In 2010 the Chamorro Land Trust Commission (CLTC) and University of Guam Cooperative Extension Services (UOG-CES) sampled 10% of the agricultural leaseholders and found that more than half were non-compliant with agricultural production conditions. Leaseholders said in surveys that they could not farm their land due to: no water, poor rocky soils, lack of weed control, sloping land, second growth forest or grasslands cover, limited time/labor, and lack of equipment and capital. Auditors also found that leaseholders did not have traditional subsistence agroforestry or commercial production knowledge. Therefore they are unfamiliar with how small subsistence/market garden hybrid agroforestry/cash crop production systems incorporating soil and water conservation practice could address their perceived production constraints.
Guam’s hospitality industry’s growing preference for locally sourced produce has increased demand for tropical fruit. But despite the demand, existing farmers are reluctant to invest time and space to fruit trees because they would receive no income during the years before a tree becomes productive. Arable land on Guam is very expensive and scarce, yet with a climate suitable for year-round production and high prices for local fruit and vegetables, farming is profitable on less than ideal land. For many small subsistence/small market farms land is not the only constraint. These systems must also address how much and what kind of labor is available. The micro-plot concept, defined as 1/10 acre or 400 square meters, using a forest market garden approach growing the farm one micro-plot at a time is a sustainable agriculture model that will provide biodiversity, efficiency, and increase in household income by reduced produce purchases and sale of excess produce.
“Seven Trees, Seven Practices” is a two-year agroforestry (forest garden) demonstration and education project leveraging a peer education model projected to reach 140 total workshop attendees. Producers will plant three of seven fast-to-fruit trees (breadfruit, key lime, fig, calamansi, soursop, mulberry, pomegranate) and seven core USDA NRCS EQIP-approved agroforestry/conservation practices (fruit tree windbreaks, nitrogen fixing hedgerows, sheet mulching/mulching, vegetative filter strips, cover crops, contour farming practices and drip irrigation.) The seven fast-to-fruit trees were selected to rapidly meet local restaurant’s demand for local tropical fruit and provide faster returns. Other trees maybe incorporated and conservation practices followed to address specific farmer/site concerns.
The original demonstration micro-plot has been fenced in utilizing t-posts, and galvanized (2×4) wire fencing for protection from feral pigs. So far this has been successful in preventing further feral pig damage. Key conservation practices in place are sheet mulching, mulching, composting, drip irrigation, contour filter strips, fruit tree windbreaks, cover crop/living mulch, and nitrogen fixing/mulch producing contour hedgerows.
Fruit tree propagation for, participant use, is ongoing. Fruit tree species include; breadfruit, fig, mulberry, jackfruit, soursop, calamansi, key lime, pomegranate, papaya, and banana. Other plants are propagated for conservation practices like sweet potato, Malabar/Ceylon spinach (groundcover/living mulch), moringa (contour hedgerows), and lemongrass (vegetative filter strip). Once the participants plots are ready (fruit and intermediate crops planted and area sheet mulched) short term high value vegetable crops will be provided as well these include but are not limited to: eggplant, hot pepper, cucumber, green bunching onions, long bean and various leafy greens and herbs.
During the 2017 rain season 2 participant farmers permanent and intermediate plantings were established and a 3rd initiated. Farmer workshops so far have been held on campus. In 2018 we plan to also hold workshops both on campus and in the farmer micro-plots where the participants can see the on the seven fast to fruit trees and seven conservation practices in the farmer fields and learn from the core farmer team.
The updated objectives/ performance targets are as follows:
1 a. Establish on the UOG campus on a cliff line site, where feral pigs are a problem, a demonstration micro-plot for training and workshops. This demonstration will include fencing for protection from feral pigs.
1 b. Create and formalize demonstration farm plans with the five producers in the initial cohort and start plant propagation. The PI and Project Manager will conduct site visits to assess and discuss the potential micro-plot site with each producer. The Project Manager will coordinate planning meetings to discuss overall constraints, plant materials, and conservation practices. Each producer will select tree species, agroforestry, and conservation practices.
2. Implement agroforestry demonstration micro-plots with five producers in the initial cohort. UOG will distribute plant materials to initial producers. Initial producers will begin tree planting from the seedlings/cuttings and institute conservation practices. The Project Manager will implement a monitoring process by which all parties can document and learn from successes and challenges of the demonstration plots.
3. Formalize the mentorship relationship between the initial and secondary cohorts. Once the initial farmer plots are established the PI and Project Manager will facilitate a mentorship process, coordinating farm workshops in the initial farmer plots targeting the secondary cohort. Initial producers will recruit new participants and explain their plot plans, give hands-on practice, and conduct demonstrations.
4. Provide outreach educational opportunities for a secondary producer cohort, comprised of three to five farmers or community groups, in the establishment of their own agroforestry micro-plots, leveraging the mentorship and workshop involvement of the primary producers. Desired behavior outcome is for members of the secondary participants/cohort to start their own micro-plot plans and establish their sites.
5. To meet objective 4 develop seven workshops around key agroforestry practices, targeting the general public. The PI has a curriculum (powerpoints) on several of the conservation practices from prior New Farmer workshops. The Project Manager will oversee a review process by which initial producers can provide input on revisions; the Project Manager will then finalize it. Additionally, the PI, Project Manager, and the initial producer cohort will develop, and write, new educational materials about the fast-to-fruit trees. Educational materials will include Power Point presentations, Extension publications, and resource lists. The secondary producer group will provide feedback on the educational materials targeting beginning to intermediate-level farmers.
6. Implement seven workshops around key agroforestry practices and seven fast to fruit trees. These workshops will occur throughout the second year. The workshop format will include presentations, hands-on practice, and site visits/on farm workshops. Workshop participants will be recruited through networks such as the Northern and Southern Soil and Water Conservation District voter rolls, Chamorro Land Trust leaseholder lists, the Cooperative Extension client base, and networks of the secondary producer groups.
This project explores possible answers to the question:
What are the appropriate intensive farming system components on agroforestry micro-plots to develop economically significant (purchased food substitution, market gardening) outputs for a tropical island environment?
The process steps include:
Establishing an on campus agroforestry micro-plot demonstration to use in the educational outreach efforts of the project.
Meet with and develop plans for the initial five producers.
Establish these producers agroforestry micro-plots using recommended fruits and conservation practices including providing planting materials and assistance.
Develop workshop materials and conduct workshops on the soil and water conservation practices and seven fast to fruit fruit trees. Then develop Extension fact sheets on these practices and trees for dissemination.
Conduct workshops in the farmers fields to promote additional farmers starting agroforestry micro-plots. Survey original five farmer participants and workshop participants on actions taken, what worked and suggested next steps and revisions.
This project is exploring possible answers to the question:
What is the appropriate intensive farming system components in agroforestry micro-plots to develop economically significant (purchased food substitution, market gardening) outputs for a tropical island environment?
During 2017 a UOG on campus demonstration agroforestry micro-plot was fenced to stop the feral hog damage, and then a secondary plot started. Workshop materials were developed on the conservation practices and plant propagation to support the micro-plot planning and establishment. Drafts of several Extension publication were started. Ten Saturday morning workshops were conducted on campus using these materials. Three farmer micro-plots were planned and two initiated. Propagation of fruit and high value cash crops that include herbaceous fruits like banana and papaya, and vegetables for intercropping with the fast to fruit trees was ongoing.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Soil and Water Conservation
The on-campus demonstration site was used for WSARE New and Veteran Farmer trainings (10 Saturday mornings for over 40 hours) on sheet mulching, marking contour lines, plant propagation, multi-storied agriculture, and establishing vegetative filter strips as well as school tours during October to December 2017.
For the course, AL451/651 Agriculture and Natural Resource Management, students used the seven trees site to develop their course farm plans and to develop an outline/template for farm planning for island subsistence agricultural producers for use in future subsistence producer workshops.
During this reporting period (December 2017) initiated 2 farm demonstrations and maintained and expanded the UOG/WSARE demonstration site.
Proposed new timeline developed based on transferring fiscal management to RCUOG.
The plan was to buy the time of an Extension Agent I as program manager at the beginning of the rain season in July 2016. The group agreed to start the project activities in July of 2016. This has been delayed to March 2017.
Propagation of both fruit and vegetable seedlings for project initiation is still ongoing.
Established a fencing and promotional signage micro-plot on the UOG campus demonstrating all 7 trees and 7 practices.
PI and project manager held planning meetings and site assessments with farmer Mike Ady at Camp Witek Farm in Yona. Purchase orders were processed immediately to begin procuring necessary materials and supplies for the farm. Farmer opted to utilize student workers in conjunction with farm help rather than purchasing fencing materials. During this period, project manager started stockpiling bags of shredded paper that was delivered to the UOG demonstration site donated UOG maintenance, Guam G4S security, and Guam Community College. Project manager also spoke with Mike Ady who owns an office furniture business to begin saving cardboard boxes. Mike was able to deliver several loads of cardboard to Camp Witek farm and has agreed to continue the service for upcoming 7 Tree farms.
Student workers and farm help performed tasks such as marking the demonstration site (40′ x 50′), clearing large Leucaena trees, transporting shredded paper, and removing tape and staples from the cardboard. During this time, compost delivery was delayed as a result of the company’s sifting machinery was down. It took four months for the machine to be operational and compost was delivered.
Once the compost was delivered, student workers began sheet mulching the entire plot as the first conservation practice implemented on the farm. Sheet mulching activities involved: spreading compost and materials high in nitrogen throughout the field, laying out cardboard as a weed barrier, spreading shredded paper above the cardboard as mulch, and watering each layer thoroughly. Fruit trees were planted immediately after the sheet mulch was completed. Fruit trees planted were jack fruit, calamansi, soursop, mulberry, bearss lime, fig, and sweetsop. Existing fruit trees were left on the plot were calamansi and coffee.
Once the first plot was completed, PI and project manager held planning meetings and site assessment with farmer Bill McDonald in Yigo. Bill had his labor cut grass and compost was delivered immediately after. Student workers began transporting materials, began sheet mulching, and planting fruit trees.
Several site assessments were conducted by the PI during the end of 2015 rain season.
Farmer additions were made to the initial cohort. Three farmers chose to retire from active farming and asked to be removed from the program, but prior to leaving they recruited 3 additional farmers (including 1 US military veteran).
Tom Camacho, Linda Reyes, and Angie Mendiola have stepped down and replaced with:
A meeting was held in December 2015 between the PI, Cooperative Extension staff, and the new initial cohort to discuss the new program timeline, issues, farmer preferences, and parameters of the grant. Since this time we have remained in touch with our farmer partners as we have tried to prepare materials and subcontracts.
The most difficult aspect of this project has been in keeping the core farmers when the magnitude of the task is clear to them. Initially they like the idea of the grant and the support provided but once several realized the amount of work expected of them they withdrew. This has been the challenge. But we finally have a group that are committed to this concept of establishing agroforestry micro-plots.