Hey, South Dakota… Let’s Talk

During the month of September, the Center for Rural Affairs will host a series of farm tours and community conversations to talk with South Dakotans, particularly from rural and small towns. We’ll chat about how the state’s climate and energy future relates to farming and ranching, soil and water conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy development and many other topics. All of the events are free and open to everyone.

First and foremost, the Center has always had a lot of friends and allies in South Dakota, and we want to hear from as many people as possible about the ideas, hopes and concerns that you have about climate change, our energy future, and much more. The community conversations and farm tours that we are organizing will spotlight the crucial role of agriculture and conservation in addressing climate change.

On Sept. 7, we will gather with folks from the Vermillion area (well, anyone can come, so, no matter how far away from Vermillion you are, if you want to be there, come on down) and we’ll discuss sustainable living, distributed electricity generation, energy efficiency and ideas for community-based renewable energy projects. If you have questions or ideas about South Dakota’s energy future, this is the place to ask and share.

Community Conversation in Vermillion about South Dakota’s Energy Future
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016
6:30 to 8 p.m.
Neuharth Building (Freedom Forum room), University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD
(light appetizers and refreshments provided)

And if you’re closer to Brookings, or if Sept. 15 works better than Sept. 7, then you should join us for a continuation of our community conversations on energy and climate issues in Brookings.

Community Conversation in Brookings about South Dakota’s Energy Future
Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016
6:30 to 8 p.m.
Brookings Public Library
Brookings, SD
(light appetizers and refreshments provided)

But hold on, I just got ahead of myself. Because one of the most interesting stops on the Let’s Talk Tour will be the day before the community conversation in Brookings. On Sept. 14, a long-time friend of the Center, Charlie Johnson, will host a farm tour stop.

At Charlie Johnson’s farm - 45169 243 St., Madison, SD - we’ll focus on farm and ranch conservation options, soil health and practical, and conservation-oriented farming techniques. Tour participants will view fields of small grains, forages, corn and soybeans and have the opportunity to discuss how the Johnson farm manages soil fertility, weeds and pests through practical use of seed varieties, crop rotations and organic farming techniques and equipment.

The opportunity for discussion and learning doesn’t stop there. After the farm tour, a free lunch will be provided at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church near Madison. In the afternoon, also at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, representatives from the Center, OFARM and Dakota Rural Action; other local farm conservation experts; and regional organizational partners will discuss several topics, including: Building Resilience on the Farm - Conservation Practices and Organic Grain Imports - Sources, Credibility and Impacts on Domestic Prices.

Paige Dietrich, the Center for Rural Affairs staff person in charge of organizing the Let’s Talk Tour, told me, “Building resiliency on the farm is vital and can be achieved in large part by adopting effective conservation practices. Maintaining healthy soil is the key to productive and environmentally healthy farm and ranch land. Landowners who attend this meeting will learn to assess and improve the health of their soils through cover crops, no-till and strip-till, organic production and other conservation practices.”

I think Paige sums it up nicely. We hope you can join us at any or all of these events, and bring your questions and observations with you because we named this the Let’s Talk Tour for a reason. We want to share ideas and information, but more importantly, we want to hear your thoughts on conservation, energy and climate.

Farm Tour and Conservation Workshop
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Johnson Farms, 45169 243rd St, Madison, SD 57042-7101
(free lunch and workshop to follow at St. Peter’s Lutheran church - lunch provided by Center for Rural Affairs and OFARM)

To St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 24311 452 Ave., from Madison, SD – St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is eight miles south of the corner of Hwy 34 and US Hwy 81 (Super 8 and Pizza Ranch are at that corner). On 454 Ave. at the stop sign (241 St.) go west two miles, turn left (south) on 452 Ave., and go two miles south on gravel road. Charlie’s farm is approximately a quarter mile west of the church.

To ensure enough refreshments and food are provided, we hope that interested participants RSVP by Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. For more information and to RSVP, click here and choose the date or dates you would like to attend.