Guam State/Protectorate WSARE Implementation Project 2019-2020

Progress report for WSP19-029

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $31,250.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G331-20-W7905
Grant Recipient: University of Guam Cooperative Extension Service
Region: Western
State: Guam
State Coordinators:
Dr. L. Robert (Bob) Barber, Jr.
University of Guam Cooperative Extension Service
Co-Coordinators:
Mark Acosta
University of Guam, Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Abstract:

COVID Context (1/2020 too 12/2020): 2020 started following the professional training plan laid out with New and Veteran Farmer farm plan development trainings for Chamorro Land Trust Commission (CLTC) Land Agents with a focus on their assisting their subsistence clients.  The plan was to train these seven agents (12 contact hours) then pair with 2 farm families each to go through the 20 hour New and Veteran Farmer trainings, where they would mentor the families in developing and implementing a subsistence farm plan for their agriculture lease.  COVID halted and refocused the WSARE PDP team's efforts.  Commercial agricultural markets, with the shocks inflicted by the COVID, became the primary focus throughout the rest of the calendar year.   One effort under the UOG CE&O Sustainable Agriculture program three faculty mentored, in many one-on-one and small group trainings, the Farmer's Cooperative Association of Guam (FCAG) in all stages of development in establishing and promoting the Curbside Farms' Mixed Produce Bags program.  This was conducted in parallel with discussions with Government of Guam agencies that were providing meals and emergency food bags/boxes while buying imported produce for these efforts.  The effort was to try to focus at least a portion of these produce purchases on buying local produce.  Many meetings were held with different agencies, Department of Public Health and Social Services' Senior Program actively engaged with the effort others are interested.

Pre-COVID: In response to recent findings and events, Guam PDP will work with existing and new advisory committee members to identify and address issues impacting island food security. This period’s topics include but not limited to: subsistence and commercial production systems, soil and water conservation practices, farm planning and development, wholesale and retail market channel entry, permaculture, agroforestry, home, school, and community gardening, food security issues, promotion of government programs, and development and submission of WSARE grants. This project period will see Guam leading efforts to develop a communication networking (using Zoom) of sustainable agricultural professionals, across the American affiliated Western Pacific.

Project Objectives:

Objective 1. COVID (1/2020 to 12/2020): We changed focus to address island food security in terms of the COVID impacts: first a massive surplus of imported produce (shut down of hospitality industry) eliminated many local markets.  Then restarting markets and production once this surplus was depleted.  Facilitating the FCAG's COVID safe curbside bag effort and work with local government agencies providing meals and emergency food supplies in procurement of local produce.

Pre-COVID One project topical focus will be to address island food security through the promotion of micro-plot forest gardens to reduce spending on food and providing family food diversity. Selected agroforestry practices and micro-plot utilization directly alleviates many of the most pressing constraints reported by our regions farmers: poor rocky soils, lack of weed control, sloping land, and limited time/labor, equipment, and capital. Agroforestry practices such as mulching, for example, enriches the soil and suppresses weed growth. More importantly, a micro-plot approach addresses time, labor, equipment, and capital limitations by maximizing the productivity of a small plot of land. Increasing the abilities of many families to produce on the lands they have, will stabilize and grow and agricultural production community. Timeline for this objective will be ongoing throughout the program. Monthly trainings will be held with Guam Agricultural Professionals & WSARE Pacific Island liaisons to address this objective.

Objective 2.  COVID (1/2020 to 12/2020):  Increase grant submissions in collaboration with partners to address the massive influx of agricultural information needs by stakeholders. The PDP team, in collaboration with DOAG and SSWCD submitted two grants in peri-urban agroforestry: "Guam Urban Agroforestry Materials Collaboration Assistance Network" and "Guam Urban Agriculture/Aquaculture Methods and Innovative Production". The team also partnered with the FCAG, CLTC, DOAG, and COM to submit a WSARE Research to Grass Roots grant "Information Network for Sustainable Pacific Islands Research and Education".

Pre-COVID Plan: Increase WSARE grant submissions by 2020 double 2018’s submissions from Guam, CNMI, and COM. Through the WSARE Pacific Island liaisons network trainings will be conducted throughout the region to increase promotion of WSARE programs. The project will increase the participants’ awareness of the regional, economic, social, and environmental implications of adopting sustainable agriculture practices and systems. It will also have a direct economic impact on the islands’ WSARE education/outreach by increasing the amount of WSARE grants submitted from the region. During this period, grant proposals will have been prepared and reviewed for upcoming 2019 submission. Annual grant writing workshops will be held on Guam in Summer 2019.

Objective 3.  COVID (1/2020 to 12/2020): COVID initially completely halted the Western Pacific Hospitality industry's business activity and meetings and then later in the year only slowly reopened primarily with restaurant curbside pickup.  So this objective's activities were limited to advisory to Farmers' Cooperative Association of Guam (FCAG) in setting up Tuesday night Food Truck take out at Flea Market site's parking area in the last months of the Calendar year. 

Pre-COVID Plan: Guam PDP will explore the potential of new collaborations between farmers and chefs on other islands to continue efforts and transfer knowledge of the Farmer-Chef program to the region. This objective will be ongoing throughout the program.

Introduction:

The year started off as planned  but in the first month COVID hit and the whole UOG Sustainable Agriculture and Cooperative Extension & Outreach activities had to reassess and realign to address the new challenges.  In this the WSARE State Coordinators Pacific Island grant's activities was spot on in its orientation to zoom meetings and outreach the skills and infrastructure put in place by this project allowed Guam Sustainable Agriculture to immediately switch to meetings through zoom.  The activities timeline of WSARE PDP program for 2020 calendar year follow:

Timeline

January to March (2020) - WSARE PDP trainings of Chamorro Land Trust Commission's Agricultural Land Agents and Americorps Volunteers.  Started new on-campus agroforestry demonstration plot for hands on use in trainings.  Partnered with Guahan Sustainable Culture (March 7, 2020) to deliver a Saturday morning workshop on Backyard Egg Production on Dry Deep Litter.  This training utilized the WSARE funded House 2 Backyard Layer Demonstration  and the demonstration's 20 - hen, chicken tractors.

COVID impacts start in late February in full force by end of March. Student and other program workers shortened hours, on campus demonstrations mothballed.

April to June (2020) - Worked (near weekly meetings) with the Lt. Governor's office to engage institutional purchases and food banks to use local produce.  Developed concept and mentored FCAG in starting Curbside Bag produce sales.  The PDP team, in collaboration with DOAG and SSWCD submitted two grants in peri-urban agroforestry: "Guam Urban Agroforestry Materials Collaboration Assistance Network" and "Guam Urban Agriculture/Aquaculture Methods and Innovative Production". The team also partnered with the FCAG, CLTC, DOAG, and COM to submit a WSARE Research to Grass Roots grant "Information Network for Sustainable Pacific Islands Research and Education".  Made 2 videos on home gardening and chicken tractors for at home food production for UOG COVID emergency worker fundraising effort.

July to September (2020) - Facilitated and led FCAG in their efforts with DPHSS Senior Division to provide produce bags to the 2000+ seniors in congruent meals and home meals program. Facilitate SWCD in Grant submission. Conducted a 2-hour virtual workshop for dorm RA’s and students in sustainable agricultural practices and crop production. Conducted site assessment and provided technical supports. Continued meetings with Governor's cabinet members to engage FCAG with government agency produce procurement.

October to December (2020) - Facilitate FCAG efforts to expand local mixed produce bag sales.  Submit PDP information outreach grant to support DoAG forestry and Southern SWCD efforts.  Restarted on campus backyard aquaponics (tilapia and Chinese water spinach), demonstration. Established an additional on-campus agroforestry demonstration site in anticipation of future outdoor workshops. This plot was heavily sheet mulched to minimize student labor.

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Jesse Bamba (Educator and Researcher)
  • Tom Camacho
  • Mike Aguon
  • Katrina Reyes

Education

Educational approach:

Pre COVID (1/2020 to 3/2020) - Guam PDP has an underlying theme of soil and water conservation practices throughout the program. WSARE demonstration sites and plant nursery continued to serve as a model for hands-on trainings through a workshop series delivery mode. These demonstrations served to provide plant material and incentives for participants and partners of the program.  The program began the year by adapting New and Veteran Farmer Curriculum for use by Outreach/Education Professionals that do not have agricultural backgrounds, the agricultural land agents of the Chamorro Land Trust Commission.  These professionals were trained in use of this curriculum for use in their subsistence farm lease program, particularly in their family/land resource assessment and the development of realistic farm and environmental plans for each lease.  The plan was to then pair each agricultural land agent with two of their lease families in a hands on farm planning and soil and water conservation workshop series with the goal of developing a plan for each family.  The land agent training was completed between January and March, but then COVID hit before the workshop series with farm families could begin.

COVID (4/2020 to 12/2020) - For all three program objectives activities were modified.

Objective 1. Two UOG/ANR  faculty conducted one-on-one site visits with dorm director and  a Zoom workshop for the UOG dormitory students and staff in sustainable agriculture practices to assist them in establishing a student garden. As we drastically cut back our demonstration and nursery activities at house 2, many of the plants were given to the dormitory garden.

In preparation for post-COVID workshops, a new demonstration site was established utilizing many of the plants in the sustainable Ag nursery. This area was heavily sheet mulched to minimize student labor during the COVID period. It is currently growing and is ready for agroforestry outdoor workshops when once again permitted.

House 2 aquaponic system was restarted with tilapia and kangkong (chinese water spinach) in anticipation for outdoor workshops being permitted in 2021.

Under the UOG CE&O Sustainable Agriculture program three faculty mentored, in many one-on-one and small group trainings, the Farmer's Cooperative Association of Guamj in all stages of development in establishing and promoting the Curbside Farms' Mixed Produce Bags program. Literally hundreds of CE&O faculty hours were invested in launching and later expanding this program.  

In parallel with the Sustainable led zoom meetings/discussions with Government of Guam agencies that were providing meals (senior and school lunch programs for example) and emergency care packages all while buying imported produce for these efforts.  The effort was to try to focus at least a portion of these produce purchases on buying local produce.  Many zoom meetings were held between March and August 2020.  Impact from this in 2020 was the Guam Department of Health and Social Services Senior program was open to this idea.  They saw the popularity of the large weekly mixed produce bags and implemented a $21,000 contract with FCAG to provide every senior, in their home based and congregate meals program, a $8 mixed produce bag over a six-week period as well, an impressive programmatic spinoff. 

Objective 2. Held several zoom meetings with farmer's groups and local organizations/agencies on SARE grants. Impact on this effort was limited.

Objective 3. COVID initially completely halted the Western Pacific Hospitality industry's business activity and meetings and then later in the year only slowly reopened primarily with restaurant curbside pickup.  This objective's activities were limited to one-on-one technical support to the Farmers' Cooperative Association of Guam (FCAG) leadership in setting up Tuesday night Food Truck take out at Flea Market site's parking area in the last months of the Calendar year. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Train the Trainer - CLTC Land Agent, Subsistence Farm Resource Assessment and Farm/Environment Plan Development
Objective:

Train Land Agents with no formal agriculture background basics of assisting subsistence farm families in resource and constraint identification and development of a basic subsistence farm plan.

Description:

Twelve contact hours of training on values identification, family resources (labor, financial, equipment) documentation, and land resources and constraints, and a basic subsistence farm plan template.  These sessions also included hands on training in key soil and water conservations and plant propagation techniques.

Outcomes and impacts:

The Land Agents were ready for phase II of the training were they would each pair up with two farm families to go through the training but after every 2 hour session spend 1-2 hours with each family on planning homework before the next session.  This will give them hands on experience working with client families.  COVID stopped the Phase II of training series, planned to start up again in late 2021.

FCAG Curbside Farms Initiative
Objective:

The Curbside Farms initiative is an emergency relief program for small-scale local farmers to produce, package, and distribute through curbside pickup, fresh local produce to customers. Customers pay a fixed price for the weekly mixed produce bags. Bags also contained printed materials on other Extension programs to address family needs during emergencies, vegetable and herb planting materials, and guidance on growing the plants.

Description:

Under the UOG CE&O Sustainable Agriculture program three faculty mentored, in many one-on-one and small group trainings, the Farmer's Cooperative Association of Guamj in all stages of development in establishing and promoting the Curbside Farms' Mixed Produce Bags program.  From scheduling produce deliveries, quality control, cleaning, packaging and distribution.  CE&O also provided advisement in COVID protocols to keep up to date with the changing local regulations to insure staff and client safety.  Extension's media unit assisted in preparing the initial promotional flyers.  Literally hundreds of CE&O faculty hours were invested in launching and later expanding this program.  

This was conducted in parallel with discussions with Government of Guam agencies that were providing meals and buying imported produce for these meals.  The effort was to try to focus at least a portion of these produce purchases on buying local produce.  The Guam Department of Health and Social Services Senior program was open to this.  They saw the popularity of the large weekly mixed produce bags and implemented a $21,000 contract with FCAG to provide every senior, in their home based and congregate meals program, a $8 mixed produce bag over a six-week period as well, an impressive programmatic spinoff. 

Outcomes and impacts:

FCAG flyer for dphss week 2The first weekly distribution of Curbside Farms bags was 100 bags in May 2020 and continued weekly selling of 100 or more bags at a minimum of $20 or $25  through December 2020.  This $2,000 a week in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic represents gross sales in-excess of $50,000 from this program alone during 2020.  The Senior smaller bag programs grossed another $21,000 program for a total of $71,000 gross sales for this emergency program.  This program is ongoing and it is hoped will lead to incorporation of local produce in the senior program's meals in the future.

This effort demonstrated to the Government of Guam agencies that the FCAG can handle large contracts (if given 2 months notice) with ease.  The Guam Sustainable Agriculture program will continue to work with FCAG in trying to penetrate the purchasing system of local government agencies.

Educational & Outreach Activities

345 Consultations
3 Online trainings
3 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Study circle/focus groups
4 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

31 Extension
3 NRCS
2 Researchers
19 Nonprofit
23 Agency
2 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
37 Farmers/ranchers
61 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

2 New working collaborations
11 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
36 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Success stories:

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the food supply chains and essential marketing infrastructure.  Disruption at the local level raised concerns about food supply chains, farmer income, food security for consumers, and overall food safety.  Guam Sustainable Agriculture Co-Coordinator Bob Barber,  and CE&O specialists Jesse Bamba, and Kuan-Ju Chen collaborated with the Farmers' Cooperative Association of Guam (FCAG) to start a curbside program to replace lost market outlets (such as tourism) with existing local customers.

The Curbside Farms initiative is an emergency relief program for small-scale local farmers to produce, package, and distribute fresh local produce in a COVID safe manner to customers.  Customers pay a fixed price for the weekly mixed produce bags they they purchased through drive by pickup. Bags also contained printed materials on other Extension programs to address family needs during emergencies, vegetable and herb planting materials, and guidance on growing the plants.  

By focusing on the local level produce demand and marketing, Curbside Farms created micro-markets for farmers, increased consumer awareness, and provide a COVID safe supply of fruits and vegetables to island families. The first weekly distribution of Curbside Farms bags was 100 bags in May 2020 and continued weekly selling either $20 or $25 bags through December 2020.  This $2,000 a week in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic represents gross sales in-excess of $50,000 from this program alone during 2020.  

This program is still ongoing. The popularity of these bags inspired Guam Department of Health and Social Services, Seniors’ Programs to issue a $21,000 contract with FCAG to provide every senior, in their home based and congregate meals program, a $8 mixed produce bag over a six-week period as well, an impressive programmatic spinoff.  

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The Guam WSARE PDP program post COVID (March - December 2020) switched to meeting with all our client groups by zoom and outdoor one-on-one advisement.  Technical assistance was provided to develop curbside marketing efforts of both produce and meals in a COVID safe manner.  Many meeting were held with line agencies through zoom to promote purchase of local produce.  The Guam PDP program led and hosted the negotiations between FCAG and DPHSS Senior Division meal program.  And then coordinated the produce bag deliveries, the bulk of this through zoom.  This inspired the local Southern Soil and Water Conservation District to collaborate with the 8 Islands 12 Trainings effort by funding and installing a Zoom Conference room in the FCAG building to facilitate all the zoom activity.

82 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
23 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.