Worldwide Floricultural Specialist Teaches Women to Regulate Enterprise Risks | Gardening

George T. Taft

When Robin Brumfield joined her substantial school’s FFA club in 1969 as one particular of the chapter’s to start with girls, she experienced no strategy that her passion for greenhouses and bedding vegetation would direct to a career path of horticultural excellence for extra than 40 yrs.

Recognised worldwide, Brumfield is a top floricultural economist, carrying out analysis and maintaining Cooperative Extension excellence in the United States as properly as internationally. Moreover the U.S., she performs in settings like Turkey, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Guyana, where by she trains gals farmers to develop into financially rewarding in their greenhouse firms, supplying money and food stuff stability for their households and communities.

Her worldwide get the job done is a driving pressure powering several awards Brumfield has been given, including, most just lately, the 2020 International Excellence Award from Rutgers University’s executive dean of Agriculture and Purely natural Means.

Brumfield’s passion for journey commenced in college when, as a horticulture major with minors in organization and mathematics at Japanese Kentucky College, she was an FFA exchange university student to The Netherlands in 1976. There, she labored for a huge chrysanthemum producer.

Numerous yrs later, she took that abilities to Antalya, Turkey, as element of her sabbatical analysis in 2011, and then again to Georgetown, Guyana, in 2013.

But, prior to these travels, Brumfield partnered in the U.S. with Annie’s Project — Schooling for Farm Gals, a countrywide initiative that seeks to empower ladies in agriculture. She served with the application as New Jersey’s co-leader ahead of she embarked on her possess intercontinental job with the exact same principle. Brumfield named it Suzanne’s Job, immediately after her daughter. The goals had been the exact: to teach gals how to take care of risk in their agricultural enterprises in 5 vital parts: production, internet marketing, staff, lawful and monetary.

Her journey to Turkey was the outcome of several years of hard work, but also serendipity.

“When I begun in 2011 (at Rutgers) in New Jersey, it was time for my sabbatical. Twenty-five many years (previously),” she claimed, “I experienced tried out to get a sabbatical in Turkey, so I wrote to each individual university in Turkey, and no one answered. A lot of several years later on, a colleague at Akdeniz University observed my old letter and the file.” And so, she was able to go.

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

“It truly made me appreciate what we have below,” she mentioned, “because land grant units in (American) universities have training, research and Extension. And, in other nations, they do not have that mix. Turkey has Extension, but it is a division of agriculture, and the universities are entirely independent.”


Fortunately for Brumfield, her colleague at Akdeniz College had long gone to school with the local Extension director.

“So, he was able to organize visits to little villages, so we could job interview women and locate out their demands, and then establish a system that really fit,” she mentioned.

It turned out that what most Turkish girls essential was a focus on greenhouses, especially vegetable greenhouses.

“These gals did not notice that they were being running firms,” Brumfield explained. “So we wanted to teach them how to build a small business approach to have a much more successful small business and be proud of what they were doing,” she said.

They formulated a workbook for the women of all ages as very well as the instructors. They did “train the trainer” periods, training people today how to build a business enterprise plan and the essentials of creation greenhouse agriculture. This ground breaking work led to a considerable European Union grant that translated the curriculum into various languages, like Spanish, German, Turkish and Maltese.

More a short while ago, Suzanne’s Venture has come whole circle, bringing hazard administration teaching into urban areas in the U.S., commencing with 3 pilot plans in New Jersey.

In early 2020, pre-COVID-19 pandemic, Brumfield led periods in her point out — in New Brunswick, Newark and South Jersey. Whilst the curriculum remained largely the exact, like the preparation of a enterprise approach, the sessions in New Jersey additional a focus on women networking with other ladies, an significant draw for lots of neighborhood farmers.

Her early profession path led Brumfield to get her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture, with a minimal in economics and company, from North Carolina Condition College. She now serves as a professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and has been a farm management Extension expert at Rutgers considering that 1988.


Her scholarly investigate, particularly her greenhouse price tag accounting program, and advertising and business enterprise administration chapters in the most effective-selling textbook, “Greenhouse Operation and Administration,” by Paul V. Nelson, are utilized by her peers around the globe.

The modern Rutgers award, which comes with a $1,000 stipend to be made use of to more her exploration, follows up numerous other honors, which includes staying named a Fellow of the American Culture for Horticultural Science in 2012, the society’s greatest honor. And in 2013, she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi (the national Extension honorary culture) International Company Award.

Whilst Brumfield is appreciative of the awards, she said they provide a larger function: to be a springboard to use for and acquire grants nationally and internationally.

“My whole life has been working with people who really don’t truly feel empowered, but they know how to grow matters,” Brumfield claimed. “I clearly show them that it’s a small business. Foods is so critical. I want to give them pleasure in what they do.”

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