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Director's Message

Welcome to the Small Farms Research Center's new and improved website! We hope you enjoy learning more about our history, projects and outreach activities, and gain helpful information and resources. We sincerely thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Center which is the sole outreach arm and vehicle of the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences (CALNS) at Alabama A&M University (AAMU). As you'll see, we take our mission of serving, engaging, inspiring, empowering and assisting underserved agricultural producers and rural entrepreneurs very seriously. Indeed, since 2000, the Small Farms Research Center has been making a difference among limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and beginning farmers and ranchers and rural entrepreneurs state-wide and nationally.   


The Center works closely with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities) and with other state, academic and community-based organizations throughout Alabama (Tuskegee University, Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN), Federation of Southern Cooperatives and Land Assistance Fund, State of Alabama Farmers Market Authority, Tri-State Rabbit Growers Association, Alabama Agricultural A+ Marketing Association, Tune Farm, Rosita’s Farm, Hopewell Women in Agriculture, State of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Alabama Forestry Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agencies, etc.). We are actively engaged in a broad range of programs and community outreach activities, all focused on creating crucially needed transitions toward profitable and sustainable farming systems, primarily in the area of community outreach, technical assistance public policy, targeting small, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, new and beginning farmers and ranchers in Alabama's underserved communities. Since most of the problems we're facing on this small planet are systemic in nature, the Center takes a holistic or highly integrated approach to fostering change. The Center has taken on the challenge of addressing the institutional and other barriers faced by minority and underserved producers in accessing government programs, services and benefits.   


We have made remarkable progress by developing collaborative relationships within and outside the great state of Alabama in building green and livable communities, sustaining small farms and ranches, and in defining a long-term vision of farm business profitability and sustainability based on the common goal for both creating a safe and healthy environment for our own and future generations. The Center's overarching goal is to empower women, youth, farm populations, rural entrepreneurs and organizations to look at all of the relationships and consequences related to what they do and to grow into full responsibility for making informed decisions that consider their effect on all people, communities, and all species, now and in the future.   


The Center's mission and overall goals have been met over the years, thanks to the continued financial assistance and support from USDA/Rural Development, USDA/Risk Management Agency (RMA), USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA/Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO) and USDA/Farm Service Agency (FSA). 


The development of this new website is a huge step towards our goal of providing a comprehensive forum for communication, education, outreach training, technical assistance, and collaboration. The message board will be further developed in the near future, and we will be adding a “Web-based or Online Resource Center” and an "Interactive Forum," where agricultural producers, rural entrepreneurs and agricultural professionals will be able to obtain useful information and share their outreach, farming and business experiences and suggestions with us and with the general public within Alabama and nation-wide.   


Our Annual Community Outreach Conference held in mid-November here at Alabama A&M University is true celebration of community outreach at its finest. It showcases CALNS’ best and the innovations of its faculty, staff, students and partners. It is one of the best ways to engage this vibrant community and become involved in the larger CALNS activities. You will want to mark mid-November on your calendar as the time to make your way to the “Rocket City” (Huntsville, Alabama), to meet, greet, connect with, and learn from colleagues from across the state, the South, and the U.S.   


Again, thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Small Farms Research Center and its outreach activities here at Alabama A&M University. We encourage and welcome your feedback as our website evolves and hope it supports your quest for useful and empowering information. You may reach us by email at smallfarmscenter@aamu.edu or by telephone at 1-866-858-4970 or 1-256-372-4970.

Dr. Duncan Chembezi