Alabama SARE program (Auburn University and Alabama A&M University combined) serves over 1000 small producers, educators, and community gardeners each year since 2010. A major limitation of organic production system is insect pest pressure in the south and the Alabama SARE program directly assists producers in reducing vegetable production loss and crop contamination. SARE program at Auburn University provides multi-level hands-on training to small producers with immediately useful information. SARE program at Alabama A&M supports small urban farms and community gardeners in the northern parts of the state. This proposal essentially supports the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Program and proposes development of content using complex digital media while focusing on collaboration between institutions and program delivery via farm incubators and nonprofits for standardized distance education system. This proposal will continue to focus on train-the-trainer part more intensively with Auburn and Alabama A&M Universities cross-training Extension agents and county coordinators using a mix of online and on-farm training.
Urban Food Production Training: ACES/Urban Affairs Unit provides services to underserved clientele in urban areas in the state of Alabama, the major objectives of this proposal are:
1. Subject Topics: Development of integrated multidisciplinary training module focused on urban gardens, intensive small scale vegetable production and sustainable practices, organic production, and pest management aspects for urban food production (emphasis on Farmscaping practices).
2. Training Objectives: (Audience) Provide training to statewide regional extension agents, and small-farm urban food producers through the use of online curriculum and onsite field-days and workshops.
Objective 1. Subject matter topics for electronic curriculum, Farmscaping, Square Foot Gardening, and Produce Safety (Alabama A&M): Here is a brief description of the elements of the proposes e-curriculum on Urban Food Production. Modules will include narrated and animated learning materials along with interactive quizzes and web-links. Urban food production initiative (2 course modules): This will be developed in collaboration with Rudy Pacumbaba at Alabama A&M and contain a module on intensive small scale production methods integrated with organic IPM and Farmscaping. Online pre and post survey will be administered to participants to determine level of understanding and material adoption.
Mobile Learning Technology Platform: Water Wheels is Urban Home Grounds’, mobile learning platform originally developed for 6-12 grade youth education on water conservation. The Water Wheels also serves as Urban Home Grounds’ mobile learning/training platform integrating programming modules of Urban Gardens and Urban Green. The electronic modules will be designed with end users in mind (e.g., new urban food producers) and may later be expanded to be more inclusive of advanced topics for experienced producers. The curriculum will be mainly shared via Alabama SARE, Vegetable IPM websites, and Urban Home Grounds’ Urban Gardens and Sustainable Landscapes website.
Objective 2. Project promotion and training: There is a high demand from small-farm urban vegetable producers for regional workshops and qualified trainers. The co-author (Extension Horticulturist) will provide support in the development of 2 modules on intensive small scale production methods integrated with organic IPM statewide and share information with agents and clientele through online In-Service training modules, newsletters (Metro News), newspaper and magazine articles.
Train-the-trainer: The co-author will organize in-service technical training sessions and on site field-day workshop for UREAs (~6), educators and urban clientele every year (Fall).
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Provide In-Service training to Regional Extension Agents involved in Home and Commercial Horticulture.
Alabama Extension programming teams for Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, and Commercial Horticulture met together through the organization of their program team coordinators. In-Service training covered the following subjects provided by University Department Faculty and Extension Specialist: Effective Communication Skills, Team Building, Beginning Farmer ToolKit, Produce and Food Safety Training, Honey Bee Identification and Bee Biodiversity, Improving Soil Health, Fruit Crop Production and IPM Updates.HGGHP_Comm-Hort-team-meeting-agenda-final2017
Both horticulture programming teams benefited from the statewide interaction and exchange of area specific production and conservation practices.
Provide educational workshops and focus group discussion on the latest issues and innovations in urban agriculture.
Jefferson County has the largest urban population in the state of Alabama. Recent studies supports that the vast majority of Alabamians reside in the urban areas of the state. Larger urban populations and the interest in producing and buys more locally sourced fresh foods has ignited an interest in urban agriculture. It is the hope of this inaugural workshop that extension professionals, state agricultural professionals, interested local food groups and banks, producers, and business owners come together to share in educational training and focused discussion on developing and sustaining an urban agriculture system to benefit Birmingham City, Jefferson Co., and the Urban areas of Alabama.Urban-Ag-2017