[Note to online version: The report for this project includes Appendices that could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact Western SARE at (435) 797-2257 or email@example.com.]
After 10 years, AERO’s Farm and Ranch Improvement Club Program is a successful model by any measure. Nearly 500 people have been involved, including producers and their agency technical assistance providers. Farm Club participants acquired an impressive amount of practical knowledge and experience through whole field and whole farm research and education.
This program has historically encouraged collaborative groups of farmers, ranchers and technical assistance providers to explore and then share their knowledge on sustainable agriculture. The program has produced an experienced, talented pool of club participants, including farmers, ranchers, scientists, Extension agents and NRCS field staff. Participants in the farm club program have been great conduits for the information they’ve developed.
AERO’s SARE PDP project “Harvesting the Wealth: of AERO’s Farm and Ranch Improvement Clubs” was designed as an education and outreach project to share the multitude of results to a wider audience of ag service providers, farmers and ranchers.
Though AERO did not accomplish anywhere near what we had hoped with this project, we did succeed in several significant ways. Through this project, Farm and Ranch Improvement Club members were encouraged, supported and assisted in sharing the results of this model program and their specific on farm results to audiences, throughout Montana. Extension, NRCS, other sustainable agriculture non profits, agriculture organizations and agricultural institutions benefited from participating in an array of activities and education opportunities organized by AERO and led by Farm Club members.
“Farmers are solving difficult problems right in their own fields. Some are very innovative in how they approach things, and are able to communicate that to other farmers much more easily than researchers can explain their experiments. Farmers understand each other — they are the ones doing the work. They need to network with each other. This program demonstrates how the hope and vision of a small group of individuals can change lives, farms and communities.” Jan Tusick, Farm Club Member, Polson.
1. Synthesize the results of 10 years of farm improvement clubs and disseminate them through a variety of means, throughout the region.
2. Create from among experienced farm improvement club members and their technical assistance providers a formal resource pool of trainers, collaborators, presenters, writers, consultants and mentors in sustainable agriculture and alternative farming systems.
3. Use the information, resources and participant learning and research to engage a wider set of technical service providers so they can be conduits of this exciting sustainable agriculture information.