Producing Online Courses with Farmers & Researchers so Ag Professionals Can Access Sustainable Viticulture Education On-Demand

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $99,695.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G312-23-W9986
Grant Recipient: Vineyard Team
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Elizabeth Vukmanic
Vineyard Team

Information Products


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: fertilizers, foliar feeding, irrigation, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, plant breeding and genetics, tissue analysis, varieties and cultivars, water management
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mating disruption, prevention, traps
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will produce 30 online courses that explore the latest sustainable viticulture practices over two years. Courses will be farmer and researcher driven to share science-based and practical farming methods. Veteran growers, Cooperative Extension Specialists, University researchers, and ag experts (e.g. USDA, CDFA) will cover the top challenges facing viticulturalists today including pests and diseases, water conservation, nutrient management, natural resource conservation, technology adoption, fruit quality, and regulatory compliance.

    In-person continuing education events require travel, time away from the farm, financial investment (hotel, gas, food, ticket), and are not always available when the farmer is. A library of online courses gives more farmers access to sustainable viticulture education enabling them to learn about topics that actually impact their business.

    Skills assessment and behavioral changes will be assessed throughout the project to expand and improve the educational experience in the future. Quizzes and surveys will determine the specific practices farmers learned and implemented. A train-the-trainer tool kit will help grower mangers facilitate educational programs for their own team.

    Since 1994, Vineyard Team has shared the latest viticulture sustainable farming practices through field demonstrations, expert presentations, research, and grower-to-grower networking. Today, the organization can capitalize on its large network of growers and successful events to make educational content available to a wider audience. Online courses will be created by recording presentations at in-field “Tailgate” meetings and live sessions at the three-day Sustainable Ag Expo. Plus, new content will be developed by recording courses with online meeting platforms (Zoom) and video. 

    Ready access to online education helps grower managers educate their whole team to make smarter, sustainable vineyard management decisions to increase efficiency, conserve resources, and maximize fruit quality.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The target audience is viticulturalists in the Western United States as well as their field level staff, growers, and industry professionals who wish to gain knowledge on best practices.

    Our objectives are:

    1. To provide farming professionals with accessible educational opportunities to spread best management practices in the viticulture industry in a format that is convenient, easy to use, and timely.

    2. Effectively educate a minimum of 100 grower managers on current viticulture sustainability topics. Engage participants through a direct mail and email campaigns using Vineyard Team’s 2500 person mailing list. Participating grower managers will share their course learnings with two team members, for a total project reach of a minimum of 300 farmers, so that they can further spread the knowledge to other industry members.

    3. Assess knowledge gained with mandatory 70 percent passing grade course quizzes. Facilitate knowledge sharing with train the trainer tools kits and grower roundtables. And, determine behavioral change (implementation of sustainable viticulture practices) with surveys.

    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.