- Education and Training: general education and training
Extension at the University of Florida and Florida A&M successfully served as catalysts for the development and strengthening of farmer networks. The kinds of networks that developed varied greatly. In Marion County, for example, small farmers producing a wide range of products came together to form a Small Farm Association and recently opened a farmers' market in that county. Rabbit producers from three states came together to form the Southern Commercial Rabbit Producers' Association, which concentrated on finding slaughter facilities for its members. In addition to the development of thriving farmer organizations, this project resulted in increased institutional capacity to serve small farmers and both small farms and sustainable agriculture gained increased stature and recognition in Florida Extension.
The overall objective of the project is to explore alternative approaches that Extension can use to facilitate the development of farmer networks, particularly for small and/or part-time farmers.
The specific objectives are to (1) Provide Extension agents and other agricultural professionals with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to serve as successful catalysts for the development of farmer-to-farmer interchange, (2) implement different approaches to farmer-to-farmer interchange in North and Central Florida, (3) evaluate the effectiveness of the approaches that are used, using participatory process evaluation strategies and (4) share results with Extension agents, farmers, and other agricultural professionals throughout the Southern region.