University of Georgia State Training Grant- MSP22

Final report for SGA22-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $6,600.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Georgia
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
State Coordinator:
Dr. Timothy Coolong
University of Georgia
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Project Information


The SARE Advisory Committee had a conference call on February 17, 2022 to discuss committee memberships, review activities for the year, and discuss future training needs. The SARE Logic Model training objectives are conservation tillage systems, organic production, grazing-based animal production systems, composting, direct marketing, and local food systems. The Committee decided upon trainings and conferences to support for the upcoming year that would address several of the SARE Logic Model training objectives. Specifically we discussed holding joint in-field education programs between FVSU, UGA and the Rodale institute as well as separate hands-on trainings at the UGA Horticulture Farm. Cover crop trainings were proposed featuring warm season cover crops. Further, we will continue to support the Journeyman Farmer Program that is designed to advance beginning farmers and ranchers in Georgia.

Project Objectives:

The Georgia Model State Program developed a Logic Model to guide our training efforts. The Logic Model, reflects needs of Georgia as directed by the SARE Advisory Committee. To reach our long-term goal of “Increased use of sustainable agriculture practices by producers at multiple scales supported by a knowledgeable network of agricultural professionals ensuring a high proportion of diverse, profitable, and environmentally-friendly farm operations”, we identified the following six areas for training workshops: conservation tillage systems, organic production, grazing-based animal production systems, composting, direct marketing, and local food systems.  In 2022 we began to pivot the UGA SARE program to focus more on organic food production and urban/periburban agriculture to address needs from the rapidly growing metropolitan areas in Georgia.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Timothy Coolong
  • Dr. Mark Latimore
  • Dr. James Brown
  • Dr. Kristie Wendelberger
  • Alicia Holloway
  • Philip Brown
  • Robin Channin
  • Michael Wall


Educational approach:


The SARE model state program for UGA provides education opportunities in sustainable agriculture. The model state program supports outreach and education efforts that coincide with large conferences/meetings such as GA Organics and the Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference and many others. The program efforts are based on advisory panel meetings where we identify topics that are important to our clientele. The program supports workshops, offering scholarships to conferences, and delivering educational classes regarding sustainable agriculture throughout the state of Georgia. Agents are provided training in sustainable agriculture through foundation training for new agents, conference scholarships, providing access to SARE books and materials, and support in their county programming.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS/ORGANIC PRODUCTION – Journeyman Farmer Training Objective:

Local food systems were identified by the SARE Advisory Committee as an area where more training was needed to increase the capacity of Extension and other agricultural professionals to provide technical assistance to growers. Funding from this grant allowed us to support a virtual multi-county Journeyman Farmer Training Program.


In 2022/2023 the Journeyman program was held again in Carrol/Paulding Counties and also held twice in Henry County Journeyman Farmer Flyer 2023 Henry County A      Journeyman Farmer Flyer 2023 Henry County B 

Henry County GA is part of the metro-Atlanta region and the journeyman program has received much interest from individuals looking to get into agricultural production in the area. This complements our support for urban agriculture initiatives in Georgia.

Outcomes and impacts:

More than 60 people attended parts of the first Henry county Training. This program was so popular they have offered a second training in June 2023.

Local Food Systems Trainings

A small grower/local food organic production training was held on Sept. 23, 2022 at the UGArden facility. The objective was to introduce new growers to organic practices. This training was held as part of the Athens Area Sustainable Grower's Group in conjunction with Athens-Clark and Barrow County Extension.



Cover cropping, organic fertility, and small equipment was discussed in a hands-on 3 hour session. Retailers focused on organic farming techniques were present.

Outcomes and impacts:

There were nearly 30 attendees representing a variety of different production systems and farms. The hands-on component was particularly successful. SARE PI Coolong presented at this program on cover cropping.

Organic Production - Scholarships to GA Organics and the SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in 2023 and 2024.

Topics range from fruit and vegetable production, including organic practices, to marketing and business. The SARE Advisory Committee indicated organic production as an area of training emphasis, and the objective of offering scholarships to this conference is to better familiarize agents with organic and sustainable practices. Further our goal was to promote the SARE program at Georgia organics and provide additional educational opportunities for agriculture agents to learn about organic farming in Georgia.


We sponsored travel for 4 county agents to attend the SE regional fruit and vegetable conference in 2023.  This included a food safety training specifically held as a train-the-trainers event on the first day of conference in 2023. We supported additional travel and registration fees for agents to attend this training.

The GA organics conference was held in 2023 and SARE sponsored 5 agents to attend the conference as well as the SARE coordinator and program assistant. In addition we had a booth featuring SARE at UGA and FVSU at the conference.

We sponsored two additional UGA professionals (1 county agent and 1 research professional) to attend the SE regional fruit and vegetable conference in 2024.

Outcomes and impacts:

The attendees gained knowledge that will be used to aid farmers in their counties in implementing more sustainable practices and local and direct marketing of their products. The agents that attended work in counties with vegetable production that have a combined farm gate value of more than $750 million annually.

For Georgia Organics we were able to provide support for several agents to learn more about organic production and also to help educate attendees about sustainable agriculture. Hundreds of publications (print outs) were handed out on topics ranging from pasture poultry to composting to crop rotation.

UGA SARE booth
UGA SARE booth at the GA organics conference


Cover Crops and conservation tillage

We demonstrated warm season cover crops for application after early spring crops are harvested in Georgia.


Warm season cover crops included buckwheat, sorghum x sudan grass hybrid, cowpea, sunn hemp, and lab lab. A large field day/open house was held at the Durham Horticulture Research Farm on July 7, 2022.  Cover crops were presented at the field day as well as a SARE booth where publications were shown and attendees were able to ask about the SARE program.  Many agents and farmers attended.

Outcomes and impacts:

The outcomes was that agents and growers were more familiar with growth habits of warm season cover crops.  While many growers in Georgia use cool-season cover crops, warm season cover crops are sparingly utilized since they would be planted during the main growing season. Nonetheless, there are situations where warm season cover crops would fit into niches.  More than 100 attendees visited the cover crop/SARE stop on the tour. 

Local produce organic farming trainings

The UGA SARE program has worked with several agents in the Metro Atlanta region to provide grower training opportunities. These include the Athens Area Sustainable growers association and additional events targeting farmers in the Newton and Rockdale county region of metro Atlanta. We have conducted/assisted with multiple trainings that have been coordinated by the County ANR agents (Laura Ney, Ashley Best, Alicia Holloway) in the region. The objective is to improve production of organic produce in the metro Atlanta area.


Multiple trainings have been conducted in 2023 with the support of SARE funding.  These have included and Organic Farmer Training in March 2023 covering nitrogen mineralization in organic systems, food safety, cultivation systems and more.  SARE funds were utilized to grow several plots of different brassica crops that were used for hands-on cultivation trainings, where growers were able to utilize different tractors/cultivation implements.  In addition the SARE Crop Rotations in Organic Systems book was given to attendees.

The Athens area sustainable grower network held a Grow Your Farm workshop in Feb. 2023, with invited speakers from the UGA Small Business Development Center and the UGA Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics. Attendees learned about the importance of record keeping and marketing for their farm businesses. Speakers covered templates and practical tips for both records keeping and marketing. During the working lunch, attendees shared strategies and insights with each other. Each attendee received the SARE book: Building a Sustainable Business at the training.

In June 2023, the Athens area sustainable grower network held an on-farm educational program at 3-Porch Farm  .   The UGA SARE program provided an honorarium for the time of the proprietors to discuss their operation and how they achieved success. 

In March 2024 we hosted a tomato grafting workshop through the Athens Area Sustainable Grower Network.  PI Coolong purchased supplies to demonstrate grafting for small scale organic tomato growers that have experienced disease issues in high tunnels. The workshop had 15 attendees and was a full immersive hands-on experience.

Tomato grafting flier
Tomato grafting workshop



Outcomes and impacts:

Over 55 farmers have attended these events. Nearly all of these growers focus on sustainable/organic production. The learning outcomes have been an increase in business knowledge related to their enterprise, increased production knowledge (food safety/fertility/cultivation) and increased networking opportunities among farmers.

Agent training in Sustainable Agriculture

Education ANR agents in Georgia about the SARE program and Organic Agriculture in Georgia .


The training was held in Oct. 2022 and 22 agents attended. A one hour training on the SARE program (grants, mission, educational materials) was held for agents in a train the trainer model. Further, copies of managing cover crops profitably were included with educational materials for agents.

In January 2024 we held an agent training/farm tour as part of the UGA Extension Conference held in Rock Eagle, GA.  The agent training/tour was 3 hours in length and we visited two organic farms in Newton County Georgia. Love is Love Farm and Crystal Organics were our hosts that afternoon. Roughly 15 Extension agents from across Georgia attended this tour and were able to see what commercially successful organic farmers are doing. 

Farm field day
Field day with agents at Love is Love farm in Mansfield GA
Outcomes and impacts:

Agents learned about the SARE program and how it supports them and how they can support SARE programming in Georgia.

Agents also saw success stories from real organic farmers who have nearly 80 years combined farming expertise among them.  All attendees took away knowledge of organic farming.

Agent Sponsorship to Forest Farming Conference

We sponsored ag. agent Jacob Williams (Union County GA) to attend a forest farming conference in Roanoke Virginia in March 2024.


The conference was an opportunity for Jacob to network with growers, universities, non-profits, and industry on how to assist the Forest Farming industry moving forward. Forest farming includes non-timber forest products such as mushrooms, ginseng, goldenseal, ramps, black cohosh, maple syrup, and more.

Outcomes and impacts:

While there Jacob  shared a poster that he had made on a woodland botanical garden that demonstrates how to grow these non-timber forest products in Union County, GA. While at the conference he attended sessions on how to overcome the challenges that forest farmers face and learn about the types of assistance they need. I also learned about organizations to partner with to reach these goals. His goal after attending this conference is to push this industry forward so that Georgia farmers can realize the full capacity of all their land, not just their fields.

Agent sponsorship to attend the 2024 Cattle Industry Convention (Cattle Con 2024) in Orlando Florida

We were able to sponsor area livestock agent, Brandi McGonagill from SW Georgia to attend the Cattle Convention in 2024. This conference had speakers from all areas of livestock management including grazing and pasture management. Grazing and pasture management was a key area of the Georgia SARE logic model for several years and this conference was a great opportunity to educate one of our key area agents in this topic.


The full conference agenda is linked here:

Outcomes and impacts:

This conference will help educate our agriculture professionals and train the trainers as is part of the SARE PDP program. Brandi will be able to use her knowledge obtained here to work with livestock producers across SW Georgia.

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 On-farm demonstrations
2 Online trainings
3 Tours
8 Travel Scholarships
3 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

20 Extension
2 Researchers
2 Nonprofit
30 Farmers/ranchers
300 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
1 New working collaboration
15 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

I think that allowing SARE coordinators to provide mini-grants to Extension agents ($1000 each) using SARE PDP funds would help agents take more ownership of SARE programming in the state and reach a more diverse audience.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

We are continuously promoting SARE at educational events throughout Georgia to both agents and farmers/clientele. Whether it is a SARE booth at the GA organics conference where we interacted with hundreds of attendees or showing SARE resources at county meetings both coordinator Coolong and program assistant Richardson promote the SARE program throughout the year. 

600 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
57 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.