Organic Food Production and Marketing – Educational Resource Development

Project Overview

EW98-008
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $19,100.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $5,606.40
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Leslie Zenz
Washington State Dept. of Ag.

Annual Reports

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, animal protection and health, feed additives, free-range, herbal medicines, homeopathy, manure management, mineral supplements, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, preventive practices, probiotics, grazing - rotational, vaccines
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: display
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, market study
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, flame, mating disruption, physical control, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, trap crops, weeder geese/poultry
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, composting, soil quality/health

    Abstract:

    The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) receives hundreds of requests for information on organic production and marketing every year. A 1998 WSDA survey of WSU Cooperative Extension faculty and researchers indicated a need for organic production information in most counties. In 1999, SARE funded a WSDA project that included organic farm tours for Extension and NRCS personnel, as well as farmers and ranchers, and the development of the Organic Resource Manual (ORM). Together, the tours and the ORM, which gives information on organic certification, marketing, and a resource information for organic industry organizations and publications, were very successful in providing technical assistance for agricultural professionals. However, the impending release of USDA National Organic Program standards (NOP) and the continued requests for information at WSDA required an update of the ORM and an expansion of educational technical assistance through the development of a WSDA website and PowerPoint presentations.

    This project, Organic Food Production and Marketing: Educational Resource Development, has enabled the WSDA to create this update and expansion of services. To date, WSDA has delivered PowerPoint presentations at eleven events, including over 400 farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals. The PowerPoint presentations have been distributed in electronic format, upon request, to Extension personnel and agricultural consultants. The creation of a WSDA Organic Food Program (OFP) website has expanded this outreach further by providing information of organic certification, NOP standards, production information, and the ORM in formats that are easily downloaded. Supplemental research papers on organic tree fruit production and trends have been made available with this information. Tracking the statistical reports of this website has shown it to be very successful. These reports confirm the OFP website has consistently supplied some of the most requested files for downloading; the ORM has accounted for 22-30% of the total downloads on the WSDA Web site (containing over 1,000 Web pages) since May 2000. A sample from January 2001 alone shows the ORM having been downloaded 1500 times.

    In addition to the presentations on organic certification and standards, the WSDA has coordinated several workshops on specific production techniques. The topics for these workshops include: On-Farm Composting, Sustainability on the Farm, Post-harvest Handling, Marketing Niche Crops, and Integrating Crops and Livestock. These workshops were coordinated with WSU extension faculty and the Washington State Farmers Market Association.

    Project objectives:

    1. Improve the quality of information about organic agriculture provided to the public by Cooperative Extension Service and NRCS personnel.

    2. Publish a revised Organic Resource Manual that includes updated information from the USDA National Organic Program.

    3. Develop a Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program website with electronic educational resource files.

    4. Develop educational presentation materials (e.g. PowerPoint) and provide organic production, marketing, and certification seminars to Cooperative Extension, NRCS, and state departments of agriculture personnel.

    5. Collaborate with WSU Cooperative Extension to provide organic production and marketing workshops geared to specific production systems.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.