Sustainable Agriculture Education for Socially Disadvantaged Producers in Arkansas

Progress report for SAR23-002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $22,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
State Coordinator:
Dr. Henry English
University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff
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Project Information


This project is designed to provide soil health agricultural education to extension and other agricultural professional staff and community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with Socially disadvantaged Farmers (SDFs) in eastern and southwest Arkansas. Soil health education or principles is essential to individuals in food desert areas of Arkansas.   

This project is designed to teach UAPB Extension and Outreach Staff about the importance of soil health with principles and practices used to build soil health. Specialists with the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide training to the UAPB Staff and other agriculture professionals.  NRCS will also provide train-the-trainer training the UAPB staff about conservation practices using demonstrations that help build soil health. However, most of the training and others will be provided by the UAPB Staff.

This project will provide soil health education for vegetable and row crops, season high tunnels, gardens, and raised beds producers or growers. Urban  individuals in isolated food desert’s locations will also be targeted. In addition, the staff will work with a community-based organization that is currently doing cover crop education to SDPs in northeast Arkansas.

Project Objectives:

Funding from the 2023 Program will be used to provide training UAPB extension associates as well as and urban gardeners about soil health principles in commercial vegetables, row crops, seasonal high tunnels, gardens, and raised beds. The UAPB staff will work with NRCS to provide hands-training using demonstrations of micro-irrigation system as a sustainable production and conservation practice.

Another objective is to demonstrate the seasonal high tunnel with and sustainable production practices such as companion practices. Hands- on training will provided during the various stages of the demonstration.

 After receiving training, the UAPB Staff will work with participants in food desert communities, small vegetable producers, and socially disadvantaged row crop producers to provide them with will be targeted. 


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  • Dr. Obadiah Njue (Educator)
  • Stephan Walker (Educator)


Educational approach:

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Small Farm Staff use the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) conservation practices: 324 Cover Crops, 328 Crop Rotations, 590 Nutrient management, 329 Residue tillage Management (no-till), 345 Residue and Tillage Management (Reduced Till), 336 Soil Carbon Amendment, and 812 Raised Beds to help promote soil health to producers. The Small farm Staff and producers participated in many educational presentations where NRCS Conservation practices were shown to improve the land's productive capacity by building soil health.  Producers were encouraged to test the conservation practices on small sections of their land to determine if they worked. They were also informed that soil health building took time, and results may not be seen for three or more years.  Producers were also informed about the NRCS Conservation Program, which provided funding to help producers implement conservation practices.

Demonstrations were also used to help educate the staff and producers. The following conservation practices were demonstrated; 325 high tunnels, 340 cover crops, 484 mulching, 590 nutrient management, 441 micro-irrigation, and 812 raised beds. Producers were informed about soil health principles when they visited the demonstrations. The demonstrations were at office locations and in community gardens.

Community gardens were established in food desert areas and with youth groups to educate participants on the use of fresh vegetables in food desert areas. This also provided an opportunity to educated individuals on soil health, companion plants, beneficial insects, and etc. Youth and other participants were also educated on crop rotations, and nutrient management in growing vegetables. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Using Soil Health Practices in Vegetables and Row Crops

To teach soil health principles and practices to the UAPB Small Farm Staff and to help Small and Socially Disadvantaged Vegetable and Row Crop Producers understand soil health principles and use soil health conservation practices.


The Small Farm Staff worked with NRCS to provide information and education to producers on soil health principles and conservation practices that promoted the principles. Most of these meetings were conducted through Zoom Meetings, although the practices were promoted on three (3) field days. In addition, many one-on-one office meetings with participants discussed using conservation practices to improve cropland. Using a system approach that included several conservation practices was emphasized. The conservation system included soil health practices such as crop rotations, nutrient management, reduced till, and cover crops.

Demonstrations - The two partnering organizations, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and the East Arkansas Enterprise Community (EAEC), conducted high tunnel, cover crop, and micro-irrigation (drip tape), and plastic mulch demonstrations for producers. These demonstrations are used to educate producers. 

Outcomes and impacts:

The Small Farm Staff encouraged producers to use the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to receive financial assistance to install land-improving environmentally friendly conservation practices on their cropland. Some producers applied for the program and received funding to install the practices. Producers received funding to use practices such as 325 high tunnels, 328 crop rotations, 340 cover crops, 345 reduced tillage, 441 micro-irrigation, and 484 mulching.

Demonstrations - Many producers had never seen a high tunnel and the conservation practices associated with a tunnel until they visited UAPB or EAEC.  Consequently, many producers learned about soil health principles and practices from visiting the demonstrations at UAPB and EAEC.



Educational & Outreach Activities

125 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
20 Travel Scholarships
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

10 Extension
6 Researchers
2 Nonprofit
4 Agency
150 Farmers/ranchers
50 Others

Learning Outcomes

150 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
5 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 New working collaboration
50 Farmers reached through participant's programs

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The SARE Program is promoted through exhibits at our Annual Rural Life Conference, Small Farm Facebook Page, School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Science Facebook Page, Farm Sense Newsletter, and local newspaper articles. The outreach is conducted through one-on-one sessions with small, limited resources and socially disadvantaged producers. In addition, many SARE Educational Sessions are performed during production and other meetings conducted by the Small Farm Program.


40 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
10 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.