- Education and Training: general education and training
This project will develop a curriculum that will serve as an educational resource for small, food-producing farmers in the North Central Midwest and enable them to add a teaching component to their farming business. The Midwest is key in future food production because of the water-rich environment, especially in Indiana and Michigan. We can grow farmers here and be prepared for the food needs of 2050 if we start now and use all our resources to meet specific challenges. For example,
? Our climate in the North Central Region requires season extension research to increase our months of production during each year.
? We will need to use alternative energy sources and eliminate or drastically reduce the use of petroleum-based products.
? The need for food preservation is a component of sustainability as well.
We are proposing a comprehensive educational program for a farming internship that focuses on the successful practices of the Midwest organic farm. It will provide modules on all aspects of sustainable farming practices and concerns for the future of farming. The internship will equip the beginner farmer or agriculture student with the knowledge to plan and begin a profitable small farming business that will weather the instabilities of declining extracted resources. The internship curriculum will be useful for small farmers on their own to educate themselves and to provide a rich experience for interns. Interns will be able to use it to apply for credit to their institution of higher learning. Institutions of higher learning will be able to incorporate it into their own agriculture programming. By giving undergrad students this rich opportunity we hope to increase much-needed graduate research in this area as well. Ideally we would like to see an accredited certificate program evolve from this publication.
The curriculum will include at least 24 farm practices and design units presented as modules, each with a visual PowerPoint, references, and media resources. While the main body of the curriculum will be designed for the summer season when students are out of school, it will also include two spring and two fall weekend workshops. This will allow college students to participate in the early spring and late fall work, which are important parts of the full farm cycle, especially for season extension techniques. The interns we engage through this grant will assist in the development of the curriculum. Each will have primary responsibility for the development of specific modules.
Project objectives from proposal:
In keeping with the model set by the Kansas City project, our project will combine farm work hours, workshops, and reading assignments to create a comprehensive experiential learning program for our interns. We will refine and apply to better suit the needs of our area, the 30 module curriculum already developed in Farm Internship Curriculum & Handbook 2008 (FW05-018). We will include a PowerPoint presentation for at least 24 of the modules. Uniquely, our program will involve the interns themselves in refining and expanding each of their chosen individual modules. Development of the written curriculum, along with hosting interns at our 3 farms, will set the stage for a more comprehensive internship program development effort to follow in our area.