Here Forever Farm and Ranch Education
The tour of sustainable agriculture practicies in New Mexico project allowed Extension agents and other agency personnel who work with agriculture producers to observe first hand some of the sustainable agriculture practices being used throughout NM. Opportunities for learning, further collaboration, and discussion among individuals who normally work independently were made possible through this project. A web site was developed to support the project (www.cahe.nmsu.edu/sustainableag/). Pictures of the tour are included on the website along with evaluation information.
The NMSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics bus was used to transport participants which included county agricultural agents, New Mexico Department of Agriculture marketing and pesticide employees, graduate students, an FSA employee, and researchers from the Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in North Central NM.
Tour stops included:
Tours of organic vegetable, pecan, and herb operations in Dona Ana County, a tour and discussion of the water situation (drought) at Elephant Butte Lake and the impacts that the drought has upon agriculture production in southern New Mexico, alfalfa drip irrigation farms, a tour of a star thistle farm management program and collaborations made to work effectively with local agricultural agencies and the environmental movement, and a tour of the Grey Ranch in conjunction with the NM Chapter of the Society for Range Management.
Interest and planning of more educational programs related to sustainable agriculture were a direct result of this project. 30 agricultural-occupation related professionals participated in the tour.
Interested tour participants were given the opportunity to continue learning about sustaniable farming operations. Toward this end 5 NMSU Extension employees traveled to San Diego to participate in the Survival Strategies for Small and Limited Resource Farmer and Ranchers conference in October 2003. There members learned strategies for helping sustain small farmers in NM. Based upon the networking opportunities made possible from the tour a planning team continues to work on sustainable agriculture programming efforts. The next phase of the sustainable agriculture emphasis is to conduct a regional organic production workshop in Albuquerque in May 25, 2004. Agency professionals from NM, TX, AZ, CO, and UT will be invited to participate in the day long event.
To increase the opportunity to learn more about sustainable agriculture practices, 40 New Mexico Agriculture Extension Agents and related agency personnel will be trained through farm tours, online education, and printed materials that will include hands-on learning experiences.
To build a network of sustainable agriculture information among Extension agents and related agency personnel.
To create a dissemination vehicle for innovative and up-to-date sustainable agriculture information.
To create avenues for Extension Agents and related agency personnel to teach farmers and ranchers the best sustainable agricultural management practices.
What work has been accomplished to date and what work is left to do?
A tour of best sustainable agriculture practices in New Mexico was planned and conducted. A web site depicting the tour activities was developed and is available for review (www.cahe.nmsu.edu/sustainableag/). A “Phase II” planning meeting was held in Albuquerque after the tour was completed. Based upon the interest and discussion that took place after the tour 5 NMSU Extension employees traveled to San Diego to participate in the Survival Strategies for Small and Limited Resource Farmer and Ranchers conference in October. A planning team consisting of Extension Agents, NMDA personnel, and sustainable agriculture researchers is currently exploring possibilities for hosting a capstone conference to include sustainable agriculture, organic production, and economics education for producers, Extension employees, and other related agencies from the western region.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The greatest impact that has occurred as a result of this project is the multi-agency/individual collaboration and spirit among participants to continue to deliver educational opportunities for individuals involved in sustainable agriculture practices. The tour provided an opportunity for current and future agricultural professionals who would not normally interact to visit and gain a better understanding of each other’s points of view. The tour provided an avenue for agency professionals to see and discuss sustainable agriculture practices in New Mexico. Another outcome is the interest among agency professionals to continue sustainable agriculture training for individuals who work with agricultural producers.