Southern Region Educator Trainings in Eight Farming Systems using unique tools and approaches

2006 Annual Report for ES06-086

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $121,968.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Karen Adler
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Southern Region Educator Trainings in Eight Farming Systems using unique tools and approaches

Summary

The Southern SAWG Project, “Training in 8 Farming Systems Using Unique Tools & Approaches,” is progressing well with footage and taping on the 2 planned dairy videos completed and 2 of the 7 planned trainings completed. The trainings were held in SC and GA. Planning is underway for other trainings across the South, including at the December 2007 Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Conference and Trade Show. One of the 2 planned webcasts will incorporate the SARE-funded interactive, web-based training modules in IPM for Organic Crops, released through MS State.

Accomplishments/Milestones

I. Video Production
Filming is complete for the two videos that are being produced under this project: 1) Pasture-Based Dairy Production and 2) Value-Added Dairy Production. Editing is now in progress under the supervision of Jean Mills, video production coordinator and manager. The production scripts, which are serving as outlines for filming and editing, are attached. The final product will be determined through this process.

Synopsis of Value-Added Dairy Production Video:

Featured Farm: Sweet Grass Farm in Thomasville, GA
Producers: Jessica and Jeremy Little, and Al and Desiree Wehner.
The script was written with consultant Vicki Dunaway in March, 2007.
Filming took place April 18-20.
Transcription took place during the last two weeks of April; editing is underway. The first draft for review has been produced. We expect to go through several drafts and have complete video by the end of June, 2007.

Desiree Wehner had originally agreed to be the focus of the Value-added Dairy video. However, the Wehners have since sold the value-added portion of the operation to their daughter Jessica Little and her husband Jeremy. Jessica was excited about doing the project, but retained her mother’s involvement to give historical perspective of the farming operation and to give details of the cow dairy Desiree and Al run that supplies milk for Jessica and Jeremy to make cheese.

Vicki Dunaway advised against making this video about how to make cheese, which is the value-added product made at Sweet Grass, as we could not do the subject justice in the 20-minute format. Instead, we will tell the story of how this farm got started and how it operates, using the cheese-making to demonstrate the types of things that need to be considered by those wanting to add value to dairy products, such as regulations and extra equipment.

Synopsis of Pastured-Based Dairy Video

Featured Farm: Black Hollow Dairy, located in Dublin, VA
Producers: Blair and Kim Sanders
The script was written with consultant Dr. Steve Washburn (NCSU) in April, 2007.
Filming took place May 1-4.
Transcription is now taking place; editing will begin after the completion of the first video. The target completion date for this video is the end of August.

To make the best use of time, filming of this second video was done while the first video was being transcribed (before the video team was engaged in editing).

Steve Washburn designated the farms he thought would be best for this video. The video will feature the Black Hollow Farm, but additional footage of a neighboring pastured-based dairy farm, Greenway Farm, owned by George and Julie Hudson, will be included to show diversity of operations.

II. Educator Training
Two of the seven workshop trainings scheduled to take place under this project have been held. The first training, Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing, was produced in cooperation with Dr. Geoff Zehnder, of Clemson University, in Spartanburg, SC. The workshop presenter was Alex Hitt, North Carolina farmer and educator, with additional materials presented by Geoff Zehnder. Topics covered included:
Introduction to whole farm system planning;
Farm design considerations and crop scheduling;
Soil building and crop rotations;
In-field soil preparation, seeding, and transplanting;
Marketing; and
Recordkeeping.

There were fifty-three attendees, including eleven agriculture professionals. Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing Enterprise manuals were reviewed and updated, and provided to participants, along with the Southern SAWG Organic Horticulture videos. Evaluation results will be reported when Project Coordinator returns from vacation.

The second training, a Grass-Fed Ruminants Workshop, was produced in cooperation with Dr. Julia Gaskin, UGA, SARE Coordinator in Georgia, in Tifton, GA, at NESPAL (National Environmentally Sound Production Center) on April 25, 2007. Other collaborators included the American Grassfed Association and The Animal Compassion Foundation (a Whole Foods Market Foundation). Ann Wells, DVM, presented on behalf of Southern SAWG. Other presenters included Dennis Hancock of UGA, Dennis Chessman of NRCS, Dwight Fisher of USDA-ARS, Will Getz of Fort Valley State University, and farmer/educators Will Harris and Bill Hodge. The Southern SAWG video on Management Intensive Grazing Systems was shown. Topics covered included:
What Does Grass-fed Mean?
Forages and Grazing Management;
Paddock Design and Fencing;
Water Sources and Riparian Management;
Animal Health, Animal Handling, and Body Condition Scoring;
Integrated Livestock Systems;
Emergency Pasture Supplementation;
Economics of Grass-fed Production;
Putting the System Together – Panel discussion and Q & A; and
Pasture Walk and Discussion on various topics

Enterprise manuals were reviewed, adapted, and expanded, and provided to participants, along with Southern SAWG Management Intensive Grazing of Beef videos. Evaluation results will be reported when Project Coordinator returns from vacation.

An additional Grass-Fed Ruminants Workshop was produced in Georgia, in Watkinsville (Athens), on May 16, 2007, also in collaboration with Julia Gaskin and UGA, the American Grassfed Association, and the Animal Compassion Foundation. Resources were maximized and materials provided through funding from these collaborators, including the Southern SAWG MIG Beef video, and updated enterprise manuals.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Evaluations from the trainings held in April will be posted as soon as the Project Coordinator returns from vacation.