- Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, contour farming, cropping systems
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, focus group, mentoring, networking
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, business planning, community-supported agriculture, farmers' markets/farm stands, grant making
- Pest Management: mulches - general, mulches - living
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, dryland farming, permaculture
- Soil Management: organic matter
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, partnerships, sustainability measures
The College of Micronesia (COM) serves 3 nations and 6 island groups over an area larger than the continental United States, with 1 Sustainable Agriculture, Research, and Education (SARE) Coordinator. There are significant geographic barriers in promoting and coordinating SARE activities in the islands. Both the University of Guam (UOG) and COM SARE Coordinators are nearing retirement.
There is a crucial need to build a network of trained Sustainable Agriculture professionals across these islands in the region, with a peer to peer communications network, on island sustainable agriculture issues. In the trainings, a goal of increasing WSARE grant applications and educational materials usage on the islands was addressed.
This multi-institution, multi-state project between UOG and COM aimed to recruit, train and support a network of agricultural professionals from seven islands to increase their expertise in sustainable agriculture. Participating islands included Guam, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, and Marshall Islands. Project Co-investigators identified associate coordinators for Guam and Pohnpei and recruited island WSARE liaisons with assistance of Extension Directors from Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, and Marshall Islands.
On-island tasks were required (conference calls, online training, ag professional survey) building up to to the selection of one or more representatives that attended a one-week Sustainable Agriculture Liaison’s Conference on Guam. Key topics included; WSARE grants, sustainable agriculture principles and practices, UOG-SARE curriculum, and national online resources. Liaisons’ post conference support included seed money for on island demonstrations, monthly conference calls, and coaching in developing a WSARE grant for each island.
Objective 1: Recruit potential candidates from a pool of agricultural professionals from Guam, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, Marshall Islands, and Palau to become Co-coordinator or WSARE liaisons.
Upon initiation of the project, Land Grant staff and agricultural professionals across the region were notified of the project. Interested participants with approval from Extension Directors completed the online SARE National Continuing Education Course 1, Sustainable Agriculture: Basic Principles and Concept Overview at: http://courses.sare.org/c1_1_1.htm. Course 3: Agricultural Ecosystem Management will also be utilized in the program trainings. From those completing the online course, one from each island was selected to conduct an island agricultural professional survey, similar to the island assessments conducted for the 2007 WSARE Sub-regional conference held on Guam, prior to attending the Guam Liaisons’ conference. Unfortunately we were not able to recruit a partner from Palau. The liaisons were supported in these survey efforts through regular teleconferences.
Early 2019, we were informed that in the months following the Guam conference, the Kosrae liaison resigned from his Land Grant job and the project. So, the project investigators worked on recruiting and meeting with alternate agriculture professionals to continue the project activities. Extra online sessions were held to help them come up to speed. Communications with and recruitment of a CNMI WSARE coordinator was done during as part of these communications. At this time the team worked on expanding membership to include additional land grant professionals to plan for the submitted coordinators grant “Eight Islands, Twelve Trainings”, WSARE summer meeting in Micronesia, WSARE funded demonstrations, and October-December WSARE grant submissions.
Objective 2: Train WSARE liaisons to increase their knowledge in sustainable agriculture and the WSARE program.
When on-island tasks were completed by the island representatives, a one-week Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator’s Conference was held on Guam, in September 2018. Key topics included; WSARE grants, sustainable agriculture principles/practices, and national SARE Continuing Education Program course (Modules 1 & 2), other SARE online resources, ATTRA resources, and SARE curriculum developed by UOG. The UOG-SARE curriculum consists of a range of New Farm subjects such as farm planning, agroforestry and sloping land agriculture, permaculture, organic agriculture principals, soil and water conservation, plant propagation and small scale fruit and vegetable nurseries, irrigation and water management, chicken tractors, small-scale poultry production, mulching and sheet mulching, raised beds, container gardening, composting, fruit tree windbreaks, and others topics of participants interests. Liaisons were also taken on field visits/farm tours of past and recently funded SARE grants.
2019 January to May: Online Zoom trainings and several meetings were conducted during the first quarter of the year in preparation for the coordinator’s meeting, start developing plans for site demonstrations, begin demonstrations on several of the islands, and recruit for the upcoming regional new PDP Enhanced Coordinator’s grant.
Objective 3: Build and operate a one-year peer-to-peer communications network of newly trained WSARE liaisons with a focus on island sustainable agriculture issues.
Since February of 2018 weekly liaison conference calls were held to coach the participants through these tasks through September 2018 highlighting the islands’ program activities. Following the Guam training the Zoom was used to prepare the 2nd Enhanced Coordinators grant to meet the participants’ request.
2019: Liaison network continued to operate utilizing Zoom as the online platform in addition to regular emails. Each island liaison understands and can utilizing the platform. We now have an effective method of communications in our region. Coordinator’s and liaisons were key in identifying educational needs for 2019 WSARE regional outreach activities for the Island WSARE visits in May of 2019.
Objective 4: Increase WSARE awareness, grant applications, and use of SARE resources in the Western Pacific.
Upon returning to their islands, each liaison met with agriculture professionals and producers in a WSARE grant promotion meeting. Several formed local grant teams to write a professional producer grant. All worked on establish a sustainable agriculture demonstrations during 2019. Following the WSARE PDP Conference in Guam $2,000 seed money subcontracts for each island ($12,000) was issued to COM FSM office for disbursement to the WSARE liaisons. This was to implement a WSARE demonstration site in their island. Upon completion and approval of the subcontract application, participants received an initial $1,000 for the demonstration implementation and the final $1,000 on completion of the site demonstration. COM FSM handled oversight of the demonstration projects. The WSARE demonstration is a site tool in WSARE outreach for the each island.
2019: After the Guam portion of the coordinator’s meeting, WSARE State PDP Coordinators and WSARE staff conducted grant writing workshops in the region. During the period of July to November 2019, several grant writing group and one-to-one ZOOM meetings and consultations were held to assist the liaisons and other land grant professionals in WSRE grant submissions.