Participation in field days increases adoption of new techniques and fosters learning. Since 1977, the Iowa State University (ISU) Department of Horticulture has hosted several Home Demonstration Garden (HDG) field days at ISU research farms each year to educate consumers on best practices and cultivars for growing annual flowers and vegetables. Gardens are planted at the farms and feature a specific topic or theme. In 2016 and 2017, 12 HDG field days were hosted in July or August. The objective of these field days was to showcase cultivars of vegetables that are in demand at food pantries and that home gardeners could grow easily for donation to these pantries. In addition to showcasing crops, presentations were delivered that focused on food insecurity implications in Iowa and how community members could impact food security locally. Of more than 400 field-day attendees in 2016, 151 (38%) participated in an optional survey at the end of the day. Similarly, in 2017, 140 of 350 (40%) attendees participated in the survey. Participants reflected on their food security knowledge and intentions to donate fresh produce before and after participation in the field day. Slightly more than a third (39.53% and 37.12%, respectively) of attendees reported some increase in food-security knowledge after participation. In addition, 85% and 72.5% of respondents reported that they will or would consider donating fresh produce to a local pantry after participation in this field day in 2016 and 2017, respectively. This was a change of more than 40% from previous donation patterns in both years. Results from this study are being used to focus future programming of the HDG field days and content of the field day surveys.
During the 2021 American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference, the Teaching Methods Professional Interest Group hosted the workshop “Going beyond Zoom: Tips and tricks for teaching horticulture online.” This workshop provided a forum for the dissemination of tools, materials, and approaches used to facilitate active learning in horticulture courses. Here we summarize the topics presented in the workshop as a resource for current and future horticulture instructors.