Growing the eOrganic Community: Annual Report 2018

Organic Agriculture April 17, 2019 Print Friendly and PDF

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eOrganic Annual Report 2018

In 2018, eOrganic celebrated its ninth year as the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice of eXtension, 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 and accessible to the public. A complete list of all eOrganic publications through 2018 is available here. 

eOrganic launched in 2009 with funding from the USDA NIFA OREI. Since 2011, our work has been funded by subawards on NIFA OREI, ORG and other federal research grants. 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 2018 and our upcoming plans for the 2019 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 farmer events in 2018, including the Organic Seed Growers Conference and the Small Farms Conference at Oregon State University. Special thanks to eOrganic staff member Cindy Salter for staffing the exhibits.

For the first time in 2018, eOrganic sponsored a Student Competition and Planned Oral Session at the American Society for Horticultural Science conference along with the ASHS Organic Interest Group. Students submitted an article to be published on eOrganic for the general public about their research, and 5 winners were awarded funding to attend the conference and the opportunity to present their work at the session. In addition, Alex Stone of the eOrganic Leadership Team introduced the participants to eOrganic resources and publishing. The winning articles were published, and due to the success of the event for all involved, another competition was held for the 2019 ASHS conference. In this session, we plan to include a presentation on writing for a farmer audience.

To keep researchers, educators, service providers, and farmers aware of our published resources and webinars, as well as other online resources of interest to our community, we publish the eOrganic Updates newsletter. More than 12,000 people received these notices in 2018. In addition, eOrganic maintains an active presence on social media sites such as Facebook, where we have 4600 followers; and Twitter, where we have over 3,000 followers. In 2018, eOrganic pages at extension.org attracted over 500,000 page views. Our YouTube channel attracted over 390,000 views, leading it to surpass 3.1 million views.

eOrganic Webinars and Conference Broadcasts

Since December of 2009, we've offered our popular webinar series, attended by farmers, Extension educators, researchers, organic inspectors and certifiers, nonprofit staff, government agency researchers, 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 200 webinars attended by over 23,000 attendees, of which, on average, approximately 30% were farmers. In addition, eOrganic broadcasts selected presentations from national organic conferences live online and archives the presentations on YouTube.

The 2018 season featured 3 days of live presentations from the Organic Seed Growers Conference, as well as 18 webinars on diverse topics such as organic tomato seed production, conducting variety trials, abrasive weeding, organic IPM, and tools for farm biodiversity. Many of the webinars were based on new research from USDA NIFA Organic Research and Extension Initiative and Organic Transitions Program projects. We also collaborated with the Organic Farming Research Foundation on 2 webinar series about soil health and organic farming. We have many more webinars scheduled for 2019 on grass-fed dairy farming, corn breeding, and organic farming practices for soil health. You can find all eOrganic upcoming and archived webinars and live broadcasts at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242.

Highlights of the 2018 Webinar and Conference Season

Webinar Evaluation

In 2018, 2,450 people attended eOrganic webinars and live conference broadcasts. Across all webinars, approximately 48% responded to post-webinar evaluation surveys. Of these, approximately 29% were farmers, 10% were Extension personnel, 9% were university researchers and educators, 5% were from nonprofits, 12% were agriculture professionals, 9% worked for government agencies, and 5% were organic inspectors or certifiers. Survey respondents' geographic affiliations were: 28% Northeast, 21% Central, 11% South, 22% West, and 18% other named regions or countries. Across all webinars, 97% said the webinars improved their understanding of the topic to some degree, and 3% said "not improved". 74% 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". 82% said the technical level of the webinars was "just right", 6% thought they were too technical, and 12% thought they were too basic. 79% would recommend the webinars to others, 17% might recommend them, and 4% would not. 97% of respondents thought access to the webinars was easy, 2% said it was somewhat difficult, and 1% said access was very difficult.

Webinar feedback from attendees in 2018:

"I was able to listen to the webinar while working at top dressing my garlic! It was thought provoking to be working in the soil while learning about it."

"New to farming, I have struggled to grasp some of the concepts of building and maintaining good soil. The 'light' went on while watching this webinar."

"I know next to nothing about organic farming methods. Thank you for providing a free program that is easy to attend. Even after just the introductory lecture, I can see that organic farming is an active process. There is more to organic methods than not using chemicals."

"Love, love, love the Merlin Bird ID and also the Cool Farm Tool possibilities. I have shared the Merlin Bird ID app with many already."

"The material was well presented, and made a good addition to undergraduate curriculum, and I think would be easily understandable for farmers, too."

Online Courses

The eOrganic Dairy Team continues to offer its asynchronous online course, "An Introduction to Organic Dairy Production" which was funded by the NIFA OREI project "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. Find a full description and a link to the course at http://www.extension.org/pages/69299.

In 2018, the eOrganic dairy team published 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. Find it here.

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 2018:

Our 5 most popular articles in 2018 were:

Videos:

The eOrganic YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/eOrganic houses eOrganic's 693 videos. The channel has over 9,500 subscribers and over 3.1 million views. Our most "liked" videos in 2018 were:

Organic Farming Research Websites

In 2018, eOrganic is worked with over 20 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, or workspaces for project management. For 17 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 2018, eOrganic hosted the following public project websites: 

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 2018, community members answered approximately 47 questions on topics such as tillage radish, compost tea, organic grains and carbon sequestration. Over 1440 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

Since 2011, eOrganic has partnered with 65 grant funded organic agriculture research projects. 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 over 20 NIFA OREI and ORG projects as well as Beginning Farmer, WSARE and Risk Management proposals. 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 20,000 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.