Final Report for EW12-017

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $98,782.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Daniel Press
University of California Santa Cruz
Co-Investigators:
Ann Lindsey
University of California Santa Cruz
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

TOFG-book announcement-form

TDM-book announcement-form

We are incredibly grateful for the support from Western SARE for the project entitled “Training Manuals and Professional Development Activities for Teaching Organic Farming and Marketing” at the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). As described in this final report, the project has successfully resulted in the publication of two expanded and revised instructional manuals both in print and online, along with outreach and dissemination to increase the use of the manuals across western states.

In 2012 CASFS initiated a major effort to update and expand its two instructional manuals that were developed ten years ago and are now used worldwide. The original books, entitled Teaching Organic Farming and Gardening: Resources for Instructors (TOFG) and Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors (TDM), contained  more than 1000 pages of teaching tools organized in 24 units, including lecture outlines, demonstration outlines, assessment questions, case studies, and student readings.

We completed the publication of the two revised and expanded instructional manuals and have made them available as free resources online (and at cost in print). To raise awareness about the manuals and to train agriculture educators in the use of the manuals we have broadly advertised the manuals and have presented webinars, conference workshops, and trainings in 2015 and 2016.  

The goal of this project has been to revise, update, and expand CASFS teaching resources for organic farming and gardening, and to make these resources broadly accessible as free online teaching tools. The project was much more comprehensive and ambitious than originally conceived, with every unit revised, new units developed, narrative supplements written, appendices added, resource sections expanded, and PowerPoint presentations created for many units. For this reason it took longer to reach publication than anticipated, but both manuals were completed in the first half of 2015.

To expand the reach of these new manuals, we devoted considerable planning and resources to dissemination, outreach, and training. The goal for dissemination and downloading of the manuals has been nationwide, with the focus of the initial outreach on western states. To complete the dissemination, outreach, and training phase of the project as comprehensively as planned, we requested and received an extension to June 30, 2016. Through conference presentations, webinars, and small group training sessions we have directly trained 371 educators in the use of the manuals. Online usage tracking shows the two manuals have reached over 12,300 users and over 200 print copies have been distributed as review copies or sold to educators across the nation.  Outreach has continued beyond the project period, and will continue to be part of our conference offerings and other outreach to aid expanded use of these excellent teaching resources.

Project Objectives:

The objectives and performance targets for this project assumed the completion of the revision and production of manuals in 2014, but instead they were completed in 2015. While the curriculum was published in print and online in the spring of 2015, an extension was requested and granted to complete the outreach objectives by June 2016. The Objectives/Performance Targets included in the proposal and in our Project Overview remained in place for our work in 2013 through 2016 as outlined below:

  • Reach over 1,000 educators with mailed and online information about the manuals in 2015 and attract another 1,000 to view the manuals from links on other websites serving educators and producers by the June 30, 2016.
  • Disseminate the new manuals online and in print to over 2000 users by June 2016.
  • Train 300 extension personnel and other educators in the three-state region through five train-the-trainer sessions, five conference presentations, and two webinars by the end of June 2016.
  • Build in evaluation of the project by tracking downloads of the materials from the UC eScholarship and CASFS websites, surveying those using the manuals, and collecting workshop evaluations.
Introduction:

The instructional manuals that have been the focus of this project were first produced in 2003 in response to the many requests from those interested in the curriculum offered each year by the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture through the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The resulting two books, Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening: Resources for Instructors (2003) and Teaching Small Farm Viability and Direct-Marketing: Resources for Instructors (2005) were made available for free online and at cost in print.

Since their publication and online posting, the training manuals have seen widespread use in classrooms and farm fields from California to Vermont, as well as internationally. College and university educators, apprenticeship teachers, Master Gardener trainers, and other instructors have used the lectures, hands-on exercises, and supporting material to teach basic organic farming and gardening skills, along with the concepts of soil science and social issues as they relate to sustainable agriculture.

Much had changed decade from 2003 to 2013 and the CASFS instructors wanted to update the books. There are now more resources, training materials, and support for those interested in farming as a career, thanks in large part to projects funded by the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), and organizations such as the National Young Farmers Coalition, FarmLink, and the Greenhorns Project.

Myriad new opportunities to learn about agriculture both in and out of the classroom have emerged in the past decade. More and more colleges and universities are adding hands-on farmer training to their offerings. The Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) was founded to help promote innovative educational approaches to teaching sustainable agriculture. Apprenticeships, internships, farm incubators and related efforts are springing up on farms across the country to serve those exploring a career in agriculture.

The new editions of these manuals were developed with this growing audience and evolving agricultural framework in mind. Through lectures, demonstrations, and exercises that can be tailored for use in the field, the garden, or the classroom, it offers comprehensive lessons from the “core” curriculum taught annually through the CASFS Apprenticeship, with an emphasis on developing basic organic farming and gardening skills for small- and medium-scale organic mixed vegetable operations. It also recognizes agriculture’s social component and the increased interest in equity and justice in the food system, with new material on the social impacts of the current agricultural system and information on food justice activities.

Other new features include narrative supplements that expand on the updated lecture outlines, along with new appendices, illustrations, and resource listings. As with earlier editions, all of the written material is available free online, enhanced by PowerPoint and video to accompany many of the units (available at casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications).

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Christof Bernau
  • Martha Brown
  • Liz Milazzo
  • Jan Perez

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Summary of Revisions, Additions

The first and primary undertaking of this project was the production of the two revised and expanded manuals, involving the planning, writing, and publication of  the books. The revision and writing work was led by CASFS Principal Editor Martha Brown and CASFS Research Specialist Jan Perez in consultation with other CASFS staff. For each book Brown and Perez made a revision plan clarifying roles and assigning unit revisions to over 22 contributing writers and CASFS instructional staff. The project team received feedback on the curriculum from 26 reviewers, Apprenticeship staff and instructors, current students, and previous users of the curriculum manuals (through interviews). New and revised material was field-tested with the apprentices in the six-month CASFS Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture course.

The organic production manual, TOFG, had 37 detailed class lectures revised, reviewed, edited, and formatted. Twenty-one new narrative supplements and 27 new and updated appendices were added. Nine Powerpoint presentations to accompany the units in Part 1, Organic Farming & Gardening Skills, were completed or are in development. Finally, 12 instructional videos, to supplement lectures and demonstrations, have been completed. The table of contents for the print books are attached and the links below provide the full contents available online for each instructional resource.

These publications were made available for free online at cost in print in early 2015. The books are organized in teaching units, with the online versions linking to PowerPoint presentations and some instructional videos. The print version comes in a three-ring binder so that instructors can pull out just one unit as needed (e.g. the propagation unit to take to the greenhouse for a class and demonstration). The online versions make it easy to download one unit at a time as needed. The sites for these online versions are: 

Teaching Organic Farming and Gardening: Resources for Instructors (TOFG) http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/index.html)

Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors (TDM) http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Direct-Marketing/index.html)

Please see the  Summary of Revisions for each book attached, followed by the final Table of Contents for each book.

The second undertaking of this project involved the advertising and outreach to increase the use of the manuals across western states. To raise awareness about the manuals and to train agriculture educators in the use of the manuals we have broadly advertised the manuals and have presented webinars, conference workshops, and trainings in 2015 and 2016. We have conducted email and mail outreach to educators with information about the manuals and have linked the manuals to other websites such as eOrganic.org, SARE, and other sites serving educators and producers.

Press releases announcing the availability of the training manuals were posted on the UCSC News website (http://news.ucsc.edu/2015/03/casfs-training-manual.html and http://news.ucsc.edu/2015/05/casfs-marketing-manual.html). Press releases, book order forms, and email announcements about the availability of the training manuals were sent to approximately 1900 individuals, including: college farm managers, members of the Central Coast Farmer Education Network (FEN), farmer education NGOs, farm-based apprenticeship programs, alumni of the CASFS Apprenticeship, Master Gardener groups, and Extension offices. Information on the availability of the manuals was also distributed through various listservs, including UC Berkeley’s Diversified Farming Systems and the Community Gardening Association. To see how the manuals are listed on the SARE website see (http://www.sare.org/Professional-Development/Educator-Curriculum-Guides)   

CASFS instructors developed several versions of outreach presentations from conference workshops to webinars, as well as setting up training-the-trainer sessions and conference exhibit tables that provided an effective method for outreach and disseminaton. Staff developed and practiced PowerPoint presentations and webinar presentations. CASFS collaborated with CCOF in the production of the webinars for outreach to utilize their expertise and to reach an expanded audience. CASFS staff members made presentations on the training manuals and how to incorporate them into farming education projects at the 2015 Ecological Farming Conference, the California Small Farm Conference, the Washington State University’s Cultivating Success Conference, Seattle Tilth Farm Works and affiliated programs, Nevada Small Farm Conference, and others. CASFS staff also presented a webinar, hosted by grant collaborator California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), to 62 participants located throughout the U.S. An mp3 file of the webinar was posted to the CASFS YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/casfsvideo), where it has received 180 views as of October 28, 2015. A second webinar on the topic reached 105 participants.

CASFS Outreach Coordinator Melissa Betrone along with other CASFS staff have conducted outreach to Cooperative Extension offices by phone, email, and mail. Over 71 offices were contacted and 13 print manuals were distributed at the request of   offices contacted.  

To track the use of the manuals online, we set up tracking by both Google analytics and by eScholarship Repository. We provide details on the manuals online use and have attached the latest information from the eScholarship detailing downloads and view for each unit of the training manuals. 

Evaluation Specialist Perez developed survey to send to training manual users in early 2016, approximately one year after the publication of Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening. Below we will include the results from this survey along with an overall analysis of the training manuals’ dissemination and our outreach to agricultural educators.

Outreach and Publications

Citation: Brown, Martha, Jan Perez & Albie Miles. 2015. Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening: Resources for Instructors (TOFG). Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, Santa Cruz, CA.

Citation: Perez, Jan, Martha Brown & Albie Miles. 2015. Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors. Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, Santa Cruz, CA.

TOFG-Table of Contents. copy

TDM-Table of Contents

The revised and expanded editions of both Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors (TDM) and Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening: Resources for Instructors (TOFG) are posted online for free as follows:

Teaching Organic Farming and Gardening: Resources for Instructors (TOFG) http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/index.html)

Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors (TDM) http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Direct-Marketing/index.html)

Print copies are available by contacting using the order forms on the CASFS website at casfs.ucsc.edu, or by contacting CASFS at casfs@ucsc.edu or (831)459-3240 or writing to CASFS, UCSC, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

Outreach and advertising is described above in the methods section and repeated here:

To raise awareness about the manuals and to train agriculture educators in the use of the manuals we have broadly advertised the manuals and have presented webinars, conference workshops, and trainings in 2015 and 2016. We have conducted email and mail outreach to educators with information about the manuals and have linked the manuals to other websites such as eOrganic.org, SARE, and other sites serving educators and producers.
Press releases announcing the availability of the training manuals were posted on the UCSC News website (http://news.ucsc.edu/2015/03/casfs-training-manual.html and http://news.ucsc.edu/2015/05/casfs-marketing-manual.html). Press releases, book order forms, and email announcements about the availability of the training manuals were sent to approximately 1900 individuals, including: college farm managers, members of the Central Coast Farmer Education Network (FEN), farmer education NGOs, farm-based apprenticeship programs, alumni of the CASFS Apprenticeship, Master Gardener groups, and Extension offices. Information on the availability of the manuals was also distributed through various listservs, including UC Berkeley’s Diversified Farming Systems and the Community Gardening Association. To see how the manuals are listed on the SARE website see (http://www.sare.org/Professional-Development/Educator-Curriculum-Guides)

CASFS instructors developed several versions of outreach presentations from conference workshops to webinars, as well as setting up training-the-trainer sessions and conference exhibit tables that provided an effective method for outreach and disseminaton. Staff developed and practiced PowerPoint presentations and webinar presentations. CASFS collaborated with CCOF in the production of the webinars for outreach to utilize their expertise and to reach an expanded audience. CASFS staff members made presentations on the training manuals and how to incorporate them into farming education projects at the 2015 Ecological Farming Conference, the California Small Farm Conference, the Washington State University’s Cultivating Success Conference, Seattle Tilth Farm Works and affiliated programs, Nevada Small Farm Conference, and others. CASFS staff also presented a webinar, hosted by grant collaborator California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), to 62 participants located throughout the U.S. An mp3 file of the webinar was posted to the CASFS YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/casfsvideo), where it has received 180 views as of October 28, 2015. A second webinar on the topic reached 105 participants.

CASFS Outreach Coordinator Melissa Betrone along with other CASFS staff have conducted outreach to Cooperative Extension offices by phone, email, and mail. Over 71 offices were contacted and 13 print manuals were distributed at the request of offices contacted.

Outcomes and impacts:

casfs eScholarship data tofg (2)

With the distribution of the new training manuals online and in print, educators nationwide have access to these greatly improved and expanded instructional materials, especially as free online resources. The main thrust of our targeted outreach has been to agriculture educators in California, Oregon and Washington, but we have also reach educators in Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii. Online usage tracking shows the two manuals have reached over 12,300 users and over 200 print copies have been distributed to reviewers and educators.  

Online Training Manual Usage statistics

Below are the data for downloads and views to date from Google Analytics (since posting in March 2015). Attached is a thorough analysis of downloads and views of the various parts of the instructional manuals as is made available through eScholarship Repository.  

From Google analytics (downloads and views):

Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening

Part 1: 7,851

Part 2: 1,406

Part 3: 1,113

TOFG Index page: 3,694 (http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/index.html)

Teaching Direct Marketing

Parts 1-9: 1,957

TDM index page: 1,708 (http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Direct-Marketing/index.html)

While we anticipated correctly that most educators would use the online versions, we have sold or give away as review copies over 235 books since the TOFG was published in March 2015 and the TDM in May 2015.

Evaluations from workshops, webinars, trainings in manual use

Conference presentations, workshops, webinars, and small group training sessions provided training to 371 educators in the use of the manuals.  Conference presentations at the California Small Farm Conference, Washington State University Cultivating Change Conference, and Nevada Small Farm Conference used the evaluation form for the conference itself. A special evaluation form was created by CASFS Evaluation Specialist Perez, was developed to collect from some of the workshops and from the webinars, with sample data included below.

Ecological Farming Conference, Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening, January 2015

This conference presentation had attendance of 80 people and 43 completed a a survey of only open-ended questions to explore how the workshop was useful.

  • When asked “what did you learn from the workshop today?”, the most frequent responses were:
    • That they now have resources they can use (15 responses). Examples
      • “A ton of resources for me to utilize!”
      • “There is material available to help teach,”
      • “Sources for hands on resources I can use”
    • How to use the manual (8 responses)
    • Useful tips and strategies for teaching (8 responses)
  • When asked “What do you plan to do with what you learned”, almost all responses (88%) implied they planned to use the manual in some manner. For example,
    • “Integrate those resources in our own farm teaching program”
    • “Teach my new tractor/irrigation assistant”
    • “Be a better farm manager/educator”

Webinar #1, Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening, May 19, 2015

100 people registered for the workshop (maximum allowed with 10 on the waiting list) and  62 attended the webinar.Additionally, once the webinar audio was posted on the internet, all registered participants were sent a link to the audio, and a request to complete the survey.  A post-webinar evaluation with 19 people responding provided these results.

  • 63% said they received a great deal of useful resources.
  • 100% said they are very likely to read and review the manual.
  • 79% said they are very likely to use the manual and 74% said they are very likely to encourage others to use it. 94% are either very likely or likely to use the manual or encourage others to use it.
  • 37% said they think they will use lessons straight from the manual, 74% said they intend to incorporate the manual materials into current lessons and 79% said they think they will use the manual as a reference.
  • 64% said they thought the manual will be very useful for helping them do their job. 94% said they thought it would be either very useful or useful.
  • 53% strongly agree that the manual will help them be a better educator. 37% agree that it will help them. 11% somewhat agree.

Webinar #2  – Methods for Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening – February 24, 2016

  • people registered for the workshop with 105 actually attended the webinar for at least some portion of it. Once the webinar audio was posted on the internet, all registered participants were sent a link to the audio, and a request to complete the survey. 31 people completed the survey. Here are some of the primary results.
    • 26% said they received a great deal of useful resources. 70% said they received a great deal or a lot of useful resources.
    • 59% said they are very likely to read and review the manual.
    • 52% said they are very likely to use the manual and 69% are either very likely or likely to use the manual or encourage others to use it.
    • 35% said they thought the manual will be very useful for helping them do their job. 74% said they thought it would be either very useful or useful.

Survey of Training Manual Users

To identify the outcomes from the revised training manual, we conducted a survey of 399 people to get their feedback. The sample was derived from those who had purchased a copy of the manual, reviewed a copy of the manual, and/or attended a lecture, workshop or webinar where we had an attendance list. From this sample, 18 emails bounced and 3 said they didn’t see the webinar, which further decreased the sample to 378. 82 people responded to the survey, for a 22% response rate.

59% (44) downloaded some part of the manual; 24% (18) purchased the revised manuals and 62% (48) said they have read or reviewed what they had downloaded and purchased.

47% (33) had used the manuals to revise their own teaching. The TOFG manual had the most people report using it – from 16 for the unit on managing arthropods to 29 for the units on tillage and propagations (the The history of ag units had fewer respondents – from 13 to 16). For those who used the manuals, the sections with the highest ratings of usefulness in the TOFG include: Managing weeds (70% said very useful), managing soil health (69% said very useful); making and using compost (64% said very useful). For the most part, all but one chapter in TOFG was considered very useful or useful by 80% of the respondents.

The Direct Marketing manual had fewer respondents for the different chapters – from 9 respondents for Unit 8 on farm employees to 14 on Unit 2 – the overview of product marketing. The unit on CSAs had the highest satisfaction rating – 54% saying it was very useful. And 4 of the 9 units was considered very useful or useful by 80% of the respondents. 8 of the 9 were considered very useful or useful by 70% of the respondents.

Respondents used the materials in a variety of ways. The most common was using it was to incorporate manual materials into current lessons (75% – 27) and using the manual materials as resource reference (69% – 25). There were 28% (10) who reported using the lessons straight form the manual, and 36% (13) gave the lesson directly to students to read. 83% use the manual for inspiration.

Of the 36 respondents to this section, 89% said they strongly agreed, or agreed, that the manual helped make them a better educator. They also responded that the manuals contributed to their ability to teach organic and sustainable agriculture a great deal (40%) or a good amount (31%).

 

These themes were repeated in the open-ended question about how the manuals have helped them. Other things they mentioned was the manual was great as a refresher before a lecture or field activity, it provides a great organization to the topic, they span the breadth from theoretical to practical, and it’s thorough.  More importantly, they have “provided a level of educational legitimacy to a program not fully understood by my institution.”

Of those finishing the survey (47), the average number of years teaching was 9 – which shows that these materials are useful to a wide audience, not just those who are new to the profession. The majority of respondents work with beginning or aspiring farmers (68%-72%). Though a fair amount also work with college students (53%). Most of the respondents were housed at non-profit organizations (61%). 63% had been farmers and ranchers at some point and 44% currently are.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The revised and expanded editions of both Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors (TDM) and Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening: Resources for Instructors (TOFG) were completed and disseminated for free online and at cost in print starting in the first half of 2015. The purpose of the manuals is to provide professional development training to beginning farmer educators, as well as provide training to farmers themselves. Through conference presentations, webinars, and small group training sessions we have directly trained 371 educators in the use of the manuals. Online usage tracking shows the two manuals have reached over 12,300 users and over 200 print copies have been distributed as review copies or sold to educators across the nation.  Please see details above in the Outcomes and Impact section. 

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

With the training manuals complete and their online versions available online for free, we have focused on outreach and advertising about these resources to increase the ripple effect of the training potential they represent.  The free resources include over 1000 pages of instructional materials to download, including lecture outlines, demonstration outlines, student handouts, assessments, student readings, case studies, and assessment questions, along with powerpoint presentations and videos to supplement some units.

The feedback from users has been very positive, as captured by this statement from an educator in North Carolina:

“We ordered the actual manual but the fact that you have it for free online is incredibly generous and powerful. We run a garden that gives away food and provides education and community building among other things. I’ve been growing food for over 40 years and can say this is truly an amazing resource. We organized a network of other gardens in our region that grow and give away food and I have shared this resource with them also. I’ll continue to get the word out about this incredible resource and will be redoing our classes to incorporate a great deal of this manual, the graphics, vocabulary, hands on practice and videos.” 

Future Recommendations

Beyond the project period, we have and will continue to conduct outreach to educators to raise awareness about the availability of these manuals and their utility for training beginning farmers and gardeners. For example, we included sessions on the use of the manuals in the the Sustainable Agriculture Educators Association Conference, held at UCSC last month for 350 participants from across the country. Outreach will continue to be part of our conference offerings and other outreach to aid expanded use of these excellent teaching resources. Additionally, our 39 trainees each year that are part of the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, take these resources with them to different parts of the country, many starting their own training programs at farms and urban agriculture centers. We will continue to take feedback from users on the manuals and plan for future updates to keep the resources current and useful.

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.