- Fruits: berries (other), berries (strawberries)
- Crop Production: cropping systems, fertigation, fertilizers, high tunnels or hoop houses, irrigation, low tunnels
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
- Farm Business Management: grant making, value added
- Pest Management: cultivation, mulches - general, mulching - plastic
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, partnerships, urban agriculture
Historically, the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) Peninsula was a major hub for strawberry and raspberry production. However, current commercial production is negligible on the Eastern Shore (Somerset-Wicomico-Worcester) of MD. Similar situations exist in Delaware and Virginia. The cultivation of June bearing (JB) strawberries using the traditional matted row system is the only source of farm income during the spring season and thereafter most of the produce is imported from distant states. Similarly, growers in these areas are heavily depended on floricane fruiting type raspberries (FFTR) that too on small acreage. The cultivation of FFTR requires two year for fruit production and consume time and resources for pruning and disease management. In fact, cultivation of both the berries is negligible on the Eastern Shore with no information available on raspberry acreage in 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. Most of the local growers have no idea about the existence of day neutral strawberries (DNS) and primocane-fruiting type raspberry (PFTR) varieties, which can extends the harvest season. This proposed extension outreach work will demonstrate sustainable approaches to extend the growing season using multiple JB and DNS under low and high tunnels and open bed regimes. Similarly, our sustainable approach to complement the existing FFTR cultivation system by PFTR under high tunnels regimes will accelerate the local berry production with more profit at farm. Our extensive extension plan (multiple hands-on training) will initiate the rejuvenation of strawberry and raspberry cultivation on the Eastern Shore of MD to benefit socially disadvantaged farmers, women farmers, small farmers, veteran farmers, and BIPOC (black indigenous and people of color) growers. The advisory board of this extension program is highly diverse, comprises extension agents, local growers, veteran farmers, BIPOC organizations, consumers, and faculty members to incorporate holistic education, and subsequently reaches to farmers from all the strata of the farming community.
Performance targets from proposal:
10 Agriculture service providers who enrich their knowledge of season extension in strawberry and raspberry crops will teach 25 farmers about the use of June bearers and day-neutral strawberries and primocane raspberries for season extension in association with low and high tunnels. 10 Agricultural Service Providers will provide individual consultation and advice to 20 interested growers. 10 Agriculture service providers will further disseminate the work by the publication of factsheets and online study materials to 45 farmers and host workshops using the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Small Fruit Plots for 45 farmers.