“Linking Experienced and Beginning Kansas Specialty Crop Farmers” Project

In October 2017, the Kansas Rural Center (KRC) was awarded $51,775.00 by the Kansas Department of Agriculture for a Specialty Crop Block Grant project titled, “Linking Experienced and Beginning Kansas Specialty Crop Farmers to Share Information for Establishing Successful Specialty Crop Enterprises.” Through the project, KRC will link experienced and beginning specialty crop farmers and provide information and networking opportunities to help beginning farmers lower production costs, increase profitability, and create successful specialty crop enterprises in Kansas.

KRC’s “Linking Experienced and Beginning Kansas Specialty Crop Farmers to Share Information for Establishing Successful Specialty Crop Enterprises” project will include five regional workshops which will focus on providing information and education necessary for beginning specialty crop growers to establish a successful specialty crop enterprise in Kansas. Experienced specialty crop growers and experts from partnering institutions and agencies will provide information on conservation practices and soil health, high tunnel construction and management, cold storage, marketing strategies, and basic economics of specialty crops. Conservation and management practices (such as cover crops, crop rotations, pest and weed management strategies, beneficial insects, etc.) can dramatically impact the bottom line of farms through improving system productivity and profitability. Better understanding of the costs and benefits of these practices and the potential revenues from key vegetables and fruits well-suited to Kansas can help specialty crop farmers succeed.

The workshops will also help build a network of beginning and experienced specialty crop growers, providing for continued access to information and advice for beginning farmers, and a source of continued input from growers on their needs.

In addition to the workshops, KRC will pair beginning and experienced specialty crop growers to facilitate farmer to farmer transfer of knowledge and information, and will identify successful specialty crop farming models that can be highlighted and shared regionally to help provide information and and inspiration for beginning farmers. KRC will identify five experienced growers and five beginning growers to participate in a learning circle meeting to determine educational needs and to share information, and to serve as case study subjects for farm profiles for publication statewide.