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Program trains islanders on farming best practices

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A second cycle of a six-week hands on training session for individuals interested in getting started in agriculture by learning best management practices in farming planning, production, and risk management will be starting up this month.

"As we started identifying those who wanted to farm but couldn't, we realized that many of them don't know how to farm and the constraints they face. Many of them don't have water to their farm or have poor soil, which is a common situation with the lands on Guam," Bob Barber detailed. Barber is from the University of Guam's Cooperative Extensive Service and says notable farmers like Ernie Wusstig and Bernard Watson have poor soil, but have done things to build it.

"People haven't been taught to farm with the constraints they have. There is a whole generation whereas 60 years ago everybody farmed to a small level. Now on Guam, there is a generation who had GovGuam jobs and they remember doing things on their parents farm but they themselves don't know the practices to follow, he explained.

That said, a second cycle of a six week hands-on training for individuals interested in getting started in agriculture by learning best management practices in farming planning, production, and risk management will be starting up this month. "We developed 60 hours of training for the Chamorro Land Trust to give to their farmers and we did two rounds of the training for people who had leases that they wanted to give training to," Barber confirmed. "And also good conservation practices, all kinds of things!"

Once the project with the CLTC ended, Barber decided to use the curriculum to create the new farmer and veteran program, saying, "We've been using this curriculum in various formats. We've modified a section to work with teachers so we are teaching teachers some of the fundamentals about gardening. recently I got a USDA grant for risk management, which basically means farm management-planning, records, how to evaluate what enterprise you make the most money with, developing marketing plans. I got a grant to do this and wanted to do it a little bit different."

The second cycle of classes will begin this month. For more information, you can call barber at 787-7391 or 735-2000/80 or e-mail uognewfarmer@gmail.com.

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