- a note from NSAS Board President, Ruth Chantry
I don’t want to make too many assumptions about the weather and climate for all in Nebraska, but my own observations of this season’s erratic and challenging weather conditions have me ruminating mightily on what I might gain with this dance of sustainable agriculture and this season in particular. The umbrella of sustainable ag that I always emphasize is one that is a creative, not prescriptive, endeavor which calls all of us to pay attention, solve problems creatively, and gain new wisdom through the challenges brought before us. As I am negotiating significant weed pressure by hand (amaranth, bindweed, grasses, and more) because our tractor is down and no transmission is in sight to replace it, I remind myself that weeds CAN tell me something–our soil IS fertile, the spring was wet, and I wonder more about what might I do to still improve and modify. I think that is perhaps called hope.
Not to say all my weeding and cultivating thoughts are so lofty, but the intent is there. Mid-season is an easy time to start feeling a bit of a grind and it’s a good time to remind ourselves to find community with others as we can. Peer-to-peer learning, talking about weather and weed travails and highlighting our successes are worthy of our time and effort within our NSAS community and however you can reach out to others near (or not so near) to you.
One of the beauties of serving on the NSAS board is that it also provides an opportunity to connect with others throughout Nebraska and though the Board members get to the business at hand quickly at our regular meetings, it is good to see familiar faces and hear about plans, plantings, and lives from others spread across Nebraska doing good work. The February NSAS voting cycle seems distant, but it’s not too soon to bring forward the idea for members to consider running for the board for the next voting cycle. You might add this to your own mid-day ruminations to see if this is where you could share some of your own time and talents, or otherwise think how you can step forward to NSAS in the coming year.
The NSAS Board of Directors has been meeting about every six weeks to address on-going business and provide guidance on the grants and projects that came forward right as Meg Jackson, NSAS Program Coordinator, began her tenure with NSAS. As a group, we’re looking forward to reflections and peer-learning updates at our 2023 Conference with some of our grant project participants. Another focus for the current NSAS Board is to get a firm grasp on a revised and current operating budget, ever more important with several grants, grant-cycles and increased staff time expenditures. We’re keyed in to creating ever-more-solid organizational systems for forward motion so that NSAS’s focus can continue to be on shared information, learning, and programs while we also have organizational responsibility. At this time, the NSAS Executive Committee operates as liaison and oversight for our staff person and the EC meets additionally as needed. For other focused and heavy lifting as we get into 2023 Annual Conference planning, a conference advisory committee is in place with representation from the NSAS Board and from NSAS general membership. We’re thrilled to already announce a Save the Date for the 2023 NSAS Conference, to be held again at The Leadership Center in Aurora, NE. MARK YOUR CALENDARS for February 3 and 4, 2023; more info at www.sustainablenebraska.org/conference.
In the nearer term, please watch for on-going updates as we slate some field days and other events for the season. Just as in planting or slating butchering dates, NSAS is keeping an eye on the now and on the six- and twelve-months from now! We look forward to seeing folks here, there or somewhere. For myself, I’ll likely continue to deepen my unfortunate relationship with bindweed and pigweed this season. Ask me about bindweed next winter ANYTIME and we can chat for hours! Non-bindweed thoughts or questions -- reach out to myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or to NSAS Program Coordinator Meg Jackson at email@example.com in response to calls for action, events or questions.
Interested in being a mentor? Please complete this short form by May 3. Keep reading on for more details and mentor benefits.
NSAS has partnered with the Center for Rural Affairs on a new Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program to pair seven beginning farmers, or “fellows,” with a mentor, matching on shared farming practices, enterprises, and location. We’re recruiting farmer-mentors who have:
The program provides a stipend of $750 to mentors for their time and any travel costs or expenses for on-farm visits. You will also receive a free registration to NSAS’s annual Local Food + Farm Conference in February 2023 to attend a session with your fellow presenting on their conservation plan. The mentorship term is from May 2022 - February 2023.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about being a mentor or future mentoring opportunities please contact Meg Jackson, NSAS Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402)235-6743.
Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program
Are you a beginning farmer or rancher who would like guidance in implementing conservation programs? Participants in this inaugural "Conservation Fellows'' program will gain knowledge and practical experience to enable them to plan, apply, and advocate for conservation practices and equitable access to conservation programs. As part of this program fellows will receive the following:
As we celebrate this historic national and state-recognized day for and with Indigenous communities, let's also recognize the indigenous knowledge, stewardship, conservation, and skills that exist within the NSAS network. 1011 News has begun to document this historic commemoration at the State Capitol.
NSAS member Dawn Hill (Choctaw, link to her bio) is Co-President of the Board of Directors and a full-time staff of the Tapestry Institute (https://tapestryinstitute.org/). The Tapestry Institute weaves Indigenous Knowledge to life through activities and publications that use Indigenous ways of knowing, learning about, and responding to the natural world.
If you would like to help highlight Indigenous voices, farmers, food system advocates- please reach out so we can continue to uplift diverse work and lives within our NSAS network. Nominate an indigenous speaker for the Feb 4-5 2022 Healthy Farms Conference, board member, 2022 Field Day, or grant partner.
wiblaho & yakokí (Thank you with gratitude in Omaha-Ponca & Choctaw)
March 6th, 2021 Gather Film Screening