As the nation shifts its preference towards locally grown food, a substantial number of consumers are willing to pay premiums, especially for certain types of produce. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50% between 2002 and 2007” (Farm Futures Aug 2013).
Current producers and new growers seeking to enter the marketplace to take advantage of these opportunities vary in experience in all aspects of production and marketing. The demand for educational opportunities has reached unprecedented levels as the public seeks to develop new farming ventures or current growers seek to adapt their existing operations.
End users and educators have requested compact, attractive, and portable formats that encompass relevant management information in an “at your fingertips” design. Providing teaching tools in multiple electronic and hard copy formats appeals to broad audiences.
Hands-on workshops have long been a favorite among growers where practical, technical management information is directly experienced by the workshop attendee. As demands for organic options increase and conventional methods also embrace conservation efforts, the need to help growers successfully identify beneficials in a production system becomes more immediate.
A compact guide to Troubleshooting Local Vegetable Production Problems and a guide to Beneficial Insects were developed and distributed to participants of 10 workshops that were conducted statewide. More than 500 program participants learned how to best manage insect, disease and cultural problems in their gardens, variety selection, equipment, marketing, and other business aspects. Participants included small-scale farmers, home horticulturists and Master Gardeners. Other educators were also trained in programs put on for FFA Teacher training and ANR program updates.