Calhoun Fields Laboratory: A Program for Experiential Training in Organic Farming Systems

2002 Annual Report for ES02-064

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2002: $49,926.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Geoff Zehnder
Clemson University

Calhoun Fields Laboratory: A Program for Experiential Training in Organic Farming Systems


The overall goal of this training project is to enhance the proficiency of Extension, NRCS and DNR staff in South Carolina in areas related to organic production, with emphasis on procedures leading to organic certification. Participants in this training program will gain the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence that will enable them to guide growers/clients through the process of a transition to organic production, including certification requirements under the USDA National Organic Program.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Specific objectives are to: 1) Develop a user-friendly training manual with topics related to organic production and certification for classroom and on-farm sessions; 2) Establish demonstration plantings within the Clemson University Calhoun Field Laboratory site for on-farm training in each topic; 3) Organize and conduct the training in a series of workshops (classroom and field); and 4) Evaluate the impacts of the training program.


As of this report the following two workshops have been conducted; Principles of Organic Farming (21 attendees) and Sustainable Soil Management (16 attendees). Attendees at the two workshop represented Clemson Extension, SC DNR and SC NRCS agencies who received training on specific topics including:
Introduction and history of organic farming
Overview of the USDA National Organic Program
Introduction to soil quality management for organic systems
Introduction to weed management for organic systems
The soil food web
Soil management for healthy root growth
Characteristics of South Carolina soils
Do-it-Yourself testing for soil quality

There are four workshops planned for the remainder of 2003 that will cover additional topics including; cover crops and soil amendments, pest management, transition to organic and niche market production, and effective marketing strategies for high value and organic products.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Participants in this training project will not only gain specific knowledge related to organic production and certification, they will also get hands-on experience that will enable them to more confidently recommend adoption of sustainable/organic production practices to their grower constituents. The desired changes in behavior among participating agents and other trainers will be:

They will gain the knowledge and confidence to provide technical assistance to organic producers and to others interested in transitioning to organic production.
They will be more willing to advise conventional growers about transitioning to more sustainable cropping systems.


Tony Kleese

[email protected]
Executive Director
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
PO Box 448
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Office Phone: 9195422402
Mark Corley

Nonpoint Source Coordinator
SC Department of Natural Resources
1201 Main Street, Suite 1100
Columbia, SC 29201
Office Phone: 8037370800
Peter Skewes

[email protected]
Clemson University
Dept. of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Poole Ag Building
Clemson, SC 29634
Bill and Susan Orr

Daybreak Farm
504 Rodgers Road
Seneca, SC 29678
Bethel Durant

Conservation Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
1835 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Edoe Agbobjan

[email protected]
Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator
South Carolina State University
PO Drawer 200
Elloree, SC 29047
Office Phone: 8038972117
David Howle

[email protected]
Department Head
Clemson Fertilizer and Seed Certification Service
511 Westinghouse Rd
Pendleton, SC 29670
Office Phone: 8646462140
Jim Smith

[email protected]
Good Earth Organics
721 Gap Creek Road
Marietta, SC 29661
Office Phone: 8648366226
Janet Scott

[email protected]
Associate IPM and SA Coordinator
Clemson University
B30 Long Hall
Clemson, SC 29634
Office Phone: 8646565057