In August, 2019, the nonprofit Organic Farm Research Foundation (OFRF) introduced the first learning module, Organic Soil Health Management, in its free online training program for beginning farmers, existing organic farmers and farmers in transition to organic production. The content throughout the training program focuses on organic specialty crop production in California.
“Healthy soils are the foundation of a successful organic farm but determining which soil building practices will work best in a particular farming system can be challenging,” explains OFRF’s Education and Research Program Manager, Lauren Snyder. “The goal of this training program is to provide reliable information in one place and to highlight resources that help farmers assess which practices make the most sense for their system.”
This open educational resource is a joint effort between OFRF, the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, with funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The self-paced program combines descriptive essays, video lectures from university faculty, and virtual field trips to demonstrate organic principles and practices.
In total, the online training program will contain six learning modules: soil health, weed management, irrigation and water management, insect and mite management, disease management, and business management and marketing. The soil health module is now live and the five remaining modules will be introduced as they are completed, with the entire program available in spring 2020.