A peer learning program aims to help farmers adapt to climate change, and leads to climate mitigation considerations.
“Improve soil health by increasing cover crops and reducing tillage.” This is a common thread of interest for farmers and agricultural advisors in the Climate Adaptation Fellowship (CAF). As part of the program, farmers assess their vegetable and fruit farms for adaptation opportunities. For many, climate mitigation is also a goal.
CAF was created to help farmers reduce their risk and adapt to the changing climate. The program’s pilot launched in January. It uses a peer-to-peer learning model for farmers and advisors. Its framework integrates climate science with land managers’ knowledge. Fellows work in farmer/advisor pairs to develop a personalized farm adaptation plan for the year-long program. In their applications for the program, fellows showed interest in learning more about soil carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gases on farms. This was in addition to their interests in adapting to climate change. Because of this, climate mitigation concepts were added to the already robust curriculum. To address this topic, educators presented about on energy use, soil carbon, management options, and greenhouse gases.
Meet one of the CAF farmer/advisor pairs:
Andy Pressman runs a 13-acre operation in NH called Foggy Hill Farm. His CAF partner, Olivia Saunders, is a Fruit and Vegetable Production Field Specialist at UNH Cooperative Extension. As part of the CAF program, Andy and Olivia are running a cost benefit analysis on construction of a new greenhouse for plant propagation. Once they understand the financial impacts of energy efficiency and off-grid independence, they will share this information with their peers. Outreach is part of the SARE-funded program requirements and key to the program’s peer learning design. Sharing what they learn about adaptation and mitigation will expand the reach of what all the fellows, including Andy and Olivia, learn during the program.
This program is led by University of Maine, Rutgers University, and the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. As program leads, they deliver core educational content, conduct evaluation activities, and serve as a resource for Fellows throughout the program. Learn more about the Climate Adaptation Fellows Program, including a curriculum guide, slides, and other materials. More information about the Climate Adaptation Fellowship is also available on our website.
This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program under subaward number #ENE20-164-34268.