- Agronomic: barley, canola, flax, millet, sunflower, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: herbs
- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, value added
- Pest Management: competition, weed ecology
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, social capital, sustainability measures
Major accomplishments for this project include: highly effective assessment, innovative and participatory training, collaborative leadership, broad participation with over 750 attendees and a one-to-one cash match totaling nearly $40,000.
The Alternative Energy Resources Organization and a collaboration of partners hosted fourteen sustainable and organic field tours in 2003 and ten field tours in 2004, organized a training for NRCS and Extension staff in 2003 and two Risk Management trainings in 2005. We also were a principle sponsor and collaborator for two statewide organic conferences, one in 2003 and one in 2005. Sustainable agriculture and organic principles relating to dryland and livestock production were the main focus of the tours, trainings and conferences. Over 750 total participants attended the tours, trainings and conferences over the three-year period of this grant. Participants included NRCS, Extension, land grant researchers, RCDs, farmers, ranchers, Montana Department of Agriculture staff and related for-profit and non-profit businesses and organizations.
Dissemination of sustainable and organic materials at the trainings, tours and conferences included packets of educational materials assembled from national and regional publications, PowerPoint presentations, research results and on-farm observations from experienced farmers and industry leaders all provided a broad array of educational opportunities for participants.
As a result of the educational opportunities this project provided in Montana, ag service providers, researchers and farmers and ranchers have a deeper and broader understanding of sustainable and organic systems. They also have easier access to sustainable and organic materials and resources. More importantly, project leaders have much stronger working relationships, which have led to further collaborations. We also better understand and appreciate the capacities of our institutions, agencies, field staff and non-profit organizations who participated in the project and what we collectively have to offer Montana farmers and ranchers.
Evaluations from each venue were collected, tabulated and provided valuable insight for continually improving the program delivery. A steering committee of partners provided oversight and suggestions and helped make crucial decisions about the educational programs for each event.
Considerable “match” time and dollars were committed to this project. Cash contributions totaled nearly $40,000. The match was committed principally from The Organic Farming and Research Foundation, Montana Department of Agriculture, Washington State University Risk Management, Montana NRCS and AERO.
Project objectives:div style="margin-left:1em;">
Assess the educational needs of ag service providers in the field of sustainable and organic agriculture.
Work with farmers, ranchers and ag service providers to develop and deliver sustainable and organic educational opportunities that will address the needs identified in the assessment, such as; farm and ranch tours, workshops and trainings.
Evaluate the educational venues and materials developed and shared through this participatory educational project.