MINNEAPOLIS — Are you a vegetable or fruit farmer interested in accessing resources to enhance conservation activities on your agricultural operation? Join an informational webinar on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 from 12:30 – 1 pm CST, with a particular focus on funding opportunities for high tunnels through the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives program) with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The free webinar will be hosted by Conservation Connections, a program led by Renewing the Countryside in partnership with the Sustainable Farming Association to build connections between farmers and NRCS resource support. Attendees will receive an overview of EQIP, with a particular focus on funding for high tunnels including insights and advice from fellow farmers who participated in this program.
“NRCS is committed to supporting Minnesota farmers to enhance conservation on their land in ways that will also support their farm business vitality,” shares Lisa Buckner, State Appeals Specialist for NRCS. “The EQIP program in particular can be a strong fit for beginning farmers as it includes over 200 conservation practices, providing financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits.”
These benefits include improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.
Christopher Hogge, NRCS District Conservationist, will be sharing the program core components and goals as well as how the application process works. Jan Joannides with Renewing the Countryside will host and give a quick overview on NRCS for beginning farmers. Additionally, Minnesota farmers will share their personal experience with EQIP and offer advice on constructing and using their high tunnels.
“One of the first things I did when I bought our farm in 2010, was to erect a high tunnel with help from NRCS funding,” shares Melissa Driscoll of Seven Songs Organic Farm in Kenyon, Minnesota where she grows and sells certified organic ginger, turmeric, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, winter squash, bedding plants, rhubarb, ground cherries, and a variety of herbs. “Building, maintaining, and learning how to best use that valuable growing space has been pivotal to my farming experience and business success.” Driscoll will be sharing her experience and high tunnel recommendations at the webinar.
“Conservation Connections provides support to historically underserved farmer groups including beginning farmers, African Americans, Asian, Latino, Indigenous and veterans,” shares Jan Joannides, executive director of Renewing the Countryside and lead on this project. “Webinars like these aim to expand awareness of programs and resources available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that foster more successful farm businesses and at the same time steward the land.”
Farmers new to vegetable and fruit growing or NRCS and curious are very welcome to attend. The speakers can readily answer a variety of EQIP and conservation questions and connections to beginning resources. While the examples covered will be from Minnesota as the host state, the information is applicable nationally.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. All registrants will receive a link to the recorded webinar.
For more information on the Conservation Connection program and other resources, including a parallel EQIP webinar for vegetable farmers in Wisconsin on March 31, see https://www.renewingthecountryside.org/conservation_connections
— Sustainable Farming Association