The goal of this SARE planning proposal is to produce a full research proposal to develop Florida native plants as farmscaping cover crops for limited-resource farmers of central Florida. Our approach of using Florida native plants is based on the market potential of their seed as a value-added crop, as well as their potential to develop agroecosystems. Specific planning activities are described that will provide the necessary resources to design and implement a farmer-driven, on-farm research and demonstration project that will contribute to the adoption of farmscaping concepts in the southeastern region.
OBJECTIVE #1 – Establish collaboration with the Florida Organic Farmers Association and the Florida A&M/IFAS Small Farm Program in order to indentify regional cooperators; Conduct grower surveys to assess level of understanding of farmscaping principles and identify preferences in Florida native plants as cover and value-added crops
OBJECTIVE #2 – Establish collaboration with current University of Florida (UF) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research programs with Florida wildflowers in order to collect available production information; Acquire seed of at least 6 Florida native species and evaluate seed production under small scale, limited-resource conditions at sites in Manatee and Sarasota counties of central Florida; Collect updated pricing information from a variety of markets for Florida native plant seed.
OBJECTIVE #3 – Negotiate a supply of seed of Florida native species for activities of the full proposal from known sources, e.g., the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative, the UF Wildflower Program at North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy, FL, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Introduction Center in Brooksville, FL; Conduct needs assessment for preparing of the existing climate controlled seed storage and processing facility of Hope Seeds, Inc., in Manatee county for use by grower cooperators with native plant seed.
OBJECTIVE #4 – Establish collaboration with the UF Center for Organic Agriculture for support in the research design and implementation in the full proposal that will be based on whole farm and participatory approaches.
OBJECTIVE #5 – Identify appropriate funding sources in addtion to SARE for the full proposal; Collect results of activities of above objectives; Complete the final full proposal.