2019 Model State Program- University of Florida

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $11,102.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
State Coordinator:
Dr. Marilyn Swisher
University of Florida


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: application rate management, continuous cropping, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, crop rotation, high tunnels or hoop houses, irrigation, low tunnels, multiple cropping, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, row covers (for season extension), seed saving, varieties and cultivars, water management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, farmers' markets/farm stands, grant making
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management, mulches - living, mulching - plastic, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture, organic certification, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: food hubs, local and regional food systems, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    Florida activities for 2019-2020 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. Our expected outcomes are: (1) Extension faculty will participate in SARE in-service training programs and use this information in their own programming, (2) Extension faculty will participate in regional and national training programs in sustainable agriculture and apply the lessons learned in their own programming, (3) at least two of the statewide Extension priority teams will include information and resources about sustainable agriculture and SARE in their professional development training programs and Extension programming, (4) through SARE, Extension agents and farmers will identify opportunities for the development, outreach, and research of alternative crops and enterprises, (5) regional and local county agents will develop new collaborations with organizations, agencies, and groups working in sustainable agriculture, and (6) Extension faculty and agents will make increased use of resources to support programming in sustainable agriculture.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Florida SARE Outreach Objectives:
    a. 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.
    i. Achieved: We conducted a series of related trainings in Grant Writing for Extension Programming, securing IRB approval for Extension programming, and using a theory of change to improve Extension outcomes. We initiated collaboration 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.
    b. 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.
    i. Achieved: We developed a collaborative effort with specialists in youth development and non-profit management to assist non-profit umbrella organization Working Food. These efforts include an assessment of Working Food’s school garden program and development of a grant proposal for a joint program between UF/IFAS and Working Food for heirloom seed preservation.
    c. 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.
    i. Achieved: UF/IFAS developed a new Community Food Systems tenure-track faculty position to be located at the Mid-Florida Research & Education Center and housed in Family, Youth & Community Sciences to further develop and build the work reported in 2018 with Regional Specialist Liz Felter. Dr. Jorge Ruiz–Menjivar, an assistant professor and state Extension specialist, has collaborated on several grant proposals over the past six months. 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.
    d. 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.
    i. 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 in 2018 that address diversity in Florida agriculture. Neither was funded, but both received positive reviews. We will resubmit in 2019. 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. Dr. Swisher continued her mentorship of new faculty members with a focus on diversity.

    Training Objectives:
    Sustainable Solutions for Florida Agricultural Production:
    a. Future of Sustainable Agriculture in Florida Webinar Series:
    The target audience for this webinar series consists of county Extension faculty and other local service providers. The purpose is to expose participants to research conducted in Florida focusing on new projects and technologies supporting sustainable agriculture. By exploring emerging research from a wide variety of disciplines related to sustainable agriculture, participants may collaborate and provide relevant and timely sustainable agricultural programming to their clients. This training is offered as a webinar series to increase participation. In 2019-20, the webinar series will focus on high tunnel vegetable crop production in Florida. This will help increase the use of high tunnels in Florida and enhance the economic revenue of participating Florida farmers. After completing this training, participants will be able to advise farmer clientele on the latest research taking place in the state addressing high tunnel vegetable production in Florida.
    b. Improving Research Outcomes through Participatory Research Assessments:
    The target audience for this training consists of state and county faculty with Extension and research appointments and staff working with these faculty members. The pace of change in food and agriculture has increased greatly due to increased international trade, expanding regulatory requirements, and a diverse consumer population with distinctive and in many cases non-traditional preferences with regard to food products and tangible and non-tangible attributes. These changes make it more important than ever to ensure that agricultural research can respond quickly to producer needs. We have developed a technique for incorporating grower and technical advisor (especially Extension) input into the design and implementation of agricultural research. The approach improves the quality of research because the key concerns of end-users of the research are involved in directing the research away from solutions that will not be acceptable to farmers, will direct research toward the most critical constraints and needs of producers, and will fully incorporate the expertise and experience of growers and their advisors to develop treatments and identify the kind of data needed by growers for their decision-making purposes. We have now conducted repeated assessments on three research projects at the University of Florida with outstanding results that have contributed some of the most innovative treatments in research and helped us avoid commitment of time and effort to approaches that will ultimately fail the test of adoption. The objective of this IST is to provide participants with a systematic, tested approach to incorporating grower input into the earliest stages of the research process, including how to conduct field research assessments (blind evaluation of treatments, for example), and how to analyze the results that are obtained. Training objectives:
    i. Develop a protocol for a research assessment.
    ii. Complete the IRB protocol that will ensure that the assessment meets federal requirements for informed consent, including a template that covers the key universally required components in the protocol.
    iii. Develop the appropriate data collection instruments and procedures for the assessment.
    iv. Conduct the procedures involved which include an individual assessment by each participant and a facilitated group discussion.
    v. Analyze the results of the assessment.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.