Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program Engages New and Beginning Fruit and Vegetable Farmers in Northeast Georgia
County Extension Coordinator
University of Georgia
The UGA Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program was developed in 2015 to provide agribusiness and production education to new and beginning farmers, who account for 35% of farmers in Georgia (USDA, 2017). AgGeorgia, Lincoln, and McDuffie County UGA Extension collaborated to present a one-day AgAware workshop, seven educational sessions on fruit and vegetable production, and a farm tour of a Lincoln County U-Pick operation in spring of 2022. Business planning topics were covered in the AgAware workshop that offered FSA Borrowers Training Credit and was attended by 34 individuals from 8 counties. Fruit and vegetable production training was attended by 27 participants from 5 counties, and the farm tour was attended by 10 participants. Attendees were equally split between hobby farmers (43%), new agribusinesses (29%) and those diversifying an existing agricultural operation (28%). The majority of attendees had been producing less than 1 year (57%), and had never used Extension services (45%). As a result of the program, 19 participants received certification after meeting attendance and examination requirements. Post-program evaluations indicate that 100% of attendees gained knowledge of fruit and vegetable production, 95% indicated they would use the information provided and 85% indicated an intention to use Extension services in the future. A post-program evaluation conducted 6 months after the program found that attendees implemented behavioral changes such as improved record keeping, use of business plans, use of conservation practices and crop rotation, and other best practices for production. These behavioral changes have resulted in reduced pest pressure and damage, increased yields, reduced input costs, and increased profitability. All respondents attributed the Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program to improving their operations. As a result of feedback for this program, classes have been held to cover suggested topics of food preservation (July, 2022) and small flock production (August-September, 2022), with plans underway to offer pasture management and small ruminant classes in 2023.
Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC
This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.
Click to view Poster
Authors: Robyn Stewart, Sarah Cranston
Stewart, R. County Extension Coordinator, University of Georgia, Georgia, 30817
Cranston, S. Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, University of Georgia, Georgia, 30824