- Education and Training: extension, mentoring, workshop
Context, Justification and Assumptions:
The Arizona Sustainable Agriculture Development Program assists Extension agents and specialists, Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, producers, and other agricultural/education professionals in their efforts to learn and apply the concepts and techniques of sustainable agriculture systems. The SARE development program is important to Arizona because it strives to link Cooperative Extension and USDA field personnel with producers and agricultural professionals statewide. Organic, biodynamic, and permaculture and other producers of various scale apply sustainable agriculture principles to food and fiber production systems in Arizona. A variety of marketing philosophies are used to connect with consumers including farmers’ markets, consumer supported agriculture, field stands, local markets, and internet sales. Additionally, Native American authorities and community members desire to reconnect with their past agricultural heritage and seek assistance in learning and teaching concepts that interface and enhance traditional agricultural techniques. The overall natural arid environment of Arizona creates unique challenges for all producers and the current long-term drought in the Southwest adds a critical emphasis. These issues make it important for the current 20 Arizona Extension agents, their supporting specialists, other agricultural professionals, non-governmental entities, decision makers, producers, and consumers to work together in a synergistic manner. The key for these linkages is effective communication and partnership at all levels. For these reasons, it is important that all parties better understand the concepts of sustainable agriculture and the methodologies required to appropriately apply them in arid land conditions. Arizona programs facilitate the distribution of knowledge and experience to stakeholders statewide. The state program coordinator encourages communication and interaction between interested parties in Arizona and all segments of the national and regional SARE programs.
Stakeholder involvement: Members of the Arizona SARE Advisory Committee provide input and direction to the program. There are four members currently, all from Cooperative Extension. These include; James Walworth, Peter Warren, and Kelly Young with Rick Gibson as chair provide oversight and input.
Producer input comes from stakeholders known by the individual members. Needs assessment surveys help guide programming. Additional stakeholder participation is achieved by partnering with producers, agricultural professionals, producer organizations, and other outreach programs. Individual agents receive suggestions, input, and feedback from the clientele with whom they work.
1. Financial – SARE funding provides financial support to enhance the development of Arizona Extension PDP programs.
2. Human – The experience and professionalism of Cooperative Extension professionals, including their professional education skills and their increasing understanding of sustainable agriculture concepts and techniques; the guidance of stakeholders, and the engagement of other agriculture education professionals; office support to assist with proper documentation of resources, communications and benchmark information processing.
3. Physical – Equipment and office space of participating agencies and organizations, web and Internet-based support for the distribution of information.
1. Extension professionals taking the opportunity to participate in sustainable agriculture seminars, conferences and other professional development activities through travel grants will be better able to address local sustainable agriculture issues (short term)
2. Extension professionals participating in local workshops will feel comfortable adopting or recommending adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques (medium term)
3. Trained professionals will teach the concepts that they have learned to their clientele (medium term)
4. Agricultural operations will become more sustainable (medium and long term)