Farming for the Future: Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers
Performance targets have been reached and coursework is being offered in classrooms for small, beginning and transiting farmers. A total of 18 classes in 10 counties provided the Cultivating Success curricula through classroom and hands-on, experiential learning environments. Through the extension of this grant, a greater effort focused on exploring on-farm mentorships and engaging Hmong growers in effective educational experiences.
- Develop and offer a WSU course that provides an overview of sustainable, small acreage farming systems for beginning and transitioning farmers.
Develop and offer a WSU course that assists new and existing small-scale farmers in developing a business plan.
Develop and offer an on-farm, for credit, internship program for students that have completed the two classroom courses described above.
Develop and refine the three-part course series described above for East Asian and Latino immigrant farmers and aspiring farmers.
1. Develop and offer a WSU course that provides an overview of sustainable, small acreage farming systems for beginning and transitioning farmers.
See previous reports for accomplishments of the development of the Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching Overview Course.
2. Develop and offer a WSU course that assists new and existing small-scale farmers in developing a business plan.
A new curriculum was offered in the spring of 2006 to offer Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Small Business Planning.
3. Develop and offer an on-farm, for credit, internship program for students that have completed the two classroom courses described above.
Along with previous materials developed to aid county offices offering mentoring curricula, we are looking at developing partnerships with educational institutes or not-for-profit sites to offer on-farm training. This year we have partnered with 21-Acres, a public farmers market, small gardening, and public farm. Through the hiring of a cultivating success instructor and liaison to 21-Acres, we are educating partners about the curricula. Students interested in the on-farm apprenticeship can sign up to farm plots at the public farm under the guidance of an experienced farm manager. Students will also have access to other local farmers for mentorship and on-site consultations. Students will gain the full farming experience from crop production to direct marketing at the public farm. It is our hope to add this model of public partnership to the other internships and mentorship programs that Cultivating Success teaching sites can offer. More information about 21-Acre project can be found at: http://www.21acres.org/
In previous reports we documented the difficulty to establish existing farmer commitment as a mentor to beginning farmers. Through other funds, a statewide survey of farmers will address this issue in order to gain a better understanding of how we can offer mentor and intern programs. A summary of the results will be available in the project’s final report.
4. Develop and refine the three-part course series described above for East Asian and Latino immigrant farmers and aspiring farmers.
Our initial pilot tests have indicated strong Hmong farmer interest in learning more about sustainable farming practices and business management practices if we can design culturally appropriate, optimal adult learning formats. Difficulty was found when offering traditional classroom education with many immigrant growers as the curriculum that was developed for the other classes was deemed un-usable by farmers. We found that tangible offerings had to be made when promoting educational opportunities to Hmong farmers. Growers are less likely to attend an educational event if the title and topic is abstract. However, growers will show up if tangible items or goals are offered such as “Make More Money,” a class used to teach advertising at the market where participants made their own market signs. Using the curricula developed for the Cultivating Success series, all educational events planned for Hmong growers introduce a component of the curricula during the event.
Relevance learning models were used to introduce Cultivating Success curricula for Hmong growers. For example, ecological pest management curricula had to be introduced through Pesticide Pre-Licensing Classes during the 2005 and 2006 winters. Growers were eager to earn a pesticide applicators license. Through using the ecological pest management curricula, growers learned non-pesticide strategies. Five growers (2 in 2005 and 3 in 2006) from a class size of 17 passed the Washington State Department of Agriculture Pesticide Applicators exam. Low passing rates are due to limited vocabulary, reading comprehension and math skills, but they learned useful pest management strategies and gained skills and safety along with bettering language skills.
Mr. Bee Cha, a college graduate and Hmong immigrant farmer, was hired through other funds to aid in the development of educational materials. Bee Cha successfully completed Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching Overview Course and will be a significant partner in developing future opportunities to insert Cultivating Success teaching goals into Hmong educational events.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Fourteen counties offered Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching Overview Course with class sizes up to 30 farmers totaling 127 farmers to complete the course. This grant supported classes in King and Snohomish Counties, or 36 farmers. All participants completed a farm plan. All participants in King County now have a better understanding of sustainable agriculture and the significance farm planning. One grower testified:
“This course has changed my abilities to plan my future. Until now, I didn’t even balance my checkbook!”
Seven counties offered Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Small Business Planning to 118 farmers. This grant supported the class in Pierce County, or 15 farmers. The updated and revised curriculum was well received and followed similar structure of past NxLevel Tilling the Soil of Success curriculum. Survey data will be included in the final report to include 2007 spring classes.
Three Cultivating success students from the King County classes will participate in the farming internship at the public farm, 21-Acres. Using the Farmer Mentorship Handbook, students will undergo experiential learning activities that include whole farm production and marketing. Students will gain experience working soil, using tools, managing crops and pests and direct marketing during the growing season of 2007. This mentorship will be summarized in the final report.
Hmong and Latino Curricula Adaptation
This grant supported the development of Latino adapted curriculum. Eighteen farmers successfully completed the Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching Overview course.
During 2006, 85 Hmong farmers attended product-based educational events including sustainable harvest of forest products, organic certification, record-keeping and direct sales at farmer’s markets. In spring of 2007, we will provide product-based education to cover Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Small Business Planning teaching goals. This effort was suspended during fall of 2006 due to severe flooding.
Cascade Harvest Coalition
9019 32nd Avenue NE
Seattle, Wa 98115
Office Phone: 2065251098
Washington State University Extension
919 SW Grady Way, Suite 120
Renton, WA 98055
Office Phone: 2062053131
Outreach and Research Director
Washington State University
7612 Pioneer Way East
Puyallup, WA 98371
Office Phone: 2534454597
Imigrant Farm Specialist
WSU King County Extension
919 SW Grady Way, #120
Renton, WA 98057
Office Phone: 2062053154