Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and Julian Samora Research Institute (JSRI) will collaborate with Michigan State University Extension Staff, USDA NRCS, Conservation Districts, innovative partner organizations, and farmers in Michigan and other states in the North Central Region to deliver sustainable agriculture outreach and education that supports socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers in adapting to changing climates and markets, topics relevant to farmers in the region and country. Educational programming will support historically underserved farmers in operating resilient, sustainable agriculture business operations that are more adaptable to external risks and environmental factors. Programming will be developed in response to the needs identified and co-developed through long standing collaborations with Spanish-speaking Latino and African American blueberry farmers in Southwest Michigan.
The project team will collaborate with regional farmers and innovators to host educational farmer network meetings and immersive field days, in Spanish and English, to offer replicable trainings on principles of sustainable agriculture production, soil health, scale appropriate mechanization, nutrient management, water stewardship, crop diversification, Integrated Pest Management, and opportunities for farm revenue diversification by leveraging Farm Bill programs to support working lands conservation and natural resources management on farms. Michigan currently lacks cohesive programming to serve its nearly 1,000 Latino farmers and deliver culturally appropriate training programs or technical services in Spanish (Martinez & Kayitsinga, 2016). Existing services and free technical assistance programs available in the state will be leveraged to collaborate in developing cohesive programming that builds stronger relationships and develops trust between disenfranchised farmers and institutions.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Increase sustainability of agricultural businesses operated by limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers
- Increase trust and strengthen relationships between underserved farmers, educational institutions, government organizations and technical assistance programs
- Increase sustainable management of natural resources among socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers
- Increased knowledge about sustainable agriculture and natural resource management on farms
- Increased knowledge about existing technical assistance and resources that can support sustainable agriculture operations
- Increased knowledge about strategies to build more resilient business operations through diversification of production and revenue streams
- Increased participation in USDA Farm Bill Programs and utilization of free technical assistance services
- Increased adoption of sustainable agricultural practices