Network Development and Skill Building of Agriculture Service Providers for an Inclusive and Food Secure New Hampshire

Progress report for SNE21-008-NH

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $132,897.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: UNH Cooperative Extension
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
State Coordinator:
Olivia Saunders
UNH Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

Problem and justification: New Hampshire agriculture is in transition, both amongst the farming community and within the agriculture service providers (ASP) who offer direct support. The global pandemic resulted in the retirement of many ASPs who had lengthy careers and were well networked across the state. New staff have not had the opportunity to network across agencies or industries resulting in an isolated service provider landscape, each working towards their own individual or specific organizational level needs. A well-connected network will be more efficient in meeting grower needs, be better able to address major issues, and work towards collective goals. In addition, given historic and well-documented racial inequities across the food system, service providers must improve their cultural competencies to better serve an all-incisive agricultural landscape. A baseline understanding of the cultural stressors that all farm families face and how this may influence their professional working relationship with the farm family and farm business will result in a more sustainable agriculture system, where all people are able to farm.

Solution and approach: Agriculture Service Providers will connect more formally and regularly to identify grower needs and service provider knowledge gaps, execute culturally proficient professional development activities, and develop communication channels to serve NH agriculture. In recognition of the changing landscape of NH farms and farmers, this program will catalyze service providers to identify and address the changing needs, by building a tighter and more inclusive community and by addressing needs of all farmers in a rapid and transparent fashion. Validated grower need will be enduring by including three beginner farmer representatives as active participants in the network. This network will build out communications plans, improve functionality of webpage and web-based offerings including blogs and resources for beginning and established farms.

Performance Target:

Sixteen agriculture service providers (ASPs) will develop skills in advising farm businesses with improved cultural competencies to better serve a diverse group of New Hampshire farmers. These 16 service providers will change their attitude and awareness in the structural racism present in the food system, and the importance of collaborating as a network to address such challenges. The service providers will be better able to serve New Hampshire farmers though a strengthened more connected network serving 80 farmers.

Introduction:

Agricultural Need: As the states farming community ages (65% of farm owners being 55 or older), so do the service providers who offer support. As retirements occur, we lose the relationships and networks that were developed over individual careers. New staff are not familiar with the skills partner agencies bring or of the specialties of individuals. No single organization has taken leadership in gathering agency partners in networking, communication, collaboration or skill building. We are effectively siloed in our own organizations. Furthermore, barriers to food security, food and land access are reinforced by systemic inequalities across the food system (Conrad, 2020). Racial and cultural inequalities at all levels in the food system are well documented (Conrad, 2020; Rosset, 2008) with many agricultural professionals unaware how they perpetuate these issues. If NH ASPs are not able to effectively communicate across agencies, and continue to operate without cultural proficiency training, they will not be able to effectively or efficiently provide services to New Hampshire’s farmers, or do this in a culturally proficient manner. Tight networks and a shared understanding of racial equity and the food system enhance information flow and result in better services for all types of farmers.

The NH Agriculture Financiers has expressed interest and support for an enhanced, tighter-networked ASP landscape. We aim to tighten the network while working towards a more diverse and inclusive agricultural community. This includes opportunity for underserved to have a seat at the table. Additionally, the NH Food Alliance, Racial Equity Team has formed to amplify racial equity in the state’s food system, and serve as a resource for food and farm organizations. There is staff-overlap between these teams, providing a natural synergy. At the 2021 statewide food summit, racial equity round table, action items such as “finding partners to unpack racial equity work” and “creating open space for micro-learning opportunities” were identified. This SARE project builds upon this assessment as well as the 21-week racial equity challenge conducted in the summer of 2020, of which the SARE PDP coordinator was a participant.

Farmers, the UNH Beginning Farmer training course, and agriculture service providers have expressed a desire for a single spot to get information germane to their diverse needs. In improving cultural proficiency among a farmer audience, many organizations that work directly with farmers do not know where or how to start (as demonstrated during key informant interviews.) While organizations are unsure how to proceed with incorporating DEI into their work, granting agencies such as Northeast SARE and the NH Charitable Foundation have asked grantees to include DEI goals in request for proposals. Organizations must address how they are advancing racial equity and social justice in proposed projects.

Proposed Solution: To create a cohesive network, year one will focus on a team and relationship building across industries and organizations. Commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity on behalf of all participants will be incorporated into goals. A digital ‘office hours’ will help create a cohesive and inclusive network easily available to all farmers.

To address knowledge gaps two PDP trainings will be held in year two and year three. One focused on building skill in diversity, equity and inclusion and one designed to meet the express needs of the network that year, to possibly include: farm viability, farm stress, agriculture mediation, having difficult conversations, or conflict resolution. NH SARE will actively seek input over the project period by including three diverse (minority) beginner farmer representatives and will build in flexibility to respond to the needs identified.  

During the final year of the project, we will establish network norms, procedures and leadership structure, and repeat the social network analysis done in 2021. Throughout the project NH SARE will build out a communications plan for the network, improve functionality of web-based offerings including blogs and resources for beginning and established farms.

ASP Interest: Support for the project comes from a direct, expressed need from the agriculture financiers group as well as the UNH Extension Beginner Farmer team, who will be core participants of the project. Engagement will build off the success and recruit participation from the NH Farmers Open Forum where a diverse pool of ASP’s joined a weekly call to address timely topics and the 21 week NH food system racial equity learning group.

Rosset, Peter. Development, 2008, 51(4), (460–463). 2008 Society for International Development (7) (PDF) Food Sovereignty and the Contemporary Food Crisis.

Conrad, Alison. Identifying and Countering White Supremacy Culture in Food Systems. Duke World Food Policy Center, Sept. 2020, wfpc.sanford.duke.edu/sites/wfpc.sanford.duke.edu/files/Whiteness-Food-Movements-Research-Brief-WFPC-October-2020.pdf.

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Jessica Wright - Technical Advisor (Educator)

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

Recruitment:  Recruitment for this project will build off the NH SARE PDP grant (SNE20-008-NH) where service providers participated in a 2-day Reading The Farm training (RTF). At the RTF, participants were brought together to form a more-cohesive network, this is a continuation of that effort. NH Food Alliance, NH Ag Financiers as well as program team leaders will assist with recruitment of new core members. A core 16 participants will be enrolled throughout the course of the project, forming a cohesive farm network to identify and meet network needs. Recognizing that networks are not static but changing, ‘Open Forums’ (piloted during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic) will be used to highlight the network, with a topic-focused open forum/dialogue while encouraging new people to join the network. Formal meetings will be organized with the core-16 for a cohesive group and address PD needs, where the open forum will be used as a tool to connect with farmers and communicate this work back to the public, ensuring we do not remain siloed or isolated.

Printed materials will be supplied when required for a training event, with supplemental material and reports shared in a single cloud-based folder for participants to access during the project. Three self-identified, minority beginner farmer liaisons will be recruited to serve as both program participants and network leaders, provide ongoing input to the network ASPs. Farmer liaisons will be paid for their travel and time.

Education:  The four PDP training events for the NH ASP cohort, will be specifically designed to address participant needs. Participants will therefore have a high motivation to actively engage in learning. The NH SARE Coordinator will utilize many of the tools outlined in the “Sustainable Agriculture Through Sustainable Learning” Guide for educators by Sandy Bell and Janet McAllister, such as having ASP identify and share their mental models, in particular with DEI trainings. Prior to a training event, ASPs will share their motivation for attending and goals for the day. We will solicit real-life examples from ASPs to build upon when hosting trainings, for example “how to have difficult conversations” or how to address equity and inclusion issues when working in the field, how to respond when such issues arise. Trainings will be grounded in the understanding that all participants are co-learners and the network is strengthened when we are able to support each other through difficult situations. All trainings will include pre-reading materials, as well as an action sheet (do more of, do less of, start doing, stop doing) to use during the workshop. Supplemental material and reports will be shared in a single cloud-based folder for participants to access during the project. Participants will use the self-assessment "skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers" tool to track progress. Success and failure of education will be easily tracked through the use of this tool.

Verification:  NH SARE will actively seek input over the project period and will build in flexibility to respond to the needs identified. To remain accountable to our farmer audience, we will involve beginner farmer representatives in the trainings and organizing meetings. As such this program has been designed with flexibility in mind, with the core goal of creating a community of learning that will allow New Hampshire to develop a stronger and tighter network of ASPs. Our secondary goal is to develop professionally in the areas of diversity equity and inclusion, and other “soft skills” (ie: mediation). In recognition that ASPs have varying skills and participate in their own ongoing professional development, the specific topics for the trainings will be outlined as the event nears. In lieu of traditional surveys to verify learning where participants are asked to rate the quality of a program, we will utilize self-assessment skills and knowledge lists. This self-assessment will ask participants to measure skill or knowledge in DEI and other “soft skills” as previously utilized by the NH SARE PDP coordinator in the Honey Bee Health Diagnostic Training, and originally piloted by Richard Brzozowski of University of Maine Extension. The “skills and knowledge list” will build off the ongoing project from the Northeast Agriculture Viability group identifying Core Competencies for ASPs. This “skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers” will be tracked over time to measure progress.

In year one and three the cohort and NH SARE coordinator will utilize the Michigan State University tool: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics. We will utilize the second section of the toolkit “food and farm business: ownership of land and means of production and business support” to evaluate progress in the NH food system. Additionally we will repeat our network analysis evaluation that was conducted in 2021 to measure connectivity between ASPs in New Hampshire.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

16 ASP participants (the Cohort) and 3 beginner farmer representatives will review the 2021 needs assessment and network analysis to identify professional development needs of NH Ag service providers. Building off these assessments, we will prioritize needs across the service provider industry to develop a strategic professional development plan. During this meeting, we will establish network goals, meeting frequency and time. Additionally the NH SARE PDP coordinator will use the original needs assessment, integrating the Core Competencies from the Northeast Agriculture Viability group, to develop a “skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers” (self-assessment tool). This tool will be used throughout the project to measure growth and development of the individual ASPs.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

16

Proposed Completion Date:

December 20, 2021

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

March 31, 2022

Accomplishments:

The NH SARE coordinator had initially planned on utilizing the core competencies from the Northeast Agriculture Viability group that was to be developed by the start of this project. The Agriculture Viability group did not complete the Core Competencies project, and therefore we could not utilize the resource for this project. In lieu of the skills assessment checklist, we held multiple listening and input sessions on the utility of the network, and explored through conversation with a diverse array of service providers what would be most helpful to them in their work. Specific skills vary by position and organization. This baseline assessment is an item we hope to revisit during the winter 2022 planning session, and hope to explore the future utility of such an assessment.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

16 cohort participants and 3 beginner farmer representatives will attend a 1-day workshop providing a DEI framework with an agricultural context and engage in a goal setting exercise outlining purpose and mission for the future of the network. Prior to this 1-day training all participants will receive DEI related readings and study material to provide framework and grounding for these conversations. Participants will fill out the “skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers” at the start of the training.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

16

Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:

3

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

69

Proposed Completion Date:

March 31, 2022

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

October 17, 2022

Accomplishments:

Two professional development webinars were conducted for the NH Farm Network. The goals for both of these were to be conversational and informative, challenging how we work as a state and as a network to build a more inclusive and equitable farming support system in New Hampshire. Preparation and input for these was provided through conversations with historically underserved farmers, including new and beginner farmers.

The first on June 6th focused on understanding the baseline racial equity assessment conducted for New Hampshire. 39 agriculture service providers attended. We covered how the project came to be, why building a network with a racial equity lens is important, and then presented the tool, the approach we took in finding data, and shared some of the key findings. Once we presented the data, we included the following prompts for discussion:

  • How do you see yourself or your organization using these data / assessment?
  • What resources might you need to center racial equity in your work?
  • How might you contribute to the data set?
  • What would our collective work look like if we operated thru a racial equity lens?

The second, held on October 17th, 2022 with 33 attendees, focused on hearing from underserved farmers. This Open Forum was designed to allow space for service providers to listen to historically underserved farmers in New Hampshire. We invited a panel of three farmers to speak to the group about their unique experiences as new farmers in New Hampshire. We asked service providers to listen for what structural barriers these farmers faced as they told us their stories, being careful not to provide specific recommendations to the individual, but to identify what at the system level prevented success.  Invited guests were Paolamantina “Paola” Grullon Livingstone of Living Stone Farm in Wentworth, NH, Nasteho Mohamed - Farm and Food Youth Program at the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, and Andal Sundaramurthy of Nalla Farm in Wilmot, NH. Speaker prompts were:

  • How could you have been better supported?
  • What would you have wanted service providers to understand about your journey?
  • Is there anything you want to share with a group of service providers to help us better serve others in your same situation?
  • Were there certain steps along the process that felt more challenging than they should have?

*This was not a time for service providers to suggest specific advice to farmers, but rather to listen and identify systemic barriers to entry or and long-term success. What about the system prevents farmers from entry? What about the systems prevents farmers from success? How, as a community of service providers, can we uproot these?

We closed with a conversation on where do we need to put the work in? Given what you heard today what would be a short/medium/long-term goal? This could be a self-reflection on your own work or organization.

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

As a baseline measure to track changes over the course of this project, the NH SARE Coordinator will use the Michigan State University tool: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics. We will utilize the second section of the toolkit “food and farm business: ownership of land and means of production and business support” to evaluate food system equity in the networks’ work. This analysis and data collection is anticipated to take 6-months and will be contracted out. Once complete, the metrics report will be shared widely and is likely to inform future programming by NH ASPs. (March 2022).

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

3

Proposed Completion Date:

April 01, 2022

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

June 06, 2022

Accomplishments:

The Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics report was completed, and posted, and a supplemental webinar was offered on June 6, 2022. Much work went into selecting data points to collect, aggregating and locating the data, and finding a consultant to complete this work. Six meetings were held in collaboration with the NH Food System Racial Equity Team, who provided support for the project. Specifically this group helped identify which data points and metrics would be of greatest value to the NH food and farming system, and helped share the results once finalized.

The SARE PDP coordinator along with the hired consultant pulled together the report, now published with the UNH Library system and available online for download. https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2249&context=extension

A public webinar was held to present the findings and the report on June 6th with 60 people registering and 39 individuals in attendance.

 The NH SARE PDP coordinator has also been working with the NH Food Alliance, which will be providing financial support to complete the full MSU assessment using staff at the UNH Carsey Institute. This project only supported the collection of agricultural and farming metrics, not nutrition, food insecurity or food service workers.

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

The NH SARE PDP Coordinator will host/co-host 6 NH Farmer Open Forums, with minimum 10 participants per forum, to create a more cohesive network and knowledge sharing, to benefit both ASPs in their networking ability, and individual farmers who participate in the calls. Forum topics will be identified by the beginner farmer representatives, and focus on food system and agriculture equity topics. These “ag service provider office hours” will be actively promoted thru the UNH Extension Newsletter and social media to the farming public. The open forum structure also functions as an opportunity for continuous feedback from grower constituents. Ongoing input from the grower participants will inform both cohort network meetings and future open forum topics. As grower needs arise, the forum will provide opportunity for immediate input to ASPs (April 2022).

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

20

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

10

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

96

Proposed Completion Date:

April 29, 2022

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

October 17, 2022

Accomplishments:

In an effort to build support and understanding for the network, we focused initial efforts on small informal meetings or listening sessions with partnering agencies and collaborators before launching a publicly advertised meeting.

These efforts began in October 2021 with a one-on-one meeting with a farm coordinator working with underserved farmers. This was in an effort to understand how the formation of a new support network could best serve underserved farmers, and what their specific needs were in New Hampshire. In March 2022 we met with the NH conservation districts who had expressed the need for a more collaborative networking program. Conversations with District staff helped provide input on the future website build and how the network meetings would be held. Later in March, we discussed the formation of the network with UNH Extension Food and Agriculture staff, again providing input and support on the future of the network, who to invite, and how to roll out the program. Our fourth meeting was May 13th, at the NH Food Alliance Statewide Gathering, as an invited speaker and small group facilitator for the breakout session on Farm Support Networks. The NH SARE coordinator led this session in collaboration with the UNH Extension New Farmer Coordinator, with 22 service providers in attendance. Again, we shared news and plans for the network, collected contact information, and received input on the future utility of the network. On May 19 we met with the NH Agriculture Financiers to report out on the project, as this group provided initial support for the project at its inception.

Once this groundwork was completed and grassroots networking for the project finished, we launched the publicly advertised 'open forum' on September 12th, 2022, with 27 attendees. During this session we shared a draft version of the farm network webpage, and our vision for the network in the future.

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

16 ASP participants (the cohort) and 3 beginner farmer representatives will engage in two professional development trainings which were identified and prioritized in year one. These PDP events will be organized and promoted by the NH SARE Coordinator 4-weeks prior to the events. We will target the cohort, but will not restrict participation if other ASPs wish to attend. One training will develop ASPs skills in DEI, and one training will meet the express needs of the network at that time. Participants will revisit their “skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers” to track progress and identify needs. (March 2023).

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

16

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

63

Proposed Completion Date:

March 31, 2023

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

September 14, 2023

Accomplishments:

In lieu of a smaller training event, the state coordinator, with support from project partners, organized an in-service day for agriculture professionals. In years past New Hampshire used to have what was called “NH Agriculture Professionals Day” which was organized by department heads as an annual event. Knowing the event continued to have name recognition among our partner organizations we brought it back, but with a new spin. The event was designed to create space and opportunity for discussion and information sharing across agriculture organizations and to inspire each other to action on some of the most pressing and cross-cutting issues. Discussion topics were identified during the open forum calls and we used the network to identify speakers and subject matter experts.

The agenda was as follows: Morning panel discussion on climate chaos & emergency response with NH Department of Health and Human Services and NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food emergency management contact. The second panel focused on the impacts of innovation, and grower experiences, with UNH Extension, NH NRCS, and an EQUIP participating farmer. The NH Agriculture Financiers group then presented their new resource, the Loan Readiness Toolkit and solicited input from the group on the utility of the tool.

The day was wrapped with eleven lightning round (five-minute flash presentations) on a variety of topics. Everyone in the network was invited to speak during the lightning round which solicited a handful of speakers. Additional topics were identified by the state coordinator.

When asked ‘What brought you here today’ program participants overwhelmingly reported they attended for the networking opportunity, or as one attendee wrote to ‘renew connections’.

word cloud response to the question 'what brought you here'
What brought you here word cloud.

As a post-event wrap-up, participants were asked to share what they were bringing forward and what was emerging for them as they left for the day. They responded as follows

What’s emerging:

  • Access to federal funds but not enough skilled resources to implement
  • Deepening connections and learning about opportunities for our work to cut across organizations and sectors
  • Tools to help farmers implement climate disaster plans and funding potentials for innovative technologies
  • Trying to figure out why we don’t hear from farmers during a disaster if none of them know about disaster preparation or have plans so we can make our outreach better
  • Disaster preparedness even without a farm to think about
  • Disaster plans need more focus.
  • Need to help farmers make emergency plans
  • SARE opportunities for farmers
  • Hearing from the NH Queer Farmer Network was great. I plan to reach out to them about striving to make my programs as welcoming as possible.
  • I didn’t know the Queer Farmers were represented and I’m glad to hear it!
  • There are many programs available to Farmers. Reaching Farmer’s seems to be the most difficult issue.
  • Innovation funds. Lots of great ideas, need more Human Resources.
  • Better messaging from the state
  • $600??? I had no idea & I'm going home to tell all my producers
  • The $600 rebate will be nice to share with farms, also some labor tools. Great connections
  • All of the resources I was provided with, I am going to pass forward to others.
  • The number of free legal aid options was surprising and great to know about
  • Hopefully, new partnerships to put conservation on the ground!
  • Connections to existing organizations that can enhance my programming
  • Learning about all the resources available to NH farmers as someone new to agriculture in the state
  • Networking/getting the word out
  • Pet vending (raising, buying or selling household pets) is becoming a major agriculture industry. What are the laws and rules about this? What is the difference between a rescue, a shelter, a pet store, a breeder, a commercial kennel, etc?
Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

The NH SARE PDP Coordinator will host/co-host 6 NH Farmer Open Forums, with minimum 10 participants per forum, to create a more cohesive network and knowledge sharing, to benefit both ASPs in their networking ability, and individual farmers who participate in the calls. Forum topics will be identified by the beginner farmer representatives, and focus on food system and agriculture equity topics. These “ag service provider office hours” will be actively promoted thru the UNH Extension Newsletter and social media to the farming public. The open form structure also functions as an opportunity for continuous feedback from grower constituents. Ongoing input from the grower participants will inform both cohort network meetings and future open forum topics. As grower needs arise the forum will provide opportunity for immediate input to ASPs.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

20

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

10

Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:

2

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

60

Proposed Completion Date:

April 28, 2023

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

July 11, 2023

Accomplishments:

A series of open forum calls were scheduled with each event having strong participation from individuals across a number of organizations as well as good geographic coverage. All meetings begin with the sharing of the community agreements and conclude with open space for anyone in the network to share updates and resources. To aid those who could not attend, we have a note taker and share back notes and resources both via email and post to our webpage. This is in an effort to make information and resources readily available and accessible.

Our first call was to address confusion and a knowledge gap around funding and grant opportunities. With so many new staff across the state, many reported to us their desire for better understanding or one-stop shop listing out all opportunities. We organized the call with two goals in mind. To one, help service providers understand what grants and funding opportunities exist so they can help their clients access these, and two to create a written published resource to persist after the call was finished. During this process and in planning calls with partners, we learned of a resource page on the NH Food Alliance website dedicated to funding opportunities. Having learned they already maintain and add to a grants opportunity page, we decided not to recreate the wheel, but to work with that group to improve their site so it has more utility to farmers. We also asked the site manager to add additional agriculture production-focused grant opportunities that were not already on their page. The site was originally organized for food system-level funding with limited opportunities specific to production agriculture. A thirteen-page shared google sheet was also created, briefly summarizing all known grant opportunities.

During the call, we had nine different organizations speak about their grant programs. Presenters included the NH Dept of Agriculture Markets and Food, North Country Investment Corporation (NCIC), USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, NH County Conservation Districts, American Farmland Trust, Northeast SARE, NOFA-NH, and Walden Mutual Bank.

Our second call was focused on resilient and prepared farmers. How we guide farmers to more resilient businesses & tool ourselves to assist our clients. We also worked to build awareness around diversity in agriculture and mitigation of economic and financial risks to support diversity within agriculture. Participants were encouraged to think critically about how we bring equity and inclusion into the community, into our work, or our outreach. In break-out rooms we discussed ‘What does farm resiliency mean to you? Social, environmental, economic, sustainable practice, improvements’. After we centered equity and accessibility and economic risks, we transitioned over to a presentation on farmer & agricultural tax education, and the tax and asset protection program.  By first centering equity and accessibility we were able to recognize the barriers and issues surrounding agriculture business management, who can access loans and grants, and tax literacy. At the end, there was an opportunity for network-wide announcements from participants.

The third and final network call for the network in the 2023 calendar year was focused on disaster response. We had been receiving questions from staff who were unsure what role they were supposed to fill in helping clients during and after a disaster event. Was there documentation they are supposed to be helping with and reporting this to FSA or other organizations? What are they supposed to tell growers when they call? What happens (specifically) when disaster strikes agriculture? Be that drought or hail, a terrorism event, or a barn fire? What procedures fall into place in an emergency management response and what role do NH Agriculture Service Providers play in emergency management and planning? How can we be better prepared to help farmers, farm families and farm workers before, during and after any sort of emergency, be that local, county, statewide or national. There was useful discussion but what became clear in conversation was that roles have not been clearly defined in the aftermath of an event. The session and subsequent extreme rainfall events in July that affected many NH Farms led to further exploration of this topic by the state SARE PDP coordinator and others in the network.

Two subsequent networking events were also organized by the UNH Extension Food and Agriculture Program Team Leader, with overlapping goals of the NH-SARE PD Project. The meetings were designed to bring organizations and staff people in the organizations closer together. Similar to the NH Farm Network calls they were structured to be informal and welcoming to new staff, and provided structured and unstructured networking opportunities for staff to connect. On June 12, 2023 NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food hosted Extension staff for a meet and greet. On July 21, 2023, UNH Extension hosted the NH Natural Resource Conservation Service at the UNH Horticulture Farm for a field day and discussion about furthering agriculture conservation projects.  

1/9/23 at 1:00 PM - topic: Focus on Funding (31 attendees)

4/10/23 at 1:00 PM - topic: Resilient farms – mitigating economic risks (30 attendees)

7/10/23 at 1:00 PM - topic: Disaster Response (40 attendees)

6/12/23 NH DAM&F & UNH Extension meet and greet

7/21/23 UNH & NRCS field day at Wooman Farm

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

16 ASP cohort and 3 beginner farmer representatives will participate in a meeting to review input received from the Open Forums. Input will be used to re-identify knowledge and programming gaps within ASP offerings, trainings and one-on-one assistance for NH Farmers. The NH SARE coordinator will create a report that summarizes this review for those in the network. (June 2023).

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

16

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

5

Proposed Completion Date:

June 09, 2023

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

June 01, 2023

Accomplishments:

Discussion between various network participants and input from the open forums about interest in an in-person gathering and networking event led to the creation of the NH Agriculture Professionals Day in September 2023. As we had been gathering regularly for the Zoom-based network calls, there was piqued interest in gathering in person. Provided the extreme weather events experienced in NH in 2023 (winter freeze, spring frost, and July rain event) there was a demonstrated need to further address how we respond to weather extremes. Other agenda items for the day were identified by community needs and input from those in the network during the open forum calls. Input and poll reports from the network calls was aggregated and used by the state coordinator in collaboration with network consultants to plan the in-person event. Collaborators included the Extension Program Team leader, NH Agriculture Financiers group liaison, NH Agriculture Markets and Food state veterinarian, and project co-collaborator Jessica Wright.

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

The 16 Participants of the 2023 PDP training events will revisit their “skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers” to track progress and identify needs. Input from this survey will inform the PDP trainings for the network in year-3.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

16

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

21

Proposed Completion Date:

July 28, 2023

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

September 14, 2023

Accomplishments:

The Agriculture Viability group did not complete the Core Competencies project, and therefore we could not utilize the resource for this project. In lieu of the skills assessment checklist, we polled participants on what topics they would like to see covered by the network. The information shared with the state coordinator will be used as a planning tool for the 2024 network calls and trainings.

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Using data from the Year-2 evaluation summary, the NH SARE Coordinator will work with the cohort and 3 beginner farmer representatives to prioritize Year-3 PDP needs of the ASP network. The NH SARE Coordinator will then organize two PDP trainings for the ASP network, with 16 participants. One training will develop ASPs skills in DEI, and one training will meet the express needs of the network at that time. Participants will revisit their “skills and knowledge list for agriculture service providers” to track progress.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

16

Proposed Completion Date:

April 30, 2024

Status:

In Progress

Milestone #10 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

The NH SARE Coordinator will use the Michigan State University tool: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics. We will utilize the second section of the toolkit “food and farm business: ownership of land and means of production and business support” to evaluate food system equity in the network. This analysis and data collection is anticipated to take six months, and will be contracted out. Once complete, the metrics report will be shared widely and is likely to inform future programming by NH ASPs. The cohort will meet to evaluate progress based on the 2022 report from milestone 3.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed Completion Date:

September 30, 2024

Status:

In Progress

Milestone #11 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

The NH SARE Coordinator will conduct a network analysis to measure progress. Results of the analysis will be compared with those from 2021. The results will then be written into a report, shared with the ASP cohort, and made publicly available. (September 2024)

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed Completion Date:

September 30, 2024

Status:

In Progress

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Online trainings 3 3 6
Published press articles, newsletters 1 0 1
Study circle / focus groups 4 2 6
Tours 1 1
Webinars, talks and presentations 3 0 3
Workshop / field days 1 1

Beneficiaries who participated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Extension 20 18 0 0
NRCS 15 5 0 0
Researchers 4 5 0 0
Nonprofit 15 10 0 0
Agency 11 10 0 0
Service providers (other or unspecified) 4 57 0 0
Farmers / ranchers 0 3 0 0

Participation Summary:

69 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Target #1

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
16
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

16 agriculture service providers will develop skills to serve 80 farmers (in advising farm businesses, with improved cultural competencies. These may include: mediation, having difficult conversations, conflict resolution, farm stress, enterprise budgeting, or whole farm planning.)

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
80
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):
The educational action(s) taken:

Three workshops/webinars were organized after receiving input from members of the network regarding skills and knowledge gaps. Network call topics were designed to address timely questions or needs of the network at the time. As such, topics included mitigating economic and tax risk, addressing extreme weather and responding to extreme weather events, and funding opportunities in agriculture. Participants were able to put into practice what they learned during these calls and were provided time to ask clarifying questions.

Target #2

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
16
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

16 agriculture service providers change attitudes and increase awareness to serve 32 farmers (in diversity, equity and inclusion and in the structural racism present in the food system and importance of building networks to address social challenges in the food system and respond appropriately).

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
32
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):
Verified: Number of service providers who reported taking the targeted action(s) to educate/advise farmers in each year:
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
69 63
The educational action(s) taken:

Two DEI focused webinars were held with a total of 69 participants from across the agriculture service provider network in New Hampshire. Participants learned about systemic barriers historically underserved farmers face, and were challenged to think about how we as a network and as individuals within our organizations can address and eliminate these barriers. Conversations around equity and accessibility of NH specific programs is consistenly highlighted at the start of each of the network calls. Additionally, the racial equity tooklit continues to be brought forth as a resource for partner agencies and collaborators of this project.

Target #3

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
16
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

16 agriculture service providers will increase their knowledge on resources and organizations, and expand their professional network of ASPs serving farmers to benefit 80 farmers.

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
80
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):
Verified: Number of service providers who reported taking the targeted action(s) to educate/advise farmers in each year:
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
96 99
The educational action(s) taken:

Through a combination of networking meetings where service providers can get to know each other and each other's organizations, and the web-based platform that provides a single website for all service providers to be listed, ASP's have deepened their knowledge. The opportunity for these 'open' format meetings where all are invited has allowed new staff members, and folks new to the state to integrate more quickly and make client referrals more readily.
Additionally, through an in-person networking event where numerous resources were shared, the ASP's left better able to refer and assist clients. ASP's were surveyed about how they have benefited from and utilized the network during the September 2023 event.

Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Study circles / focus groups 4 2 6
Webinars, talks and presentations 3 3 6
Workshops and field days 1 1
99 Total number of 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

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

1. Each UNH Cooperative Extension Field Specialist meets one on one with the NH SARE Coordinator to understand the full offering of the Northeast SARE Grants. Each field specialist is empowered to share about the grants, espeically the farmer grant, when they are out on site visits or meeting with clients. This form of grassroots outreach is most effective for us in "selling" SARE.

2. Each UNH Cooperative Extension Field Specialist is provided with the full SARE library when they are hired to better understand what SARE offers and relay that information to farmer clients.

3. All Grant deadlines and openings are shared in the UNH Extension, Food and Agriculture Newsletter, the NH Food Alliance Newsletter, and the Weekly Market Bulleting as published by the NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food.

4. The NH PDP coordinator in Collaboration with the PDP Staff hosted Northeast SARE staff, State Coordinators and the Advisory Council for a state tour. The tour was written about in a blog post on the UNH Extension site: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/2022/09/northeast-sustainable-agriculture-research-education-supports-new-hampshire-farmers-researchers

5. The SARE PDP coordinator fields calls and inquries about the grants from the public, from growers and from university scientists.

6. SARE Coordinator attends grower events to promote SARE farmer grant and resource library/database on SARE website.

 

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 18 63 0 81
Farmers 33 80 0 113

Information Products

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.