Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center2013 Annual Report
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: 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: 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 mean 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 USDA, ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farm Research Center in Booneville, AR, has expertise in cattle and small ruminant production, grazing strategies, and disease issues associated with small farms production. In addition, the ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit in Fayetteville, AR, has expertise in poultry production, food safety,and disease issues associated with both conventional and organic farms. University of Arkansas faculty have expertise in agricultural training and research focused on animal production issues, agricultural economics and agribusiness research and extension and are known for developing and delivering timely and practical assistance to agricultural producers. Both institutions are also involved in educational and research cooperation involving military veterans and disadvantaged farmers. Several programs were conducted to provide research findings to farmers through this agreement including: 1) Armed to Farm Boot Camp on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Campus June 2013. University of Arkansas, NCAT, and ARS sponsored 30 military veterans who were housed in dorms on campus and participated in classroom lectures, on-farm demonstrations, and hands-on training at local farms in a week-long intensive training program. This comprehensive course provided needed skills and resources to enhance the profitability of military veteran farming enterprises and allows them to utilize the latest technology derived from ARS and university research; and 2) Southern SAWG holds the Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference, an annual January event that provides a forum to learn about sustainable farming techniques and marketing strategies, community food systems, and federal farm policies and programs that promote sustainable agriculture. This event also provides producers, researchers, information providers, concerned consumers and community organizers the opportunity to build networks, strengthen alliances, and recognize the achievements of Southern sustainable farmers. We sponsored 55 veterans and family members to attend the meeting and hosted a working session for military veterans. The attendees were provided needed skills and resources to enhance the profitability of their farming enterprises and allow them to utilize the latest technology derived from ARS research.