- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, workshop
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
- Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, compost extracts, cultural control, flame, mulches - living, physical control, prevention, traps
- Production Systems: transitioning to organic, organic agriculture
- Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
This project brought together three key elements: a well-tested farmer-led organic production training course, a practical science-based body of research and experience, and agriculture professionals seeking information about organic methods. The project, led by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG), provided practical training and resources on organic horticultural crop and high tunnel production to enhance the capacity of Extension, NRCS, and FSA personnel to provide effective technical assistance to current and aspiring organic farmers and those exploring high tunnel production.
The overall goal of the project is to equip Extension, NRCS, FSA and other agricultural professionals with the tools and resources to provide effective technical support to organic producers whose farming systems include horticultural crops. Specific objectives include:
1. At least 120 agricultural professionals will attend trainings offered through this project.
2. Agricultural professionals will gain improved understanding of the principles and the practices of organic farming systems. Lessons to be taught will include, but not be limited to, principles of diversity and holistic systems, as well as practices to build soil health, control pests, produce healthy crops and conserve resources.
3. Agricultural professionals will take home tools and resources they will readily access to gain further knowledge about organic farming systems. This will include user-friendly electronic and hardcopy materials on organic practices, research and resources that they can easily share with others or refer to when called upon to provide needed technical information to area producers.
4. Agricultural professionals will gain improved capacity to deliver technical assistance to current and aspiring organic horticultural producers seeking to develop economically viable farms. This capacity will be gained by utilizing the information presented in the training and in the take-home materials.
5. Agricultural professionals will have the ability to provide general information on organic certification to those exploring certification as a result of the materials concerning organic certification they receive with these trainings.
6. NRCS, FSA and other USDA personnel will be better able to help organic farmers gain access to federal conservation and farm credit programs because of information and resources about organic farming that they gain through these trainings.
7. Agricultural professionals will be motivated to continue building their capacity to serve organic farmers and to communicate information learned to others in their field.
8. With this project, another goal is to learn the best techniques and strategies for educating agricultural professionals on organic production in order to develop effective trainings for more agricultural professionals in other states in the future.