- Nuts: hazelnuts
- Vegetables: leeks
- Additional Plants: native plants, trees
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, workshop
- Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, value added
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
A series of training sessions focused on sustainability and renewable energy will be held for natural resource and agriculture educators throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin during 2008-2009. IATP, participating farmers and project partners will plan each session, including educational objectives and evaluation criteria. A combination of farm field days, tours and workshops will address topics including sustainable alternative bioenergy crops and production methods; balancing natural resource benefits with profit and production; rural community ownership benefits and challenges; whole farm planning for renewable energy; research gaps for sustainable production; and on-farm energy production and efficiency. At each session, and through follow-up interviews, the participants will be evaluated on their increase in knowledge and change in behavior. Through this project, agriculture and natural resource educators will increase their awareness and knowledge of the sustainable components of bioenergy production and processing and change their delivery of information to farmers and clients to include the sustainability aspects of bioenergy. The overall goal is to assure that as renewable energy is being discussed by farmers and educators, that sustainability concerns—both economic and ecological—are considered along with energy production.
Project objectives from proposal:
The overall long-term outcome of our project is that farmers produce renewable energy crops using sustainable methods as instructed by their educators. To get here, there are short-term and intermediate-term outcomes that must be achieved first. The short-term outcomes include an increase in awareness, knowledge, attitude and skills. We recognize the need for educators to have first-hand knowledge and awareness of sustainability in renewable energy production to pass on to their clients, the farmers. Our short-term objectives are that 100 participants will increase their knowledge of sustainable renewable energy by attending one or more of the training sessions; at least 50 attendees will increase their awareness of sustainable and diversified crop production and production methods; and 40 attendees will increase their knowledge and understanding of biofuel production. Additionally, educators will gain an understanding of biodiesel processing and awareness of the difference between small-scale and industrial-scale processing facilities and the benefits to farmers. Educators will also develop an open-minded attitude about renewable energy opportunities, benefits and challenges for farmers.
Our program participants will also change their behavior and practices as noted by the following intermediate outcomes: Eighty percent (80%) of participants transfer the knowledge they have gained to their clients; at least 70% of the participants add sustainability elements to their publications, materials or documents; and 10 participants add sustainable research components to their work to close the research gaps on sustainable renewable energy production and processing.