The Salina Diocese Catholic Rural Life St. Isidore’s Feast Day Celebration was held May 15 in Cuba. Nick serves on the Catholic Rural Life Commission for the Salina Diocese, and represented KFU at the event. The annual event focuses on rural life and travels to different locations in the diocese each May 15. Mass was celebrated at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Cuba, followed by a blessing of seeds, soil, bees, and a field adjoining the parish property. The group toured the Dan Kuhn farming operation between Courtland and Scandia. KFU has been a longtime supporter of Catholic Rural Life efforts over the years.

June 3 was a busy day for both KFU staff and the authors of newly released Food Hub Feasibility Study: Northeast Kansas. Beginning in autumn 2013, the Douglas County Food Policy Council and food system stakeholders worked with a consulting group to conduct a ‘food hub’ feasibility study for 16 counties in NE Kansas. Donn attended a presentation on the report in Manhattan and Mercedes participated in a stakeholder meeting with the staff of SCALE, Inc., the consultant group. The feasibility study details the market demand for local food in northeast Kansas, the current and potential supply provided by regional growers, and outlines the infrastructure needed to link local agricultural producers with growing customer demand. The report also provides a set of short, medium, and long-term recommendations to accelerate our local food economy, and the projected economic impact and jobs created. (Download the study at KFU supports food hub efforts across Kansas and looks forward to participating in future planning for the NE Kansas project.

The Kansas Interfaith Power & Light Annual Event was held in Lawrence on June 10. Donn attended representing KFU. Kansas IPL seeks to engage faith communities in environmental stewardship and sustainable practices through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

Donn, Mary, Mercedes, and Nick participated in National Farmers Union’s All-States Forum in Las Vegas, NV June 16-19. The forum provided opportunities to build and strengthen relationships between state staff and NFU staff and permitted states to share experiences and ideas with each other. NFU’s goal was to learn what is currently working for states, and what we may still need from NFU.

Farmers Union campers come together each summer at the NFU Education Center near Bailey, CO to take part in cooperative activities and listen to several inspirational speakers at All-States Camp. Nick served as a leadership captain and official camp photographer during the week of June 22-28. This year’s camp focused on “Farming Means a World of Good,” reflecting the 2014 being declared the International Year of Family Farming by the United Nations. 40 campers from across the U.S. learned to appreciate the cultural and economic value of family farm agriculture in America and worldwide.

The Kansas Water Office hosted a statewide Water Vision Tour in July to gather public input about its 50-Year Water Plan. Donn attended the public meeting held in Manhattan and Nick attended in Washington, both held on July 10. The plan aims to ensure a reliable future supply for Kansas citizens, warning that if the state doesn’t act now, its future is bleak. Without action, the document contends, the Ogallala Aquifer will be 70 percent depleted within the next half-century, and Kansas reservoirs will be 40 percent filled with sediment.

The Water + Energy Progress Awards identify and spotlight innovations in energy efficiency and water conservation on Kansas farms. A steering committee representing agriculture, water, energy, and natural resources organizations collaboratively identified what constitutes an innovative practice and then nominated exemplary Kansas farmers for the awards at a July 30 meeting in Topeka. Mary represents Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition and Nick represents KFU on the committee.

July 22 through 24 Melisa Augusto from NFU and Donn worked on the upcoming National Farmers Union convention Kansas is hosting this coming March in Wichita. Kansas is honored to host the 2015 NFU convention, and we look forward to showing Farmers Union members what Wichita and Kansas has to offer!

On August 2, Nick represented NFU and KFU at Foods Resource Bank’s Annual Gathering in Lenexa. As a Christian response to world hunger, FRB links the grassroots energy and commitment of the U.S. agricultural community with the capability and desire of small farmers in developing countries to grow lasting solutions to hunger. FRB is interested in working with FU in developing Growing Projects in the U.S. that will support small farmers across the world.