"The Third Tuesday-Thursday Thing": Building on Kentucky's Experiences and Expanding the Sustainable Agriculture Educational Model into Tennessee

Final Report for ES01-052

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $50,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Marion Simon
Kentucky State University
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Project Information


The "Third Tuesday Thing" has now successfully started at Tennessee State University with
monthly workshops ranging in size from 8 participants to 85 participants. Staff at Tennessee State University are excited for the potential impact of this program on their state.

Kentucky State University's "Third Thursday Thing" has grown to average 85 participants with 15 being African Americans. Throughout the year, some 500 - 1,200 participants attend the workshops with 10-25% of the participants being professionals from 1890 and 1862 Land Grant Universities, state and private colleges, high school vocational education teachers, USDA, state government staff, state legislators including representatives from the Legislative Research Commission, and others. Many sustainable agriculture activities have started across Kentucky as a result of this effort.

Kentucky State University “Third Thursdays” have had participants from over 70 Kentucky
counties, six European nations, and twelve states ranging from the east to the west coasts. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture considers it a “must” to send a representative to each workshop. The Tennessee State University “Third Tuesdays” have had participants from three states and 20 Tennessee counties. In 2003, KSU's “Third Thursdays” was selected as a recommended model educational program for Southern SARE-PDP to be expanded across the Southern region. Additionally, the “Third Thursday” program has been nationally recognized as a model program by the USDA Risk Management Agency, the USDA-CSREES Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, the USDA-CSREES Southern Region Risk Management Education Center, the Extension Directors of Land Grant Universities (1890 and 1862), the Southern Program Leadership Network (PLN involves the extension middle management of 1890 and 1862 Land Grant Institutions), the USDA Office of Outreach, and the USDA-CSREES Small Farm Program.

Project Objectives:

1. To educate 1862 and 1890 research and Extension professionals and paraprofessionals about sustainable agriculture with a particular emphasis on small farms. Behavior change: An increased awareness and acceptance of the practicality of sustainable agriculture which is reflected through
their recommendations.
2. To educate 1862 and 1890 research and Extension professionals and paraprofessionals about practical uses of organic agriculture with a particular emphasis on small farms. Behavior change: An increased awareness of the practicality of organic agriculture for selected enterprises. An acceptance of organic and alternative production techniques and a willingness to make recommendations to producers.
3. To educate 1862 and 1890 research and Extension professionals and paraprofessionals about alternative marketing systems and new farm enterprises with a particular emphasis on small farms. Behavior change: An increased acceptance of alternatives to tobacco and alternative marketing systems within the land grand field staff. Recommendations to farmers reflect these changes.
4. To educate farmer leaders, USDA, and agricultural professionals including state government department staff about sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture with a particular emphasis on small farms. Behavior change: An increased awareness and acceptance of the practicality of sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture which is reflected in their recommendations and activities. An increased emphasis on programs that target small farms and diverse farmer clientele.
5. To foster shared learning experiences between agricultural professionals and farmers. Behavior
changes: Researchers, Extension staff, and agricultural professionals strengthen their farmer support base. Researchers develop a direct link to the farming community for developing problem-solving, applied research projects to meet the needs identified by the farmers. A strengthened inter-agency, interdisciplinary, inter-organization support base which can be drawn upon by agricultural professionals and paraprofessionals, particularly field staff. Strengthened
professional interactions and ties between Kentucky and Tennessee which includes the fostering of joint activities.


The Kentucky State University and Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension Programs' “Third Tuesday-Thursday Thing” Sustainable Agriculture Monthly Workshops are designed to transition small farmers from a
tobacco based agriculture to practical, sustainable options. Tennessee's and Kentucky's topographies range from the mountainous, highly erodible Appalachian region, through the karst central region, to the Mississippi River bottomlands in the west. Small farms Contribute substantially to their agricultural economies. Small farmers and agricultural professionals with Extension, research, USDA, state, non-profit and local agencies seek answers and methodologies to help sustain small farm families as they transition into sustainable farming systems that efficiently and effectively utilize the family’s resources and the farm’s resource base. As they develop programs, they need to evaluate cropping, production, and marketing systems that not only consider profitability and sustainability, but also consider the quality of life, safety, stress management, and related community issues and
environmental quality. These systems must also reflect the diversity of the farming population and include an economic mix of traditional, alternative, low input, and organic production and marketing systems.

The “Third Thursday Thing” was initiated in 1997 as a Southern SARE-PDP project to educate
agricultural professionals about such issues and topics. Immediately after the program started,
farmers, consumer groups, and the public clambered to be included. “Third Thursdays” then
became shared learning experiences that emphasized hands-on learning experiences. In 2001, this was expanded to the "Third Tuesday Thing" in Tennessee. Nearly half of the participants are women farmers and professionals, often with babies and children accompanying them. A number of the regular
participants are African American. A unique quality of the training is that it occurs monthly at the Kentucky State University Research and Demonstration Farm and at Tennessee State University so that the participants view the progression of the crops, forages, and livestock on the farm. Both Research and Demonstration Farms are uniquely designed in that thier original design included a focus on sustainable agriculture and a demonstrational aspect for use in training farmers. Topics feature sustainable agriculture principles, alternative farm enterprises and production systems (over 70 were taught), alternative marketing and distribution systems, USDA and state agency programs, farm management and record-keeping, beneficial insects, farm walks so that participants can see the natural progression of the crops, forages, bees, fish, and livestock, and local food production and
marketing systems. As a result of the program, farmers are directly involved in Extension and
research activities and programming.


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  • Richard Winston

Education & Outreach Initiatives



Monthly workshops at the University farms allowed participants to have shared learning experiences with presenters. The workshops include a lecture portion on research-based materials, farm walks to see the progression of crops, livestock and forages, demonstrations, and a hands-on session where participants learn by doing or participants tour a local farmer's market, certified kitchen, winery, animal disease diagnostic lab, or value-added market. Presenters include Extension professionals and paraprofessionals, researchers, farmers, and consumer groups. Presentations and programs given by recipients of SARE-PDP, R&E, On-Farm Research, and Producer Grants are solicited for trainings. The workshops occur monthly on the "Third Thursday" in Kentucky and the "Third Tuesday" in Tennessee.

Additionally, Tennessee State University hosts an Annual Small Farm Field Day and Kentucky State University hosts a Biennial Small Farm Field Day.

Outreach and Publications

Professional poster presentations were made at:
- The National Sustainable ASgriculture Conference, 2002
- The Southern Region SARE-PDP and SAWG Annual Conference, 2001, 2002
- The Kentucky Governor's Conference on Agriculture Marketing, 2003
- The National Risk Management Education Conference, 2003
- Numerous county extension meetings and state extension conferences (at least 25)
- The Kentucky Biennial State Conference, 2001 and 2003

Professional presentations were made at:
- The National Risk Management Education Conference, 2003
- The Southern Region Program Leadership Network (PLN), 2003
- The National Extension Directors and Administrators Conference, 2002
- The USDA Risk Management Outreach Conference, 2003
- The Project Recipient's USDA Risk Management Agency Conferences - 2003, 2004
- The National USDA Small Farmer Outreach Conference, 2001

Outcomes and impacts:

Success stories:
- Kentucky’’s House Bill 391 was passed to provide a system for home based processing and
local food marketing.
- The Partners for Family Farms was formed to influence and expand local food initiatives, local food marketing systems, and value-added local meat marketing. Partners include farmers,
consumers, the League of Urban Cities, the Kentucky Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, Berea College, and
Heifer Project, Intl.
- The Organic Kentucky Producers Association, an African American operated c.s.a., was formed.
These eight families sell organic foods over a 70 mile area. Three members are now qualified as
"train-the-trainers" in organic agriculture and have presented their c.s.a. as a model at the
Southern and Northeast SAWG Annual Meetings.
- Kentucky State University through its farmer outreach programs has the largest annual
delegation to the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Workers Conference.
- Extension agents and small farm assistants indicate an increased knowledge of sustainable
agriculture, increased numbers of organic and reduced input production systems, increased
numbers of farmer’’s markets, and increased numbers of value-added processing in the state.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The "Third Tuesday-Thursday Thing" has made a tremendous contribution to the sustainable agriculture research and extension efforts of Kentucky State University and Tennessee State University. The projects have shown growth of sustainable practices and growing interest from farmers and professionals. This initiative is now considered a regular program within the Extension programs of both institutions. Kentucky State University's Agriculture Research has now shifted totally to sustainable agriculture as a result of the project.


Potential Contributions

The SARE State Plan will continue to include these initiatives. Funding from other sources in the future will include: USDA Risk Management Agency, USDA-CSREES projects, and SARE projects.

Future Recommendations

This program has provided an excellent mechanism for professional and farmer training in sustainable agriculture. It has provided many opportunities for farmer input into research projects, research techniques, and applied research needs. Many farmer participants have become leaders in Extension, community development, and advocates of sustainable agriculture. As a result of this program, Kentucky State University's Community Research Services' Agricultural Research now focuses entirely on sustainable agriculture.

This program will be incorporated into the SARE State Plans for Kentucky State University and Tennessee State University and is considered a regular program plan for their Extension Programs.

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.