Final report for SAR19-002
The UAPB 2019-2020 SARE PDP Model State Program will focus on developing skills and advancing knowledge of cover crop applications in a variety of production systems, sweet potato production, and sustainable agriculture production systems. The opportunities and events will be available to Extension associates and program aides, USDA staff, farmers’ market managers, other agriculture professionals, and farmer leaders. Proposed activities include travel scholarships to the Cover Crop Conference in Alabama, the SSAWG annual conference, and the LSU Sweet Potato field day. Additional activities include an annual board meeting and promoting SARE through a variety of outlets, networks, and events. Our plan builds on previous SARE PDP MSP plans and considers input and evaluations from past travel scholarship recipients and workshop participants. As a result of these opportunities, the knowledge, interest, and application of sustainable practices for Arkansas farmers and agriculture professionals will continue to expand in Arkansas.
A. Agriculture professionals (CES agents and specialists, NRCS staff, farmers’ market managers, farmer leaders) will increase their understanding of cover crop management and the scientific evidence of the impacts on soil health and fertility. They will be better able to assist farmers and/or integrate cover crops into their research.
B. Agriculture professionals will increase their knowledge of recent sweet potato research, advanced practices, and emerging issues and will be better equipped to assist farmers in implementing these practices.
C. Agriculture professionals will increase their awareness and knowledge of a variety of sustainable agriculture concepts and will be better equipped to provide farmers with guidance on implementing new practices on their farm.
D. Agriculture professionals will increase their recognition of the SARE program through the promotion of SARE and SSARE resources, AR-SARE PDP activities on listservs (Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, and AR-SSAWG), a Facebook and blog to increase visibility at events around the state.
The primary educational approach used by the Small Farm Program is educational workshops and one-on-one sessions. Field days are also used.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To educate Socially Disadvantaged Producers (SDP) on production practices in high tunnels as well as the use of high tunnels to increase income on small farms.
A high tunnel vegetable production workshop was conducted at the 64th Annual Rural Life Conference in Pine Bluff on February 21, 2020. Dawn Wormington, horticulture supervisor, Downstream Casion Resort, Quapaw, Oklahoma, was the presenter. Dawn discussed the different types of vegetables grown in the tunnel, temperature management in the tunnel, irrigation in the tunnel, and pest control (weeds, insects, and disease) in the tunnel. In addition, information on the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive program (EQIP) high Tunnel initative was provided.
Participants gained knowledge on how high tunnel could be used to extend their growing season or to produce vegetables for early markets. Participants gained knowledge on how they could obtain funding (90 percent of the average cost) from NRCS to pay for high tunnel.
Educational & Outreach Activities
We have been contacted by individuals who are interested in urban agriculture. The City of Pine Bluff and North Little Rock asked us to provide presentations on vegetable production including the use of high tunnels to city individuals interested in growing vegetables for income. We also provided information on marketing. Many of these producers were interested in purchasing a high tunnel for vegetable production and they indicated that they would use the NRCS EQIP Program to help in purchasing the high tunnel.
It appears that we will be providing more education on high tunnel vegetable production practices and food safety practices for high tunnels.
Face of SARE
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) promotes the program through educational workshops, conferences, newsletters, Facebook, and news articles. The Small Farm Program (SFP) has a newsletter that is mailed to 500 Socially Disadvantaged Producers. The SFP also has an exhibit that provides information about the SARE Programs. This exhibit is displayed at the annual rural life conference and other conferences.
UAPB Extension associates and program aides provide direct sustainable agriculture education to Socially Disadvantaged Producers (SDPs). This information is provided in office visits, field visits, telephone calls, and emails.