The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry (UMCA) seeks to reach farmers, landowners, and the many professionals and peers who support them, via education and outreach efforts that increase agroforestry adoption. Workshops, webinars, publications, and events all contribute to this goal. This year, UMCA expanded this menu of media with the launch of The Agroforestry Podcast.
As information technology rapidly evolves, podcasts have become a popular way to glean new understanding, inspire creative ideas, and connect interested learners with topic-area experts. Podcasts are digital audio files made available electronically for download or direct listening online. Generally, podcasts are produced as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. According to Edison Media Research (2018), at least 26% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month. As the US farmer population ages (USDA NASS 2019), a new generation of young and beginning farmers entering the field are likely to seek information in novel ways. In order to reach this shifting demographic of land-use decision-makers, outreach media must also adapt.
Several podcasts on farming and food systems are currently available from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, and independent producers, although none focuses explicitly on agroforestry, and few highlight agroforestry as a featured topic more than once. An opportunity exists to highlight perennial agriculture practitioners, suppliers, buyers, and educational resources through this modern avenue of information transfer. By producing a series of agroforestry podcast episodes on topics ranging from forest farming medicinal plants, specialty crop marketing, financial incentives for conservation-based agriculture and much more, the Center for Agroforestry and contributing partners aim to broaden the reach of agroforestry information and resources to a growing audience of podcast listeners.
The podcast will also serve to inspire farmers and landowners to connect with agroforestry practitioners, suppliers, and buyers; share information about regional networks and events; and familiarize listeners with ecological, social, and economic concepts central to agroforestry. Since February 2019, UMCA has released three (monthly) Agroforestry Podcast episodes, each reaching around 500 new listeners. Currently available episodes include the followings:
- “Insights from Agroforestry Change-Makers” featuring highlights from conversations with Dr. Michael Gold, Dr. Sarah Taylor-Lovell, Dr. John Munsell, Keefe Keeley, and Kate MacFarland about the benefits of and potential for agroforestry in the US;
- “Forest Farming 101”, an introduction to medicinal forest plants from presenters at the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition’s grower event, including Dr. Jeanine Davis, Dr. Eric Burkhart, and Appalachian forest farmers at the event’s exhibit hall; and
- “Growing American Ginseng”, sharing diverse perspectives on the cultivation, conservation, and challenges of Panax quinquefolius, with forest farming professionals and growers.
To listen and subscribe to The Agroforestry Podcast (Figure 1), find us on your preferred podcast app, or visit www.centerforagroforestry.org/podcast.php, and stay tuned as we share the multitude of ways farmers, land stewards, researchers and educators are working to reintegrate diverse woody perennial plants into multifunctional landscapes. This month, we are giving away two copies of Jeanine Davis’ and Scott Persons’ book Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals to subscribed podcast listeners. To enter, complete the questionnaire at https://forms.gle/1CqcoqYSZHBptBQR8 before May 15, 2019.
Edison Research (2018) The podcast consumer 2018. Edison Research Latest News. www.edisonresearch.com/podcast-consumer-2018/. Accessed 10 March 2019.
USDA NASS (2019) 2017 Census of agriculture highlights: farm producers. USDA NASS Web. www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus. Accessed 20 April 2019.