August 13, 2019 – OFRF is excited to introduce the first learning module, Organic Soil Health Management, in its free online training program for beginning farmers, existing organic farmers, and farmers in transition to organic production. The content throughout the training program focuses on organic specialty crop production in California.
“Healthy soils are the foundation of a successful organic farm, but determining which soil building practices will work best in a particular farming system can be challenging,” explains OFRF’s Education and Research Program Manager, Lauren Snyder. “The goal of this training program is to provide reliable information in one place and to highlight resources that help farmers assess which practices make the most sense for their system.”
This open educational resource is a joint effort between OFRF, the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP), and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The self-paced program combines descriptive essays, video lectures from university faculty, and virtual field trips to demonstrate organic principles and practices.
“We wanted to be sure that students of the course could benefit from the latest scientific knowledge relevant to organic farming, so we include resources from researchers around California. Also, the content of every module is closely reviewed by a team of scientists and extension experts from across the state,” says Sonja Brodt, who oversees the course’s content creation at UC SAREP.
In total, the online training program will contain six learning modules: 1) soil health, 2) weed management, 3) irrigation and water management, 4) insect and mite management, 5) disease management, and 6) business management and marketing. The soil health module is now live and the five remaining modules will be introduced as they are completed, with the entire program available in spring 2020.
“We view this training program as a living resource and encourage users to provide their feedback by completing the voluntary surveys in the learning modules,” adds Snyder. “This information will increase the utility of the program and ensure we are meeting the needs of organic specialty crop farmers in California.”
Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM170100XXXXG011. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.