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Title: The organic research network project on the central coast of California

item Muramoto, Joji - University Of California
item Gliessman, S. - University Of California
item Shennan, C. - University Of California
item Pisani Gareau, T. - University Of California
item Monsen, K. - University Of California
item Leap, James - University Of California
item Nieto, D. - University Of California
item Bryer, J. - University Of California
item Pedersen, S. - High Ground Organics
item Koike, Steve - University Of California - Cooperative Extension Service
item Smith, R. - University Of California
item Bolda, M. - University Of California - Cooperative Extension Service
item Gaskell, M. - University Of California - Cooperative Extension Service
item Daugovish, O. - University Of California Agriculture And Natural Resources (UCANR)
item Klonsky, K. - University Of California Agriculture And Natural Resources (UCANR)
item Bull, Carolee
item Salas, W. - Applied Geosolutions, Llc
item Li, C. - University Of New Hampshire
item Oomen, G.j.m. - Independent Ecological Researcher

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/8/2012
Publication Date: 9/1/2013
Citation: Muramoto, J., Gliessman, S.R., Shennan, C., Pisani Gareau, T., Monsen, K.L., Leap, J., Nieto, D., Bryer, J., Pedersen, S., Koike, S.T., Smith, R., Bolda, M.P., Gaskell, M., Daugovish, O., Klonsky, K., Bull, C.T., Salas, W., Li, C., Oomen, G. 2013. The organic research network project on the central coast of California. Acta Horticulturae. 1001:35-45.

Interpretive Summary: Organic strawberry production grew by $53 million dollars between 1997 and 2009 and in Central Coastal California. It continues to grow to meet the consumer demand. Multi-year participatory research projects were designed to build relationships among project participants, including multidisciplinary researchers, farm advisors, organic growers, landowners, other businesses, and NGOs. The network developed innovative approaches to increase science-based knowledge to improve organic strawberry production. The project resulted in scholarly articles translated to growers and is now being used to produce organic strawberries. Contributions to the Organic Strawberry Production Manual document research findings as best practices and define the gaps in scientific understanding of the processes that influence organic strawberry production. The work of this organic strawberry research and extension network tried to optimize environmental protection while directly influencing the quality and availability of organic strawberries for consumers.

Technical Abstract: The California organic agriculture industry has grown in size and consumer acceptance despite a very limited scientific research base. The Organic Research Network Project, funded by USDA-Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (USDA-OREI) program in 2004 (S.R. Gliessman, P.I.), was designed to 1) strengthen an existing organic research and extension network to support organic vegetable and strawberry producers in the region; and 2) develop integrated fertility and pest management strategies in order to minimize negative impacts of agriculture on surrounding natural ecosystems, and improve the economic viability of organic farming. The project participants included multidisciplinary researchers, farm advisors, organic growers, a land owner, and three NGOs. Ten studies on fertility management, soil-borne disease management, arthropod pest management, weed management and economic analysis in organic strawberry and vegetable production were conducted. Three core growers played a crucial role in designing, implementing, and evaluating on-farm trials. To evaluate the impact of the project, we conducted pre- and post-project assessments. At the end of the project 15 of the 18 participants said it had met or exceeded their expectations and the remaining 3 said that most of their expectations were met. Participants were motivated by a desire to build community, increase opportunities to collaborate, improve linkages between farmers and researchers, and improve access to and exchange of information. Participating growers appreciated the many opportunities for interaction with researchers, felt the project provided useful information, and reported that it had either reinforced or changed practices used on their farms. Extension agents commented on the successful collaborations, improved knowledge of organic production and the impact it had on growers in the area. One important outcome is the “Organic Strawberry Production Manual” (Koike et al., eds. 2012). The Organic Research Network is further expanding with new funding from the USDA-OREI program in 2011(C. Shennan, P.I.).