Source: Green Horizons
Funding to help study, build elderberry market
The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry has been awarded a grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE), "Developing Successful Marketing Strategies for Elderberry Growers and Value-Added Processors: A Model for Specialty Crop Development in the U.S. Midwest."
The grant will use an integrated approach to contribute to the creation and development of an elderberry regional industry as a model for specialty crop development in the Midwest U.S., said project director and UMCA associate director, Mike Gold.
The project will increase knowledge about the elderberry market in the region. An elderberry financial decision tool will be developed to support producer decision making for on-farm and associated enterprise opportunities. A comprehensive outreach program will disseminate results of this project.
Only 9 percent of the initial pre-proposal submissions were ultimately funded by NCR-SARE.
"All funding is very competitive these days," Gold said. "We are excited to have received this award and are ready to move ahead with our elderberry project to carry the industry forward."
In addition to Gold, key players in the grant include Ina Cernusca, UMCA marketing specialist; Francisco Aguilar, assistant professor of forest economics, MU Forestry Department; Larry Godsey, UMCA economist; Elizabeth Barham, rural sociologist, University of Arkansas Agricultural Economics Department; John Brewer, president and co-founder of Wyldewood Cellars Winery; Terry Durham, organic farmer, Eridu Farm, Hartsburg, Mo.; Andrew L. Thomas, research assistant professor in horticulture, MU Southwest Research and Education Center; Patrick L. Byers, MU Extension, horticulture specialist; Julie Rhoads, UMCA event planner; Michelle Hall, UMCA senior information specialist; and Park Bay, agricultural lender and Vice President of Business Development, First National Bank & Trust (now Landmark Bank), Columbia, Mo.
Center receives grant for online courses
Agroforestry has steadily been gaining attention among landowners and natural resource professionals for its environmental and economic benefits. With this increase, the need for trained professionals in agroforestry has been expanding.
That's where the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry comes in. The Center has received funding from the University of Missouri System to develop eight courses, creating an Interdisciplinary Online Graduate Program in Agroforestry.
The program will consist of a graduate certificate (12 credits) and master's degree (30 credits). An existing agroforestry course will be converted to an online course. Three additional courses in the biophysical and socio-economic dimensions of agroforestry will be developed, as will four elective courses in soils, watershed management, natural resource policy and biometrics.
"Professionals across the U.S. and overseas are looking for courses, graduate degree or certificate programs in agroforestry," said Shibu Jose, UMCA director. "Nearly 1,500 Peace Corps volunteers, for example, work abroad every year on agroforestryrelated projects. This program could provide them with an opportunity to pursue a degree or certificate in agroforestry while working abroad. We are not aware of any similar program in agroforestry elsewhere in the country."
Admission to the new graduate certificate and degree program will begin in fall 2010.
UMCA and MU faculty involved with the project, in addition to Jose, include Francisco Aguilar, Larry Godsey, Michael Gold, Jason Hubbart, David Larsen, Randy Miles, Peter Motavalli and Ranjith Udawatta.
"We hope to increase enrollment of graduate students in courses related to agroforestry," said Shibu Jose, UMCA director. "The ultimate outcome of this project will be 'society-ready graduates' who are capable of making positive changes in the agriculture, natural resources and environmental sectors in the U.S. and around the world."