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Saturday, March 7, 2009
Extension: A Great Resource for Backyard Farmers
What is Extension?
Extension is the outreach of the Land Grant University in your state. In every county, the University maintains an office for University faculty members (county agents) who conduct education programs in agriculture, youth development (4H), and family & consumer science. The following are some of the Extension programs and resources that backyard farmers may find useful.
Master Gardeners - www.ahs.org/master_gardeners/index.htm
The Master Gardener program, conducted by Extension, is a two-part educational effort, in which avid gardeners are provided many hours of intense horticulture training, and in return they volunteer to help others. Master Gardeners assist with personal consulting, garden lectures, demonstrations, school and community gardening, phone diagnostic service, and other projects. You can get advice about your garden from a Master Gardner or you can be a Master Gardner and help others with their gardens.
4H - www.4husa.org/
Extension organizes 4H clubs for children ages 8-18. Each club focuses on a specific education interest, for example: gardening clubs, poultry clubs, and horse clubs. 4H clubs usually meet once a month with other activities schedules depending on project interest as well as county and state activities. One of the highlights of 4H is entering projects and earning ribbons in the annual county fair. Enroll your child in a 4H club or form your own club and be a volunteer 4H leader.
My chickens are acting funny. My squash plants are wilting. There is a bug eating my beans. I need a soil test. Help! Your County Agent can help you with most of your problems.
With Land Grant Universities in every state employing thousands of researchers and Extension agents, there are free research based publications addressing every agriculture production method or problem. Most of the publications are free and available on the internet and are easily found with Google.
How do I find my county Extension office?
Google “Extension” followed by the name of your state. This will take you to your University Extension home page where you can then find the link to your county Extension office.