Organic Farming Principles, Practices, and Materials: Resources for Western Region Extension and USDA Professionals
As the number of organic farmers and ranchers continues to increase and acreage in certified organic production expands in the Western Region, more cooperative extension professionals and federal agency field personnel are being asked questions related to the certified organic production practices, particularly allowable methods and certification rules and procedures. This project is aimed at helping this audience respond to the needs of their clientele in this growing area, and develop the skills and expertise necessary to providing high quality education and information in organic production. Specific objectives are to: 1) provide Western region extension personnel and federal and state agricultural professionals a clear understanding of practices, materials, and processes that comply with organic standards; 2) give Western region agricultural professionals access to expertise and other information resources on organic farming that will enable them to stay current on the most effective organic practices and materials; 3) enable Western region extension personnel to adequately answer questions from their clientele regarding effective practices that meet organic standards. To accomplish these objectives, this project will deliver 5 workshops on organic production and compliance (4 on-site events and 1 satellite conference), and produce an organic compliance training manual for Cooperative Extension personnel and other ag professionals. Educational goals related to the workshops will be assess through a workshop evaluation conducted on the day of the event. Accomplishments related to the training manual will be evaluated through feedback gathered during development and review of the publication, and assessments conducted at training events where the manual is used. Cooperating organizations on this project include: University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Washington State University, Oregon State University, New Mexico State University, and Organic Materials Review Institute.
· To provide Western region extension personnel and federal and state agricultural professionals a clear understanding of practices, materials, and processes that comply with organic standards.
· To give Western region agricultural professionals access to expertise and other information resources on organic farming that will enable them to stay current on the most effective organic practices and materials.
· To enable Western region extension personnel to adequately answer questions from their clientele regarding effective practices that meet organic standards.
Each state summary below includes accomplishments and impacts assessed to date.
Leaders: Sean Swezey and David Chaney, UC SAREP
County Extension Faculty Workshops. Two workshops for county-based extension faculty are supported through this grant, and will be strategically integrated with existing professional education programs that most production ag advisors in the state attend each year.
Workshop 1: UC ANR Vegetable Crops Conference / Organic Compliance Training
This workshop was held December 4, 2003 at the University of California, Davis. 30 extension faculty attended the event. The agenda for this intensive training is included as Attachment 1. Written evaluations conducted at the end of the training indicate that the workshop was well-received by our target audience. Participants answered the following questions very positively, with average response scores all in the 4 to 5 range (5 being the highest level of agreement):
Question Numerical Score
Were your expectations for this course met? 4.25
Were you satisfied with the material covered? 4.25
Did the workshop increase or enhance your knowledge of NOP compliance? 4.25
Do you expect to use what you have gained in this event in your work? 4.1
Were the handout materials useful to you? 4.25
Workshop 2: UC ANR Pomology Extension Continuing Conference / Organic Compliance Training
To be held March 2004 in Davis, Calif. We are negotiating with the conference organizers about the best way to integrate the NOP compliance training into their program.
WASHINGTON / PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Leaders: David Granatstein, Washington State University, Alex Stone, Oregon State University, and Carol Miles, Washington State University
Satellite Workshop. A national satellite workshop on the National Organic Standards aired March 21, 2003. This event was broadcast from WSU in Pullman, Washington, to nearly 70 downlink sites in 25 states. Presenters included Miles McEvoy, Organic Food Program manager at Washington State Dept. of Agriculture; Jim Riddle, organic consultant and member of the National Organic Standards Board; Marilynn Lynn, organic soft fruit grower from Bridgeport, WA; and David Granatstein, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist at Washington State University. The broadcast included two time slots where viewers could interact with the panel via phone, email, or fax with their questions.
Participants were requested to complete an evaluation form which local downlink coordinators then collected and sent in to WSU. A summary of the evaluations is included as Attachment 2. Based on the evaluations submitted, the overwhelming majority of viewers liked the time and format, and would be willing to attend a future broadcast. Three topics were rated for the highest interest for a future broadcast: weed management, soil management, and using amendments/ compost. No further planning on a subsequent satellite workshop has been done yet.
The broadcast and all questions and answers are posted on-line at http://ext.wsu.edu/noas .
This Web site has been widely advertised in the Pacific Northwest through meetings, handouts, and emails to encourage agricultural professionals to use it. Traffic to the site is low to moderate, with only 10-15 hits per month. The Washington State team will determine if a second broadcast is necessary after they evaluate participation and responses to the on-site workshops planned for February 2004 (see below).
On-Site Workshops. Two workshops have been scheduled for February 24 and 25, 2004, in Wilsonville, OR. The first day will focus on the rules and resources for organic farming. The second day will discuss weed control in organic farming systems, and will include a poster session and trade show. Interested ag professionals can attend either or both events. Publicity for the events has begun in the region, reaching agricultural consultants, Extension, NRCS, and growers. Information on the event is on-line at http://csanr.wsu.edu/whatsnew/OrganicAgWorkshop2004.htm.
The program was developed through several meetings of Extension and research faculty interested in organic farming. Input was also gathered from Oregon Tilth, Washington Tilth, and Organic Materials Review Institute.
Draft agendas for the February 2004 workshops are included as Attachment 3.
Leader: Steve Guldan, New Mexico State University
The organic training conference was initially planned for early January, 2004, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as part of New Mexico State University’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics “All-College Conference.” This conference was a regular event for a number of years and was a time when all county agricultural extension agents as well as state extension specialists gathered. Unfortunately, the 2004 conference was cancelled. As of December 2003, a training event centering around sustainable agriculture is being discussed for spring 2004. The Organic Training funded through this grant is being proposed as a key part of this overall conference on sustainable agriculture. A key audience for the spring event would include extension agents and others who are involved in agricultural education. Since the event has not yet been held there are no impacts or contributions to report yet.
WESTERN STATES ORGANIC COMPLIANCE GUIDE
Agricultural advisors and consultants look to Cooperative Extension as a resource for educational materials when answering questions or seeking information. Yet, very little information on organic farming exists within the Extension publications of the Western states. To complement the live and satellite workshop sessions supported through this grant, we will produce a Western States Organic Farming Resource Guide for use by Extension agents and others. A draft of this manual was completed in September and is currently under review by a group of extension and education specialists. The Table of Contents for the draft version is included as Attachment 4. Some of the contents of the manual are available from other sources; other items will be developed during the course of the project.
The resource guide will be developed in the format of a notebook binder for some of the workshops organized through this project. Longer-term, beyond the scope of this project, the resource guide will likely be further developed as a brief UC ANR Extension bulletin (that provides basics on compliance and production issues) complemented by an Organic Information Web site that provides full text of the articles, publications and lists included in the current guide, and that can be easily updated as required. The Web resource is already available in basic form as the Organic Farming Information section of SAREP’s Web site (http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/organic). This site will be added to as more resources become available.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Basic information on impacts and contriubtions of each state’s activities are included in the previous section on accomplishments and milestones. The workshops and guide have not all been completed as of the date of this report. More detailed information will be included in the final report.
Organic Materials Review Institute
P.O. Box 11558
Eugene, OR 97440
Washington State Univ.
1100 Western Ave. N.
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Office Phone: 5096638181
New Mexico State University
P.O. Box 64
Alcalde, NM 87511
Office Phone: 5058524241