Where do we look for information on how to become resilient to the changes that impact our farming?
Some trusted sources include agricultural service providers and other farmers. Since we communicate, learn, and grow together, a group of Extension professionals built a program that is based on this peer-learning model. Farmers and their advisors have come together to be Climate Adaptation Fellows, building on shared knowledge about climate and ways to adapt to changes.
The program assists farmers, landowners, and outreach professionals to make decisions about how to adapt to climate change. The Climate Adaptation Fellowship (CAF) is happening now with 37 Vegetable and Berry fellows across the Northeast.
Farmers and their advisors experience impacts of climate change in many ways. They learn to adapt to these changes on the farms they work on, but also want to hear more about how their peers are dealing with the changes. Caro Roszell, a CAF fellow writes, “… the on-the-ground experience of farmers is that the start to the season is increasingly unpredictable, making it harder to plan”. As she reflects on her experience in the program she notes, “it has been so heartening to see farmers bring their doggedness and innovative spirit to the task of creating new farm systems”. Roszell has written two articles, both published by the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/Mass). In the first article, she writes about the impacts of climate change, realized from a broad perspective. In the second article, she discusses the high interest of peer Fellows in climate mitigation and the opportunities for farmers.
The USDA Northeast Hub worked with partners to develop this curriculum using NIFA funding. The Vegetable and Berry pilot program is funded through a SARE Professional Development grant and is co-led by University of Maine and Rutgers University.
Development of the Climate Adaptation Fellowship was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture NIFA (Award #2017-68002-26728), USDA Joint Venture Agreement 14-JV-11232306-103, the Rutgers Climate Institute, and University of Vermont Extension. The pilot is funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number ENE20-164-34268, with additional support from the USDA Northeast Climate Hub.
By Erin Lane, Coordinator, USDA Northeast Climate Hub