- Education and Training: networking
Through providing production and business training, access to land, mentorship, market opportunities and reduced risk, land-based farm training and incubator programs are an important part of the strategy to train the next generation of farmers. The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) provided training to agricultural professionals to increase their ability to initiate, support and develop farmer training programs. ALBA shared its experience in farmer development through leading trainings to other organizations, primarily NGO’s and universities from multiple Western States, who were interested in learning about, developing, or adapting ALBA’s training and organizational models. ALBA provided an intensive two-day conference attended by ten (10) organizations at ALBA’s headquarters; two (2) webinars to 203 agricultural professionals; two presentations at national conferences to fifty (50) agricultural professionals; fifty-one (51) hours of direct technical assistance to at least fourteen (14) Western States organizations; and five (5) site visits to farmer training organizations; one (1) meetings amongst Western States farmer training program organizations; and launched a regional listserv for farmer training programs that will facilitate continued collaboration.
The goal of the project was to increase agricultural professionals’ ability to initiate, support and develop farmer training programs through targeted training and collaboration led by ALBA.
- Objective 1. Fifty (50) agricultural professionals will demonstrate increased ability to initiate, support and develop farmer training program efforts
ALBA was involved in training over 200 agricultural professionals through this grant project through conferences, direct technical assistance, and webinars. Twelve (12) individuals indicated that they would implement new techniques within one year after the IRC summit in Phoenix; sixteen (16) individuals indicated that they felt more confident to support their programs after ALBA’s mini-conference; six (6) individuals stated they had an increased understanding of topics relevant to managing incubator land after one webinar.
- Objective 2. Twenty (20) agricultural professionals will demonstrate learning information that led to positive changes in their programs’ process or structure
There were 16 that attended the mini-conference held at ALBA, and of the follow-up surveys received, all reported having learned information that led to positive changes in their program. A multitude of additional positive changes were facilitated through direct technical assistance. For example, during the grant period ALBA assisted the California Farm Academy with its strategy for managing organic certification; PUENTES-Americas with fundraising and program structure for a new incubator; and Central Coast Grown with creating key documents for its land leases.
- Objective 3. Twenty (20) agricultural professionals will demonstrate sharing resources through a new regional collaboration of farmer training programs in the Western States
This objective was easily completed through the exchange at NIFTI’s 2015 field school in Durham, NC that hosted a regional breakout. ALBA led this session where each organization (8 participants, total) gave a brief introduction, shared specific challenges, then the group brainstormed on ways to continue to collaborate and communicate.
Consensus among western groups was that a listserv was the best way to continue to regularly communicate. As a result, a western region listserv was launched in late 2015. ALBA and NIFTI staff are the listserv hosts. To date there are 15 individuals signed up for the listserv. This is expected to ramp up in March 2016 as NIFTI emphasizes its regional focus.