Skip to main content

Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises

Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises

About Us

Our Team:

We are State and County Faculty located across the state and connected by the land grant mission to “Extend” University resources and expertise to the citizens of Florida.  In addition to work with this team, many members are active in supporting other areas of agriculture from large state issues like citrus greening to local gardeners and home landscapes. Our team is constantly learning from farmers like you, from research, and from regular in service trainings to update and hone our skills.

Our range of expertise includes:

  • Educating decision makers
  • Community economic development
  • Food systems development
  • Technology systems such as hydroponics, irrigation apps, and more.

slideshow containing various images of extension agents and community events

Who we serve:

UF/IFAS Extension works with farms of all sizes. However we recognize the unique educational needs that small farm operators have. Small farms and small food businesses are an increasingly important sector in the state of Florida. These farmers and business owners produce food and services for consumers who are looking for fresh, quality food, to support their local economies and reconnect with the land. This sector is as diverse as it gets, from agritourism operations, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vegetable and fruit farms, hydroponic operations, beekeeping, livestock and much more.

Where we come from:

In 2005 UF/IFAS extension faculty at the state and county level received multiple requests from the small farm industry in Florida. As a response, this team developed educational programs to meet the needs of this sector. Since then, the team has created numerous learning and networking opportunities such as the statewide and regional Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conferences, Build Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Plan Trainings, Farmers’ Market Trainings and much more.

How we Measure Success:

The UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises team measures program success based on the priorities outlined through a citizen needs assessment, conducted by UF IFAS Extension every five years and prepared into a document called the “Extension Roadmap”.  The Extension Roadmap lays out seven major initiatives of UF/IFAS in order to meet the needs of our state.  The Small Farms Team is part of the Food Systems Priority Working Group, which includes Food Systems, Food Safety and Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises. Check out more about the Roadmap here.

The overall goals of the Food Systems Priority Working Group are to:

  • Cultivate a robust and resilient Florida food system by strengthening food and value added industries,
  • Support the development of a small farm industry that offers a diversity of commodities and utilizes innovative production and processing technologies,
  • Ensure an abundant, sustainable, nutritious, safe, and affordable food supply for all,
  • Assure consumer confidence in the quality, value, and consistency of Florida product, and to
  • Facilitate a broader understanding, mutual respect and collaboration of urban, agricultural, and environmental interests.

Metrics for major objectives of the Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Program:

  • At least 65% of beginning farmer and rancher participants will report increased knowledge of strategies to reduce common mistakes in production, management, and marketing.
  • 65% of beginning farmer and rancher participants will develop a marketing plan.
  • At least 20% of beginning farmer and rancher participants will develop a business plan.
  • At least 30% of participants will report an increase the diversity of income-generating commodities and/or products at the farm level.

Many programs are crossover efforts contributing to other objectives in the wider Extension Roadmap.  Extension programs are evaluated to measure the effectiveness of the program and the greater community effect of the efforts.  Evaluation feedback is used to shape future programming and report outcomes of programming.  Checkout the impacts of Extension Programming here:

Our efforts also contribute to these metrics:

  • Number of new or improved value-added products sold by producers (or other members of the food supply chain)
  • Number of new food processing facilities, including inspected kitchens, niche meat processors, and larger animal/fruit/vegetable processors)
  • Number of participants attending educational programming for small farm operators, processors (big and small), or beginning farmers/ranchers showing knowledge gain on recommended practices
  • Number of participants attending educational programming for small farm operators, processors (big and small), or beginning farmers/ranchers that adopt one or more recommended practices
  • Number of participants demonstrating improved knowledge of food systems including food labels, production practices, food production and preservation, food waste management, etc.
  • Number of producers who developed a farm food safety plan
  • Number of growers, producers, food workers completing GAPs, GMPs, HACCP, PSA, PC, food safety certification, or farm food safety educational programs for Exempt and Qualified Exempt operations.

Infographic about Small Farms

Team Leadership:

  • Dr. Danielle Treadwell,, (352) 273-4775, is an Associate Professor in the UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department, and the Organic Vegetable Extension Specialist. She earned her PhD in Horticultural Sciences from North Carolina State University.  Dr. Treadwell anchors funding and vision for the statewide team and thrives on fostering initiatives to advance opportunities for small farms and alternative enterprises in Florida. 
  • Mary Beth Henry,, (863) 519-1049, is the Small Farms and Integrated Pest Management Extension Agent in Polk County and co-leader of the UF/IFAS Extension Small Farms Team. Mary Beth grew up on a small farm and gets excited over interactive teaching, beneficial insects and agritourism.  She holds a M.S. in Entomology from the University of Florida and a B.S. in Crop and Soil Sciences from Michigan State University.
  • Jose Perez Orozco,, (352) 294-1692, is the Small Farms Extension Coordinator for the Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension Program. Jose holds a M.S. from the University of Florida in Sustainable Development Practice and is currently a PhD. Candidate in the Agricultural Communication and Education Department.  Jose provides crucial services to the team in addition to writing and curating materials.  Jose gets excited about organic farming, farmer to farmer learning and collaboration and social justice in the food system.

Photo of Danielle Treadwell, who is the head of the Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises team Photo of Mary Beth Henry Photo of Jose Perez, UFIFAS Small Farms Specialty Crops Coordinator

The Small Farms Team Appreciates the support of Dr. Sebastian Galindo, UF/IFAS Agricultural Education and Communication, Department, Gainesville.

Dr. Galindo assists the team with standardization of Food Systems evaluation tools, and Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved or exempted surveys repeated over many years.  This approach allows us to recognize trends and report robust metrics for outcomes of our Small Farms Food Safety Training and Small Farms Conferences.

Extension In The Community

Extension Programs are guided by the input of local Advisory Committees that meet periodically for planning and review.  The Committees generally provide support including volunteering to anchor Extension programming in the community.  Like to provide your input?  Advisory Committee membership is designed to be representative of the audience they serve and include a rotation plan to regularly refresh the committee.  Contact your local Extension office for opportunities to serve.

The mission of the Extension Service is to provide research based information to improve the lives of everyday citizens.  Many Extension faculty are community board advisors or members to provide feedback and guidance to local community organizations. Contact your local Extension office for more information on Extension’s involvement in your community.

We appreciate your feedback!


Our team collaborates extensively with various actors within and outside Florida, including:

Connect With Us

Dr. Danielle Treadwell
(352) 273-4775

Mary Beth Henry
(863) 519-1049

Jose Perez Orozco
(352) 294-1692

Calendar of Events button
Support Our Programs button with picture of girls looking at plants
Join the Newsletter button with picture of a rooster
Newsletter Archive button with picture of crop