Soil Health and Nutrient Management Training for Immigrant and Minority Farming Communities
The University of MN partnered with the Good Acre, a non-profit food hub, to create a soil health train-the-trainer workshop targeted to immigrant growers. Immigrant farmers represent a growing population of food producers in Minnesota and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest. Many immigrant populations in our region are farming in urban or peri urban settings, which often means contending with poor soils that are compacted, low in nutrients, or lacking sufficient organic matter. This project is creating a comprehensive, culturally relevant soil management curriculum for immigrant growers that can be presented as a 2-day train-the-trainer workshop, or used 1:1 with growers.
Outcome 1 & 2: Develop curricula for 2-day training session using existing and new material.
Output 3: Webinars and online resources.
Output 4: Instruct 40 trainers.
Output 5: Build partnerships between immigrant farmer organizations, The Good Acre, and the UMN College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences.
Outcome 1 & 2: Develop curricula for 2-day training session using existing and new material. A 30-page curriculum handbook titled “Soil Health & Nutrient Management for Immigrant Farmers” was developed. This resource is designed to be culturally appropriate for immigrant growers and uses approachable language and technical concepts. The handbook is intended to serve as both a stand-alone resource for introductory soil science and soil fertility concepts as well as a teaching tool that can be used in classrooms or 1:1 interactions. The curriculum handbook was presented during a 2-day training in September 2016.
Output 3: Webinars and online resources. Conversations with growers and leaders within the immigrant farming community concluded that a Moodle website, as was originally proposed, would not be perceived as an accessible online platform on which to share soil heal resources. During the 2 day workshop held in September 2016, the trainers in attendance agreed that the Sustainable Farming Association website would be a preferable place to host the materials. Following grower’s input, the Resource handbook, as well as supplemental materials, have been posted to the SFA website and are available at: http://www.sfa-mn.org/soil/resources/
Output 4: Instruct 40 trainers. Twelve participants and additional 6 speakers participated in the highly interactive train-the-trainer session. Participant recruitment for the training was extremely challenging, presumably due to the narrowly focused target audience and cultural challenges associated with reaching immigrant grower communities.
Output 5: Build partnerships between immigrant farmer organizations, the Good Acre
Foundation, and the UMN College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. This project has created a concrete opportunity for partnership between The Good Acre and The University of MN. The September 2016 train-the-trainer was hosted at The Good Acre and attracted participants from among the growers served by The Good Acre.
This partnership has already led to increased collaboration between the University of MN, The Good Acre, and immigrant farming organizations with follow-up grants and events. Grant projects include a NCR SARE Partnership Grant “High Tunnel Immigrant Farmer Training and Demonstration Plot,” which was funded in Spring 2017 and includes The Good Acre, The University of MN, and three immigrant farming organizations, the Hmong American Farmers Association, Frogtown Farm, and Cala Farm, as partners. An additional grant proposal building on cover crop research partnerships between UMN and HAFA has been submitted. A cover crop field day co-hosted by UMN and HAFA is planned for late March 2017.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
After the first year of this project, we have seen positive impacts, both in grower knowledge of soil health concepts as well as partnership development. Approximately 89% of attendees at the September 2016 train-the-trainer responded that the training was “very” or “extremely” worth their time. 100% of participants said the training will help them share soil health and cover crop topics with growers.
The Good Acre
1790 Larpenteur Avenue West
Falcon Heights, MN 55113
Department Head, Department of Horticultural Science
University of Minnesota
1970 Folwell Ave.
St Paul, MN 55108
Office Phone: 6126246220