- Vegetables: greens (leafy), radishes (culinary), turnips
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, workshop, youth education
- Sustainable Communities: public participation
How do you help thousands of new consumers experience the opportunities and value of fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables and get to know the growers that produce them? You provide fresh, locally grown organic vegetables in the winter when they taste the best and you can get the most attention. Or, you let school children do the growing so they can experience organically growing food and eating it. Schools can incorporate organic gardening into the curriculum during the academic year for the cost of a personal computer. Growers can profitably produce high value winter salad greens and vegetables that will provide market visibility and income at a unique time of year. Over the three year project, educational materials will be developed to deliver details of how to produce winter salad greens and vegetables using organic fertility management and polyethylene film covered high tunnels. Thirty farmers committed to producing and marketing local produce will attend a two day workshop in March, 2004. An equal number of teachers or people interested in working with school or community gardens will attend a workshop in March, 2005. A nearby farm and a school gardening program will be funded to build and operate a 20'x48' tunnel and to present at the workshops. Workshop participants will visit the farm or the school site and an MSU research farm. At the research farm, salad greens will be in production in 2, 20' x 96' gothic cold frames as part of an already funded and in progress research project and workshop participants will experience production and harvesting methods. The success of workshop participants in implementing the program and the number of farmers and teachers reached through conferences and educational events will be the primary method of evaluation. The information will also be made widely available through a manual, a slide or power point presentation and at organic conferences such as the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference and the Organic University organized by the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Services (MOSES).
Project objectives from proposal:
Through this project, farmers and school garden program coordinators will be provided the information necessary to purchase and construct a polyethylene film covered high tunnel and organically produce winter greens and vegetables for local sales or school gardens. Educational materials will be developed to deliver details of how to organically prepare and maintain soil quality and fertility, how to purchase and construct the high tunnel, and how to produce harvest and market winter salad greens and vegetables. The primary method of information dissemination will be a two day workshop and a detailed manual which are outlined later in this proposal. The information will also be made widely available through a slide or power point presentation and at organic conferences such as the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference and the Organic University organized by the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Services (MOSES).
The secondary outcomes resulting from the project completion will be 1) a greater visibility of local, organically grown food, 2) an increased understanding of the need to support local farmers and locally produced food, and 3) an improved understanding of the soil food web and the importance of soil health.