Affordable and effective weed-suppression strategies are critical to managing small-scale speciality crop production, especially for beginning farmers looking to scale up their operations. Additional challenges are experienced by refugee and immigrant farmers, including language barriers and a need to adapt production methods of culturally-important crops to different climates. This project will partner with Yazidi farmers to test different low-cost weed suppression strategies over two seasons in two culturally-important crops, eggplants and pickling peppers. Successful organic weed-control strategies minimize farm labor and tillage for more environmentally and economically sustainable farms. All participating farmers are co-located at an incubator farm in Southeastern Nebraska and grow similar crops across their farm businesses, catering to the Yazidi, Arabic, and Kurdish communities of Lincoln, NE. The research is a collaboration between agricultural professionals in a nonprofit (Community Crops) and land-grant university (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and refugee farmers from the Yazidi community. It will include translation of existing USDA-supported course materials on weed management into Arabic and the current research findings will be shared in English and Arabic, with an emphasis on reaching Midwestern farmers of Arabic-speaking backgrounds. This innovative approach makes information on sustainable agricultural practices more broadly available to refugee and immigrant farming communities.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Six Yazidi farmers will receive technical assistance implementing low-cost weed suppression methods for their farms.
- Four techniques of proactive weed suppression will be tested with an emphasis on culturally-relevant crops for Middle Eastern communities in the Midwestern United States.
- Research findings on effectiveness of four weed-suppression techniques will be made publicly available in English and Arabic for two culturally-relevant crops for Middle Eastern cuisine.
- Selected educational materials for a new USDA NIFA funded course at the University of Nebraska titled, “Organic Weed Management Innovations for Specialty Crops,” will be translated into Arabic for Yazidi farmers in annual technical assistance workshops.