This project will increase natural resource professionals (NRPs) awareness of forest farming practices and opportunities in Missouri. In-service educational workshops, hands-on activities, and farm tours will provide NRPs with a foundational knowledge of forest farming practices, non-timber forest products, and woodland management approaches. Demonstration sites established at the Lincoln University Busby Farm along with a field visit to Ozark Forest Mushrooms will enrich participants’ understanding of different forest farm production methods. Learning circles held pre- and post-workshop will provide researchers with insights about NRP learning and shape future programming and extension publications. The outcomes of this project include increasing NRPs’ knowledge of forest farming practices, clarifying opportunities for funding forest farm practices, and providing technical guidance for NRPs to improve their comfort for designing forest farming systems. This work will improve the ability of NRPs to work with farmers and landowners to establish forest farming practices on their properties and increase on-farm income.
Project objectives from proposal:
These workshops will result in NRPs improving their understanding of forest farming and the acquiring the technical knowledge needed to better support farmers interested in implementing forest farming practices. Through the process of planning the forest farming workshops, a working manual for forest farm design will be created. This document will serve as a roadmap to help natural resource professionals support farmers in the design and establishment of forest farms. The workshop content will also be transitioned into training guides that will assist natural resource professionals in facilitating additional forest farming workshops for their peers and farmer clientele. The use of learning circles will facilitate the connection of NRPs who are knowledgeable and interested in forest farming practices. As the NRPs work together with landowners and with other NRPs, a forest farming network of knowledge, resources, and support will emerge and expand throughout the state. Lastly, the combination of learning circle focus group interviews, NRP surveys, and later landowner surveys will provide a thorough evaluation of workshops as a model for improving natural resource professionals knowledge of forest farming production.