The College of Micronesia (COM) serves 3 nations and 6 island groups over an area larger than the continental United States, with 1 Sustainable Agriculture, Research, and Education (SARE) Coordinator. There are significant geographic barriers in promoting and coordinating SARE activities in the islands. Both the University of Guam (UOG) and COM SARE Coordinators are nearing retirement.
There is a crucial need to build a network of trained Sustainable Agriculture professionals across these islands in the region, with a peer to peer communications network on island sustainable agriculture issues. In the trainings, a goal of increasing WSARE grant applications and educational materials usage on the islands can be addressed.
This multi-institution, multi-state project between UOG and COM aims to recruit, train and support a network of agricultural professionals from seven islands to increase their expertise in sustainable agriculture. Participating islands include Guam, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, Marshall Islands, and Palau. Project Co-investigators have identified associate coordinators for Guam and Pohnpei and have recruited island WSARE liaisons with assistance of Extension Directors from Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, Palau, and Marshall Islands.
On-island tasks (conference calls, online training, ag professional survey) building up to to the selection of one or more representatives that will attend a one-week Sustainable Agriculture Liaison’s Conference on Guam. Key topics include; WSARE grants, sustainable agriculture principles and practices, UOG-SARE curriculum, and national online resources. Liaison post conference support will include seed money for on island demonstrations, monthly conference calls, a bi-monthly newsletter, and coaching in developing a WSARE grant for each island.
Objective 1: Recruit potential candidates from a pool of agricultural professionals from Guam, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, Marshall Islands, and Palau to become WSARE liaisons.
Upon initiation of the project, Land Grant staff and agricultural professionals were notified of the project. Interested participants with approval from Extension Directors completed the online SARE National Continuing Education Course 1, Sustainable Agriculture: Basic Principles and Concept Overview at: http://courses.sare.org/c1_1_1.htm. Course 3: Agricultural Ecosystem Management will also be utilized in the program trainings. From those completing the online course, one from each island was selected to conduct an island agricultural professional survey, similar to the island assessments conducted for the 2007 WSARE Sub-regional conference held on Guam, prior to attending the Guam Liaisons’ conference. The liaisons will be supported in these survey efforts through regular teleconferences.
Objective 2: Train WSARE liaisons to increase their knowledge in sustainable agriculture and the WSARE program.
When on-island tasks are completed leading by the island representatives, a one-week Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator’s Conference will be held on Guam (currently planned for September 2018). Key topics include; WSARE grants, sustainable agriculture principles/practices, and SARE curriculum developed by UOG. The UOG-SARE curriculum consists of many subjects such as farm planning, agroforestry and sloping land agriculture, permaculture, organic agriculture principals, soil and water conservation, plant propagation and small scale fruit and vegetable nurseries, irrigation and water management, chicken tractors, small-scale poultry production, mulching and sheet mulching, raised beds, container gardening, composting, fruit tree windbreaks, and others topics of participants interests. Liaisons will also be taken on field visits/farm tours of past and recently funded SARE grants?
Objective 3: Build and operate a one-year peer-to-peer communications network of newly trained WSARE liaisons with a focus on island sustainable agriculture issues.
Since February of 2018 weekly liaison conference calls are being held to coach the participants through these tasks, and a group Sustainable Agriculture newsletter will be started in August 2018 highlighting the islands’ program activities.
Objective 4: Increase WSARE awareness, grant applications, and use of SARE resources in the Western Pacific.
Upon returning to their islands, each liaison will meet with producers, conduct SARE grant promotion workshop, form a producer grant team to write a professional producer grant, and set up a sustainable agriculture demonstration. Following the conference $2,000 seed money subcontracts will be issued to WSARE liaisons to implement a WSARE demonstration site in their island. Upon completion and approval of the subcontract application, participants will receive an initial $1,000 for a demonstration implementation and the final $1,000 on providing photographic evidence of the demonstration in place. The WSARE demonstration will be utilized as a tool in WSARE outreach.
Guam WSARE team lead the island liaisons and associate coordinators in weekly online learning circles where prior to each online meeting participants viewed/read/explored the assigned sections of the online SARE National Continuing Education Course 1, Sustainable Agriculture: Basic Principles and Concept Overview at: http://courses.sare.org/c1_1_1.htm. Next will be sessions on conducting focus groups them the SARE National Continuing Education Course 3: Agricultural Ecosystem Management. In each session the on-line the group discusses the concepts and local examples and regional projects/examples were/are provided and examined. Common related issues and interest surrounding the topics were/are identified. Participants also completed supplemental assignments exploring relevant online information resources and identify related local issues.
Current (July 2018) online session are covering: conducting focus groups and using focus groups in needs assessment; and writing WSARE grants to address identified needs. This will guide a process where each island team conducts two focus groups (one of the agriculture professional support community and one of local producers) to identify issues impacting the long term sustainability of agriculture on each island.
Once the needs assessments are completed (planned completion time is August 2018) the liaisons will all gather in Guam for a one week training (planned September 2018) that will involve hands on workshops in various sustainable agriculture practices for our tropical island production systems (both subsistence and commercial), basic budgeting and hands on WSARE grant writing.
Following the training each participant will be provided funds to set up a teaching demonstration, for use in conducting similar workshops, on their island and support in submitting their WSARE grant.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Through online learning circles familiarize island WSARE liaisons in the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture and expose them to local examples and applications.
The the online SARE National Continuing Education Course 1, Sustainable Agriculture: Basic Principles and Concept Overview at: http://courses.sare.org/c1_1_1.htm, also course 3: Agricultural Ecosystem Management are utilized as a starting point and links to island examples and publications were examined. In the process the participants were exposed/introduced to the breadth of topics discussed under the SARE program over the past 3 decades and acquired a familiarity with some of the available online learning and extension resources.
The participants have a better understanding of the SARE goals, objectives and past activities. This knowledge increases the groups effectiveness in identifying appropriate issues, partners and methods to tap in writing fundable WSARE grants. The participants will feel more confident in their own ability to submit a WSARE grant.
An increase in WSARE submissions from these isolated islands.
Each participant will learn ways to incorporate soil and water conservation practices and commercial crops into tradition island agroforestry systems and methods of entering local markets.
Participants will establish demonstrations on some of the topics on return to their island.
In the Guam training participants will go through hands on training implementing conversation practices and integrating cash crops within an agroforestry system. They will also undergo training in direct market alternative appropriate for their islands.
Participants’ knowledge of soil and water conservation practices will increase.
Participants’ confidence in their ability to set up a demonstration of these practices in a forest garden will increase.
Participants’ knowledge on production of several cash crops and seed plant material sources will increase.
New teaching demonstrations will be implemented on each island.
Longer term; increased planting of cash crops in tradition subsistence agroforestry plots and increased use of soil and water conservation practice by both subsistence and commercial producers.
1. Currently (July 2018) conducting online learning circles on needs assessment, hosting focus groups and writing WSARE grants.
2. In the Guam training review output of the island focus groups to: a. identify commonalities and b. each participant will identify an issue to write a WSARE grant to address
3. As a group go through the Professional Producer grant RFP section with respect to the local issues identified.
In two of the regular Tuesday morning liaison online learning circles participants went through Guam’s regular WSARE grant writing workshop prior to training on needs assessment and focus groups.
In July and August 2018 a series of online meetings cover conducting focus groups.
Homework from this will be for each liaison to conduct a focus group among agricultural professionals and one among island producers. In each they will document the participants input on flip charts.
These materials will be used in the Guam training’s regional planning and grant writing sessions.
The Guam WSARE team will work with the participants in drafting a grant proposal for each participant’s island.
Participants will have a broader knowledge of the issues impacting sustainability of agriculture on their islands.
Participants will feel increased confidence in their ability to write WSARE grants.
More WSARE grants will be submitted from these remote islands
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
During this reporting period Guam WSARE coordinator and associate coordinator regularly promoted the WSARE grant programs to the local farmer organizations (Farmers Cooperative Association of Guam, Northern and Southern Soil and Water Conservation Districts), as well held an advisory group meeting to identify priorities. WSARE sponsored on UOG campus demonstration has been used in a large number of UOG agriculture classes and farmer workshops.