Building Capacity in Organic AGriculture: An Integrated Approach to Training Agricultural Information Providers
Two workshops, each two days in length, were held in central and south Georgia for 63 agricultural professionals on organic agriculture. Two 1.5 hr sessions on opportunities in organic agriculture were held for 95 agricultural teachers at their annual conference in July. An invited presentation was given at the Georgia Environmental Health Association’s annual conference in July. An Advanced Master Gardener Workshop on organic gardening was held October 2 for 35 Master Gardeners who help the extension service answer telephone inquiries. A workshop for 82 participants, half being agricultural professionals, was held on organic certification on November 15.
- Improve the knowledge, attitude and skills of agricultural information providers.
Provide a comprehensive training and resource manual.
Establish demonstration sites.
Equip and motivate agricultural information providers and the Georgia Master Gardener Association to organize learning event and activities in organic agriculture to ensure the multiplier effect of this training.
Develop links among agricultural information providers.
- Researchers in Georgia involved in our first workshop became motivated to get research going that would meet the needs of organic growers. That resulted in a planning grant being submitted to SR-SARE. Although unsuccessful the first year, a regional planning proposal was submitted by Georgia Organics with 45 farmer organizations and researchers supporting it.
The Master Gardeners involved in our program decided with Georgia Organics (GO) help to offer an advanced master gardener (MG)training. The class filled and gardeners who were not already Master Gardeners requested another training be offered for them. Due to budget cutbacks MGs are increasingly used to answer the phones in extension offices.
An Enhancement Grant enabled GO to make about 350 copies of its Resource Manuals, one on organic agriculture and a second on organic gardening. The manuals were being requested by ag professionals who did not attend the training and by farmers who encountered them in extension offices.
The ag professionals that have been trained have invited GO to make presentations at their annual conferences. GO has spoken at the annual conferences of the Georgia Environmental Health Association, the Georgia Vocational and Agricultural Teachers Association, and at the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. The Young Farmer Teachers requested GO to provide a one-day training for their 51 teachers. They informed GO that their sessions on organics at the annual conference had the highest evaluation scores and added that they definitely want GO back next year (2002) in addition to the one-day workshop.
Three extension agents involved in the training have asked GO to assist them in covering organics in the master gardener training on organics.
One extension agent with a negative attitude toward organics came to the training. After the training he contacted the organic farmer in his county, Skip Glover, to include the Glover Farm on a county tour he was organizing for 40 district agents.
The East Central District Program Development Coordinator invited GO to make a presentation on organics to all district agents last November.
Members of Team Agriculture Georgia, a coalition of organizations that put on workshops for beginning and limited resource farmers, who have experienced GO’s SARE PDP funded workshops were impressed enough to invite GO’s executive director to speak after Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture at the opening of their April 25, 2002 workshop in Gainesville, GA.
All of these impacts are a result of ag professionals being involved in our SARE PDP funded workshops and finding they were top-notch and highly informative.