With input from our SARE PDP Advisory Committee, our Idaho SARE PDP funds will be utilized to support larger conferences, providing more partnership opportunities, project/program mini-grants, and travel mini-grants. In order to meet more stakeholders, our funds will target Extension Educators, NGO leaders, NRCS staff, and any ag professional in the state. The mini-grant format allows us to spread-out the SARE PDP funds to increase partnership opportunities, reach a broader base of farmers and ag professionals, and increase state-wide impact. Additional justification for our Idaho SARE PDP program is in response to the State Enhancement Grant, focused on food system community projects. With more community applications then what the grant could support, we anticipate using SARE PDP FY19 funds for applications that develop creative and strategic initiatives to foster improved food system initiatives.
Ag professionals and producers will increase knowledge and understanding of sustainable production practices and communities will create food system initiatives that benefit small farms, local food markets, and healthier people and communities. Ag professionals will increase the capacity to integrate sustainable agriculture concepts into outreach programs targeting producers and increase research projects that answer sustainable agriculture questions. As a result, the Idaho SARE PDP program will increase the sustainability of the Idaho agriculture industry, promote sustainable farm businesses, and sustainable food systems that serve Idaho communities.
- (Educator and Researcher)
- (Educator and Researcher)
In 2019, the Idaho SARE PDP educational approach included:
- Various food system mini-grants
- Travel mini-grants
Education & Outreach Initiatives
The goal of this mini-grant was to make the rural Clearwater area farmers markets and local food producers more successful by providing information that would improve and grow their enterprises.
Conduct a day-long workshop for farmers market managers and local food producers, with each having approximately a half a day of programing. Speakers included Extension faculty with expertise in these areas as well as successful farmers market managers, successful local food producers, and representatives from the health department of food safety.
University of Idaho Impact statement on this program:
Twenty-one people attended the day-long program,
representing local farmers market managers and local
food producers. Attendees reported a 73 percent gain
in knowledge in the farmers market managers portion
of the workshop, with 100 percent stating that they
would, or probably would, implement the knowledge
gained. Ninety-four percent also stated that the workshop
was a good way for them to learn the content.
Attendees reported a 50 percent gain in knowledge for
the local food producer’s portion of the workshop, with
86 percent stating that they would, or probably would,
implement the knowledge gained. One hundred percent
of attendees reported that the workshop was a
good way for them to learn the content.
A telephone survey was conducted six months after the
workshop to see how many attendees applied, or benefited
from, the knowledge gained at the workshop during
that season’s production or farmers market. One
hundred percent of the farmers market managers contacted
stated that the knowledge gained at the workshop
improved their farmers market that year, while
71 percent of local food producers stating that it improved
To determine the critical issues facing the local food system in Boundary County, using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) approach in a focus group setting as a needs assessment.
This project was part of a larger SARE grant to address local food system issues across Idaho (Idaho WSARE Implementation Award: Increasing Knowledge and Capacity for Transforming Local and Regional Food Systems in Idaho). A focus group held in Bonners Ferry, ID, had 26 participants, including producers, farmers market vendors, community leaders, educators, and concerned citizens.
University of Idaho Impact statement on this program:
A summary of the focus group findings includes the following information. The goals of the session included increased self-sufficiency for the community, creating more opportunities for buying and selling local products, and educating the public, particularly youth, on the benefits of a local food system. There is a strong desire for some kind of bricks and mortar facility that could stock local products on a regular basis. The biggest strengths for this area included its prime growing region and a supportive culture. Weaknesses included the low income level of the population, geographic isolation, and lack of opportunities for young people. Opportunities include the fact that there is a lot more support for the idea of a local food system at this point in time. It was felt that there is potential for agritourism in this area, due to its natural beauty. There is already quite a variety of products being produced, from fresh peaches to dried cherries, fresh raw milk, honey, stoneground flour, and vegetables. There are a number of vacant facilities in the community. In addition, the community has many generous individuals and several land trusts. In terms of threats, the group felt that there was not enough skilled labor. Also, regulations and insurance could be threats to developing the local food system here. Logistics of this location and transportation were another threat. Competition from the outside, including mail order suppliers, represent another threat. Diseases and pests are another threat.
Participants in the focus group concluded that this area has great potential for agritourism, due to the marketability of this area. There is quite a bit of diversity in the region in terms of population, from a growing Mennonite community to a steady influx of newcomers who appreciate the natural beauty and relatively inexpensive real estate. Weaknesses include the prevailing monocropping system, focused on grain and hay; seasonality of our production system here; labor shortage; and time commitment and leadership on this topic. Opportunities include developing consumer education and local awareness of the potential for our local food system. Major threats were outside competition and navigating the organic certification process, both for feed suppliers and producers. Distribution issues are another threat. We concluded the workshop with a discussion of resources available on this topic, including USDA, particularly the Value-Added grants; Boundary County Economic Development Council; Small Business Development Council in Hayden, ID; USDA NRCS with its High Tunnel Initiative; and USDA SARE, with grants and education on sustainable agriculture.
To keep the momentum up with this group of committed individuals, a community potluck and speaker series was initiated for Winter 2018. The first potluck was attended by 26 individuals. One of the participants in the Focus Group spoke on his work documenting old fruit trees around the county that are still producing, and propagating this fruit in his nursery. He has discovered very diverse fruit growing on old trees all around the region. Another potluck in mid-January featured a successful flower farmer. We are anticipating additional activities including potential grant applications for further developing the local food system.
Conduct a 2-day professional development training for Extension educators for certification as instructors in the Cultivating Success Sustainable Small Farms Curricula and the Cultivating Success Land Access Training. SARE travel mini-grants supported travel to this event.
On Day 1, the Washington and Idaho Cultivating Success teams offered a full-day intensive certification training for Extension professionals and Extension partners interested in teaching Cultivating Success branded courses. The trainings included instructor tool kits and course management strategies for all Cultivating Success programming, including “Is a Small Farm in Your Future?,” “Whole Farm Planning,” and “Agricultural Entrepreneurship.”
On Day 2, a certification training for the American Farmland Trust’s Land Access was held at the same location in Spokane, WA. This training is intended for agricultural educators of all kinds, from Extension to Conservation Districts to Land Trusts and other community partner organizations interested in advising beginning farmers and ranchers on their land access decision making. The Land Access Training Curriculum uses a skills-based approach to teaching and learning that focuses on what people need to do as a result of a learning experience, not just on what they need to know.
As an outcome of the training, nine Idaho Extension educators were certified as Cultivating Success instructors. Participants learned the online modules for Cultivating Success’s Whole Farm Planning, Is A Small Farm in your Future, and the Ag Entrepreneur courses. 15 evaluations were completed by participants. 100% of participants learned new skills. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being highest, the training was rated 4.5. Participants replied that they would offer some of these modules in their counties in the following year. They provided feedback on what types of support they needed to offer these classes, so this was good feedback for the Cultivating Success leaders in both states. Participants were grateful that they made important connections for resource people, experienced teachers of these modules, promotional material, and experiential learning examples. When asked what the most valuable part of this training was, responses included the following:
Idaho – Extension:
• Meeting members of the WA team. Talking through the state plans for the future.
• Meeting other instructors / educators
• What others in WA & ID are teaching & how structuring curriculums
Washington – Extension:
• What Idaho has done that WA can replicate
• UI’s hybrid method of delivery
• How the classes fit together
• General overview of program
• SFYF [Is a Small Farm in Your Future] I was not aware of this & it will be a great addition to our offerings.
• Hybrid online facilitated courses
• How CS has evolved & how everyone want to work together
Washington – Non-profit Staff; Financial Advisor; Other:
• Outlining the different workshops/courses and understanding the distinctions
• Happy to hear about UI & WSU working together
Support professional development for training in sustainable farming topics
Three small farm producers from two different small farms in Idaho requested support for attending the Organic Seed Growers Conference held in Feb., 2020, in Corvallis OR. This conference was sponsored by the Organic Seed Alliance, Oregon State University, eOrganic, and Washington State University. Attendees desired to learn from experts on topics including organic seed growing, seed cleaning, plant breeding, farm marketing, and quality control. The 3-day event included networking opportunities with organic seed growers from all over the world.
Stated outcomes and impacts include improvements in their on-farm seed saving and cleaning; plant breeding; and crop improvement. “This opened a fantastic knowledge sharing opportunity for us, allowing us to engage with leaders in the seed movement and learn directly from other growers. Just awesome!” — Jeremy Shreve, participant (Swift River Farm)
Additional outcomes included:
- enhancing small scale production of organic seeds.
- adapting crops for Idaho’s arid, short-season climates
- new tools for on-farm cleaning seed
- education on seed ethics
- connections with other organic seed producers who will help mentor them and trade seeds
- networked with potential buyers
- learned about contract seed production
- enhanced rural food security, genetic diversity
- formation of a community seed swap in Salmon, ID, to be held on March 6th
- Other community partners (Lemhi Farmers Market, Salmon Valley Stewardship, and the Salmon School Garden) have expressed interest in working with Swift River Farm to explore community and youth seed projects
Extension educators and producers often lack instruments to perform various scientific measurements that enhance sustainability, such as soil testing, pH testing, hay testing, testing greenhouse film for light transmission, testing soil moisture content, and calibrating irrigation systems. In order to increase their capacity in these areas, we offered up to approximately $200 worth of ag instruments to participating county Extension offices and a train-the-trainer program complete with slide presentations and supporting materials.
This two-part workshop series provided train-the-trainer materials for Extension educators and others on six different ag instruments: Soil testing probes, hay testing probes, pH meters, PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) meters, tensiometers, and smart flow meters. Presentation materials and a video were made for each instrument. Two two-hour Zoom workshops were attended by 28 people for Part 1 and 21 people for Part 2.
Our Advisory Council came up with this idea when we met with them regarding how to spend funds allocated for travel that we didn’t use. After getting permission to transfer unspent travel funds to supplies, we purchased the following instruments and distributed them to county Extension offices:
Soil sampling probes: 5 21″ probes and 6 36″ probes
pH meters: 9
Hay sampling probes: 11
Smart flow meters: 6
Approximately $7000 was thus distributed among 26 participating county offices.
We conducted a survey following each of the two-hour workshops. We asked specific questions about each type of instrument as well as the SARE survey questions. Respondents reported a great deal of knowledge gains and described plans for using this professional development opportunity as described below.
The two workshops were attended by 28 people on the first day and 21 people on the second day. Most (~85%) were Extension educators, but some Master Gardeners and growers also attended.
Soil testing probes: After taking the training, 85% felt very or moderately confident about using a soil probe and teaching soil testing methods. While 50% were already confident in how to use and teach the use of soil probes, 15% of participants did not have prior knowledge on this topic. In terms of increase in knowledge, 65% reported some increase in knowledge while 35% reported a moderate increase.
pH meters: After taking the training, 63% felt very or moderately confident about using a pH meter and teaching others how to use them. While 21% were already confident in how to use and teach the use of pH meters, 42% of participants did not have prior knowledge on this topic. In terms of increase in knowledge, 64% reported a large or moderate increase from the workshop.
Hay testing probes: After taking the training, 70% felt very or moderately confident about using a hay probe and teaching others how to use them. While 26% were already confident in how to use and teach the use of hay probes, 32% of participants did not have prior knowledge on this topic. In terms of increase in knowledge, 39% reported a large or moderate increase and 50% reported some increase in knowledge from the workshop.
PAR meters: After taking the training, 45% felt very or moderately confident and 27% felt somewhat confident about using a PAR meter and teaching others how to use them. While 31% had some prior knowledge in how to use and teach the use of this instrument, 62% of participants did not have prior knowledge on this topic. In terms of increase in knowledge, 40% reported a large or moderate increase and 60% reported some increase in knowledge from the workshop.
Tensiometers: After taking the training, 59% felt very or moderately confident and 17% felt somewhat confident about using a tensiometer and teaching others how to use them. While 25% had some prior knowledge in how to use and teach the use of this instrument, 67% of participants did not have prior knowledge on this topic. In terms of increase in knowledge, 50% reported a large or moderate increase and 50% reported some increase in knowledge from the workshop.
Smart Flow meters: After taking the training, 54% felt very or moderately confident and 27% felt somewhat confident about using a tensiometer and teaching others how to use them. While 27% had some prior knowledge in how to use and teach the use of this instrument, 64% of participants did not have prior knowledge on this topic. In terms of increase in knowledge, 36% reported a large or moderate increase and 45% reported some increase in knowledge from the workshop.
Participants were asked if they wanted access to various types of training materials from the two workshops. Powerpoints were requested by 35% and 32% of participants for Days 1 and 2, respectively. Videos were requested by 26% and 32% of participants for Days 1 and 2, respectively. Recommended readings were requested by 29% and 26% of participants for Days 1 and 2, respectively. This information is now available online here. I shared this link with Stacy Clary and she will be advertise its availability in the next Western SARE newsletter.
SARE Survey Question Responses:
|Evaluation questions:||Day 1||Day 2|
|Q1: This workshop improved my awareness of the topics covered.||100%||0%||0%||100%||0%||0%|
|Q2: This workshop provided new knowledge.||100%||0%||0%||100%||0%||0%|
|Q3: This workshop provided new skills.||94%||6%||0%||100%||0%||0%|
|Q4: This workshop modified my opinions and/or attitudes.||39%||39%||22%||54%||23%||23%|
|Questions for Professionals:|
|Q1: In the next year I am likely to use some aspect of this project in an education program that I plan or participate in.||82%||12%||6%||77%||15%||8%|
|Q2: In the next year I am likely to use some aspect of this project as a resource I will make available to producers.||82%||12%||6%||77%||15%||8%|
|Q3: In the next year I am likely to use some aspect of this project as a professional development tool for my peers.||35%||53%||12%||38%||46%||15%|
|Q4: In the next year I am likely to use some aspect of this project to improve advice/counsel I give to producers.||88%||6%||6%||77%||15%||8%|
Here are some of the responses to the following question: “Please describe how you are likely to use some aspect of this project for an educational purpose.”
- I will be teaching a beginning farming/ranching course this summer and am thrilled to have this course in preparation.
- I often visit with producers about soil and forage testing procedures and will share the information with them.
- I would like to hold a soils and irrigation class for my programs for gardeners, small acreage holders, and interested producers.
- When providing the tools for checkout to clientele I can offer education on how to properly use the tool for the most benefit.
- Helping local producers who can’t afford tools, teaching small acreage owners how to use tools.
- It will be used in an upcoming workshop.
- I am a fairly novice master gardener who is trying to learn all I can to educate me on topics of related interest. Thus, I signed up for this class. Anything new I learn is used as I plan and planting personal garden consisting of 3 grow boxes (5′ X 24′). I mostly wanted to learn more about testing my soil/grow box medium.
- I plan on instructing my Master Gardeners on how to use these tools and make them available to use in projects and educational programs.
- I hope to provide teensiometer training and do a build-your-own training for gardeners and producers that participate in the new GROWERS program.
- I intend to demonstrate the PAR meter for growers.
- I teach various topics in growing plants and so these are useful topics to incorporate in my educational program.
- The PAR meter tool can be borrowed and then tested at various sites where commercial hoophouses are being used.
- I am interested in learning more about the tensiometers, possibly building one. The smart flow meter was perhaps not a good choice because it needs a $200 controller.
- I can see using this with my master gardeners and small farm class participants.
- Office consultation
- In my workshops and field trials.
- Use these tools in Master Gardener and Victory Garden Courses
This project aims to address what effect(s), if any, the addition of locally available biostimulants has on: 1) corn silage yield, 2) plant nutrient use efficiency, and 3) biological soil health parameters.
There has been a recent increase in both the availability and marketing of biostimulant products to local producers, particularly to dairymen, in southern Idaho. These products claim to increase yield and nutrient use efficiency while improving soil health on agricultural fields and reducing fertilizer needs. If these claims are true, the use of these products would ultimately aid in promoting the overall sustainability of Idaho farms. However, there is a lack of objective data to support these claims, leaving producers uncertain as to if and how these products may benefit their operation. Further, these products contain nutrients, like phosphorus, that may not be accounted for in nutrient recommendations. The purpose of this project is to assess the effectiveness of locally available biostimulants at increasing plant yield, nutrient use efficiency and soil health. This project will provide valuable information that allows local producers to make more informed decisions about whether and how to incorporate biological products in their operation. In addition, it will provide necessary data to support extension programming and educational efforts around the use of biological amendments for improving soil health in southern Idaho.
We conducted a field trial at the Kimberly R&E Center to assess the impact of five biostimulants on corn silage production and soil health. Each product was applied as directed throughout the growing season. When the corn reached tasseling stage, we assessed soil physical properties; unfortunately, due to COVID, the laboratory we sent the soil biological samples to mishandled them, so we were not able to assess these properties. Corn silage was harvested in October and soil samples were taken shortly thereafter for chemical analyses. There were no differences in silage quality between treatments nor were there differences in soil physical properties, like infiltration. Yield under one of the biostimulants, Amend, was significantly reduced compared to the control (no biostimulant added).
The Idaho Dairymen’s Association, who collaborated on this project, has used the preliminary information about this project when talking with fieldmen and dairymen about the use of biostimulants. We are planning to complete one more year of this project in order to have enough data for a publication and extension bulletin.
Foliar application of a biostimulant to silage corn.
Objectives are to: 1) increase awareness of farming practices to promote environmental, economic and social sustainability of Idaho farmers and ranchers. 2) increase knowledge and programming efforts in sustainable agriculture, such as resource conservation, integrated or organic pest management, cover crops, building healthy soils, direct marketing, food systems, and more.
Establish and market a Panhandle Farm Corridor, in north Idaho, that consists of local farmers and ranchers who are open on Saturday mornings from May 30 to October 17, 2020.
The Panhandle Farm Corridor is a collective of farms in north Idaho seeking to share what we raise, grow and produce with our local community. We started as a few farming ladies with an idea. This idea has grown and become a reality in the last year.
We hope more consumers will purchase locally grown food directly from our farmstands. As awareness grows and word of mouth spreads, we hope consumers will look for Panhandle Farm Corridor brand signs and locations. Panhandle Farm Corridor farmers will market directly to local consumers. This allows the opportunity for our farmers to educate customers about the importance and advantage of buying local, nutrient dense foods, as well as furthering our relationships with consumers.
The grant enabled us to pay for our registration with the Secretary of State, get our website built and up and running, design our logo and rack cards and have them printed. The result has been we have reached many customers and have grown from a few farming ladies with an idea to fifteen farms joined into Panhandle Farm Corridor. A Panhandle Farm Corridor Facebook site was created in April 2020 and now has 674 followers. A Panhandle Farm Corridor Instagram site was created and now has 167 followers.
We had customers come to our farms and ranches that had not visited local farms to obtain food before. Customers were able to visit the websites of our farms and ranches to find out open hours and what each farm and ranch offers. They were happy to have a list of farms and ranches that had farmstands.
One customer exclaimed, “I love this! I am so excited to visit all the farms on this rack card!”
Educational & Outreach Activities
Use of Barn Owl Boxes to Enhance Biological Control of Rodents:
Outreach on researcher’s UI Extension website:
University of Idaho Impact Statement: Online Ten Acres & a Dream workshop extends
audience, increases knowledge gains
Travel funds helped support attendance at an organic seed saving workshop.
“This opened a fantastic knowledge sharing opportunity for us, allowing us to engage with leaders in the seed movement and learn directly from other growers. Just awesome!” — Farmer from a market garden near Salmon, ID.
A mini-grant supported the development of a collective of growers with farmstands open to the public on Saturdays in the Idaho Panhandle. They created a nonprofit called the Panhandle Farm Corridor and developed a website with a printable map. Other social media they developed include a Facebook site with 674 followers and an Instagram account with 167 followers. In addition, they developed rack cards for widespread distribution.
One customer exclaimed, “I love this! I am so excited to visit all the farms on this rack card!”
Face of SARE
At the SARE Instrumentation 2-part Workshop Series, SARE was prominently featured as a supportive partner for funding to travel to attend conferences and workshops to further education in sustainable agriculture. With the cancelation of the SARE PDP annual meeting and other professional development conferences due to Covid, the fall 2020 Advisory Council meeting focused on how best to use these funds to support sustainable agriculture. A shortage of tools to support training programs and for helping clientele, either in conducting tests or loaning equipment for conducting tests, was mentioned. In order to provide the most widespread support, a survey was sent to each agricultural Extension educator and Extension office in Idaho regarding this change in SARE support funding and the idea for funding various testing equipment instead of travel. This program was very well received across the state, with 33 educators participating in one or both workshops. These educators as well as other attendees learned about SARE grants, programs and resources during the ag instrumentation training workshops. The powerpoints, resource materials, and videos are now posted online for training purposes, providing ongoing outreach for SARE.