Worldwide Floricultural Pro Teaches Girls to Deal with Business enterprise Risks | Gardening

When Robin Brumfield joined her significant school’s FFA club in 1969 as a single of the chapter’s to start with girls, she experienced no thought that her enthusiasm for greenhouses and bedding plants would lead to a vocation route of horticultural excellence for far more than 40 decades.

Recognised worldwide, Brumfield is a leading floricultural economist, executing investigate and sustaining Cooperative Extension excellence in the United States as properly as internationally. Moreover the U.S., she performs in settings such as Turkey, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Guyana, wherever she trains girls farmers to turn into rewarding in their greenhouse firms, furnishing revenue and food stability for their households and communities.

Her international operate is a driving force driving various awards Brumfield has received, like, most recently, the 2020 Worldwide Excellence Award from Rutgers University’s govt dean of Agriculture and Natural Assets.


Brumfield’s passion for journey commenced in school when, as a horticulture significant with minors in company and arithmetic at Jap Kentucky College, she was an FFA exchange college student to The Netherlands in 1976. There, she labored for a substantial chrysanthemum producer.

A lot of several years later on, she took that expertise to Antalya, Turkey, as portion of her sabbatical investigation in 2011, and then again to Georgetown, Guyana, in 2013.

But, prior to these travels, Brumfield partnered in the U.S. with Annie’s Venture — Training for Farm Girls, a nationwide initiative that seeks to empower gals in agriculture. She served with the method as New Jersey’s co-leader in advance of she embarked on her own global undertaking with the similar principle. Brumfield named it Suzanne’s Job, after her daughter. The aims had been the very same: to train women how to handle threat in their agricultural enterprises in 5 vital parts: creation, internet marketing, personnel, legal and monetary.

Her journey to Turkey was the final result of yrs of difficult work, but also serendipity.

“When I commenced in 2011 (at Rutgers) in New Jersey, it was time for my sabbatical. 20-5 years (earlier),” she claimed, “I had attempted to get a sabbatical in Turkey, so I wrote to each individual college in Turkey, and nobody answered. Several yrs afterwards, a colleague at Akdeniz College uncovered my previous letter and the file.” And so, she was capable to go.

When arriving in Turkey, she was immediately struck by how various it is from the United States.

“It really created me recognize what we have in this article,” she said, “because land grant programs in (American) universities have teaching, exploration and Extension. And, in other international locations, they do not have that mixture. Turkey has Extension, but it’s a division of agriculture, and the universities are absolutely independent.”


The good news is for Brumfield, her colleague at Akdeniz University experienced gone to college with the community Extension director.

“So, he was able to organize visits to smaller villages, so we could job interview women of all ages and find out their desires, and then construct a system that truly in shape,” she reported.

It turned out that what most Turkish gals wanted was a target on greenhouses, in particular vegetable greenhouses.

“These females did not notice that they ended up running enterprises,” Brumfield reported. “So we required to teach them how to create a small business prepare to have a extra successful company and be very pleased of what they were being undertaking,” she mentioned.

They created a workbook for the ladies as very well as the academics. They did “train the trainer” sessions, instructing individuals how to produce a business enterprise system and the fundamentals of output greenhouse agriculture. This innovative operate led to a sizeable European Union grant that translated the curriculum into distinctive languages, together with Spanish, German, Turkish and Maltese.

A lot more recently, Suzanne’s Project has arrive complete circle, bringing risk administration training into urban locations in the U.S., starting with three pilot programs in New Jersey.

In early 2020, pre-COVID-19 pandemic, Brumfield led periods in her state — in New Brunswick, Newark and South Jersey. Though the curriculum remained largely the same, including the preparing of a company strategy, the classes in New Jersey additional a concentration on women of all ages networking with other girls, an critical draw for many nearby farmers.

Her early vocation route led Brumfield to get her M.S. and Ph.D. levels in horticulture, with a insignificant in economics and small business, from North Carolina Point out University. She at present serves as a professor at Rutgers, the Point out College of New Jersey, and has been a farm administration Extension specialist at Rutgers given that 1988.


Her scholarly investigate, namely her greenhouse price tag accounting program, and advertising and company administration chapters in the greatest-offering textbook, “Greenhouse Operation and Administration,” by Paul V. Nelson, are applied by her peers all over the world.

The latest Rutgers award, which arrives with a $1,000 stipend to be utilised to further more her study, follows up many other honors, like staying named a Fellow of the American Culture for Horticultural Science in 2012, the society’s greatest honor. And in 2013, she been given the Epsilon Sigma Phi (the nationwide Extension honorary modern society) Intercontinental Assistance Award.

Whilst Brumfield is appreciative of the awards, she reported they provide a more substantial goal: to be a springboard to apply for and acquire grants nationally and internationally.

“My whole lifetime has been doing work with individuals who do not experience empowered, but they know how to increase issues,” Brumfield stated. “I display them that it’s a company. Food stuff is so significant. I want to give them satisfaction in what they do.”

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