2019 Model State Program- Florida A&M University

Final 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.


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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

Growing Medicinal plants can provide an opportunity for small/medium-sized farm owners to be more diversified and profitable.  Moringa plants and several other species of medicinal plants are maintained and grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. We aim to expose extension agents and small and medium-size socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to medicinal plants as a sustainable and alternative enterprise.


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

Twelve plant species were selected and grown for demonstration and training purposes at the FAMU Research and Extension Center in Quincy, Florida.  The plant species were selected based on review of the literature and familiarity with species.  The twelve selected species were: Anise hyssop (Agastache Foeniculum); Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera); Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus); Bitter melon (Momordica charantia); Guinea hen weed (Petiveria Alliaceae); Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum); Lavender (Lavandula); Leaf-of-life (Bryophyllum pinnatum); Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus); Moringa (Moringa oleifera); Pineapple sage ‘Golden Delicious’ (Salvia elegans); and Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The field was prepared and beds constructed and covered with black plastic to control weeds and also to retain soil moisture.  Seedlings were planted spring of 2021, with each species replicated three times in a randomized complete block design. Plants were grown without the aid of added fertilizer or pest control.  However, they were irrigated as needed

From the time of spring planting to November, all the plants did well except the Astragalus species.  Bitter melon plant species was susceptible to cold temperature down to 39 degrees F and died.  All the other plant species, except for Roselle which is an annual, were able to withstand temperatures as low as 39 degrees F, albeit some suffered frost damages. Preliminary data indicate that most of the selected plant species are able to grow well and adapt to north Florida Region and can be an economic and viable alternative crop for farmers. However, species such as Bitter melon and Roselle would be recommended as seasonal crops. The plant species were able to grow well on the loamy clay soil at a pH of 6.0 without fertilizer and pesticide application.

In the fall of 2021, small group demonstration and outreach activities were conducted with more than 20 participants including small and beginning farmers.  At the demonstrations, participants were provided information on growing instructions for the selected crops, their reported health benefits and their potential for establishment as niche crops.  Plant samples were also collected for antioxidant analysis.  A brochure which will include production guidelines and health related information specific to each specie is being developed for distribution.


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.

Advancing Extension Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture

This initiative provides individualized training in specialized topics in sustainable agriculture. County and state faculty can participate in training relevant to their state and county programs that may not be a focus or an emphasis in the other Florida SARE initiatives. We allow county and state faculty to develop their own training objectives and propose venues that will provide the training they need. We also advertise training opportunities that may be of interest to Florida faculty.


Advanced Individualized Training

The target audience consists of cooperative extension faculty, food system NGOs, and mentor farmers that host trainings or engage in peer-to-peer learning groups. Scholarships are available to support attendance to a professional development program where the participant will receive training in topics relevant to sustainable agriculture. Program objectives:

  1. Increase participation in trainings related to sustainable agriculture that are associated with the SSARE Program.
  2. Increase participation in relevant national and regional trainings offered by other programs and organizations.
  3. Enhance the ability of the participant to develop and deliver local programming relevant to the goals of the Florida SARE program.
  4. Expand the current extension responsibilities of cooperative extension faculty participants to include programming related to sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Outcomes and impacts:

Advanced Individualized Training

  1. We sponsored three FAMU faculty members, one farmer, and the Co-State Coordinator to attend the 2020 Southern SAWG conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Educational & Outreach Activities

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

Participation Summary:

66 Extension
51 Researchers
55 Nonprofit
24 Agency
31 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
176 Farmers/ranchers
147 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 were limited due to COVID-19 restrictions for in-person events.  Virtual trainings were developed where possible and in-person events will resume in 2022/23.

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.