Strategic Farming: Let’s Talk Crops webinar series. This free, live, online program will provide up-to-date, research-based information to help optimize crop management strategies for 2022. Sessions will be held over Zoom from 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 5 through March 30. Sessions will begin with a brief presentation by the discussion leaders for the day, followed by discussion framed around farmer/participant questions on the topic. Register at z.umn.edu/strategic-farming for the entire program series. Sessions will be recorded and posted for viewing later.
Farm couple retreats: Feb. 4-5, St. Cloud. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is holding a couples’ retreat to forge stronger partnerships. Couples will explore creative communication skills, personality differences and learn about resources that can help them reach their goals and manage the stresses of farming and family relationships better. Lodging and meals are included in the free retreat, although a refundable registration deposit is required. Each retreat starts at noon and ends at 1 p.m. the following day. Registration is limited to the first 10 couples who sign up. Participants must follow COVID-19 protocols in place at each venue. Find more information and registration forms at www.mn-dairy-initiative.org/events.html. Additional retreats are set for Jan. 21-22 in Faribault and Feb. 11-12 in Thief River Falls.
Fair farm rental agreement: Jan. 13, 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m., via Zoom; free program. Farmland rental rates are the largest input cost the farmer has. Determining a fair farm rent agreement is always challenging, and negotiating a fair rental agreement that satisfies the land owner and the farmer is a challenge. David Bau and Nathan Hulinsky, Extension Educators in Ag Business Management, will provide several ways — by examples, factsheets and worksheets — to determine a fair farm land rental rate for both parties. Zoom at z.umn.edu/LandRentWillmarCo.
Winter webinar series: The Iowa State University Master Gardener program is hosting a winter webinar series Dec. 8 through March 2. Topics include the life of bumble bees, design tips, houseplant propagation, seed starting and starting a cutting garden. The classes are free. Registration is required at www.extension.iastate.edu/mastergardener/winter-webinar-series and limited to the first 300 to register.
Gardening for the health of it: The Olmsted County Extension Master Gardener volunteers spring gardening seminar will be a series of weekly Zoom sessions, with a cost of $15 per session. There will be 10 classes between Feb. 15 and March 24. Topics include alternative gardening ideas. gardening with nature, bees and pollination, shade gardening, photographing gardens, tree and shrub care, beneficial insects, healing power of gardening, heirloom varieties and urban water and soil conservation. Register and pay fee at extension.umn.edu/event/gardening-health-it-session-1.
Sibley State Park: A vehicle permit is required to enter the park and is available online. Sibley State Park is west of New London just off U.S. Highway 71. For more information, visit the state Department of Natural Resources website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center: Trails at the rural Spicer center may be used during daylight hours at no cost. A bathroom with composting toilets is open by the pavilion. Pets should be on a leash. All equipment rentals (fat-tire bikes, kayaks, canoes) will be handled on a reservation basis, made at least 24 hours in advance. To reserve equipment for the weekend, please call by noon Friday. Two-hour equipment rental is $20 for adults, $10 for members and $5 for all youth. Call 320-354-5894.
Upcoming classes include:
- Snowshoeing: Jan. 13, 4 to 5 p.m., grades 4 and older, $8. On snowshoes, you can explore “off the beaten path” and beyond the trails. Enjoy this magical adventure through quiet woods and hills, while watching for tracks and signs of our animal neighbors. Instruction and all equipment provided. Meet at the main building.
- Intro to Cross Country Skiing: Feb. 10, 4 to 5 p.m., grades 2 and older, $10. Learn the basics of cross country skiing. Then hit the trails to practice your new skills. Instruction and equipment provided. Meet at the main building.