- Agronomic: barley, canola, corn, potatoes, rye, safflower, spelt, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Fruits: apples, berries (other), cherries, grapes, pears, plums, berries (strawberries)
- Vegetables: asparagus, beans, cabbages, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, peas (culinary), sweet corn
- Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
- Animals: bovine, poultry, shellfish
- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, animal protection and health, grazing - continuous, free-range, manure management, mineral supplements, pasture fertility, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: extension, networking, study circle
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, value added, whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
- Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, competition, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, flame, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, weather monitoring
- Production Systems: transitioning to organic, agroecosystems
- Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships, public participation, social networks, sustainability measures
Today’s activities and challenges in sustainability with respect to agriculture and food systems are typically complex, interdisciplinary, and require farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals to communicate more than ever, and to be able to communicate with consumers and other food systems entities. Yet most agricultural professionals are trained in only one or two specific disciplines, hence as they go about their work they may have a relatively narrow perspective (their discipline’s perspective). While the numbers are increasing, only a few have usable knowledge of organic farming systems and can provide programming in this area. Coupled with their disciplinary focus, these professionals may be familiar with only one type of marketing (e.g., commodity markets OR direct markets), hence their primary expertise may be both disciplinary and confined to a specific type of food system. Even if they recognize this narrow perspective, there are relatively few opportunities for broader systems training that provide concrete examples. We believe that when agricultural professionals (including extension educators, government agency and NGO staff, etc.) have a holistic understanding of our agricultural and food systems, including a clear understanding of the complex relationships within these systems, they will be more likely to offer sustainable agriculture programming and be more successful in doing so. The collaborative Cultivating Success educational program provides several excellent opportunities for this type of professional development and training. We propose to: 1) Bring agricultural professionals into an existing WSU “field course” that explores the complex relationships in today’s agricultural and food systems through specific examples and discussion (years 1&2); 2) Provide an “instructor training” and materials for agricultural professionals to offer a sustainable small farming and ranching course to farmers/ranchers in their region (years 1&2); and 3) Evaluate the medium-term impacts of these two professional development opportunities on the types, quantity, and effectiveness of subsequent programming in sustainable agriculture offered by the participating agricultural professionals (years 1-3). The Field Course offerings will increase agricultural professionals’ knowledge and skills in all of this year’s Western SARE PDP priority areas (ecological weed, insect, and disease management strategies, economic aspects of alternative farming strategies, and alternative marketing approaches). These practices will be seen and discussed (together!) on nearly a daily basis, and from an explicit systems perspective. The CS Instructor Trainings will also support these areas by providing instructional materials and strategies. Both of these professional development experiences will help the professionals work with farmers who want to diversify their production and/or marketing practices, as well as providing holistic sustainable agriculture programming for new farmers. Our specific objectives for the proposed activities are to: 1) Increase WA’s agricultural professionals’ interdisciplinary and holistic understanding of agricultural and food systems, esp. understanding and acceptance of sustainable agricultural practices; 2) Increase the networked pool of agricultural professionals who can deliver sustainable agriculture, whole-farm (systems) oriented programs to farmers and ranchers; and 3) Determine the extent to which the Cultivating Success Field Course and Instructor Trainings have influenced the participants’ knowledge retention and subsequent program delivery in sustainable agricultural and alternative marketing practices (medium- and long-term impacts of past and proposed activities).
Project objectives from proposal:
1) Increase the region’s agricultural professionals’ interdisciplinary and holistic understanding of agricultural and food systems, esp. understanding and acceptance of sustainable agricultural practices.
2) Increase the networked pool of agricultural professionals who can deliver sustainable agriculture, whole-farm planning programs to farmers and ranchers
3) Determine the extent to which the Cultivating Success Field Course and Instructor Trainings have influenced the participants’ knowledge retention and subsequent program delivery in sustainable agricultural and alternative marketing practices (medium- and long-term impacts of past and proposed activities).
Output 1: Bring five (5) agricultural professionals into full participation as “students” in the previously described, interdisciplinary Field Analysis of Sustainable Food Systems course each of the two project years. Targeted participants will include county extension educators, government agency and NGO staff, and on-campus university faculty. The majority of days in the week-long course will be spent visiting, touring, and discussing with site hosts (farmers, ranchers, packers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, etc.), with large- and small- group class discussions following each evening. Both organic, “conventional,” as well as a variety of innovative production and marketing venues will be studied. A series of readings, as well as on-hand resources (including SARE/SAN publications) are also part of the course. This course will provide the opportunity for agricultural professionals to see and assess the relationship between economic, environmental and social aspects of multiple agricultural and food system enterprises – including the effect of these factors on the relationship between enterprises in the system (i.e. the farm-to-market chain). Products will include increased awareness and knowledge of agricultural and food system relationships and sustainable agricultural production and marketing practices, a networked pool of agricultural professionals who have shared a common (intensive) training experience (thereby developing resource connections and future collaborators), and specific contacts within the visited farming/ranching/food systems communities who can serve as future resources.
Output 2: A CS Instructor Training each of the two project years, with 20 agricultural professional participants (extension faculty and other agricultural professionals) at each training. The day-long workshop will provide an overview of the CS program and courses, as well as specific focus on teaching of the popular Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching course. Participants will also receive a notebook of weekly lesson plans (including compiled and organized relevant sustainable agriculture resources), and will discuss approaches to specific lessons, objectives, resources and course activities. In addition to the CS team, several experienced instructors will also attend and support/network with new instructors. Products will include an expanded pool of educators able to offer the SSFR course, which should translate into expanded offerings of the SSFR course, thereby reaching a greater number and geographic range of farmers and ranchers on the ground.
Output 3: A published report summarizing the relative effectiveness of the Field Course and Instructor Training in meeting short and medium-term outcomes described below, and making recommendations regarding these approaches for our and other programs. We have conducted annual end-of-course evaluations for all CS courses (including the Field Course, SSFR course, and Instructor training) each year, and have used them to revise and improve subsequent offerings of each. Now, after five years of programming, we have a large collection of evaluation materials, a database of past participants, and a desire to determine whether our program is having on-the-ground (long-term) impacts on farmer/rancher practices, or at least assess medium-term impacts in terms of the types of programming and recommendations made by agricultural professionals who have participated in either the field course and/or the instructor training.
For this portion of the project we propose to 1) review, compile, and summarize the existing end-of-course/training evaluations from the field course, instructor training, and end-of-term SSFR instructor surveys in order to determine short term impacts; 2) conduct a “past participant survey” of agricultural professionals who have participated in the field course, instructor training and/or teaching of the SSFR course in order to determine the extent to which sustainable agriculture and alternative marketing have been incorporated into their programming and recommendations to farmers and ranchers (medium-term impacts); and 3) Develop and publish a report on the relative effectiveness of these two professional development approaches in the CS program. In the process, information and anecdotes related to on-the-ground impacts resulting from agricultural professional training (long-term impacts) will also be collected. Though beyond the scope of the proposed project, such long-term impacts are the true goal of our teaching and training, and in developing a list of such on-the-ground impacts we hope to be able to address long-term impacts and effectiveness in a future project (not necessarily this one).
1)Increased knowledge and awareness of sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices, including organic agriculture (a short-term impact – to be measured by end-of-course evaluation from field course, as well as Instructor Training workshop evaluation, and end of term instructor evaluation (for SSFR course) each year);
2)Increased professional contacts available to the participating professionals - that is, a larger and/or more sustainable agriculture-oriented group of “go-to” professionals for information and collaboration. (short- and medium- term impact – to be measured by end of course/training evaluation as well as “past participant survey”)
3)Increased knowledge, awareness and eventually use and referral of SARE/SAN publications and resources (short- and medium- term impacts – to be measured by end of course/training evaluation as well as “past participant survey”)
4)Increased incorporation of sustainable agriculture and alternative production/marketing approaches in programming delivered (medium-term impact – to be measured by “past participant survey”)