Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Local Foods & Sustainable Agriculture Tour!

The Nebraska SARE Program is sponsoring a tour that focuses on local food production and sustainability.  We have plenty of room available and are  opening this tour up to the public.  This will be an opportunity to learn more about local food production, sustainability and entrepreneurship in Nebraska.  Master Gardeners and anyone interested in learning about these issues are also welcome to participate in this tour.

This tour is of 5 farms/sites where you will have an opportunity to see diverse farming operations.  The tour will leave Lincoln from the large parking lot at 56th & Highway 2 (north of CVS) in the southeast part of Lincoln.  The tour is scheduled for Tuesday, August 18th and we will be leaving the parking lot at 8:30 a.m.  and traveling in an air-conditioned bus.  Our first stop on the tour is Jones Produce, which is located southwest of Lincoln, near Crete, NE.  Jones Produce is small farm dedicated to quality food and ecologically beneficial agriculture. They are proud to offer a variety of fine fruits and vegetables, grown here near Crete, Nebraska.

Jones Produce is owned and operated by Justin G. Jones.  Justin’s great-great-great grandfather homesteaded in the area, and founded the original limestone quarries at nearby Roca, Nebraska.  The family eventually moved west, but after growing up in rural New Mexico, and living in California where he developed his horticultural skills, Justin returned to his family’s Nebraska roots. With his wife Kari, a life-long Nebraskan, Justin started Jones Produce to grow the freshest, organically grown produce for our neighbors and community here in Southeast Nebraska.  To learn more about Jones Produce go to:  

Our second stop on the tour is Ficke Cattle Company near Pleasant Dale, NE.   Del Ficke and his family have a Graze Master herd that is bred with the core belief that animals must excel maternally and be naturally accountable. Their cattle are raised on forage-based nutrients and are free to live out their lives in a holistic pasture setting.  They sell cattle to be used in forage-based livestock systems.  For more information about Ficke Cattle Company go to:   We will be eating lunch at Ficke Cattle Company.  Following a tour of Ficke Cattle Company and lunch we will travel to Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center near Denton, NE. and tour part of the preserve.

Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center is an 850-acre tallgrass prairie nature preserve located 20 minutes southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. Visitors can enjoy miles of walking trails nearly 650 acres of native (never plowed) tallgrass prairie, ponds and wetlands, wildflowers and grasses, a diverse assortment of birds and other wildlife, historic nineteenth-century wagon ruts, peaceful surroundings, and beautiful scenic vistas. Our natural and human history has wrought strong imprints in Nebraska. Within Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center's 850 acres lie wagon ruts, undisturbed by the plow or more modern bulldozer, that mark the crossing of wagons along the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cutoff, a direct freighting trail in southeast Nebraska.  For more information about Spring Creek Audubon Center go to:  

We will then travel a few miles to Shadowbrook Farm.  We have visited their farm on previous tours, but in 2014 they built Dutch Girl Creamery where cheese from their goat herd will be produced on their farm.  ShadowBrook Farm is a small, family owned diversified vegetable farm.  They own a total of 34 acres. About 10 acres are devoted to growing  specialty vegetables and herbs chemical free and with non-gmo seed.  They also plant about an acre of cut-flowers. They are committed to sustainable farming practices and are devoted to being good stewards of our land. Our goal is to plant green manure crops in a third of our vegetable ground annually.  Sustainability is our goal by using natural methods to grow our products that we provide at farmers’ markets and to other local establishments.  To learn more about Shadowbrook Farm go to:  

Our final stop of the day will be at Hawley Hamlet, an urban garden right in the middle of Lincoln (Block bounded by 25th & 26th and T & U St.).  Tim Rinne and his wife started this movement and since 2010, they have gone from a measly little tomato patch to six tenths of an acre (the equivalent of roughly 65 yards of a football field). They have planted over 50 fruit and nut trees and two dozen berry beds, set up two chicken coops and two beehives, and now have 20 neighbors actively participating in what they call their hamlet. They are growing food in the “Hawley Hamlet.” But equally important, they’re growing community. And that’s a good thing. With the risks climate change and extreme weather are posing to our environment, we’re going to need all the food and community the city can produce.  For more information about Hawley Hamlet go to:   Following our visit to Hawley Hamlet the bus will return to our vehicles at 56th & Highway 2.  We hope to return there between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m.     

The cost of the tour which includes transportation and lunch is $25.00. You can also apply for a SARE Travel Scholarship to pay for this registration cost and travel to the pickup site in Lincoln.  Please register by August 14th so we can get an accurate lunch count.  Also if you have any dietary restrictions, please let us know in advance so arrangements can be made.  Register by calling our office at (402) 274-4755 or emailing me at    We do not take credit cards, but will take a check or payment through a UNL Cost Object # as well.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn about local food production, sustainability, alternative farming enterprises, entrepreneurship and also get a glimpse of the way the land was in pioneer days in eastern Nebraska.  If you have questions, feel free to contact me at   I hope many of you will be able to participate.  If you know of people that would be interested in this tour, please pass this information on to them.  We have plenty of room available. 

Gary Lesoing
Nebraska State SARE Coordinator
Extension Educator
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Nemaha County
Suite 102 1824 ‘N’ St.
Auburn, NE 68305
(402) 274-47555

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