Editor’s Note: SFA board of directors member Tiffany Tripp wrote the following in the Faribault Daily News, where she writes an occasional column.
We knew little to nothing about raising poultry or pigs when my partner Andy and I started farming three years ago.
A fellow farmer suggested that we attend a local meeting for the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Association. At that meeting, we met several other like-minded farmers. Some had a few years of experience. Others were aspiring farmers like ourselves.
All lived within 45 minutes of us and we all shared common values of wanting to farm with a focus on the environment and healthy humans, animals and soil. We met a few future farmer friends and learned about what other people were doing in our area. We realized that we were not alone in wanting to live a more self-sustainable life and starting to farm at the age of 40.
In the spring of 2015, we had 20 laying hens and 40 chicks housed in an old milking parlor. We also had ordered three piglets from a farmer friend that we had planned to raise over the summer. We had no prior experience raising chickens or pigs and very little knowledge of fencing options beyond metal hog panels for pigs and barbed-wire fences for cattle.
Through our Sustainable Farming Association connection, we learned about a course called Farm Skills 101. At this course we not only could learn about different livestock fencing options, we also learned practical knowledge of proper animal husbandry for selecting and raising healthy animals that thrive on pasture; multi-species grazing systems to improve soil and animal health; and how to process chickens. This beginning farmer training was very influential in how we farm today.
The Minnesota Sustainable Farming Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on farmer-to-farmer networking, soil health and new farmer development programs. SFA is a membership-based organization. Our local chapter, Cannon River SFA Chapter, will hold its annual chapter meeting from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28. The meeting includes a potluck lunch and is open to the public. For more details visit sfa-mn.org/cannon-river.
SFA also holds its Annual Conference on Feb. 10, 2018, at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph. The one-day conference features several sessions ranging from grazing livestock to selling your product to soil health to farm transitions and more. For more information and to register for the conference visit sfa-mn.org/conference.
Tiffany Tripp is co-owner of Graise Farm, Founder of Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market and admirer of all things local. Reach her at email@example.com.