- Education and Training: decision support system, technical assistance
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems
Problem and justification: New Hampshire agriculture is in transition, both amongst the farming community and within the agriculture service providers (ASP) who offer direct support. The global pandemic resulted in the retirement of many ASPs who had lengthy careers and were well networked across the state. New staff have not had the opportunity to network across agencies or industries resulting in an isolated service provider landscape, each working towards their own individual or specific organizational level needs. A well-connected network will be more efficient in meeting grower needs, be better able to address major issues, and work towards collective goals. In addition, given historic and well-documented racial inequities across the food system, service providers must improve their cultural competencies to better serve an all-incisive agricultural landscape. A baseline understanding of the cultural stressors that all farm families face and how this may influence their professional working relationship with the farm family and farm business will result in a more sustainable agriculture system, where all people are able to farm.
Solution and approach: Agriculture Service Providers will connect more formally and regularly to identify grower needs and service provider knowledge gaps, execute culturally proficient professional development activities, and develop communication channels to serve NH agriculture. In recognition of the changing landscape of NH farms and farmers, this program will catalyze service providers to identify and address the changing needs, by building a tighter and more inclusive community and by addressing needs of all farmers in a rapid and transparent fashion. Validated grower need will be enduring by including three beginner farmer representatives as active participants in the network. This network will build out communications plans, improve functionality of webpage and web-based offerings including blogs and resources for beginning and established farms.
Performance targets from proposal:
Sixteen agriculture service providers (ASPs) will develop skills in advising farm businesses with improved cultural competencies to better serve a diverse group of New Hampshire farmers. These 16 service providers will change their attitude and awareness in the structural racism present in the food system, and the importance of collaborating as a network to address such challenges. The service providers will be better able to serve New Hampshire farmers though a strengthened more connected network serving 80 farmers.