Great Places to Find Information about Farming Alternatives
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
National Agricultural Library (NAL)
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Reviewed October 2014
- Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
- ATTRA - National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service
- USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Outreach
- Missouri Alternatives Center
- Small Farm Program
- Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC)
- NewCROP, The New Crop Resource Online Program
- Plants for a Future: Information about Edible and Otherwise Useful Plants
- USDA, NRCS Plants Database: Alternative Crops
- eXtension. Freshwater Aquaculture. Marine Aquaculture.
- The Livestock Conservancy
- Growing for Market
- Acres USA
- Small Farm Today
- Stockman Grass Farmer
AFSIC specializes in locating and accessing information related to alternative enterprises and crops as well as alternative cropping systems. Librarians/information specialists provide free library services on request: referrals to books, journal articles, Web sites, experts, and organizations and agencies. Their publications – bibliographies, directories and reference guides - include Community Supported Agriculture Resources for Farmers; Organically Produced Foods; Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture and Tracing the Evolution of Organic/Sustainable Agriculture. All publications are available in full text online. "Organic Roots" is a searchable electronic collection of historic pre-1942 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Technical Bulletins and Farmers' Bulletins related to organic agriculture.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
National Agricultural Library, 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Room 123, Beltsville MD 20705-2351.
Phone: 301-504-6559 or 301-504-6153; fax 301-504-6927; TDD/TTY: 301-504-6856
Contact form: http://afsic.nal.usda.gov/afsic-ask-question
Web site: http://afsic.nal.usda.gov
ATTRA provides technical assistance to "U.S. farmers and ranchers currently raising and selling agricultural products commercially, agricultural educators, and organizations that work directly with farmers." Topics addressed by ATTRA can be categorized into three broad areas: sustainable farming production practices, alternative crop and livestock enterprises, and innovative marketing. ATTRA provides hundreds of free and low-cost online farmer-ready publications on specific practices, livestock and crop production, agricultural enterprises, marketing and business, and energy alternatives. They also provide directories, news, event listings and related links. Información también disponible en Español.
P.O. Box 3838, Butte MT 59702.
Phone: 800-346-9140 (toll-free for limited-access or low-income farmers)
Ask a Sustainable Agriculture Expert: https://attra.ncat.org/ask.php
Web site: http://attra.ncat.org/
SARE Outreach is the communications and outreach arm of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, a USDA-funded initiative that sponsors competitive grants for sustainable agriculture research and education. SARE is dedicated to the exchange of scientific and practical information on sustainable agriculture systems; its resources include the SANET-MG listserv, free bulletins, minimally priced CDs and books, and a searchable database of all funded SARE project reports. Downloadable books and bulletins include: Local Harvest: A Multifarm CSA Handbook; Managing Alternative Pollinators; What is Sustainable Agriculture? and Crop Rotation on Organic Farms.
SARE Outreach Publications
USDA/SARE. 1122 Patapsco Building. University of Maryland. College Park MD 20742-6715.
Phone: 301-405-8020; fax 301-405-7711
Web site: http://www.sare.org/
The Center serves "Missouri farmers, Extension staff, government personnel and people who want to begin farming, diversify their current operation, or find ways to profit from small amounts of acreage." Anyone may access their Web site resources, which include an online newsletter, and a comprehensive database of full text, online Extension and related how-to publications from all states and on many alternatives, "from agritourism to vermiculture."
Missouri Alternatives Center (MAC)
University Extension, 234 Ag Engineering Building, Columbia MO 65211.
Phone (toll free): 800-433-3704 (Missouri only) or 573-882-1905 (in Columbia)
Web site http://agebb.missouri.edu/mac/index.htm
While aimed at California producers, the Program offers a great deal of information useful to all. Publications for purchase include Small Farm Handbook and The Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook as well as Production Practices and Sample Costs booklets focusing on specific crops/geographic areas. The Center also features directories of Extension publications and small farm advisers.
Small Farm Center
University of California,
Agriculture and Resource Economics, One Shields Avenue, 2116 Social Science and Humanities, Davis CA 95616.
Web site: http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/
eOrganic is the Organic Agriculture Resource Area at eXtension, an "interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America." The site contains articles, videos, and Webinars on all aspects of organic production, marketing and certification. A network of academic experts and organic farming practitioners can help answer questions and learn together to enhance knowledge of organic farming systems.
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) - A National
Information Resource for Value-added Agriculture
"AgMRC brings together experts from three of the nation's leading agricultural universities - Iowa State University, Kansas State University and the University of California - into a dynamic, electronically based center to create and present information about value-added agriculture." Sample resources include overviews of many Specialty Crops; an Aquaculture Profile; and an Agritourism Profile. Coverage includes commodities and products, markets and industries, business development, and directories.
The rich information at this site is available by searching on crop names; searching on state and county names for currently harvested crops; by accessing and downloading full text publications; and finding related experts and conferences. Full text publications include proceedings of six National New Crops Symposia: Issues in New Crops and New Uses (2007); Trends in New Crops and New Uses (2002); Perspectives on New Crops and New Uses (1999); Progress in New Crops (1996); New Crops (1993); and Advances in New Crops (1990).
Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette IN 47907-2010.
Phone: 765-494-1329; fax: 765-494-0391
Web site: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/
"Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses." Located in the UK, the center's services include an online database, which currently describes 7,300 species of plants. The database is searchable by scientific name, common name or family; edible, medicinal or other use; or searchable by plants native to a particular area or a particular habitat.
"Select crops that may be suitable for small scale farming by limited-resource farmers and small landowners." Provides "Web links about the "cultural requirements and marketing strategies" for the crops and geographic areas you select."
NRCS Plants Database: Alternative Crops
Web site: http://plants.usda.gov/java/
Select "Alternative Crops" from the menu on the left side of the screen.
eXtension is an "interacting learning environment" that delivers researched information on freshwater and marine aquaculture from land-grant university Extension experts across America. Resources include factsheets, books, questions and answers, and news.
Web site: http://www.extension.org/freshwater_aquaculture
Web site: http://www.extension.org/marine_aquaculture
The Livestock Conservancy works to conserve rare breeds and genetic diversity in livestock and operates as a clearinghouse for information on livestock and genetic diversity. Formerly the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, it provides an overview of each breed listed on its "Conservation Priority List," and offers publications for sale.
The Livestock Conservancy
P.O. Box 477, Pittsboro NC 27312.
Phone: 919-542-5704; fax 919-545-0022
Web site: http://www.livestockconservancy.org/
A monthly magazine, Growing for Market focuses on news for "small-scale, ecological farmers who grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and plants for local markets." Subjects include specialty produce, dried and cut flowers, and herbs; organic methods are emphasized. Feature articles are supplemented with resource information, commercial advertising, and an annual buyers guide to sources and suppliers. This magazine is available in print or electronic format, by subscription only.
Growing for Market
P.O. Box 3747, Lawrence KS 66046.
Phone (toll free): 800-307-8949 or 785-748-0605; fax 785-748-0609
Contact form: http://www.growingformarket.com/contact
Web site: http://www.growingformarket.com/
This "voice of eco-agriculture" covers commercial-scale organic and sustainable farming. Acres USA also offers books, videos, and audiotapes for purchase. This magazine is available by subscription only.
4092 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78754
Phone (toll free in the U.S. and Canada): 800-355-5313 or 512-892-4400; fax 512-892-4448
Web site: http://www.acresusa.com/magazine
"The original how to magazine of alternative and traditional crops, livestock, and direct marketing;" published bi-monthly. Small Farm Today sponsors the annual National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference held in Columbia, MO. Ordering information for back issues of the magazine and for books, including Making Your Small Farm Profitable, aimed specifically at "beginning farmers or those seeking profitable alternatives," is available on the Web site. This magazine is available by subscription only.
Small Farm Today
Missouri Farm Publishing Inc., 3903 W. Ridge Trail Road, Clark MO 65243.
Phone (toll free): 800-633-2535 or 573-687-3525; fax 573-687-3148
Web site: http://www.smallfarmtoday.com/
This publication is "devoted solely to the art and science of making a profit from grassland agriculture." It covers "not only commodity priced feeder cattle production but also natural grass finished and organic grass fed beef, seasonal, pasture-based dairying, grass fed lamb production, organic grass fed bison (buffalo) and pastured poultry." This magazine is available by subscription only.
Stockman Grass Farmer
P.O. Box 2300, Ridgeland MS 39158-9911.
Phone (toll free): 800-748-9808 or 601-853-1861; fax: 601-853-8087
Contact form: https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.com/contact/
Web site: https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.com/index.php