Apprenticeship Program for Farmer Cooperators on ISU Armstrong Research & Demonstration Farm

Eldon Everhart, Field Specialist-Horticulture, Southwest Area

Problem Statement:

It is difficult for most farmers to gain practical hands-on experience with the management and marketing of horticulture crops. Until this project, apprenticeship programs were not available on the ISU Armstrong Farm.

Programmatic Response:

COA/PFI On-Farm grant funds for this project were used as partial compensation for a dual apprenticeship program for two farmer cooperators, Milton Amos and Robert Amos, and for travel and time of the principle investigator, Dr. Eldon Everhart.  The farmers gained practical hands-on experience and learned how to manage and market fresh market tomatoes grown in greenhouses, high tunnels, and a sequence of field plantings at the ISU Armstrong Farm.

Impact/Outcome:

As a result of this project, both farmer cooperators now have a better understanding of the feasibility, sustainability, marketability, and profitability of combining high tunnel, greenhouse, and field production to produce and sell fresh market tomatoes in Iowa.  The farmers were involved in all aspects of the project.  They served on the planning committee and were involved in erection and covering of the high tunnel, layout and planting of the research plots, harvest and data collection, marketing and selling the tomatoes, and presentation of results at conferences and field days. On June 21, 2006, at a high tunnel workshop on the ISU Armstrong Farm, the farmer cooperators explained their involvement with the project to over 50 participants.  On August 9, 2006, both cooperators presented several sessions pertaining to the project to about 300 people during a field day at the ISU Armstrong Farm.  The cooperators also conducted tours of the high tunnel and field plots of tomatoes, blackberries, and raspberries.  They also talked one-on-one with people who had specific questions.  On January 12, 2007, Milton Amos and Eldon Everhart presented a 3 hour workshop at the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) Annual Conference.  Mr. Amos also presented information about this project at the program for farmer cooperators in Ames on February 8 and 9, 2007.  As a result of the project, Milton Amos plans to put up a high tunnel on his farm to grow tomatoes.  Robert Amos plans to keep the family farm viable by adopting new technologies.  The estimated economic benefit of this project is $7,000.

February 19, 2007
130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer

Page last updated: February 23, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu