- Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
Oregon Tilth sought funding to improve understanding of natural resource conservation on organic and transitioning farms in Oregon and California. The project proposed training and educational materials for NRCS and other conservation professionals, organic certification staff, and Technical Service Providers (TSPs), who all play important roles in educating farmers about conservation.
Requested funding supported Oregon Tilth and our partner Wild Farm Alliance in developing and delivering on-site workshops, webinars, and toolkits on two topics:
1) the newly revised NRCS Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) 138 supporting organic transition; and
2) the National Organic Program's (NOP's) natural resource conservation standards and technical guidance on conservation.
Oregon Tilth and Wild Farm Alliance have worked closely with NRCS and the NOP to develop the CAP 138 and conservation guidance, designed to improve coordination between the conservation and certification systems and make conservation programs more accessible, affordable, and effective for organic and transitioning farmers. Our organizations are in a unique position to foster integration and communication between traditional agriculture service providers and the organic sector and to recruit and train TSPs that can help farmers complete the CAP 138. Publication of the revised CAP 138 and conservation guidance present an opportunity to expand these educators' knowledge of soil health and conservation on organic and transitioning farms, reduce the barriers to organic certification, and increase organic and transitioning farmers' participation in conservation programs.
Primary objectives included:
- Increase conservation professionals' understanding of the role of conservation requirements in organic certification and the use of the revised CAP 138 as a conservation and transition tool that reduces paperwork and supports an integrated plan for transition.
- Increase certification staff understanding of NOP conservation requirements and the use of CAP 138 as a conservation and transition tool; and improve their ability to identify and evaluate conservation problems, provide allowable technical assistance, and direct and encourage farmers to access resources for help.
- Increase the number of qualified TSPs available to assist farmers with the CAP 138, which also can serve as the core contents of the OSP.