The Let’s Grow Together consortium* is currently further accelerating the controlled environment ag-tech ecosystem in Kentucky, US. Part of the Let’s Grow Together collaboration is an education track, which contributes to the exchange of knowledge and expertise in ag-tech sector. In light of this, recently, together with a group of representatives of our Dutch educational partners we visited various partners and stakeholders in Kentucky (US), which was certainly invaluable in sharing knowledge and refocusing connections for the parties involved.
The aim of the trip was to strengthen the collaboration between the Dutch and Kentucky educational partners, start to build a sustainable knowledge exchange, and set up an internship program with the private sector in Kentucky and in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Ministry for Agriculture awarded a so-called Groenpact voucher to HAS University of Applied Sciences, InHolland University of Applied Sciences and Yuverta. Groenpact acts as a booster, accelerator, and connector between business, education, and government and made the visit to the counterparts in Kentucky, USA possible.
We were accompanied by a delegation from the Netherlands, consisting of Hortitech, the Agricultural Attaché (Washington, D.C.) , and the Dutch Consulate General (Chicago, US).
Hortitech and the Kentucky Horticultural Council hosted an interactive workshop for local traditional growers. In the workshop, a 10-step model was presented in which growers can adopt more tech tools in their farming efforts, ranging from low to high tech. As Dutch technology can play a significant role in these operations, through a ‘tailored tech approach’. Finding and applying technology on a small scale can already result in significant changes in quality and quantity for small and mid-sized growers. We plan to showcase these steps by an actual introduction to the various aspects such as climate control, energy control, growing media, and so on. The program therefore included visits to local business consortium members, relevant public stakeholders, and farm associations.
One of our partnership developers, Tracy Wilson, said, “The trip to Kentucky was very productive and successful. By engaging with small farmers and visiting different types of operations, I was able to gain valuable insights into the horticulture/AGTech ecosystem and the future plans of our consortium partners. My visit focused on the educational partners, and it was good seeing their commitment to the program and their collective endeavours in person. Building strong ties between partners is crucial for the success of any collaboration, and therefore I look forward to continue growing together.”
The trip showed us that there is much eagerness to learn and implement the acquired knowledge which can help growers expand more. It not only provided a better picture and understanding but also clarified the next steps, both for us and for the educational institutions. For example, (online) alternatives of a student exchange were discussed, including the possibility of guest lectures and research projects that will link students to the implementation of the steppingstone model. The Dutch and US educational partners have emphasized on the importance of knowledge sharing through exchanges and possible internships. Therefore, the next steps focus on moving from conversations to actions.
*The Let’s Grow Together program focuses on agricultural opportunities in the US for the Dutch sector. Providing a substantial job growth in this sector in both countries and providing Dutch solutions to local and global societal challenges.
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