O’ahu RC&D hosted a series of field-based workshops featuring Master Farmers at their farms. Each workshop included a farm tour and a presentation by the Master Farmer on their experiences in sustainable agriculture. Topics included: Organic Farming, Agritourism, Value-Added Products, Direct Marketing and Aquaponics. Each workshop included additional specialist speakers on a related topic (e.g. marketing, food safety, etc.). Workshops targeted beginning and established farmers interested in learning more in order to improve their own operations, as well as other professionals from government, academia, agricultural consultants, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), and concerned nonprofit organizations and individuals.
• Provide a forum to promote dialog between farmers and ranchers and specialists in the community, particularly those from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Foster a knowledge transfer among agricultural producers and professionals on O?ahu.
• Increase agricultural professionals'(government agents, agriculture consultants, SWCDs, NRCS, etc.) understanding of diversified, sustainable agricultural businesses on O?ahu.
• Introduce farmers, especially beginning farmers and ranchers, to innovative and successful methods of sustainable agriculture.
• Provide opportunities for producers to visit farms and farmers they may have heard of and gain a first-hand understanding of how these successful businesses operate.
• Share information and successful sustainable agriculture techniques among those likely to use them via fact sheets, demonstrations, presentations and site visits.
• Build our existing e-bulletin subscriber list to further on-going communication with farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals about programs, opportunities, information and issues.
• Establish a web-based forum for questions and answers concerning farming techniques, business strategies, pest control issues and other challenges facing O?ahu farmers.
• Post questions and answers on our website, along with fact sheets from workshops to provide broader reach for the information.
The Master Farmer Project included a series of five (5) field-based workshops featuring Master Farmers at their farms. Farm locations were distributed across the island of O?ahu: Waiahole, Kahuku, Waimanalo, Mililani and Hawaii Kai. Each workshop included a presentation by the Master Farmer on their experiences in sustainable agriculture, including a brief history of the farm operation and an overview of how the specific topic contributed to the farm’s sustainability. Topics included: Organic Farming, Agritourism, Value-Added Products, Direct Marketing and Aquaponics. Each workshop included additional specialist speakers on a related topic (e.g. marketing, food safety, etc.).
At least half of each workshop was allocated to a farm tour that allowed participants to see, hear, smell, feel and even taste the results of adopting sustainable agriculture practices.
Fact sheets were created for each topic and included a profile of the Master Farmer. These were distributed to workshop participants and posted to O?ahu RC&D’s website.
Workshop participants were invited to pose questions to our Master Farmers following the workshops. A summary of responses was shared with participants and also posted on our website.
An evaluation form was used at each workshop to gather feedback from participants. Comments were used to improve subsequent workshops and to gauge informational needs among the community.
Workshops targeted beginning and established farmers interested in learning more in order to improve their own operations, as well as other professionals from government, academia, agricultural consultants, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), and concerned nonprofit organizations and individuals. Total attendance equaled 237 over the course of five workshops. Many people attended more than one, and six people attended all five workshops; resulting in 106 discreet individuals.
Educational & Outreach Activities
• Fact sheets for each of the Master Farmer’s operation and area of expertise. (five fact sheets)
• Summary of responses from our Master Farmers. (one document outlining responses to general questions, and five documents with responses to topic-specific questions)
• A summary of each field day was posted on O?ahu RC&D’s website, along with photos and links to resources distributed or discussed during the field day. PDFs of the website for each workshop are provided with this report.
• We developed an evaluation form to use at each workshop. Responses were tallied on summary sheets, which are provided with this report.
- Sustainable Farming Q&A
- Agritourism Fact Sheet
- Aquaponics Fact Sheet
- Direct Marketing Fact Sheet
- Sustainable Farming Fact Sheet
- Value Added website
- Value Added Fact Sheet
- Agritourism Q&A
- Aquaponics Q&A
- Direct Marketing Q&A
- Agritourism website
- Value Added Q&A
- All Topics General Q&A
- Aquaponics website
- Direct Marketing website
- Sustainable Farming website
Based on feedback provided on the evaluation forms, the workshops increased participants’ understanding of the featured topics, and the majority of people responded that they would apply something they learned. Examples of ways participants were going to adopt information: join a CSA, set up an aquaponics system, change the type of feed being used, stay small until things are figured out, and consult books and reference materials mentioned during the workshop. Please see attached evaluation data.
- Agritourism Evaluation
- Aquaponics Evaluation
- Direct Marketing Evaluation
- Sustainable Farming Evaluation
- Value Added Evaluation
The information shared by our Master Farmers was well received by the attendees. Many people commented that they enjoyed the farm tours and were inspired by the possibilities. The Master Farmers shared valuable insights, and the guest presenters offered additional information that can be useful to producers.
Attendees, as producers or professionals, benefited by hearing directly from the Master Farmers on topics like regulations, input supply challenges, marketing tips and go-to resources used by each Master Farmer.
Attendees, as consumers, benefited by learning more about local agriculture production techniques and identifying ways they can support local farmers.
Areas needing additional study
The Master Farmer Workshops provided a wonderful opportunity for O?ahu RC&D to work with the UH College of Tropic Agriculture and Human Resources, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, private businesses and the farmers. Strong working relationships were formed that will serve as a foundation for future collaborations.
The successful development, marketing and delivery of the Master Farmer Workshops increased name recognition for O?ahu RC&D, so much so, that we secured funding for 2013 Master Farmer Workshops featuring local beef production, native plant nursery production and beekeeping.