Smart Energy Management in Agriculture
The Ecological Farming Association has implemented a two-year training program aimed at improving energy management on California farms, vineyards, and ranches. “Smart Energy Management in Agriculture” provides growers with skills and resources to decrease fossil fuel use through energy conservation and renewable energy applications. Using our proven program model, participants connect with technical experts and producer peers in both classroom and hands-on settings and engage with a statewide network of producers, local government representatives, non-profit organizations, and industry representatives in order to effect maximum impact. All four California trainings have been completed: Healdsburg (North Coast); Pacific Grove (Central Coast); Livingston (San Joaquin Valley); Winters (Sacramento Valley).
Objective One (over the course of four or more trainings, 125 California farmers will incorporate renewable energy technologies and energy conservation in their operations)
245 people participated in the four workshops. 49% of these were farmers, for a total of 120 farmers. Additional participants include those that attended renewable energy workshops held at the 2007 Ecological Farming Conference.
A total of 87% planned on using what they learned in the workshop within one year (213 participants).
Post-training evaluations demonstrate:
Healdsburg: 89% indicated they would implement what they had learned in the upcoming 6-12 months, including undertaking energy audits, installing solar thermal, PV, and boosters, educating peers and management, writing, and implementing usage of biofuels.
Pacific Grove: 85% indicated they would implement what they had learned in the upcoming 6-12 months.
Livingston: 81% indicated they would implement what they had learned in the upcoming 6-12 months.
Winters: 84% indicated they would implement what they had learned in the upcoming 6-12 months.
The 12-month follow-up survey will be sent in 2008 to participants in the last three trainings. EFA will supplement the 12-month follow-up survey sent to the Healdsburg participants through a phone survey, as the response was low.
Objective Two (the project coordinator will work with producer advisors and other project supporters to create four regional planning committees, which will develop training curriculum):
Five committees have been convened: an initial committee of 21 people developed the core curriculum and the regional focus topics for the first event, which was implemented at the North Coast training in March 2006. Regional committees adapted the curriculum and presenters for subsequent trainings: 8 for Pacific Grove, 15 for Livingston (including 9 farmers), and 11 for Winters (including 3 farmers).
Objective Three (two trainings per year in California’s four most productive agricultural regions and additional outreach and workshop development at the Ecological Farming Conference):
The first of four trainings (North Coast) was completed March 2006. The Central Coast training, originally planned for fall 2006, was postponed to coincide with our organization’s annual Ecological Farming Conference in January 2007. The two Central Valley trainings were held in July and November 2007.
The curriculum was similar at all trainings. The workshop portion of the day included general information, approaches, and resources for understanding and evaluating energy use. Each also included specific presentations tailored for the region. The group took extended tours of farms in the region that incorporated some type of renewable energy. Each attendee received a handbook to bring back with them.
In addition to this first training, the Ecological Farming Conference in January 2007 took an energy theme, “Farm Power: Growing It Organically,” and included a special energy track reaching at least 500 attendees that covered Energy Efficiency, Biofuels Through the Eyes of Agricultural Sustainability, Solar: The Perfect Storm of Economic and Environmental Sustainability, How Many Miles to Go Before You Eat, and a plenary session with Richard Heinberg on peak oil.
Objective Four (compile a renewable energy handbook for distribution to 400 producers): In advance of the first training, a substantive handbook of 150 pages (later expanded to 200 pages) was developed to complement the training curriculum and to provide additional information and resources for producers. Over 250 handbooks have been distributed, at least 125 to producers. Key components of the handbook are available on the Ecological Farming Association’s website at: www.eco-farm.org/energy. Additional updated handbooks were available at the Eco-Farm Conference in January 2007 and for individual sale.
Objective Five (survey participants within 12 months of each training): The Healdsburg participants have been surveyed by email, however we need to follow-up with a phone survey to get an adequate response. The remaining surveys will be sent out on schedule in 2008.
Regional committees planned training curriculum and agendas, 55 people involved
All trainings completed
Over 90% of participants rated their training a “4” and above for satisfaction and 89% rated a “4” and above for increased knowledge
February 16, 2006 supplemental training, hosted in cooperation with the UC Cooperative Extension in Marin County, focused on dairy people and renewable energy options
150-page handbook developed and updated to 200 pages
Published article on biofuels in Eco-farm newsletter and distribute to 10,000+ people
Established energy website at www.eco-farm.org/energy
Influenced 2007 Ecological Farming Conference to include energy plenary and workshops, conference titled: “Farm Power: Growing It Organically”
Complete follow-up surveys with participants (to be completed in stages by Fall 2008) and analysis of data
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
a) Increasing producer knowledge, awareness, attitudes, and skills: 245 attendees have been provided with an array of information, resources, personal stories, hand’s-on examples, and encouragement, all designed to increase competency in evaluating and implementing changes in energy consumption and sources on the farm.
b) Information dissemination: In the course of producing the trainings, over 5,000 people were informed about the event, and the Eco-Farm newsletter published a front-page opinion piece about biofuels and promoted the program to 10,000 readers. The information presented is also posted on our Smart Energy website (www.eco-farm.org/energy) and become available to web visitors. For each training, over 100 calendar listings were published in the region and over 50 reporters received a press alert.
c) Resources impacted: Agriculture consumes 14% of California’s diesel fuel and 7% of the state’s total electricity. Adoption of conservation and efficiency measures and well as conversion to biofuels and alternative energy sources, including various solar technologies, wind, biomass digesters, etc., can substantially impact energy resource use in the state. Smart Energy Management in Agriculture provides quality learning opportunities and practical, expert training for growers to positively impact their farm energy management choices.
d) Positive economic impact: Growers realize immediate cost savings by implementing conservation and efficiency measures. Transitioning to renewable energy and fuel sources provides both cost savings as well as stabilization of operating expenses through on-site energy production. The Smart Energy Management in Agriculture curriculum presents a strong emphasis on conservation and efficiency, as well as clear explanations of incentive programs in which growers can participate.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-5841
Office Phone: 8314232824
PO Box 249
San Juan Bautista, CA 95075-0245
Office Phone: 8316232806
9292 W. Dry Creek Rd.
Healdsburg, CA 95488
PO Box 871
Carmel Valley, CA 93924-0871
Office Phone: 8316594574
12230 Livingston Cressey Rd.
Livingston, CA 95334-9714
Office Phone: 2093941420
Molino Creek Farm/Gophers Limited
8315 Hermosa Ave
Ben Lomond, CA 95005
Office Phone: 8313362852
National Center for Appropriate Technology
PO Box 2218
Davis, CA 95617
Office Phone: 5307927338
Harmony Farm Supply
PO Box 640
Graton, CA 95444
Office Phone: 7078239125
13886 Road 20
Madera, CA 93637-9222
Office Phone: 5596739058
172 Litchfield Lane
Watsonville, CA 95076-0620
Office Phone: 8317632448
1764 Cooper Rd.
Sebastopol, Ca 95472