UF/IFAS Small Farms Academy

shutterstock_146767445The UF Small Farms Academy (SFA) was initiated in 2010 in response to the need to offer uniquely designed, hands-on training programs that will help sustain existing small farms and increase the number of new small farms. The initial training programs were developed and offered at the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center (SVAEC) near Live Oak. SFA programs today are still offered at the SVAEC site due to the established training and demonstration areas such as hydroponic greenhouses, mixed fruit orchard, integrated pest management field laboratory and a mushroom production area.

Select SFA programs are now also offered in other locations throughout the state based on the ability of the local Extension faculty to host the hands-on component of the programs. These programs typically reach 500 attendees annually from farms statewide. Many of the attendees are new, young and beginning farmers.

The motto of the SFA is “Helping small farm producers prosper through education, networking and adaptive research.” The objectives of the SFA include:

  • Train small farmers by providing non- biased scientific information.
  • Sustain existing small farms and increase the number of new small farms.
  • Support an increase in the number of socially disadvantaged small farm operators.
  • Prepare young people to enter agriculture through small farms.

 SFA Programs

  • Starting a Successful Hydroponic Business
  • Small Scale Mushroom Production and Marketing
  • Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual (several locations in Florida)
  • Sprayer Calibration and Safe Pesticide Handling for Small Farms
  • Using Technology on Small Farms
  • Integrated Pest Management, a Whole Farm Approach
  • Organic Vegetable Production Systems
  • So, You’re Thinking About Starting an Orchard?
  • Post-Harvest Handling of Fresh Produce
  • Veggies: Made in the Shade (Season Extension Using Shaded Structures)
  • Drip Irrigation School
  • Tractor Driving Safety and Skills for Women in Agriculture
  • Hand-on Vegetable Disease Diagnostics


For more information on the Small Farms program, contact Bob Hochmuth at the UF/IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center in Live Oak.