Over the course of several weeks in January and February, Rutgers Cooperative Extension held a new farm business management program focusing on greenhouse production, Annie’s Project New Jersey for Greenhouse Growers, which featured a combination of classroom instruction and webinars. A total of 35 greenhouse growers participated in the program, the first of its kind focused on greenhouse production conducted by Annie’s Project’s New Jersey. Participants graduated in a March 4 ceremony held at the offices of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Burlington County. The guest speaker at the graduation was Matt Pavone, farm loan officer and N.J. Coordinator for Farm Loan Outreach of the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Annie’s Project is a risk management educational program for women farmers that began in the Midwest and spread throughout the the U.S. Annie’s Project is based on a real farm woman, Annette Fleck, who spent her lifetime learning how to be an involved business partner with her farmer husband. The program was created by her daughter, Ruth Hambleton, who became a Cooperative Extension educator in Illinois. The intent of the program is to share Annie’s farm management experiences with farm women living and working in the highly complex business of farming, while learning from farm experts across the country in a variety of formats, including webinars, courses and workshops.
Annie’s Project New Jersey, which is led by Rutgers Cooperative Extension, conceived of a specialized course for greenhouse growers covering the issue of risk management and production topics such as greenhouse crop selection, marketing, greenhouse structures and shading, entomology and pathology, energy and irrigation, leadership, and greenhouse apps for Smartphones. In addition to the education that women farmers gained, the course also offered beneficial networking opportunities. Participants met and learned from other farm women, networked with potential customers and formed connections with industry professionals.
The primary RCE organizers for this Annie’s Project New Jersey course were Robin Brumfield, extension specialist in farm management, and Jenny Carleo, agricultural agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County.