by Jason McDonald, Owner of FiLoLi Tea Farm (Mississippi)
Now that everyone has made an appointment with their county agent, keep the appointment because it is the most important way to begin building relationships with your local university. If your regional office is too far away or you just don’t have time to go over to your local county agent’s house for dinner, like I do every Wednesday night, then maybe a resource that you can utilize is http://www.extension.org/. There are webinars and other land resource information that can be found at this site.
In the welcome section of the webpage, they say, “eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America.” They also say the benefits of using the page are:
- Credible expertise
- Reliable answers based upon sound research
- Connections to the best minds in American universities
- Creative solutions to today’s complex challenges
- Customized answers to your specific needs
- Trustworthy, field-tested data
- Dynamic, relevant and timely answers
Land grant universities are making it easier and easier to find information. I am from Mississippi and Mississippi State University has a page www.msucares.com where all the university publications can be pulled up whenever it is convenient for you to do research.
When Elyse Petersen, of Tealet, visited The MSU Truck Crop Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, MS, this past month, she saw pamphlet MSU IS0725 on “Drying Fruits” that she used when developing a Mango Dryer while in the Peace Corps. Had she ever been to Mississippi? No. But she did use the resources available to her via internet searches and found the information online. All you have to do is type “food drying” into the search area of www.msucares.com and IS0725 will appear.
This is why getting university research underway is important. The information can be at our fingertips, but without research, there is no information to have. We encourage everyone to contact their local universities to begin collecting information for all of us to use.
So to sum it all up, the universities are working very hard to make information available to the masses, we just need to know where to look. I hope this has given you a new tool to add to your personal toolbox of information. I would also ask that you email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with links and information that you have come across that would be beneficial to the group. We are establishing a database of resources and there’s a lot of power in the knowledge that our fellow tea growers bring to the table!