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During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, food security became a concern, which prompted some homeowners to look at their backyard as an avenue for food production. To reach the public during a time where face-to-face programming was not an option, the agent coordinated the Backyard Fruits Webinar Series, a 4-week online program that covered various small fruits and tree fruits that can be grown across the Southeastern United States. The Series launched on May 13 and ran twice a week through June 5, 2020 for a total of eight sessions.


During Georgia’s shelter-in-place guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals were staying home and seeking information on growing food crops. While an abundance of information was shared with the public on how to grow vegetables, resources on fruit production were scarce. Due to the pandemic, in-person educational opportunities were not an option. Thus, the agent collaborated with UGA Extension colleagues and faulty from other universities to engage the public through an online webinar series addressing how to successfully grow fruit crops at home.


The agent collaborated with faculty from UGA Extension, LSU Extension, NC State Extension, UT Extension, and Auburn University to coordinate a multi-state webinar series on backyard fruit production. The series featured crops, including but not limited to: blackberries, blueberries, muscadines/bunch grapes, strawberries, apples/pears, peaches/nectarines/plums, citrus, and specialty fruits, such as figs, persimmons, and kiwifruit. Each session included approximately one hour of instruction coupled with a question-and-answer session at the end. The agent served as both a presenter and program host. To improve accessibility, the program was offered during the lunch hour from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EDT. Participants could register for any of the eight sessions that interested them at no cost. Recordings of each session were captioned and made available on the UGA Extension YouTube Channel, where program participants, as well as those who did not register for the live webinars, could view and share the videos. Additionally, many educators across Georgia, and other states, were seeking opportunities for professional development. Thus, a Certificate of Completion was made available for any program participant who attended all eight sessions, equivalent to 8 hours of online learning.


During the height of the pandemic, online programming was a relatively new means of public education and outreach, and there was uncertainty regarding if public interest would continue throughout multi-week programs. Despite the uncertainty, the Backyard Fruit Webinar Series garnered national interest and participation. Over the course of the program, 2,152 client contacts were made, 28 states were reached, and attendance ranged from 85 to 74 percent of those who registered, which was an average of about 269 participants per session. Certificates of Completion were furnished to 43 participants who attended all 8 sessions, many of which were educators who needed the professional development (an additional 23 participants attended 7 of the 8 sessions). Each session was recorded and uploaded to the UGA Extension YouTube Channel. As of October 2020, the videos have been viewed 1,528 times. After the program was completed, participants were invited to provide feedback on the program as a whole. Regarding the overall management and delivery of the program, 100% of the program participants reported that they were satisfied. When asked about the program being delivered online versus an in-person format, 84% of participants preferred the online learning option over in-person. Additionally, 100% of the participants who attended all 8 sessions of the program reported they gained a better understanding of the major factors that impact successful backyard fruit production, and planned on using the information presented throughout the program. Approximately 50% of program participants indicated that their attendance in the program was in some way related to COVID-19. “I was furloughed due to the virus and was looking to gain knowledge for enjoyment and purpose.” Participants not only lauded the program’s content, citing “the presenters were very knowledgeable and gave excellent information,” but also its accessibility during a time where face-to-face interaction was not possible. One participant stated, “It was fabulous. The online platform is so much better for increasing public access!” Lastly, the Series continued to benefit the public once the recordings were uploaded to the UGA Extension YouTube Channel, with one participant stating “I watched the recorded version (on YouTube) of the Blackberry session that you presented. I found your presentation clear, well organized, and complete. The key aspect that made it so well done was its focus on the areas of interest to the homeowner. Thus, I give it an EXCELLENT rating. Thanks for your work on the Blackberry session and your efforts on organizing the entire webinar series.”

State Issue

Urban Agriculture


  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: National
  • County: Fannin
  • Location: College Station, Athens
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources


  • Hoppers, Ashley


CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Brantley, Ashley
  • Fuder, Joshua Graham
  • Holland, Renee Marie

Non-CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Dr. David Lockwood - UT Extension
  • Dr. James Spiers - Auburn University
  • Dr. Michael Polozola - LSU Extension
  • Dr. Mike Parker - NC State Extension
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Extension Impact