To activate consumers to support Northeast farmers, we will:
- Use Strategic Frame Analysis (a social science research process) to create and test new narratives that explain sustainable farming;
- Apply research outputs to Northeast orchards using IPM and test how (and whether) new narrative elements improve communication to customers and community;
- Package project outputs into a Communications Training Kit that will enable Northeast farmers to more effectively activate and expand their customer base.
- Understanding of the cultural models that average citizens use when interpreting information about sustainable farming will inform the development of reframed, or, new frames that lessen people’s misconceptions about farming and build more accurate understanding about sustainable farming.
- These new frames will provide Northeast fruit growers with communication tools (accompanied by training) that enable them to explain their integrated pest management (IPM) practices to customers more effectively than before.
Summer 2019. This regionally-focused NESARE project is part of a larger national social science research project called Farming & Food Narrative Project (FFNP). FFNP concluded a phase of research at the end of 2018 known as Cultural Models with a Map the Gaps report (the gaps between what experts think and what ordinary citizens–the public–thinks). In response to this report, we received important, credible, critical feedback from several communication partners (insiders’ feedback) that our Expert Story did not adequately represent the views and experience of experts (farmers and scientists) of color. We decided to revise the Expert Story and conducted 5 additional indepth interviews with experts of color, for a total of 17 expert interviews, and revised the Expert Story, and parts of the Map the Gaps report. Four farmers participated in these interviews. The revised report was issued December 2019: https://www.farmingandfoodnarrative.org/resources
These changes were spontaneous, and not planned as part of the NESARE grant. They were not paid for with NESARE funds. However, the decision to redo the Expert Story caused a several-month delay in the launch of the Media Content and Field Frame Analysis (MCFFA), which began in mid-Fall instead of during summer. This has minimal impact on the overall project timeline.
November 2019. The MCFFA research phase of the FFNP got underway in November 2019. FrameWorks researchers are studying the communications of print media, social media, and a sample of “the field”–12 advocacy organizations, 2 academic/scientific organizations, and 10 trade groups–to see how they are thinking and presenting ideas on sustainable agriculture and good farming practices, and to see how they compare with expert and citizen perspectives.
Winter 2019/2020. We, at Red Tomato, are organizing and searching for a university-based research partner (presumably, the right university professor with 1-3 grad students, or an undergraduate class) who can join us for the design and implementation of the research work to be conducted with Northeast-based orchards in 2020-21. We are circulating an RFP to approx. 7 prospects we have identified at universities in New England, and expect to choose the one or two research partners by March 2020.
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
Publication: On-line publication of Map the Gap research report: The Landscape of Public Thinking About Farming. The report is also circulated directly to ~200 “communication partners” on the Project e-mailing list which includes ~15 growers.
Workshops planned for March 2020: (a) We’ve been invited by WesternSARE to conduct a half-day workshop/training in Bozeman, MT on March 12 for their advisory group (~20) on the subject of framing/effective communication, sharing the work of the FFNP. (b) Because of the Bozeman invitation, we are holding our FFNP annual meeting in Sacramento, CA on March 13, where we will present the FFNP findings to approx. 30 representatives of western farm and food organizations, including farmers, trade groups, NGOs