Blog

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  • The Power of Pasture Walks

    I began attending Land Stewardship Project soil health events because I was looking to improve the soil health of my hay field and pasture, which sustain some beef cattle and equine southwest of Winona, Minn. I attended several of the ...

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  • Soil Health: Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Dividends

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    How One Farm’s Focus on Soil Health Helped Make Row-Cropping Viable...& Fun

    The economic benefits of building soil health are a balancing act between immediate payoff and delayed gratification. In an ideal situation, the source of those quick profits will set the foundation for a longer-term investment that pays dividends.

    For example, Dawn and Grant...

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  • Farm Transition Profile: A High-Value Apprenticeship

    When Nathan Vergin applied to work as an apprentice on Polyface Farm in Virginia back in the mid-2000s, he had to undergo a three-day “working interview.” Vergin, who grew up helping out on a sheep dairy near Northfield, Minn., passed the trial by fire, and went on to serve a two-year apprenticeship with...

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  • Farm Transition Profile: The Goal Standard of Farming

    One day in 2014, a man stopped by Bill and Bonnie McMillin’s farm tucked away in the hills of southeastern Minnesota’s Wabasha County and offered to pay cash for all 160 acres, lock, stock and barrel. Such an offer can be tempting. After all, Bill and Bonnie had worked hard over the previous few decades to build a 45-cow dairy operation, which they later transitioned to a grass-fed...

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  • In the Mirror

    Note: Land Stewardship Project member Jim VanDerPol raises crops and livestock on Pastures a Plenty Farm near Kerkhoven in western Minnesota. He recently wrote this ...

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  • Creating Narrative Power from the Ground Up

    At a Land Stewardship Project Policy and Organizing Program staff meeting in January 2016, I had a deeply moving experience that will stay with me for a long time. My fellow organizers and I read aloud an early draft of a document entitled, “A Transformational Narrative for LSP Policy & Organizing: A Work in Progress.” I had never seen so many of my own core values and beliefs...

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  • Public-Private Prairie Partnership

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    A BioBlitz Highlights the Role Livestock Farmers Can Play in Habitat Improvement

    It’s the kind of overcast day in June that leaves one wondering if the sun decided to take an extended summer holiday. But as heavy thunderstorms threaten this part of Big Stone County in western Minnesota, some 130-people break up into teams and fan out onto various parcels of prairie...

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  • Pulling Together, Moving Forward: LSP Member Statement on the Current Farm Crisis

    NOTE: On Sept. 7, 2019, 37 Land Stewardship Project member-farmers and leaders came together in St. Peter, Minn., to discuss direct ways of addressing the current farm crisis. Below is the statement these members developed as a guideline on how to move forward to address this crisis:

    A...

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  • Standing up to a Factory Farm & Asking Tough Questions

    CROW LAKE TOWNSHIP, Minn. — It’s early November, and Grass Lake in Stearns County's Crow Lake Township is peaceful, lined with cattails bending in the breeze and a few ducks and geese watching for winter’s arrival. But if things had gone differently a few months ago, neighbors could have been seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling the effects of a newly built...

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  • Don’t 'Get Big or Get Out' — Get Together and Fight Back

    Earlier this week, at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made the following remarks in regard to the economic crisis facing many small and mid-sized farmers, especially dairy farmers: “In America, the big get bigger and the...

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  • Robbing the Farm or Enriching the Farm: Which is the Better Way?

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    Ross Cooper and his family raise canning and grain crops on their Century Farm in Spring Valley in southeastern Minnesota. Shortly after his son was born, Ross converted to no-till to cut down on the amount of time he was spending in the tractor. More recently, he has begun integrating cover crops into the farming system. In addition to crop farming, they graze cattle on perennial pastures and...

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  • From Crisis to Community

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    A Shared Threat Prompts a Shared Vision for a New Farm

    As the land auction progressed, it looked like the parcel was on its way to exchanging hands at a decent price. But the landowner grew increasingly anxious about the guy who was likely to get the highest bid—he was a well-known owner of large-scale hog operations in the region. If he was the buyer, it was clear the...

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  • Stewardship, Justice & Democracy

    At the Land Stewardship Project, among member-leaders and staff, we’ve been thinking more about our work in the context of economic, racial, and gender equity in this country, and how that relates to core values of LSP, like stewardship, justice, community, democracy, and health. Land Stewardship Project’s board is meeting this week to give a final review and approval to a Long...

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  • A Farmer's View of Climate Change

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    Climate change is happening. Farmers who work with higher elevations may be able to deny it. Those of us on more variable and wetter soils cannot. I have been aware of it in our farming for 20 years.

    The water cycle is impaired. This is the most obvious. Excessive rainfall spreads into a huge number of rainy days and it becomes a challenge to walk from house to barn. Twenty years ago,...

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  • Renting It Out Right: A Hilltop View of the Land's Potential

    Mark Erickson’s Relationship with Landowners is Rooted in Healthy Soil

    When considering significant changes to the way one farms, there’s nothing like a couple acres of convincer, a template for the potential offered up by tapping into the land’s ability to build soil health in an economically viable manner utilizing livestock and perennial plants. Mark...

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  • Healthcare: LSP Members’ Fight for Provider Tax Scores a Major Victory

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    But A Divided Legislature Produced No Real Bold Steps Forward

    The Land Stewardship Project organizes for healthcare for all because we believe high-quality care is a basic need and something every person deserves, and because our current healthcare system that prioritizes corporate profits above all else is a major barrier to having thriving rural communities with more...

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  • The 2019 MN Legislative Wrap-up

    LSP Members Shaped the Outcomes & Continue to Build Power to Make Transformational Vision a Reality

    During the recently concluded session of the Minnesota Legislature, Land Stewardship Project members from across the state were deeply engaged in advancing our vision for a transformational farm and food system that fosters strong family farms, vibrant rural communities,...

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  • Final Hours of the MN Legislature: Where We Stand

    For decades, Land Stewardship Project members have been actively advocating for Minnesota policymakers to consistently advance a bold vision for family farmers, local foods, and the land. This year has been no different. Our rural, suburban, and urban communities are deeply connected and impacted by our state’s investment in and protection of our farms and the environment.

    This...

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  • Are You Trying to Grow a Crop in a Biological Desert?

    NOTE: John Meyer, his wife Linda and their two youngest children, Charlie and Maggie, farm about 500 acres in southwestern Olmsted County, Minn. John planted his first oat cover crop in early spring of 2016 on half his land — on frozen ground and through snow — and planted corn directly into that “green,” allowing the oats to reach mid-thigh height...

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  • Don’t Muddy the Waters: Stop Trampling on the Definition of 'Pasture'

    Minnesota's state leaders have the power and responsibility to act in the best interest of all Minnesotans, as well as our water and land. We rely on our state to ensure we have safe water to drink, clean air to breathe, and healthy land to pass down to the next generation. But right now, Big Ag interests are working hard to write special laws for themselves at the expense of the rest of us....

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  • LSP Promotes CSP at a Critical Time

    This week, the Land Stewardship Project is reaching out to farmers across Minnesota and Wisconsin with an important message: now is the time to sign-up for a program that rewards you for practices that produce positive conservation benefits on the land. The deadline for enrolling in the current ...

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  • LSP Stands With Bde Maka Ska

    The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) stands with the renaming of Minneapolis’ largest lake “Bde Maka Ska” and other decisions to strengthen visibility and truth telling for the indigenous peoples who have been systematically...

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  • Farm to School at the Legislature: Good News & Bad News

    During the 2019 session of the Minnesota Legislature, the Land Stewardship Project has been working with a large stakeholder group to push for "Farm to School" provisions to be included in the final Agriculture Finance Bill. What we are asking for is a very clear prescriptive grant program to reimburse schools...

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  • MN Supreme Court Hearing on Frac Sand Ban to be held April 10

    In our democracy, it is up to us as organized people to use our power to make sure our governments and institutions best serve people and the land. Nearly two-and-a-half years ago, the people of Winona County won an historic victory when the County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a ban on any new frac sand...

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  • Gabe Brown's Rags-to-Regeneration Story

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    In 2012, I had the great fortune to get a tip about a group of farmers, scientists and government soil conservationists who had teamed up in south-central North Dakota to take a holistic approach to making the land more resilient. By focusing intensively on building soil health utilizing a combination of practices—no-till, managed rotational grazing, cover-cropping, diverse cropping...

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