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Small Farm Schools Empower Beginning Farmers in Santa Rosa County

Extension Education

Matthew Lollar
Commercial Horticulture Agent
University of Florida


The population in Santa Rosa County continues to grow.  Thankfully the agricultural community is robust due to continued interest from new growers and the willingness to diversify among existing farms.  The purpose of the schools was to introduce beginning farmers to various aspects of fruit and vegetable production and farm management and promote better business decisions.  The schools were conducted for 42 total participants.  The schools also included farm tours to give participants firsthand knowledge from local, experienced farmers.  Classes started with lectures, followed by open discussion and hands-on activities.  Class topics included: Suitable and Marketable Crops for the Florida Panhandle; Fertility and Soils; Irrigation Installation and Management; Whole Farm Pest Management; and Business and Marketing.  Participants received a binder with printed presentations and supporting materials, a flash drive with digital copies of printed materials, and a hand lens.  Overall self-reported farming knowledge increased by 96% across all topics.  Program participants indicated a value of more than $10/acre per year, in the form of savings or increased profit, from the knowledge they gained from the school.  A Facebook group was established to allow networking and collaboration among class participants, established farmers, and the Extension Office.     

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Matthew Lollar, Stephen Greer
  1. Lollar, M. Commercial Horticulture Agent, UF/IFAS Extension - Santa Rosa County, Florida, 32570
  2. Greer, S. County Extension Director, UF/IFAS Extension - Santa Rosa County, Florida, 32570