Arkansas’s 2016-2017 Model State Program will focus on opportunities and trainings for Extension agents, associates and program aides, USDA staff, farmers’ market managers, other agriculture professionals and farmer leaders on issues important to increasing the sustainability of small and large scale producers in Arkansas. Proposed activities include two cover crop workshops for small acreage farmers and row crop farmers, a rotational grazing workshop, a pastured poultry workshop, a food safety workshop and travel to professional development conferences/workshops including SSAWG, the AR-OK Hort Industry Show, the food safety and grazing meetings in this plan, the Small Farmers and Ranchers Conference, a sweet potato workshop in Louisiana and the SARE cover crops conference in North Carolina. Program activities were determined based on input from the Advisory Committee, faculty members in the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, participants from previous workshops and the availability of professional development opportunities offered by outside organizations. As a result of these opportunities the knowledge, interest and application of sustainable practices for small through large scale producers and agriculture professionals will continue to expand in Arkansas.
As a result of workshop and educational activities, participants will exhibit the following behavioral changes:
1. Extension personnel, NRCS officers, and small through large-scale farmer leaders will increase their knowledge and confidence with integrating cover crops into their production system be it small to mid size vegetable production or large scale grain production. They will have a better understanding of cover crop types and management, uses of different cover crops for different purposes such as building soil health, weed control, erosion, etc, methods of termination, and seed sources. (UA and UAPB)
2. Extension personnel and grower leaders will have increased knowledge and confidence with sustainable rotational grazing practices including forage production and electric fencing. (UA)
3. Extension personnel and grower leaders will have increased knowledge and confidence with pastured poultry production and economics. (UAPB)
4. Gain knowledge and confidence with sweet potato production practices and share information with sweet potato producers. (UAPB)
5. Travel support to the AR-OK Horticulture Industry Show and SSAWG conferences will improve agents attendance at these events and increase knowledge of horticulture and sustainable agriculture production and resources. (UA and UAPB)
6. Travel support to the food safety workshop and rotational grazing workshop will improve agents’ attendance at these events and increase knowledge and awareness of food safety on the farm information and resources. (UA)
7. Regular Advisory board meetings will allow board members to contribute to SARE PDP planning and workshops. (UA and UAPB)
8. Blog readers including agents, market managers and other agriculture professionals will be informed of state and national sustainable agriculture opportunities such as SARE grants, webinars, the SSAWG conference, the Horticulture Industry Show, USDA program news, and other timely and relevant topics. (UA and UAPB)
UAPB staff will specifically target small and SDP in Eastern and Southwest Arkansas.
The educational approached used the AR SARE Model State Program included hands-on workshops, on-farm demonstrations, providing resources that include books, fact sheets, etc, and providing travel scholarship to outside training opportunities.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Extension personnel will increase their knowledge and confidence with rotational grazing concepts and implementation.
Twenty two extension agents participated in an in-service training with on-farm demonstration. Information included best management practices for rotational grazing for all livestock species, two books on southern forages management and an electric fencing demonstration at Simmons Farm in Conway AR.
Extension agents have increased knowledge on forage and livestock management in rotational grazing systems. Agents are equipped with Forage Crop Pocket Guide and Southern Forages: Modern Concepts for Forage Crop Management. Agents will use this information to assist farmers and ranchers with rotational grazing questions.
To provide travel support for agriculture professionals (extension agents, market managers, NRCS, farmer leaders, researchers) to improve attendance at these events and increase knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices and implementation.
Travel scholarships were provided to 3 extension agents to attend the OK-AR Horticulture Industry Show. Two farmers market managers received MSP funds to travel to SSAWG.
As a result of these travel scholarship, agents participated in the Horticulture Industry show and increased knowledge on horticulture crop production and local/regional food systems. Two farmers market managers, who would not otherwise been able to attend SSAWG were able to. One was a first time participant. These market managers were able advance their knowledge of sustainable agriculture and increase the likelihood of implementing new practices at their markets. They also networked with other food system practitioners to share information and resources.
To draw down funds from older MSP projects through travel scholarships and sponsoring workshops.
Travel scholarships were provided to county agents, specialists and researchers for the NACAA meeting (Salt Lake City), a Hydric Soils workshop (Little Rock), the Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement conference (Nashville), the Mississippi Water Resources conference (Jackson, MS), and Food Safety (Fayetteville, Hope) workshops.
We also supported or hosted three additional workshops. These included a Pecan workshop (20 participants), UA Pollinators workshop (15 participants) and the NCAT-ATTRA 2-day workshop “Sustainable Vegetable Production and Equipment” (36 and 28 participants). Participants in all of these included extension agents from UACES and UAPB, farmers and non-profit agriculture organizations.
Scientists were able to gain and share information on forage management, hydric soil management, water resources. Agents expanded their knowledge on sustainable agriculture and food safety/FSMA regulations. Farmers and other agriculture professionals (extension agents, associates and non-profit reps) expanded knowledge on pecan production, sustainable vegetable production and equipment and tools.
To increase knowledge and understanding of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Several agents, scientists and farmers received FSMA Produce Safety Rules training through two trainings (Fayetteville and Hope). These train-the-training (Fayetteville) and grower (Hope) trainings provided and overview of FSMA, detailed information on the produce safety rules and each training module, and a resource book.
The knowledge and awareness is increasing in Arkansas among UACES, UA researchers and staff and some farmer mentors.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
Arkansas’s 2016-2017 Model State Program focused on opportunities and trainings for Extension agents and associates, grower leaders, agriculture researchers and other agriculture professionals to increase the sustainability of Arkansas farms. Activities included a hands on in-service rotational grazing workshop for Extension agents with on-farm demonstration, conducting a pollinator workshop, participation in FSMA food safety workshops, travel scholarships to SSAWG, the Horticulture Industry Show, and sponsoring an NCAT-ATTRA conference on Sustainable vegetable production and small scale equipment through books and travel scholarships. A surplus of past funding was used to support additional travel scholarships to the NACAA meeting, a Hydric Soils workshop, the Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement conference, the Mississippi Water Resources conference, and Food Safety workshops. Program activities were determined based on input from the Advisory Committee, faculty members in the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability and Cooperative Extension, participants from previous workshops and the availability of professional development opportunities offered by outside organizations. As a result of these opportunities the knowledge, interest and application of sustainable practices in Arkansas farms is continuing to expand in Arkansas among agriculture communities.