Urban Ethnic Food Producers Project (Years 2014-2017)

Final report for NEDC14-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $15,658.00
Funds awarded in 2015: $16,620.00
Funds awarded in 2016: $16,604.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2017
Grant Recipient: University of the District of Columbia
Region: Northeast
State: Washington, DC
State Coordinator:
Yao Afantchao
University of the District of Columbia
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Project Information

Summary:

The Urban Ethnic Food Production program was established to answer the increasing demand for ethnic food production in the Washington, DC area. The increasing demand in the D.C. area mirrors an increase in many parts of the U.S. As trends in consumer preference for a diversified diet become more pronounced, especially the growing popularity and demand for ethnic dishes, for which most ingredients are currently imported, it becomes necessary to find a solution for the supply and demand problem. Most immigrants and especially African immigrants prefer certain fresh vegetables, which are more often than not unavailable at the local food markets. Local production of ethnic food in the urban settings or through local small farmers could be part of the solution of this challenge.

This project recruited farmers willing and interested in diversifying their farm production by integrating new crops and ag service providers willing to share skills and knowledge with a wider audience, especially local small farmers and gardeners. These small producers could increase the production of ethnic crops in local communities in the Washington DC Metropolitan area for sale to its large immigrant population with its highly diversified ethnic cuisine.

The project established a demonstration plot at the University of DC Firebirds Farm in Beltsville where 12 trainees learned about sustainable urban farming through a series of 18 workshops and conducted at 12 on demonstration plots established during the project (4 each year). The participants also participated in 7 tours to food retailers, food processers and production farms. Additional participants, including volunteers, students and community members also participated in events over the course of the project. The 12 key participants gained skills and knowledge through hands-on practices about food production from planning to post harvest and marketing of ethnic crops through seedling, planting, irrigation methods, integrated pest management and more. As a result, these trainees received certification as

As a result of their training, twelve (12) service provider-food producer trainees became certified by UDC as Urban Food Producers. Five (5) of these twelve (12) service providers reported they transferred knowledge to other farmers and gardeners in their respective communities. For example, one of the service providers served the Burundian immigrant farmers in Fredericksburg VA who increased their acreage from 2 to 7 acres over the course of the project. Other service providers reached out to Washington DC and Maryland underserved communities through lessons in gardening and urban sustainable food production.

Four (4) service providers became certified as food handlers, and eight (8) trainees, using plots made available at the UDC Firebirds Research Center, were able to regularly (weekly) market their ethnic crops to five (5) retailers of African and Caribbean food, five (5) farmers markets. Through these and other smaller marketing efforts, ethnic crops produced at the UDC Firebirds Center reached fifteen (15) new marketplaces (6 farmers markets, 7 new retails and 2 new restaurants). An innovative five-week Pick-N-Pay pilot program in year 3 brought 30 customers/week to the Firebird Center where they could pick ethnic crops from the trainees’ plots, while trainees gained experience with pick-your-own management. Five (5) new local small farmers have begun plans to develop their own ethnic food farms in 2018.

By the end of this 3-yr program, hundreds of contacts were made with local communities, local governments as well as local educational institutions for future collaboration in urban food production, including ethnic food production.

Performance Target:

Four project participants who are  agricultural  service providers (trainers) will teach 10 urban producers (farmers) each (40 total) in Washington, DC metro area about best practices in sustainable cultivation of African ethnic crops and how to market ethnic crops among local restaurants and consumers, and to assist entrepreneurs to engage in processing/value-addition business plans for ethnic crops.

At the end of the 3yr program, hundreds of contacts were made with local communities, local governments as well as local educational institutions for future collaboration in urban food production,including ethnic food production. Four(4)service providers certified as food handlers, twelve(12) certified as Urban Food producers and five(5) new local small farmers plant to produce ethnic crops in the near future. Ethnic crops produced at the UDC Firebirds Program reached fifteen(15) new marketplaces(6 farmers markets, 7 new retails and 2 new restaurants) Five(5) new farmers are considering to begin ethnic food production in the coming seasons. Overall, the Urban Ethnic Food Production reached its target providing a platform for farmers, gardeners, ag servive providers to gain skills, knowledge in ethnic food production and marketing in order to increase the likelihood of locally and sustainably ethic food production and supply in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. As a result, local consumers will benefit from access to affordable fresh food, local farmers will gain a new market for produce and local economies will increase economic activities through retail, farmers markets, restaurants and other food entrepreneurs'activities.

Introduction:

A growing population of African immigrants (over 200000, U.S.Census) in the Washington DC metropolitan area and a high demand for ethnic foods, especially for fresh African vegetables relevant to their cooking/diet habit were the basis for establishing and developing an African Ethnic Crops program. This program was designed to train service providers and encourage more farmers and gardeners to increase production of ethnic food in the Washington Metro area. Yao Afantchao, the project manager and a passionate expert and educator has championed the integration of African ethnic crops in local diets and over the years helped smallholder farmers in Maryland to benefit from diversifying some of their commodities into profitable ethnic vegetable production.

The Urban Ethnic Food Production program goals were to increase awareness about the opportunities for growing ethnic food, train agricultural service providers who in turn will reach out to a larger community of practitioners (farmers, gardeners) in order to develop a sustainable urban ethnic food production. The plan included creating establishing a demonstration plot, recruiting interested service providers, training them in ethnic food production and marketing. The project also conducted outreach to farmers and local stakeholders in order to build a sustainable marketplace to respond to the growing demand for African and Ethnic specialty crops in the Washington Metropolitan area with its shifting in diets and growing immigrant population. Outreach occurred through workshops, presentations and handbooks guide, farm tours and field trips as well as conferences.

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Mchezaji Axum
  • Mary Farrah
  • Sandy Farber
  • Alemayah Waggie
  • Dr. Matthew Richardson
  • Dr. Nazirahk Amen
  • Michelle Jasso
  • John Manirakiza

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

The DC Urban Ethnic Food Producers project utilized a combination of educational methods such as hands-on, workshops and tours depending on audience levels of knowledge and skills. At the UDC Firebird Farm and East Capitol Food Hub demonstration plots, trainees, service providers and volunteers were provided instructions and guidance to learn through hands on activities from land preparation through harvesting.Workshops and tours allowed for participants to increase their skills or knowledge through observation of best practices at other academic institutions or production locations such as food packaging or processing and retail for ethnic vegetables. Experts in Urban food production,land management, integrated pest management, food processing, food handling, cooking, agricultural laws, food audit and compliance directed workshops and tours.
Individual technical assistance was provided to food producers when necessary.
Overall, the educational approach was customized to each individual level of knowledge, skills on various skills required for successfully produce ethnic vegetables or to effectively become a service provider to gardeners, farmers in Ethnic Foods.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Year 1 Milestone Accomplishments
Establishment of a train-the-trainer program at the University of District of Columbia Firebird farm-formerly known as Muirkirk Farm and recruitment of at least four individuals interested in the urban ethnic food production was the main milestone for the training.
The DC Urban Ethnic Food producers program attempted to provide outreach at four(4) demonstration sites to train at least 11 service providers in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland.
Due to time constraints as project manager fulfilled additional university related responsibilities and distance between locations(UDC in Washington DC, Fredericksburg, VA, Maryland, West Virginia) a more realistic training program was to be done mainly at the University of the District of Columbia Firebird Farm(formerly Muirkirk Farms). The goal was to reach out to up to 40 beneficiaries who learned sustainable production of selected ethnic crops through hands-on training, 4 workshops and tours of food production sites, other institutions of higher learning such as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, West Virginia University and USDA Research Farms at Beltsville, MD. The University of the District of Columbia provided a .9 acre demonstration plot at the UDC Firebird Farms in Beltsville Maryland . Land was prepared, 4 Urban Food Producers recruited to learn about African Ethnic Vegetables production in order to teach approximately 40 other food producers (farmers, master garderners, agricultural service providers) specializing in the sustainable cultivation of African Ethnic Vegetables in the Washington DC Metropolitan area (DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia)

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
11
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
4
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
15
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
11
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2015
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 30, 2015
Accomplishments:

The main objectives of the DC SARE Ethnic Crops are to develop an educational outreach program that will train and sustain through continuous flow of information, urban food producers in the District of Columbia and the Washington Metropolitan area. We developed a “Train the Trainer” program for Ag Extension Educator/Advisor who will share information with growers across the Washington Metropolitan (District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia) for the best sustainable practices in growing ethnic crops in order to satisfy the growing demand of ethnic crops, especially in growing and diverse immigrant population of the region.

The 1st year (2015) a demonstration plot was established at the UDC Firebird Farms, .9 acre of land was prepared, 11 Urban Food Producers recruited to learn about African Ethnic Vegetables production in order to teach approximately 40 other food producers specializing in the sustainable cultivation of African Ethnic Vegetables in the Washington DC Metropolitan area (DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia)

Ethnic crop list and production schedule

Year 1: October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015

Milestone: Project team will establish one demonstration plot at the Muirkirk farm and at four trainees’ farms. They are in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. Crops planted will involve the African Ethnic vegetables that are listed on the following Table 2.
These plots are started in April, during the spring. There are a number of intermediate steps to ensure the best quality plants for sale. The African Ethnic vegetables require more care and tending than their more common counterparts in the U.S.

Eleven training participants attend four (4) workshops at the demonstration plots and learn how to produce African ethnic vegetable crops using sustainable production practices. The workshops will be held during mid-February and March, 2015.
Training participants will get personalized support from the project leader to help them produce ethnic vegetable crops or help them teach farmers or gardeners how to produce the crops. The Project Leader will provide the farmers with personalized support on an ongoing basis, to cover the scheduled projects, such as land preparation in April, crops planting in mid-May/June, crops maintenance and crop harvest in mid-August through September, 2015.

Demonstration plot and training locations

As our primary objective this year was to establish one demonstration plot at the Muirkirk farm and four (4) trainees’ sites (plots) in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C and West Virginia, we achieved our goal according to the plan with establishment of 4 demonstration plots in DC, MD and VA. One change was that West Virginia is no longer participating, but the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) has shown interest in participating in Ethnic Crops program. More individuals have asked to participate in the training program for the foreseeable future. For example, members of the Burmese (Myanmar) community have requested to participate in the program next year. Education and Outreach were done to evaluate interest levels for the Ethnic Crops Training activities on the best practices on the various steps from season planning to harvest and seed savings were conducted as planned.

Progress Report

Outreach activities
Due to inclement weather, and long winter, on farm workshops delayed until May, when 30 farmers and 10 Ag Service providers attended SARE workshop on Planning, Soil Prep, Composting, general orientation for beginners (See program agenda attached)

2015-Workshop-Program-May-7

Land Preparation
Land preparation was completed in May because the excessive rain may the soil too wet preventing us from doing the land preparation as scheduled. The delay in land preparation due to inclement weather affected other farming activities timing and schedules from planting to harvesting.

Seedling production
Seedling production was done as scheduled in March through April using the greenhouse at the UDC rooftop garden.

Planting seedlings from greenhouse
Planting seedlings was delayed due to excessive rain; we only began planting the first week of June. Trainees’ plots and gardens also experienced similar weather conditions and delays.

Plant maintenance
Keeping crops in good growing condition, avoiding pest infestation, fertilization, irrigation, weed control were done on an ongoing basis throughout the entire growing period.

Crops harvesting
Harvesting and yield studies were conducted on time in collaboration with graduate students, trainees and volunteers. (See attached relevant reports)

Collaboration

This collaborative effort continues to contribute in the effectiveness of the extension program.

As a result of our demonstration and outreach activities, strong interest beyond the African communities arose. For instance, the Burmese community has expressed interest in participating in the program.

On Farm demonstration was done for diverse groups of participants which included the following: Master Gardeners, Senior Citizens, Youth Gardeners in 4-H Clubs and immigrant groups in the District of Columbia and the metropolitan.

Personalized assistance to trainees and gardeners

In addition to workshops and hands-on training activities at the UDC Firebird Experimental farm , trainees and participants in the African Ethnic Vegetables project were provided with guidance and advice on various topic issues associated with the African Ethnic Vegetables program. Based on the level, need of the trainees, tailored information was provided to the specific trainee’s need. For example, Burundian refugees wanted to know which ethnic vegetables were most marketable to their African market while the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) need more evidence based information on the adaptability of ethnic crops to the climate of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Conclusion:

The establishment of a demonstration plot at Muirkirk and the four other plots for trainees was a great achievement which stands as the foundation for the development and future production and distribution of the African Ethnic Vegetables. With NESARE educational and outreach program and proper planning, the program will achieve the objectives to bring the African Ethnic Vegetables to a larger market and thus creating opportunities for all stakeholders to strive. While continuing to train on the production side of the program, we plan to begin studying the market and distribution aspect in the next season so that when the production capacity increase farmers and Ag Service Providers understand the African Ethnic crops value and supply chains.

A summary of the year 1 training events and participation is presented in the table below.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Year 2 Milestone Accomplishments
In the first year of the program, we found out that,due to time and distance constraints between the participants locations (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia) it was more realistic to established the main demonstration plot at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Firebird Farm. Four (4) of the 15 service providers were interested allocation of small plots to put in practice sustainable farming of ethnic crops, growing their preferred selected food items. Also, at the establishment of new food hubs in the District of Columbia, an ethnic crops demonstration plot was established at East Capitol Food Hub. At least 6 participants regularly attended gardening lessons at East Capitol Urban food hub. Production of ethnic crops included use of hydroponics as a method of food production at both East Capitol and Firebird Farms.
Four(4) of the service providers participated in a certification course on Food Handling and become certified food handlers as an important process in the process of value addition for ethnic crops.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
40
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
15
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
25
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
15
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2016
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 30, 2016
Accomplishments:

The second year (2016),  15 individuals (9 males and 6 females), representing 8 countries including the United States, signed up for the Hands-on Ethnic Specialty food training to learn about food production, processing and eventually value addition and marketing to the Washington DC metro area.  Due to logistical constraints, instead of providing training at 3 separate individual lots as planned, the food producers were assigned each their own plot at the UDC Firebird farms and they would share with their constituents in the District of Columbia, Maryland, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. Hands on training about the production process was provided, 2 workshops were organized: 75 participants including trainees, farmers, entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, and African and Caribbean grocery store owners attended 2 workshops to learn about ethnic food production, processing and cooking as well as opportunities in the Washington DC Metro. Five new small holder farmers or landowners expressed interests in the production of Ethnic Crops in the Washington DC Metro, provided it is commercially viable.

With the help of labor provided by 60 volunteers, the DC SARE Ethnic Crops project harvested 6000 lbs. of fresh ethnic vegetables distributed among trainees, their respective communities, volunteers, and African, Caribbean retail stores to test marketability and demand for the harvested ethnic crop. Through five (5) presentations and guided tours of the African Ethnic Vegetables program, we reached about 1200 individuals who also received booklets and manuals about how to begin their own gardens or join the African Ethnic program as producers for the market.

Year 2 Accomplishments / Milestones

In Spring, we conducted a survey to recruit new urban food producers, 15 participants expressed interest in the training. We also conducted pre and post workshop survey to evaluate levels of interest and knowledge about the processes. Onsite evaluation and feedback was provided to trainees on a regular basis and field trips were done to visit the offsite plots. ( See attached documents.)

In addition to workshops and hands-on training activities at the Muirkirk, trainees and participants in the African Ethnic Vegetables project were provided with guidance and advice on various topic issues associated with the African Ethnic Vegetables program. Based on the level, need of the trainees, tailored information was provided to the specific individuals. For example, Burundian refugees wanted to know which ethnic vegetables were most marketable to their African market while the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) needed more evidence based information on the adaptability of ethnic crops to the climate of Maryland Eastern Shore.

  1. Project leader established three (3) new demonstration plots for trainees at the UDC Firebird Farms to solve the logistical constraints of regular travel to trainees’ demonstration plots away from the main project demonstration farm. 
  2. 15 individuals (7 trainees and 8 regular volunteers, graduate students ) received hands-on training about African ethnic crops production and 4 trainees shared with other 35 producers in the D.C, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania (Lancaster and Philadelphia)
  3. 125 participants including 15 trainees attended two (2) workshops at the demonstration plots to learn about production, harvest, post-harvest food handling, processing, packaging and conservation of African Ethnic vegetables
  4.  Four (4) trainees enrolled and completed a 32 hour Food Manager certification through the UDC Center for Nutrition Diet and Health. Trainees learned about food handling in general and food safety in particular
  5. A workshop for introduction to post-harvest food handling, preservation, packaging and conservation of African ethnic vegetables was held at UDC Firebird Farms

Year 2 Accomplishments table

Project Milestone Activities Conducted

Participants

At  UDC Firebird Research Farm, 4 Trainees were assigned space  in lieu of demonstration plots to produce ethnic crops of their choice in addition to their plots in VA, MD, DC

2 Workshops

5 Presentations

2 Field trips/tours

4 Trainees completed a Certification in Food Handling

6 Trainees planted and harvest about 6000 lbs. worth of ethnic vegetables distributed among volunteers, trainees, and grocery stores for sampling and marketing

4 Trainees regularly supplied ethnic vegetables to local immigrant grocery stores during harvest time, learning about how to market the crops

80 Ag service providers including Extension, USDA personnel, non-profit and industry reps.

125 farmers/gardeners attended

60 volunteers participated in planting, growing the Ethnic crops

1200 other individuals received booklets and other materials about Ethnic Crops

500 Dieticians and Nutrition professionals at FNCE 2016 in Boston

 

2 online surveys were conducted to recruit more trainees and farmers

 

 

 

Four (4) demonstration plots provided to trainees’ farm and at UDC Firebird Farms
As this season, the main objective was to establish demonstration plots at trainees farms, so that trainees could easily share information with more urban producers, it was not possible for project leader to travel to all the trainees farm locations, so plots were created and assigned to each trainee, at least 2 rows of 180 ft. by 4.5 ft. to cultivate ethnic crops of their choice. They learned all the phases of Ethnic food production from land preparation, seedling, planting, pest management to crop maintenance and harvesting. Despite a late (early June) planting, most of the ethnic crops produced fruits and harvest.

Four (4) trainees earned certification in Food Safety and Food Handling

In addition to learning about food production, urban food producers are also interested in the value addition of the African ethnic crops in order to increase their economic profitability. Four of the trainees enrolled in a certification program for food managers to learn about food safety and food handling, and they all successfully completed the program and earned certificates in Food Handling. More information about the importance of food safety was provided at the spring and summer workshops: experts in the field of food safety, auditing, and food laws stressed the importance of food safety, especially for new entrepreneurs in food production.

2 Workshops / 2 field days

Fifteen training participants attend four (4) workshops at the demonstration plots or the East Capitol Urban Food Hub, and the Fresh Food Factory about post-harvest food handling, preservation, packaging and conservation of African Ethnic vegetables demonstrated in Years 2 and 3.

Due to time constraints, the four (4) planned workshops were combined in two (2), due to logistical issues like time for travel and at request of participants to reduce numbers of workshops.

 

 

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Year 3 Milestone Accomplishments
The final year of the Urban Ethnic Food Producers continued to train and increase effectiveness of growing the African ethnic vegetables to 13 participants(10 service providers and 3 new volunteers). Workshops on activities from general farm planning, soil preparation, planting, maintenance , integrated pest management and harvest and post-harvest were provided.
Also, instead of separate plots provided to interested participants, the project reverted to one .9 acre plot where all participants trained in ethnic food production. Training participants received personalized support based on their level of confidence in the food growing process as some of the participants had already trained in the two previous seasons and had more experience.
The 2017 season emphasized more on marketing i.e research and identification of marketing opportunities for African ethnic vegetables: farmers market, African groceries(wholesale and retail), ethnic restaurants in the area, churches and community organizations, etc.
At harvest time, at least eight(8)of the trainees were able to regularly (weekly) market their ethnic crops to five (5) retailers of African and Caribbean food, five (5) farmers markets.
For five(5) Saturdays, the Urban Ethnic Food producers program opened the plot to the general public on a Pick-N-Pay basis to evaluate the feasibility, profitability of the pick your own program.
The Pick-N-Pay program on ethnic food appeared very popular with immigrant population, with a an average of 30 visitors per day with an estimated 600lbs of purchase per week, for an approximate value of $3000.(at discounted price).
Among advantages of the Pick-N-Pay, labor cost reduction was the most significant implication as consumers picked their own produce, the farm manager-one of the trainees-provided guidance on how to properly harvest without damaging plants, and operated the pilot point-of-sales.
Also, damages to crops due to limited monitoring personnel was observed through the Pick-N-Pay experiment.
Post-Harvest activities included field trip to Furmano Foods, a food processing company in Northumberland, PA. Seven of the trainees participated in the field trip which provided a comprehensive views of value addition, including Good Agricultural Practices in production of large volumes of crops, the operations and manufacturing(canning) at industrial and commercial levels with learning the importance of food safety from beginning to the end.
Planned post harvest activities associated with frozen ethnic crops were postponed due to delay in readiness of the required infrastructure at the UDC Firebirds Farm.
One(1) of the service providers produced a line of value-added products based on one of the ethnic food harvested at the farm.
The Burundian immigrant farmers in Fredericksburg, VA expanded their marketing activities to Pick-N-Pay on their farm in addition to selling at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market.

Overall, the 3yr Urban Ethnic food production project achieved its objectives of development of an ethnic food production in the Washington Metro area by recruiting agricultural service providers who acquired skills and knowledge in the production, marketing of ethnic crops.

We estimate that hundreds of participants-with different degree of interest, were reached in the outreach and education program through expositions, presentations, cooking and tasting events, festivals and more.
The DC Ethnic Crops program provided a tremendous resource for the other regional institutions of higher learning such as University of Maryland Eastern Shore, West Virginia University and University of Maryland College Park.
As a result, at least four(4) of the service providers have began plans to develop their own ethnic food farms in the Washington DC Metro in addition to other local farmers who expressed interest in ethnic food production in the 2018.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
5
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
11
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
20
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
13
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2017
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Accomplishments:
Four(4)participants were certified as Food Handlers by the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)
Twelve(12) participants certified as Urban Food Producers through the University of the District of Columbia, the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences.
In 2017, more resources and time were allocated on understanding the African immigrants marketplace, especially in reference to demand for fresh ethnic crops. Based on the UDC market research studies which confirmed the consummers preference for fresh vegetables over processed and packaged(canned), while supply of certain crops such as scotch bonnet peppers, garden eggs and hibiscus continues to lag behind demand.
Based on effective outreach and education through SARE, four(4) service providers/trainees expressed interest in starting their own ethnic food production and five(5) new local farmers (3 in Maryland and 2 in Virginia)are interested in planting ethnic crops in 2018.
It is estimated that over 20 acres would be allocated to ethnic crops production in the next season as a result of increased interest in ethnic crops production in the Washington DC Metro area.

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 250 120 75 445
Curricula, factsheets or educational tools 1 1
On-farm demonstrations 4 4 4 12
Tours 3 2 2 7
Webinars, talks and presentations 4 5 4 13
Workshop / field days 11 4 3 18

Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
NRCS 2 1 3 6
Researchers 0 2 0 2
Service providers (other or unspecified) 11 15 12 20
Farmers / ranchers 30 15 25 70

Participation Summary:

26 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

5 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
31 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
31 Ag service providers intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned through this project in their educational activities and services for farmers
Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

Most of participants(farmers, gardeners, ag service providers reported change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness about the sustainable food production in limited spaces of urban environment in which limited resources such as land, water, and other inputs must be efficiently managed for an optimal food production.
With pre-and post training surveys, one-on-one monitoring activities, we confirmed their increased confidence in most of the steps of ethnic crops production including but not limited to the following:
● Cover crop planting
● Soil amendments
● Seedling and planting
● Irrigation system installation when possible
● Maintenance of field crop to include fertilization and weed control
● Seed saving process and post harvest loss mitigation

Future activities will include food processing, transformation and marketing, as in year 3 of the program, we began considering the opportunities associated with food processing, freezing and canning in order to increase potential for revenue increase in case of ethnic crops production by local farmers.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

12 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
33 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Twelve (12) service provider-food producer trainees became certified as Urban Food Producers as a result of participating in this three-year project. Five (5) of these twelve (12) service providers reported they transferred knowledge to 33 other farmers and gardeners in their respective communities. For example, one of the service providers served the Burundian immigrant farmers in Fredericksburg VA who increased their acreage from 2 to 7 acres over the course of the project. Other service providers reached out to Washington DC and Maryland underserved communities through lessons in gardening and urban sustainable food production.

Four (4) service providers became certified as food handlers and eight (8) trainees, using plots made available at the UDC Firebirds Research Center, were able to regularly (weekly) market their ethnic crops to five (5) retailers of African and Caribbean food, five (5) farmers markets. Through these and other smaller marketing efforts, ethnic crops produced at the UDC Firebirds Center reached fifteen (15) new marketplaces (6 farmers markets, 7 new retails and 2 new restaurants). An innovative five-week Pick-N-Pay pilot program in year 3 brought 30 customers/week to the Firebird Center where they could pick ethnic crops from the trainees’ plots, while trainees gained experience with pick-your-own management. Five (5) new local small farmers have begun plans to develop their own ethnic food farms in 2018.

Overall, the Urban Ethnic Food Production reached its target providing a platform for farmers, gardeners, ag servive providers to gain skills, knowledge in ethnic food production and marketing in order to increase the likelihood of locally and sustainably ethic food production and supply in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. By the end of the 3 yr program, hundreds of contacts were made with local communities, local governments as well as local educational institutions for future collaboration in urban food production, including ethnic food production.

As these efforts continue, local consumers will benefit from access to affordable fresh food, local farmers will gain a new market for produce and local economies will increase economic activities through retail, farmers markets, restaurants and other food entrepreneurs’ activities.

 

 

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Target #1

Verified: number of farmers who made a change/adopted a practice:
1
Verified: size/scale of farms these farmers manage:
1

Additional Project Outcomes

1 New working collaboration
Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Collaboration

This collaborative effort continues to contribute in the effectiveness of the extension program.

As a result of our demonstration and outreach activities, strong interest beyond the African communities arose. For instance, the 5 new small holder farmers in the Washington Metro expressed interest in production of African Ethnic production next season.

On Farm demonstration was done for diverse groups of participants which included the following: Master Gardeners, Senior Citizens, Youth Gardeners in 4-H Clubs and immigrant groups in the District of Columbia and the metropolitan.

We detected unusual types of insects that plagued some of the ethnic crops in particular the Solanum species such as the garden eggs and jute leaves. We used some organic pesticides which were partially effective. Going forward, we may have to practice more intercrop planting as one way to combat the pest infection.

Also plant-covering may help as another deterrent method against the most threatening insects.  

Climate adaptation

Some of the plants, though tropical in nature, were able to thrive in cooler and damp weather. They may have now adapted to the Mid-Atlantic agricultural climate.  

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

2014-2017 SARE Outreach Activities

In addition to training and providing technical assistance to trainees, gardeners, Ag Service providers, the African Ethnic Vegetable program reached out to other members of the community through activities such as on-farm tours, presentations, survey and we provided information and advice about Northeast SARE grant programs and projects, and SARE information resources such as our farming manuals, a guide on how to become a producer of African Ethnic Vegetables. 

Information and resources were provide to participants who attended when we provided a tour to ERS, IPM; when presentations were done at Martin Luther King Jr. Black history month, Togolese Independence Day, DMV African Entrepreneurs, MACAA, UMES Crops Twilight, SNAPED, Bread for the City. Resources were shared with approximately 1200 individuals.

2014-2015 SARE Outreach Activities

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

Togo Independence Day

 

 

Martin Luther King Black History Month

15

 

DMV(DC, MD,VA) African Entrepreneurs Presentation

30

 

National Park Service presentation

 

 

Bread For the City Harvest Retreat

5

 

D.C State Fair

 

 

2015-2016 SARE Outreach Activities

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

●     University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), December 2015, Eastern Shore MD

 

 

45

10

●     Maryland Organic Food & Farming Association (MOFFA), Feb 2016 Annapolis, MD

15

5

●     Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA), March 2016 Washington DC

45

65

●     University of the District of Columbia, Firebird Farms, April 2016

45

10

●     University of Maryland College Park, Institute of Applied Agriculture,  March 2016

15

2

●     Lotus and Water Lily Festival (National Park Service) Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens Washington, DC. August 2016

 

 

 

 

5

●     University of the District of Columbia, Firebird Farms, September 2016

50

15

2016-2017 SARE Outreach Activities

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

●     FOOD&NUTRITION CONFERENCE &EXPO (FNCE2016),October 2016, Boston MA

 

 

15

45

●     Maryland Organic Food & Farming Association (MOFFA), Feb 2017 Annapolis, MD

15

9

●     Rooting DC, Washington DC, March 2017 Washington DC

60

65

●     American University/US Farm Bill 2018, Washington DC, March 2017

15

75

●     Smithsonian Institute-Earth Day, Washington DC, April 2017

100

2

●     Lotus and Water Lily Festival (National Park Service) Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens Washington, DC. August 2017

8

 

 

 

5

●   DC Dept of Park and Recreation  Tastes of the World, Washington, DC. August 2017

10

 

 

 

7

●     George Mason University-Virginia Urban Ag Summit, Arlington Campus, October 2017

50

15

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 0 128 223 351
Farmers 50 215 223 488
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.