Summary of 2015 State/Protectorate PDP Activities and Results:
In 2015 Guam PDP was not able to host its formal Western SARE PDP advisory board meeting. Several time efforts were started but scheduling was not able to be coordinated for key members. But, the PDP program conducted needs assessment and collaborative planning in smaller group venues and one island-wide listening session. The UOG College of Natural and Applied Sciences WPTRC (AES) and CE&O (CES) held an island wide listening session for all college program stakeholders on the island’s education and research needs. These results are shaping the future plans of work of all Agriculture and Life Sciences Division’s programs (AES, CES, and R.I.) and provided a great deal of planning information for the PDP program. A key new need identified was the desire for our clients to be able to access our information in new formats like “You Tube” and have social media like “FaceBook” used in support of our training programs. In September the PDP held its annual Western SARE grant writing workshop (9/24) for clients interested in applying for Professional + Producer and Farmer Rancher Grants. Guam’s semi-regular/planned sustainable agriculture PDP activities included:
Field agent training: The PDP Coordinator obtained a Western Region Risk Management grant that is developing farm planning and management curriculum to support our New Farmers efforts as requested by our Farm Service Agency (FSA) partners. In addition these curricula were utilized in several Saturday morning workshop that were co-delivered by UOG CE&O and SBDC with the NRCS field staff and FSA participating.
Market development: The PDP program was active during the program year in supporting the local produce promotion efforts of our partners the Micronesian Chefs Association, providing produce displays and information for two different culinary events: Salon Culinary, an international chefs’ competition event held at Guam Community Colleges Culinary facility and “Maila ta fan Chesa,” a showcase event paring farmers from different villages and chefs in a sold out evening competition dedicated to celebrating local produce (this annual event is the direct result of the Western SARE funded Farmer to Chef Island to Island project). The program also developed curriculum and promoted value added processing/food preservation for a workshop for the Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health program (the inspectors who inspect value added processors on island) on pressure canning and food safety. This was to raise the awareness of these inspectors. A workshop on Eggplant and its culinary uses was also held to promote this crops expansion.
Collaborative Curriculum Development: A recent thrust is the adaptation of the New Farmer curriculum and training materials to expand the name to New Farmer and Veteran Training program to capture a new client group in response to the request of several partners. We also have identified three levels of producers that our programs are supporting: subsistence producers/gardeners, market gardeners and commercial producers. We are developing our materials to target all of these groups.
Context and Overview:
The Guam Sustainable Agriculture Professional Development Program (PDP) is part of Guam’s Global Food Security New Farmer Plan of Work for NIFA reporting. This plan of work is driven by needs assessments of local and regional farmers and agricultural professionals. Core issues were identified at the 2015 UOG CNAS island wide listening session, 2007 & 2014 Western SARE subregional conferences and are refined by annual meetings and focus groups.
The Western SARE PDP component develops curriculum, conducts workshops, facilitates multi-agency needs assessments and collaborative project planning to support outreach professionals. Guam PDP focuses on leveraging these professionals’ outreach activities through collaborations. The agricultural professionals supported include: University of Guam and other regional land grants (CES, AES), Guam Community College (GCC) culinary program, UOG SBDC, CLTC, Guam Department of Agriculture, FSA, NRCS, SWDCs and local agricultural consultants. In the past year the Western SARE PDP program also began direct training for agricultural producers generally in collaboration with our partners, but now instead of just providing curriculum and support the PDP program hosts some of the trainings directly.
A new focus audience, in addition to the growing number of education and outreach professionals not trained in agriculture and who are promoting gardening and other agricultural activities, are Veteran farmers and professionals from organizations supporting U.S. military veterans. Professionals trained included Extension field staff in Consumer and Family Sciences and 4-H, Guams’ Veterans Affairs, social workers, plus a large number of teachers from public and private schools. The PDP also worked with partners and other programs to coordinate curriculum development in support of farm management and planning trainings.
Activities and Methods:
The PDP program’s provided two trainings for community members one on mulch, sheet mulching, another on raised beds during February and March.
Field agent training
In February a five hour workshop on pressure canning and food safety was held for the inspectors and staff the Guam Department of Health and Social Services’ Environmental Protection program. This is an important group of professionals in the development of our value added industry as they inspect the local value added kitchens. Making them aware of the processes and the critical safety issues is an importance in building their support for local value added process. Their evaluations indicated the desire for more trainings.
The PDP program hosted its annual Western SARE grant workshop, where the session focused on Professional-Producer and Farmer-Rancher applications (9/24). The PDP Coordinator also announced and presented on the Western SARE grant opportunities at several farmer meetings trough out the year.
The Guam PDP Coordinator attended the PDP Coordinators national meeting in Durango, Colorado.
In addition to training public health professionals on low acid pressure canning, the program supported the efforts of the Micronesian Chefs Association and Guam Community College Culinary program in two events: Salon Culinary an international chefs competition event held at Guam Community Colleges Culinary facility and “Maila ta fan Chesa,” a showcase event paring farmers from different villages and chefs in a sold out evening competition dedicated to celebrating local produce (this annual event is the direct result of the Western SARE funded Farmer to Chef Island to Island project.)
The PDP program continues to nurture its existing relationship with hospitality industry professionals within the Micronesian Chefs Association (MCA) by attending monthly meetings, updating members on the agricultural industry, and consulting on produce availability/promotion at MCA-sponsored events. At these meeting the PDP program brings display samples of unique local tropical produce for the chefs to touch and taste to increase their awareness as well as seedling of local fruits and vegetables for them to take home and grow as an awareness building activity on local produce.
Collaborative Curriculum Development and Use
In 2015, the PDP partners and local agencies expressed a desire for the New Farmer program to target Veterans and to run a series of New Farmer and Veteran Trainings over the coming years. At the same, time, based on identified needs to develop customized training materials on farm planning and business managements for small farming systems that match our island producers’ scale and method of production, a grant was applied for and received. So, the PDP program combined these curriculum materials from the full New Farmer training series for the planned trainings during 2015 calendar year. This program was unique for us in two ways. First, we recruited from a new client base, U.S. military veterans and were able to get about 33% enrollments of Veterans and Veteran family members. Second, we combined fun hands on trainings in sustainable agriculture practices in outdoor areas (1-2 hours) with indoor farm planning and management training (1-2 hours) in weekly Saturday morning trainings with one Saturday bus tour of a role model farmer for the sustainable agriculture practices we did workshops on. We did this to see if we could keep the farm management retention rates high. It worked; participation was relatively consistent over the eight weeks from October to December for these 4-5 hour trainings.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
During 2015 the Guam PDP program’s efforts were leveraged by the funds and supporting partners we gained through the collaborative Extension Risk Management Grant. At the same time this grant’s deliverable were much higher by incorporating the production training materials from the Western SARE PDP program as they provided a hands-on experience that motivated the farmers to keep coming back and so we did not see the drop rates of previous efforts in farm management. In the 2015 to 2016 period we hope to get these training materials online as we delivered them and to develop social media and other media to support these trainings.
Impacts and Contributions:
Over 100 different participants participated in the workshop offered over the past year. We have had six farm plans submitted as evidence of their applying the knowledge. Many of these have started gardens and four are actually participating in the UOG New Farmer community garden area on campus. Field agents have reported several follow up visits where they have seen the clients applying what they have learned. We took a break from the trainings in February and our office is receiving regular calls wanting to know when we will start again (Planned startup is in May 2016).
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action:
In post training evaluation of the food pressure canning trainings, trainees indicated both acquisition of new knowledge and skills and attitudinal change (in the area of food safety and pressure canning). The same was true from the evaluations from the Grant Writing Workshop for Western SARE Grants. In each of these workshops, participants indicated they would like to attend more of these types of workshops.
Evaluations from the New Farmer indicate that participants want more field based training and enjoy the mix of lecture and field activities.
In addition to the past years identifying the Guam Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Consortium’s partners as potential clients for our programs, this year’s identification of Veterans has significantly expanded the base of our outreach with atypical Extension clients. Like last year, an unintended impact of this is that public health, veteran affairs and community development field workers from several groups and organizations are receiving training on and utilizing this adapted New Farmer gardening curriculum with non-traditional gardening audiences as reported above.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
As noted above, in 2015 Guam PDP effort was not able to host its formal Western SARE PDP advisory board meeting. But, the PDP program conducted needs assessment and collaborative planning in smaller group venues and one island-wide listening session. The UOG College of Natural and Applied Sciences WPTRC (AES) and CE&O (CES) held an island wide listening session for all college program stakeholders on the islands education and research needs. Additionally the PDP advisory members all serve together on many boards and projects and so meet in various combinations (Soil and Water Conservation District meetings, Guam Farmers Cooperative Association meetings, and others) during the year and so we discussed and planned several joint projects and efforts. These meetings provided guidance to the Western SARE PDP program, as they involve outreach professionals, farmers and other program clients.