The University of Florida is listed #2 for those institutions with programs.
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is the only national, non-profit organization to track and report organic programs and activity in the U.S. land grant system. Our leadership position ensures that education, research, and outreach services are highly responsive to the needs of certified organic farmers and ranchers.
Because federal funds support the land grant system, OFRF expects it to be responsive to the educational and research needs of all its constituents, including the growing organic sector. As the organic industry has grown from $7.4 billion in sales in 2001 to $28.6 billion in 2010, OFRF expects the land grant system to keep up the pace with increased investment in organic research, outreach, and training opportunities.
In 2001 and 2003, OFRF published the first inventories of organic activity in the land grant system. At the time, OFRF used the metric of certified organic research acres as the primary indicator of institutional commitment to conducting research meaningful to organic producers.
Today, OFRF is delivering an updated inventory of land grant organic activity using more sophisticated methods to measure an institution’s level of commitment to organic agriculture. Each institution has been assessed using an 8-point system that integrates all three elements — organic research, extension, and education — into a single score that provides a firm basis
on which to compare organic activity at each institution. Points were given for having certified organic research land; having a student organic or “sustainable” farm; offering an organic major, minor, or certificate; providing organic Extension resources; and other factors.
The quantitative data generated from this report will allow us to drill deeper into answering questions including:
The top six campuses with a full 8 points are:
Of these, University of Tennessee is the newest addition to the organic scene, featuring an organic research farm for research and teaching, an 8-month organic farm internship program, and a new Organic Production concentration in the Plant Sciences major.
We are seeing a clear commitment by institutions in most states to conduct research on certified organic research land. In fact, having certified organic research or student farm land has become the norm for the majority of land grants. Some institutions manage their programs under the rubric of “sustainable agriculture” and manage their facilities organically but don’t feel the need to certify the land.
OFRF believes that the process of certifying research land and student farms is crucial for two main reasons: it presents an educational opportunity for students and researchers, and it dedicates an area to ongoing organic management, a critical factor in generating useful data from research conducted at these sites.
OFRF is seeing the most distinctive trends in the area of education. When OFRF began assessing land grant organic activity, the primary concern was to discover whether or not the land grants were generating relevant production information for organic producers and conveying this information to the organic farming community. Over the past 8 years, the role of the land grant universities as a training ground for the next generation of organic farmers, ranchers, and researchers has expanded greatly, as reflected in the four-fold increase in student organic farms and the proliferation of organic academic programs offered.
Growing Organic Farmers, Researchers and Policy Advocates
Organic programs that include a combination of formal curriculum, production at a student farm, and marketing and distribution training may prove to produce the most highly trained organic farmers. OFRF will continue to closely track the best models for training the next generation of organic farmers, ranchers, researchers, and policy advocates. This current assessment is the basis for a larger strategy aimed at building the educational and scientific infrastructure to meet tomorrow’s organic consumer demand.
The information gathered for this report yielded a vast amount of state-specific data on organic programs. Daily, OFRF receives requests for this information from farmers, scientists, students, organic advocates, policy makers, industry representatives, funders and citizens. OFRF plans to organize and present state-specific information and make it easily accessible to all interested parties.
For more information on 2012 Organic Land Grant Assessment visit www.ofrf.org