State SARE Co-Coordinators:
Summary of 2014 State/Protectorate PDP Activities and Results:
For 2014 the Oregon SARE PDP program had four primary areas of focus, which included funding the 2014 Oregon Small Farms Conference; Investing Through a Pest and Beneficial Insect Train-the-Trainer Short Course; North Willamette Horticulture Society Annual Meetings; and Engaging Oregon Agricultural Professionals in Organic Farms Systems Soil and Pest Management Learning. These programs are part of the Oregon PDP focus of encouraging long-term changes in the use of sustainable agricultural practices by providing yearly funding for a three-year period. This was the second year of a three-year project funding cycle. We will be issuing a new RFP this year for three-year proposals for 2016-18 period.
Context and Overview:
In 2010, the Oregon SARE PDP program began to focus more on longer term and sustainable results. The Oregon SARE PDP program is now providing mini-grants on a three-year basis (contingent upon Western SARE funding) to encourage longer term projects. In the fall of 2009, the Oregon SARE PDP program selected the first five projects for three-year funding which were completed in 2012. In the fall of 2012, we selected the proposals for the next three-year cycle, which included four mini-grants, and we will be issuing a new RFP this year for the next three-year cycle. This report reflects the impacts from the second year of this current three-year cycle. We feel the use of three-year funding cycles is the best way to leverage limited SARE funding and provide educators with a long enough funding stream to achieve sustainable results.
Activities and Methods:
2014 Oregon Small Farms Program
The 14th annual OSU Extension Small Farms Conference was held on February 22, 2014. Each year the conference serves as an opportunity to instruct, challenge, and inspire by focusing on three main points:
- Scale-appropriate sustainable production practices for beginner, limited resource, and traditionally underserved small-scale commercial farmers;
- Scale-appropriate viable alternative marketing channels for the same group; and
- Business and policy information for famers and food and nutrition advocates.
This year the conference offered 24 concurrent sessions, the most in its history, on topics including grain growing and storing, farmer market relations, livestock health, marketing, soil assessment, and more. This was the first year in which a full track of three sessions was presented in Spanish. In addition to offering this track, simultaneous Spanish language translation was also provided for selected sessions. The introductory plenary session included a presentation by Michael Ableman, a well-known author and organic farmer. To conclude the conference, a plenary session featuried a panel of experienced growers discussing Small Farm Profitability.
Conference attendees numbered 785 this year. Attendees identified as the following:
- 35% Agriculture professions (university, federal/state agency staff, food and farm non-profit staff, market management)
- 6% Students
- 59% Farmers
Attendees offered a high overall rating for the conference:
- Average rating = 3.5 (scale of 1 to 4 with 1=poor and 4=excellent)
- 95.5% rated the conference at a 3 or 4 (GOOD or EXCELLENT)
And, indicated that they enhanced their knowledge of small farm issues and opportunities:
- 75% stated the conference enhanced their knowledge MUCH to VERY MUCH
Attendees offered comments on concepts/ideas they learned and will apply. Here is a sample:
- “Came right home and started pruning. Great, great, no nonsense approach to pruning. Loved it.”
- “LOTS of great information about financing from several different sources, some traditional, some not. I left with lots of good ideas.”
- “Learned new things even though I have been lambing for 10 years. Great as not only refresher but for new stuff.”
- “I am consulting a town on how to transition from a seasonal outdoor farmers market into a year round indoor market. A bit of the farm market content covered new areas for me and will prove useful.”
- “Overall I learned A LOT and will definitely continue learning.”
Total expenses for the Small Farms Conference were more than $60,000. This figure includes the coordination salaries and costs associated with administrative support funded by Benton County. It does not include salaries for Small Farms and other faculty who managed the conference and conducted outreach and education activities at the conference.
Conference sponsors for 2014 were:
- Western SARE
- Oregon Department of Agriculture
- Northwest Farm Credit Services
- Oregon Farmers Market Association
The Small Farms team relies on external sponsorships, grants, and funds from for-profit vendors at the event to maintain the conference’s affordability for our very price-point sensitive target audience.
Engaging Oregon Agriculture Professionals in Organic Farm Systems Soil and Pest Management Learning)
In 2014 we developed drafts of the Farm System Descriptions (FSDs) for Persephone Farm and Wintergreen Farm. We also drafted several Farm System Analyses (FSAs) from the Farm System Descriptions – one relating the farm’s crop rotation and other practices to clubroot severity in crucifer crops, and another analyzing soil phosphorus and potassium trends. The information in these FSDS and FSAs are being used in workshops and presentations to train agricultural professionals and farmers. For example, the P and K analysis was used in a workshop at Organicology in January 2015 (Farming Like a System, 70 participants), and the clubroot FSA analysis was used in a workshop at WA Tilth Producer’s T40 conference in December 2014 (Designing for Disease Management, 90 participants) and in a workshop at OSU Small Farms Conference in February 2015 (Advanced Disease Management on your Organic Vegetable Farm, 60 participants). Oregon and Washington agricultural professionals participated in the webinar and workshops. As the result of participating in these workshops, agricultural professionals learned about:
*Clubroot management: the clubroot lifecycle, the relationship between rotation length and clubroot severity, the importance of crucifer greens and root crops in contributing to clubroot inoculum density, and the efficacy of liming for clubroot management.
*Soil P and K: why P and K increase over time on farms importing animal manures, the utility of annual or bi-annual soil testing, why testing should be conducted by the same soil analysis lab, and how to supply N without oversupplying P and K in a vegetable rotational system.
This year, we did not coordinate any workshops specifically for this program; instead, we developed materials and used the information in workshops organized by others, and we do not know exactly who attended each of those workshop. A conservative estimate of agricultural professionals attending these workshops: 40.
Partners and/or collaborators:
North Willamette Horticulture Society Speaker 2014
In 2014 the North Willamette Horticulture Society invited Charles Mohler as the Western SARE Sustainable Agriculture speaker. Charles is a Senior Research Associate of Organic and Ecological Weed Management from Cornell University and discussed ”Ecologically Based Weed Management.” Charles also spoke at Vegetable Crops Section on “Planning for Flexibility in Effective Vegetable Crop Rotations” and lead a full day hands-on seminar titled: “Using biological information to solve weed problems” on Friday, February 17. Andy Bary from Washington State was also invited to address “Organic No-till in the Pacific Northwest: A Research Update.”
The website developed in 2013 was updated with a pat program and presentation page that contains a SARE information page and a link to download the contents of the SARE thumbdrive. Anne Berblinger (Gales Meadow Farm) served as Chairperson.
Attendance at the meeting remains strong, with 156 participants in 2014, see table below. Many participants attend more than one day of the meeting, 52% of the members attending the meeting attended the 2014 Organic Crops Section.
The Organic Crops Section continues to draw considerable interest from the farming community in NW Oregon and SW Washington.
Investing Through a Pest and Beneficial Insect Train-the-Trainer Short Course for Eastern Oregon
For this collaborative project between Oregon State University and Washington State University, we held two “train-the-trainer” workshops. The first workshop was held in December 2013 as part of the Hermiston Farm Fair. The second workshop was held in July 2014, following the Malheur Experiment Station Summer Farm Fest, in Ontario, OR. Both workshops were filled to capacity, with twenty students participating in each. Participants included crop advisors, field men, commercial applicators, seed company personnel, graduate students, and other agricultural specialists.
The workshops included presentations and hands-on learning opportunities for the students. Presentations included information on how to identify insects based on anatomical features; recognition of common pests of potatoes and wheat based on morphology and characteristic damage they cause to plants; and recognition of beneficial insects found in wheat and potatoes. Students participated in collecting insects in the field (summer workshop) and learned to pin insects and use microscopes in the identification of insects. Students received literature and guides to aid them in collecting, pinning, and identifying insects. They also received kits of supplies for making insect collections and pinning specimens.
Changes in awareness, knowledge or attitudes:
- Students increased their knowledge of insect identification by learning anatomical characters used to identify and differentiate insect species.
- Students increased their knowledge of insect collection techniques by practicing different methods to collect different types of insects.
- Through hands-on practice, students increased their knowledge and skill in properly preparing insect specimens to facilitate their identification.
Students are using their new skills in insect sampling and identification to improve monitoring of pest and beneficial insects in the crops they manage, and thus make better informed pest management decisions.
Forty agricultural professionals increased their knowledge and/or changed their behavior as a result of this sustainable agriculture training.
Partners and/or collaborators:
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
A. Small Farms materials can be found on the OSU Small Farms Website.
B. The Engaging Oregon Agriculture Professionals in Organic Farm Systems Soil and Pest Management Learning program developed drafts of the Farm System Descriptions for several farms along with Farm System Analyses for crop rotation, practices to clubroot severity in crucifer crops and analyzing soil phosphorus and potassium trends. Materials were used in various workshops.
C. The Northwest Horticulture Society presentations can be found on-line.
D. The Investing Through a Pest and Beneficial Insect Train-the-Trainer Short Course created individual syllabus in 2013 that was used for each of the two sessions.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
We do have an Oregon SARE PDP Advisory Committee which is made up of OSU Extension Faculty (Agents and Specialists and Program Leaders). We did meet formally in late 2012 to select projects to be funded in the 2013-15 three year cycle and chose four mini-grant projects to be funded. We will meet again in 2015 to pick those projects to be funded for the 2016-18 three year cycle. We do communicate with our Oregon SARE PDP Program Advisory Committee by email as needed.