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January 2024 Monthly Meeting Recap

Our guest speaker, Mitch Hunter shared information from the U of MN Forever Green Initiative to increase statewide cover crop adoption


The January monthly meeting was held online via Zoom from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m on Tuesday, January 16. Watching the recording of this meeting can be counted as 2 hours of Continuing Education. (Find the recording in the Archives of the Monthly Meeting page.)


Many thanks to the RCMG volunteers involved with the January Meeting:

  • Education Committee: Simba Blood & Gene Ranieri

  • Journalist: Brianna Gohde

  • Zoom Aide: Lesley Perg


General News (6:30-6:35)

Brianna shared a technology update regarding emails. Major email service providers – Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo – are preventing the delivery of some mass email messages. This includes newsletters and SignUp Genius invites. Please let Brianna and Darren know if you are ever not receiving these messages.


Board News (6:35-6:45)

Welcome to the new 2024 interns and to all of the returning volunteers.

RCMG Board Announcements (Julie Bechtold, chair)

  • Board of Director Winter Retreat welcomes new board members:

    • Kay Wimer- new board co-chair

    • Gene Ranieri - education

    • Tiffa Foster - new member

    • Stacy Sola - communications

  • Revised bylaws were signed into effect at the Winter Retreat in December 2023.

  • Board Priorities for 2024

    • Update Policies & Procedures document

    • Finance Committee starts in 2024

    • Conduct a technology review & assessment to keep RCMG current

  • Strategic Review

    • Darren to conduct a strategic plan for the Extension side of the program

    • Board to conduct a strategic plan for the non-profit side of the program

  • Financial Review & Audit happening later in January and announced at Feb or Mar meeting

  • Recruitment open for new project leads

2024 Budget Review (Kathy Passe, treasurer)

  • Sources of funds raised in 2023

  • Expenses 2023

  • Overall – profitable year but our estimates were inaccurate

  • Expectations for 2024


Darren Lochner's Coordinator Updates (7:05pm-7:15pm)

Take time to read the monthly newsletters

State Master Gardener Program News

  • State monthly newsletter sent by Tim Kenny (State Master Gardener Program Director) on the first week of the month via email

  • Register for the 2024 Seed Trial Program (registration deadline 2/12)

  • Get access to the Master Gardener 2024 Core Course (available to all returning volunteers for free)

  • New free admission code for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: MG2024


  • January volunteer opportunities: State Yard and Garden phone line, Lawns to Legumes Coaching, Seed Trials

  • Reminder of renewal of Background Check and Safety of Minors Training

  • RCMG Plant Pre-sale reminder (orders due by 1/26) Click on “Volunteers” drop down menu on RCMG website

  •  RCMG Monthly Meetings

    • January and February - online only (via Zoom)

    • March and April - Hybrid (in-person at Roseville Skating Center and online)

    • May  (no meeting)

  • Save the Date Reminders

    • RCMG Volunteer Fair - Tuesday, March 25th at Roseville Skating Center

    • RCMG Plant Sale - Saturday, May 18th at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood/New Location!


Guest Lecture (7:15-8pm)

Speaker: Mitch Hunter, PhD, Associate Director, Forever Green Initiative, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at University of Minnesota

Topic: Forever Green Initiative: Developing a New Generation of Cover Crops That Pay

Questions from the audience

  • Is there any consideration for water needs and availability? Such as western edge of the state has limited water resources

  • Are any of these practical for home gardens?

  • Can you speak to home gardening? I'd love to do cover crops at my home garden.

  • How can entrepreneurs get into the program?

  • Can you say more about Kernza’s progress in the marketplace? Where are products getting traction?

  • If farmers are growing crops like Kernza, does that mean they are giving up other crops that they used to grow on their land? Or are they doing both?

  • Are you aware of anything in the new Farm Bill that will help this type of initiative?

  • You have mentioned hazelnuts. Is there a website where I can read more about this and all of the perennial pants?

  • What's the general timeline from conception to market for a new product?

  • Kernza - gluten for bread making? human nutritional value?

  • How would you get farmers who are growing corn and soybeans, generally higher profit crops with established markets, to switch to these crops? Is there similar profit potential? What happens to the corn and soybean market?

  • What is the focus of working with farmers in the"brown Zone"?

  • Will pennycress and camelina culture be limited to MN/northern states or could this be adapted nationwide.

  • Do people you work with feel/think Big Ag (ie Cargill, General Mills, etc) will eventually get on board with these season extending "product" options?

  • How do you terminate a crop with 10 foot roots without using herbicides or deep plowing?This is a problem we ran into with Alfalfa on our organic farm

  • Long term effect on soil structure and fertility on having 2-3 crops per year?

Recap provided by Brianna Gohde


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