A Video on Ecological Sweet Corn Production

Final Report for ENE99-047

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1999: $33,803.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Vern Grubinger
University of Vermont
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Project Information

Summary:

A 50-minute video called “Farmers and their Ecological Sweet Corn Production Practices” was completed in 2001. In it, 12 farmers from 5 states in the northeast describe techniques they use to grow sweet corn while optimizing use of natural resources and minimizing inputs. These include use of: hairy vetch cover crop, soil tests, soil heat monitor, floating row covers, pest scouting and monitoring, mechanical weed control, banded herbicide application, GIS mapping for soil sampling, pesticide mixing and loading station, using a crop consultant, Trichogramma wasp releases, and a hand-held oil applicator for earworm control. Over 500 videos have been distributed to date of which over 200 went to agency personnel. A follow up evaluation of impacts was mailed to 220 recipients and 81 recipients have replied. Of these, 49% said they used the video for training or education purposes and 46% said it improved the information they provide to growers or the management of sweet corn on their farm or research plots. The respondents reported showing the video to 1,699 other people.

Project Objectives:

This project was approved prior to the adoption of performance targets by NE-SARE. The stated objective of the project was “to provide extension and other agricultural educators with a tool that enhances their ability to promote the adoption of ecological production practices for sweet corn.”

Introduction:

Sweet corn is one of the most widely grown vegetable crops in the Northeast and its production accounts for a significant portion of the fertilizers and pesticides applied on vegetable farms. This project was conducted to promote ecological production practices for growing sweet corn that minimize use of inputs while optimizing profits, yields and stewardship of resources.

During the summer of 2000, 13 farmers in 5 northeastern states were filmed as they described a variety of sweet corn production strategies that optimize soil stewardship, pest management, and marketing. These articulate, experienced sweet corn growers were conventional as well as organic, large and small, and they described practices in their own words. The video was created as an educational tool for agency personnel to use with their clientele.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Chris Anderson
  • Gordon Beemis
  • Jeff Bober
  • Chip Hardy
  • Tom Harlow
  • Ruth Hazzard
  • Dan Kaplan
  • Alex MacLennan
  • Jack Manix
  • Steve Mong
  • Rich Moses
  • Keith Silva
  • Jim Ward
  • Sandy Williams

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

The production team met in winter of 1999-2000 to finalize the subjects to be included in the video, identify appropriate farmers and develop a schedule for filming. Farmers were contacted to arrange filming dates in early 2000. ‘Backup’ farmers were identified for each topic in the event that bad weather, farm problems, or other reasons precluded the first choice from participating.

Approximately 8 days were spent in the field traveling to and visiting farms to film the raw footage. Farmers were prompted with questions by the producers to elicit the necessary information about the production practice being filmed, but all information generated was in the farmer’s own words.

After filming was completed, the audio portion was transcribed into a ‘script’ from which desired statements were selected, and a first draft of the video was generated using that script. Different sets of images were then selected in the editing studio to accompany the audio statements, and these were combined using television editing software. About a half day was spent editing each of the 13 different farms included in the video. One farm was dropped due to lack of high quality footage. Artwork and text was prepared for the video cover. The ‘master’ was then sent out for duplication and packaging to Resolutions, Inc. in South Burlington VT with an initial run of 500 produced.

Availability of the video as of June 2001 was promoted through state PDP coordinators and the SAN network, as well as the veg-prod list serve which s used by many vegetable extension personnel. The video was offered without charge to agency personnel. A press release was issued by the NE-SARE office announcing the video. The video has recently been advertised in commercial vegetable production newsletters and the popular press. The purchase price of $15 includes postage and handling. A small fund is maintained from the proceeds to pay for ongoing duplication of the video in order to assure its continued availability.

A description of the video is available on line at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture web site http://www.uvm.edu/~susagctr. Information on this video and others funded by NE-SARE are also available on line at the Vermont vegetable and berry site, http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/Videos/videos.-html. With a high-speed connection, one can also view these videos on-line from this site.

An information sheet detailing additional written references and sources of materials and products mentioned in the video was mailed with every video distributed by the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

At last count, 504 videos have been distributed. Over 200 of these went to agency employees, primarily Extension personnel, free of charge. An additional 300 people have ordered the video. A follow-up evaluation of impacts was mailed to 220 video recipients in December of 2002 followed by a second notice in early 2003.

Publications/Outreach

Grubinger, Vernon P. and Ruth Hazzard. 2000. Farmers and their Ecological Sweet Corn Production Practices. (video, 50 min). University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Burlington VT

No milestones

Performance Target Outcomes

Outcomes

The video content was determined, participating farmers identified and contacted, and a filming schedule developed. Raw footage of farmers was collected, edited and compiled into a final video. Duplication, promotion, distribution and evaluation of the video were completed.

Since completion of the video in June 2001, 504 copies have been distributed including 200 free of charge to USDA agency personnel. A follow up evaluation of impacts was mailed to 220 recipients and 81 recipients have replied. Of these, 49% said they used the video for training or education purposes and 46% said it improved the information they provide to growers or the management of sweet corn on their farm or research plots. The respondents reported showing the video to 1,699 other people. Some of the reported uses of the video were
· “Organic growers workshop”
· “County agent in-service”
· “On-farm worker training”
· “To further expand my college education on sustainable agriculture”
· “I have used it as part of the Private Pesticide Applicator Recertification Training”
· “At grower meetings”
· “Reviewed video with the local sustainable agriculture group”

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.