Professional Development for Ohio Farmers Market Managers and OSU Extension Educators on Creating a Culture of Data Collection for Sustainability Planning for Markets and Farmers

Progress report for ENC19-185

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $81,316.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: The Ohio State University Extension
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Christie Welch
The Ohio State University Extension
Eric Barrett
Ohio State University Extension
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Project Information


This project will train Ohio farmers markets, including those in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties, in all areas, sizes, ages, and levels of capacity on dynamic data collection and analysis to gain economic and ecological data that can increase their sustainability. Extension professionals and farmers markets managers will be trained in the use of the materials for their work with direct-to-consumer farmers. The materials will be paired with case studies featuring Extension staff and sustainable farmers on farm-level data being collected and the complementary market-level data needed to grow these businesses.  This training will be conducted through the new Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN)'s managers certification program, other existing networks, and regionally with new, small or rural markets not yet aligned with networks. The project will result in a database of markets and their use of data systems, actionable strategies for aiding vendors with business and product development, a permanent data system curriculum for market trainers and Extension Educators, and case studies that highlight the different data needs of sustainable farmers. Through this project, a shared culture of data collection that benefits farmers, increases consumer awareness of the value of sustainable production and builds aggregated messaging will be gained.  Extension will be able to better partner with farmers markets on projects that serve farm businesses. The materials will be shared with neighboring states to increase the regional availability of data.

Project Objectives:






Database of farmers markets formed between OFMN, OSUE, and FMC.

Project summary sheet

Baseline market data created

Project summary sheet shared online (through database) and in articles to raise awareness of the project.

120  market managers

150 Extension Educators



Conference attendance Schedule

Project team members will present at 5 conferences throughout Ohio in Year 1 to create awareness. Conferences:

OSU Extension Ag & Natural Resources,

OSUE Community Development,

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association,

Ohio Farmers Markets Network,

Ohio Produce Growers & Marketers Association

  225 managers, vendors, and extension educators learn about the need for data collection and how this project can assist them.


Train Market Managers through OFMN certification program

Market Manager Certification Training and Networks

112 Market Managers receive training on data collection and use


Train Market Managers that are not aligned with networks

Travel of project team members to non-networked markets and train in person

28  Market Managers in non-networked markets receive training on data collection and use


Conduct interviews of DTC vendors to gather input on the data they use and/or need for business level sustainability planning and decision making

Project team members interview 10 DTC vendors to gain insight on their data needs and develop case studies of these vendors to be included in the curriculum.

 10 DTC vendors share input on the data they use and/or need to make business decisions


Data collection systems for markets and DTC vendors is created and the developed database of markets and their data systems will be shared statewide.

Data collection systems developed.

Curriculum developed.

Train-the-trainer materials developed.

20 Farmers Market managers and 20 Extension professionals will learn how to use the curriculum to train farmers market stakeholders on data collection and use.


Train-the-trainer  Extension Educators Training

Training to be held online and in-person to train OSU Extension Educators.

20 OSU Extension Educators working with DTC vendors will be able to train these vendors and their local farmers markets on data collection and use.


Train-the-trainer presentations on data collection systems

Present at Michigan, Indiana, and West Virginia Farmers Markets Conferences on the tools developed through this project.

150 market managers and stakeholders in surrounding states will be trained on data collection systems developed through this project. Once trained, these trainers can train markets and stakeholders in their states.


The overall goal of this project is to train Extension Educators and farmers market stakeholders on available data collections methods and why and how farmers markets collect and use data for decision making.  The project has been delayed due to Covid-19 and administrative obstacles. We requested and received a one-year no cost extension of the project.  

During the first year of the project, we have created a database of farmers markets in Ohio and are identifying those that currently collect data.  We have also presented the project to The Ohio State University Extension Educators at their annual conference (Dec. 2020).  35 individuals attended the presentation and will be contacted for further information and education on data collection.

During 2021 five trainings will be held to educate both extension educators and farmers markets stakeholders.  These will likely occur virtually for the foreseeable future. In addition, we are in the process of identifying those farmers markets that collect and utilize data for decision making.  These market operators will be highlighted in a series of case studies to help their peers better understand the value of data collection and use.


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Educational approach:

Target audience members for this project include extension educators and farmers markets managers, vendors, and stakeholders.  These individuals will be educated about data collection and use through a series of presentations at a variety of conferences throughout Ohio.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Data collection at use at Ohio Farmers Markets

To increase awareness of extension educators on tools and methods available to assist them in assisting their local farmers markets in data collection and use for decision making.


Virtually presented to the Ohio State University Annual Extension conference.  The presentation provided the background for the need for this project as well as opportunities for them to learn more and get involved in the project.  35 attended the presentation.

Outcomes and impacts:

35 educators increased their knowledge of data collection methods and tools that they can use to assist the farmers markets in their counties with informed decision making for sustainability.

Educational & Outreach Activities

20 Consultations
3 Online trainings
5 Published press articles, newsletters
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Other educational activities: Created a database of Ohio farmers markets which was used to reach out to markets to share information about the project, ask them about their data collection and use, and requested markets contact us that would like to be more involved in the project. We combined several database that were available in Ohio as well as searched online for markets.

Participation Summary:

224 Extension
12 Nonprofit
3 Agency
3 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
70 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

224 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
20 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

7 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Through the activities of this project, 224 OSU Extension Educators have learned about the importance of data collection and use by farmers markets.  They have learned how data collection can be an important tools to assist farmers markets with decision making.  They have also learned that data collection needs to be market driven and how they can assist their local farmers markets to develop data collection methods and use that will benefit the market, the vendors/farmers, and the community.

During the 2022 OSU Extension Annual Conference 45 Extension Educators participated in a hand-on session of how to conduct a Dot Survey at farmers markets. These educators were guided through the process of developing questions, how participants respond to questions, and what to do with the information received. This hand-on activity was designed the help educators better support their local farmers markets in data collection processes.

This is the final year of this project and we will be conducting an evaluation to gather more information about the outcomes of the project which will be reported in the next report.

2 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.