Creating a digital connection to Iowa’s Fruit and Vegetable Growers

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

Creating a digital connection to Iowa’s Fruit and Vegetable Growers

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

The ISU fruit and vegetable team is very small; however, Iowa has a growing population of fruit and vegetable producers across the entire state due to an increase in demand for locally produced food.  This makes it difficult to adequately respond to all client inquiries.  The apparent answer was to create a digital identity that could provide answers and sources of material to many basic questions that fruit and vegetable growers have.  The creation of the digital identity has allowed me to focus on more complex client needs, market and build a brand bigger than any one single team member, and help more Iowan’s farm better because they are using Iowa relevant information to make sound decisions.

RELEVANCE
(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

ISU Extension and Outreach for commercial fruit and vegetable production had a very limited online presence pre 2011 so Iowa growers seeking information online were acquiring information from non-Iowa based online resources.  There is a lot of great information online; however, growers are not always able to ascertain what is transferable for use in Iowa nor is all information online correct or wholly correct.  The website and e-newsletter serve as a hub of vetted resources and Iowa based information for Iowa growers.  The goal of these digital resources is to provide the best information available to Iowa growers; make it available to them 24hrs a day, seven days a week; and make it easy for ISU Extension and Outreach employees to market and make it easy for clients to find.  When growers willingly seek out information, it is important to make sure they have access to not only the best available, but the most relevant information there is.

RESPONSE
(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

IowaProduce.org was created as an identity for Iowa State University commercial fruit and vegetable production.   Following the creation of the digital identity, the website www.IowaProduce.org, the IowaProduce.org monthly e-newsletter, and the IowaProduce.org youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/titan693?feature=mhee) were created. 

The IowaProduce.org website is both a one-stop-shop for commercial growers looking for Iowa relevant information as well as in season crop updates.  Growers have access to crop specific fruit and vegetable production info, generalized production information such as soil fertility, organic standards, and irrigation, business management practices, food safety, and many other relevant topics.  The site points growers to other branches of Iowa State University, grower’s organizations, and vendors that serve this region.

The IowaProduce.org monthly e-newsletter serves as a conduit to share crop season updates such as effects of weather on crops and pest tracking, workshops and meetings announcements, and even research data that is directly relevant to and desired by Iowa’s growers.

The IowaProduce.org YouTube channel is a place to highlight research and extension activities

The following statistics were collected for each.

The IowaProduce.org website had 23536 hits between May 2011 and January 2012.  A better metric of usage would be 2040 page views by humans.  The website is averaging 128 unique individuals viewing the site each month.  Users are accessing the site from both their home computers AND mobile phones.

The monthly e-newsletter has grown from a distribution of less than 100 clients to 170+ clients in February 2012.  Readership includes ISU Extension and Outreach employees, commercial fruit and vegetable growers, interested 3rd parties, and serious hobby gardeners.

YouTube video views = 50

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

To provide timely and relevant information to Iowa’s fruit and vegetable producers so that they can make informed business decisions.  This is measured by website hits, website human page views, number of unique viewers per month, number of clients receiving the monthly e-newsletter, and number of views on the YouTube channel.

Desired Changes
Learning
Actions
Conditions

Iowa growers are able to access a wide array of fruit and vegetable production information that is Iowa based and Iowa relevant at any time.
Iowa growers receive timely updates on in season issues in order to make better management decisions.
To create a unified digital identity that growers can easily recognize that is greater and more recognizable than the sum parts and participants.

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Joseph M Hannan
Commercial Horticulture Field Specialist
Serving Central and Western IA
jmhannan@iastaste.edu
515-971-9503
28059 Fairground Rd.
Adel, IA

Your Position

­­­­­__X__Field                                        _____Campus                         _____Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­__X__ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­__X__Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­__X__Regional Food Systems
­­­­­_____Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­__X__Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change
­­­­­_____Other

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)

 

Continuing Story

_X___ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Major Partners or Collaborators

Dr. Paul Domoto
Dr. Ajay Nair
Dr. Patrick O’Malley
Linda Naeve
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag.

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Statewide

Fiscal Year

2010 and 2011

Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)

Yes, resources from other states are used and anyone in the world can access the site.

Funding Source

ISU Extension and Outreach
Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag.
Private Party Donation

Keywords

website, newsletter

 

Page last updated: February 9, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick, jhoneick@iastate.edu