WORKGROUP PURPOSE AND GENERAL INFORMATION
The main purpose of the Small Farm Workgroup is to coordinate and support research and education efforts of workgroup members to address the needs and concerns of small-scale, limited-resource farmers. Target clientele includes, but is not limited to, farmers, marketers, educators, outreach workers, public and private agency representatives, and policymakers. The Small Farm Workgroup will provide a framework for members to identify and respond to issues and challenges affecting the target clientele and enable them to develop and deliver cutting edge, research based knowledge in response to the identified needs of clientele. The workgroup will coordinate and facilitate members’ access to resources that will help address local clientele needs and to successfully complete the proposed activities. Finally, the Small Farm Workgroup will be a fundamental link between DANR academics and the diversity of small, limited resource farmers throughout the state. Specifically, the Small Farm Workgroup will attempt to coordinate activities related to:
• Promoting in-service training and professional development of members. In addition, the workgroup will facilitate access to extramural funds through active pursuit of grants and contracts
• Assessing and identifying needs and issues pertinent to target clientele groups and promote collaborative research and extension programs
• Promoting communication and interaction among members, with DANR program leaders, with other workgroups, and with external clientele.
• Providing leadership and playing a catalytic role to ensure that land grant system and complementary resources focus on the small farm clientele, thus serving as a focal point for collaborative projects directed at sustaining the viability of small farms.
General Opportunities and Challenges
The Small Farm Workgroup is well positioned to play a key role in addressing issues threatening the economic viability and sustainability of small scale, limited resource farmers in the state. In addition to their conomic contribution, small farmers play a vital role in enhancing the state’s agricultural landscape by constantly introducing new crops and alternative enterprises. Small farms are key to extend research-based information because they are often early adopters of new and innovative techniques and production methods. As a result, there is a need for a statewide network of experts to coordinate, plan, develop, and implement research and extension activities that address the needs of this clientele group, as they may have direct implications for the state’s agricultural industry. The Small Farm Workgroup provides a framework and a mechanism for DANR to strengthen the foundation of California agriculture by supporting the small, limited resource farming community. The Small Farm Workgroup will foster the overall mission of DANR by:
• Developing and transferring knowledge regarding diversity in production systems, particularly in reference to pest and disease management and productivity
• Developing innovative approaches to participatory, applied research and extension programs that fully integrate the roles of researchers, clients, users and communities
• Developing cultural and economic information about alternative or specialty enterprises, including production methods, distribution systems, marketing options and decision-making systems or tools
• Developing farm management systems and information resources that will increase the entrepreneurial and management capacity of small scale, limited resource operators
• Providing alternative and innovative market strategies that will help farmers and marketers properly develop, package, label, promote and price new products
• Developing Innovative models of issues, relations and dynamics on the ag/urban frontier by adopting educational methods that focus on farmers, consumers and policymakers
Workgroup Structure and Operational Procedures:
Workgroup Membership is open to all University of California employees and to outside clientele. Current membership includes professional and para-professional staff affiliated with DANR; staff of related public and private agencies and representatives from various clientele groups. Workgroup membership can be classified in three distinct categories as follows. The first group is the group of advisors that are members of the Statewide Small Farm Program (six advisors). These advisors have played key roles in the success of past workgroup activities and will continue to be a key for the success of the workgroup under the new DANR structure. The second group included all members who have actively participated in workgroup activities. The third group includes an extended network of members who want to stay informed about workgroup activities.
The Executive Committee is the governing body of the workgroup. It is composed of five members, one of whom acts as workgroup chair. In addition, the director of the UC Small Farm Program serves on the Committee in an ExOfficio capacity. Membership to this committee is open to all workgroup members. Committee members are elected by majority vote to serve two-year terms in elections held in conjunction with the Small Farm Continuing Conference. The Committee is responsible for setting policies and procedures for the operation of the workgroup and for coordinating all workgroup activities. The committee encourages member participation by promoting and organizing subcommittees to carry out the specific workgroup activities.
Workgroup Communication is conducted primarily through an electronic mailing list that includes all members of the workgroup. Occasionally, regular mail is also used to disseminate information to members or to send announcements and time sensitive materials. Examples include Continuing conference announcements, ballots for election of officers, ballots to select and/or prioritize workgroup activities, etc. All workgroup members are asked for feedback and input in the selection of and ranking of workgroup activities in response to the DANR’s call for proposals. The activities included in this proposal are ranked in order of importance and reflect the relevance of the activities for program clientele and the level of interest of workgroup members.
The successful completion of all proposed activities will be the primary parameter to evaluate the workgroup. In addition, each task identified under the proposed activities includes specific outcomes, deliverables and timelines that are a built-in evaluative component. In the short-term, the evaluation process will focus on the extent to which the proposed tasks or actions are accomplished as proposed or in documenting progress made toward that end. In the long run, data and information collected about the outcomes of all proposed activities will be used to estimate the overall economic impact of workgroup activities.