Developing a Training Program in Sustainable Vegetable Production for Agricultural Professionals in Kentucky and Tennessee

2011 Annual Report for ES10-101

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $59,532.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Timothy Coolong
University of Kentucky

Developing a Training Program in Sustainable Vegetable Production for Agricultural Professionals in Kentucky and Tennessee


Summary for 2011:

The remaining objectives for this grant that were not completed in 2010 were completed in 2011. Two hands-on trainings were held at the University of Kentucky Organic Farming Research and Education Unit and the University of Tennessee Organic Farm in September of 2011 and April of 2012, respectively. Approximately 35 agricultural professionals attended these two trainings. In September 2011 a multistate, 3-day tour was held for Extension professionals covering diversified and sustainable farming operations in Kentucky and Tennessee. A total of 19 Extension professionals from KY and TN participated on this tour. In addition, multiple trainings were held at Kentucky State University as part of their Third Thursday program and an additional organic vegetable production mini-course was held at KSU on September 27, 2012. Approximately 100-150 growers were attending various sessions at the KSU Third Thursday program. In addition, web sites were developed/modified and a 2-DVD set was developed as part of the multi-state training held in Nashville, TN in January 2011.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The majority of the project’s objectives were completed in year 1. In year 2 the remaining objectives were completed. The completed objectives for year 2 are as follows:

• April-September 2011. Hands-on field training will be delivered in conjunction with the Third Thursday program at Kentucky State University (PI Bomford)

Trainings were held at the in conjunction with the KSU Third Thursday Program culminating and in organic vegetable production focused field day on July 21, 2012. Topics at this field day included cover crop selection and mowing, roller-crimping, spading implements, high tunnel production and mulching of crops. Tractors and implements were used in the field to demonstrate these technologies. A large mix of Extension Professionals and growers were present. In addition, a day-long organic production training was held on September 27, 2012 mixing field-based topics with lecture topics. The audience was a mix of agricultural professionals from the KY Department of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Programs. Topics included developing pest management strategies for your organic farm plan, managing soil additions (compost, straw mulch, etc.), becoming certified as an organic grower, and rotational planning.

• June and September 2011. A day-long training lecture (morning) and in-field (afternoon) in organic vegetable farming will be held at University Research Farms for the Universities of Kentucky and Tennessee. This will build upon previous trainings conducted by PIs Coolong, Wszelaki and Williams.

Two in-field trainings were held in KY and TN in 2010 with and additional two trainings held in 2011/2012 to complete this objective. On September 6, 2011 an in-field training was held at the University of Kentucky Horticulture Research farm from 9 am to 2 pm. This training covered equipment use on diversified vegetable farms, irrigation and fertility management, high tunnel production, weed, disease and insect management in organic production systems. An additional training was held on April 26, 2012 at the University of Tennessee Organic Research Farm. This training covered high tunnel research, tomato grafting for organic producers, fruit production, small scale composting, small scale water collection, heirloom seed collection, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug management for organic farmers, interactions between seeding rates and weed control in organic field and forage crops and reduced-tillage organic vegetables. Approximately 10 Extension professionals attended this training.

• July 2010. Interested parties (up to 8 participants from each state) will be invited for a regional tour of successful organic farms in the Southeast U.S. This tour will serve to allow agriculture professionals to learn production techniques from successful farms and bring that knowledge back to their constituents.

Due to delays in the original funding this objective was completed in September 20-22nd, 2011. This three-day tour had 19 participants as well as PIs Coolong, Williams and Wszelaki. Seven sustainable farming operations were visited in KY and TN. The purpose of this tour was to demonstrate various ways in which growers have diversified their farms to enhance the long-term sustainability of their operations. The intent was that agents could then use this information in their own counties when working with farmers who would like to diversify. The following farms were visited: Elmwood Stockfarm, Georgetown, KY; O’Daniels Organics with Joe O’Daniel and Paul Wiediger, Bowling Green, KY; Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, Austin, KY; EcoGardens CSA, Scottsville, KY; Windy Acres Farm, Orlinda, TN; Delvin Farms, College Grove, TN; and Skipping Rock Dairy, Philadelphia, TN. All of the attendees felt that they learned quite a bit about a wide variety of agricultural practices including dairy ( value added: cheese), beef, poultry, grain, fruit and vegetable production.

• October 2010. Begin developing a website for delivery of material after the grant period has ended. Currently developed websites, The UT Organic and Sustainable Crop Production Website ( and the KY Sustainable Vegetable Production Program (, will be heavily modified but used as a template for this purpose.

Websites were modified at UT to include more organic production information; while an entirely new site was developed at UK ( to meet the needs of the target audience. Several powerpoint lectures were developed for this training program and placed on the websites for Extension professionals to use when necessary. These sites will allow for the information developed during this project to be used after this project is completed.

• Podcasts with lectures corresponding to specific trainings and interviews with growers from the farm tour will be uploaded and made available via the project website.

This objective was altered. In lieu of creating podcasts, the Departments of Agricultural Communications from the University of Tennessee and Kentucky assisted in creating a two-DVD set filmed during the day-long organic training session held at the Tennessee Horticulture Expo in January 2011. Each DVD contains three chapters with presentations covering the following: tomato grafting (Cary Rivard, KSU), building your soil for organic farms (David Butler, UT), working with less fossil fuels (Michael Bomford, KSU), organic weed management (Mark Williams, UK), becoming organically certified (Michael Fitzgerald, KDA) and planning your vegetable rotations around cover crops and composting (Daniel Parson, Parson Produce). DVDs have been distributed to each county office in KY and TN.

The DVD files are too big to upload, sent in hard copy of report.


Much of the objectives of the grant were completed in 2010; however, several objectives were completed in 2011 with a number of notable accomplishments. At least 35 Extension professionals attended trainings at UT and UK focused on organic vegetable production, with more than 100 growers and Extension professionals attending trainings at KSU. More than 40 counties were represented at these trainings in 2011. For the grant program all of our attendance objectives were accomplished. This program was the first time that Land Grant schools in KY and TN worked together on a vegetable production education program. All of the objectives that we proposed were completed.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The immediate impact of the 2011 efforts are that every county in KY and TN have been equipped with resources that were made available through this program that should help Extension professionals work with clientele wanting to grow vegetables organically. Extension professionals attending tours and trainings now have a better knowledge of sustainable and organic production practices. In Tennessee all counties were provided with a sustainable agriculture lending library consisting of SARE publications, Canadian Organic Grower publications and Growing for Market resources. In 2011 an Organic Vegetable Production Field Day was put on by an agent that had attended a previous organic training. Although outside speakers were brought in it demonstrates that this program is having an impact on agent attitudes. Post training surveys also indicate that attendees have learned more about production practices related to sustainable agriculture and vegetables.


Dr. Mark Williams

[email protected]
Associate Professor
University of Kentucky
N-318 Ag. Sciences North
Lexington, KY 40546-0091
Office Phone: 8592572638
Dr. Michael Bomford

[email protected]
Principal Investigator
Kentucky State University
Atwood Bldg. Rm. 125
400 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40601
Office Phone: 5025975752
Dr. Timothy Coolong

[email protected]
Asst. Professor
Univ. of Kentucky
N-318 Ag. Sciences North
Lexington, KY 40546-0091
Office Phone: 8952573374
Dr. Annette Wszelaki

[email protected]
Asst. Professor
University of Tennessee
252 Ellington Plant Sciences Bldg.
2431 Joe Johnson Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996
Office Phone: 8659747208
Dr. Kenneth Seebold

[email protected]
Asst. Professor
University of Kentucky
205 Plant Science Bldg
Lexington, KY 40546-0312
Office Phone: 8592577445
Dr. Ricardo Bessin

[email protected]
University of Kentucky
S-225L Ag. Sciences North
Lexington, KY 40546
Office Phone: 8592577456