- Fruits: bananas, figs, papaya
- Crop Production: agroforestry, forest farming, multiple cropping, windbreaks
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, workshop
- Pest Management: mulches - general
- Soil Management: organic matter
BACKGROUND: Guam is a U.S. territory located in the western Pacific region. Twenty six miles long and ten miles wide, the island is characterized by some suitable conditions for year-round small scale farming, but it does not enjoy the soil health/quality nor optimal production conditions endemic to other agricultural regions in the contiguous U.S. Over the past 15 years, more than 1,000 applicants obtained agriculture leases with the Chamorro Land Trust Commission (CLTC), the agency charged with managing public lands for the economic benefit of Guam’s indigenous people, the Chamorros. Acquiring a lease is contingent on the expectation that leasees will bring 2/3 of their land into production and plant 50 fruit trees within a year. However, in 2010 the CLTC and University of Guam Cooperative Extension Services (UOG-CES) sampled 10% of leaseholders and found that more than half were non-compliant with agricultural production conditions.Leaseholders said in surveys that they could not farm their land due to: no water, poor rocky soils, lack of weed control, sloping land, second growth forest or grasslands cover, limited time/labor, and lack of equipment and capital. Auditors also found that leaseholders did not have traditional subsistence or commercial production knowledge and were unfamiliar with small subsistence/market hybrid production systems that could address their perceived production constraints. UOG-CES then held 22 workshops between 2010 and 2011 on topics such as: farm planning, fruit tree windbreaks, organic soil fertility management, small farm fruit tree nurseries, and water management. The workshop series attracted record attendance; 50 CLTC leaseholders and 156 other unique participants, demonstrating a strong demand for information. Concomitantly, Guam’s hospitality industry and public school system’s growing preference for locally sourced produce has increased demand for tropical fruit. But despite the demand, existing farmers are reluctant to invest time and space to fruit trees because they would receive no income during the years before a tree becomes productive. Arable land on Guam is very expensive and scarce, yet with a climate suitable for year-round production and high prices for local fruit and vegetables, farming can be profitable. For many small subsistence/small market farms land is not the only constraint. These systems must also address how much and what kind of labor is required for optimal production. The micro-plot concept, defined by Landesa Rural Development Institute as 1/10 acre or 400 square meters, is a sustainable agriculture model in the global development field for its benefits of biodiversity, efficiency, and increase in household earnings from sale of excess produce (Aliber and Hall, 2010; Landesa, 2011a; Landesa, 2011b; Rosset, 1999).RESEARCH QUESTION: Given reported agricultural production constraints and increased demand for fruit, we believe that agroforestry systems incorporating fast-to-fruit trees (two to three years) on micro-plots can open up productive opportunities for CLTC leaseholders, while also meeting a new demand among local chefs for unique local fruits. Marsh (1998) has found that the micro-plot can produce economically significant outcomes between surplus sales and savings on commercially purchased food. Thus, we will explore possible answers to the question:What is the appropriate intensive farming system on micro-plots to develop economically significant (purchased food substitution, market gardening) outputs for a tropical island environment?PROCESS AND EDUCATIONAL PLAN: “Seven Trees, Seven Practices” is a two-year agroforestry demonstration and education project leveraging a peer education model projected to reach 140 total workshop attendees. In Project Year 1, an initial cohort of five producers will establish 1/10 acre agroforestry demonstration micro-plots. The farmers’ peers in the Northern and Southern Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Guam Farmer’s Cooperative Association broadly recognize them as innovative and commercially successful producers. Initial producers will plant three of seven fast-to-fruit trees (breadfruit, key lime, fig, calamansi, soursop, mulberry, pomegranate) and implement three of seven core USDA NRCS EQIP-approved agroforestry/conservation practices (fruit tree windbreaks, nitrogen fixing hedgerows, sheet mulching/mulching, vegetative filter strips, cover crops, contour farmingpractices and drip irrigation) after consulting with the PI. The seven fast-to-fruit trees were selected based on restaurant demand for fruit. Each producer will: 1) Set aside 1/10 acre for the demonstration plot, 2) Establish plantings of three fruit species, 3) Implement a minimum of three agroforestry/conservation practices, 4) Contribute propagation material, and, 5) Assist in development and delivery of educational activities and materials, including hands-on practice and site visits.Initial producers will also mentor a secondary producer cohort comprised of three to five community based groups of new market basket farmers. These groups have approached UOG-CES seeking help in continuing gardens or farms that are less than three years old; restarting, or initiating agricultural activities. The Project Manager will facilitate these mentoring relationships and coordinate two hands-on workshops on agroforestry, which will be conducted by initial cohort members to the secondary cohort.In Project Year 2, the initial cohort, PI, and Project Manager will deliver seven on-farm workshops targeting the general public. Each workshop will cover in depth one of each of the seven fast-to-fruit trees and one of the seven agroforestry practices. The PI already has curriculum for conservation practices from the prior CLTC workshops and will revise it for this project. The PI, Project Manager, and initial producers will develop a new curriculum about each fruit tree. Each workshop will last from four to six hours. Initial producers will conduct demonstrations and provide hands-on practice. The Project Manager will supply educational materials, technical experts, and transportation for site visits. UOG projects workshop attendance by 140 growing-inclined people.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Create and formalize demonstration farm plans with the five producers in the initial cohort and start plant propagation.
During Year 1 Quarter 1 (Q1) (June/July/August 2015), the PI and Project Manager will conduct site visits to assess and discuss the potential micro-plot site with each producer. The Project Manager will coordinate planning meetings to discuss overall constraints, plant materials, and conservation practices. Each producer will select tree species, agroforestry, and conservation practices. Finally, all producers will convene to discuss the units’ conservation plans and timelines and finalize site plans. The Project Manager and Nursery/Office Assistant will start plant material propagation as soon as project award is announced.
2. Implement agroforestry demonstration micro-plots with five producers in the initial cohort.
For Year 1 Q2 (September/October/November 2015), UOG will distribute plant materials to initla producers. Initial producers will begin tree cultivation from the seedlings/cutting saplings and institute conservation practices. The Project Manager will implement a monitoring process by which all parties can document and learn from successes and challenges of the demonstration plots.
3. Formalize the mentorship relationship between the initial and secondary cohorts.
During Year 1 Q3-4 (December-June 2015), the PI and Project Manager will facilitate a mentorship process, coordinating two farm workshops for each quarter targeting the secondary cohort. Initial producers will explain their plot plans, give hands-on practice, and conduct demonstrations.
4. Assist a secondary producer cohort, comprised of three to five community groups, in the establishment of their own agroforestry micro-plots, leveraging the mentorship and workshop involvement of the primary producers. For Year 2 Q1 (June-September 2016), the secondary cohort will develop micro-plot plans and establish their sites.
5. Develop seven workshops around key agroforestry practices, targeting the general public. The PI already has a curriculum on conservation practices from prior CLTC workshops. The Project Manager will oversee a review process by which initial producers can provide input on
revisions; the Project Manager will then finalize it. Additionally, in Year 1 Q3-4 (January-June 2015), the PI, Project Manager, and the initial producer cohort will research, develop, and write, new educational materials about the fast-to-fruit trees. Educational materials will include Power Point presentations, Extension publications, and resource lists. The secondary producer group will provide feedback on the educational materials targeting beginning to intermediate-level farmers.
6. Implement seven workshops around key agroforestry practices. These workshops will occur throughout Year 2 Q1-4 (June 2016-June 2017), with one to two workshops occurring per quarter. The workshop format will include presentations, hands-on practice, and site visits. Participants will be recruited through networks such as the Northern and Southern Soil and Water Conservation District voter rolls, Chamorro Land Trust leaseholder lists, the Cooperative Extension client base, and networks of the secondary producer groups.