The Alabama SARE program has a strong history of serving small producers AND building capacity within the educator teams inside/outside Extension. This program is also critical to new and beginning farmers that includes a substantial number of limited resource and veteran farms. This program provides comprehensive training in organic crop production methods (variety selection, irrigation management, and organic fertilizers to name a few) and sustainable IPM tactics to technical assistance providers (TAPs) from nongovernmental agencies or NGOs and state agencies (NRCS/FSA/Alabama Dept. of Agriculture). TAPs and producers are also part of the SARE program advisory committee. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are proposing a hybrid model of professional development with online webinars, two ﬁeld events in central and south AL to benefit educators and TAPs. Field training will be the emphasis as vaccination rates improve in AL and COVID cases subside. At least two educational ﬁeld videos will also be completed and made available via the Farming Basics phone app that is already available. We have proposed development of a Farming Basics Incubator Program at EV Smith Research and Extension Center and Farming Basics Podcast as new activities. Throughout the year, on-farm consultations and pest alerts are still the critical need for stakeholders; this service will continue in parallel with the professional development plan outlined herein. Every SARE-funded activity is evaluated using robust feedback system and numbers reported via annual reports, flyers, and presentations. All educational videos and major publications (such the Organic IPM toolkit slide chart) acknowledge SARE support.
Project objectives from proposal:
Obj. 1. Strengthen train-the-trainer support activities and promote networking among educators
Obj. 2. Develop ﬁeld demonstration videos and podcast on sustainable crop production and pest management practices for rural and urban farms
Obj. 3. Develop plans for a ‘Farming Basics Incubator Program’ at EV Smith Research and Extension Center (Shorter, AL) for educator training
Obj. 4. Improved communication with SARE Advisory Committee and other stakeholders