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Simon, M. 1990. Extension paraprofessionals: A unique resource for introducing new crops to small farmers. p. 67. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Extension Paraprofessionals: A Unique Resource for Introducing New Crops to Small Farmers

Marion Simon

Cooperative Extension utilizes meetings, publications, on-farm demonstrations, and field days to teach improved farm practices and to introduce new crops. However, these methods do not always fit the attitudes, educational levels, and financial status of small farmers. The Kentucky State University Small Farm Program utilizes extension paraprofessionals to provide a locally-based, "one-on-one" information delivery system to small farmers via "one-on-one" farm visits and on-farm demonstrations, thus providing a vital fink between small farmers and the Kentucky Cooperative Extension System.

Interest in producing new crops such as vegetables as supplemental farm enterprises for small farmers in Kentucky is increasing. In Wayne County we utilize an extension paraprofessional to introduce new vegetable crops to small farmers. The paraprofessional teaches production techniques "one-on-one" to 60 small producers in the county and conducts several vegetable demonstrations each year which educate some 100 producers. As a result, trickle irrigation, improved cultivars, and new technologies have been rapidly adopted throughout the county. Specific examples include trickle irrigation and cultivar trials for staked vine ripened tomatoes.


Karow, R. and B. Rogers. 1990. A questionnaire to assist growers in evaluation of new crops. p. 68. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

A Questionnaire to Assist Growers in Evaluation of New Crops

Russ Karow and Bill Rogers

Extension staff are often approached by growers who have an idea about a new cropping enterprise. Generally these growers come armed only with a newspaper or magazine article or a verbal statement from a friend or neighbor and a question "Can I grow this?" Extension staff members can spend many hours dealing with such a question trying to ascertain if the crop could be successful for the specific grower. As an alternative to this one-on-one, staff-intensive approach to new crop evaluation, OSU is developing a questionnaire that can be given to a grower. This questionnaire guides the grower through an evaluation process. The grower is asked to provide available information on the new crop such as environmental requirements, markets, quality standards. The grower is asked to assess personal goals in growing a new crop and available physical monetary and human resources. The grower is asked to develop a rough cost of production estimate and to compare this cost with available market value information. In general, the questionnaire shifts the evaluation burden back to the grower and forces the grower to consider aspects of new crop production that may not have been considered previously. Even if only partially completed, the questionnaire provides a foundation for further, more productive discussions with extension staff. It also serves to separate the curious from those truly interested in evaluating a new cropping enterprise.


Sabota, C. 1990. New vegetable crops: what's worked and what hasn't. p. 68. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

New Vegetable Crops: What's Worked and What Hasn't

Cathy Sabota

Production of a specific crop when the market price is highest is the challenge of many producers. Snow peas, yellow bell peppers, seedless watermelons, and miniature squash were grown during 1987 and 1988 at Alabama A&M University and at selected demonstration farms in north Alabama and south central Tennessee. Snow peas harvested between May 7 and June 1 provided producers profits up to $5.00/10 pound unit, depending on the weather and other factors. Yellow bell peppers brought two times the price of red bell peppers, but yields are often one-half or less the more traditional green bell pepper. The seedless watermelon market has expanded in the past two years with nursing homes and elderly care facilities as the prime customers. Greenhouse production of the seedless watermelon plants as well as fruit production is profitable when 20 pound fruits sell for $7 to $9.00 each. Miniature squash is labor intensive and must be harvested daily. Gross returns are as high as $2,000/acre, however, the demand for miniature squash has declined in the past year and large volume production is difficult to market.


Last update February 12, 1997 by aw