Growing the eOrganic Community: Annual Report 2015

Organic Agriculture March 03, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

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eOrganic Annual Report 2015

eOrganic completed its seventh year in 2015 as the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice at http://www.extension.org. Our goals are to engage farmers, agricultural professionals, and other members of the organic agriculture community with timely and relevant science-, experience-, and regulation-based information in a variety of formats; and to foster a national organic research and outreach community. Through articles, videos, webinars and conference broadcasts, we make organic research available to the public.

More than 300 eOrganic members and collaborators have actively contributed to eOrganic by authoring and/or reviewing articles, producing or reviewing videos, answering Ask an Expert questions, presenting webinars, or attending outreach and leadership events. Read about our accomplishments in 2015 and our upcoming plans for the 2016 season.

Outreach to Farmers and Agricultural Information Providers

To help spread the word about eOrganic and the resources we provide, we had booths at several large organic farmer events in 2015, including the EcoFarm Conference in Pacific Grove, California, the MOSES conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Organicology Conference in Portland, Oregon, and the Small Farms Conference at Oregon State University. We sincerely thank all of our volunteers, including Helen Atthowe, Carl Rosato, Ingrid West, and Mike Hass, for their help in staffing eOrganic exhibits.

To keep researchers, educators, service providers, and farmers aware of our resources, including our webinars, we publish eOrganic Updates. More than 12,000 people received these notices in 2015. In addition, eOrganic maintains an active presence on social media sites such as Facebook, where we have 3,930 likes; and Twitter, where we have 2,948 followers. We also publish a bi-monthly newsletter that reaches over 12,000 subscribers. In 2015, eOrganic pages at extension.org attracted over 642,000 page views (of over 2 million total views). Our YouTube channel attracted over 390,000 views, leading it to surpass 2.2 million total views.

eOrganic Webinars and Conference Broadcasts

Since December of 2009, we've offered our popular winter webinar series, attended by farmers, Extension educators, researchers, organic inspectors and certifiers, Master Gardeners, and agriculture professionals. These webinars, which contain information on the latest organic research and practical farming techniques, allow people from all over the world to hear a presentation, view the presentation slides, and type in questions—all without having to leave their farms or travel to conferences. Presentations are recorded and made available for viewing at any time from eOrganic's YouTube channel. To date, eOrganic has delivered more than 150 webinars attended by over 18,000 attendees, of which, on average, 30% were farmers. In addition, eOrganic broadcasts selected presentations from national organic conferences live online and archives the presentations on YouTube.

The 2015 season featured live presentations from the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium and Organicology conferences, as well as 19 webinars on diverse topics such as insect and disease management, ancient and heritage wheat varieties, compost tea, weed management, variety trials, extreme weather challenges, and native bee pollinators. Many of the webinars were based on new research from USDA NIFA Organic Research and Extension Initiative and Organic Transitions Program projects. We have many more webinars scheduled for 2016. You can find all eOrganic upcoming and archived webinars and live broadcasts at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242.

Highlights of the 2015 Webinar and Broadcast Season

Webinar Evaluation

In 2015, 2,775 people attended eOrganic webinars and live conference broadcasts. Across all webinars, 49% responded to post-webinar evaluation surveys. Of these, approximately 30% were farmers, 8% were Extension personnel, 8% were researchers, 5% were from nonprofits, 10% were agriculture professionals, 11% worked for government agencies, and 5% were organic inspectors or certifiers. Survey respondents' geographic affiliations were: 29% Northeast, 22% Central, 12% South, 21% West, and 16% other named regions or countries. Across all webinars, 75% said the webinars significantly or moderately improved their understanding of the topic, 22% said "a little improved" and 3% said "not improved". 75% of respondents planned to apply the knowledge they gained in the webinars a lot or somewhat, 20% said "a little" and 5% said "not at all". 81% said the technical level of the webinars was "just right", 7% thought they were too technical, and 12% thought they were too basic. 78% would recommend the webinars to others, 18% might recommend them, and 4% would not. 96% of respondents thought access to the webinars was easy, 2% said it was somewhat difficult, and less than 1% said access was very difficult.

Webinar feedback in 2015:

  • "Great presentation. Looking forward to future webinars particularly on insect pests and management. Thanks to eOrganic for providing an effective information delivery system between scientists/educators and end-users."
  • "The webinar was very helpful. Alex (Lyon) did a fantastic job. Thanks for all the work eOrganic does to bring organic research to a wider audience. This is such a fantastic resource for the organic community."
  • "No doubt these are among the most knowledgeable people in the country on the subject and the research they presented is very current and relevant."
  • "The discussion about the different pests and the different crops was helpful. Also, finally somebody is listening to the farmers!"

Online Courses

The eOrganic Dairy Team continues to offer its asynchronous online course, "An Introduction to Organic Dairy Production" as part of "Development of Technical Training and Support for Agricultural Service Providers and Farmers in Certified Organic Dairy Production Systems" USDA NIFA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) project. Course developers and instructors included: Cindy Daley and Audrey Denney, California State University-Chico; Heather Darby and Deb Heleba, University of Vermont Extension; Sarah Flack, Sarah Flack Consulting; Sid Bosworth, University of Vermont; and Karen Hoffman, USDA NRCS. The course is composed of 10 modules addressing a range of topics related to certified organic dairy production, including certification, soil health, pasture and forages, herd health and nutrition, milk quality, and calf management. Each module has required readings, a narrated PowerPoint presentation from an expert on the topic, and recommended additional resources. CCA CEUs are available. In 2015, seven farmers and service providers participated in the course. Find a full description and a link to the course at http://www.extension.org/pages/69299.

In 2015, the eOrganic dairy team, led by Cindy Daley and Heather Darby, worked to develop a second online course. "On the Ground: A Closer Look at Organic Dairy Pasture, Forages, and Soils" is a self-directed online course designed for Extension educators and other agriculture service providers, as well as farmers and students who want to move beyond the basics and better understand how healthy soils lead to healthy livestock feeds. It is a follow up to "An Introduction to Organic Dairy Production", which is a prerequisite for taking this course. 

eOrganic is currently recruiting service providers and farmers to beta test the course; please contact Debra Heleba at debra.heleba@uvm.edu

eOrganic also continues to offer the Organic Seed Production course, in which approximately 275 people have enrolled. The course consists of a set of tutorials covering the fundamentals of seed production for onions, beets and chard, brassicas, carrots, and wet-seeded crops, as well as climatic requirements for seed crops, important diseases, and seed quality. Find more information on this free course here

eOrganic Articles

All eOrganic articles can be found at www.extension.org/organic_production. Before publication, every article is subject to two anonymous peer reviews and National Organic Program compliance review.

eOrganic published the following articles in 2015:

Farm System Descriptions

In 2015, eOrganic published a data-rich Farm System Description of Woodleaf Farm in Oroville, California as part of a WSARE Project led by Alex Stone of Oregon State University: "Integrating Research and Practice in Systems Management of Organic Farms". The project focuses on long-term organic farms that have kept detailed records on soil and nutrient management, pest management, and disease management, and examines the outcomes of their farm management strategies. Additional farm system descriptions will be published in 2016.

Our 5 most popular articles in 2015 were:

Videos

eOrganic posted transcripts and links to the following videos in 2015:

The eOrganic YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/eOrganic houses eOrganic's 534 videos. The channel has over 5,300 subscribers and over 2.2 million views. Our most popular videos in 2015 were:

Organic Farming Research Websites

eOrganic is currently working with 24 USDA NIFA funded research and outreach projects. eOrganic supports these groups in diverse ways, including technical support for the development of articles and videos, peer-refereed and NOP-compliance review, video production training and editing, web conferencing, conference broadcasting, workspaces for project management, and public websites. For some of these projects, eOrganic hosts public websites where you can learn about the project goals and personnel, and find results and reports as they become available.

In 2015, new materials including farmer profiles and a business planning guide on organic transition were posted to the Tools for Transition Project website, and new fact sheets were posted to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug website. The Organic Agriculture Research Symposium website contains proceedings and links to recorded presentations from the conference in 2015, and new recordings from the 2016 conference will be available soon.

eOrganic also hosts the following special websites: an organic variety trial database to which users can upload trial reports, which was created with the NOVIC project, and the Organic Seed Alliance, and a gallery of colorful and nutritious organic carrot varieties in development for the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture project. If you have trial results to share and are interested in participating in the Organic Variety Trial Database, please contact Jared Zystro of the Organic Seed Alliance.

Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert is a free service that anyone can use to get answers to questions from Land Grant University (LGU) and Extension professionals through eXtension.org. Ask your question at https://ask.extension.org/groups/1668/ask—you can even submit an image to help with a diagnosis.

eOrganic provides oversight of all questions tagged with "organic production" within the Ask-an-Expert system. Our staff finds an answer by either answering the question directly or by soliciting the best possible response from our eOrganic members. In 2015, community members answered approximately 57 questions. Almost 1,300 organic agriculture questions have been answered through the service since its inception. We encourage you to use this free and underutilized service for answers to your organic farming questions. Find it at https://ask.extension.org/groups/1668/ask

Get involved with eOrganic

eOrganic is a Community of Practice, which means it relies on community members like you to help it grow and better serve our farmer and agricultural professional stakeholders by developing and delivering critical and timely resources. If you are a researcher or Extension educator with expertise in organic agriculture, eOrganic wants you to write an article, shoot a video, deliver a webinar, or develop and teach an online course. All of our articles and videos undergo NOP-compliance and peer review before publication. For more information on how to get involved with eOrganic, join eOrganic at http://eorganic.info or contact Alice Formiga at alice.formiga@hort.oregonstate.edu.

Write eOrganic into Your Next Grant Proposal

For complete information on the diverse opportunities eOrganic offers project groups and how to write eOrganic into your proposal, visit http://eOrganic.info/proposal. During the past year, eOrganic received subawards from 20 ongoing OREI and ORG projects. We can also partner with you on regional IPM, AFRI, SARE, NRCS-CIG and proposals from other funding sources. A 2-page handout describing our services to funded projects, which can be distributed at meetings, can be found here.

eOrganic can offer your project:

  • Web conferencing with the option of online or toll-free phone audio
  • Webinars and webinar series to stakeholders and the public
  • eXtension publication editing, and peer and NOP-compliance review
  • Video training, editing, review, and posting to the web
  • Online course development and support
  • Outreach for your publications, videos, webinars and websites to our established network of 9,000 farmers, extension personnel, agricultural professionals, and researchers from around the country and the globe—at conferences and through our newsletters and social networking activities
  • Ask an Expert support
  • Project workspace at eOrganic.info to facilitate project communication and management
  • Project websites that are easily managed by your project members from eOrganic.info (see http://eorganic.info/novic)
  • Analytics information for reporting on your articles, videos, webinars and courses. Evaluation for webinars and conference broadcasts.

Stay in touch!

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.