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 UAPB AR SARE Model State Program included workshops and providing travel scholarship to outside training opportunities.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To provide cover crop and USDA Emergency Loan information to UA PB Extension associate, Agriculture faculty and staff.
The SARE In-Service Training Workshop for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Extension associates, Agricultural Faculty, and Staff was conducted on June 20, 2017 in the S.J. Parker Extension Auditorium. The main focus of the workshop was the use of Cover Crops. John Lee, Natural Resource Specialist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service – National Water Management Center was the keynote speaker for the workshop.
John Lee’s presentation lasted two and a half hours as he answered many questions on the use of cover crops for participants. John Lee was the former NRCS State Agronomist, where he had conducted three annual state cover crop workshops for the state of Arkansas. Speakers from all over the United States had spoken at the workshops and farmers in Arkansas are beginning to take a serious look at cover crops. The extension associates at UAPB will be using the information gathered from the workshop to help vegetable producers as well as row crop producers incorporate cover crops into their operations. John also discussed the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Conservation Practice Number 340: Cover Crop. This conservation practice provides financial assistance to help producers install cover crop on their farms.
The workshop also included a section on taking quality pictures for publications and news articles. This section was designed to teach participants what to look for when taking pictures as well as the kinds of cameras best suited for taking pictures (as oppose to using cell phones).
The final presentation of the workshop dealt with USDA Emergency Loans. After a spring and summer of above normal rains, many counties in Arkansas were declared disaster counties. Thus farmers and ranchers were eligible for Disaster or Emergency Loans. The UAPB extension associates will likely be assisting individuals who will be seeking these emergency loans. Ms. Vanessa Moore, Farm Service Agency Loan Manager for the area conducted this session of the workshop.
Participants are able to inform vegetable and row crop producer of cover crop practices and help them with any questions. They can provide information on cover crop practices that are eligible for financial assistance with the NRCS EQIP program. Participants are also more informed of USDA Emergency Loan program.
To explore pastured poultry production for Grassroots cooperative.
A group of livestock producers in southeast Arkansas meet with C J Sentell, Farmer Operations Manager for the Grass Roots Cooperative an AR cooperative that sells all natural meats and organic meats. Information was provided on the cooperative, in addition to pastured poultry production practices, considerations and economics by UAPB Animal Science Professor, Dr. Gekara.
Because the pastured poultry processing plant was approximately 200 miles away the group would not produce chickens on any significant scale. They determined that it would be best to grow a few chickens (approximately 50) to gain experience in pastured poultry production and identify local or other markets to sell their chickens.
To provide travel scholarships to UA PB Extension associates and farmer mentors to sustainable agriculture training events.
4 people – 7th National Small Farm Conference. “Creating and Sustaining Small Farmers and Ranchers”, September 20-22, 2016, Virginia Beach, VA, September 20-22, 2016, Small Farm Exhibit set up at Convention. Dr. Leslie Glover, Dr. Henry English, Kandi Williams, Julius Handcock
4 people USDA/NRCS Southern Agricultural Soil Health, Cover Crops & Water Management Conference, Jonesboro, AR, December 13-14, 2016. The following attended: Dr. Leslie Glover, Travis Collins, extension associate; Howard Brown, rancher; and Tomekia White, water quality specialists.
2 people – The Horticulture Industry Show. The Chancellor Hotel, Fayetteville, Arkansas, January 12-14, 2017. Dr. English and Dr. Sixte Ntamatungiro attended.
7 people – Julius Handcock, Alexis Cole, Iris Cole-Crosby, Travis Collins, George Richardson (USDA Liaison), Mildred Griggs (farmer) and Howard Brown (farmer) attended Southern Workers Agriculture Group meeting (Practical tools and solutions for sustaining family farms) in Lexington, KY during January 25-27, 2017.
5 people – Produce Safety Alliance Train-the Trainer Course. Arkansas Land Community Development Corporation, Fargo, Arkansas, May 22-23, 2017. Attendees included. Dr. English; Shaun Francis, horticulture specialists; Damion White, extension associate; Kandi Williams, extension associate; Alex Cole, extension associate; Carolyn Prowell; extension associate, Travis Collins, extension associate, and Candace McKnight, student.
16 people – NRCS cover crops soil health workshop. June 20, 2017. The agenda cover crops, soil health, EQIP, Communications: improving photos and written reports, FSA Emergency Loans
75 people – Annual Edible Garden Conference, East Arkansas Enterprise Community (EAEC), UAPB, ADOC, Marianna, AR May 18, 2017. Iris Crosby presented for the Food Safety Grant Project Directors (I. Crosby and H English).
14 people – Fruit and Vegetable field day at the Southwest Research and Extension Center near Hope AR. Dr. Leslie Glover, Dr. Henry English, Kandi Williams, Travis Collins, Ambus Handcock, Julius Handcock, Shaun Francis, Mattie Glover, 6 students
- participants have expanded knowledge on sustainable agriculture practices for small diversified farms (National Small Farms Conf, Hort Industry Show, SSAWG, Fruit and Veg Field day)
- participants have a better understanding of cover crop management and water management (Cover Crops & Water Management Conference, NRCS workshop
- participants have knowledge and understanding of FSMA Produce Safety Rules implementation (FSMA-PSA training)
- participants have expanded knowledge on gardening for food production
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 travel scholarships to in-state and regional workshops on a variety of sustainable agriculture topics, including food safety, water quality, cover crops, SSAWG, Horticulture Industry show, National Small Farms Conference, among others. PDP activities were determined based on input from the SARE PDP Advisory Committee, UA Pine Bluff 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.