Farm, Garden & Outdoors calendar published April 11, 2020

Events and classes scheduled in the outdoors, gardening and farming.

Round hay bales in a field


MARL Class XI: April 24 deadline for applications for the Minnesota Agriculture & Rural Leadership Class XI. MARL, now in its 20th year, is a two-year educational experience featuring nine two- and three-day in-state seminars, a six-day national study seminar in Washington, D.C., and a 10- to 14-day international study seminar. The first Class XI session will be November 23-24 in St. Cloud. The application form, instructions and answers to frequently asked questions are available online at Interested individuals can join special webinars, and may contact Executive Director Olga Reuvekamp at: 507-537-6430; . The MARL curriculum is designed to have immediate applicability for active leaders. Each session features a mix of leadership study, personal skill-building, and location-related subject matter. A majority of each class’ makeup is agricultural producers, and others are professionals involved in rural, and ag-related organizations. Most of the activities occur over the winter months.

Minnesota CREP: April 30 deadline for a new signup period for the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement program. MN CREP is a voluntary state-federal program designed to improve water quality and habitat through permanent conservation easements across 54 southern and western Minnesota counties using buffer strips, wetland restoration, and drinking water wellhead area protection. Landowners simultaneously enroll land in a 14 to 15-year federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract and a permanent Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program conservation easement. Landowners receive payments to restore native vegetation on enrolled acres. Current rates range from $7,359 to $9,305 an acre dependent on township. Private ownership continues and the land is permanently restored and enhanced for water quality and habitat benefits. For more information contact the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District in Olivia, 320-523-1550, .

Conservation Stewardship Program: May 29 is the deadline for applications to be considered for screening and possibly ranked to compete for Fiscal Year 20 funding. Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps farmers earn payments for enhancing conservation while addressing agricultural production needs on their land. CSP encourages adoption of new technologies and management techniques in addition to their existing conservation activities. The 2018 Farm Bill makes some new improvements to the CSP program. It is now able to fund eligible, high-ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres and increased opportunities for organic and transitioning to organic production activities. For additional information about CSP, contact your local service center. USDA Service Centers are open for business by appointment only at this time. More information can be found at

Farm Beginnings: Sept. 1 deadline for applications for the Farm Beginnings class that starts in October in Red Wing. The 12-month training session helps beginning farmers clarify their goals and strengths, establish a strong enterprise plan and start building their operation. The course uses a mix of farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours, and an extensive farmer network. It is designed for new and prospective farmers who want to plan a profitable farm business. Students do not need to currently own land, but some farming or production experience is helpful to get the most out of the class. More information and registration is on the Land Stewardship Project website or email Annelie Livingston-Anderson at

USDA Farm Service Agency: open for business by phone only. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing as precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with USDA's Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call to schedule a phone appointment. FSA will continue to deliver disaster assistance, safety net, farm loan and conservation programs that keep American agriculture in business today and long into the future. Contact your county office for more information.



Minnesota 4-H has a number of online STEM learning opportunities for youth. Links are provided with each event and some require pre-registration.

4-H Agronomy (soil science and growing crops): three online learning sessions set for 2 p.m.; Farming on April 17 and Tasty Thursday on April 23.. Join online via Zoom:

Meet a NASA engineer: three online conversations with the engineers who work on the Mars Rover program at NASA, all at 7 p.m., April 20, April 28 and May 7. Pre-registration is required. Visit for more information.

Donna Middleton started working at the West Central Tribune in 1975 and has been the news assistant since 1992. She compiles the arts, health, farm and community page calendars, as well as rewrites and works on the special sections.
She can be contacted at or phone 320-214-4341.
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