2019 Model State Program- Florida A&M University

Progress report for SFL19-002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $11,106.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Florida A&M University
Region: Southern
State: Florida
State Coordinators:
Dr. Cassel Gardner
Florida A&M University
Dr. Marilyn Swisher
University of Florida
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Project Information


Florida activities for 2019-2020 will build upon the basic framework for the model state program. Planned activities include integrating results of SARE funded research and Extension activities, and other relevant research, and using this information as resources for educational programs. We also plan to continue to strengthen our focus on targeted training for state and county Extension faculty, representatives of non-profit organizations, representatives of state and federal government agencies, and farmer representatives. To fulfill the priorities and objectives of our program, training funds will be used to address programs in two subject matter areas:
(1) Practices to Improve Farm Sustainability Among Small Scale and Minority Producers; and

(2) Water and Soil Quality Protection and Preservation

Project Objectives:
  1. Maintain existing and establish new collaborative Extension trainings and programs with faculty members and county agents at University of Florida and Florida A&M University whose work addresses sustainability in production agriculture.
  2. Extend collaboration with organizations that are active in the post-production components of food systems, particularly non-profit, state, and governmental organizations whose work fosters development of food and agriculture businesses.
  3. Support the development of Extension programs in food systems, including Regional Specialized Agents whose work includes both on-farm production and post-farm gate aspects of food system development.
  4. Expand participation of minority, women, and limited resource farmers and professionals in SARE activities and programs, ensuring that these groups are well represented in the full range of SARE-funded professional development opportunities.

Our expected outcomes are:

  1. County faculty members will participate in regional and national training programs in sustainable agriculture and will apply the lessons learned in their own programs.
  2. At least two of the statewide Extension priority teams will include information and resources about sustainable agriculture and SARE in their professional development training programs and Extension programming.
  3. Extension agents and farmers will identify opportunities, such as SARE-funded Research & Education, Professional Development, and On-Farm Research projects, for the development of alternative crops and enterprises and will play key roles in outreach and research projects that focus on alternative crops and enterprises.
  4. Regional and local county agents will develop new collaborations with organizations, agencies, and groups working in sustainable agriculture, including non-profit and for-profit organizations involved in post-farm gate food processing, marketing and distribution, and policy development.
  5. State, regional, and county Extension faculty members and agents will make increased use of resources to support programming in sustainable agriculture, including fiscal resources such as Southern SARE grants.

The 2019-20 Florida SARE programming built upon our previous years’ work in two ways.

(1) We continued focusing on outreach and training that enhances the environmental and economic benefits of production agriculture.

(2) We continued hosting trainings that emphasize local and regional food systems to address issues and policies that impact our food system.

The new cycle differed in several ways. Due to our extensive outreach work over the years to increase consciousness of sustainable agriculture programming and resources, sustainable agriculture is now prominent in many Florida Extension programs.  The training needs of state and county faculty have changed and they are making additional demands on our SARE program.

(1) They need continued training to address ethics in human subjects research as they integrate biological and social/educational research.

(2) They want more training in how to develop research and outreach proposals and the teams to implement their projects and we will expand this training to include identification of potential funding sources (public and private).

(3) They want more access to cutting edge research in sustainable ag in order to reduce the time between research and adoption.

(4) We will implement a training program that integrates grower and technical advisor input into ecological and biological research to enhance research outcomes. We will further develop our ability to facilitate helping state and county faculty collaborate with local farmers and service providers to write winning grant proposals, strengthen the outreach and evaluation components of their project, and incorporate more on-farm trials into their plan of work. 


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Educational approach:

Our educational approach used in this project provided:

  1. A research/demonstration project looking at the production and benefits of medicinal plants.
  2. Field demonstrations, workshops, and informational materials provided at the FAMU Annual Grape Harvest Festival.
  3. Travel scholarships for faculty, staff, and the State Co-Coordinator to attend trainings this year.


The target audience for these events consisted of county Extension agents, industry collaborators, research scientists, private sector technical advisers, small scale crop producers, pasture and hay producers, organic growers, home gardeners, agriculture teachers, students and citizens.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Practices to Improve Farm Sustainability Among Small Scale and Minority Producers

The target audience for this initiative is county Extension faculty, state faculty, service providers, and mentor farmers. The objectives of this initiative will focus on behavioral changes in participants that will enable them to bring about change in their local audiences and themselves.


Growing Medicinal Plants

During the 2019-20 growing season, a research/demonstration project continued at the Quincy, FL Extension/Research Station which focused on medicinal plants as an alternative enterprise for small-scale and minority farmers. One hundred and fifty (150) Moringa plants and several other species of medicinal plants are maintained and grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.


2019 FAMU Grape Harvest Festival

The FAMU 19th Annual Grape Harvest Festival took place at the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research in Tallahassee, FL.  Featured activities included:

  • varietal taste testing
  • insect demonstrations
  • wine making workshop
  • u-pick grapes
  • exhibits
  • farm tours
  • youth activities
Outcomes and impacts:

Growing Medicinal Plants

This three year study will conclude in 2021 and will provide data on crop species adaptation, biomass yield, and medicinal compounds.


2019 FAMU Grape Harvest Festival

Over 300 people attended the event. Informational materials on sustainable agriculture from SARE were distributed to about half of the participants.

Water and Soil Quality Protection and Preservation

The target audience for this initiative is county Extension faculty, state faculty, service providers, and mentor farmers. The objectives of this initiative will focus on behavioral changes in participants that will enable them to bring about change in their local audiences and themselves.


Travel Scholarships

We sponsored travel for FAMU faculty, staff, and the Florida SARE State Co-Coordinator to attend trainings this year.

Outcomes and impacts:

Travel Scholarships

  1. Three FAMU faculty members, one farmer, and Dr. Gardner attended the 2020 Southern SAWG conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Educational & Outreach Activities

59 Consultations
2 On-farm demonstrations
13 Published press articles, newsletters
6 Study circle/focus groups
3 Tours
4 Travel Scholarships
3 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

57 Extension
49 Researchers
55 Nonprofit
23 Agency
28 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
171 Farmers/ranchers
143 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

4 New working collaborations
33 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
140 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

We held our 2020 Florida SARE Advisory Council meeting on 1/29/2020.  Our next scheduled meeting is 5/17/2021.  Training activities are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions for in-person events.  Virtual trainings are being developed where possible and in-person events will resume in 2021.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

We distribute SARE educational materials at all of our SARE trainings and other relevant programs in Florida. SARE materials are distributed to the public by state and county faculty that participate in our programs. We also distribute SARE books and educational materials to our advisory council and scholarship recipients.

377 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
211 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.