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News and Blog

Posted 4/25/2017 8:50am by Chris Zdorovtsov.

SDSPA Board, April, 2017

Many SDSPA members, partners and others involved in the local foods community participated in the 2017 Annual Membership Meeting in Oacoma on April 7th.

Highlights of the meeting included a brief recap of 2016 accomplishments, an appreciation for the growing partnerships that SDSPA is building for the benefit of members and the state, a positive financial report, status on 501c3 & 501c5 applications, a draft of revised Bylaws for members to review & comment, a request for all attendees to complete the online 2016 Annual Producer Survey, a presentation about website & Facebook outreach analytics to-date, and election of new Board of Directors members. 

Wanda Goodman & Kirk Hulstein from the SD Department of Tourism presented on Agritourism opportunities in SD. The no-host lunch allowed participants time for networking and the conference facility said they are open to utilizing locally-provided foods for next year’s event. The SDSPA outreach display featured hops growing & processing by Ryan Heine & Michelle Donner (Yankton) of 6th Meridian Hops.  

Breakout sessions in the afternoon included meetings of the SD Wine Growers Association and the newly-forming Hops Growers Chapter, planning meeting for the 2017 SD Local Foods Conference, and an open session with info for Aronia growers/marketers and a report on the 2016 SCBG for Farmers Markets from the SD Dept. of Agriculture.  Members indicated that a similar meeting style should be setup at this location for 2018, but should held earlier in the year.  

A special welcome and thank you to our new board members! Tom Barnes, Pleasant Valley Farm (Custer), Tom Bodensteiner, Country Road Garden (Rapid City), Michelle Donner, 6th Meridian Hops (Yankton), Julie Auch, Auch Aronia Farm (Yankton), and Sean Duffy, Papa’s Hops (Sioux Falls).   



President Kim Brannen leading the SDSPA annual membership meeting 


“Opportunities in Agritourism in South Dakota” presented by Wanda Goodman & Kirk Hulstein from the SD Department of Tourism! 


The SDSPA Annual Meeting Included 4 Breakout Sessions (Clockwise): The SD Wine Growers Association; Fruit & Vegetable Growers Session- Featuring the SD Dept. of Agriculture's presentation on Farmers Market Grants & Stewart's Aronia Acres; the SD Local Food Conference Planning Committee; & The SD Hops Growers & Craft Brewers.


Dining & networking during the SDSPA annual meeting.

Posted 3/27/2017 1:34pm by Chris Zdorovtsov.

Hops growers, others in the industry, and interested Partners!

We are reaching out to you on behalf of the SD Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) and SDSPA members Ryan Heine & Michelle Donner of 6th Meridian Hops (Yankton, SD).  We invite you to join us for the industry information sharing & networking that starts in the ‘SD Hops Growing & Craft Brewing’ breakout session on Friday, April 7th at Cedar Shore Resort, Oacoma, SD.  

Dr. Christopher Graham, SDSU Extension, plans to join us.  This breakout session starts at 1:00PM (Central time) and you are also welcome to join us for an interactive presentation at 11:30AM by SD Department of Tourism Deputy Director, Wanda Goodman and Team Leader Kirk Hulstein, about AgriTourism opportunities in the state.  

The SD Specialty Producers Association’s Annual Meeting runs from 10:00-11:15AM and is open to the public.  There will be a no-host buffet lunch and great networking on-site from Noon to 1:00PM.  (Please say if you will join us for lunch – we need an accurate count for Cedar Shore’s kitchen.) Click here for more information on full program.

Our joint hope is that we can get the growers, brewers, potential growers, partners, and other interested folks together to start building this agriculture segment as a viable industry.  The discussion is open to more than just hops – we hope to have malters/grain growers, and other gruits producers included.  Essentially it would be a group dedicated to local production of everything the brewers need.  And we hope to build a good relationship with the SD Brewers Guild.  Some topics of mutual interest:

  • Education, Research, and Resources: provide grower education and give a portal from the SDSU extension & universities to the hops/brewers industry.


  • Marketing and Quality: build a community and work to build relationships among growers and hopefully raise the quality and improve testing of the South Dakota crop.


  • Work with state agencies & government & partners for awareness of our industry and its needs to be successful.


Meeting Agenda



Posted 3/23/2017 12:39pm by Chris Zdorovtsov.

SDSPA is seeking input from commercial producers to better understand and describe the economic impact of specialty crops and other local foods. South Dakota growers of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, hops, nursery crops, and flowers, as well as producers of honey, processed goods, specialty types of poultry, meats, grains or dairy are needed to provide data and share industry needs. 

Complete Survey Here

SDSPA will share survey results with local food partners including the S.D. Departments of Agriculture, Tourism and Health, SDSU Extension and others who serve local food producers across the state. This data will guide entities as they provide educational training, expand partnerships, seek project funding and promote local food efforts.

The survey requests information from 2016 including what crops and products were produced, what markets were utilized, what food safety requirements were requested from buyers, production approach, technologies utilized and producer needs. The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes. The information will remain strictly confidential and data will be presented in an aggregated form. 

Participants who complete the survey can enter into a drawing for prizes which include resource guides such as “Market Farming Success” or “Wholesale Success” and a gift certificate towards the 2017 Local Foods Conference in Spearfish Nov. 3-4th.  Winners will be notified by email or phone.   

This survey is part of a larger effort by SDSPA to support specialty crop producers by connecting them with resources, customers, agri-tourism markets, networking and educational opportunities via a Specialty Crop Block Grant funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2015 Survey Results

Posted 3/21/2017 8:34am by Chris Zdorovtsov.

How we handle our produce, starting in the field, affects its safety and our relationships with buyers. Buyers in all markets are increasingly expecting farmers to be proactive about the safety of the produce they sell. The FSMA Produce Rule has increased the importance of addressing on-farm food safety.

Integrating food safety systems with production and postharvest practices, conservation, and market relationships supports the development of systems that are viable, cost-effective, scale-appropriate and environmentally responsible.

This training is hands-on and scenario based. In-class work will include:

  •   Creating land use maps and postharvest process diagrams.

  •   Identifying potential food safety risks and potential pathways to the food such as wind, air, people, equipment, and animals.

  •   Developing record-keeping/traceability systems that align with the farm work.

  •   Writing “Food Safety Action Plans” that are Produce Rule compliant and meet other requirements (including organic) that are specific to participants’ produce operations.

April 8th, 2017 8:30am - 4:30pm
West River Ag Center, 1905 Plaza Blvd., Rapid City
$35 (Includes lunch), Register by April 5. On/after April 5th, add $10.
For details contact Dr. Rhoda Burrows, Professor and Extension Horticulturist (605)-394-2236


Posted 3/16/2017 11:35am by Chris Zdorovtsov.

The South Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) is hosting its annual membership meeting April 7, from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. CDT at Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma, SD.  Members as well as non-members involved in specialty crop or local food production are encouraged to attend.

Full Schedule

Hops Growing & Craft Brewing Breakout Session Schedule

In addition to the membership meeting Wanda Goodman, Deputy Director & Kirk Hulstein, Industry Outreach and Development Team Leader, of the SD Department of Tourism will present “Opportunities in Agritourism is South Dakota.”    

Afternoon breakout sessions will provide time for subgroups to gather.  The Hops Growers & Brewers Guild, S.D. Wine Growers Association, SD Dept of Ag- 2016 Farmers Market Grant Results, and SD Local Foods Conference committee are scheduled to meet.  If another group (E.g. Food hub, fruit growers, chefs, agritourism farms, etc) would like to meet during the event they may contact the SDSPA membership coordinator for scheduling.

SDSPA president Kim Brannen encourages members to participate in the annual meeting to express their voice as they guide association development and leadership. “Meeting participants will learn about the organization’s restructuring to an IRS non-profit, vote on new bylaws, and elect board of director members,” said Brannen. The meeting is open to all, however current membership is required to vote.

This is a free event and registration is not required to attend. A soup and sandwich buffet will be offered at your own cost.  

SDSPA was founded in 2001. It is made up of growers, processors and others interested in producing and marketing South Dakota specialty crops and products. We represent locally grown non-commodity products including fruits and vegetables, herbs and medical plants, grapes, golden flax, hops, honey, nursery crops and more.  

SDSPA Treasurer, Pat Garrity, said, “The original intent for the SDSPA was to create an umbrella organization to represent several of the smaller organizations in the state. We wanted to create this organization so that all of the smaller groups could have a stronger impact – from grants, to policy, to marketing.”

The organization works to promote specialty crops and products; develop cooperative marketing opportunities; create opportunities for producers to market, network, and learn; market agri-tourism; develop South Dakota product identity; support research and serve as a venue for networking and information gathering.  

Membership dues are $25 and applications for 2017 are available at the SDSPA website, http://sdspecialtyproducers.orgSpecialty producers can also stay up-to-date on relevant issues and educational opportunities by following SDSPA on Facebook at

For more information on this event or membership contact Cory, SDSPA membership coordinator, at

Posted 2/14/2017 9:47am by Chris Zdorovtsov.

It is now time for SDSPA membership to provide input on what training topics are desired for the 2017 field tours. If you are willing to host a field tour, please also let us know. Additional requests or comments for SDSPA leadership are welcome.

Request Form

Please complete this form and email it to:


Posted 2/2/2017 9:04am by Chris Zdorovtsov.

Its Time to Join SDSPA!

The South Dakota Specialty Producers Association is made up of growers, processors and others interested in producing and marketing South Dakota specialty crops and products. We represent locally grown non-commodity products including fruits and vegetables, herbs and medical plants, grapes, golden flax, hops, honey, nursery crops and more!

Goals of our organization include:

  • Promote South Dakota horticultural, specialty crops and products
  • Develop cooperative marketing opportunities
  • Create opportunities for specialty crop producers to market, network, and learn
  • Market Agri-tourism
  • Develop South Dakota product identity
  • Offer educational programs
  • Help support research
  • Partner with other organizations working on common goals
  • Serve as a venue for networking and information gathering


Consider joining to stay informed, boost your visibility, and improve your business! Complete the 2017 membership application today!

Posted 10/28/2016 5:27pm by Karen Brannen.

Here are the schedules for the 2016 SD Local Foods Conference:

Full Conference Schedule (Nov. 4-5)

Pre-Conf Schedule (Nov 3)

Visit Eventbrite to register!

Posted 10/18/2016 8:26am by Karen Brannen.

Registration is open for the 2016 South Dakota Local Foods Conference (SDLFC) scheduled for Nov. 4-5 at the Highland Conference Center in Mitchell, SD. Three pre-conference sessions scheduled for Nov. 3 at Mitchell Technical Institute are also open for registration.  

“Brand new this year are in-depth pre-conference sessions on hops production, grant writing, social media marketing, permaculture, and cooking with indigenous foods,” said Kim Brannen, president of the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association.  

‘Hops Production 101’ features Dr. Stacy Adams, of University of Nebraska, speaking on production in Nebraska, Dr. Diana Cochran, of Iowa State University, on weed and fertility management, Dr. Cheryl Boyer, Kansas State University (via DDN) featuring online marketing and social media for small producers, Ryan Heine of 6th Meridian Hops in Yankton, Dr. Christopher Graham, SDSU Extension Agronomist, and a Growers Roundtable with North Dakota producers. This session is $35/person.  

‘Social Media and Marketing’ presented by Janet Nicolaus of Mitchell Technical Institute and Kathleen Rykhus of Pomegranate Market in Sioux Falls will help local food producers learn to better connect to their markets through Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. This session is $45/person.  

‘Grants— Resources & Technical Assistance’ will be taught by staff from the SD Value Added Ag Development Center, SD Department of Agriculture, and USDA Rural Development.  This session is $45/person.  

The three pre-conference session will run from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Lunch is included in the registration fee.  These sessions require advance registration by Oct 28, separate from the full conference registration.  

The SDLFC provides educational programming and networking opportunities for producers, local food enthusiasts, chefs, and resource providers of specialty crops and other niche local food products.  

Production, marketing, business and cooking tracks are offered during the main conference Nov. 4—5. Some sessions include production of grass fed meat, hops, meat goats, herb, and organic vegetables, beekeeping, flower farming, orchard trellis systems, seed saving, season extension, food safety, record keeping, business planning, online marketing, specialty grain marketing, a chefs panel, and the Dakota Fresh food hub.  

The conference will include two keynote speakers: Daniel Halsey, a certified permaculture designer and teacher for multiple academic institutions and organizations out of Prior Lake Minnesota; and “The Sioux Chef”, Sean Sherman, who was born in Pine Ridge, SD, and is now a caterer and food educator focusing on revitalizing indigenous food systems in a modern culinary context in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area. Both presenters are also offering pre-conference workshops on Nov. 3. 

Other components of the event include vendor booths, meals using local foods and a networking event on Friday evening. A new fourth track “In The Kitchen” will be offered at Mitchell Culinary Institute on Saturday.  

The conference is meant to continue the dialogue on local foods among producers, growers, consumers, school nutrition programs, grocers, restaurants and resource providers. Anyone with an interest in local foods is encouraged to attend. Continuing Education hours are available to chefs who participate in the event.  

Registration for the two-day event is $85 per person. Registration for either Friday or Saturday only is $45. Late registration, after Oct. 25 increases to $100/person for the full conference or $60/day. Visit to register and complete your online payment for any of the pre-conference sessions and the full conference.   

The SDLFC is sponsored by a collaboration of partners including the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association, SDSU Extension, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, USDA Rural Development, Dakota Rural Action, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, the South Dakota Small Business Development Center, Mitchell Technical Institute, Black Hills Food Hub, and Spearfish Local.  

Direct any questions to conference organizers at Follow the South Dakota Local Foods Conference online at 

Posted 10/5/2016 10:41am by Karen Brannen.

Keynote speaker, Daniel Halsey, a professional permaculture and agro-ecosystems designer, is offering a pre-conference workshop on Nov. 3 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST on ‘Permaculture and Perennial Crop Systems Design.’ During this class participants will initiate design work for their own properties.  

Permaculture is an agricultural design philosophy that focuses on using natural land features and creating synergy within crop and animal production for a diverse, productive and sustainable food system.  

Halsey and his wife live on 25-acres, called SouthWoods, in Prior Lake, MN where they have managed self-sustaining forest gardens of fruiting trees, shrubs and nut crops. As a certified permaculturalist he has worked nationally and internationally designing private homesteads, intentional communities, broad-acre transition projects, and other systems for residential and commercial food production.  

The cost of this pre-conference workshop is $75/person. Participants must register by Oct. 15. Lunch is included with the fee.The session will be held at the SDSU Extension Mitchell Regional Center in the Nordby Building at the Mitchell Technical Institute campus.  

Participants are required to prepare for the class in advance by gathering information about their design site. This will include providing an areal property map and knowing specifics such as your USDA growing zone, annual precipitation, elevation range and soil type. Those who register will receive a complete list of preparation requirements.  

This pre-conference workshop is one of five offerings on Nov. 3. Additional sessions include ‘Cooking with Indigenous Food ’ with keynote speaker, Sean Sherman, ‘The Sioux Chef’ ($85); ‘Social Media and Marketing’ ($45); ‘Writing your 2017 Value Added, SARE, USDA, and Specialty Crop Block Grant’ ($45); and ‘Hops Production’ ($35). These sessions require advance registration separate from the conference registration.  

The cost for attending the South Dakota Local Foods Conference on Nov. 4-5 is $85/person. Registration for either Friday or Saturday only is $45. Visit to register and complete your online payment for the full conference or pre-conference workshops.

Direct any questions to conference organizers at Follow the South Dakota Local Foods Conference online