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The overall goal of the project is to improve the profitability of small and medium-sized vegetable farms by developing a research-based Extension program that increases strategic soil to market decision making by farmers titled Soil to Market Decision Making. Soil to Market Decision Making consists of three pillars: economics, production, and food safety.Pillar 1 objectives: Improve farm management practices of small and medium-sized vegetable farmers by 1) assessing farmers' current soil to market planning processes, 2) evaluating barriers to integrated soil to market strategic planning, 3) calculating the increased profitability of integrated soil to market planning, and 4) developing a Vegetable Farm Strategic Planning Extension program that increases farmer awareness of how profitable farm planning is an integrated process. The program will increase understanding of how marketing and labeling outcomes are guided by production decisions, increase awareness of how food safety outcomes are affected by production decisions and increase awareness of how production and food safety decisions need to be consumer centric.Pillar 2 objectives: Increase farm production capacity and produce quality by enhancing the farmers' ability to comprehensively manage soil health and plant nutrient availability while using appropriate genetic materials by: 1) assessing soil health variables to determine best management practices (BMPs) for optimal vegetable production, 2) evaluate how the best features of organic and conventional production systems can be utilized to improve soil health, nutrient availability, productivity, and produce quality, 3) increase understanding of how different commercially-available compost sources affect soil health and productivity, 4) evaluation and selection of appropriate vegetable varieties suitable for use during spring, summer, and fall production in each region, 5) develop and evaluate nutrient management strategies for optimized vegetable production in different soil types in each region, and 6) develop an Intensive Sustainable Production Extension program to assist small and medium-sized farms to improve yield and produce quality, while taking care of their most valuable resource, soil.?Pillar 3 objectives: Increase farmer profitability by enhancing their understanding of consumer food safety expectations and use of food safety practices by 1) assessing consumer expectations of quality and safety of produce from small and mid-size farms and identify consumer preferred communication strategies; 2) evaluating small and mid-size produce farmers' attitude change toward food safety, and organic practices after exposure to consumer expectations on produce quality and safety and 3) developing and evaluating a food safety Extension program to assist small to medium-scale farmers to better compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations titled Vegetable Food Safety and Quality Extension Program.

Marshall, M.
Purdue University
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