farm stress, vegetables and beginning farmer specific topics throughout the two-week period. The following are just some of the many educational options that may be of interest to beginning farmers.

Monday, February 19

  • 1 - 2 p.m. – Beginning Vegetables
    • Vegetables are easy to try as a new grower or as a new crop among other enterprises. Learn the types of vegetables to consider for different markets and some techniques for their production at smaller scales.

Tuesday, February 20

  • 12 - 1 p.m. – Organic Farming, Certified or Not!
    • Gain insight of approaches to farm sustainability by integrating organic practices into your farming system. Some may seek certification, but that depends on your markets and drive. We will discuss the values and challenges imposed by organic certification versus following organic practices.
  • 1 - 2 p.m. – The Three F’s of Farmland: Finding It, Funding It, and The Future of It.
    • Land access is often the biggest challenge for beginning farmers. Learn tools to find farmland, fund it and to keep it farmland for future generations.

Wednesday, February 21

  • 12 - 1 p.m. – Brainstorming Farm Goals and How to Make Them Happen
    • The first step to your dream farm is setting goals! Join this interactive workshop to brainstorm goals for your farm and to learn from goals shared by others. Next, we will evaluate those goals as SMART goals and/or HEART goals. Finally, we will think through how to make your goals into a timeline, vision board or reminder to inspire you every day to follow your intention.
  • 1 - 2 p.m. – Enterprise Budgeting for Beginning Farm Decision-Makers
    • Further develop management skills in agriculture production systems by focusing on enterprise budgets and cost of production, including cost of production, economic profit, and understanding enterprise budgets in production agriculture.
  • 2 - 3 p.m. – Beginning Fruit
    • Nothing compares to farm fresh fruit, but growing fruit can be a little more complicated than one would initially think. This session will cover the basics of fruit production and dispel some common myths that viral videos might have led you to believe.

Thursday, February 22

  • 1 - 2 p.m. – The Rotation Effect
    • You can’t beat the rotation effect according to research, but we do see some farmers try. In this session, we will talk about why rotation is so important to the productivity of our cropping system and explore when a continuous crop could be used.
  • 2 - 3 p.m. – What MSU Extension Can Do For You!
    • Extension has a presence across the mitten, yet it’s been called one of the best kept secrets in Michigan. What is Extension? What do Extension educators do? What can MSU Extension do for you? This session will have a brief history of Cooperative Extension and will focus on highlighting the resources available through MSU Extension.

Friday, February 23

  • 12 - 1 p.m. – Beyond the Farmers Market: Evaluating Direct Market Channel Opportunities
    • Where are you selling or planning to sell your products? How do you make these decisions? We’ll talk about perceptions, realities, pros and cons of farmers markets, farm markets, community support agriculture, restaurant sales, institutional markets and more!

Tuesday, February 27

  • 12 - 1 p.m. – Soil Health for Beginnings: Caring for Your Farm from the Ground Up
    • Soil health is a critical part of farming. If you are new to farming or new to the land, this is a perfect time to make a long-term plan. Find out about approaches to learn about your soil and how to support better crop production.

Wednesday, February 28

  • 9 - 10 a.m. – Farm Budgets: Growing Your Farm Into A Business
    • How important is a business mindset and farm profits to your opportunities for growth and success? Join as we discuss how attention to details and effective planning can help your farm continue its growth into a successful business.

Friday, March 1

  • 12 - 1 p.m. – Commercial Hydroponic Production: Essential Information For Equipment Purchases
    • Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) can be a profitable and fulfilling business pursuit for farmers looking to diversify their income streams. Learn the fundamentals of CEA equipment and how to reach profitability faster.

Due to the generous support of Michigan State University Extension and the MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference sponsors, this event is offered to participants at no cost. However, participants must register to receive the necessary zoom links. Attendees can attend as many sessions as they would like and are also able to jump around between tracks.

RUP and CCA credits will be offered for several of the sessions.

More information and registration can be found at: MI Ag Ideas to Growth With.

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