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    SDSU Extension Awards Seeds to Educational Gardens in 2015

    Twenty-nine educational garden programs across the state were awarded vegetable and flower seed packets from the SDSU Extension Seed Bank this spring. Seeds were donated by Master Gardeners, seed dealers, individuals, and clubs across the state to assist youth and adult programs that are utilizing a garden to provide education. SDSU Extension is storing the seeds and coordinating the seed bank effort.

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    Five Steps for Founding a New Farmers Market

    Organizing a new farmers market is a dynamic process. The end results should fit the unique needs and demands of each farmers market and will likely be different for each community. The following five steps were developed from the suggestions of market managers from South Dakota during a 2012 focus group, and each step has been widely used by markets in South Dakota and across the United States.

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    2015 Children’s Garden Mini-Grants Awarded

    Ten youth and school gardens received funding this spring to launch or enhance garden programs across the state. SDSU Extension and the Community and Family Extension Leaders provided funding for the $150 mini-grants. The gardens can use the funds to purchase seeds, plants or small garden equipment or utilize the award to purchase programming materials.

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    Founding a Farmers Market: Form a Market Association

    New farmers markets that wish to be vendor-run should consider forming a Market Association. Research shows 25% micro size market (5-8 vendors) establish board of directors, but as they grow to a small size (9-30 vendors), 65% decide to establish board of directors (1). The Market Association will provide an organized structure for the market, while ensuring that the market is managed by vendors.

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    Drafting Farmers Market Documents: Market Bylaws

    Sometimes, understanding the difference between farmers market rules and farmers market bylaws is confusing. Yet, market rules and market bylaws are different documents with different goals. The market rules are directed to vendors and relate to the daily operation of the farmers market. Market rules are often displayed on a market’s webpage for potential new vendors or customers to access and read.

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    Farmers Market Operation: Certified Scales

    At farmers markets, growers have the option to sell produce by weight. If they choose to do so, they will need to meet the South Dakota laws regarding certified scales. South Dakota Codified Law requires any device used in a commercial transaction to be an approved NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program) device, meet the requirements of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Handbook 44, and to be certified and sealed (inspected) by the State of South Dakota Department of Weights and Measures. This includes countertop scales, typically found at farmers markets.

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    Food Hub Progress in South Dakota

    Planning for a food hub in southeastern South Dakota continues this spring. The dedication of a group of some twenty – thirty producers has given strong life to this potential new market for food products produced locally. The planning in South Dakota is progressing towards reality. Producers have voted to adopt the name, “Dakota Fresh” for their hub, and are working on and LLC structure with membership fees for voting rights.

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    Decisions for Farmers Market Setup and Operation

    Farmers markets are unique because they represent multiple, individual vendors under a single name, location and organizational identity. Before the first selling day, a farmers market will need to do many of the things that each vendor does for their farm. For example, selecting a name and creating a logo for the market. In this sense, starting a new farmers market is similar to starting a new business.

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    Drafting Farmers Market Documents: Vendor Application

    Farmers markets may be interested in creating a vendor application. This document provides an opportunity to collect contact information from potential vendors and update information from returning vendors. Typically, all vendors fill out an application each year before the beginning of the selling season. In some markets, products and new vendors will be reviewed and accepted by the board.

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    SDSU Extension Garden-Based Education Newsletter

    SDSU Extension provides regular updates for garden educators though their Garden-Based Education Newsletter. This newsletter features lesson ideas linked to core subject areas, garden stories featuring projects across the state of South Dakota, horticultural information, links to educational videos, links to current grant opportunities, and a Pick it! Try It! Like It! feature- a produce item from the garden with recipe, preparation video and supporting lesson plans.

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    Garden Clubs & Associations

    Novice gardeners and master gardeners share a love of and respect for nature, which is one of the many reasons why they naturally seek out like-minded individuals to organize clubs or associations. Many cities and counties have their own clubs or associations and the following is not a complete listing, but rather a beginning resource for connecting with others in the gardening community.

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    Additional Local Food Marketing Venues

    Local food producers have a variety of options for marketing their products. Consider on-farms sales for those interested in connecting directly with the consumer at the farm. The set-up could include a farm store, a U-pick or Pick-Your-Own operation and other agritourism components. These features will be appealing to people seeking extremely fresh produce, canners and cooks that are seeking large quantities of product at a reduced cost, and families looking for a weekend activity, wanting their children to experience farm life and food production.

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    Cooperative Networks in Local Foods

    Local foods communities across the nation are working together to form cooperative networks in attempt to have a large portion of local food sales while reducing inputs. Working together to streamline issues related to production processes and inputs, distribution, processing, use or consumption, recycling and disposal of food wastes, and support services to operate can all be explored as individuals begin to collaborate. These articles provide some options for exploring producer and community partnerships.

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