Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grow Your Farm

Monday evening I gave a short presentation in Rolla to the first graduating class of "Grow Your Farm." The Grow Your Farm course is an extension program that assist new farmers or existing producers who are thinking of adding or changing an enterprise on their farm. The course emphasizes goal creation, assessing market opportunities, planning a farm operation, understanding rural legal issues and keeping track of finances. The course meets 11 times over a 16- to 18-week period. Classes include eight seminars and three farm tours.

I asked the participants in the class, now that the course is coming to a close was it worth their time and money to take the class. Each gave a resounding, yes, and they would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in farming.

To read more about this particular graduating class, read the article at

To learn more about the Grow Your Farm course go to

The next Grow Your Farm class will take place this coming Fall.

Monday, April 28, 2008


While at the Columbia Farmers' Market this past Saturday I was intrigued by the variety of radishes one of the vendors had displayed. What really caught my attention was the yellowish-brown radish. I had never seen this particular variety before.

The display had the radishes bundled together with a rubberband at the leaves. They were then placed on the table so the bulbs were face up so you could easily see each of the variety of colors. Each variety was then placed in rows.

The five different varieties from right to left:

1. Longu Red - elongated red shape with white ends

2. Cherry Belle - solid red globe (deeper red color)

3. Purple Plum - solid red globe (lighter red color)

4. Hailstone (also called White Globe) - solid white globe

5. Helios - yellow globe

Friday, April 25, 2008

Relationship Marketing

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is nature blossoming back to life but the farmers' market season is upon us!

I love when the Columbia Farmers' Market finally opens. I know I'll be able to purchase loads of fresh and locally grown items; things I've missed during the seemingly unending winter. Besides being fresh and local, I like to buy directly from the farmer. Not only do I know most of the farmers at the market through work, but many of them I have developed a relationship with them outside of the working relationship. They know who I am; they know my kids and my purchasing likes and dislikes. This is called relationship marketing. Once a producer develops a personal relationship with a customer, it makes it awfully hard for that customer to stop buying from you.

So you might want to consider how you can develop relationship marketing within your marketing plan. Make it a point to learn your customers names, give attention to their children and always smile. For more information on marketing direct to the consumer go to the MAC website and click on the letter "M".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Produce Auction & Strawberry Hoop House Tour

Date: May 2, 2008
Location: Jamesport, MO

One of the more interesting aspects of my job is the creativeness of farmers. For the last couple of years, several growers around Jamesport have been trying out hoop house strawberries.

The strawberries are grown in greenhouse-like structures, which for the most part are unheated. During the April freeze last year, some of the growers did use a little heat to save blooms. Other than extreme conditions like those we saw last year, no heat is used.
Hoop houses, sometimes called high tunnels, give these strawberry growers a jump on the season. Many crops will be picked several weeks earlier in hoop houses compared to the same crop outdoors. Last year, the hoop house strawberries were being picked close to one month before their outdoor cousins.

If you are interested in seeing how these strawberries are grown, University of Missouri Extension will be holding a tour on Friday, May 2nd.

The tour will start at the produce auction near Jamesport. The auction starts at 10:00 AM and is expected to end between 11AM and noon. This part of the tour is informal. Arrive whenever you like, and observe the auction in action. Lunch will be on your own. There is a lunch stand at the auction that you may wish to patronize before the rest of the tour begins.

When the auction is over, will assemble to travel to the farms. Before leaving, we will spend a few minutes to learn more about the auction. Atlee Stutzman, produce auction manager, will be there to explain how the auction works, and answer your questions.

The first stop will be the farm of Noah and Martha Kramer. Noah and his family are experienced produce growers, with a variety of fruits and vegetables to see. The hoop house strawberries will be highlighted, but there will be other interesting crops to see, such as an orchard and a tomato greenhouse. The strawberries should be in full production by May 2nd.

The second stop will be at the farm of Joe and Sarah Stutzman. This will be their second year of production. Although they are new strawberry growers, they did very well last year, and are expecting a good crop again this year.

This should be an exciting opportunity to learn about the auction, and how produce is grown by the Amish in Jamesport. We do have one request: please do not take photographs of the Amish themselves, to respect their religious beliefs.

The produce auction can be found on Highway F, just east of Jamesport. From the 4-way stop in downtown Jamesport, head east. The auction is about one half mile after you leave town, on the north side of the highway.

If you need further information, call the Daviess County Extension Center at 660-663-3232.

For more information about hoophouses/high tunnels, go to the MAC website and click on the letter "H".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Consumer Trends

According to the "What's News in Organics" April 2008 e-newsletter of the Organic Trade Association, consumers are willing to pay more for ‘green’ environmentally friendly products, according to a recent MamboTrack™ study of 1,000 consumers by Mambo Sprouts Marketing. In the study, seven in ten consumers were willing to pay up to 20 percent more for environmentally friendly products. In addition, 56 percent of consumers identified the selection of healthy organic products and 49 percent the availability of organic produce as key factors in where to shop. Consumers were most likely to choose organic produce (60 percent), dairy products (54 percent) and child and baby food products (50 percent).

If you would like to request an e-mail notice when future issues are published, please contact OTA at The e-newsletter is published quarterly.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alternative Agriculture Methods Meeting

Date: April 28th
Location: Star Theater, Willow Springs, MO

Do you wonder about those grape vines planted along U. S. Highway 60 just east of Willow Springs? Are you aware of mushroom production in Willow Springs? Do you know about range poultry and do you think natural grass fed beef will sell in competition with the corn-fed beef of the feedlots.

Methods of using alternative products and alternative production techniques in South Central Missouri will be the subject of a meeting held free and open to the public according the meeting sponsors. "We have some terrific speakers and some really interesting subjects," said Wendell Bailey, U. S. Small Business Administration regional advocate and National Rural Advisor for the Office of Advocacy.

Randy Saner, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist is coordinating the event which will be held at the Star Theater, on Main Street in Willow Springs at 7 p.m. on Monday April 28th. The Willow Springs FFA chapter will be helping at the event. Master of ceremonies for the event will be Larry Spence, Howell County Presiding Commissioner.

There is no admission charge and the public is invited. Extension programs are open to all.

Topics and invited speakers for the event include the following:
Alpaca production - Ron & JoAnn Alberts
Grape production - Jim Travor
Range poultry - Jim Protiva
Natural beef - Steve Willard and BUB ranch
Goat production - Debra Prince
Lease land production - John Beltz
Mushroom production - Jim Vokac

For more information contact the University of Missouri Extension Center at 417-256-2391

Monday, April 21, 2008


Welcome to the Missouri Alternatives Center's blog. The Missouri Alternatives Center (MAC) is a University of Missouri Extension Program. MAC was created about 20 years ago as an information center to answer questions on alternative agriculture.

The Missouri Alternatives Center maintains a website of links from extension, research and non-profit organizations on alternative agriculture. The website is Click on the link "Link List - Extension Information on Alternative Agriculture" and you will find a listing of the alphabet. Click on the letter "A" for agritourism, aquaculture; "C" for chickens, Christmas trees; "G" for goats, greenhouses; "M" for marketing; "V" for value added, you get the idea.

MAC also publishes a monthly e-newsletter and can be found at the link "Ag Opportunities." If you find this newsletter helpful, subscribe for free and you will receive an email each month letting you know the newletter has been updated on the website.

If you have any questions you would like answered, feel free to email me at Who knows, maybe your question might make it as the blog for the day!