1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Provide fundamental tools for beginning farmers in sustainable agriculture. We will focus on the Southern Region, but our goal is to have a nation-wide impact. We will develop comprehensive training materials and outreach. Our objectives are to: 1. Develop modular training material on integrated natural livestock and agroforestry systems, including specialized material for Hispanic immigrants and returning veterans. 2. Develop demonstration farm with integrated natural livestock and agroforestry systems for experiential learning. 3. Develop training components including workshops and internships, including specialized training for Hispanics and veterans. 4. Develop networks and custom mentoring on natural livestock/agroforestry production and marketing.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
We will develop on-line modular outreach/training materials on integrated natural livestock and agroforestry systems, including specialized material for Hispanic immigrants and returning veterans. The materials will be designed to be used in many ways: electronic self-study, formal educational curricula including: a) Whole-farm planning: We will include material on feasibility and business planning, marketing, budgeting that beginning farmers can customize to their own individual agricultural enterprise. Legal issues such as licenses, contracts, ownership, liability, and contract issues will also be included. Natural livestock farming practices and agroforestry: We plan to include different modules that will cover basic grass farming practices such as: soil fertility and management, forage production, parasites, nutrition, pasture establishment, grazing management (rotational vs. continuous), watering systems. We will develop specific modules that cover sustainable livestock production, sheep and goat production (meat, milk, fiber), alternative pasture-based poultry production), as well as small-scale woodlot and agroforestry practices. Methods specific to certified organic production will be developed, including natural health management and organic feeds. As an integral part of our project we plan to develop a demonstration farm as a means to provide beginning farmers and ranchers with a physical site to observe and perform concrete activities related to the planning, development, management, and maintenance of a whole-farm agricultural enterprise. The farm will be located at the USDA, ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Booneville, AR, with a smaller hands-on project for poultry in Fayetteville.
3. Progress Report
The project is a collaborative effort with the University of Arkansas scientists working in the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science on the Fayetteville campus. The long-term goal of this project is to develop a personalized comprehensive and integrated educational program that provides new and beginning farmers and ranchers with relevant information and practical skills to create an individual plan to initiate, maintain, advance, diversify, and succeed in their new or beginning agricultural enterprises. In the first year of this project we have assisted in providing scientific input into the development of an online course focused on poultry production and sustainable farming production systems. We also contributed in an "Arm to Farm" workshop for military veterans interested in poultry production.