Florida activities for 2018-2019 will build upon the basic framework for the model state program. Planned activities include integrating results of SARE funded research and Extension activities, and other relevant research, and using this information as resources for educational programs. We also plan to continue to strengthen our focus on targeted training for state and county Extension faculty, representatives of non-profit organizations, representatives of state and federal government agencies, and farmer representatives. To fulfill the priorities and objectives of our program, our training funds will be used to address programs in three subject matter areas: (1) new and emerging solutions for Florida agricultural production, (2) advancing Extension capacity in sustainable agriculture, and (3) entrepreneurial innovation in sustainable agriculture.
Project objectives from proposal:
I. Maintain existing and establish new collaborative Extension trainings and programs with faculty members and county agents at University of Florida and Florida A&M University whose work addresses sustainability in production agriculture.
a. Achieved: We collaborated with UFL to organize Dr. Gardner’s Soil Compost Workshop. We coordinated our Business Retention and Expansion IST with the help of Food Systems Regional Specialized Agent Dr. Liz Felter and the Apopka Chamber of Commerce. We held our Grant Writing for Extension Programming IST in West Palm Beach in collaboration with County Extension Director Anita Neal. Dr. Mike Gutter, Associate Dean for Extension, met to discuss our professional development trainings and is working to incorporate them into UF’s Extension new agent training. We will collaborate with FAMU, UF and USDA research scientists to create a Future of Sustainable Agriculture in Florida webinar series and other public and private sector food systems experts to create a webinar addressing how to leverage resources to create food system networks in Florida.
II. Extend collaboration with organizations that are active in the post-production components of food systems, particularly non-profit, state, and governmental organizations whose work fosters development of food and agriculture businesses.
a. Achieved: We recruited and voted four producers, one nonprofit, three Extension agents, and three research scientists onto the advisory council. We are collaborating with Melissa DeSa at the nonprofit Working Food and Amy Van Scoik at Frog Song Organic Farm to develop grant proposals addressing beginning farmer and rancher training and local food systems networks. We continue to serve on the Central Florida Food Systems Committee, a statewide Extension committee working to build food system networks across Florida. We continue to be a member of the Florida Food Policy Council and attend all meetings.
III. Support the development of Extension programs in food systems, including Regional Specialized Agents whose work includes both on-farm production and post-farm gate aspects of food system development.
a. Achieved: Regional Specialized Agent, Dr. Patrick Troy, has participated in research needs assessments, attended the Southern Cover Crops Conference, joined the Southern Cover Crops Council, received a SSARE On-Farm Grant addressing cover crops, and is now a member of our advisory council. Dr. Jorge Ruiz–Menjivar, an assistant professor and state Extension specialist, uses a behavioral approach to consumer economics to develop and understand the farmers’ management decision making process and has collaborated on several grant proposals over the past six months. He will work with us to better understand the barriers to adoption of new practices both in production and post-production with the objective of identifying the ways in which farmer assessment of new practices varies from that of researchers and extension personnel in order to create more responsive research at UF and FAMU and develop more effective theories of change for Extension programming based on the research we conduct. We continue to offer grant proposal mentorship by reviewing grant proposals and assisting with research and Extension needs assessments in order to develop projects that are responsive to farmer-identified needs and barriers.
IV. Expand participation of minority, women, and limited resource farmers and professionals in SARE activities and programs, ensuring that these groups are well represented in the full range of SARE-funded professional development opportunities.
a. Achieved: We have developed an on-going collaborative relationship with Dr. Jenny Jones, an assistant professor at UF whose areas of focus in Extension are non-profit management and diversity. She worked with us to submit two grant proposals that address diversity in Florida agriculture within the past six months, both of which focus on food system development. One focuses on increasing enrollment in agricultural graduate degrees among rural, limited resource communities and one focuses on developing a mentoring program to foster increased enrollment by students who complete undergraduate degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UF or at Florida A&M University. This work focuses on building on-going collaboration with student and faculty members at non-land-grant HBCUs and Hispanic Serving universities in the state.