Intergenerational Education for Sustainable Agriculture

2001 Annual Report for LS98-095

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $176,240.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $205,550.00
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Savanah Williams
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Co-Investigators:
Keith Richards
Southern SAWG

Intergenerational Education for Sustainable Agriculture

Summary

Our project, titled “Intergenerational Education for Sustainable Agriculture,” is introducing the concepts of sustainable agriculture and its impacts on our environment, economy, and community to students and teachers through on-site educational gardens at schools and community organizations in the Southern region. We are helping each educational site develop curricula and integrate family farmers into their program activities. In addition, we are creating a regional network of schools and community organizations that will exchange information on innovative programs and curricula, disseminate information to other educators and community leaders, and promote sustainable agriculture education for young people.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1.) Introduce the concepts of sustainable agriculture and its impacts on our environment, economy and community to students and teachers by establishing on-site educational gardens at pilot schools and in community gardens in six states.
2.) Integrate local family farmers — especially limited resource farmers — and other agriculture professionals into educational activities at these schools and gardens through the development of hands-on curricula for science, mathematics, literacy, economics, social skills, history and art based on sustainable agriculture activities. These farmers and professionals will be introduced to students as role models for viable career paths and occupational choices.
3.) Create a regional network which could expand to a national network that promotes sustainable agriculture education for young people by establishing linkages between the participants so they can communicate with and learn from each other.
4.) Disseminate program results to other educational professionals and agricultural information providers so successful programs can be adapted in other school systems and educational settings

Accomplishments/Milestones

This project has flourished far beyond our original objectives. To date, we have worked with 23 programs in 11 states to help establish on-site gardens or other educational activities that incorporate aspects of sustainable agriculture for youth. Currently we have 18 programs active in our network, with a total of 1,185 youth involved. We also have ongoing discussions with 24 more programs.

At each site, we have facilitated linkages with local family farmers and other agricultural professionals throughout the sustainable agriculture community. Through our coordinator, Savanah Williams, we have provided planning assistance and development expertise. We have also established communication and collaboration among groups through meetings, conference calls, sharing of resources, and networking at the annual Southern SAWG Youth Conference.

Over 60 representatives from youth programs met at the Southern SAWG conference in January, 2001. With a focus on building community, the youth were exposed to many aspects of sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities. They also met adult leaders in sustainable agriculture and were given the chance to learn about possible career opportunities. The co-coordinators of the youth conference — Felipe Camacho and Jessica Foxx — gained valuable leadership experience. Felipe was voted onto the Southern SAWG Board after the conference.

We organized a strategic planning and development meeting for youth and educators in Meridian, MS in August 2001. Over 60 youth attended this meeting, getting a chance to develop relationships with each other, participate in team-building exercises, learn more about sustainable agriculture through a field trip, and learn about strategic planning in educational sessions. We will build upon this meeting by organizing summer conferences for youth in each of the next three years. All the while, we are helping prepare youth to take the lead in each of these activities.

We began a series of articles in our newsletter, Southern Sustainable Farming, that highlights the work of several successful programs and provides information for other organizations. Besides an overview of our program work, we have already highlighted programs run by the Beat Four Cooperative and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

We have begun a dialogue with the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture to find a way to include youth in their annual meeting and their on-going work in the public policy arena. Ms. Williams is also communicating with people within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop relationships that will help facilitate extensive networking among these sustainable agriculture youth education projects both within the Southern region and beyond.

Work left to be done includes: 1) presentations by youth and educators at the 2002 Southern SAWG annual conference, 2) producing a summer youth conference in South Carolina, 3) assessing the lessons learned and developing a list of resources generated from each site to distribute to others who are interested, 4) developing further channels (such as a website, e-mail network, newsletter, and other written materials) for disseminating and sharing information, and 5) further planning as a group to develop the regional network in ways that will lead to self-sufficiency and long-term sustainability for the individual programs.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

By offering more educational opportunities in the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture to youth and by exposing young people to farmers using sustainable practices, we will increase the understanding and support for sustainable agriculture among the general population. In addition, these educational programs should interest more young people into pursuing an occupation in the field of sustainable agriculture. The more good minds that we have in our field, the better we will be able to solve problems for all family farmers.

Collaborators:

Wayne Patterson

wpatterson@howard.edu
Project SEED
Office Phone: 2025468166
Felder Freeman

brother_voo_doo@yahoo.com
Federation of Southern Cooperatives
4066 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy
John’s Island, SC 29455
Office Phone: 8437680044
Felipe Camacho

felipe@sustainablefoodcenter.org
Sustainable Food Center
PO Box 13323
Austin, TX 78711
Office Phone: 5122360074
Jay Fulbright

arknatpro@cei.net
Arkansas Natural Produce
20627 Hwy 84
Malvern, Ar 72104
Office Phone: 5018651331
Hollis Watkins

Southern ECHO
PO Box 10433
Jackson, MS 39289
Office Phone: 6013521500
Marty Mesh

fogoffice@aol.com
Florida Organic Growers
PO Box 12311
Gainesville, FL 32604
Office Phone: 3523776345
Jessica Foxx

Beat Four Cooperative
8598 Prairie Point Rd
Macon, MS 39341
Office Phone: 6627264970
Helen Vinton

Southern Mutual Help Association
3602 Old Jeanerette Rd
New Iberia, La 70560
Office Phone: 3373673277