Our Events

CRAFT Workshops
Other Events & Training

Dr. Richard Bonanno

Dr. Richard Bonanno

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Impacts RI’s Farms
Tuesday, December 2, 7:00 p.m.
Watson Institute, Brown University
111 Thayer St. Providence, RI 02912
Directions here.

Dr. Richard Bonanno, experienced farmer and business leader will explain how the proposed FSMA’s Produce and Preventive Control Rules will affect local farmers. This event is free and open to everyone.

Dr. Richard Bonanno, farmer and President of Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation. Dr. Bonanno owns and manages his family farm, Pleasant Valley Gardens in Methuen, MA and is an Adjunct Professor at UMass/Amherst with responsibilities in food safety issues. Dr. Bonanno is also a UMass Senior Extension Specialist responsible for vegetable and small fruit weed management.

FSMA’s Produce and Preventive Control Rules will affect small farms across New England as it is phased in over the next two years. RI farmers, processors, handlers and distributors will face increased costs and documentation requirements under FSMA rules.

Many farmers incorrectly assume they could be “exempt” from the regulations. Some farmers may be forced out of business under FSMA’s potential burdens.

Farmers, producers and consumers can help make the new rules more manageable and less burdensome for RI’s family farmers. NOFA/RI urges everyone to educate themselves on FSMA issues. The second draft of the proposed regulations was released in mid-September. Farmers will be encouraged to send comments to the FDA before the comment deadline of December 15, 2014.

The high costs of compliance (money, equipment and time) may force some small farms out of business.

Learn more about FSMA at sustainableagriculture.net/fsma and newenglandfarmersunion.org/legislation/food-safety-modernization-act. Learn how to submit comments at sustainableagriculture.net/fsma/speak-out-today. Learn more about the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation here.

Richard WiswallBusiness Planning – Farming Smarter, Not Harder
December 6, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
80 Washington St. Providence, RI
Directions here.

Tune-up your business and increase your net profit with Richard Wiswall. In this workshop, you will identify your farm’s profit centers—which parts of your farm make the most money, and which may be losing money. Learn about efficient farm planning and analysis, efficient farm office management, key financial statements, employee management, and financial tips for success. Set aside the day to finally work on these and other important farm business concerns. The workshop will address:

  • Planning for Profit: a step by step guide to increase your net profit
  • Making a Profit on YOUR farm: what is making money and what isn’t
  • Your marketing strategies
  • The Efficient Farm Office: humorous skits and demos outline best practices
  • Key farm financial statements: what they are, why they are important, and how they relate to each
  • Employee management
  • Quick business fixes

Learn more and register at YoungFarmerNetwork.org/Events

Lori F Pivarnik, PhD

Lori Pivarnik, PhD

RI Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training
December 10, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
URI East Farm, Building 75, Kingston, RI
Directions here.

RI GAP training offers important food safety information even for those not planning to become RI GAP certified.  Hear about resources related to on-farm food safety practices. Refreshments, including coffee/muffins and a lunch, will be served. GAP training is free. Register or send questions to Lori Pivarnik at lpivarnik@mail.uri.edu or call (401) 874-2972 by December 1.

Writing a Food Safety Plan (Advanced Training)
December 11, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
URI East Farm, Building 75, Kingston, RI
Directions here.

Hear about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Produce Standards Rule, Prevention/Controls Rule, Harmonization Audit and how to writing a Food Safety Plan. Open to attendees of GAP training on Dec 10 above, whether RI GAP certified or not. Training is free. Register or send questions to Lori Pivarnik at lpivarnik@mail.uri.edu or call (401) 874-2972 by December 1.

CRAFT Workshops

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) workshop series shares farmer experiences and best practices between farmers, farm workers, apprentices and gardeners.

These workshops are free thanks to a generous Farm Viability grant from the RI Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Agriculture which seeks to enhance farmers’ ability to grow and market their crops. Everyone is welcome. Registration is not required for CRAFT Workshops.

Bob DiPietro at RI Mushroom Company

Bob DiPietro at RI Mushroom Company

Cultivating Exotic Mushrooms
February 10, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Snow date: February 17 (or February 24) 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
RI Mushroom Company
141 Fairgrounds Rd, West Kingston, RI
Directions here.

See how gourmet mushrooms are grown commercially. Rob DiPietro of RI Mushrooms will share his experience and offer a tour of his commercial mushroom operation. Look inside his cool and humid mushroom “grow rooms” and learn the basic techniques of mushroom cultivation. Learn about the life cycle of fungi, various methods of cultivation and how to prepare them for eating.

The RI Mushroom Company cultivates exotic mushrooms for restaurants and consumers in Rhode Island and beyond. Rob and his team grow several varieties including blue oyster, crimini, golden oyster, king oyster, maitake, portobello and pioppino. See wild mushrooms collected by a small  team of authorized foragers.

John Kenny at Big Train Farm

John Kenny at Big Train Farm

Raise better vegetables with chickens in crop rotations
June 23, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Rain date: June 30, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Big Train Farm
35 Pippin Orchard Rd, Cranston, RI 02921
Directions here.

John Kenny will explain how rotating 125 organic chickens around his 2-acre farm has improved produce yields at Big Train Farm. Beginning and experienced growers will learn how to improve soil biology, fertility and specialty crop yields by including a chicken tractor in their crop rotation plans.

This 2-acre farm is one of seven incubator farms at Urban Edge Farm, owned by Southside Community Land Trust. Established in 2008, Big Train Farm sells produce and eggs through a 25-week mix-and-match CSA and wholesale accounts. CSA customers may also purchase weekly shares of fruits, flowers, meats and breads from other growers, producers and restaurants.

John is a NOFA/RI Organic Farm Advisor specializing in tractor operations, soil test interpretation and field planning. Each year John offers a 3-part workshop on Soil Health and Plant Science for farmers and gardeners. His courses include basic soil science, crop science and soil maintenance principles focused on organic growing techniques. He also hosts workshops on agriculture, natural science and field botany.


See an international list of horticultural conferences at hortcalendar.com.

Other Events &Training

On-line Organic Lawn Care Certificate Course
Consumer demand is increasing for organic lawn care. Boost your skills and reduce toxins in the environment. This 9-unit, non-college credit course is a complete introduction to managing grass and lawns organically and will cover how pesticide and fertilizer runoff harms water quality, provide technical training on organic lawn care practices, and discuss successful business and marketing strategies. Learn more at here or call 203-308-2584. Register here.

Farm Commons – Farm Business Law Webinars
Plan for a stable, resilient farm business with 13 free Farm Law Webinars in 2015. There will be 8 Farm Law Basics webinars and  then 5 new Advanced Farm Law webinars.  Learn, create and converse with farmers from across the country while applying the law to your specific situation. Learn more and register at Farm Commons.

Small Business Training
The Center for Women in Enterprise and the Small Business Administration offer clasroom and on-line training. Learn more here.

NOFA/RI logoNOFA/RI Organic Farm Advisor
Organic Farm Advisors assist beginning or transitioning farmers with sustainable and organic growing, harvesting, processing and sales techniques, business planning or organic certification. Learn more about this free service here.

Young Farmer NetworkYoung Farmer Nights (YFN) Schedule
YFN connects farmers, aspiring farmers and farm allies from all backgrounds. This regional network and open to young and old. On-farm events often include a potluck supper and bonfire. Learn more and view the season’s schedule here.

Small Business Training
The Center for Women in Enterprise and the Small Business Administration offer classroom and on-line training.

Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Webinar Series 
Oregon Tilth, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East and West National Technology Support Centers will present a webinar on Dec. 2: “Nutrient Budgeting: Organic Considerations for Implementing Conservation Practice 590″ Learn more here.

Conservation Webinars
See a variety of resource conservation webinars for free, Topics include Soil Health, Cropping Systems, Bioenergy, Energy, Biomass, Energy Policy, FOTG & Planning, Fish & Wildlife, Forestry, Forest Management and Wildlife. Learn more here.

URI Master Gardeners accepting applications for 2015 winter class, http://web.uri.edu/ceoc/uri-master-gardener-program  

Learn about other related training events, farmers markets and more at our web calendar here.